Have you ever come across something in a newspaper, a magazine or a blog that you thought (to the point of almost knowing) was about you? You don’t know who wrote it because of course it’s been published anonymously, but it’s all too familiar…
Last Thursday I read something that felt exactly like that.
I picked up a copy of our university paper, scanned through the articles and decided to read one out.
It was called “Secret”.
It hit me so hard, I had to write a reply. Stayed up until nearly 5 am just writing. Because my heart was pumping so hard. I even had a little trouble falling asleep after despite my exhaustion.
So here they both are. “Secret” and my “Reply to a Secret”. Enjoy.
Please stop asking.
I won’t talk. I’ve sealed my lips, swallowed my tongue. All words, names, numbers, dates (and sentiments?) have been locked up in my head, guarded by bundles of nerves immune to the tickle of your voice, the passion of your persuasion. I may not look it, but I am determined. I will keep what I know to myself. I am impenetrable.
I am totally psyched up for this extraction process. I practiced. I knew you’d come for me, you and your insane curiosity, your thirst for revelations, your hunger for the unknown. So I prepared myself for you — the collector of information, the hoarder of confessions — and concocted an antidote to your truth potion.
I’ve taken the pill of secrecy, and the chemicals are working their way through my body. They are shutting down my voice, blocking telltale signs — a twitch, a sigh, a compulsion to avoid your gaze.
Information circulates like blood in a body. It seeps through every muscle, fueling every movement, inflaming desires that would otherwise be dead. This information you seek, the answer you say you need, would perform such functions once you have taken from me. To avoid complications — between you and me, between now and then — I took it upon myself to get treated with apathy and denial.
Now I am completely drugged with my own solution. Until my intoxication wears off, you would not get through — and you would not get the answer you want.
There is, however, a way for you to know. All defenses have flaws, all systems fallible by virtue of their creation. And secrets, those which you wish to unlock, are not impossible to decipher. They are dressed up in guises. They are revealed in things you barely notice. They are uttered in words you fail to decode. They are expressed in actions you often ignore.
If I bleed out the metaphors that convolute this conversation, this is what you should understand: I already told you before, but you didn’t listen; I showed you but you weren’t looking.
And now you ask me to tell you what it is that I’ve buried beneath. Regretfully, I refuse to speak. I’ve always thought that things bluntly spoken have lesser meaning, and an admission now would fall in that boring uncreative category. Let us nurture this disease of language — the confusion of signs, the multiplicity of meaning. Let us rot ni our own sickness of omission and denial, for the sake of poetry, for the sake of drama.
My silence will cripple your imagination. Then I will drop false hints, and entice you a bit more. Soon I’ll tell you I can’t say, maybe later I’ll say I don’t know. Do you know the difference between an exhale and my sigh? If you could, then maybe you don’t need to ask anymore.
Until then, you won’t get a word from me, so please don’t harm yourself by trying.
Reply to a Secret
I read a secret on the paper the other day, and swear I heard your voice…
Answers and questions.
A confession to a denial.
Everything I wanted to hear from your lips, written by the hand of one anonymous stranger.
Didn’t I tell you, you were ironic? Didn’t I tell you, you were infinite? Infinite and ironic and wonderful and difficult?
Like a poem.
Like a dream.
And (how appropriate?) very much like a secret.
I too am quite fond of poetry, and an ardent follower of drama. So set your eyes upon these words and let them come running home to mine.
I mean to tickle and I mean to persuade.
So that you might be sober; so that these words might come to life; so that I might have my answers, and you might find your meaning.
…so that you might ‘finally’ remember…
I was yours once.
I didn’t tell you.
You didn’t know.
You don’t know, but the blood you meant to keep from me already flows through my veins. I found it the night you gave me a thimble. In Neverland, as you recall. But I remember more clearly.
We were by my window. And it was October.
I dropped my anchor, and you…you sailed away.
I thought I had found you, but it was just a shadow.
Shadows are a tricky bunch.
They follow you around one afternoon, and you think you’ve got a friend.
But shadows don’t remember.
They mean not to.
They are not givers for they are neither conscious of nor consistent in their shade. It is merely who they are, so take care not to think yourself special. They are not who you think they are. They are not even themselves.
You are a projection.
That’s how I know you will not tell me. And that’s why I have stopped asking.
THIS is a projection because after all, I did not hear your voice (though I know the sound of your sigh). I thought I did. I wish I did.
I heard whispers in my head. And silence — painfully numbing silence from the shadow that sailed away…
So like I said, I read a secret on the paper the other day, and really, I swear I heard your voice..
…but I couldn’t have.
Because after the poetry and drama of your swallowed words (and sentiments?), I realize:
I’ve forgotten what it sounds like.