Mother Says

It was a day in June. The exact date has escaped me, but it was a Saturday. The week had been stressful, and as I always liked to do, I left home early and drove to the woods. A hike seemed to clear my mind; it sure as hell helped me deal with the shit I had to put up with at work. Just walking in the woods, I felt more connected with nature – with life, if you will. I felt more human, more alive, to leave the death and the grey of the concrete, tarmac and brick to enter the world of rivers, mountains and trees.
Around two o’clock I took my first break. I must have sat there for at least half an hour, enjoying the view and the absence of car noises, shouting people and sirens. Without really thinking about it, I plucked a little wildflower, growing beside my feet.
“You shouldn’t do that,” a young girl’s voice said.
She scared the living hell out of me.
“Hi there, you scared me for a minute,” I said, heart still beating like crazy. “Are you lost? I didn’t see anyone near when I walked up here.”
No answer.
“Are you all alone? Are your parents nearby?” I asked.
“Mommy is here,” she said.
I looked around, but saw no one else.
As if she felt right at home, the girl sat down next to me. I remember well how her little white dress had an intricate design of colorful flowers, bugs and birds on it. She might have worn shoes, but I can’t seem to recall anything other than the dress. That beautiful dress.
“Can I sit and talk to you, for a moment?” she asked.
“Sure, but aren’t you afraid mommy might go looking for you? Does she think it’s okay for you to talk to strangers like this? Won’t she be worried?” I asked, secretly hoping she’d feel inclined to go back to her mother. I’ve never felt particularly at ease with children.
“Mommy knows I’m here,” she answered. “She sent me. To sit with you and to talk to you, I mean. She wants me to tell you that you will die on November 5th.”
I needed some time to process. Took me a minute.
“What… how… why would you say such a thing? That’s… I mean, you can’t just say something like that to people. That’s not nice, and you shouldn’t be joking about something like death. That’s my birthday, for god’s sake,” I uttered.
“I know it’s your birthday,” she said, with a hint of regret in her voice. “And I know it’s not nice to say. Or to hear, for that matter. I dont like saying it. Not at all. But mommy was very clear: I was to meet you here, at this time, and I was to tell you you are going to die on November 5th. That’s it. I am not joking, I’m doing what mommy told me to do. That’s it. Now I gotta go back to mommy.”
And just like that she got up and started to walk back the way she came from. As if she was relieved her pesky job was over, she hopped out of sight. Maybe I should have followed her, but I was stumped. Don’t remember much of the way back either, but I guess I just walked back to my car and drove home. I remember sitting on my porch with a beer until long after dawn, that’s it.

Tomorrow is November 5th, and all I can think of today are the little girl’s last words as she hopped out of sight and I angrily yelled who her mommy was… who this wise lady was, if she thought she knew when I was going to die.
“She was here all the time, silly… she is everywhere around! She is the trees and the butterflies and the flowers and the river and the rock you sit on. She is the ants and the earth they build their nest in. She is the bird and she is the air under its wings. She is the sunlight and the shadows. She is everything and she knows everything. And if mommy says you’re going to die, you most certainly will. They always do, if she said so!”
Tomorrow is November 5th. And I don’t want to die.

Of Words and Sticks and Stones

I typed it all out. In one night. All the nasty things anyone ever said to me. Every remark, every negative comment and every joke made at my expense. Each one on its own sheet of paper.
Funny, it took me a lot longer than I anticipated. Quite a stack, I’ll tell you.
When I was done, I took a stapler and a box of staples. Bought them especially, that same afternoon. Looking at the pile of paper on my desk, I wondered if one box would be enough.
It was.
When I was done, I stood in front of the mirror. Small red lines of blood streaming from the spots where staples had pierced the paper – and then my skin. Darker lines, where the blood had been sucked up by the back of the paper. A crimson drop, here and there. Not as much on the ground, thankfully.
Every negative, fucking thing someone ever said to me. Stapled to my skin, and just my eyes were visible. I looked like a goddamn mummy, with his bandages stapled on while still alive. But, I stood tall. It hurt like hell, but I stood. And I stood. For hours. It didn’t kill me. That was never the goal of this.
Taking it all off was a pain in the ass. The dried and clotted blood held on to every staple I tried to wiggle out. In the end I found it best and least painful to just rip ’em off as fast as I could. Almost passed out, but – and I’m particularly proud of that – still I stood tall.
All my wounds have healed since. It hardly shows. Only if you know what I did, you’d be able to spot the little paired dots where the staples were. And if you knew what I did, maybe – just maybe – you’d understand how powerful I feel right now. I took all those words and purposely turned them into sticks and stones. I used staples to attach them to myself in a really, really painful way, and I stood tall. And then I ripped them all off. And that hurt even more.
But they are gone now. All those words. Gone, forever. I ripped them off my skin, but I tore them out of my soul at the very same time.
Those little red dots, neatly aligned two-by-two on my skin? Those are fucking bite marks. Tiny, little scars of tiny, little vampires that tried to suck the life out of me but failed. A warning to all other blood suckers: don’t you try and inject your poison. I’ll rip it out. And I’ll stand tall doing it. And it will only make me more powerful.

Under the Table

I like to hide sometimes. Not like children do, because I like it best when people aren’t even looking for me. It’s not a game anymore, and I am not a child anymore.

The more people, the noisier, the greater my urge to take a few steps back. To dissolve into some shadow.

Those moments, with lots of people and lots of their chattering, I don’t want to leave completely. Like a kid on a party will all grownups, I love being there and just observe. To hide underneath a table, so I can still hear everybody talk. See them sit and move, without them knowing – or caring – I am there. Okay, maybe a little like a child.

The best part is nobody ever seems to notice me gone. They just go on and on with their silly conversations. Laughing, shouting or whispering. Saying nothing important at all, they just seem to talk to fill the silence.

Witnessing that feels almost like eavesdropping. But it’s not. It’s a way to feel part of something I really can’t be part of.

I like to sit on the social sidelines like that, one foot on the playing field, one in silent solitude, watching the game like an anonymous member of the audience. Shifting my balance from one foot to another, in and out, as time passes.

Those who know, who understand or just let me be are the ones I hold dear. They accept it’s the best I can do, and do not think less of me for it. Like they would of a child, probably.