What happens when a girl who's always been pushed around decides to push back?
| The wind is whipping around the house, like fast water around a rock. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I imagine the wind taking shingles off the roof, pieces of siding off the outside of the walls. That’s what water does with rocks- it doesn’t seem to hurt them, but with every drop of water, a crumb of rock is torn away. In a hundred years, everyone will forget the rock was ever there. The wind can do the same thing, I think.
Poor Sarah- so pessimistic. Poor Sarah- she can only think in black and white, the bold lines of her imagination make a caricature of the world that she always sees is wrong, always sees this too late.
Poor Sarah- watch the river carry her away, over the edge of the world, cell by cell.
I look at my pump and see that it’s time again. I prick my sore, bruised arm, already penetrated more times tonight than the rest of me will ever be in my whole life.
Poor Sarah- can’t make up her mind. Can’t pick a label, and if she could, it would make no difference. She should have gone with Isaac, even though she didn’t like him. She should have cut her hair, torn her skirts, bought a plaid shirt and a leather jacket. She should have, but she was too slow to realize, poor Sarah.
The acrid glow of the glucose meter makes my bruises look purple-green and rotten. The meter teases me, then gives me my number.
It was 308 before. It was dropping. It was midnight then. It is 12:30 now. Tomorrow, there are seven hours of school, two of homework, one hour of the insipid white trash minder, and an eternity with a house full of people, talking, asking me about my day, suggesting social activities, needing the television, the computer, my energy, my patience, my time, my life. The river never stops, not even when I sleep. I can see, in shadowy, mirage-like flashes, figures standing at the corners of the room, peering, disappearing when they think I see them. The house groans and shrieks around me. I am Macbeth with scorpions in my skull.
I must pump more insulin into blood vessels swollen with it, with fat, with the unborn egg of the cancer that they say fat causes, though it doesn’t make sense. Cells are not like humans. They do not become pathological when they see they have grown two dress sizes. They are pure, can only be infected by the chemicals and radiation that we give them. I worry after them, and then I dump in more fat, more sugar, more chemicals.
Poor Sarah- she has no power over her body, or what she eats.
No power at all.
I want to sleep, but the sugar in my blood and the deformity in my brain won’t let me. They say it is normal for us with this mind affliction (they call it a Syndrome) not to sleep. They say it is normal for us to be tired and slow and silent and easily manipulated. They say we need them to care for us, we need their foundations and resource rooms and restraints. Alone, we would bang our heads against the walls, punch and kick and bite and scream. We would be duped into giving away our money, our bodies, our hearts, our lives, and our souls (this is not allowed, because all this belongs to them, like the Indians’ gold belonged to Columbus). They forget we see the ghosts. They forget we hear the music- the pulse of the planet, irregular and faint now, the anger in the rocks and sea and sky, the last attempt at rebellion they call climate change. I once saw a program, and an Indian man in it who said that we were the shamans, back before time. If they knew what we shamans have always known, they would bang their heads against walls too.
When the waters rise and the winds roar and the earth splits like a healed scab, then we will no longer be ‘afflicted’. Our magic will no longer be a syndrome, for then they will need us.
I must sleep, because I wake up later and the house is silent. It is morning, but dark. I have had three hours of sleep. I sit up sweaty, head pounding, throat dry, tongue like a new sponge, stomach in my throat. Prick, pain, too little blood. Prick again- a bruise this time- no pain, too much blood. Time before dawn and alarm and school drains away like river water in a cupped hand, or air in a windsock. Meter says: 400.
Need injection. Pump is incompetent; I must do its job for it. Would like to smash it against the table, the floor, the heads of my enemies. But I never will- I am too nice, too polite and quietly unobtrusive, too logical. Would never smash their heads, though they would smash mine in an instant.
Poor Sarah- ugly fat virgin (they think I’m ugly; I don’t, mostly)
Poor Sarah- make Jew jokes even though she sits next to you with her star of David necklace and chats with you about South Park
Poor Sarah- lesbo crush on that ugly teacher who got fired (I don’t have one; I just admired her because she was fat, too, but she’d still been married twice and had a doctorate)
Poor Sarah- too slow to know when we’re harassing her, too nice to get us back.
Poor Sarah- let’s see what fun we can have with her today.
The pump wouldn’t break if I drove a car over it. That’s what the doctors said. I can’t drive- I have no license, not even a permit. Even if I did, I have no car.
Poor Sarah- can’t escape.
Poor Sarah- can’t go on a vision quest to find her totem; how will she be a shaman now?
Poor Sarah- her world is this house and street.
Poor Sarah- can’t break the pump (at least Vader could take off his mask)
Poor Sarah- no power.
There is a noise as I walk down the dark stairs. It is not the wind. It may be the river- the Hudson, swollen with excess water from Sedna’s melting castles, finally coming to drown us, the way some have said it will. I stop and stand by the supply bin, not breathing, just listening, and hear it again. It is not the floodwaters.
There is someone new in the house.
Through the darkness and the silence and the sugar hangover and the gummy-eyed exhaustion, the alien presence penetrates like a foghorn through mist. A person is walking around the house, only a few hundred feet away from me, standing where I have frozen in the darkened dining room, where the implements are kept. A syringe is in my hand, needle glinting in the faint glow of the bathroom nightlight. What if this person turns on the lights? The darkness that used to keep me from sleep is now obscuring me from sight.
You should sneak upstairs and get your parents.
You should use the phone upstairs to call 911.
Then, you should go back to your room, and hide
(And pray the monsters don’t find you
And if they do, just be nice
As you always are
Maybe they won’t hurt you too badly
He walks in then, and sees me.
I can’t see his face. He wears black, with a ski mask. He is tall, taller than I am, like everyone else I know. He is strong. He has a gun.
Poor Sarah, no weapons
I am frozen.
Poor Sarah, no escape
He is faster than me. Everyone is faster than me.
There is a new pain in my head, cutting its way in from outside, instead of stinging crustaceans trying to poke their way out. It makes me sway and my vision runs like driveway chalk in the rain, or blood in a river. I think it was the hilt- or whatever they call it- of his pistol.
He catches me as I fall and drags me to a clear patch of rug on the living room floor. He sets me down hard, crouches over me. I think something burst inside my skull because my head hurts worse than it ever has before. For a moment I want to cut it off. But then I realize I won’t need to, because he will probably do it for me. Right now, he is pulling up my nightgown and ripping my underpants. They were a good pair. As he pulls them off, some of my pubic hairs are yanked off with them. That hurts, too, but not as badly as my head.
Poor Sarah, no power
I see him, even though he wears black and the nuances of his posture and face are lost on me. He is no rapist, because a rapist feels an unbearable urge to force himself in, to show what a man he is, to relieve the violent desire he can communicate no other way.
He feels no desire for me, did not come here to do this or prove anything to me. He does not care if I know what a man he is and he does not have a deadly obsession with my body or my being. He came here to take things that he wanted, and right now, he wants an orgasm. So he will take one. I was just there. It could have been any other person in possession of a vagina and he would still do this. He smells of sweat.
Poor Sarah- so sad
Who would rape a poor innocent handicapped girl?
Who would murder such a pure, inspiring, sterile figurine, cold as the porcelain she was made of? With a soul so flat and clean and breakable and white, to be admired, never touched, just washed or broken?
So sweet, so nice, so polite, so quiet
rape victim murder victim disease victim bullying victim human victim life victim
Poor Sarah, the victim
The syringe is still in my hand.
He isn’t expecting me to raise the hand that still grasps it. Dolls don’t move when you pull up their skirts. Food doesn’t rise up and resist you as you eat it.
I had been afraid that the needles of the syringes in this batch were crooked, would go less smoothly into the skin.
I didn’t need to worry.
The needle slips into his neck like a knife into hot butter.
I see him freeze, eyes grow wide. Grip relaxes, penis withdrawing (it wasn’t in that far) so I can kick him. He falls backward, hits his head on a chair. His fly is hanging open, penis partly out. I want to take the syringe out of his neck and stick it into the tip, but the syringe is now covered with gouts of his blood, so I don’t want to touch it.
Instead, I launch onto his chest and press down on his windpipe with both hands. He tries to get me off him, but I have grabbed the gun he dropped and I hit him hard on the head with it. It is amazing that my family hears nothing, and continues to sleep.
There is a sense of exultation as he struggles less and less, and I wait with an anticipation greater than any that has come before in my life for the moment when he will stop altogether. The only disappointment is that it comes so soon. I wish he had apologized. I wish he had begged me not to do it. I wish I could have laughed as I said no, or let go of him and have him thank me with tears in his eyes- on his knees, which I would makes sure he would do because I would still have his gun. But the way things turn out, I decide to be happy with what I have.
There will be guilt later, because I am so polite and nice after years of therapy and resource rooms and teachers’ aides and parents. But then I will remember what he did, and what they all did before him, and I will know that I made a good choice.
I leave him where he is and go to call 911 and wake my parents. Everyone will believe it was self-defense, because I am coming clean and not trying to cover it up. Everyone knows that poor half-raped handicapped fat girls don’t strangle home invaders who are grown, normal men.
I hope that someday I can get the syringe back, however. It will be my shamanic talisman- I can wear it on a chain around my neck, and when people hurt me I can touch it, and remember that they don’t really matter at all, or won’t matter for much longer, anyway.