Your appearance disturbs me, you should not be, (fourteen years old and 5 foot 2) so light; barely into triple digit weight. You should not be here sitting across from me with downcast eyes, hidden behind your hair, brown/black brindled hair and pale, pale face, too white. Or if here, you should not be speaking of headaches, headaches every other day, arriving and sitting behind those downcast eyes… and nothing else.
It is the nothing else that bugs:
No GI upset,
No sensitivity to light, or sound, or smell, or taste, or touch.
Nothing at all, much, except headaches. Not too severe, in fact rather mild, but every other day? You are just a child. It is mysterious, and I need more information. The differentials are serious, and more data may require radiation.
And then I hear the term “domestic abuse” and it all makes sense. I should have seen it, but I am somewhat dense. I should have seen it in your slack eyes and hunched, slumped over back, and cautious, furtive step, the way you crept to the exam table. If I had been more able I might have sensed it in your mother’s hair, thick around the neck, and tattoos everywhere; too, too thick makeup, cleverly concealing…
I might, at least, have asked about those scars, made with a scissor, or razor, or kitchen knife in some fit of helpless self-loathing.
With clarity born of interpretation (therefore largely unreliable) I defer the CT scan. Your headache is no pretense. It is your defense against a situation too intense, some offense against your childhood. Somehow it functions as a fence to keep out…
Whoever, or whatever, it doesn’t matter. The investigation is ongoing, and knowing the information does me little good. What could I do? My hands are suddenly tied. Powerful hands, with years of experience in harming and healing at home or in foreign lands, yet tied and helpless and empty they must abide the knowledge of your helplessness; and my own.
Which of those bothers me more?
You wear a white plastic rosary around your neck like a force field. What does that mean to you? How has a ring of string and plastic fastened itself to your pain and earned a place in your concept of sane? What have you learned of “right” and “true?” What does love mean to you? Men? Manhood? Have you been shown? Do you know what they mean? Have you ever known? How will you ever know?
You see, I have a rosary as well. Mine is like yours, very plain; plain wooden beads given to me by a stranger at a slightly irregular Mass in an unfamiliar parish I attended on a sorrowful evening long ago. Like yours, mine is no ornament, no outward adornment. It is not for show. It is not my defense, though, but my offense. Not a shield, but a sword, for I am trained and ready in its use. Shall I? Shall I unsheathe my weapon, my rosary, in your defense? I know your enemy, without knowing his name (or hers) for even your enemy is not your enemy but your fellow victim. I know the snake that sets his teeth, his foul teeth in your root and gnaws. I know that infernal breath, and claws. We have met of old and he has scored me deep, but has not, does not, cannot, shall not ever keep my soul.
I know you, old snake, and I will unsheathe
(Do not make me draw… too late!) the beads
And call down heavenly fire of love
And rain upon you life (the abundant Life!) from above.
Shall I do more? Strike true, gore deep? Wage fierce war
Upon you? I shall. I will not shirk!
(You started it, foul worm!) After work
I will stop by Cabrini’s at half past five
And choose not to fret for one full hour
And at 6:30 I will drop the full power
Of the Eucharistic Nuke upon your horned head!
Poor, tired old worm.
And you, little lovely one, though you know it not I will not stop my prayers. I will not fret or let my helpless self distract me from full trust. I can do nothing, but thank, and bless, and praise the God who gazes all your days upon you in utter love. By the strength of my thus choosing I shall be open to His using, and at length, leave room for Him, not to efface the crooked lines of your young life, not erase but trace the strife with His bleeding finger, crossing the tangled lines with His cross, to bring about new designs most wonderful. Not the linear austerity of the Roman, nor the expressive angularity of the Benedictine, but blow by agonizing chisel blow shall reveal from gray-black stone the complex, interwoven, knots and swirls of the Celtic, standing in fantastic glory on a bright green hill.