Better Out Than In

We talked about the value of beauty over content in my American Literature class today, how honesty can be baffling, and how we try to avoid it. Instead, we ramble, describing lines, shadows, and feelings, mistaking these things for the truth. That’s the purpose, I think. How much do you really understand that you see?

People have been asking me about my blog or if I’ve quit writing. Honestly, I’ve been aching to write, but I’m afraid it’s something no one wants to read. I’m afraid that once I start, it will fill pages. A novel forced by fear.

But here it is – here is what I know is true: I have the most beautiful life, and I wish it was someone else’s.

I’m washed away by the disobedience of it all. I write in the night so that I don’t see the words, how they spread with tears. A prayerbook full of pleas, something I know God doesn’t read. And I hope he doesn’t see me now.

I was advised when everything first happened that this sort of thing was more common way back when. “Hell, kid,” I was told, “Haven’t you ever seen Little House on the Prairie?”

So I visit new churches, meet the elders and their wives, and I wonder, “Am I alone?” In the middle of a church, if you can believe it, I’ll scream if one more person tells me everything will be okay.

Grey ladies ask me who I am. I say, “Emily. I’m an English major.” Hands to their hearts, I can see all the rings on their fingers like complete memories. I wonder who gave them each one and why. They fawn over me with their jewelry flashing, “Oh! My daughter studied English in college! Do you have siblings?”

There it is.

When I was younger, I was the outgoing child. Two years in my shadow, my brother Grant was shy. He had a lisp, or a stutter, some issue with his s’s. I don’t remember what it was exactly. He ended up growing out of it. Kids used to make fun of him for it though, so he didn’t talk much.

The first (and last) time my mother ever caught me teasing him, she hissed purple. Shame, silence, solitude.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Don’t ever speak to him like that again. You’re grounded. We are supposed to stand up and protect one another. It’s what families do. It’s a lifelong privilege. Now go apologize.”

And of course, I didn’t disobey. I said sorry, I always do. There were always other arguments, but none so furious, betrayed.

Ruby rings flash, bright off choir lights. It makes me close my eyes, and I see the same dark I write in. Waiting for an answer. The disobedience.

All I have to do is get the words out.