I never thought that an old lady could hurt me – not to this extent, past tears and into something sadder, meatier. I’ve always treated her with dignity and respect, never gotten too close, too personal, too off-handed.
She poured out the rough equivalent to a lifetime of hate on the director, aimed at me. There were no specific grievances – she compared me to a third-world regime, to the military secret police of bloody dictatorships, to acts of injustice perpetrated against entire nations and races. Never to one person in particular. She said, clearly, specifically, “I hate her.”
Today is her last day here. She expressed her hopes that the daycare fails, closes, and that the resulting parents who have no care will seek it at her house. Her anger is a far cry from the near-supplication displayed when she asked for her old position, said this was the best school, the managers, the staff were kind, good people whom she hoped to work for again. In actuality, her motive was to sow dissent among the staff and parents and propel the entire thing into a downward spiral she hoped was irremediable.
“They’re not wild goat kids,” the director told her, referencing the children she was about to leave transition-less, provider-less. “You should think about their feelings, their needs, Cathy.” But she shook her head – her old head, with the thinning dyed hair gelled into submission, with the deep furrows that make her appear ten years older than she actually is – “They’re children, aren’t they? Then let them survive, as children do.”
No matter how bad a breakup is, some small part of me always knows that love, passion and the like tend to disappoint. Likewise the strongest friendships are prey to little maggots of doubt and insecurity and – well, I’m hardly surprised at the rot. Or the infidelity. Or the what-have-you; because some primal part of one is always attuned to the shifts, the changes. Some part always anticipates, always knows what’s coming. And now I find myself speechless with shock. Whenever anyone asks me how I feel I’m reduced to mumbles and shrugs. I don’t think I’ve ever been so hurt. I feel like I’ve broken a rib again, all short of breath and sharply sore. I’m at a loss. All I can think to say is that I don’t know how or why I would trust anyone, on any level, ever again.
She’d known me since I was a little child myself, before I needed bras or braces, before I had broken bones.
Before I had a single scar.