Dear M – – – – ,
They’re making me write this, and I’ll trash it when I’m done, so don’t expect too much. Dr. Charon wants us to write these to get it out. The Hurt. He wants us to capitalize it, and I know it’s all BS, but if I’m going to write a fake letter then I might as well go all the way.
Last week my roommate went out on a belt. I found her first. She’d made her bed up nice and neat, folded her socks, dusted her shelves and fluffed her pillows. Watered her hibiscus and fed her koi, then levered her belt over the closet rack and kicked over the books she’d stacked in place of a stool. They were all self-help books. My roommate was funny like that.
We had group session today. Dr. Charon led it, and he decided we needed Allegorical, so we did the circle routine. Share How You Keep Yourself Safe. Live Your Grief In One Word. That old chestnut. Anyway, everyone was blabbering about their Hurt and I was just sort of leaving the circle and Charon was trying to stop me but I continued. I ran into the girls’ and locked the door.
So there’s this stall I always pick. Nothing too special about it, only it’s right by the heat vent and if you unroll the TP just right the air sort of takes it and makes it billow like Mom’s dress used to outside on windy walks. I don’t know if you remember.
I liberated a couple pins from one of the RNs. It’s a messy job but I make do. You always wonder why I ask for the thick socks, heavy and woolen, even in summer. They’re best at hiding the blood. Razors are quicker but there’s beauty in the pins. Constellations form and expand underneath my pins. Singularities bleed to supernovae. Neat little streaks you can whirl into galaxy spirals. And all that. There’s an art to it.
Sometimes I don’t cut at all. Sometimes I sit and I breathe and I wait for someone to try the faulty paper towel dispenser. There’s a lot you can learn about someone from how they treat faulty equipment. The trick is to reach in and jiggle the sensing mechanism. One jiggle for one towel. But girls will bang on it, open palm slap it. One girl nearly broke her fist on it. And on those times I don’t cut, when I’m in my stall and a girl does it all wrong, I’ll wait till she leaves, get one towel for one jiggle, and go back to Allegorical.
Charon is a jellyfish. You can see through to the other side. He thinks I’m cutting to “assert my identity.” He doesn’t know about the star maps and the TP dress billowing for a while before I tear it off and stain it red. He doesn’t get it.
Do you remember Mom’s lint rollers? When her hair first started falling out and she thought she had to hide it? At first you could only tell from the scraggly jungles stuck to sticky paper in the garbage. The paper would stick to the bag like it wanted you to know. And the bandanas and the hats and the rollers scraped over every surface till she’d stuck every damn hair in the house–hers or not. Dr. Charon tried to take away my bandana my first week and I punched him in the face. I can wear it whenever I want now.
Sometimes I sneak away after Lights Out and get lost in the labyrinth under the Center. I only let the girls with smuggled cigs tag along, and even then I stick to the baby route. The belly of the beast can’t be shared. They whine about shit like boys leaving them and I fake it for as long as my cherry will glow in the dark. I head back with or without them.
They’re strict on Recreation since last week’s breakout. Clean getaway. That could’ve been my roommate, but she had to go out on a belt. I spend Recreation out in the parking lot, looking for your beater. The snow that the plows deposited over curbs and into bushes has turned into a mini mountain range that obscures my view, so I climb to the top and perch from there. This makes some of the girls uneasy, but I tell them to go fuck themselves and they suddenly find the view behind them very interesting.
I know you just want me to get situated before you come for me. I get it. So I watch snowflakes gather on the pane and remember construction paper days with Mom. Before it all fell out. Sometimes I think I can gather her in the fog on my window, but only my reflection shows.
I give Charon incident-less days, days where I sit rapt in Allegorical and smile and cry in all the right places. At first he made the mistake of commending me and I called him a twat. He doesn’t make that mistake anymore.
Dad–can I still call you that?–I’ve situated. Okay? Joke’s over. Ha ha. You can take me home now.
Charon wouldn’t give me a stamp, so I liberated one from his office. Should find its way to you. Don’t worry about finding me out here–I’ll be the one on the highest peak, peering down over all my domain: Queen of the Hill. I love you. Shut up.