“My other issue is that I assent to diplomacy, tact and relationships more than others. I feel like I hold more space and my kindness is taken advantage of.”
I’m still going. There may be a part of me on a walk somewhere but there’s another part of me that’s right here, still here, still processing, still in the mud.
“I’ve always been direct with you right?”
I’m fixated on something else: two memories and walking towards the bright white person that glows s a f e. There is no safety in malice and yet I try to set the example.
“I will continue being direct with you, blunt, if that’s ok. You seem not to mind it.”
I know two things about myself: you can pull anything from me eventually if you really want to know and I will always choose mercy. I pass another lantern fly and I record it walking. There is a part of me that wants to record myself stepping on it to prove that I am a killer but there is another part of me that is recording it to prove I can’t. I am squatting, hovering with phone to watch it. You’ll freeze. I am backing away without another though, passing the elderly woman, turning to see if she does what I couldn’t do. No one wants to kill something beautiful. Of course, I swat flies, have stepped on cockroaches and smash ants on my counter regularly but I say a prayer when I do. No, you’re not like me. Don’t pretend to be. I’m rubber, you’re glue and everything you and I both say, bounces back, sticks to you. I’m back at my therapist’s office.
“I’m assertive, I have boundaries, I just feel targeted, like people see my compassion the most and because of that I am always asked to do favors. I was also taught to do them by many communities I have been a part of,including the AA community, the woman community, the southern community. Plus my parents and my brother all being relatively sweet and docile people; explosive with each other but nice. I’m polite, considerate, I don’t know, all these years hating myself for being tricked. And not stupid, but my parent’s daughter, a bit rebellious and tantrum oriented but sweet. I did hit kids though sometimes; Leana and Ashley. Just those two.”
I look up unsure of how I got here and what I want to say. How do I feel about my own stifled violence? I’m on a street somewhere in South Philly where not a soul on that block has taken down their Halloween decorations. The houses glow orange even in the daylight. I’m always three places at once if I’m any less than nine.
“I also threw a can at a young boy’s face, surprised by my aim. I cut his cheek right below his eye. Had it been an inch higher, I could have blinded him.”
I’m back there again.
Nine years old and she was three, I think. I made eye contact with her. That wasn’t right. I was walking up the front walk and they were riding bikes, new, I didn’t know what to say to them. They were a little too young for me. We didn’t just look, we stared at each other and a very protective feeling swarmed me, swarmed her. It’s not that she looked like me when I was three, but she did, it’s that she looked my daughter. I wanted her to be my daughter. It couldn’t have been more than three days later that she suffocated to death in a closet, skin melted, body charred while I cooled in a community pool, unaware that luck doesn’t exist everywhere. My grandmother said you must have a guardian angel looking out for you as the sharp corner of the heavy wooden trash can lid almost hit my tiny left toe, but missed and hit the floor instead. Kids recover from fractures, and I sure did, but I brushed elbows with calamity far more often than my brother did.
“Your skin heals fast but you are clumsy; watch your bones,” a psychic said.
I can be everywhere at once. Looking at myself in the bath, seeing the tall man in the room next to me.
Your name is Dana.
I can come to conclusions with force, obsessive thought, waiting but it doesn’t mean any of them are right. I’m on a street in Philadelphia where it’s still Halloween night and I’m pulling up in the backseat of the Dyson’s car on my court seeing the black roof first, then the police tape, then the police and then her curious face blazes my eyelids. First, an olive grows dark by sun then dark as black. Black like roof. Black like smoke. Black like shutting eyes to touch the bottom of the deep end: 12 feet down, and I did it every day of summer just to prove I can hold my breath that long.
“Anyway, I have boundaries and you’re right,” she hadn’t said anything, “I won’t let people push them no matter how many times I have to say no. Kindness is one of my highest values. My kindness is a gift.”
She smiled, nodded, agreeing.