Phase One: In Art, In Flesh, In Loss

Posted: November 29, 2009 in Chapters of "In the Gray"
Tyler said I should allow myself to think about how I feel. What do I feel?

I feel… like the art they put on the walls around dentist chairs is absolutely ridiculous. Almost insulting. You’re lying completely vulnerable on cold, tight leather while three people have six different tools in your mouth and… that’s what she said.

But really.

You taste metal and hot chipped bone while you feel the drill’s vibration in the back of your skull. And you’re supposed to be distracted by that fucking bullshit – those seafoam green, plumb, and blue wispy things beautifully intertwined with a couple of oddly placed geometrical shapes on a pepto backdrop. That’s supposed to make you forget that these jackasses are bashing shit into your jaw to make you look prettier? And my daddy cringes every single time he pulls out his credit card for that jabbing dental payment. Every time. He cringes. I cringe. We all cringe. And we get inside his dusty Taurus with the cracked windshield and we bobble like shifty cargo along the road back home. I poke and bite and stab at my fat cheek until I start to feel it. Daddy keeps telling me to stop it before I put a hole in my own face. For a split second, I think that would be so badass. Then I’d miss my flesh. Just like I miss mom.

I know it’s horrible to compare my dead mother to gnawing a good-sized hole in my numb cheek, but that’s how it feels. Something is missing, and it feels weird, and everybody can see it on my face. A void. I beat myself up about it and make that hole bigger and bigger until I can feel a harsh draft of cold air hit a couple of raw nerves and I finally discover what it takes to howl in a bloody kind of agony and sob until the blood clots. Part of me hopes it wouldn’t. The skin would never grow back. It’s always going to be like that.

Hmm. What do I feel…

It wasn’t always this way. My sister, Yvette, would actually ask me how my day was, and didn’t think to give any smart ass remark after she tricked me into giving her a genuine response. I gave genuine responses. I used to ravish in my good days, admit to my bad ones. But I never had bad days. Not the real kind. And people really, really liked me. Wait… no. Back up.

You know how when you cry… and your tears drip onto a book, or a magazine, or… paper. Just any kind of paper. You know how the saline sinks through a couple pages, and it creates this wrinkly, soggy, permanent spot of…. sob? And it just makes you want to rip the page out afterwards? Well, that was Moira. The whole concept. I hope that makes sense. It does to me.

Moira was so jealous, I always ached to know what was going on inside that clogged mind of hers. It was clogged with anger, resentment, the lingering commands of an overbearing mother, and the girlish hope that Milli Vanilli sang their own music. She hated me because I was Leta and she was Moira. She was waiting for me to get something less than an A on an exam. She was waiting for the guy of my dreams to knock my textbooks out of my grasp in between classes. She was dying for a baby Grand piano to just fall out of the sky and crush my frail body flat on the sidewalk with nobody around – not because she hated the ground I walked on (even though she did), but because I had a frail body. Keyword being “had”. It’s fine, though. I don’t mind her, or the fact that I’ve gained weight. I feel warmer.

I never understood why people kept going to gunpoint, even though they knew thats where everyone gets shot. I never understood the ghosty thing that makes people fall out of love. Or if dying ever felt anything like floating. Or the pretty trees that line factories. Or why we raise our kids to believe in strange concepts, because presents from a mythical creature give more happiness than presents from a loving parent. Or why cats are so selfish. Or the money wasted on confetti for New Years in Times Square when there are homeless people who don’t even know what day it is, much less the last hot meal they ate. Or city water control. Or that snowiness between two people who aren’t nice to each other.

Well, I’m thinking. I actually brought myself to ‘feel’, or whatever. I don’t really know what progress feels like, but I’m pretty sure this dances within that category. I don’t like having a doctor. It makes me feel crazy. I’m really just a little sad, like any normal human being might be. But daddy worries a lot, so to appease him, I see Tyler. My doctor. Oh, Tyler.

He might ask me a couple times if I spent some alone time to collect my thoughts… and I will say yes, and he will think I’m lying, so he’ll ask again. And all I have to do is just look at him, roll my eyes, and let out this huge, annoyed sigh – and for some reason, that lets him know I’m really telling the truth. And we move on. Tyler pulls out his dorky clipboard and clicks his blue pen open, and the logical person in me totally knows that while I’m bearing my soul, he’s drawing pictures of Mickey Mouse fucking Minnie Mouse doggie style.

“…are they related?,” I crinkle my face and utter under my breath.

“What’s that you said?,” he tilts his head with a genuine eagerness to listen. I shake myself out of a daydream.

“What? Nothing. I didn’t say anything.”

He smiles at me and folds his hands together, “How did you do this week, Leta? How are you feeling?”

I want to point to that gaping, bloody hole in my cheek, but it isn’t there because I made it up in some fantasy I had about allowing myself to feel sad.


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