Rating: PG I guess
Summary: I pulled it from the swampy recesses of my
subconscious. Scary things live down there. But I'm okay, really. Any
questioning of my mental health will be greeted with a hearty laugh. Ha! Ha!
Dedication: to all the people who keep me from being Valerie
Valerie always left
those one-on-one meetings with the professor feeling as though she deserved to
be pummeled by rocks. It wasn't appropriate behavior for a TA to relate
personal events to a student, or to lean against the chalkboard during lessons
the way she did. Stupid! She should know things like that. And those grey-green
eyes with wrinkled wax-paper skin framing them would bore into her soul,
saying, "you foolish child. What makes you think you will ever matter in this
world? You are deluded. You are useless. Give up."
Only, she couldn't
give up. She couldn't fail herself again. She had to finish something for once,
no matter how bad she was at it or how poorly suited. She would finish school
and go… somewhere. Maybe to live by herself on home-grown vegetables and write
stories all day, cheating AllAdvantage.com and the like for her income. She
could be one of those people that sends out the envelopes. Or, she could walk
Anything would do,
as long as it was far away from the mockery she saw in so many pairs of eyes
like those moss-covered-slate that stared at her now. She could live with
anything if it meant being out of range of all the thoughtless words that were
thrown unpredictably upon her like garbage being dumped out 4th-floor
It wasn't what the
professor said. It was what he didn't say. It was the way he spoke. He said
things like, "you are too friendly. You are too relaxed. You should be cold,
reserved and formal. No one wants to hear about you or your life. Just because
you care, doesn't mean we do. You are weak because you cannot be objective."
He didn't say it in
those words of course. He used tact, or maybe it was more like understatement
because tact would imply that he tried to spare her feelings. He didn't,
because he didn't care. In fact it made him angry, she could feel it, that this
student slouched in front of class. How dare she? People weren't supposed to do
that sort of thing. Up from dawn till long after dusk the day before working,
trying to atone for all her failures and she was tired, hadn't meant to slouch.
His disgust would grow ten times its size if she unveiled that fact.
You are not cut out for this world, it told her time
and time again. (That is, the world did.) Other people passed on sidewalks
while she lined her eyes up with the stars, wishing she could throw a grappling
hook and climb up far away.
weren't meant for adults though. Children, maybe teenagers were expected to
feel that way, but grown-ups had to deal with real life by themselves. Or by
drinking with their friends, and having sex with strangers. Or by becoming
harsh and judging, loosing pain on other people, weak ones like herself. Or the
ones that went to shrinks, the ones that always seemed stuck where they were,
unable to surface, unable to grow.
No need for staring
at the sky. She could change. She could
fit the formula of what a pre-med student was supposed to be. Only she'd be
lying, for she wasn't starched-white-coat and straight-mouthed serious. Life
would make her laugh or cry in front of someone, someday and her cover would be
blown. No bedside manner, that one. Wouldn't want an ugly giggling girl to
operate on me. Doctors shouldn't do those kinds of things.
Nodding, "yes sir,"
she said, meek as possible while carefully avoiding sounding social-phobic.
Waited till he moved before she dared get up and leave- then he'd know he'd got
to her, a sign of weakness. Tears prickling the way pine needles do when
they've fallen off the Christmas tree and you're scooping them up with your
hand. Her eyes filled up and the saline miniscus wet her lashes so that now her
fragility was evident to all.
She understood why some girls cut themselves. Everyone she
knew was superior somehow, and she alone deserved some sort of punishment.
Righteous anger toward herself with nobody to yell at, what was left? You're
grounded. No, that wouldn't work. Because she had no willpower and would
probably let herself off the hook after a day or two or three.
She understood why
some girls cut themselves, but knew from Abnormal Psych that this was
pathological. Doing that would only prove her failure. No, she couldn't cut
herself, although she felt desire for a cool razor pulling its way through her
breaking skin. Drawing lines of atonement, dribbling out her worthless blood
onto the floor where she could wipe it with a paper towel and feel like she'd
somehow become cleaner.
Well, that would be
Valerie was born to be a doctor. She was going to find a
better cure for cancer, saving millions of people from lots of pain. That was what was written somewhere in the
cosmos at her birth.
But human beings
screw things up a lot. We can foil every perfect plan and ruin all that's
She felt too much.
She did not wear her armor like the way a civilized human should. And she was
hammered all her life by hot pokers and sharp nails until she didn't care any
The majority had to be right, because that many people couldn't be
She didn't matter.
These thoughts were floating, grey and looming in her head
when she stepped out onto the street.
She was hit by a car.
But there was one good thing. Valerie knew her liver, heart, and kidneys might
be worth something. She had signed the back of her driver's license.
So I guess some people got transplants from Valerie, and
they were really grateful.