A Letter to Mrs. Mills
Hate is a powerful emotion. Sometimes too powerful. I wake to its scent wafting through my nostrils, its taste wiggling its way between my teeth. It’s like vengeance and hostility and the need to run against the wind. I’m chaffing against the grain, eating away my own path and creating battles for myself to fight. I am my own enemy, but no more so than you. You and everyone else. For the hate in the pit of my stomach, this abomination squirming in my gut, may be the only thing I know to be real.
It’s not at all like love, all fluff and rose petals, lifting you up as a gentle song. It’s more like a push off a sharp jagged cliff and the only music is the sound of your own screams and whimpers, thrusting in at you sharp as a knife.
Hate is deeper than love, too. They say love is like an ocean. That most people barely skim the top of the surface, that under the tension of the calm waters swim endless wonders. Emotions that overwhelm, take your breath away, infuse you with unexpected strength. But hate?
The deep dark recesses of a corner. A corner you’ve never noticed before yet seems to have always been there. It begins to swallow you. Firstly, just bits at a time, little by little. Soon the whole of you consumed by it. A chilling past the marrow of the bone. A disease below the edges of the soul. After a while, it’s familiar, as a nagging friend and guides you along, keeping you warm as your own wet blanket. But what do I know of love?
When love straps us into our rose-colored glasses are we really happier? Or as with all other drugs is it just an illusion? An appearance of things gone askew? When the half-full glass slips from your hand and you find shards of glass beneath your feet, will love save you? No, with a certainty, no!
Combinations of chemicals, perhaps not from a dealer or pharmacist but lethal nonetheless. Changing lives, wrecking lives as they run their course, for we never get back to that splendor, not ever, though we die trying. It must be worth fighting for, mustn’t it? Anything which started with such a bang? That caused such beautiful catastrophe? Bombs, too, explode brilliantly, do we see masses of people fighting for their right to exist? Love, the grandest drug, the mass hysteria of the people!
There is a man (isn’t there always?), a man I know (or used to know) who drinks his coffee two sugars, three creams. And there was a time we were “in love”, as they say. My heart carelessly in his hands (his eyes continuously poking about in my soul where it didn’t belong!) The converging of two disjointed souls, from a lovely chaos to a mutilated kind of togetherness. What I liked, what he liked, what was and what was planned all wrapped up into a big shiny ball of hope when seen through our rose-colored lenses. But in reality? Nothing more than a passing fancy! But tell that to a young naive version of me.
So now sits a man who knows my insides and outs, my sideways and throughs, the places no one goes, and with this knowledge? He sits on his hands in his mediocre life at his second rate job doing such ordinary things with every day people and most assuredly doesn’t think of me.
The “me” he feels isn’t special in any way. Just another girl in a long list of Friday night’s where he didn’t talk about work or think about home. He has a picture of a woman and a child in a frame on his desk. His tiny desk in his tiny corner in that giant room of worker bees. Sitting, not thinking of me. And I hate him.
Of all the silly things … there is a plant. Small, green, indistinguishable from any other common little creature. My mother planted it with me before she died. In fact it was the last thing we did together before she got too ill to get out of bed. She loved plants.
She used to say, “They take sunshine and turn it into love.”
And that it was love that made the flowers grow. She loved blue skies, she loved rain. She loved snow, she loved spring. She loved every stupid wee moment she had on this accursed planet until the moment she had no more love, no more breath to give. And I hate her for it.
Those were the days, you know? French toast and bacon for breakfast. Snacks and friends after school. Dad cheerfully working in the yard, in the garage or on the car. When she died everything died. The house went to pot. The kitchen left for the spiders and roaches. No one planted anything in the yard. The only thing that still worked was the car.
One day I heard it crank (early) looked out the window to see the back of dad’s baseball cap driving away. It must have been a long drive. He never came back. Is it that he got out and I didn’t? Or that he didn’t take me with him? Either way … I hate him.
Throughout my meager existence it seems to be that hate has been far more consistent than love. I’m ready to stop fighting that. I’m prepared to accept things as they are. Unfair, losing odds, and its time I started fighting back.
You may not understand my actions, but that’s kind of the point of a note isn’t it? Maybe my name will be up in lights? Maybe someone somewhere will remember me as a great diabolical mind? Or maybe the annals of history will realize what I already know to be true, that I’m a nobody with a nothing life, making a statement no one will hear or understand even if they did.
It was hard to track my father down. Sure I was tempted to speak to him, see what he had to say, but decided against it. Some sins are without measure.
My mother has been gone a long time. Would she be proud of the young woman I’ve become? Probably, not. She would be horrified at what a cynic I am and in what dismal dystopia I live inside my own mind. Perhaps though she would at least be able to respect my intuitive and persistent intent. One of things I will never know.
As to “the man” whose most memorable feature is that we take our coffee the same way … he has always been a block away. The corner office building on Grant and First, the drab gray one, the one the color of a dreary day. Every day was a dreary day.
An aptly dropped e-mail from the correct desk on the first floor to the right office on the third floor was all it took to bring my “man” and my “father” to the same place at the same time. By the time all the players were set properly upon the stage of my design no one would have time to ask, why?
My dad had struggled to make ends meet (or so I’d heard tale) so surely he wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview for work at this established and well purported local business. It was a plan that left little room for error or for escape. And I loved it.
522 people were working that Thursday afternoon. Some single, some married, some divorced or dating or possibly a bit of both. From the mailroom to the boardroom you could follow the misery left in the wake of this so-called love. Empty promises, hearts, spirits, souls, drained of all their moisture, flip flopping on the deck of life as fish clamoring for breath.
Am I bitter? Or perhaps a realist? I had someone tell me recently that I was a realist, bordering on an optimist. I laughed to myself that my silence could veil so very much. Couldn’t he see? Why couldn’t every one see, just how much I hate them all?
It’s amazing what you can find on the internet. You can learn all kinds of things. Simple detonator, basic explosives, key areas of load bearing walls of the building. Do I sound disturbed? Do I sound like a terrorist? They think everyone with a match is a terrorist today!
I had a science teacher, Mrs. Mills, long reddish brown hair, angular reading glasses on the end of her nose, dreadful woman. She wouldn’t stop the kids from fighting like the other teachers, she’d let them dish it out.
“Survival of the fittest”, she would say with a smirk that very much said ‘I don’t give a damn’.
I always wondered, why would someone who hated children become a teacher? Boy, I hated her.
Well, that’s all I’m doing, you see. My Mr. Mister Lover-boy? He’s a pig. A wife and a child … so who am I? And my dead-beat dad? Not strong enough to keep his kid but no problem going out drinking every night? One less loser amongst the many.
A cleansing of the weak to make way for the strong. I know this can’t be the best humanity has to offer. Even I’m not that much of a pessimist! There have to be better, stronger more ethical beings that exist, and I am simply making room for them.
What about me? I’d wager than ‘normal’ teenagers don’t wake up every morning thinking about how they want to die or dream about all the ways they could do it. Do they daydream about all the people they’ve met and how much they hate them? Do they run the razor back and forth across their skin and pray to an unhearing god for the courage to follow-through?
I believe every pole has an opposite. Magnets that can never touch. Complete and absolute opposite ends of the spectrum. If I am the face of hate then maybe, just maybe that somewhere there is a face to love. I think the world would be better off with her.
So I’m here trying to imagine their last moments. The “man” drinks coffee while flipping through the day’s paper. He’s not reading it though, he’s texting a girl (one much too young for him) he met in a bar last night, giving her a polite yet concise brush off good bye, thinking how he hates clingy women. His wife calls, he sighs, ignores the phone. He can always lie later and say he was already interviewing his prospective employee.
Somewhere, across the great divide, is there a man of honor? A man smiling at the thought of his beautiful wife, reading the front page, thinking, My Gosh! Those poor people! Or is this the best of the men we can offer nowadays?
Then there’s my father. Good old “dad”. He’s sweating, cold and clammy, hungover. Will the man interviewing him notice his shaking hands? As the elevator goes up so does his breakfast. Why the hell did he eat this morning? He throws up in the potted plant outside the office, crams some tic-tacs in his mouth and puts on that award winning smile that made people think he cared when he was really a bastard.
Were there fathers out there right now having breakfast with their families and driving their kids to school? Shame, shame on you, Dad.
Some of you may be thinking, what about all those other people? I hate being indecisive.
I look down. I push the button.