It goes like this.
You’re tacky from Florida air, salt and humidity battling for dominance on your skin, and you’re shaking. You’re just shaking.
(She came in like a hurricane. Like–like a lightning storm. Isn’t that what they call this place? Lightning Alley?)
(She was drunk. She was so drunk. You see her, a different version of her, on your sixteenth birthday. Back in Texas, your muscles sore from too many rounds of mini golf. She’s saying she’s an alcoholic. She’s saying you have to help me stop.)
(You didn’t. You can’t. There was alcohol on her breath tonight. She staggered into your musty hotel room, no pants and her glasses askew. She crashed into your luggage on her way to the bathroom.)
(“How much did you drink?” you asked her, and it occurred to you that this was backwards, you with bags under your eyes, sniffing the Smirnoff on her breath, her breathless and irresponsible and too damn old for this.)
(“Drink?” She laughed. You asked her if something was funny, and she looked up and down your body, at your always-too-big thighs and your too-much-like-your-father shoulders. “Funny? Yeah, something’s funny.” And she slurred. And she laughed. And she fell into bed.)
You’re on the balcony. The wind blows your hair, lazily, like a mother exhausted from carding a hand through her sick child’s hair
(like a drunk mother too tipsy to care)
and you look at the ocean.
God, this room has a view.
The cold iron presses into your sternum. On your left, the ocean, black in this light and perfectly reflecting the moon, a postcard or maybe a movie scene,
something salty and black and unattainable,
kind of like this feeling that’s camped out in your chest.
On the right, the pool, artificial and blue and maybe a metaphor for something. Everywhere, palm trees.
And you think. Some things are true. Some are just pretentious.
You think of that ocean, and how it’s just this impossible part on this impossible planet in this impossible galaxy that you’re impossibly part of.
You don’t feel like a miracle.
You feel like a poker chip.
You feel this cold iron pressing into your sternum, and god, you’ve never wanted to jump more.
It would be so easy. You slip off your flip flops and step up onto the rungs. The wind has picked up, and you can see Orion’s belt. (There were stars the last time you were thinking like this.)
You look down. You can see right where you’d land. No one would find you until later. It’s 2 in the morning. (It was 2 in the morning last time, too.)
(This would be faster and more foolproof.)
(You need that. Clearly, you’re a fool.)
You rise on your tiptoes. The iron rungs press into your stomach, which heaves and twists in misery like it’s been doing for months. It wouldn’t take much. The wind blows at you, taunts you. Dares you to try it.
The thought is spontaneous and sharp and particularly rough around the edges, something that’s been rattling around your ribcage for a long time, a grain of sand too painful to become a pearl and too tame to digest. You are always going to hurt.
This deflates you. Your elbows clang to the balcony’s iron railing. Your ankles tremble where they support you.
You are always going to hurt, and regardless of your intentions, you will always make others hurt with you.
Bile, familiar and stinging, rises in your throat, but you’re so used to it now that you swallow it like a pill.
So this hardened resolve is what moves you, what makes you release your white-knuckled grip on the railing and step down from it. You don’t have to hurt others. You’re a lockbox, not a megaphone. Lockbox. Lockbox. You are a lockbox.
(I am a lockbox.)
There is a lump in my throat, but I am so beyond crying that it sits there, presses on my vocal cords just enough to keep me from screaming. I wish this was a movie. I wish I could close my mouth and never open it again.
I think it would be better that way.
Katelyn Jade Freydl, “041015, or how I went mute″