He had an English accent and front teeth that overlapped, but I didn’t care about his teeth till he cared about my weight. I didn’t know that my body was broken sidewalk, ailing addict, a deformity of the soul. How can I live with myself?
I live with myself every day. I will not apologize for handfuls of fat I’ve tried tucking to hide, I am not something to hide, I am not a fugitive, there are not grenades beneath my skin and if that man saw grenades I don’t know how he saw them past my paisley leggings that I used to wear so strangers knew that I would accept them, and yet he didn’t accept me interrupting his path on the sidewalk.
In those stunned seconds, I gargled sea creatures and dirt and things of the natural world trying to understand what makes a person naturally think like that, what makes a person have to accuse someone of living like they are wrong in the only thing they will ever truly own, what makes a person see a body mass as something to fear?
I am not something to fear. I am everything but animal, I am not rabid, I am not sick, I am not stung, I am not explosions, I am not firecrackers whizzing out of control, I am not running with sharp objects, I am not something that needs to be gutted and cleaned, I am not from the water, I am not an embarrassment to myself, and I get cold in the winter just like he does too. I do not hide grenades beneath my skin, but he may have had grenades embedded in the silk of his mind.
Karen Fischer is an undergraduate student studying creative nonfiction at Columbia College Chicago. Karen has been writing since the tender age of cannot-really-remember-because-it-was-so-early. Recent topics of interest have included the city of Chicago, meditations on the body, family connections and traits passed down throughout the family, and a new passion for flashes of memory to translate into new flash nonfiction. Karen is hoping to attend graduate school for sociology and to continue her studies of the intersections between gender, race, class, and place.