Early Signs

This morning I had a memory

Lightning, striking fast and disappearing to leave glassy clarity behind.

When I was a child, sitting in the back seat of my father’s car

I would look at the door handle.

Whizzing down the highway at 60mph, I’d wonder what would happen if I just opened the door.

I would sit on my hands to stop them from twitching towards the lock, the handle, the open air outside

And yet magnetically my eyes wandered back, driven by the need to let myself fall out into the wind.

Early signs.


I had surgery when I was six. They cut into my stomach and moved some things around.

All I remember is waking up in the night, crawling out of my bed to pee blood,

and softly telling my mother to go back to sleep, I didn’t need help.

I didn’t want to disturb her.

Early signs.


The first day of first grade, I was put in a time out.

I can’t for the life of me remember what I did wrong.

But I remember the wash of shame, the conviction that this meant the end:

I would never win back the year, the respect of my teacher.

I was doomed to failure.

Early signs.


When I was ten, my brother convinced me to lick a metal fencepost when it was below zero.

I have always been trusting, and without thought I did as he asked.

When I pulled away, I left half my tongue behind.

Quietly, I swallowed the blood and listened to my mother berate him.

But I mumbled out “I’m fine”.

Early signs.


The first time I read The Golden Compass, I nearly started crying.

I remember the longing I felt for a daemon, how deeply I wanted someone to share my soul with.

I knew it was fantasy.

But I spent hours willing the world to make a space for the other half of me.

At night, when I couldn’t sleep, I whispered for my daemon.


Early signs.


Maybe I always should have known.

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