“You ought to get in to social work,” she says. “Maybe counsel teens.”
I’m struggling to squeeze each letter of my name into tiny boxes on a student aid application.
“Well, you’ve been there, been a foster kid.” She walks over and sits down beside me as if closer would be more convincing. ”You know, you could really help these kids.”
I meet her eyes with mine, blue right at brown.
“No. Absolutely not.”
A bit firmer this time, an octave lower.
“You’re right. I have been there, and I’m not going back.”
She looks at me with soft, searching eyes, her lips pressed tight, holding back the argument she knows she can’t win.
With a hug she’s up and gone and I busy myself, pacing about the apartment, moving one thing here, another thing there, randomly, thoughtlessly. Just doing. Just moving. Just trying to outrun the Heavy that fell into the room, into me, when she breathed her thoughts into my space. I want her to come back, come back right this minute and retrieve them, swallow them whole and take this Heavy out with her, right on out the door. Right on out of me.
Why would I go back to that? Why would I ever want to go back there, to that time, to that place, to all that sadness. Why would I willingly walk myself right back into the lives of drunken mothers, violent fathers, invading uncles. Broken children. Why would I want to look into the faces of too little money, too little food. Too little love. Why would I want to look at those faces way too young for such things. Sure, maybe since it’s someone else’s life rather than my own, maybe it would be different. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much. But maybe isn’t good enough. Not even close.
* * * * *