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|Tue, 02-05-2002 - 10:25pm|
A lonely path, I know the way to the door that always beckons. Slightly ajar, it waits for me. Come inside, feel the pain, really see what was never there, what will always be. With shaking fingers I reach, to touch the time worn wood, comforting and safe once, horrifying now that she is on the other side. Panic takes flight, my soul cries. I don't want to see her addicted dying. Her heart does not break as easily as mine. She holds a cold and lifeless bottle with hands that once gently held me. Turning away, I silently say I love you. Closing the door, I know I leave no trace behind.
It was the fall of 1973 and Kim was getting ready for another day at school. This was her senior year and she would be glad when it was over. Many of the kids she had been going to school with for the past four years were still there, most of them trying to act cool, look different and play at being adults. The usual clicks were still going on, and Kim was sick of the entire scene.
She heard "Down by the River" by Neil Young playing on the stereo in her room and she was jolted back to ninth grade in junior high. She had been a part of one of those clicks then, and she and some of the football team and a couple of girls were walking towards the gym. There was a boy in school that everyone called "Speedy" because of his polio, and he was coming around the corner from the gym when Kim's group spotted him. One of the guys suddenly pushed Kim right into the boy's chest and all of his books fell out of his hands and came crashing all over the floor, papers flying in every direction. His face turned scarlet as he tried to bend down to pick up his things. Kim was shocked and then deeply ashamed that he thought she had done this on purpose. She dropped to her knees, feeling his humiliation so much that it hurt to look at his face. She picked up his books and papers, helped him stand and handed his things back. She gave everyone there a look of total disgust, walked away from them and her "I'm one of the popular people" status forever. It was at that moment she vowed to never, ever intentionally hurt another human being for as long as she lived.
Kim finished dressing for school, trying to forget the painful memory of that day. She sat down on the bed, thinking about her own pain and humiliation. She had been living two separate lives since she was fifteen. There was the Kim that everyone knew at school, the girl that always looked "cute and sweet" and kept a smile on her face. Then there was the Kim at home, scared most of the time, filled with anxiety, the Kim that could barely eat or sleep. When she did sleep, it was usually from pure exhaustion, only to jerk wide awake hours later, sit up in bed, and strain to hear any noise from downstairs that would tell her if tonight would be a good one or a bad one.
She would always remember a night that had turned out to be very bad. That night she lay in her bed and heard footsteps on the staircase, slow and heavy. They got closer to the door and Kim knew that she was coming into her room. She started to sweat under the covers, her heart pounding so hard she felt dizzy. She remained very still, praying to God to make her go away. The door opened and she was silhouetted against the hall light, breathing hard and staring at Kim in the dark. She took a few steps towards the bed, swaying from side to side until she was standing right over her. Kim could smell the alcohol, strong this time, filling the entire room. She opened her mouth, leaned down and whispered these words: "I should just scratch your eyes out with my kitchen scissors, that way I won't have to see you look at me. Are you looking at me right now?" Kim kept her eyes closed and pretended to be sleeping. She could feel her breath on her face. It was pure hell to lie there and not move, to be driven to that part of you that cries out for survival. Finally, mercifully, she left, banging the door against the wall. She stumbled down the hallway and disappeared into her own room, where she lay, sprawled, until the next afternoon.
Kim realized that she had been standing there in front of her mirror for so long that she was going to be late for school. She ran downstairs and grabbed the car keys from the kitchen table. She needed to really hurry now, because she had an oral report to do first thing in American Literature. The assignment was to interpret the poem "l(a" by e.e. cummings.