What is empty can’t be emptied. We have reached the end of the ending
— Marina Tsvetaeva.
When you say you want to follow me home, I refuse and double over in my mind. This is because I am not the same type of girl as you are, I live with lizards in my room, and they are not too quiet. I want to tell you that my mother is righteous for a living, but we have not agreed to do anything “unrighteous” — we have not agreed to do anything at all. We never agree to do anything, we are just actresses pretending not to have anything planned out because it’s our job. To make reality seem unplanned, like our bodies are not calling out to each other like fire and paper, that we are just friends the way friends are meant to be just friends.
We have always been like this. Irrational.
When I say I am not the same type of girl as you are, I am referring to my mother’s adage of a rat and lizard dancing in the rain, the lizard simply shakes off the water and is dry, like a magic trick. The rat cannot do the same, it walks around wet. In this adage, I am the rat because you do not have to sleep with lizards in your room just because your home is mistaken for abandoned. You have tv’s in every room, and you don’t have to scream at the top of your voice while pooping so your brother doesn’t barge in. You don’t have to be angry at yourself for waking up. I find this adage funny because we have actually danced in the rain together, and you were as wet as I was, and beautiful. But it is an adage after all.
My problem is that I am not just a rat, I am a rat who cannot refuse you. So, when you insist on coming home with me, I scurry around for a while and end up giving you my end of the stockfish. You are in the background when I call my mother, she hmmms and she haaaas, the same way she does when she doesn’t approve of something yet cannot reject it altogether. We are going home on the 12th of September; mama and the lizards are waiting.
On the 11th, we go to the salon and we dye our hair back to black, because I have told you now that my house is covered with the Blood of Jesus, and nothing immoral can enter. I whisper Sayonara to the ginger as it gently gives way to darkness. I look at you, and you look like the black was a mistake, it is because your hair was never black in the first place.
We are home now, and we are still pretending like this is not one of your attempts to get closer to my family. You act all adorable around my mother, clean her shoes, stir her soup, listen to her worn out stories, you even pray with her. I think this is because you are one of those girls who go to make sure their mother-in-laws are either kind or dead. Perhaps it is because you love me that you love everything about me. I imagine a rat and a lizard, in love. I flinch because it is the most disgusting thing I have ever imagined, yet.
I see you trying to act like it is normal to live with lizards. I also see you start when they move behind the curtains and scratch the metal bars. I think of chasing them out but that would be chaotic; I would die if a lizard ever jumped on me. So, I act like it is normal for you to act like this.
When mother is around, we are not ourselves. Although we both cannot explain how it is when we are ourselves. It is hard to describe beautiful things because there are not enough words. Even silence is not enough.
It is Wednesday and mother is in church. Mother stays a while in church, and I tell you that. You smile and go on reading Half of a Yellow Sun as if my mother’s absence is not more significant to us than her presence. As I pull the book out of your hands carefully, I think of how you are like a metaphor for the rising sun. I ask you to dance like they do in movies, and you laugh — flowers blooming in your throat. Chrysanthemums, tulips, forget-me-nots, ugu flowers in our backyard. I love you but I don’t say anything, my mother’s walls have holy ears.
We dance. Your hands are on my waist. Goosebumps on my skin. It feels like a dream. We dance. Your hands are on my cheeks, you look at me like a bee does honey. I feel like I am precious. Kota The Friend’s “Daylight” is on repeat.
I say I love you anyway, like flowers do the rain…
We separate my mother’s house from the Blood of Jesus. We kiss. Time stops. I almost push you to the bed when I notice that the door is ajar. It was not this way before. My mother is here, she looks like her spirit has left her body. She is screaming but we cannot hear anything she says, perhaps we are still in a dream.
I forgot to tell you that my mother also has quick hands, so I shield you instead. She has grabbed an electric iron that my brother won in an Emzor quiz. She is acting the same way she does when she encounters evil spirits. She lunges at us. You jump to my front to protect me from protecting you. All this is happening while time is still paused. She hits you. Red. Red. Red. My sun is red. I have a playlist titled “red,” but it had nothing to do with your blood at the time. She grabs the mp3 player, I cover you with my body. It is the earth that revolves around the sun, not the other way round. My mother hacks away at my back, she is reciting a psalm.
For the lord knoweth the way of the righteous: But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
She puts extra effort in ‘P’, for perish. I want to tell her that I am just marrowless bones without you. Empty. I don’t say this because she will find out by herself, we have come to an end where I might never see you again.
Jesus’s blood has been tainted with yours, the rug is red when your eyes flutter open. You are not looking at me, you are looking at the lizards on the wall.