I was born an adult. The lullabies never existed. Secrets were memorized nursery rhymes. They hummed in my searching eyes. Picture books were what I saw when I closed my eyes and saw life as it is; darkness and obscene colors flashing by. I will blink for the rest of my life. Each time I will be reminded. None will ever understand.
My shapeless body ran the streets barefoot. Our clothes made us different. You wore blue jeans and I wore purple shorts. We were just alike. Our veins shared the same blood. I climbed faster than he did. I was always on top first. His shapeless body climbed after me. I had been the better even though I was smaller in the same shapeless size. We were always in competition. We were too young to remember our bodies being the same. Before the sun burned freckles into our faces, our shapeless bodies, mine smaller, raced everywhere. It was our muse. I smiled into his eyes. He was my favorite. Before he touched him, we were equal. We were inseparable. I was just like him.
My legs dangled beneath me. They were bare beneath my clothes. My feet stuck out bare. My hands stuck out bare. My face wasn’t bare at all. I stared into your eyes. His clasp was strong and tight. You wanted to see me cry. His anger poured into his fingers. I felt the anger inside him. It was holding me up at his level. I stared into his eyes, his anger, and his future. He wanted me to give in. I held my breath, just as this happened many times before, this time I was ready. I will not give in my eyes repeated. Bearing through his anger, my hands were clutched on the wall I hung. The sweat in my hands was red. I held the sweat perfectly still. Only one drop escaped. The wall wouldn’t know what the floor felt. The wall was helping him. It was helping me. It was his support. It was my breath. It was a portrait of raging stillness. His body framed me in. The anger punctuated the picture. The colors were the only witnesses. They were perforated with rage. My own rage inside remained still; unable to come out.
The breath remained still. His muse, me, his contest, was my anger. His arm gave in, I won. My bare feet gave in. I fell to my knees. I was pleased that I had won. I bore hatred of myself. I wished to be like him. Like a man. He is not a man. I am. I didn’t win, he did. He knew that. I was on my knees as he walked away in his shoes. The colors went away. My face became bare again. I wiped the sweat from my hands. The streak would remain. I was playing on the fence. My hands were caught. That’s why. My head hurt. It screamed inside for air. I breathed heavily until my heart told me it was okay and my legs regained its strength. His body was forming. Mine stayed the same shapelessness. He was different. We were no longer equal. This wasn’t the first time. He didn’t make it the last. He will forget this.
My muse, my frog, did whatever I pleased. He was my puppet. He made me laugh; I forced his face, his hands, and his body to shapes that brought happiness like I didn’t know anywhere else. My puppet and my happiness went with me wherever I went. It was my own. Her laugh at my puppet made me smile. Her laugh, my best friend, made me smile. She talked to my frog in the sweetest voice. Her angelic voice to the frog that I mangled funny with my own hand pleased my senses. Her blue eyes made me watch her every move. She was my best friend. How pretty she was. I wished to be like her. She was perfect in my eyes. I was perfect too; a perfect example of what not to be and what not to look like. I would do anything she pleased, she made me smile. She was my best friend. I became her protection. She will never suffer in front of me.
Together, we grew up apart. She loved me and I liked her. As best friends, we were nothing alike. I suffocated in her love. I played what she wished. You have pretty dolls; I will dress them for you. I will dress them as if I was dressing you. The dolls became sick in my hands; they became tainted with my thoughts. Their painted smiles were stuck. I manipulated them in front of her, this pleased my best friend. In my pants I sat awkward, it was comfortable. She was faultless in her purple dress. I wore that dress. It was mine before her. It was made for me but suited her best. The disdain for these dolls was kept hidden from her. She will keep me alive. I survived in her. She will never know. Everyone said how beautiful she was and how sweet her voice. I showed her off to everyone. She was my doll.
When my best friend wasn’t there, I became someone else. I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t fast. I wasn’t her protection. I hated her dolls. We fought for everything. I held fast to my strength. He held fast to his anger. His anger put on my face. I wouldn’t recoil as he wished. He wanted to see himself in me. My back was against the door pushing it with my bare feet and bare hands sliding in against the sweat. He was standing over me. He was on the other side. The door was nimble. It bended with his strength. The door curved over me; the handle just above my watchful eye. I saw myself in its gold reflection. The reflection angered me. It revealed my fear no one could see. My anger remained still as the door handle quivered above me. I felt his anger in the door. My body was shaking holding the floor down. If I get up quickly, he will fall. He will fall. He trained me well. I braced myself for a quick recovery. He fell into me. I failed. My still shapeless body failed me. I hated her dolls. My eyes were up at your level. You wanted to see me cry. I stared into his eyes as we played war. The window pane shattered. The bare sun came through the broken pane. No one heard it. No one cared. We were playing war. I spit a streak onto the floor. I stood there as he left me. I fell from the tree. A rock is next to the window. My cheek will heal. The tooth will come out naturally; naturally bruised.
My brother left. He left! I am the brother now. I am the protector. My sister’s dolls are safe. I will grow to like them. She will know nothing. I made her run the forest with me. I taught them to be fast. They were too young to know why I thought this was fun. My girls saw me as their leader, their protector. I needed them to protect me. They would never know. I took revenge with my love. They would know nothing else. My eyes never rested watching them. I made sure only the stars watched them as they slept. Their bodies, like mine, were shapeless. We were not equal. I was not like them. I was never a girl.
I was twelve. My girls were ten, eight, and six. They belonged to me. I belonged to them. We knew nothing else. The creeks, the fields, and the places we called home were filled with our bond. I was their protector. Us against nature, nature against us; nature was our only friend. They played in the creek. I smoked stolen cigarettes while watching them in my black jeans. They didn’t like the taste. It was too strong for them. My girls didn’t mind, I was strong enough to handle anything. I took revenge on those who made them cry. I taught them to do as they pleased. That pleased me. They never saw me cry.
It was time for a visit. I had long forgotten what should have stayed fresh and dear in my mind. My body was still shapeless. My eyes began to rest. I was still shapeless. My eyes were at his level again. I felt his anger on my wrist. My clenched fists held my anger still. His breath raged in my face. I could taste his fear on my lips. His hand on my lips, I stared into his eyes. His body framed me once again. The portrait will be shattered this time. I hated her dolls once more. His muse, me, his revenge. I won’t give in. I could breathe at least. Eternity passed me by. The pain will leave. I am not broken. You wanted to see me cry. He walked away. I will kill you. With my nod, his eyes tore into my soul. I remained there. Eternity became my friend. Tears fell for the first time. No one will know for years. He will never touch me again. I became old.
My sisters, my protection, I left them behind. No, they left me behind. Their mother didn’t want me anymore. I became someone else. I do not exist in their memories, my loss. They forgot me. I forgot them. Apart, we grew together. One, two, three. Four does not exist. Four loves, four of the same love, four protected, four thousand miles. I began to hate. My shapeless body delighted in pain. Four years of pain. She, my idol, so beautiful, helped me in my pain. I suffered for her, to be like her, and to please her. We shared our name, mine was lessened, and hers sounded better in my eyes. I looked her in the eyes; I wanted to touch them. The elegant eyes of pain. Not her pain but my fear. I saw my fear in her eyes. I loved her. She became my passion’s teacher. Her mother was my protection. She saw my shapeless body and liked it. It was eager for her.
Four years of pain. It betrayed me. I am betrayed. My thoughts betrayed me. No, I betrayed me. They will never know the truth. Their judgment, my fear. It is wrong; it is not an option. My love is not an option. We will never speak of it. Fear remained covered in dresses and black mascara. I was baptized in front of her, she was pleased. Her mother was pleased. Her father, my friend, was pleased. I betrayed them. My desire no longer existed. They will never know. God, who am I to be? I can no longer love. My love, my protection, everything is lost. I lost. My love is wrong. My love is lost. I pleased them with the man’s hand over my mouth, the white linen between us. My mouth was tainted. The man pulled me under the water, a thousand eyes betrayed me. The white clothes I wore covered my bare, shapeless body. His hand pulled me down. Under the water eternity passed me by. How old did I become? Wet and weak from his grasp over my nose, he looked at me and smiled. A thousand claps approved me. The water dripped from my smile. The clean water now tainted by my smile. I began to drown.
I loved him; he smiled upon my shapeless body. He loved me. I was too young. Eleven years too young. I counted the days between. I counted the days from when I loved him. It was right. I was right to love a man. Her mother said no. Put that book away. It is dirty. You may not read it. He loved me as an old woman. He stole my pain. It was replaced with desire.
The smell of flavors in every breath I still smell today. It haunts my dreams. My legs were in perfect position. His legs were perfect. We were four feet apart. I held the coffee as if it was your neck. Gently, I breathed into the warm steam. His eyes never glanced away. I watched them intently. We were not equal, he became my protection. My desired protection sat in front of me for hours. Careful words caressed your lips. I wanted to absorb each one. My thoughts swirled with the silky white milk softening the blackness I held. This was right. This was love. Love the right way. I held his hand; my eyes felt the endless words in silence. His strength, my pain, couldn’t touch me, I was a man. I was a shapeless boy. Like father and son, I held his hand. In the middle of everything, we were invisible. We remained in sight of a thousand eyes. This was right. I thought how we’re going to be, I will survive in you. I will only hold his hand. You will never see me cry. I will remember your every word.
The death, my death, was his betrayal. He, two thousand miles away, killed me. I killed him. Her mother killed him. They said it was an accident. They said a lie. They said it was painless. They said it was fast. His agony killed him. The betrayal killed him. His slow death became my endless pain. My tears fell like an ocean’s floor; deep into itself, pushing into nothing. I kissed her mother, my mother, before I ran into the summer’s run. I ran away from my betrayal. My love killed itself. It will never exist. The gravel became my fortification. My steps on the gravel pushed my fear further down. The gravel felt my pain. My legs felt my shapeless body collapse. They will become my protection; my support. My own legs will cry. The questions followed even more confused. Even more unanswered. My legs will desire suicide.
My mother, I found her. My mother, where were you all this time? Her blood does not run through my veins. I do not exist in her memories. I am in her heart. She loves my eyes. She found me broken. I am not broken. My mother, without judgment, wiped my falling pain. She became my protection. I became her own. I revealed my secrets. She held my fear. She holds my fear. My fear remains with her. She revealed the love left inside my fears. Hate me, you cannot love me. I am shapeless and broken. She will never know. I run away and she loves me back. My name became her own.
The pictures, the pain, and the years, I saw only a few. I saw the man smiling. I felt her pain. Her eyes became my truth. She revealed in me. I lay beside her; she loves me to protect my fears. The night had been my enemy and my friend. She is my eye’s restful teacher. Her lullaby to me; their hatred burns in my soul. My love is gone. Their denial rips into my mind. Her body, while still shapeless, he ripped her fears apart. Like mine. I would never know. Her eyes disappeared. His anger on her face. Like mine. Would I have recognized her? So long ago, insincerity defined her shapeless body. His anger created her pain. Like mine. They did nothing. They will never know. My mother’s pain. My pain. I suffered in those sheets, not quite white, that covered my shapeless body next to her. I will know sleep. She is my protection. My pain on the pillow, her betrayal so long ago, was falling fresh out of my eyes. I will become her protection. No one deserves her pain. They will never know the pain. My mother with all her own, holds my painful fears. She will see me cry. You wanted to see me cry.
They will never hold my hand. They will never deserve my eyes. My suicide will never become their muse. I am the man they will never be. I will love her. I have not met her. She will love my shapeless body. She will see my eyes as they are; with obscene colors amid the darkness.
I made a decision. You are right. It was a decision. I decided. You made me. You are not right. I was going to be this way. You made it easy. I wanted to be like this before it all. You stripped me of everything else. I decided it was natural. It is natural. You left no option. Do not say I am wrong. I disappoint you. You are wrong. You failed me. I don’t remember being anything else.