In a way you had to do it the way you did because that’s what the story said, it is what was written down for you like a script you had to follow. It started with a betrayal, yours. You betrayed your mother, already destroyed by her own desires and inaccessible to you in most ways for as long as you could remember. Your brother, his dumb brutish strength always a threat to you; he always apologized, he never meant it, it always left a scar and the scars are the least of it. Your father, his ego, his posturing as he pretended to be the father to you both, the man of the house, king of the tale. It didn’t feel like betrayal because you’d never felt you were on the same side as any of them, but family is blood and blood is thick and flows in one direction, and any other direction makes you a traitor.
The sample sentence for the word “betrayal” in the online dictionary is “the betrayal of the king by his daughter” so like I’m saying, this is the story. Not your story but the one everyone tells, and you were just living it out.
The red rope coiled around your waist is a symbol of something, your virginity or the loss of it, your womanhood or the tricks you learned that came along with it. Tie one end around your own wrist, one around his. Now you are married. Now he will love you and fight for you. He walks away so that he can come back. You’ve told the secret you weren’t supposed to know and now he’ll take the secret and go and find more. Follow the thread. He is lost in his own story for a moment, the tug on your wrist tells you he’s far away, but he can’t come back except to you. Your heart pounds behind your eyelids. If you press your palms against your eyes you can see the blood, bursting blooms, it’s looking past a veil into a future that is the only part of the story that is unclear to you. It’s unclear to me, too, though I know how I want it to end.
He kills your brother. He escapes; that part we all know. He betrays you. There is no version of the story where these things do not happen, no matter how gently told.
The thing is you can’t even be mad. You started it. You have destroyed your home and your family for love and the love was not returned and now you have to destroy yourself. You know this to be true; you know that after you do something so terrible that nobody can forgive you, you have to forgive yourself or destroy yourself, and you don’t know if you can forgive yourself. You spin in circles, madness, despair, the usual. The red rope still tied around your waist and wrist, frayed where you had thought you held him fast to you. Sad torn red rope, wrapping more tightly around you as you spin.
I’m putting myself into your story here. This is where I’m going to show up. Here on a hilltop as you watch the black-sailed ship he came in sail away towards the horizon, the ship that should have carried you away from your shame. Interestingly, both your rope and his ship are logic puzzles. His means: if you replace an element and another element and another element from a whole, when does it stop being a whole. Yours means: try all the available paths.
“Sit down,” I tell you. As if in a dream you take my presence for granted, thump down on the grass. Why are you spinning, why are you tearing out your hair, why are you sad? Because you thought you had love and you didn’t. But this is not a loss. Loss is something you don’t want to get over, because loss is a sweet pain; in this case you are crying over something you never had. Not from your mother, your father, your brother, and not from this man. Cry for what you’ve never had. You can cry and cry and cry until there’s no tears left in your body to cry, until all the tissues in the world have held all the tears you cried and been turned into tiny tufts of ripped salt-soaked paper. Go ahead and cry, honey. But when you’re done, in the version of the story I want to tell you, in the version of the story I want you to believe, when you are done crying for what you never had, you will have room to accept more than you dared to want.
You can take the rope and hang yourself, if you want. You can find your brother’s body and curl between his dead arms, cold and no longer capable of hurting you. Or you can leave the rope behind, call the puzzle solved, find yourself amazing, laugh instead of cry, step into your name, most holy and older than time. You can dance with me, sparkle with joy, crown yourself with future constellations. You can do whatever you want.