I don't know, man.
I pick into my scalp. Dig into dead skin and grease. I don’t wash my hair for many, 2, 3, 4, days.
It is calming to press my fingernails into a soft, dirty head. In the pauses I am picking.
S tells me she forgets, is forgetting. When I walk by her bedroom, she is cross-legged on the bed with
a dictionary laid open. She is reading it. Writing the words. Remembering. “Sometimes I feel so dumb.”
It’s when she says to me that she forgot the whole school day, asked when lunch was only to find that it
had already passed, that I realize she has been dissociating. I recognize it. Familiar. S wants to know
if this makes her crazy, if there is some diagnosable explanation for these racing thoughts, this loss of
time, the panic. Her therapist has said it is because of the “trauma,” so I say to her that I am no professional
and am not one to diagnose, but that sometimes when we go through tough stuff our bodies
respond in funny ways. “This does not mean there is anything wrong with you. It is not your fault,”
I say. But now it is lights out. S helps me get through my shift; I hope I help her.
“Try not to be so hard on yourself. Goodnight.”
Maybe you can tell by the way people look at nothing. Especially during pauses of the day, the wind,
in sound. When there is silence, where is her mouth, and where are her eyes?
We have been sick.
I just want to help. I return to scalp picking and thinking.
Alice Russell lives in Providence, RI. She writes about her life. Lots and lots of love.