While in our time together, I feast on
Autumn’s presence, a more wholesome
and unfamiliar pleasure than my custom.
“That night, when you rescued me, when we met,
I had to tell Kathy something, why I was out
past dawn. I told her me and another girl
from school had been stalked and waylaid
by a gang of bullies. We had to evade them,
and wound up at her place because it was
closest. Her mom wanted to call the cops.
We were scared and didn’t want a confrontation.
I said I would call and tell you where I was.
In all the confusion, that didn’t happen. Sorry.
We are all, you know, upset, keyed up, talked
it out all night like old friends, comforting, you know,
too focused to think beyond, to be considerate of
what you must have been worrying.
I told her this story. Of course she bought it.
She is so defeated, so empty, I think, used up by
the life she never had but had believed in,
a reality too sad and way too heavy to move beyond.
But, you know, I included enough truth to make it
believable, real. I told her, bright silver lining,
I thought I had finally found a real friend.
She likes that hope, a sliver of happy thought
to lift her day.”
Autumn calls her mother Kathy. It is unclear
which role she assumes in their dyad of
mother and child. She speaks of feeling
guilty for their life on the run, away from their
once fine home. She resents the dreary limbo
that life has become. She is thirteen, an awkward
age, uprooted and aware of the crumbling foundation
of danger. I, strangely, can be a strength of
stability, a dependable constant. Strange
realization, I am not broken and defeated like
Kathy, Autumn’s long abused, irrevocably scarred,
single parent. Maybe because I have endured so
many more years, because I never had better
expectations, because I have supernatural powers
and so much practice in invisibility, and remorse?
Is this resilience?
Autumn is fierce. She throws herself full force
into defense against all self-appointed enemies.
She exudes readiness for battle like a repelling
perfume. Fingernails enameled green and glittered,
she files into sharp weapons. She protects herself
in reputation as too crazy to mess with among her
daily peers. Intelligence learned to guile, she
presents to teachers as an adequate student, quiet,
shy, unobtrusive, unremarkable.
I alone have the privilege to know her better.