Re: Sometime after 5:00pm on a Wednesday in the Middle of Autumn
Nonfiction by Daniel Garcia
after Jaquira Diaz
If the first step is admitting powerlessness, then you should know I told everyone what a bastard you are, but told my therapist I love you, not because I came to believe I could turn everything over to something larger than myself, but that the bus that goes to the apartments on Inman Street where we lived in the same complex that summer when you raped me (there, I said it; I finally found the word) is on a different side of campus now, and I know this because, whenever I wait for the bus that goes to the station by my house, I look away from the dark afternoon sky and see the old bus putter by with the half-faded digital signboard that says Centre Place in nothing but right angles and start after it; how, during that summer, days before the gutting, the sweltering heat carried you across the distance between us, even though I didn’t recognize your silhouette until you stepped on, sober for once; how we hadn’t seen each other in nearly a year; how I was afraid because I didn’t know where we’d gone in all that time, because your eyes found me first, as if you thought I was there waiting for you, because you looked so stupid and sexy with your hair sticking out like a crown of wild thorns while wearing that brown long-sleeve shirt and cargo pants that should’ve been a jumpsuit for how profusely you were sweating, because I almost admitted in front of God and everybody, that’s the man I fell in love with, except I didn’t have the word then (love, I mean), because you asked to sit next to me wearing all that apology on your face and we both knew I’d forgive you for my shortcomings—how you said you’d fuck me if I was a girl—but more importantly, cariño, if God is God how could God make you leave knowing I tilted my head up to that starless gore that only changes when all the light has been ripped out of it and prayersobbed si tú no vuelves no se que voy a hacer no se que voy a hacer fuck you fuck you fuck you with my fists against your door night after night, not knowing you were elsewhere until that last time, sometime after the gutting, at sunset’s cusp, when I saw the boxes in the bed of the pickup and knew they were your things but how could they be without you (yours, I mean), and what did that say about me; how the man you got your eyes from said rehab when I walked up and asked; how I said you knocked me around a couple times, and saw (I’m sorry cariño let me make amends don’t be angry I’m sorry I’m so sorry) his eyes, fresh with injury, must’ve known everything then: not that I was wrong for admitting where your palms had been, but that I wanted only for God to will I be carried back to you alongside the boxes, that you kissed me first, that I called fifty times the night you took off, drunk and alone and laughing, that I wasn’t girl enough to get fucked but girl enough to be assaulted that night on campus in the music building where you ripped out the last of my boyhood, that I didn’t cry, that we laid in your bed ten months after, the backs of my thighs fresh with shame from where your fingers had been, my leg nestlecurled around yours, that I didn’t cry then either but cried in bed when the thrashing thing in my throat awakened because I’d found the word months and months later, que siempre sea la voluntad de Dios que tú y yo podamos permanecer así, because I knew his eyes, hands, shoulders and face weren’t yours but were close enough to tell me that this was the closest my eyes would ever get to hold a you softer with time, one I’d never spend my life with, that I’d christen today and every day my soles don’t chase the bus down as a victory even though they aren’t; that if, just before I would step on, ride across town and carry myself across the distance between us, I might glimpse the door to an unempty apartment if I surrender just so, a doorknob spinning before I can raise my fist, a you on the other side, waiting.
Daniel Garcia's work appears or is forthcoming in Crab Fat Magazine, SLICE, Denver Quarterly, So to Speak, The Offing, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. A semifinalist for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize, Daniel is also a recipient of the Myong Cha Son Haiku Award, the 1st Place Personal Essay Award at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, winner of the Bat City Review Short Prose Contest, and a notable in The Best American Essays. This essay, “Re: Sometime after 5:00pm on a Wednesday in the Middle of Autumn,” is also forthcoming in a lyric essay anthology with University of Nebraska Press. Daniel tweets @daniellovesyooh.