From time to time I feel myself in some sort of rag tag community. We are separated, quarantined from society sometimes a tribe or a large broken family or survivors of war. We are those left behind we are those sent to start anew, in torn clothing we are cast away always young people often ones I recognize and sometimes there is a leader but they’re never around. It’s always a dystopian environment like a facility for disturbed young adults with a heavy lock in an abandoned warehouse with twin bunk beds in narrow columns 100 feet up the metal walls and piles of pink trash bags in each corner. Other times we are in the woods, half-lost and half-found at the mercy of the elements. Always it is chaotic, it is dizzying. I get the idea that I need to fend for myself, there is no one preaching mercy or counting sins.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a thick woods, there were many young people there- we were a sort of tribe or camp and maybe it was springtime, the trees were sad but green and there was a bitterness to the air but a feeling like some horror was past like we had survived a harsh and deadly winter and at least we were still alive. I knew there were some guys out here I had dated long ago, before all this happened but I hadn’t seen them in a while and I figured they were off doing their own thing. It was pretty hard out there and you had to learn to take care of yourself first, it was a cruel lesson.
There was a girl and she was wild. I met her in a pink bikini on a lawn chair by a moldy pool with brassy hair and scrapes on her elbows. When she smiled everything felt warm and a sunflower blossomed in my chest. She needed some help and soon enough we spent every day together. No one was really in charge here, and we were often cold and a little muddy and didn’t have quite enough food. We weren’t starving by any means but I looked at her pale and cold and a little too skinny and I felt guilty she couldn’t have a better life. She deserved more and I wanted to give her that. She never once stopped smiling for me.
People seemed to rush on by, everyone on their own mission, no time to see us here on the side of the road. One day we were hanging out and I noticed I had bug bites and bruises on my hips. It was painful and tender and I was a little worried. She bent over me and with a playful smile she bit me hard on the left hip, leaving a large gash that looked like when I used to cut myself with razor blades back home, but much larger than anything I had ever managed. She felt bad, didn’t mean to do it that deep. Couldn’t even look me in the eyes. She felt real bad.
The wound was very triggering and tender, the pain reminded me of times that were far worse than now, before I had her. Others were almost afraid of it, afraid of me. Their eyes flit from the gash to my eyes and then quickly away. Although I excelled at wound care, a skill I as forced to learn, we didn’t have any medical supplies other than old rags. No clean bandages, no ointment or alcohol. Too soon, I realized, it would become infected. It was a chilling realization.
We had to leave.
This dawned on me like a ice bucket over my head. We were too cold and damp, we were not starving but we were far from comfortable. I knew my wound would not heal in these conditions. The wound was too deep, it was too jagged. We had to leave. Where were the guys?
I told her we had to go and she agreed without skipping a beat of her heart. She would follow me to the lifeless dust of mars, to the suffocating humidity of Venus. There was no need for her to know the truth, which was that if we stayed, I would surely die. This dripping wound, her wound upon me would become infected and I would die here in this empty place. I would die here and leave her alone.
We waited for the new moon and left at night so no one could see us go. She calculated the phases of the moon on her little chart yet I had no idea where we were headed or if there even was a better place but I would rather die in my escape than in that cold land. We had to leave. I took her hand by night and in the shadow of the moon we took cover. I guided her up boulders across valleys her torn jeans her nails were full of soil we waded through thick waters and brine and stench and creatures and rumble of thunder and she was fearless, she was fucking fearless she stared into the eyes of the wild and the wild bowed, humbled. I led her through the abyss, no idea where we were headed or which stars to follow and follow she did, every step of the way god why did she trust me so. Yes she always believed in me, she did. God why did she trust me so.
We traveled, half starved yet I remember little more of the journey other than the fear and I remember little of the new place we found other than that we were inside and we were safe and warm and clean and dry. I slid my arms around her waist and pulled her up into my lap and kissed her soft lips and I said, “come here my girl, I fuckin love you. How did I not see, you’ve been here all along. You’ve been by my side. I fucking love you, I’m so sorry”
And I held her and she held me too and soon I realized that I had not saved her at all, not me, not the absent guys, not the shadow of the moon. In full lucidity she saved me. She initiated me into the inability to remain. She marked me, bit me, healed me. She is the catalyst for the realization that enough is enough. That we were surviving, but that was all. We could not thrive there any longer. We had to make that terrifying journey in search of something greater. She showed me that I was greater.
What she saw in me
She fucking saw me
Not the guys, where the fuck were they?
Where were they when we were cold and hungry?
She has always been here.
She has seen right through me.
Only then did I realize.
I cannot survive in this role this story is no longer okay I am enough as I am I cannot maintain the facade I can no longer be polite I will die here if I don’t leave she has infected me with her bite oh I thought I was her savior yet somehow she saw right through me somehow she knew and it became real, I became real, and the truth behind the truth is that I needed her as much as she needed me and she has healed me as much as I have healed her.