When she was five, she was a brave little boy, addicted to Gi Joe, who dreamt of earning his father’s gratitude by saving him from terrorists. She was in love with her pretty English teacher.
When she was twelve, still unable to tie her own shoelaces, she was no longer sure if she was a boy or a girl. She knew God had given her a tremendous gift for words – she wrote poems that spoke of a terrible love she was yet to experience.
When she was eighteen, she thought she was Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities, and sought to change the world with her self-effacing dedication. At times, however, she wished she was Lucie Manette, a golden thread linking together all the boys she’d come to love in her six years at boarding school.
In college, she was in love with a tall woman who brought fire into her mute existence. But the woman didn’t love her and laughed at her stuttering protestations of eternal devotion.
When she was twenty-four and ready to fall in love with the madness that would leave her a bitter, yet gentle shell, constantly suspecting that the world scorned her, she compulsively sought company, seeking to escape the sickness she felt when she was alone.
Her best friend was a bearded PhD student she longed to wrap herself around.
“We have coffee all the time,” he said to her one day, “And I still don’t know who you are.”
And she wondered if she was an absence, a meek hello at the edge of a forever stranger’s vision, before sadly limping away.
The Maiden Aunt
I always knew there was a beast caged inside Mummy. When it ravaged her trying to break free, I went to live with my maiden aunt.
Aunt thought there was a beast inside me as well. She sought to tame it with pretty dresses.
Otherwise, she left me to my devices.
I read books and crafted video games.
Five years after college, she forced me to babysit her colleague’s daughter.
But the baby screamed at me and her mother said to me, “You really are useless, aren’t you?”
I went home and slapped my aunt so hard, she fell sideways.
“I was only trying to make you useful,” she sobbed.
“I made five million last year,” I shot back.
“Money’s not everything,” she said, reaching for me, “You haven’t experienced the joy of loving someone apart from yourself.”
“Have you?” I shot back.
“I suppose not,” she said, looking old.
I thought the cunt would leave me alone after that.
But I woke up today, her bony arm around me and a new Parker Duofold under my pillow.
I can buy myself a thousand Parker Duofolds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adreyo Sen is pursuing his MFA at Southampton College.