a centaur knows my name | a short story

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She decided to stay. The world had done nothing but harm her. And she had said that she was empty and that she had nothing to give, that she had been turned rotten and all she could do was accumulate the rot of the world in her body and let others have their fair share. How dare the world demand of her to be kind and appreciative, loving even? She thought that the world had passively observed and consumed what had been done to her, how she, as a child, had been turned into something unidentifiable. Something. Pretty little thing. Young thing. Shy thing. Sweet thing. How could she find traces of such an abstract concept as love in the past that still held her body and memory captive?

If the world would have helped him, not condemned him into his own hell, feeling superior to him, just so damn lucky, it could have saved her, it could have helped her by extension. But violence knows power and power knows violence. And he became trash to the world, something that should die, something that shouldn’t exist. Something. If he wouldn’t matter, nobody would matter. He didn’t want to stay that frightened little boy that his father made out of him, and in his discarded state he lived out what was within him. And he’d destroy. How to come back to the world if it wants you dead because of what you are, so what he does, doesn’t even matter anymore?

The world let the dead do what they wanted. That’s how it washes its hands clean. Let them be dead. How can death be responsible for saving the world? If he would have been given the right kind of attention, he wouldn’t be in pain, share his pain, and she wouldn’t be hurting still and forever.

Her body had shed so many skins, she was raw by this point. Just open. Dirt on the surface of her. She looked like she felt. And they responded to how she looked and because the world didn’t care and she certainly didn’t care, I mean, look at her, they laughed, it can’t get any worse for her, they kept her in her place, let themselves go, reinforced her state, her body a motionless pit stirred and littered by people who profited from invisibility.

Another skin on the muddy ground. She wasn’t going to pick that one up and say her goodbyes and bury it. No need to fold it. It was truth-telling the way it had been torn and bruised and left behind for everyone to see, for nobody to see. You weren’t even fully grown, she whispered and vanished in the cityscape where everybody seemed to sit on a high horse, pointing fingers and calling names. Problem solved.

He’d destroy against his own ideals. He had failed to live up to them. She thought of him because she had known his soul. It was a soul like hers. A good one, but besieged and under constant attack, a ruined soul in bodies inherited, the bad blood of ancestors. He had collapsed and crumbled under the weight he had to carry, and for so many others, cruelty and malevolence make their way into the world without having to put up a good fight. He had thought about her and cried for her. She did the same thing.

For so many people, the ones on the highest horses and with the sharpest tongues, being good was a piece of cake, effortless, smooth, easy, nature’s and nurture’s blessing, they’d never pick up the skins that disintegrated in the city, look at them, inspect them, care for them, putting themselves in them, feel them and take a step into the desolate dirt of the world and the treasures that have been buried there to die and disappear and stare at the unforgiving and prosecuting stars from below. She knew though that true goodness required action, there was no goodness without action, and all of them grew so stagnant in their much advertised neon goodness that they stank up the whole city.

Only him she had forgiven, because he lived against his will. And he never stopped being a boy who was crushed by his father. And when he hurt her, he hurt himself. She felt it and saw it. Smoked her like a cigarette, drank her like a bottle of wine, whatever, she thought. He tried, but he hadn’t been allowed to be a human being with this part attached to him, the part that overshadowed everything, all the others, nullified him, dehumanised him. His soul had turned invisible and so the monsters, how the good people on horses like to call and baptise them in their Sunday clothing, kept him company, kept him safe, kept him.

What do I have to offer the world that watched me burn and lit a candle for me never to return?

My own drawing © Laura Gentile 2022 | Instagram: croque_melpomene


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