My stiff, stiff neck. Frozen in time, a statue in a museum. A naked one, ashamed of being stared at. A sentient one, thinking there’s glances pointing towards you, but then the museum is dark at night and there’s absolutely no one there, god damnit.
My heavy breaths. In, out. Stutter.
Memo to myself, earlier today:
Stuttering breath. Heart pounding. Pound your heart against the inside of your chest. Take deep, slow, wavering breaths. Stutter when you speak. Smile when you sing. Figure people’ll think it was unexpected, but a pleasant surprise. You can control your emotions. Just let it be, let it be, let it be Jesus. Watch the singer’s faces, raised up, face lifted to the ceiling and wide with a smile of spiritual ecstasy. Watch the lights glow purple and then blue, green, yellow, on their faces on the stage. Close your eyes as the man in the next row glances back at you. Think it may just be a coincidence. Delude yourself. Fall into a pit. Land in the dirt, stains in your tattered jeans. You are a sinner, the preacher says. Your eyes twitch. A man behind you to the right coughs. Tell the neighbor next to you, you’re broken, he says. You turn your face fully to your mother, half ashamed. You both laugh.
Maybe it was meant to be an experience, made worth it at the end, as if to say, Hey, see this, this isn’t bad at all. It’s good. But yeah, you’re spiritually dead, says God. I’ve been trying to reach you for a long time but you haven’t listened, He says (or She). SO I thought you’d respond better to this stranger up here who tries to make everything exciting, his voice ever-crescendoing to the climax. There is none. There is no climax. The best part is when he describes the woman prostitute, long-haired and weeping, tears dripping down her face wet on his street-dusted feet. Some droplets dampen her hair. She has no washcloth to dry his feet. She uses her hair instead. Dabs and rubs his feet with her hair like it’s a towel. Simon, the Pharisee not the Disciple, looks on with disgust. It’s a qualitative thing, abstract. His grimacing face reveals his sin. The preacher pauses now. He has just finished the monologue much more boring but this allowed you to fill in the descriptive blanks.
They say to kill your darlings. They say just because you’re in a bad chapter doesn’t mean your whole story’s rotten. They say just because you think someone’s looking at you doesn’t mean they are. You can remember the time you stood frozen near the bus, thinking Ms. Nala was watching you and judging, your eyes blank at the elementary sidewalk. And when you looked up she was turned around. Maybe even gone. Your memory’s faulty. The truth is, everything is subjective. You realized this in the eleventh grade, which is a foggy memory but still part of your story. Everything is subjective, you would sigh, and you would make this your mantra. Your blog title in all lowercase, blinking at visitors. How pretentious, but it doesn’t matter. All life moves on.