I keep flipping the channels or stopping to read the bits of newspapers visible through their vending machine windows. Sometimes I even half-heartedly search the internet, although that’s not really ever been one of my strengths. There’s nothing though. The news runs in cycles so I know better than to expect anything. There’ve been studies, you know, about the manipulation of the news. About what people want and what we can take before it’s just sensory overload and becomes so much noise that we stop hearing the individual sounds, so much fear and pain that we just stop feeling. We stop caring because it hurts too much and we have to protect ourselves. We cut out our own hearts so that they can continue beating. Those news anchors, they know. They know how much of a lull makes us hungry and eager for more. So I don’t really expect to see anything just yet, but I look for it nonetheless, and I wonder. I do.
It is so empty.
It’s the last big news cycle that started all this, and I had to act quickly to fall in between. To fall into the space between cycles. This is deliberate, is what I mean. But I still want to know what happened next.
The last big news story was that girl, that woman who was kidnapped when she was little and was found because some security guard somewhere thought she looked odd. Now everyone’s exploding. Hollywood’s exploding. Everyone whose kid ever left or vanished or walked or ran away. Everyone whose kid went for visitation with dad and never came back. They all think there’s some miracle for them. They look at the pictures of that woman and she looks healthy but more important she looks alive. That girl’s family got themselves a miracle and now, goddamn it, the other families want their miracle too. Maybe they’ll get it. There are more miracles out there than we could ever venture to guess.
You look at them, at the pictures on the news of the man and woman who took that girl-now-woman, and you think you know something about them. You know that she was riding her bike and they took her from off the street like that, so you imagine some drooling, shambling monster and his brainwashed bride hungry for girl flesh. But it’s probably not like that though. It wasn’t like that for them in the moment when they took her. It wasn’t like that for them in the times that they discussed it – what they wanted, what options they had – and decided what they would do about it, and then did it.
We get so hungry and we open our metaphorical and literal maws and we cram into ourselves whatever we think will nourish us. Sometimes we’re wrong but sometimes, oh Jesus Christ, sometimes we’re just exactly right.
I wanted a daughter. I always did. For all my life I’ve known who my daughter would be. Long before I touched her my fingertips knew the feel of her skin, the fine downy hairs on her forearms, the curve of her lower lip. She was mine you know, and there was nothing ugly about it. There was no part of the hunger you imagine and everything of the hunger you yearn for.
I made a world for her. I built it, the way a father does, in love and in submission to the sort of love that makes its choices for us. I built an entire world that was hers and ours and in that place she found beauty in stillness and a sort of perfect happiness. She found language unnecessary and so she left it behind years ago, and that is why I keep searching the news. Because all those parents, those other parents, they kept putting their faces on the television and telling those old stories, and maybe someone gets interested and starts looking at what was overlooked and maybe eventually, one day, maybe that brings them to me.
So I destroyed our world. I dismantled our world and I took the pieces and I destroyed them. I discarded them or burned them or boxed up the smallest, dearest pieces of it. I kept what I could of our world and I sent her out into theirs. And I watch the news because I love her. Because I love you. Because I love you more than my own heart, and I need to know what happens. Will you realize that language is necessary again? Will you remember the words you need to speak? Are you frightened? Are you hungry? Is someone holding you safe and warm?