I wrote this months ago. I don't remember the context. I don't even relate to it in the same way anymore. But reading it I can still remember being in that place of honesty.
My body smells like honey.
When I was 6 years old, my grandpa took me to a bee keeper’s home, where we wandered the rows and rows of boxes that provided homes for the bees.
I was deathly afraid of getting stung, so I stuck close to his side, finding safety and shelter under my grandfather’s arm. At the end of the tour, the owner offered us some honey. I enjoyed it on a fresh piece of bread, savoring the taste of it under my tongue.
There are some things I am unwilling to say goodbye to. There are some childhood memories I hold on to with such ferocity the only way to pry them from my fingers would be with a crowbar. I have bruises on each of my knuckles from the whacks I have received as they have tried to pry my innocence from my grasp.
My fingers are calloused from holding on, even in all the steely roughness that the past contains. My palms are no longer smooth and soft, but instead take on the form of a solider preparing for battle. I have a gun slung over my right shoulder, my face smudged with dirt, the smoke so stifling I can barely take in a full breath but still I gasp, hoping that through the fog some fresh oxygen will land on my lips and be a respite for my aching soul, a balm for when everything feels like a wildfire.
I have lived my life in the trenches, learned from the best what it means to always be in control, have been taught to grow inward not outward, to hide my flaws and mask my shame. I still remember the whispers of the voices that begged me to never forget who I am, like long before I had a chance to discover it for myself my destiny was thrust upon me.
Like a label that stuck, every word they said to me only made me more jaded in my pursuits, more vicious and unkind.
Have you heard them recently?
They say I am heartless.
They say that beneath this steely shell there is nothing but unwavering nothingness, blackness that has consumed the core of me. There is nothing good left in this body, only manipulation and lies that have created my identity.
If I was heartless the world would not carry so much weight that I would stumble under the load of it all. I would not care so much about this thing inside of my chest that beats, starts and stops, without logic or reason. I would not spend nights sitting awake because only the midnight sky understands what it’s like to be a soldier always running away from the one thing they keep pointing you towards.
I am always missing the target. I am a bullet perfected for a mission, robot in my animations, cowardice in my courage.
I have perfected my craft, become good at this one thing, and while it was what they asked of me they still have the nerve to stand before me and demand I change.
They whisper that long ago I should have out grown my childish games and that I should change who I am, that a real lady is required to be seen but not heard, gentle in her pursuits, calm in her demeanor and never letting another see her sweat. She is an object crafted for perfection, a vision of beauty, a creation that, when held in perfect purity, is like none other.
She is the unattainable, the desirable, the flawless and unclaimed.
She is everything I will never be. I am learning to be ok with this.
She is a pearl, and I am a bullet. Both crafted from something else but our paths never intersect.
I was a pearl once.
I was good, and noble, honest and true, pure and upstanding. I was the epitome of everything they want me to be and then some.
And then they say life happened, as they shake their heads, like somehow changing and allowing yourself to be hurt by this world is a crime, that you are no longer as valuable as the day you opened yourself up to the world.
Maybe I wasn’t made to be a pearl. Maybe the grizzly harshness of the war always intrigued me, always held a certain appeal.
I tore my skin apart, ripped my body to shreds, to try and be who I thought they wanted, to be who I thought I wanted. The dream was dangling in front of me and I would stop at nothing to get it.
Skinner, smarter, faster, sharper, with less bold turns and razor edges. This is the girl who gets it all. This is the one they stare at as she enters the room because she is everything they ever wanted, a pearl in the highest regard.
She is everything I will never be.
A good friend told me that some women are just made for the war, their bodies less soft and round and instead sharper, built like a bullet as it flies from the gun. He recognized the wild passion inside of me and touched it ever so gently. He taught me how to be brave, how to be smart, how to protect myself, how to shoot. He ran his fingers over my casing, seeing me for all I was and not looking the other way. I never appreciated his fingers around my frame when I had the chance.
They say I am heartless because of this, calloused and bruised, no longer a prized pearl but instead something of far less importance. I am not who they want me to be, and sometimes I’m not so sure I am who I want to be.
This thing I call a heart that sits in my hand has notches in it from everything in this world that has ever left its mark on me. I keep it in a shell for safe keeping. Every once in a while I bring it out, thrusting it upon someone and asking them to hold it for a while. Most of the time I’m asking them not to break it.
When it comes back, tattered and bruised, with the edges fraying, I gently polish it with a cloth, binding the wounds and putting it back in the box for safe keeping.
They still have the tenacity to say I am heartless.
I say come, inhale this smell that rises off of my body. It is the smell of everything I refuse to let go of, even if it kills me. It is the innocence and the gentleness, the soft nature and the calm demeanor that I refuse to let go of.
I know it’s still there, tucked away into a secret corner of my tattered heart, because I can still smell the honey.