Will Baker




Lovers monologue

I was twelve when my sister died. My folks had bought me a department store suit a couple months earlier for my elementary school graduation. It was charcoal grey and pinstriped and I was the only of my class who was dressed-up. My ma didn't think it was worth the money, 'cause I was growing so fast then, but Pa insisted. He said that it didn't matter what my grades were nor how I was on the inside, 'cause I'd only ever be as much a man as everyone else decides. It was 95 degrees the day of my sister's funeral and in that woolen suit I was sweating more than crying, but the way I'd wipe my face with my sleeve no one could tell. It was a small ceremony, so everyone there was actually sad. And I loved my sister, as much as a child can,  but I saw few losses in her. I felt bad and watched other people's eyes to make mine water. I was upset that evening when she couldn't help me convince my parents to go out for dinner. They say God took her from us, that God had another plan for her. And so before he did that, she was ours. And there's no such thing as ours, so she was mine. I never loved my sister for who she was or could be--I loved her for who she was for me, for who she could be for me. For what she could be for me. As everyone does, I realized this too late, and it wasn't until then that I truly wept. If I force myself to my most selfish, my most vain; my most honest, I there find I am closest to God. In that state I am with a near-prescient clarity and vision, and the course of my life yawns before me, not as a network of roads, but as an unmapped purchase; a horizonal swath of earth that I may as easily burn or irradiate as I may crop or pave. Be its creatures small and violent or large and rich of meat, be these creatures tamed and worked or hunted and eaten by the tribes that people the land, be these people of the land savage or civilized or otherwise, they are mine, and, though not of me, for me; to me. In this state, I am a survivor of my sister, and of everyone, and I am free to travel my land until the flesh sloughs from my bones and then until my mind forgets my bones ever bore flesh at all and then until, and until, and until. I am a survivor because I decide other boys' sisters are mine and I can take them and instead of fighting me for them, the boys accept that my designs are beyond their ken, as if between the billions of them they have only one. And then in my naked wilderness I whittle and hammer and fashion these sisters into tools and utensils, so that when I one day meet another in his godstate I am equipped to take him, and to swallow him, and shit him back into my earth, that I might grow fruits from him or pour a concrete floor over him. And with each of my survivals, I love my tools more and more, and they  more and more love me, and, in the depths of their love, lose all sight of their past selves, whom they thought for their brothers, and begin to feel, for the first time, of their own. I keep them so adjusted, so honed that all material and beings split around them, and this excites them beyond the sensations of my permanent grips on their hilts, and soon they are numb to me, and they see, yawning before them, purchases. And through these purchases, I swing them; they wander and they survive, until I drop them, or until. But close to God is not God, and I am inevitably rent from my land by that which exclusively humanizes me: my guilt. For no matter how deep I travel into my land, and how lost I may get, I have still come from somewhere. And so I return, and as best I can, I return as I left: suited. And each day I wake and dress myself into that department store suit, more than a decade outgrown, that you might decide me the right instrument to complete your orchestra, and undress me, and play me, that I might find, in the violence and sweat of your handling, the satisfaction of my perfect pitch; my bestness and how I, and I alone, deserve you, for only I know how to be used by you; to use you. And for our duration, I am returned to my land. But all sensations numb.

— 2013