M

Dear M.,

In your last letter, you asked me when I knew. Without context, I can only respond in kind.

When I was five, Mrs. Mitchell introduced letters, words, phrases, sentences. Watching the other children agonize over how to wrap their mouths around the syllables like “run” and “dog”, meanwhile, I had recently finished reading Dante’s Inferno to myself. Under covers, at night, of course — don’t tell father I was in his library. I knew then.

In algebra, when I dozed off and Mr. Young so rudely woke me up, I told him his class was boring and full of things I’d taught myself. He was furious. You should have seen the way his eyes bulged – oh, but he comforted himself thinking he could outwit me. He gave me the dragon problem. It took me 3 minutes and a page of scribbling. Each number danced, a different color and when I found the right ones the colors aligned in the most glorious way. Have you seen that happen before? When I handed him the answer, he became very still and asked me to leave. I didn’t move right away, so he shouted “GET OUT NOW!” I knew then.

When you came home and I gave you the same problem, it took you just a few breaths, eyes unfocused and maybe 87 seconds. No paper. You had never heard it before. I knew then.

You don’t smile. There is a twisted way you pose your lips when a social interaction requires some semblance of friendliness, but you don’t smile. Not generally. But you did, across the dinner table from me. You did when you found me reading your school books and trying to do your work. You did from the French doors when I refused to come in from the rain. You did when I woke up, still high, barely recognizing you. The way you touched my hair. The way you said my name. I knew.

When did I know? Maybe I always have. Ever since I knew that you were something other than me, I think I must have known.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

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