So yesterday, I went to speak to the person who is in charge:
Hello, person in charge, they told me you would listen to me if I had any requests!
I don’t know if I have a request, but I think I do have some questions.
(Then I heard no sound, but I thought that was probably because the person was listening.)
Person in charge, I started, can I be loud?
I don’t know why I started with this question, see, I have many, many, many questions, but can I? Can I be loud? I know it’s not really pleasant, and, you know, they do tell me that I have to be chill!
But chill? I am not chill!
I am hot, I am warm, I am everything but chill! The only chill part of my anatomy that I know of are the very tips of my fingers. The very tips of my fingers are, in fact, always cold, and my nails are often blue, but I know that even that doesn’t mean anything. Just like they say it back home:
Mãos frias, coração quente
Cold hands, hot heart.
Not chill, not warm. Hot.
But I bet you understand…
I wish I could draw you a picture, so you would start to understand even if just a little bit better; this picture, I would fold it up and curl it into your palm to make sure you kept it with you. Maybe holding that picture would burn your hand a little, because you’re not the kind of person who usually holds many things that palpitate. Or maybe the sight of this picture will make you shiver a little, and you will feel a trepidation right around your belly button. Oh, I would be glad if you did! And I would kiss your shoulder and hang there with my face just by your neck, whispering my non idiomatic English in your tired ears.
But tell me, person in charge, how many degrees can we hold in the palm of our hands? How many degrees can we bear to hold?
Oh, but I don’t even need to hold things! Can you please let me just touch
people a little bit more? You know, rubbing skins accidentally, sitting side by side, hugging, weaving braids and braids of hair and hair.
Can we please do that?
See, I’m even asking politely because I know you like reasonable requests.
Oh, and let me not wear my bra!
Can I please have my nipples showing? Yes I said it, I only have one bra, and I really don’t like using it. It’s uncomfortable and doesn’t fit my boobs well. Almost no bra fits my boobs.
I don’t need a bra! I have beautiful breasts. I think so. They are round and full and they will never get saggy and fall. I promise! And even if they do, which they will do, they will still be my beautiful round breasts that do not like being in a bra.
(And then I paused, because I really do like my breasts, but I was afraid that that had not been a very sophisticated thing for me to say).
Person in charge, I then continued,
You know, I am a little bit sad.
Because I am a girl, and I often often cry when I’m angry. Instead of being angry, I cry, and my mascara leaves trails of gray on my cheeks. Yes, I cry a lot, and I also like to wear makeup! Not that these are related.
They tell me here that if I wear makeup it’s because I am manipulated! But I don’t feel manipulated by makeup, person in charge, I like the colors and I like to spread them on my skin. I like the textures and the bristles and the multicolored powders that stain my carpet. Person in charge, is that wrong?
Person in charge, is it also true, that I can’t take the time to be affectionate?
Is it true that I have to have a big brain and be really thin and focus on running around, running away from anything that could weigh me down? Should I really be cool and detached all the time?
Yes, I know, it does sound weird to me, but they do tell me all those things!
Or at least, I think I hear them somewhere, I think those things are whispered around, maybe by the very furniture in my room, by my tired laptop that sits on my desk, watching over me when I sleep…
never turned off.
And silently, I think they also tell me that this place has no space for girls like me,
for those girls who just want to connect, who want to smile and study together side by side, arm against arm, and who would like to say “I’ll give you a hand”.
and who also like to say “Can you please help me? I don’t understand.”
Person in charge, I know that now this might be asking for too much, but, am I allowed to get angry?
Can I be sarcastic sometimes? And a little mean? Can I say things and later have to apologize for them? Can I act in the heat of the moment? Do I have to be cool and controlled all the time?
Can I be unreasonable?
Yes? And tell me, can I really, really, deeply, care about people? Person in charge, can I call them to know if they’re doing well? Even if we’re not really friends-friends yet, can I hug and feel their warmth? Can I have sex with strangers as many times as I like? And can I have sex with one same stranger a lot of times?
Are you sure about this one?
Even if I don’t think I will ever call that stranger my only one?
And after we have sex, I’d also like to be kind to the stranger. Can I? I’d like to make them coffee and kiss them on the cheek, and cook dinner and invite them over and wrap them in a blanket of all things beautiful and secret.
Is that allowed? Please tell me it is.
Person in charge, now this one is important, and it’s my last one, so please make sure you’re sure about what you’re saying,
Tell me, person in charge, can I be love?
(And then I held my breath and waited for the final response, but what I heard came in an echo:
person in charge, can I be love?)
-Caroline Steinfeld, Literary Editor
Featured Image Credit: Martha Rosler “Bring the War Home, House Beautiful” 2004
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