Saint Vrain Street Rapture
This is your idea Aaron. (It feels weird writing “Aaron” still even though I’ve been calling you that for pretty much this whole school year. Instead of Mr. Enslin like it was that first week. When I came and met you in Mr. Crocket’s office that first time. The first of every day after while he’s eating lunch in the Teacher’s Lounge.) This is your idea, to write this to you. To “put it towards someone safe.” It took a long time to get me to this point, and I really appreciate your patience with me. You’ve shown more than anyone else has. Thank you for taking your nametag off every day you come in, making it less formal. Thank you for your colorful bow ties. I look forward to those every day. Thank you for doing everything you can to make me feel comfortable. To make me not feel like a freak. Thank you for making this year feel a little more like school from home, like I wish it was. Thank you for pushing me to write this over break. During this hardest week. I started it in the D Room Thursday, the day before school let out, cause I was done with all my work early. (If this ever gets out to anyone safe besides Aaron, D stands for Detention and I’m not in there everyday because I’m in trouble. I’m in there because when everyone’s quiet in a normal classroom and all those kids are all around me it makes me want to pop my top. It makes me want to pull things apart and see what everyone’s made of. See if we’ve all got the same stuff under our skin. In short, it messes with my anxiety and Aaron says that’s completely normal, even though I’m still not sure it is.)
I started this Thursday and now I’m doing it from what I call home. Writing this and thinking about all the places the kids in the halls said they were going this week. This is my break from everything hopefully. My break too. Even though I’m not going anywhere. My release. Like those places will be theirs.
This is called literary therapy you said. The step after just talking about the event that caused my trauma. Now it’s good to write about that traumatic event. Then next, which you said can be way way down the road, is to visit or view the location of the event. You said we can start with just a picture if I want, maybe just some of the police photos. Then last is discriminating between the original trauma warnings and current, non-traumatic triggers.
I ask whoever is listening to this voice to forget these words. Anyone other than Aaron. It is important that no one listen too very carefully. To think too very hard about what is said. I want these words to vanish back into the long silence they came from. And then for nothing to remain but a memory of their presence without details. The highpoints might stay, but even those, over time, will hopefully weather away. Paul Auster said something like that.
This is a true story. (I’ll start it with that)
I sat so still I swear I could hear the sun blades crawling down that old wood-paneled wall. The wall we’d put up, Uncle Joey called it an “accent.” I’d been sitting there since before there was no sun at all. Only did I move when Mrs. Gerri rapped a big knuckle against our front door and then the commotion outside all came rushing back in again. She pushed it a little open. It groaned because it didn’t close all the way anymore and apparently didn’t like to open now either. I didn’t bother trying to smile because she wasn’t either, she just held up a bottle of water from a satchel pack on her hip. I shook my head no. She saw the bottom of the gash under the end of the wrap-job on my arm done by one of the paramedics like he hadn’t had enough stuff to cover the whole thing. I couldn’t believe he’d even bothered with me at all with so many bodies lying around out there. There was a baby in a tree in our backyard and the Flanders kid from down the street had been in two pieces by our bloody brick mailbox but the guy had bothered with the gash on my arm while the rest of the responders did the hard stuff. Maybe he’d seen what I saw out there. Probably not because as quick as they got here, it was still well after it was long gone and all that was left outside was screaming and dying noises and chainsaws trying to get down to more dead people in the dark.
“Is everyone okay,” Mrs. Gerri said, looking down at my sleeping dad and uncle and backlit by the bright sun that didn’t care at all. If she thought they were dead too she didn’t seem too surprised. I nodded yes even though I didn’t know. She sat the water in her hand down on the table by the door there and then grabbed two more from her pack and put them down too. I thought about asking her for a fourth but didn’t. She tried to close the door behind her but the top corner just banged against the frame each time till she quit and left it cracked. I heard her shout “Water?” from the porch and I turned to look out the front window for the first time since before I went to bed the night before when the three of us were out there watching Trainspotting and four different dogs ran by one after another. Before I went to bed and the thing came.
“Oh Janice honey you’re giving everyone a show,” she said and she sure was. Mrs. Gough was power-walking down the middle of the street with her phone out in front of her, she either didn’t hear Mrs. Gerri or didn’t care because she didn’t bother covering the big open tear in her tank top or her big brown nipple. I could hear the ringing from her phone’s speaker through the cracked-open door as she held it up and walked towards the house, moving her hand left and right like it was a metal detector sweeping over sand for doubloons instead of searching ruined Wyngate Estates for signal and her son. His voicemail caught and Mrs. Gough stopped just short of the porch and looked down and frowned at her phone. I stared at her sweaty nipple. It was set sort of off to the side of her pale breast and it stared back at me blankly through the window like it knew long ago that what they were walking around doing was useless. There was a piece of straw stuck to it.
She tapped the screen hard twice, and then the ringing resumed and so did her silent, big-eyed search down to our neighbors’ with her arm outstretched in front of her.
I watched Mrs. Gerri step down into the yard and kick pieces of wood and trash out of her path. Then she turned and looked up at my house in wonder. I could read her lips. “Not a scratch,” she mouthed, then shook her head and continued on with her pack of waters in the same direction Mrs. Gough had gone.
I turned my head to the right and my neck shot bright stars of pain up into my brain. I reached for the vibrating phone on the couch, waited for it to stop, then flipped it over and powered it off.