I have vague potential. I’m accepted at Red Building Academy and leave in the fall, mom and I sobbing clutching hands in the driveway. In my dorm I share a four poster with a boy named Daniel who’s immediately yammering about video games, nerdy yet loquacious and overbearing rather than shy. I collect books and papers from the dispensary and climb the flights back up (the elevator having malfunctioned.) When it’s apparent neither of us are sleeping I make a clumsy proposition: what would he do if I was his robot? In the mornings I discover that self directed learning is a chance to do nothing and I look for dark places with WWW access. The carpets are plush (aggravating my allergies) and they’re woven with intricate intertwined piping and geometric blooms from doorway to doorway in the too-wide halls where girls are passing in their socks and their skirts. Could I fake my way through a project on Neon Genesis Evangelion, peddling it as the zeitgeist to too-eager profs clinging to shreds of artistic relevance? It has to be bulletproof, and here my closet status becomes capital: if I wrap half-developed observations on Shinji’s queerness and the Eva as a metaphor for bodily discomfort and dissonance within an outpouring of emotion for my own body and queerness I might be unflunkable. I take lunches with Kate and Cheryl and Michelle, insinuating myself gently into the circle, laughing at their filthy jokes and joining them in excited talk re: Buffy, surprised this is coming so easily. Then I lie in darkness for two months. I handle expulsion badly and I plot to remain on the grounds for as long as possible, hiding in empty rooms and empty hallways where no one ever goes, keeping crawlspaces packed with rotting food. It doesn’t last. When a wave of murders sweeps the student body I’m reading it off a screen in a room in my mother and father’s house with a window looking onto a concrete surface covered with kudzu.
I’m driving by and decide to hop the wall. The building’s been shuttered ten years and is largely a ruin. I break a window. The inside is dank. It looks smaller. Signs of struggle have faded with age but here, here, there, and here are barricades where survivors made camp and waited the week for help—for anyone—stumbling in the dark on the bodies of adults and listening in the daylight for footsteps. There’s blood here, shattered stained glass and mirror and crystal and gnarled rope and metal shavings. Here is the room where I slept the days away. What did they do at night?
I’m driving. It’s forest from here. Gates to parks are closed. The car is filled with trash. There are no streetlights. Power lines cut across the moon. The moon is obscured by trees. It’s hard to see. The road turns dirt. There are hills in these woods. The car is running out of gas. I drink soda. The car is out of gas. I get out to piss. I can’t see the ground. I piss. I can’t see the car. I slide down a hillside. My jacket is snagged by branches. The teeth on a jagged hollow stump catch my belly. I am wet. I reach for my phone but my arm is held by brambles. My head is held by brambles. The lock screen appears. I swipe to unlock it. The home screen appears. I have many apps to choose from. I open the tumblr app. I need to post about this. I read my dash. There’s this girl, Crystal Castles. She’s 23. She named herself that. She’s writing about sex. She says that she’s switchy. I send her a private message. I say I’m bleeding to death in the woods. She’s alarmed and she says she’s sorry to hear that. I say it’s cool. I say I don’t know why I’m venting. I say she has her own problems to deal with. She does. I wonder: are our experiences going to be so different that we at some point become mutually incoherent. I open the camera app. I take a picture of my black-tipped fingers poised atop the brambled wood protrusions shredding my guts. I post it to tumblr. It takes a while to upload. Crystal faves it. She replies: :(. It’s supposed to look kind of witchy. It’s not working. This needs better lighting than a camera flash. When I was 23 I had years of food service and immobilizing depression ahead of me. I wonder how it will be for her. Retail, maybe. Driving home every day to “The Waitress” by Tori Amos. It was kind of funny but also kind of cathartic. Then there’s a live version of “The Waitress” where the lyrics have changed. They indicate that Tori’s grown as a person and become more compassionate and perhaps spiritual. I found that very comforting.