These are slightly different from the “Letters” so far. They are more esoteric & about love, really. Plus, these are still in progress. They include some sexually explicit passages, though, so be forewarned. Thanks!!
We are not prisoners, and yet we are. Everyone knows this.
When I awake, the sky over me is a deep summer blue – it is just before dawn.
I’m in a sleeping bag, on the banks of a creek. It’s late August; I’m 15. The boy has been dead for exactly one year now and I have survived. No one cares that he died or that he’s been dead one year. No one cares about anything at all, really. Except for their own problems. Their own worlds. And why they’re stuck here.
Suddenly, the nurses are herding us out of our sleeping bags, even though it is so early. They are ordering us back into the van. Someone has escaped during the night – a 15-year-old boy from Cleveland. How is he going to make it all the way back there? we all wonder. Hitchhike, I guess. So, our sleepout is over and we are being returned to more secure grounds – safer for the nurses in charge of other people’s teenagers, maybe, but not for us. Nothing is safe for us.
* * *
I would rather take a moment or a lifetime to remain on the banks of the creek and think. To be free under the sky, away from all the locked doors, locked windows of unbreakable glass, locked drawers and cabinets. The locked telephone.
Free from the threat of the locked room with its padded walls and the thin mattress on a cold metal bed frame – an overhead light that’s always dim but that never goes out. A little window in the door where the dour face of the night nurse peers in. And another window way up at the highest point in the wall, where only the uppermost branches of some distant tree can be seen. A tormenting reminder that life is still free out there, somewhere, and I can’t get at it.
But I will never see the creek again.
Of course, there is still sky back on the secured grounds. There is sky everywhere. But the free part – and to feel alone? Alone in the bathroom, the shower, the bedroom, in the dining hall, or in the TV room. Because I have tried to kill myself, I am no longer allowed to be alone anywhere. And to be alone under the sky? That is a privilege now – one that only those who are certain they are wanted in the world are permitted to experience for very long.
* * *
I have traded one boy for another: A dead boy for a boy with a cloudy cataract obscuring his left eye. Behind the cloudy cataract, his eyes are blue, his hair blond. Just like the dead boy’s. He’s Irish Catholic, too. Like the dead boy was. But this boy is alive and as horny as anything I’ve ever seen. Almost as horny as me.
We sort of get along. But we argue; we’re frustrated. We’re young and locked up in a fucking loony bin – why wouldn’t we be frustrated?
* * *
What frightens me is the violence. I’m terrified of violence – even the threat of it. The girls can be mean and they think it’s funny to threaten other new girls in the shower. Even if they never follow through on it, they get off on the fear. And the fear is real: every girl in that place has been raped at least once in the outside world, so why wouldn’t they be scared? It makes me angry that the girls do that in the showers, when everyone’s vulnerable, but there’s nothing I can do about it but watch.
And the security staff; they’re frightening – five of them will gang up on one girl or one guy if they refuse to take their medication anymore. They’ll pin the trapped patient to a wall, pull down his or her pants, and then jab them in the ass with a needle full of Thorazine.
Before the needle goes into them, there’s a lot of screaming, shouting; a lot of fighting to get free. I hate that the most – watching the struggle, the fight for dear life, while we all just stand around and watch their pants come down. Silent. Terrified. Maybe that will be us next time. And then the patient gets hauled off to the padded room. A lot of chairs and some desks getting knocked over, nurses darting, pens and papers flying – anything that might be in the way of five grown men dragging one flailing teenager down a long hall.
* * *
Back on that creek, in that sleeping bag alone, in the peace of dawn arriving – I was talking to somebody in my head – I was. I think, now, that it was you.
I was so lonely, and knew I would always be lonely; it was my destiny. I didn’t want to keep going, but I knew they were going to force me to.
* * *
Everybody masturbates, every night. It gets out of control.
Bernadette, my roommate, calls to me from her bed and wakes me in the middle of the night. “Get the nurse,” she says.
Her glass deodorant bottle is stuck up inside her vagina and she can’t get it out.
I go get the night nurse from the nurse’s station. The night nurse gets pissed-off at Bernadette. She wishes she didn’t have the night shift. Locked up in a building full of horny teenagers.
And crazy. We’re all fucking crazy.
* * *
One afternoon, I’m in the day room. It’s still summer. There are a few boys in there with me, and a couple of girls. The boys are talking about sex.
The blue-eyed, blond-haired Catholic boy tells another boy that he knows how to make girls come. With his mouth.
The other boy doesn’t believe it. I’m not sure I believe it. But I’m just sitting there. Quietly. Listening to them. Wondering about stuff. Guys have licked my pussy before, even grown men have, but nobody – except me, with my own fingers – has ever made me come.
And then it turns into a dare. The boy dares the blue-eyed, blond boy to make a girl come – right there, right then. “Marilyn” – he says. “Make Marilyn come. I’ll keep a lookout so that you don’t get caught.”
I was startled. I didn’t say anything. The blue-eyed, blond boy came over to me and said, “Is it all right if I make you come?”
He was so cute. I already knew I liked him. “I guess,” I said. And there, in front of everyone, he pulled down my shorts, my underpants; he got between my legs and then, almost instantly – in front of everyone – I had my first orgasm in a boy’s mouth.
I tried to stay quiet while it was happening – I didn’t want us to get caught. But it was nearly impossible. I’d never felt anything like it. I squealed. And my whole body shook.
The girls were jealous and got pissed-off. “You shouldn’t let him pull your shorts down in front of everybody like that.”
The boys, though, were impressed. They came over to look at me – at it – between my legs. “How did you do that?” they wanted to know. He touched my wet clit with his fingertip. “This,” he said. “You just lick it a lot.”
I was the luckiest girl alive. I was really going to like that boy.
* * *
All the security staff wore their keys clipped to their belt loops. They all jingled when they walked. You could always hear them coming a mile away.
And I took to not wearing any underpants under my shorts, just to make it that much simpler, that much quicker, to have oral sex.
One afternoon, someone finally told on me and some nurses took me to my room. “Take your pants down,” they said.
“We heard that you don’t wear underwear. That you’re having sex. Take down your pants.”
So I took down my pants while they all watched. Thank God – and all the saints and saviors known to man – that day I’d worn my underpants.
The nurses were not amused.
* * *
I was not amused when they sent me to the staff gynecologist.
I hadn’t done anything. Well, I hadn’t had intercourse with anybody. In the examining room, I refused to take off my clothes until the nurse there absolutely forced me to. But it wasn’t fair. I hadn’t done anything.
The doctor was nice to me, though. He actually talked to me – like I was a person; a girl with feelings. No one at that place had spoken to me like that. No one there had any patience with me. No one ever really wanted to know what was wrong – why I would have tried to kill myself. Nobody knew that my boyfriend had died, or that I’d been raped. They sent me to a building every weekday afternoon to sand wood. For no reason at all; just sand blocks of wood for a couple of hours.
It turned out, they were trying to make me angry – to get me to open up, to talk. But they never asked me any real questions.
I’d already been through hell. If that hadn’t made me angry, nothing was going to get me there. I was living in an apartment with an adoptive mother who was angry enough for everyone on Earth – no one else’s anger was ever allowed. Nobody ever just talked to me – no adults, anyway. Even the psychiatrist they’d assigned me there at the mental hospital, sat and stared at me for the entire hour of my sessions. He said nothing, so I said nothing.
The gynecologist was the only adult to that point in my life who ever simply talked to me. Even though I was just wearing a sheet and he was fully clothed, I trusted him enough to give him the answers he needed.
“Have you been to a gynecologist before?”
“Are you a virgin?”
“Is there any reason why I should be worried that you might be pregnant right now?”
“When was your last period?”
“I’m having it now.”
“Right now? You’re sure.”
“When did you lose your virginity?”
“Almost two years ago.”
“And how old are you now – 15?”
He was noticeably dismayed. “You’re saying you lost your virginity when you were only 13?”
“Did you know the boy?”
“No, I had just met him that day, but it was a man…”
And then the doctor said something I had never heard before. He said, “That man should have known better. He should never have touched you. He should have just let you alone. It’s criminal, what he did; you know that, don’t you?”
I didn’t know. But the doctor never gave me a chance to explain that I was the one who had begged the man to do it. That I hadn’t wanted to be a virgin for even a single moment longer, and that I didn’t want to see the man again because I was in love with a boy. A boy who steered clear of virgins. A boy who meant everything to me, and who had died.
Still, the gynecologist was kind. He said to me, “You don’t need to be here. I’m not going to put you through this – your life’s been hard enough. But you have to swear to me that there’s no way on Earth you could be pregnant right now, because if I let you leave here without examining you and you’re pregnant – I’m going to lose my job. And let me tell you something – you’ve been honest with me, so I’ll be honest with you. I’m an alcoholic. I’m in AA now, but I haven’t always been. And because of that, it’s not easy for me to practice medicine. I don’t want to lose this job.”
I knew for sure I wasn’t pregnant. And I assured him of that. And so he let me get dressed and leave.
Maybe in his eyes, I was too young, but I did know all about sex. The really bad stuff and the sometimes-okay stuff. And I knew that oral sex was not where babies came from.
* * *
I had a problem with drugs, too. No one at the hospital knew that, either, because no one asked me.
In the hospital, I was far away from my mother, and far from the boys at school, so I didn’t need to take pills. I didn’t even think about them. But at home, I would take as many as 7 or 8 sleeping pills at once, just to get through the day. On really difficult days, I would take as many as 15 – just to survive. Being alive was horrible; it frightened me. I could not figure out how to live through it.
I knew there had to be something better out there – out in the world. I was already thinking that it was in New York. In the city, itself. Patti Smith was there. She was making rock music from pure poetry and no woman had ever done that before. Not like she was doing it. I already knew I was a musician; I was writing songs. I knew I had to go to New York because Patti was there, and she was a girl and she was making it work, but I had no idea how I would get there. I couldn’t even figure out how to get out of the hospital.
* * *
My dad traveled all the time. He was always on the road. Always gone. Even though he was married to someone else now – he’d left us – but he was still always on the road.
He made time to come visit me in the hospital. “I just got back from Chicago,” he said. “And tomorrow I have to go to Louisville.”
It always seemed like such freedom to me – that he was always on the road. From every motel room he slept in when I was younger, he’d bring me back tiny bars of soap. I loved those little soaps, and I wanted my life to be about motel rooms, too.
But I was stuck in a loony bin. A mental hospital – locked up against my will. I’d been there for months. Even the boy who was so good at oral sex had been released. But I was still there. And I wasn’t getting any better. Even I knew that.
When my dad left the hospital – when he walked out the front door and got into his car, I cried. Not because I would miss him, but because he was going places. Louisville. Chicago. Las Vegas. Los Angeles. Youngstown. Toledo. Detroit.
Places I wanted to go to, where I thought life was. Any place where my mother wasn’t trying to hurt me was where life was. I knew that had to be true. But I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the hospital. And once I’d get out, how would I learn to survive for an entire day?
How could I even survive a motel room in Toledo?
How would I ever make it as far as New York?
Litany (Two): The Girl in Love
Holy Spirit, Giver of Life
through whom this world was breathed into existence and is sustained
I love how my expectations create what I experience.
I love how we are both extensions of nonphysical, having our beautiful human existence.
I love how much I love you.
I love that I was called down this path and found you on it.
I love how complex and beautiful and loving you are.
I love how your beauty helps me to want to continue in this world.
I love feeling inspired to create beauty because of you.
I love how my perception of life continues to evolve because you are here in the physical world.
I love knowing that I am reaching people all over the world because I am always trying to reach you.
I love how life feels so full and beautiful now.
I love knowing that I am achieving my dreams of putting beauty into the world.
I love knowing that I am capable of achieving so much.
I love knowing that none of this is permanent.
I love knowing that what distresses me right now is just old news and that the life I want and the world I want is on its way to me because I believe in it.
I love that I have learned how to create my experiences.
I love that I am getting better at it, moment by moment.
I love that my future is arriving.
I love knowing that it’s already out there, forming perfectly for me.
I love that I have these new moments to fine-tune my vibrational offering – that it always gets more precise and that my experience of the world, and what I offer it and what I put into it, just gets better and better and better.
I love you.
I love you with all my heart.
Holy Spirit, Giver of Life
through whom this world was breathed into existence and is sustained,
blow through the parched earth of my existence
and breathe Your Life into mine.
© – 2020 Marilyn Jaye Lewis
Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse