Don’t touch me, please, just leave me alone, and if you talk to me, just look across the room when you’re doing so, because I’ll be doing the same, I’ll be looking away, but listening, and listening still, I’ll see the words in their letters bound, with all the possible meanings that might be there, I’ll stop, I’ll halt, I’ll run along, I’ll interrupt, I’ll be not calm, my hands will wander, my fingers will pick and pry, I’ll look at you when you’re looking away, but I’ll be listening still and listening still.
When you walk away from our talk’s circuitous talk, I’ll wonder still at the words and then. I’ll wonder for a while and decide, and then I’ll send them away, like you, in their categories, their phrases and their speaking and thoughts. I understood it all, or most of it and then, sometimes I got some of it, but not all of it, and it registers in some forms, but not in others’ nuances. It makes sense most times or sometimes, but not in other times, and you won’t know which it is, in these or those, not now nor then.
Sometimes your words scrape the insides of my ears before they reach my brain. I hear their clicking and crunching ways and the wet spit that sticks to their sides, I notice when some letters are missing, like when your mouth gets lazy or you talk too fast, they catch in my ear canals when you say them wrongly, improperly, incorrectly, out of place, out of tune, out of context, in error, in mis-thought, whatever, when you emphasize the wrong syllable or say coush instead of couch. The letters get jammed up in my ears sometimes so the other words can’t get through and then I hear your voice rise and rise and the letters get more jammed still, they run and run and crash into the sides of my insides, my ears and veins and arteries, too, they make my lungs pump harder and harder and faster still, the words are still clogged in their letters’ catching and the thoughts are gone and the letters become numbers and I hate numbers and they’re all a-squiggle and mean nothing as my heart is pounding in my head and my fingers pick their other fingers and everything gets fuzzy from the inside, hazy and undefined and I don’t know what you’re saying and thinking and your eyes are piercing when I glance at them for a micro-second from my turned head and I hear the spit in the corners of your mouth squish and squash as your mouth flaps and keeps throwing other words and letters into my ears and I wish you’d just shut-up and leave me alone and please don’t touch me, just go away, don’t step any closer or any closer, don’t talk any louder or any louder, just close your mouth and leave before I explode in your face with my eyes wide wide open and hands curled into fists and I’m staring straight ahead but looking for something to throw or hit and my hands crash into my head and I scream at you and pull my hair and scratch my face and I’m suddenly strong with a stupid strong and you can’t hold me, no, get away, leave me alone, stop talking, don’t touch me, the letters are all stuck and I hate you and I hate me and you get away from me and what do you want and what did I say and my cat died when I was four and you went on those stupid interviews and it snowed today and it rained today and where’s the goddamned sun today and it’s okay if you’re shy and I didn’t have a melt-down so that I wouldn’t have to finish my homework and I said it myself and the baby was crying and I just wanted to help and go away, just get away, and stop with the words, don’t touch me, put your eyes away…and hold me, crush me, just wrap me up, hum a deep hum deep into my core and the parts of my cells, just be a nothing with me for a minute more, until I don’t feel these things anymore, just for a minute more, long minutes more, until the letters get unstuck in my ears and I can hear what you’re saying again, just leave me alone, don’t touch me, please…but don’t let me go.
We don’t know how it happens, most of us, but when the buttons are depressed, it doesn’t matter. All we know is that help is supposed to arrive on the other end of the line. What is amazing, is that it does. No, I haven’t yet witnessed the serious misplay of signals and heard the agonizing death or continued battering that was yearning for my help, but in time I know it may happen. A nearly perpetual un-ease as the tone sounds in my ear; an equally perpetual wondering if this is going to be the one that may change my life forever. It can change things like that, I know it. I don’t want to be on the receiving end of that disaster, but it must come, for life knows no way of stopping the things that have been set in motion. No amount of prayer or forethought is going to prevent the inevitability in life. It just happens. Frantic voices and then ones of grogged sleep and substance induced stupors, lucid memories of the things that used to be there and the distressed sighs of the aged ones who just can’t remember. Were they going to come this Tuesday or next Tuesday? Why haven’t they shown up yet? They were only coming from across town and it seems they should have been here hours ago and I lost my cell phone and need a report number for the insurance and the man next door refuses to turn down his stereo and my babies are trying to sleep and I just got done seeing patients until three this morning and I would so like to get some sleep before I have to start the day again and don’t you know that damned dog just won’t shut up and the man just kept hitting her and she was crying, screaming for help and I had to call and now I’m taking my babies downstairs to my daddy’s apartment so they won’t be upstairs where all of that stuff is happening and the one Indian guy was grabbing the lady around the throat and smashing her head into the lamp post and I didn’t know what else to do and you’ve got to send help quick…. And so we do our best to get the numbers in the right places and depress the right keys so that help can be sent with the speed of an electronic beep to rescue the perishing. God rest ye, merry gentlemen.
“You don’t pray before you send your kids out there into the world? How can you know that they’re going to be safe?” You don’t know, I can’t know, and neither can you. Shall I pray to Peter Pan? Will Prince Charming rescue me like the risen savior? Isn’t it all the same thing? Who can know? How can you ask that of someone so believing of the stories they’ve heard? How can you dare to ask such a thing of someone like that? I don’t ask it, I just wonder it.
I left behind friends and security to gain trepidation and a few dollars more an hour and the prospect of earning even more as time proceeds onward. Probation for a year and who knows what’s going to happen in that year. I keep telling myself to relax. Just relax and answer the phone. Almost one hundred and sixty times today I just answered the phone and tried to just answer questions or just send help on the way.