Dead Dear Lessons

"I want you to find a safe place." The clock ticked with a neat procession of quivering springs.  I couldn't concentrate--
        The trees  hissed perpendicularly as the car gathered speed and jolted down the road towards the moon and the black mountain it defiled with its dirty light.  The clouds kept at a distance above the tip of this depressing scene and wafted like a horrible stench.  "Tell me what this is for--"  I couldn't tell you, I couldn't tell myself and I wouldn't attempt it.
        Beyond stood the old sick corn stalks, swaying left and right for whichever breeze happened to influence it first.  This is the safest place I could think of.
        "What do you see," the weathered woman asked, "now?" I kept quiet.  I didn't want to tell her anything.  I wanted to go back and stay where life couldn't kidnap me. Shut the fuck up, will you?
        "I see dead dear." I answered, mildly amused.
        "You were supposed to be in a safe--"
        "Dead.  Cars hit them.  And motorcycles."  I smiled.  How the hell could you ask people afraid of life to find some ideal place in their quirky little heads and not expect a screwy answer?  I paused for effect so she'd get freaked and try to wake me up.  She thought it worked, but it didn't.  She's got flaws.  She can't do this right.  She's some moron with heaps of education and no skill behind her pretty test scores.  It happens all the time, doesn't it?"
        "Why does your safe place have dead dear?"  She was assertive.
        "There is no safe place, sweetheart."  I had to clench my jaw in order not to laugh.
        "Sweetheart?"  She sounded edgy.  "Yes, Pumpkin?" I crooned.
        "You're not hypnotized."  I answered no, I wasn't.

The hallways were littered with scrunched papers and unused tampons.  I was late.  I'm typically late.  As a rule of thumb: in order to aggravate the social anxiety that plagues you, you must (absolutely must) arrive at least one hour late on your first day in a new high school.  At least one hour.  Then you get to loiter around the halls red-faced and slick-palmed and wanting to hide under the basement stairwell until the last class ends and the last student has made his or her way out of a double door.
        Of course I couldn't do this.  This was not something I'd do.  Either I'd go to my class thoroughly red-faced and slick-palmed but thankfully clear of guilt, or I'd rack the guilt up by taking the next bus to the next train to another bus that'll henceforth carry me back like a wounded soldier to my share of residential comfort.  I picked guiltlessness.  I agree with a clear conscience most of the time (although I do oftentimes make abstract exceptions).
        Walking through those halls to my first-floor classroom was a witheringly dreadful experience, but had I not learned my lesson in socking it to my anxiety, I'd have been dragging my half-dead carcass with a more terrified anxiety.  I've certainly found that it doesn't pay to truckle under the pressure of an unclear fear.  So I walked to the guillotine-classroom and opened its door to a room full of peers.

"Your writing is amazing," he said.  I had trouble believing him.  It's not in my position to adhere to narcissism.  I kept quiet.
        "You don't believe me, do you?  Well, it's true.  I love it.  I love--."  I wanted to cringe.  That's a typical thing to do, tell someone that they're special in some way, you can't deny their uniqueness and therefore couldn't keep yourself from feeling exaggerated admiration for them.  That's a lovely technique, and I fell for it.  I'm a bit of an idiot, you see.  I can't get around that--it's my flaw.
        A month passed, then two, three and four.  We were engaged.  He was a small man with sickly leanings.  For one, he couldn't seem to focus on pulling himself out of the ethnocentrically clogged chinks of his home.  His family was all about national pride, which is something I wouldn't know about being as I'm from a long line of horny mutts.  I figured everyone felt the way I did.  I've grown accustomed to infecting myself with other people's cultures, later absolving myself when I finally got bored.  Not everyone is like this.  Most people, in fact, aren't.
        "I don't love you anymore."  It was understood before he finished his sentence.  I saw it coming like you'd see a horde of locusts taking on the form of a helicopter and descending on your hard-grown wheat with all the hunger of a Second Coming.  I have the unfortunate ability of seeing people for who they are, though a lot of times I will go against my better judgement.  At least I could tell myself, "I told you so!"
        I told you so! echoed his ugly words.  Again, I felt silence take over.  It's a type of silence that'd cling to the fibers of burial clothing.  One would sit quietly during a wake dressed in universal black, forsaking communication during weak condolences and neglecting tears during the burial that followed - an eternity tightly shut up out of a nervous need for self-protection.
        I didn't need to ask why.  He answered dutifully (for he was a proper British cousin and knew what needed to be said in situations as distressing as these).
        "My parents don't like you." Why, thank you! "They found out about us and told me no." Are you a kindergartener? They told you no? Did they slap your hand, or did they pull your pants down, bend you over their leg and spank you?
"Mm."  I was enlightened.  They didn't want any of my business because my genetic makeup erred slightly.  My ancestry just wasn't the prize they had their eyes on for their son.  This sort of shit makes for a best-selling third world soap opera.  I saw the irony and defused it with internalized comic relief, but truthfully I wanted to die for about three or four weeks, returning to existence after cleaning my emotional slate.  I knew it was going to happen, but for a moment I thought I might've finally screwed up a character sketch.  I was hoping for that to happen.  It never did.
        A while passes and I meet new people.  I cut ties with one and latch onto another.  I develop a friendship with contradictory fervor.  I forget caution and character sketches because they sour things up like an unripe lemon.  Sometimes it's better not to know too much.  Taking things too seriously obliges a lousy distribution of pain, and I'd rather be struck down in a state of confusion than have that malignant knowledge make its presence known.

"What's it for?" You want to know?  I'll give you a hint: none of our motherfucking business.  If it were our business to know, there wouldn't exist any roads littered with dead dear in the entire world, solar system, galaxy and universe.  Just shut the fuck up about it already.  There's no safe place.
Candice Rice