Boxed by Sammy Slabbinck
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On NunsNathan tells me his parents were okay, but not great, when he came out to them. I think about my mom. If god existed religion wouldn’t be a box. Scissors slice my pinkie finger every time I try to cut my way out.
I tell Nathan my mom would send me to Jesus camp; tell him she’s basically a nun and I probably wouldn’t tell her unless I fell in love with a girl and in that case I’d tell her via email, but she’d probably kidnap me and try to brainwash me again; tell him I didn’t know how my grandparents on my mom’s side would react, but probably heart attacks; tell him my dad’s mom has dementia so she’d forget in two minutes and it wouldn’t be a problem.
Nathan says I am hilarious. I grin and nod, but the nod is more in agreement with myself, more in reassuring myself it is the right thing to remain silent like the Barbie dolls I used to kiss when I was five.
Nathan nods when I tell him Lila makes me nervous, not the kind of nervous that’s sweaty, but the kind of nervous that makes you fumble with the hem of your shirt and the dirt beneath your nails and suddenly the People magazine on that end table looks so interesting and there’s an article in it you’ve been dying to read.
I tell Nathan about the nuns my mom made my sisters and me talk to when our parents got divorced. I wanted to ask them if they kissed each other in the back room where they all slept and where no one else was allowed, but I knew my mom would sneak back in to talk with the nuns about what we’d said, so I didn’t.
Nathan tells me he slept with a girl to prove to his mom he’d tried. I tell Nathan about the oranges and apples and the tiny, tiny desk I sat at for years. My mom wasn’t maniacal; she just needed order. Order over the fruit and the way it was stored in separated drawers of the refrigerator and order over the little bodies waiting to learn.
And I tell Nathan about how when I walk next to my mom, I ask her where the separation comes from, like the walls around and between the nuns, but not really because she knows. Not know knows, just knows there’s something between her and me that’s not getting said. It drains my arteries and I feel the pumping slow down amidst the silence and the tiny, tiny desk.