With a twist she slips from the officer’s grasp and runs for the dock, legs pumping, perching a second on the railing to gather energy before launching into the water with a dive that cuts the icy waves. Above the surface chaos erupts, shouting and arguing, but she is too deep and too far already to catch words. She swims. Limbs slicing through the water like blades, sharper than the Exacto knife she’d wielded in triumphant frenzy, she swims. Away from the useless counselors. Away from the father who buys love with diamonds and Gucci. Away from the memory of a mother, somewhere and yet nowhere. Away from the gnawing emptiness inside that makes her control, manipulate, destroy everything and everyone who reaches out. They will catch her, but until they do she swims toward the horizon and thinks only of the water buoying her forward.
[ Had a dream I was several different characters from The Girls of No Return, a book about a wilderness camp for delinquent girls. I very much recommend it! ]
The name you are given at birth is not your name. It is society’s name for you, a label, an expectation. This name has power over you; shed it, and your past, like a cloak in your wake. Your true name is the one you give yourself, which binds to you and brings you power. A soul name, a mind name, a bone and flesh name. You will know it when it comes to you; it feels like wings fused to your back, like a sword in your hand, like a burning coal in your chest.
your face in shadow
I still have nightmares about that night. Sometimes he collapses and hits the pavement before I can catch him, dying even as I drag him into my arms. Sometimes he’s already dead when I find him, lips blue and eyes glazed. Sometimes he’s still alive but when I set my hand on his shoulder he flinches, lashes out, and the thin little blade finds my chest or my throat or my eyes. Sometimes I bleed out on the wet pavement while he stares down at me, lips curled in a scowl. Sometimes I never find him at all, and all I do is wander through the dark city, desperate and alone.
Bradbury has followed me through the years, both companion and guide, close to my side as any holy book. I have read him in dorm rooms late at night and New Mexican laundromats at high noon; in hotel rooms in Switzerland and Portland; on trains down the continent, planes across the ocean, buses through the city; in the deepest wilderness and in bed by sick, slumbering lovers. I have read him when I needed rekindling, when I needed reminding, when I needed a rescue. I have read him desperately, ravenously, wondrously.