writing: there is only so much a person can take

There is only so much a person can take before they lose themselves. It’s a sort of cracking, with the pieces falling away like blood-music, like the skinny feathers you can’t hold in your hands with the memories coming like fire and water; it’s your mother looking at you in the kitchen and shaking her head and turning away.

I think you have it, she says.


What your father has.

I have been thinking this too; in fact, I have known this for many years. That there is something inside me cut up in a way that is entirely abnormal; that I can look at people and see profit without emotion; that I am pulled away from the girls my age with a force that is strong and dark and pure. I compartmentalize, I manipulate, I listen to music in the dark at the highest volume so I won’t hear the screaming in my head.


Okay, I say to my mother now, my eyes normal and calm. I am focused. I am standing very still, keeping the knife in my hand held just so above the vegetables, keeping my smile just so on my face. But inside, the loosening has begun.

I imagine my mother’s eyes dropping out and washing away and blood coming out of her like plastic red snakes. I imagine the awful choking noises she’ll make; the way she’ll reach for me as I slowly back away.

Say it, I say, and I do not realize how the knife is creeping up in my fingers, how for a moment my mother looks scared. That is part of the problem. That she can look at me like that, and think of my father.

(Don’t misunderstand; I would never kill anyone. I am in control. I have morals, don’t I?)


Most psychiatrists don’t actually call it sociopathy, she says. It’s antisocial personality disorder. I think we need to talk to someone about this–

Okay, I say.

I just feel like we need a second opinion. So you don’t end up like–you know. I just think we should explore our options.

I smile.

(I am in control. I am in control. IamincontrolIamincontrol).

Okay, I say again. I’m okay.

How does the rest of the song go?

Maybe they’ll leave you alone




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