Like Pain is Kitsch

There’s too much sh*t and not enough words.

A Christian college was supposed to be good for my language, edifying I suppose. Ah, well. You know what they say about a “well-placed damn.”

There’s dried blood on these typewriter keys. Let’s fix that. I’ve been away awhile. The bleeding never stopped. Only the words did. Time to mop up the spilled red cells into coherent letters that might just mean something. If there’s going to be blood, we might as well suppose it serves a purpose beyond itself…

Dried blood. Now there’s an image for you to start with, metaphorical though it may be. But. Let’s pretend for a moment that it’s not metaphorical. Not figurative nor invisible. What if all the intangible pain we experience, the emotional wounds, the mental distress with which we must and often fail to cope, exposed itself in the way physical injuries do? What if we bled under stress, derision, and rejection? What if slashed hearts, crushed hope, and insidious depression manifested as blood welling up out of our chests, pulsing mildly in beat with our burdened aorta? If we could SEE one another’s pain, what would we change?

Her patterned pale comforter draped neatly over the worn mattress bears stiff, rust-colored stains. Her white pillowcase reveals matching splotches from the nights and broad daylights she’s spent curled tightly around herself, mingling tears with blood streams. Her life is painted smiles and blood stains— the product of mental battles we all know we fight. All but two of her playful t-shirts, cozy sweaters, and soft hoodies are streaked with dried blood, discolored and soiled from where her scarlet rib cage breathes bare against the woven cotton of her clothing. Afternoon raindrops thump uselessly at the caked, bloodlust rust supplemented by fresh, throbbing rivers of crimson liquid. Evening showers in a white-walled, empty-countered bathroom run long and red. Streams of steaming water pour down metallic canyons of blood layered upon her youthful chest.

And no one sees. They keep their chins up, glance at her eyes, look past her. Conversations consist of the weather, the road construction, the next new movie. Their broad smiles avoid her stains. And with their light laughter, they ignore their own, like pain is kitsch.

Cool, silver doorknobs gleam with scarlet drops transferred from her tattered fingertips. Puddles of warm liquid coagulate on the white tile floor when she’s not careful. When the distress spills over. When her breathing shakes and her composure fails. Only momentarily. So no one sees.

This crimson stream exudes ever steadily. It corrodes her thoughts, taints her memories. Driven by the crippling stress chewing on her chest, thriving off her lifeblood, killing her. Pumped on by the lies of self-worth the world plants and tends, the lies perpetuated by the conditional nature of human love. God, I hope they’re lies.

But she can’t break. She can’t give in. Not now. They need her; they use her. Collapse is not an option.

She negotiates for a moment’s rage then. Ragged, shallow breath, burning eyes, crushing weight against the unforgiving tile floor. Empty, shatter, curse the repetitive nature of hope. Scream at a deaf, white ceiling. A moment. Then rally. They “need” you, pretend. You matter, pretend. You have a purpose, you pretend.

Wipe away the blood. It smears. No matter, they don’t see it anyway. Bear the weight, feel the stress thrash through your veins. Bow to conveniency. They need you.

This display isn’t blood for the sake of gore. This is blood for the sake of real pain, real pleading. Of enlightenment, healing.

How many of us are bleeding?

Perhaps this is too much of a metaphysical speculation for you. You didn’t come here to think. Well. I never claimed to be a storyteller.

Crusted crimson residue replenished—there’s fresh blood on these typewriter keys. It’s supposed to be that way. After all, beauty blossoms from pain, isn’t that what they say?


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