catherine's corner

don't tell anyone

Don't tell anyone. Secrets and the heart you hide, don't tell, don't let on. Keep it all locked up behind that perfect face, a man who has no need of such things. I know. I know too much, don't I?

Don't tell anyone you weren't born with that pure desire to reform society. That it's all the force of natural human passion you've diverted into this crusade: all your love and your hatred, all your jealousy and fear and compassion, gone to feed the flame. That it burns you till you can't sleep at night and your soul is charred black inside where nobody can see, and you can't let them see, because they'd know then how fragile you are.

Don't tell anyone that you weren't always like this, that once there was a golden-haired boy who could laugh and cry, who wandered the streets in wonder at the sheer sprawl of the city, whose face would light up like sunrise at a new idea, a new turn of phrase, a new friend.

Who wept in my arms for the child run down in the street while its mother in her low-cut dress stood screaming on the corner, no recourse, no consolation. Who let me kiss the tears away and then, trembling, took my hand and turned his pale beautiful face towards mine and said, "Something has to be done."

Who tried patiently and persistently to coax me into seeing life the way he saw it, to convince me to take human suffering to heart as he did; who touched my stubborn, thorny soul and halfway taught it to believe. Who never quite refused my tentative touch, never discouraged the deepening intimacy of our friendship, until the one disastrous night that left me shuddering with frustrated desire and you locked in the certainty that to let yourself feel was mortal danger.

Don't tell anyone.

"What do you think you're doing!"

"Nothing, I--"


"I'm sorry. I'm sorry!"

Stormy blue stare. Beginning of an outraged blush. "I thought you were my friend. I thought you wanted to hear what I had to say, not--"

"I-- oh, God. Listen. Please..."

"Don't touch me."

And I watch the ice form slowly around you; how you hide the memory of the dead child under theory and rhetoric; how you hold everyone at arm's length, because you're afraid to let them close. I watch, knowing myself at fault, as you seal yourself away. I feel myself freeze a little every time you look at me; and I suffer your insults, because they're true; it's the least I can do, having no right to love you.

Don't tell anyone.