Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The only way I can deal with everything

JoAnne starts talking about her relationship with Brenda who’s 48, she smokes cigars and wears dirty undershirts with suspenders and slacks. She's my daddy, JoAnne says—her eyes get all wild when she sees me. She used to be a mechanic but now she lives off SSI — and, you know.

You know what, I say.

I can't say it on the phone.

Oh, right, of course.

They do speedballs together and then Brenda ties JoAnne up and leaves the house, sometimes for hours or at least it feels like it until Brenda comes back and beats JoAnne until she’s screaming. Sometimes JoAnne feels like she’s about to pass out from all that pain but Brenda knows what she's doing so she always unties the ropes at just the right moment — she knows how to hurt me without hurting me, JoAnne says, although when the drugs wear off everything is so sore that sometimes it's hard to sleep. But then my daddy holds me, JoAnne says, she holds me in her arms and I cry like I've never cried before. My daddy holds me, JoAnne says in this way I've never heard her talk before. My daddy holds me, and it's okay.

I know what you're thinking, JoAnne says — I know you're thinking this isn't healthy, that is reenacting abuse, but it's the only way I can deal, the only way I can deal with everything. I don't have any other choice. What was it you wanted to tell me?

After I get off the phone, I think about how sometimes I feel so lonely talking to the people I love. And sometimes I feel so lonely talking to the people I hate. And sometimes I just feel lonely.

The house phone starts ringing so I go in the other room to listen to the machine pick up but there's no message. Then my phone starts ringing and sure enough it's Sean. She says you'll never guess what happened to Elana del Monte. She got bashed. In front of her new apartment. There was blood and everything. She's moving back in with her parents. In Woburn.

Woburn — are you serious? Why is she moving?

Mattilda, she just got bashed. In front of her apartment. She shouldn't have moved to Roxbury.

What's wrong with Roxbury? I like the part of Roxbury where she lived. It's not that different from Dorchester.

I'm just glad I live in the South End.


Do you want to get cocktails?

I just had cocktails. I'm depressed.

Maybe you need more.

Maybe. What’s Elana’s number?

You can’t call her — she's in the hospital.

What — are you kidding?

No, I told you it was serious.

Can we visit her? Maybe we could bring flowers.

We can’t visit her.

Why not?

She's not out to her parents.

Are you serious? And she's moving back in with them? Let's get cocktails.



Anjali Taneja said...

Tears. So moving.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Thank you so much, Anjali!