CHALK I thought he was calling because he cared is the thing, was interested, excited about something that was happening for me, that's why I thought he was calling, or I never would have opened up to begin with, never would have made myself vulnerable and allowed myself to open up, shared my excitement, about something that was exciting for me, I never would have done that, because I know better. I know that he's not interested. But I was excited that it seemed like he was, and so I gathered all those years together like poker chips, all those years of being gutted by his lack of interest, and bet them on the hope that this was different, that this meant things had changed. But in that millisecond after I finished talking and he began, I knew that I was wrong. I felt the ground move and a chasm open up below me dropping deeper and deeper and also widening away from myself and I wanted to climb back over, to use my words somehow as a net, however flat and unstable, to climb back over the cavern, each word like a thick rope rung, knowing that in the space in between I could fall forever but worth the risk for the the possibility however remote that I could get back to my whole self. Because in that millisecond I realized he had just been the whole time just waiting for me to stop talking, so he could drop in and rob my excitement and use it to get something for himself. Like he always did. I should have known better. The rope slipped off the edge of the cliff. And I felt my body dissolve until it was completely absent of being, just an outline of chalk where I used to be on the edge of an abyss wind blowing, even the chalk dust vulnerable, disappearing in all directions. Later, when he's gone again and I'm alone and safe, I will collect the dust and rebuild a self from it, a body, a soul. It's a master artisan's skill I learned as a kid. I'm good at it. I will be human again soon, depending on the elements. And I look forward to it. I'm so grateful these days, even for the blood and the pain.