A Leap of Faith
My criminal mind sloughed through the stow, the stone, no, the snow, and that was a critical mind, critical mind. Remember, I asked myself, remember the days when the words came out correctly the first time around, when what I saw in my mind’s eye and what I heard in my heart correlated to what fell off the tips of my fingers, not these butterflies that panic to escape, backwards and criss-crossed, tied up in mash. The day I meant to type “the legal parameters of the case have yet to be determined but the evidence is solid and points clearly in one direction” and typed “flying backwards, we die slowly in one emanation” instead and didn’t even know it was the beginning of the end of the transformation, the mutation, the slow suicide of healthy cells into rude abhorrent bullies pushing everything else aside. Oh hi, you have brain cancer (can we) it’s inoperable (oh my) three to six months (I’d better get my) affairs in order.
That first night, I picnicked. I didn’t panic, I picnicked, it was my favorite thing about this intruder inside my skull. We went on picnics filled with treats and glory. I didn’t know I could but after that first night, so exhausted I thought it was nothing more than hallucination, I grew to love the freedom and intimacy of these trips, these backsplashes, these journeys into never-was and always-was, the way Jack (I had to name the tumor so I could own it) led me to the most fantastic places in my memory banks. A trip to the penny candy store at age five to buy wax lips and Nik-L-Nips, perennial favorites, to play the jukebox, to watch the evening go by snug in the arms of my momma. One time I took a picnic on the perimeter of a high school prom, complete with the goofiest purple chiffon anyone had ever seen and a matching nosegay and a boy named Peter Cliff who didn’t even try to fumble past the snaps and clasps and eye-hooks that worked their way up my back. I sat back, ate my pain-au-chocolat and drank my pinot noir, me and Jack, and laughed at how awkward it was and wondered what Peter Cliff was doing these days. Probably a dot-com millionaire, we decided, but Jack had seduced me into staying with him and enveloped me in darkness. Take me on another trip, I implored him and he obliged, devouring another part of my cerebellum to make it possible.
I love you, I told him.
And I love you too, he replied, folding blackness around me.
What can we do to help, friends said when what they really meant was how far can we stay away? You are a disease, you’re contagion, you’re a reminder that we are so mortal and as such not the perfect beings we think we are and I said nothing, nothing, but answer when I call, heed the signs, care for yourselves. I had a secret lover who gave me all I needed. Sometimes he was tall and slender and dark-haired and other times he laughed like a drunkard and still other times he bellowed at the top of his lungs, draped in leather and spikes.
Was there ever a time, I asked him, where life was so simple?
Yes, he said, I’ll take you there, I’ll take you to the time when you were seventeen and so full of amusement, when you and your girlfriends sat in the coffee shop and pretended to like the stuff but secretly doctored it with gallons of sugar and cream, wearing blue jeans and denim jackets and laughed about how when you were little, you fought over the Beatles like they were prizes for each of you to claim. I’m marrying Paul, you said, and they were so jealous you’d gotten to him first.
Right, right, I forgot about that, I told him, laughing from the bridge up above, legs dangling over the side, a glass of absinthe in my hand. I wish you could take me there forever.
I can. Jack, the ever-attentive, the clad-in-black bad boy of my dreams, the closer-to-John-than-to-Paul one I’d ended up with, told me that all it would take to be there forever was a simple leap of faith.
What are we waiting for, I asked, and when he stood and took my hand I rose with him and in that moment, in the moment we took the leap together, I had never felt so free.