Who the Hell Knows if We're in Kansas Anymore

If you were to take the pieces from two different jigsaw puzzles and try to fit them together, it wouldn’t work. Even on the off chance that some of them were the exact right shape to fit together easily, the resulting image would be nonsensical. That’s why I’m so confused when this very same thing is done with people, and no one questions what they see. If they have a thirteen-by-thirteen inch square of bright neons chaotically jumbled with grayscale tones, they don’t re-sort the fragments. They ignore the “please try again” and frame the random mess so they can hang it like a piece of hotel room art. Every single person I have ever known is selectively observant; they choose only to notice the details that support the conclusion they already decided on as true, because children are repeatedly taught not to lie to others but no one ever teaches them not to lie to themselves, and their hundreds upon thousands of self-told lies are so loud that none of them can hear me screaming. My megaphone is blocked out by the whispers in their ears. They’ve never realized that the way I walk with my fingers wrapped around my wrist is so that I can count my heartbeats because I don’t know how many more I’m willing to have. In the morning, I hesitate to brush my hair, afraid to pull on a single one of the threads in my scalp because I’m already so close to unraveling, and because I know that if I did tug on them, removing myself completely from the embroidery of this world, no one would re-sew my figure. If I did it slowly enough, no one would even notice.
I can’t tell if it’s through fault of their own or of the society that raised them, but depression, in their minds, still looks like all black clothing and complete silence and long sleeves in the summer, and mental illness looks like a straightjacket in a padded room – any suggestion or reality that won’t fit inside that box they’ve created is rejected, complete with a small envelope and the phrase “we regret to inform you”. Straight A’s equal stress-free classes; a convincing smile equals unbridled joy; they can write pages of analysis on fictional works, but they take humanity at face value. They see clean wrists and are happy, neglecting to check shoulders or hips or thighs for cuts lest their discovery threaten the happiness, and if someday they saw scars there and I told them it was from a cat, they would believe it, because they would have to.
When they ask me if I have a boyfriend and I say no, they leave it there, never thinking that perhaps the constant denial is not resulting from my lack of romance, but from their choice of the word ‘boy’, and it will never occur to them to edit the question.
But I could tell them, and it wouldn’t matter. I can see it, the transparent filter they have used to cover their eyes and ears so that they don’t have to be aware of any part of the real world they would rather ignore.
But they could remove it, and it wouldn’t matter. I have my barricades, too. I have a smokescreen of mist, upon which I project the image of the me I want them to know. All I have to do is pull the levers and stay out of sight. If I didn’t, it would fall apart. After all, no matter how sturdily we handle and resolve our own problems, we are like papier mâché under the trials of a loved one, and my wall of white lies is an all-or-nothing deal. Just imagine.
“Pay no attention to that girl behind the curtains, the one drawing them tightly about the windows of her mind because it’s 2:49 AM on a school night and all the good children are asleep. She isn’t the girl you know and love; I’m sorry, but the girl you’re looking for doesn’t live here.”


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