The Cosmos That Describes You
It’s been a while since we talked last. Not since I last saw you, but since we last communicated. …Sometimes I don’t understand the difference. I don’t bring you up like I used to, less out of shame and more out of guilt. You begged me to stop. You begged me just to let it all go.
And I did. For a while. For a little bit.
Just long enough to feel matchsticks in my ribs and feel the wheeze of fungus in my lungs.
When I came back I thought you’d be disappointed. You weren’t—at least—you didn’t look it. No, instead I was gifted with something much more pathetic. That look that says “I knew it.” The look that says “I couldn’t leave, either.”
Your hands are the only hands I can handle on my shoulder, too warm and too big and seeping through my brittle skin into the rotting meat inside of me. It’s like it was, before. It’s comforting in a sickly way, shoulder to shoulder with you, staring at my white walls, waiting for something to change.
“What was it like, out there?” You asked me quietly, grunting when I weaseled my fat fingers into your long, thin grip.
“Scary.” I don’t know any other words good enough to describe the sheer terror I feel without you around. I’d wake up every morning and the beasts would still be there. I still saw everything I never wanted to admit to, I still heard all of the monsters. My demons were still waiting for me—except you weren’t there. You taught me to take a deep breathe and walk beside them, like when you see a dog you’re not sure you can trust. Act like it’s not there, never admit you’re scared. Never let them see how bad it gets to you.
Someone took your mouth away ages ago, lips strewn together with catgut and a cheap curved needle. Your chapped, mutilated mouth presses into the top of my head—not love but not anything else.
“Do you like it better here?” That’s a loaded question if I ever heard one. Demons are still here, and the monsters living in my backseat. An old man with hollowed out eyes waits on my porch late at night. He never asks for anything, he just smiles at me knowingly, and waits. Maybe he’s waiting to be invited in. There’s a timid leaf-beast that rustles under my mother’s window. He whines in the dark, shaking and skittering through the twisted blue-cast streetlamps. When I can’t sleep, I can hear fingers scratch against my windows, and there are whispers.
I hate it here.
But at least, here, I have you. The monsters look at me and smile now, instead of a sneer that promises things I can’t comprehend just yet.
You don’t get to choose family, I guess. You just have to suck it up.
I appreciate that you drop the subject when I don’t answer, and we drift into a amiable silence.