There was something I found in his eyes. Something so piercing and so penetrating in their gaze that it literally made me feel like my brain was turning into scrambled eggs. I felt naked. Exposed. Completely open, like a back door on the porch of my Georgia house. Seeing inside me, all the good and the not so good. All the traits I was proud of, and the ones I wish nobody knew about. As I watch him watch me in the darkness at 12:30 A.M. in my blue, rusty, bumper-sticker encased Honda Civic I feel as if for the first time, someone I scarcely knew, someone I met not seven hours earlier, knew everything there was to know about my twenty two years of existence. I was a puzzle put completely together. I was a rubix cube figured out. I was a sailor’s knot completely undone.
I was frightened. The only thing keeping my body strapped to the seat I was in was just my flesh and bone. Everything else was just superfluous. The steering wheel, the seatbelt, the roof of the car. All of it wasn’t really there. It was all relative. As he traced my face with his hand, stroked my arm and finally landed on my leg I couldn’t look at him anymore. Something flashed before my eyes, a memory, a nightmare that I wished to forget. I couldn’t meet his gaze for fear that he would see the same thing I saw.
It was a hospital. Not so out of the ordinary, and certainly not awfully portrayed like something from a Stephen King movie, but just a building. With doctors, nurses, scapels, and heart monitors. I’m in an elevator. A gray, metallic box shooting up about six stories to a floor where my family was waiting for me. I should have been at school, but I wasn’t complaining. Any place, even a hospital, was better than my middle school. The doors open, I walk out and there is my mother with tears strewn across her face. I was confused. My dad was out of surgery a week ago. The danger was behind us wasn’t it? This thought was quickly stripped from my mind as soon as she uttered her first words to me. “I’m sorry honey, he’s gone.” I heard her say it. I recognized the words uttered. But the synapses in my brain weren’t firing. There was no comprehension. He couldn’t be gone. He was just here! As her arms enveloped mine, I stayed frozen. Glued to the very spot where only seconds earlier, my world was complete. Together. Unified. But as she drew me in to hug me, my world was blasted apart. Like a ship after a cannonball blew through the rigging. My safe twelve year old universe was suddenly ripped open, torn from me as if the wind suddenly stole my kite and blew it thousands of miles away.
The tears started and seemed to never stop.
Now, ten years later, I sit in a dimly lit car, with a man who in no way resembles my father. The blue eyes, light hair and lean body doesn’t remind me of my father in the slightest. The inflections of his voice, his interests, his sense of humor and personality are 180 degrees opposite of my dead parent. But I suddenly knew why I was reminded of that horrible day a decade ago. As I watch this man, not a few inches away from me, I realize how dangerous I suddenly was. I was a grenade thrown across the battlefield with the pin out. Only moments away from combusting and throwing shrapnel everywhere. As I watch his hands draw closer to me, and see his eyes catch the glint of the street lamps as he leans in to me, I come to the realization that I am not safe. It wasn’t him. It was me. I couldn’t afford to lose myself, like I did on that January day. A man, whom I cared about so deeply. A man, who I admired and looked up to so much. A man, who was my guardian was snatched away from me in a moment. I couldn’t let that happen again.
There was no way I could possibly allow myself to feel the way I felt towards my father, towards this man sitting beside me. I couldn’t care about him. I couldn’t rely on him. I couldn’t trust him. And yet, I already knew it was too late. I cared about him a great deal more than I should have. Relied on him completely. And trusted him fully.
I am dangerous. I am combustible. I am flamible.