I went to the river to cry but then saw my own reflection and laughed instead with bitterness. Is there anything more comical than the sight of your own face smeared with tears, your mouth pulled into that ugly shape? You know then that your grief is yours alone, and your tears derided.
I dried mine. I’d cry no more. But like a sickness, a fever, my mind would not stop cutting me with memory. Each scene replayed was the swing of a pendulum, a hammer on a gong that sent me aching and spinning and tipped the world around me until I thought I might slide off.
Like when he said sorry. Sorry. He’d never be as sorry as me. Sorry for your loss. That’s right- My loss. No one else’s. My loss - for anyone else a shrug and a maybe a pang of sympathy, an entry on a spreadsheet, a signature, a shake of the head. Maybe even, to some, a good thing – a happy accident. Never that – never that for me.
At first, I regretted. At first, I didn’t want it. But then, I don’t know, I got used to the idea. I got used to it and I found I liked it. By the end of a week I was happy. I had this secret knowledge to hug to myself at night, to warm me. I began to talk to it, to the unfolding glow, the ripple, the tiny spark. After my roommate was asleep I went online and looked at pictures. I saw tiny fingers, pink and transparent, opening like stars, huge heads on fragile necks and eyes in shadow under eyelids yet unformed.
I felt empowered and important. I was a shelter, an embrace, a protector. I was life.
I told no one.
Not my parents. I couldn’t. They’d see it as a betrayal, a tragedy. After all they’d saved for me, all they’d sacrificed. After all the money they’d spent. How could you. How could you! That was what they’d say.
Not him either. A face at a party. A few drinks too many. A boy I found I didn’t even like.
It was frightening. Of course it was frightening. But I didn’t think my future was so bright. This gave me a reason to make it better and at the lectures, for the first time, I really did begin to pay rapt attention. I never cared enough to be ambitious for myself but for someone else, someone so dependant, there was nothing I wouldn’t do. Nothing.
You may say I was unrealistic.
I came up with names. I whispered them just to feel the shape of them in my mouth and on my tongue; my star-fish, my jewel, my rose-bud. My… my… mine. Mine.
Mine. It was mine.
Until a man had too much to drink and got into his car anyway.
Until I woke up in the hospital.
That’s all he had to say.