Her bravery is not in her face

by You Have My Word


I’m not sure if she was more terrified of picking up her son from school or of not making it home in time for her next fix. Her stance was like that of a dog waiting for a beating after chewing up the irrigation system. They always know what’s coming.

She say edging her way closer and closer to the edge of a slatted bench under the shade of a large sign board at the top of the hill overlooking the school grounds. I think she wonders every day what it would feel like to crumple off the bench and tumble till she was hit by something.

Something other than her husband’s fists and lacerating words. She keeps forgetting to cut her golden, wavy crown – it’s always just long enough for him to grab and pull at. She loathes that her hurt is her own fault here.

She is a vacuum within herself – like a folded star with shards of… whatever stars are made of (Who knows?) propelling into the rest of her. How do you remove shrapnel you can’t even see? Where do you start?

I want to stop and hear her story. I want to ask her to hand over her hate (probably of herself… and everyone else). I want to make her tilt her head toward the sky so she can see for one second that down isn’t the only way – that there are thousands of miles above that’ll get her closer to her dreams. I want to draw out her need to feed on methamphetamine.

Look closely though. Her bravery is not in her face, or her clasped, white-knuckled hands, or her stare, or her sneakers, or the fact that she even showed up for the painful parental parade. Her bravery is evident in her decision to wear shorts today.

Even scrunched up in breathless anti– even  scrunched up like the first signs of withdrawal setting in, she makes sure you can see her legs. She’s a runner; she’s been running all her life, in more ways than one. Flaunting, taunting with long, bronze, meticulously carved pillars of strength – a part of her still knows, still believes she is beautiful, that she is even the slightest bit worth noticing.

She sits frozen but flinches as I glide past her – I notice the movement and label it “life.”