I am 17
listening to an answering machine message
informing me of the death
of a friend I saw
only three days before
his golden curls
smeared with blood
on the 405
his motorcycle crushed by a big rig
there was no pain they told his mother

Days later
I am sitting in Econ
one among
a roomful of horny teenagers
ignoring a lecture on the importance of a mission statement
and suddenly
the beast slaps me
and I cannot swallow
my heart skipping beats I know it shouldn’t
I am straining to stay in my seat
the urge to run
more powerful
than anything I’ve ever felt before
I walk with what I hope to be
nonchalant purpose towards the exit
as the heavy door shuts behind me
nothing will ever
be the same

I birth a boy
more beautiful than I am prepared for
the illusion of motherhood
from magazines and gerber commercials
eludes me
as I cry in jagged fits
while my new family sleeps
the weight of a world I barely tolerate
on shoulders already burdened with
I am a woman desperate to keep my secret
so I smile when you greet me
my self-deprecating jokes
meant to
bury deep
any evidence
that I am ripping at the seams

We are driving
just the two of us
to celebrate
a pitcher of cheap beer
a heated pool game
turned into
eight years of unplanned against-the-odds wedded bliss
the familiar terror
floods my insides
falsely alerting me that
something is so very wrong
my body plagued
by a confused mind
AM I OKAY?! I shriek
while he helps me to
that none of it is real
but I am Tired!
you see
of keeping it together
when what comes naturally
is falling apart

There is a purpose
I tell myself
to everything
when the unruly beast sleeps
at my bedside
I do my best to let him rest

I choke on recycled tears
and hang up priceless artwork on my fridge
like an ordinary wife and mother
with a casserole in the oven
and dishes in the sink
but if you look really closely
and hold your breath
you’ll see
a middle-class disaster


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2 Replies to “Just In Case You Thought I Was Normal”

  1. "when what comes naturally
    is falling apart"

    This line worked in two ways for me… and I liked them both.

    Funny how that damn beast holds on for so long.

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