I sneak out of my mother’s house every night after she goes to sleep. I call it her house because it is not my home. Home is where I’d feel at peace. Home is where I’d know my own name. No one calls me by the right name. I want my name back. During the day, I tell the boy with curls and buck teeth and eyes like a lightning strike to call me Eddie. He never does. At night, I don’t care what he calls me. At night, I am always me no matter the name because the people who puppet me put their hands to sleep. I don’t sleep much.
I make it seem like there’s a body in my bed with the pillows in case my mother comes in. I look at it. I wonder if, maybe, it doesn’t matter what’s in my bed as long as something is sleeping: human, ghost or monster. I wonder if, maybe, I am the ghost haunting my own body. I wonder if, maybe, my mother doesn’t care what’s inside me as long as she can control it. I look at myself in the reflection of the window. I look human but I could also be a monster and no one would ever know it. I open the window. I climb out onto the roof and jump off. I stick the landing and look up at my mother’s bedroom window. I run.
I take nothing with me but a five dollar bill and my name. Eddie. Eddie. It beats with every crash of my heart against my ribs, begging to be released. It breathes with every gasp my lungs take, greedy in the stifling air of this monstrous town. I have seen the face of evil and I have devoured it whole and now it lives inside me. Evil broke my bones and I just put them back together in the shape of a boy. Evil is the ghost who made its home inside me. I want to be me, but I don’t know who that is. I want to be me, but I don’t know if I ever really was to begin with.
I am always running, it’s just that sometimes I’m not allowed to look like it. I am always running, it’s just that sometimes my lungs can’t take the pressure and they burst open, flowers blooming and choking me stiff. Those flowers are beautiful but the puppeteer rips them out root from root when my inhaler comes out, useless and empty of any real power. I am scared more than I cannot breathe. My head is sick more than my body is. The puppeteer would have my hide if she could lick my brain, if she knew that I know how I am not sick or dirty or broken. I am Eddie. I am Eddie.
My name is alive inside me as I end up in front of the lightning strike boy’s house. I grab a stone and toss it at his window, one for every time I thought of him tonight and was ashamed of it. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. The boy I love comes to the window and opens it. He is always himself, unashamedly, unabashedly. I wonder if he knows I love him because I love his freedom. I wonder if he knows I love him at all.
He smiles down at me. Eddie, he says, and it sounds like home, the home I’m not allowed to know, the home I’m not allowed to live within. I smile back. I always fashioned myself Juliet; the broken bird waiting for someone to save her. But maybe I was never broken at all and neither was Juliet; we were just waiting for somebody to tell us that we can save ourselves. I remember the lightning strike boy setting my arm in place when it snapped, when evil tried to make its way inside us. Evil laughed in our faces. Evil came in the shape of a smile. Maybe the true evil lived in our homes all along and we never knew. My evil had strings and an inhaler in a hand outstretched; my boy’s smelled like a vodka tonic. We all have people who long to control us, but in the end, they never say our true names. None of them know the things we love without them.
He says, I thought I was Flynn Rider. I don’t have enough hair for you to climb. I say, then come to me. He does, and as he lands at my feet, I ask him if he likes running. He smiles and says, I like you. I grab his hand and we run into the night. There, we don’t need names to still be ourselves. He says, our friends will never let us live it down if they find out we went running around town all night in our fucking pajamas. I shrug and keep running. He doesn’t know that all I do is run, even without him, even without our friends, even and especially without my mother. We run to the school and I buy him a coke from the machine outside the building. He leans against the cool brick and when he looks up at me through his eyelashes, lightning strikes. We kiss because it is dark and we are young and there is nobody around to tell us we are sick and dirty and broken for wanting to. There’s a lot my mother doesn’t know. There’s a lot my mother will never, ever find out.
We ditch the cans and keep running and when we laugh, we don’t sound like the evil that tried to feast its way inside us. We don’t sound like our mothers who don’t understand us. We don’t sound like anyone but ourselves. I drop him back off at his house and, because I’m wheezing a bit, he asks if I brought my inhaler with me. I shake my head and smile, broad and proud and brave.
Hot take: Tumblr’s knee-jerk negative reaction to any kind of interaction between Rey and Kylo Ren is really, ah, not conducive to enjoyment of a narrative.
Because guess what? They are, respectively, the protagonist and antagonist of a story! They’re going to interact! The fact that these two characters interact and share screentime is not the sign of some shady executive/director/what have you “pandering to shippers”, it is a sign that a narrative EXISTS. The fact that these interactions might have some kind of effect on each character (and, by extension, the story as a whole) is literally how interaction and characterization works.
Please, for the love of all that is holy, use your critical thinking skills and recognize the building blocks of a story for what they are.
So I LOVED Thor: Ragnarok, every single part of it was AMAZING, but now all I can think about is how much Thor’s psyche must be a smashed-up, smoldering ruin right now. He’s lost Jane, his mother is dead, his father is dead, the Warriors Three are dead. He’s lost his beloved hammer, he’s lost his hair, he’s lost his friggin’ eye. He’s lost his golden homeland and now must be king (a position that he doesn’t want) for an entire people with no place to go. He’s learned that Odin was not the man he’d thought he was. He’s finally learned, through betrayal after betrayal after betrayal, that he cannot trust his brother. And yet he’s still such a bright, shining presence, this pillar of power and gentle kindness.
All I’m saying is, this boy needs a therapist. I’m really worried about the complete train wreck that must be hidden under those smiles.