September

September is starting a new school in a big city. You’ve been craving anonymity, and boy, now you’ve got it. 7 million people. The first night, your anorexic roommate rises in her bed and pounds grubby handprints onto the wall, then falls right back to sleep, while you lay in the semi-darkness, pretending to be. The smudgy prints stay the entire year, hidden, mercifully, under a giant “Breathless” poster. She’ll leave by the end of the week. You’ve stayed. But you’re not really there; caught up in the undertow of a melancholy so thick, you can’t see your own reflection. You stay in your bed day after day in the same thin white slip, desperately reading Prozac Nation for a clue, and pout and scream at the city because its wind tunnels furiously between the tall buildings and right through you. It doesn’t listen. It doesn’t care. You decide you don’t, either.

September is slogging along perimeters of wet soccer field, even though you’ve never cared for running; it’s so heavy and makes your lungs scream. But you love staring down opponents (you’re good at that) while guarding your cage, and concede defeat only when the ball smartly smacks your hand, scoring as you stare dumbly at your finger bones and swear they’re broken (Judy Lee, you rocked. Even though you played for Beaver River). You’re good at this, but decide to sit out senior year, because you won’t humiliate yourself and your coach while you spend every single weekend drinking. You’re honest. You content yourself with shutting out the senior boy’s soccer team during gym and leave it at that.

September is speed and inebriation, a blur of tardiness and languor spent visiting the zoo, or shopping at Barbara Moss when you’re not hiding out three consecutive periods in the Art room, either modeling or drawing. No one says anything. You wake in the morning and pop the speed you’ve scored from your little sister, wandering the week in a haze; living for the weekend, when you can get blasted out of your mind; uttering strange, silly things while your friends hold you up. You never intend to get sick, but somehow you almost always do, because you haven’t figured out when to stop. But every time, you fall asleep with a silly smile on your face. And it’s the only time you really smile. It’s the only time you can really sleep.

September is strange and new, but final, in its way, when the dirt and blue carnations cover your father in the cold, hard ground. Everything is dying, or on its way, you decide, and you can’t understand or relate to your classmate’s freshman enthusiasm. Nothing is ever the same.

But September is the ninth month, the pregnant month; full and heavy as it is, it will always, always have possibility. You pack your six year old into the car and off to school, and hope for better. Always, better.

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