You stopped by, asking for me, and I wasn’t here. You and May. Last night. Saffron told me. And tonight I could cry and cry.
You must be tired of hearing me go on and on about family. What a broken record I must sound like with all that wanting… All my forever wanting to hear someone say, with arms pulled around, “Ah, this one? She’s spoken for. She’s mine. She’s ours.”
“Are you my family?” I ask. “No.”
“How about you. Are you my family?”
Something smarts about next weekend.
There’s a young girl, chin jutted out. (Probably the one you call Brave.) She says, “I don’t care. Go ahead. It don’t matter. Anyway, I have plans, yuh-unh. So anyway, I couldn’t have come with you anyway. It don’t matter to me. Nuh-unh. Go on. I’ve got my own. My family is coming to pick me up any minute now. Yuh-uh. So I couldn’t go with you anyway. It don’t matter to me. Go on.”
She likes to imagine that next week she’ll be able to disappear. Nothing drastic, just for a few days. Just to be gone. Not anywhere in particular, because surely the hollowness would go along if she were actually going to someplace in particular. This disappearing would be magical: not for permanent, not forever, just a few days.
She’s kickin’ dirt. Scabbed knee. Pig tails. Dusty shoes. Stopping now to pull up a knee sock.
Then comes now. How she’d climb the stairs to the top of the dorm roof. That’s where she’d go. Sometimes to get away from people upon people upon people who weren’t family. And bells. Wakeup bells. Breakfast bells. Lunch bells. Rest bells. Dinner. Bells and bells and bells. Hell bells. Sometimes she’d climb up there to look at the sky. The sky seemed so much closer than it ever had at home. Odd, that. Not that she’d ever really noticed the sky at home. But homesick makes you notice. And remember. Things you never thought you noticed, suddenly now they are a memory. Like the moon. This very same moon then, there, now, here. Would they be seeing it? Would you? This moon, maybe now, right now? Nah. They weren’t homesick, they were home. It’s homesick makes you notice.
Darkness would come on the roof, and with it, sometimes, stars. Sometimes she tried to speak, as if words would help her be, but air has a way of eating words. Such thin words, they all were, anyway, flimsy and gone before they even had a chance. Besides, it didn’t matter. There wasn’t anyone to hear and, anyway, there weren’t any right words for what was there. Not a single word in a single language she knew to say what the pit in her stomach, the lump in her throat, the hollow in her chest, were. Stupid, useless, good-for-nothing words, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them, yet not a one that could say how it was.
This here is my try, for her, for me, for then, for now. On this harvest moon.