I ran buck wild for a porky child, sometimes even faster than the bullies chasing me. Bare-skin feet scrambling across playgrounds, through alleyways, through drugstore parking lots. They caught me once, I can still feel their blows. They caught me twice, I can show you the crooked scar. There were love handles on my side and dirt in my neckline, but there was not a third time. Adrenaline is the speed of children.
Running through the woods I was almost home. But I was out of breath in the Texas sun, heavy shoulders rising and falling under my sweatstained shirt. The pines were too skinny to hide behind. Catcalls and fistfalls were approaching fast. Then a ditch beside the channel whispered my name. There was a cargo barrel at its bottom and I slid inside, a rusty comfort beside the tide. In my mind it was a spaceship, and I roared away from that sordid scene. Through the heavens and space, exploring the universe alone.
Alone. There’s a strange comfort in that word, in its premise. It turns up its nose at society, at love, at even money. It disregards everyone and everything, save the one who enjoys it. In that, it is loyal. It welcomes only one person home.
So all afternoon I sat in that barrel, enjoying the sweet, sweet solitude. Listening to the loud and then fading curses of frustrated bullies as I rocketed through the netherrealm of space.
Now gaunt and grown, all greenstick bones have hardened. Those same bullies chase me, although with different faces. Awkward spaces, sitting in my own home, frightened to express myself. Scornful bride, forlorn mind, chiding from strangers I thought were my friends. Drug-addled debates and garbled philosophies spurting out of slick mouths like expensive diarrhea. What’s all this nonsensical shit? Why am I subjected to rejection? I’ve done it to myself. I am a masochist, and I don’t even get off on it.
Shrinking to my darkened lair, a soothing air. Parlor trick, vanishing stick. Perched in a hidden bar, the distant sounds of laughter fade away. A glass of cheap brandy. No ice, thank you. No cola. Matter of fact, forget the glass. Just pass the bottle. The stem is soothing in my hand, the band plays on, a song that reminds me I’m alone. Which is grand.
Alone. There’s a regal sound to it. Some children are afraid of it, they say, and some adults are too, but they won’t say. All I can tell you is that the word doesn’t hiss like an angry moccasin when it rolls off my tongue.
It’s a soft cozy sound, like winter mornings wrapped in a quilt, rain falling softly on a tin roof. A good book in hand. But no one else is allowed. No one.
There’s no place like it.
Now harrowed and old, bald and sold. I’m a cog in a watch without a wheel. At least there are no other cogs around.
Today is a holiday, I forget which one. I know it by several names, but genocide is won.
I was driving through a parking lot and someone raced around the speedbumps to cut me off. They should slow down and be thankful. Thankful for no broken bones, no aches, no clusterfuck of suburban muck, all the soccer moms can take a break. I’m thankful. Forever indebted, beholden contented. Like the holiday tells me to be. I’m thankful for inclusiveness, but I’d rather be alone. I’m obliged and grateful, relieved and hateful. Pleased and easy.
There’s no place like alone for the holidays.