Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This needs to be read, she needs to be read. Reprinted from the original at: http://romaryka.lunanina.com/


back burner

by Romaryka

I know this voice. I've heard it nearly all my life. It speaks so quietly, at first I always think the idea came from me instead, something original, something unique. Just pull, it says. Open yourself. A little blood won't hurt anything, and will make you feel so much better.

I used to obey, and it used to be right, at least the second part. It did make me feel better. The sting of sharp metal, the rush of slow blood. The seduction of going deeper, biting my lip as the vein gave up its secret. Thinking if I could just get down below the bone I'd hit something - like truth, or horror ; like fulfilling a quest - and then, my prize would be getting to walk away changed. Not unscathed, not whole, but free. It was never true. That blank hunger remained after every session, an ache that went beyond the physical, that made me rue the stitches. My heart raced in dismay, and the only remedy for the anxiousness the blade left in its beading wake was the blade.

I quit a hundred times. My first year of college, I would ease the hand-brake down in the VW and let it roll backwards down the driveway so the chuff of engine wouldn't wake my parents. I would push that Beetle three houses down the street before turning the key in the ignition. And then I would get in, blood screaming for release, and roll the windows down and throw the sunroof back and drive down PCH with music pounding all around me until I found a place by the beach where I could park, and run, and sit alone in the dark and try to take deep breaths. I drove ten thousand miles that year and never left L.A., just like the song, only always in the dark. When something in me finally broke with exhaustion, I would limp back to the trusty Volkswagen and turn toward home. Sometimes I watched the sky pink golden-grey with pre-sunrise light over the Pacific. Other times I gave up before the stars faded. Those were the good nights.

Later, I would grab my extra set of keys and a few coins and my mobile, lock the door to my blue-carpeted studio and tiptoe-run down the five flights of spiral staircase. I would walk along the quais, watchful for pockets of darkness that held men sleeping (or not), stepping around the groups of Arab boys gathered in the narrow streets before Terreaux, with their sloe eyes and quick catcalls, falling into step sometimes with a dark companion, shaking my head at the offer of "un verre" or a phone number. Smiling but raging inside. Do you not see that I want the river to myself, I want to walk fast and hard and breathless and take in the night chill until this desperation to tear myself apart subsides. No, what I do not need is your phone number. Or anything made of glass. I will not call you. And glass can break. Sometimes I stopped in a Tabac and bought cigarettes. I would smoke one, maybe two, flicking ash into the air and staring at the Saône. Eventually, I always ended up alone, and orange light from the passerelles broke like bubbles trapped underneath black water, and the water lapped softly at the cement steps where night people came, and passed things to each other, and sometimes stayed. Every so often one of them asked me for a light. It made me laugh harshly, and brought tears to my eyes. And I always gave them flame.

And later still I dropped to my knees on hardwood and begged God to pull me through the ache, to lift my soul beyond the gash of yearning and let me sleep. God rarely answered, but I sometimes slept.

And now I sit here in this strange house in the dark. The lights outside have all gone out, even the college boys have gone to bed, and there is no comfort in the river of this town. I am too cheap to drive all night, gas prices being what they are, and too afraid to walk under the freeway overpass at this hour, and anyway I am a professor now, and not a teenage girl with a car she can roll down the driveway and an econ class I can skip in the morning. In the morning I have to put on my suit and go discuss literature with a group of other professors in suits and an eager candidate who may, if all goes well tomorrow, earn her Ph.D. And a grant application to proofread and send in, and a graduate seminar to prepare, and a grammar lesson on the subjunctive. I can't sleep, and I have to sleep. I can't cut, and I ache for it as strongly as any moment in the years since I quit. This is the moment I would call my sponsor if I had one.

I don't. There is no sponsorship when you just stop.

But oh Lord bless the dark, and if you're listening tonight, please pull me through this, and lift my soul beyond the ache. It has been four years and more, and I am huddled on the stone floor begging for a light, still a night person after all this time.

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