Friday, December 3, 2010

The People Who Learned To Hide

The girl who was never asked to Homecoming. Or any other dance. The girl who had never danced, period. The girl who would get up every morning and dress so carefully, anguished, long moments in front of the mirror, turning, scrutinizing, thinking: nothing she did would matter; no one, not one person, would notice her, would see her, would do anything but look right through her. The girl who never liked what she saw in the mirror. The girl who finally let a boy hold her down and fuck her, a boy who left bruises on her breasts and never spoke to her again. The girl who never learned to speak what was in her head, never learned to sort it out, to give voice to it. The girl who never raised her voice, who didn't dare. The girl who wished she could crawl into her old dollhouse and live out her days without ever moving again.

The boy who learned to hide. The boy who had his books knocked out of his arms hundreds of mornings and afternoons at the bus stop. The boy who was always picked last for teams in gym class. The boy who was always the last to undress and shower in gym class. The boy who never raised his hand. The boy who sat alone in the lunch room. The boy who loved Tarzan. The boy whose parents never gave him a baseball mitt. The boy who threw like a girl. The boy who lived in fear of the dodge ball. The boy who sat alone in his room each night filling notebooks with words or sketches nobody ever saw. The boy who looked longingly at the moon from his bedroom window and longed to live there some day. The boy who hoped to be spared. The boy who was not spared, or who was entirely spared.

The single woman mourning alone the loss of her cat. The single man who walks by the playground each day and feels a hole in his soul. The single man who is afraid of actually engaging any of the children he meets for fear of being suspect. The single men and women who stand outside the Super America at ten o'clock at night, intently scratching away at lottery tickets. The single men and women who go through the drive-through at McDonald's alone at midnight. The single men and women who drink alone. The single men and women who wish they were not single, who wish they had children, who talk to themselves or their dogs. The single men and women who believed in fairy tales. The single men and women who no longer care what they look like and no longer listen to music and no longer believe in love. The single men and women who can't think of anything to say to the people who aren't there or the people who are no longer there.

The old man who lost the love of his life and his connection to the world. The old men and women who never found success or satisfaction in their work. The old men and women who no longer dream. The old men and women who eat canned soup for dinner. The old men and women who no longer feel like taking their pills. The old men and women --and the young men and women-- who will spend Christmas alone.

The fifty-year-old man with the newspaper spread out on the floor in front of him, circling unpromising and in all likelihood hopeless job advertisements.

The stutterers, stammerers, and mutterers. The lonely and blank and broken. The angry and disenchanted. The unloved and unseen. The people for whom hope has been reduced to a persistent and almost entirely unpleasant instinct that grows more acidic by the year, yet which remains on some sad human level ineradicable. One connection, one real conversation, one person they could claim as a friend would be encouragement, if not a triumph.

They're everywhere. They feel like they are hiding. They feel like they're invisible. See them, why don't you? See them as they are, but also, if you're able, as they might once have been and --most importantly-- as they've always dreamed of being seen. Because this world is killing them, and they are killing the world, and every time we look through these people we are --all of us-- complicit in one of the greatest and most unpardonable crimes in human history.

1 comment: