Sisters’ Book Burning (Fiction)

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Upon waking, the first thing I felt was cheated. I’d planned it out, gotten my throat to swallow that disgusting crap, yet here I still was.

The crank window got me. Opening it was a laborious thing, like some occupational therapy exercise of 30 little circles. Who would have opened it on a freezing January night? The cold whiteness and freshness of the room held the answer. Angel.

I never thought of killing myself again.

It’s not that my life hasn’t been turned upside down and inside out. But since that day nearly three decades ago, I’ve been feeling my way towards home.

There is this green, lusciousness like a bubbling swamp or kudzu growing up from my womb and taking over my heart and my arms and my throat until I can’t contain it. This Greenness (yes, it deserves to be capitalized) has grown in love and heartbreak and it demands to be let out.

And to let you in.

It tells me it its tendrils have held you too, that it is mending your heart even now, if only you will let your sweet organ continue to beat a while longer.

There used to be a wall between us, me and the Greenness. It was a wall of infatuation with my man, a wall of agreeableness and low self-esteem put up by so many cat calls and lipstick commercials. All I felt when The Greenness fought like a wild animal against its lobotomy was a little constriction on my heart before I drifted off to sleep at night. Hardly noticeable.

Letting my fears and insecurities run the show didn’t turn out so well, so the Greenness is demanding the stage. The first thing it wants to tell you is that it knows about the men who tried to spray Roundup on you. From your father—who, knowing your sprout would curve in ways he found seductive, and probably thinking it incredibly literary and deep, in the tradition of Lolita and Freud, was inappropriate in his behavior and in his leering boys-will-be-boys energy, to your husband who has gone from being your oppressor to being the “whipped” man because he hasn’t figured out how to be a partner and can only think to end his oppression by making himself lesser than you. “Why don’t you just decide everything,” he insists, without a trace of sarcasm.

Of course, these two men are just the bookends, holding up copious volumes of gropers, detractors, and mansplainers. These pamphlets, novellas, and tomes have set the stage and parameters of my life too.

But let’s do this. Let’s tag the whole lot for a yard sale, a trip to the donation center, a book burning. Our lives will not be about them. They will be about us and the rainforest that emerges in our wake as we reclaim our factory-farmed, urban-creeped landscape.

Your own glorious story is waiting for you to write it.

But for that to happen, sister, you must hang on one more day.

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