I have never been a girl with hair that behaves. I have never been one of the easy, lucky ones. I painted myself so that I would be visible, and even then. The only thing they saw was how matted I was, or how severe. I have never been seen, not really, but this morning, I lay in bed with you, my love. Your tiny fingers ran circles through a strand of my hair and I watched your big brown eyes and there was nothing. In the vast expanse of all of everything, there was only you and me.
I love you and so I am real. I am permitted to walk around in the daylight and share glances with strangers on the sidewalks. I confess, I'm still not very good at it.
I talk to you at the library and waiting in a check out line. You ask me, "Have you ever made any bad mistakes?"
I don't have to pause before answering you. "I have made more mistakes than anybody could ever count."
"Like what?" you ask me, and I'm flooded with hard responses. I tried to die without having lived, first. I poisoned myself, and I let myself be poisoned. Mostly, though, I believed I wasn't worth anything.
"I took earrings out of Grammy's jewelry box when I was a kid," I say. "Then I lost them."
"Why did you do that?" you ask.
"Because I thought they were pretty. And I believed that everything that belonged to Grammy belonged to me," I say.
"Because she was your mom?" you ask.
"Yes," I answer. "Because she was my mom, and I wanted so much to know her and be like her that I didn't understand that she was a person with a real name who wanted to have things, like earrings, that she could keep for herself."
"Was she mad at you?" you ask.
"I don't remember," I say, but I think I do. I think she was exasperated more than she was mad, but I don't feel like explaining what exasperated is.
You think for a minute, your perfect lips curving down at the edges. "Are you a person, too?" you say.
I don't know. I don't think so, not in the sense I just explained. You could steal the guts from the center of me and twist them in your fists and I wouldn't demand them back. You are my guts and the center of me.
"Yes," I say, instead. "I guess I am. That's why I like to go to the gym by myself in the evening."
"And why you have earrings in your box in your room," you say.
I look up from where I've been watching you talk, your pretty little face made of plaster and peach tinted paint. There are people listening to us, and they're smiling to themselves. Some of them even venture a look directly at me, telling me in their own quiet way that they see how much I love you. In their eyes, I see it. Not confusion or revulsion or a bristling uncomfortable sensation at the color bleeding out of the edges of my life, but a genuine acceptance and even approval.
You really are magic, to make a person out of me.
Sometimes, littlest one, I hold you so close that I am breathing your breath. I get out of bed at night to stand over you and watch the rise and fall of your chest; you're buried sweetly under white and red blankets with tiny pictures of ladybugs. I can smell you, powdery and sweet and perfect, and this is your bedroom and your bed. This is your life and the twinkle of your nightlight illuminates your profile and you are immaculate.
Sometimes, I press my nose to your cheek and try to see the world as you see it. What are you so afraid of, and delighted by? Why do you cling to me and trace the shapes of my features with the soft tips of your chubby fingers? Why are you never comfortable or happy unless I'm with you?
There will be at time where I barely know the shape of you, where I won't carry you, molded into the curve of my hip. There will be a time where I can't have you freely and completely. You'll pull away from my kisses, someday and so, I want to be you, as much as I can. I want to let you fit into the bends of my body because they were made for you. We were created together, you and I, at the beginning of time. I waited for you all this time, I did. I was lonely and amputated, walking around with these wide hips and these strong arms, and I loved you but I didn't know you, yet. Now that I do, I can say with conviction that I was made to hold you.
Tell me about how you and daddy were before you had me.
We were lonely and we were sad. We wanted two little girls, just like you and your sister. We made a deal with the moon, and out you came, two perfect little pieces to fit next to us and make a new life. A good life. Because of you, all of our dreams came true.
We didn't even know we had dreams, and you made them real and pretty and true.
I love you.