On our flight home last night I pen a letter to Eileen; a thank you letter. For staying with me on this journey in words. A response to her messages that she is following my story, with interest, admiring of my courage and imagination.
I am beyond grateful to have her with me, someone who grabs my hand just as I grab hers. I know this is unusual. Groundbreaking, I think. My explosion. Her presence. Our connection.
As I write on the plane I am finding and hearing and feeling things inside.
This time it’s not children’s voices but of all things a monkey who wakes me again this morning. He insists he is not human and refuses to negotiate sleep. But he’s so friendly and irresistible thatallow him to do what he pleases.
I want to know more, need to know more, must find out who this is.
I'm a monkey, can't you see?
I can feel you in me. I can feel strength I've never felt before. Everything about me is strong and flexible.
Yes! I am a monkey!!!
Wow. So how do you like being a monkey?
I love being a monkey. Strong every inch.
You have more energy than you can bear.
Bear? I'm not a bear –– I'm a monkey!
Ha. What else?
My arms. They are so long they can reach for trees. And for help. And for the moon twice around.
Why do you need help?
Are you one of the children?
So you aren't a monkey after all. You want to be a monkey.
I'm a MONKEY.
Okay, so why are you a monkey?
I am a MONKEY because I am STRONG!
How old are you, Monkey? And why do you need to be strong?
I am older than seven. Younger than seven. I am lots of ages because I am back in time for you, but only for a minute. I am in a front yard, a backyard. I am on a living room carpet, a hard basement floor. I am in snow, too. We are … everywhere.
Are you in a coma?
Yes. I am part of the System's coma. We remember little from when we are little.
Can you remember just one day? Just one place for me?
Tell me what you can, Monkey. I am holding your hand.
I get chased a lot. And I am always caught. I always lose. Even if I win, I will lose because I will get beaten, thrown down.
On this one day, how do you lose?
In secret. No one can see. No broken bones. Or black eyes. And I don’t tell.
Why can't you tell anyone what is happening to you?
My mom says it is my fault. “You started it,” she says. You get what you deserve. You spoiled rotten brat.
I see. So you feel responsible for what happens to you.
Yes. You understand.
So tell me, if you can, what happens. Who is it?
Z. I remember his breath on my neck. His tooth is broken. Our other brother breaks it one afternoon. Z has red hair and half a tooth in front.
What does he do to you?
He catches me in a yard. It is dull sunlight. Must be three or four.
Three or four?
Age. And time of day.
What does he do after he catches you?
I am captured, face down, with the weight of him on my back. My arms are pinned so hard they marry the grass forever, and I am swimming the butterfly now, my head struggling to come up, and his hands are the water pushing me down. My head versus his hands. We are wrestling. I cannot breath.
Oh, Monkey, grab my hand.
I have no hands.
How often does this happen?
Our whole life growing up.
And for how long in the moments is it happening?
Not long enough to take our life away. But we won’t know that until each time we live. Each time is new, a question mark that tickles our soul, a high-wire act between life and death.
What are you feeling?
Giddy. And nervous.
And what are you thinking?
That we are lucky. Lucky each time we live.
And special. For we are spared.