recent universe

The funny thing about violence – violence isn’t funny, I think, but somehow the sentence just started that way – the funny thing is how quickly everything changes. One minute I am walking down the street in the sun and air among other human beings and the next I am in a sewer fathoms below, in the dark, and all I can remember doing was walking.

The funny thing is that you’re suddenly in an alternate universe or the sewer analogy but wherever the hell you are it isn’t quite right, it isn’t reality, and somehow no one seems to understand the urgency, the terror, the chokey weird feeling of not being physically safe anymore. The police have these sad, understanding and exhausted eyes that make them look just like bloodhounds, and nice normal people have a tendency to exclaim “That’s crazy!” and follow it quickly with “Tell me more!”

I kept having this fantasy the whole time that someone, anyone, would put a hand on my shoulder and ask me if I were okay, and I could take a long, deep breath and feel a little better, because someone was – oh, I don’t know, reaching to me from the universe I had just inhabited. It wasn’t a fleshed-out fantasy because I knew it wouldn’t happen.

It didn’t.

A lot of people asked, of course. They wanted details, they were surprised it wasn’t at all related to men or romance, as if that’s the only kind of ugly that ever reaches out to touch women; slap-happy boyfriends, jilted stalkers, abusive husbands. But the hand on the shoulder, the kind tone of voice – I’ve seen it before, a long time ago, and it hurts like the memory of a bruise.

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hate

“I hate you,” I said, before I could stop myself. “Do you, Lola?” he asked me. “Of course I do! I hate you so much I feel my pulse rise when I look at you and my stomach tightens and – ” I looked down at my arm “and the hairs on my arms stand up, and – ” I bit my lip. He came over to me and looked at my arm, turning it slightly in the light. I don’t have much arm hair and what I do have is thin and blonde and not really visible. But it felt like it stood up, visible or no. He sat down and smiled faintly, and I noticed for the first time that he’s beginning to get lines around his eyes, not smile creases or crinkles but fine little lines. Wrinkles.

And suddenly he looked old, and tired, and lonely.