Lost all innocenceDeep breath. Closed eyes. Take it easy. Don't panic, Bridget. Don't show him how scared you are. Just be normal.
Infected and arrogant
You burn all your life
(There's no telling you)
Consumed by the pestilence
Of hate, you're denied
Deep in your heart does it still remain?
Do you think you can bring it
Back to life again?
Is it still in your soul?
(No saving you)
Where's the deviant
The unholy remnant
That has made you this way?
Made you fall for this hate
Tell me now, who taught you how to hate?
Because it isn't in your blood
Not a part of what you're made
So let this be understood
Somebody taught you how to hate
When you live this way you become
Dead to everyone
Wait. What? I don't know how to be normal. I don't even know how to put on a poker-face. It's always inside out or blank or I find out there's a huge hole in it from where it caught on my teeth. Same pep talk since 1983 and it hasn't worked once and how does this self-confidence thing work again? I'm supposed to lie to myself and then I'm expected to be believed? That doesn't make any sense. Besides, if I don't even believe me then no one else is going to believe me either. May as well stick to brutal honesty.
I'm too short. I wear too much black. I don't pay attention to much except music and cheese and sex and I'm more than a little confused that I can be in love with someone who frightens me so much, though if you ask me outwardly I will say I hate his guts and I'm only kind and accommodating because we share a son. But you won't believe me because I'm lying. I don't even know how my brain turned abject terror into sexual tension. Joel said it was an unconscious coping mechanism. I think it was an escape route. Same thing, he says casually as if this happens every day but it doesn't. Everyone else has their poker faces on straight. I see them. No rips, holes or stains. No crooked seams. No abnormal thoughts. No fucked up love hexagons, because let's face it. Triangles were left back in high school.
I try to keep my eyes from welling up as I turn but they're going to defy me. I'm so scared. So scared. So afraid I start to shake as I turn around to face him, a formidable, handsome enemy also dressed completely in black, also as far from normal as you can get, and in no need of a poker face because his black magic never required one.
He's looking down at his hands, which are holding the most beautiful bouquet of black and white roses. White roses with their edges painted in silvery blue dyes for a special wow.
For a special girl, he tells me, reading my mind. She's not too short. I don't care what she wears, and I never wanted normal but I do want to address the events that took place while I was gone.
I wonder if this is the part where he kills me.
There would be no fun in that, he tells me.
Stop reading my mind, I tell myself without speaking.
Sorry. He says it out loud but he's laughing.
I stick my tongue out at him and he laughs more.
Bridget, why couldn't you manage a few days?
Six. It was six.
Well, I'm home now and I brought you a dress if you would like to come and see it.
My eyebrows go up. The poker face is shredded anyhow. You could see me right through it all along. I cut him off completely. He gives me my children. I sleep with one of his targets, he buys me a designer dress. Joel said this is how monsters work. They hurt you and then they tell you you're beautiful. They damage and change you and then buy you presents. They don't let you out of their sight for very long and then they come back and take over your space. They invade your brain, control your every move and rip your poker face right off your head so your hair gets static cling and you get a scratch from a rough seam along the bottom edge of your jaw.
You can wear it tonight. The reaffirmation of his own monster-status alleviates my panic completely. As long as he's mean I'm comfortable. I know what to expect. I know how to behave. Not like it matters. Just listen and then comply. Shut out everything good so the inside is as black as the outside. Ball it all up so that you are smaller than ever. But don't forget to breathe.
Wait, wear what? The poker face or the dress?