Lauren. 24. On the fence about just about everything.
[Written in high school. Current-me’s evolved analysis of the subject matter: you talk about words too much. Lighten up. Condense. Hmphg. Want burrito].
“for life’s not a paragraph/ And death I think is no parenthesis”
The girl was born with a body but it didn’t take long for words to replace her. She found herself solely in reading other people’s stories, so it seemed only fair when the words seeped out of the books she loved and used her own heartbeat to flow deeper and deeper into her. At first they were only marks, symbols and lexicons displaying themselves up her wrists and arms. Soon she realized that they had become her skin, holding her together and keeping out what harm they could. When she tried to break through them, tried to prove that she was still alive with a knife, a story spilled out instead of blood. A poem poured out onto a page that would become more tangible than her and told her exactly what she was. The words claimed what was theirs when she could find no way to show she had a right to be, but only to say it. They were her justification for existence, and so they became that existence.
An image meant more to her mother than her flesh and blood anyway, so no protest was made when ideas replaced her hands and her eyes reflected only theories. Nobody’s arms wrapped around her to keep her close, keep her solid, so she reasoned that arms were unnecessary and offered hers as payment for an ending that would be remembered. She was not happy or sad; she said happy things and sad things, wrote insightful lines and selfish endings, craved simple statements and needed complex concepts, but she was not anything anymore. She had dreams but she did not chase them. People mistook her acceptance for lack of caring, and did not understand when she told them that the ending of a story cannot be changed, no matter how many times it is read. The beauty in reading a work is the lack of control, the trust in where one can be taken. She thought she created but she was not a creator. All the words in the world are irrelevant without someone to put them together.
There was a swirl of words that encircled the place where her head had been, before. There were so many of them and they moved at such great speeds that she let herself hope they would get her somewhere. They moved in a cycle and they never did. Numbers and hurry only made them insignificant, incomprehensible even to her. Basic words she could not survive without ran through the emptiness people mistook for her self, carrying the vicarious emotions that sustained her. They were driven by a space in the almost-center of her, which held a single word that changed each time her heart used to beat. It gave her direction for a second but a second was never long enough to mean anything. She was sorry-now-useless-lost-god-her-feeling-meaning-life-guilt-sorry and she never made any difference. She thought that maybe she could matter, if just once that one word would fill the space in her, but she had no arms and could not hold and it never did.
She met him because she was ocean-war-black-empty-tear when she first saw him crying. The words raced through her as if in veins (as if in vain), and whispered excitedly to each other as if she were nervous. She was story-meaning-poetic-fate-incomplete and the plotlines she’d absorbed recognized him as a key character, based on the situational convenience and the symbolism. She had memorized how this was supposed to work.
His eyes only knew that light didn’t pass through her and thought her solid. Words fell off of her and brushed over his hand, his arm, his leg. They outlined her features like hair and eyelashes and shaped her like a dress, adapted her appearance so that she could be whoever he wanted. His hand hovered over hers and -shy- stopped its movement through her and remained there, in her fingers, shaking. His breath fell on her neck and -want- and -compassion- halted, stayed, became definite parts of her. His eyes traveled up her outline of words and the ones he liked slowed, danced, and defined themselves (and her) trying to catch his attention. He asked her to come with him and she imagined his hands sweeping her frame, holding her still. She imagined all the people in the world as words and hoped that each of them would find a place. If parts of her had to be lost, though, she was willing; she knew that in giving meaning to some others had to be forgotten. She had been an extra, meaningless word for too long, with varying connotations that left her useless, unchosen by anyone. If he made her she would not be the same as she had been before. She would be different. But she would be.
When he tried to touch her his hands passed through her. She told him she could feel him. She lied; she tried to pretend the contact was real. She could not feel him, but she could feel herself becoming solid, and she would have said anything to make him continue. He did not want her to say anything. He wanted her to do, and she could not. Ideas are not actions and her hands were useless to him. He did not want to look into eyes that would reflect nothing but himself. She was ashamed-absence-numb-unable-sorry but he did not want an apology. He told her he had a place for her and he put her on a shelf in between his books and his music. She knew she would only watch his life from there, and told him she did not want that to be her place. She wanted him next to her. He reminded her that she was only words and that he would have no one next to him. How could she ask for something she could not give? She said she didn’t want words and that she knew if he touched her there would be none to describe it. That if she were still a woman her mind would go blank like a page, and there would be only him and he could make her. But she was not a woman, and without the words she would be nothing. If he touched her, she would disappear.
He said that if he kissed her now, she would think of stories and endings and meanings and ideas, of anything but him. He said he would think of her like that; she would be his book and poem and movie to imagine over the shoulder of each person he kissed here. If she could she would be looking over his shoulder at who she used to be, and he would rather keep her here; he liked her this way. Her life was just a story.
Her life was just a story, so she dreamt of being real but never questioned him again. Even a sad ending is beautiful because it does not affect us; she does not really matter to anyone. The beauty of a story is lost without its ending. She could not cry like everybody else because endings cannot be changed, and words would break if she tried to bend them to fit her. She was -beauty- that she never could have touched physically, and wasn’t that better than simply trying or regretting?
He could have saved her, but could have does not matter and in choosing not to he saved himself. She is the greatest book you have ever read and the poem you would use your life to write, but you cannot give yourself up to her. She would trade all of the meaning for the most ordinary life. All of the words in the world already exist, and people only rearrange them trying to find understanding, to show significance. They don’t realize that the cycle cannot be stopped, that they are only telling what is already there.
Nothing that is real can be created. She has no arms and cannot hold and words cannot support a life. She can be happy-sad-insightful-selfish-simple-complex-sorry-gone, but she will never be -love-, not for anyone.