I go to Eve’s Night Out for the first time in nearly two years. It is invigorating, a sweet rain of women’s voices. How I have missed this. Something sacred happens here, a blooming of women’s words. Britt hosts the group with exceptional grace and poise, and her laughter and charm draw out the color in each of our voices.
But there is a ghost here, for me, a skeleton in my closet, and she is mighty. Her bones are wide and heavy, and her finger lifts to point to my guilt. I can’t help but feel the cold pearl in my heart that’s formed round this jagged blame. The red folds of my heart tongue against it, twirling it round till I feel every aspect of its cold weight. In the final solitude of the evening, this is what I am left with: not the glow of voice, nor the rhythmic fall of words, but a cold and weary heartache.
I find myself thinking about peace. It seems such a rare thing to me, impossible to hold, fleeting as dove’s wings. The bones rattle in my closet, shifting their weight, and I know they are saying that this is my fault. It is my fault that peace took wings, that my footsteps threatened the covey, that they sensed my darkest shadow and took to the air, a flurry of feather and drum. Arching in a loose flock they take to the air and head toward the west, leaving me with shadow, pearl, and the heavy rattle of bones, all whispering of my insufferable self.
It has been a long time. But bones care not for time, and will dwell in a closet for lifetimes. They need little to survive, just the occasional light of a door opening ever so slightly, an eye checking to see if they are still there. I remind myself that hate binds together as strongly as love, and resolve to act in love, however faltering my movements be. I open the door wide and slow to the malicious grin of bones. She is horrible. And I love her. I grab her hand with its scathing fingers, I pull her out of her little room. We step out into the sun with stumbling grace. We sit in the sun.
“I love you,” I say, tears rivering down my cheeks. “I always did. But I have to love myself more.”
I stand up and leave her in the smile of sun. The light will bleach her bones to whiteness, and I am free to ease the pearl from my heart, to marvel at the treasure of it.