the house in darkness


One night, she was awake, practicing her performance in the livingroom, I falling asleep in the room, the house in darkness, a loud shriek pierced through the walls.  She ran into the room, jumped on the bed, nearly knocking me out, frightened and panicked.

She saw ghosts she said.
I calmed her, and stroke her head,

“how many were there?” I asked.

“two” her teeth shattering.

“Okay.  What did they look like?” I began to shake her shoulders and find her floating eyes.

“they were men, one thin and tall, the other fat and round”

“why are you frightened?  What did they say to you?” We were on the bed, in the dark, me holding her head still.

“they didn’t say anything, they just were sitting there, and they turned and looked at me.” Here is when she began to cry, a shrinking cry of desperation, her body turning into lava.

“you mustn’t be afraid, why does that scare you?! Next time don’t run so fast so soon, maybe they have a message for you.”

“No! No! No! They were evil, it was red around them” she was rocking now. “like fire, like pain, they were mocking me, laughing, sad, and it felt like they wanted me to die from that seat.”

I held her a little.  And told her to hush, that they wouldn’t come in the room, that she should fall asleep.

*         *         *

Just three months ago I wrote Mirrored Sisters, excited to have a little reflection of me to live with, and take care of.  There was so much nervousness, so much angst.  And yet, it was time for her to enter the adult world, I would be her doorway.

My room is large enough for two, or so I thought.  Two beds, two closets, two dressers, two mirrors, two outlets for plugging in the two hair dryers, two women, grown, with opposing schedules, one iPad, one MacBook.  We were symmetrical, for a while.

And we each took turns, bending out of each others ways, to allow the other to pass, so this one could sleep, oh no, you shower first, thanks for cooking, thanks for washing.  It was symbiosis.

Until the bending stopped.  Then it turned into one.  Only one Sunday morning for my quiet writing, and her performance rehearsals.  Only one bed now, mine, large, but still, mine, one nerve that each kept puncturing over and over.  And it took one night of acknowledgement that led everyone to explode, her bags to pack, our mother to call my phone, and our brother to pick her up, unfolded clothes shoved into a suitcase at 1am.

“I’m not comfortable here.  I need to go NOW.”  she said.

Last night, I cowered and thought, how could she be uncomfortable in a rent-free palace?  The largest square footage apartment for the price of sunny free-dom.  All that I asked her to do was clean in exchange for free living, and she agreed, this would be her leaning, her bending.

But this morning, the crisp winter air, the sun’s sharpness, magnifying the emptiness of this now grotesquely large room, I understand her discomfort.  And her list was accurate.

1) My crazy lesbian world
2) My no men in the house rule (but trans-men exception)
3) My candles and spirit worship, and calm around ghosts.

How is it possible that she felt this way the entire time?
That after I spent a couple of thousand dollars in the past three months to make her comfortable (for new years, I bought her a new desk and chair -so to stay off of mine), she never mentioned her inherent discomfort around women who love women.  Truly, it seemed the anger of this young straight girl was an anger that I haven’t seen in this adult life of mine.  For someone who never actually had to love any other woman but herself, I can imagine how uncomfortable a house filled with deep love and intense emotion could be overwhelming for 22.

Still, I wish that she could have bent a little further, and dug into herself, to find a place, that meant love could live there.

One night last week, we were already sleeping.  She jumped up, as if pushed, as if having been pushing a wall:

“SHAWNTA” she jumped, gasping for air, reaching for me.

“What?! Are you okay?” I’m waking up from a good about to fall asleep comfy place.

“I was being strangled!  I was trying to call you, you didn’t hear me, I couldn’t move, my entire body, I couldn’t move.” She’s in tears, recalling. “You couldn’t hear me.”

“I hear you now, hun.”  I rub her back.  “Go back to sleep.”

Already, 2012 has allowed two people to walk out of my life, at least in the way that  I initially wanted them there.  But still, others have walked in, and already, I see that we serve each other, healthily.  Our bending is effortless reaching, always seeking and wanting to love more and more.

I’m honored that I had the experience to nurture my sister.  Perhaps the difference of “lifestyle” was too much for her, and too much for me to expect her to embrace.  I’ll never know what spirits followed her in the darkness of this house, when for me, the house is always peaceful, amongst nurturing spirits who offer soft breezes in the moonlight.  I can only hope that whatever plagued her here doesn’t follow her forever.

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