Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The Girl Who Could Not Be
There was a room with a small source of light coming in from a narrow window facing east. It was six in the evening but the sun was still shining out there strongly, as though it refused, just like my children, to go to bed. There was too much to see out there, and the plants needed the light too. Lydia liked those bright red geraniums blooming in her window box.
My mouth was open, I was laughing or breathing, moving in some way that left my mouth exposed and open. I felt something strange, a particular foreign pressure inside and I knew, I knew a bee had flew in.
It did not fly out. Even though there was no mirror and I couldn’t see it on my tongue, I knew it was there, laying still. I watched myself as though a spectator, aware of every muscular movement and thought. Though I watched from the position of an audience member, seeing and feeling in parallel realities.
I watched myself walk up to the man in light colored pants beside the window. He was holding a small plastic cup filled with dark red wine, the kind of cup used in gallery openings. He had a sweater draped around his shoulders. As I walked to him, I noticed he was talking to a man dressed just as he was, holding his cup in the same way. I walked towards them without hesitation and asked calmly, keeping my mouth open while doing so, to extract the bee.
The man, the first one I had noticed, did so easily, using his thumb and thin pointer finger to dip into the darkness of my mouth. He pulled out the bee and looked at it intently as he held it up to his face, letting it catch the light, though I could not tell if it was alive or dead.
As I turned from him, I wondered aloud how many bees fly in and out of my mouth without my realizing it. As I spoke, I pictured myself in bed in a dark room, only my face exposed while a pile of blankets swamp the rest of my body. I could see my open mouth, my wide mouth like an unguarded fortress. How many things go in and out? How many things fly from its space, those sentences dripping with unintended inflections and complaints? How many things go in and out when I’m not paying attention?
I wondered for a moment, realizing that there were too many to count, and then walked on, forgetting.
The next morning I walked into the sunshine, surprised by its strength. I held my car keys ready in one hand, the bright shiny silver of the key poised, alert, waiting for the perfect fit of the hole, just a moment until it could slip inside and be of use.
I let out a little excited wail as I felt something land on my naked shoulder. I turned to the source of the pressure, finding a bee perched beside me, fully intent on coming for the ride.
“Little bee!” I shouted mildly, “ahh!”
I pushed him off my shoulder with a gentle nudge of my finger, feeling something insect-like on my skin, a kind of cold, pokey sensation that was so small, so soft.
“Have you thought about the ‘word?’” my friend asked as we slid into the car and heard the click of the seatbelts from our trained hands. “Sometimes it’s all about the word, like, maybe you don’t want to ‘be.’”
I stared though the window, turning my wheel with practiced motion, seeing the blur of the neighborhood houses as we began to move.
I nodded, my mind racing. How many times was I afraid to shine? To dance, to sing until the heavens could find me with delight in my eyes? How many times was I afraid of my own absurdity, my thoughts and comments? How many times did I stifle my whims and hide in my room, saving the best parts of myself just for me?
Yes, I thought to myself, I am afraid to be. And yet I could not say it. I couldn't allow my mouth to open and let the words come flying out.