There are nights when some things get to be too much… weights around the neck, fae-bright flashes of old memories, dark whisperings at the corners, in the periphery of hearing. What am I afraid of? I’ll tell you, but I have to whisper. I have to say it on the slant.
Pinned like a moth: bones to bones, Triceratops (trickster-god of missing puzzle pieces, young torosaurus) speaks from his stand in the Smithsonian in a sea of human language, “You are hiding”; the coyote on the roadside who sees me, pauses, yellow stare a blow to the nose, “You are running?”; I walk headlong into her web in Myakka, the golden silk spider is placid, and as I brush the sticky strands from my face, I cry, shrieking, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” The spider doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t need to. I know.
I am afraid of nothing so simple as failure, or of looking myself in the eye when I gaze into a mirror. These are bearable things. No, I’m afraid of you. You, reading this. Not in the act of reading, no, but when we’re at dinner, and I make a joke, and it falls flat, and you look at me with that withering look, and I go quiet. Or when the big reveal has come, and you know my secret, that I’m not straight, that I am in fact one of those complicated bisexual folk, I am afraid of what you will say. Or what you will do. If you will slap me open handed, or punch me until I can’t stand, or if you’ll wrinkle your face in disgust. I’m afraid of being too academic in front of you, or that I’ve missed something important. That you let me speak because you don’t know how to make me go away. I’m afraid that everything I am doing is wrong, and you’re just too polite to tell me.
This on top of how I will pay the bills, and how I will put food on my table, the demons of abusive exes and the old memories of traumas years buried. But those are known. They are carved into my bones. I understand them. You, on the other hand, are the dark, and I am five years old.
Very well, then. I will not hide, I think to Triceratops. I will slow my step since the coyote noticed. I will hold still while the orb-weaver takes up her web. It’s daylight, anyway, and webs that large need to be taken in at dawn. It’s daylight, it’s daylight. Very well, then. Bravery is learned. I’ll ask. How are you?