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The Anatomy of an Ending

Written by Charline Ochang

Abel, 26, Black, Female, 5’9

January 2004

Seattle, Washington


My Dear Lola,


I write this to you with my pen in my non-dominant hand, a letter I will never send, address, stamp, or drop into the abyss of your possession. A letter written in black ink, stained with drops of red wine, the kind that’s so cheap it makes your face scrunch up in reluctance as it slips along your tongue, down your throat, into a pool of bubbling acid. Red wine and reluctance: the pillars of our relationship, essential to the divine feminine.


Last night I dreamt that we went back to the river, the river behind the castles built on top of our fallen dreams, by the tree that cursed us from the moment we were born. Black skin, thick hair, and bedroom eyes hanging from the tallest branches. We always said we’d go out holding hands; I meant it, truly, but you walked with your hands in your pockets. I went back to the river and waded my feet in the opaque brown water. They burned and itched so bad that I ran home and never looked back.


To crash and to burn are two different things. To crash, there is destruction, and an anatomy is picked apart and unraveled. To deconstruct is to reverse what was once constructed, to remove all the parts of the whole so that a concept is reduced to back down its potential. To burn, alas, is to be reduced to nothing. To dissipate into thin air and flakes that resemble sand, to blend in with the earth and exist among what we don’t care to notice. The question becomes: when you feel you’ve crashed, do you have the choice of whether or not to burn?


Ever since I went to the river, I’ve felt myself burning. It started with just my feet, forever stained by your fairer shade of brown. Your finer hair, softer smile, smaller stature, and pigments of trust and advantage. I am left to wonder if you wanted me to feel less than you or if I just assumed that I was. 


Oh, I dwell. I know it, and I can’t stand it. But the thought of making this finite, I can’t stand either. I’d love to breathe your warm air again just a second more; don’t ask me what I’d do for it.



Jane Doe





Mother, Mother,


I don’t know how to wash my jeans without shrinking them. I don’t know how to talk to the gynecologist without tripping up, and I don’t know how to drive because I was never big enough to make it out of the backseat.


I know how to hold a baby’s head up so that through life, her chin never falls; I know the difference between discipline and destruction; and I know that I’ll never be as pretty as I want to be because I look like my mother and my mother hates herself. Beauty is in my beholder's eye, and she grimaces and pouts when we make eye contact.


A hug is a burden far too formidable for a woman so weak, I wrap my arms around her like a wand, and it’s all too much. 


Too much to be loved.


I learned how to be too little and too much, and I found my middle, right here, alone in the middle of an empty ranch home, fire burning for no one to warm. My skin still stings from all the striking and bruising and the noxious muddy river water behind the home of the only other woman who loved me as you did: loving me because I possess the things you hate about yourself—loving me never to show me any love.




Sick, sick woman. You eat away at the souls of children to keep yours young, yet you withered away in 50 years' time.


I couldn’t miss you if I tried.



Baby Abel








Dear Watermelon Girl,


Eat all the good berries and leave the mushy ones for others to be stained with. Pick up the ball and chuck it beyond the yard, run after it too. Adults love to yell, but children love to scream. 


Scream as loud as you can while you skip across the playground; hold your head high when you’re tagged in Cops and Robbers, and use your shameful wits to catch everybody you wish. You are the queen of the playground, you can climb the highest heights, and you stand the tallest, taller than the cute boy who told you you were too dark to love. You look him in the eyes and say: “Just like your mother.”


Raise your hand high in class for all seven questions in a row and smirk as the other children roll their eyes. Laugh when they groan, and cackle when they ask you for the answers. Wear your pink tutu outside of ballet class, and point and flex your feet under the noses of those keeled-over laughing. 


When your mother holds your brother’s hand in the parking lot instead of yours, jump in every puddle. Dash around the lot with your sparkling vigor and give her a scare. Don’t forget your shameful wits; keep the people on their toes and their eyes on you.


You are wondrous, beautiful, and radiant, while the rest of humanity treats the environment like a black hole for being all the same. You are not the black hole; you are the sun.


Life only lasts so long. In 50 years' time, we may wither away.


Enjoy the fruits of your youth, and dispel all that is rotten. Save us from ourselves, Abel. 



Watermelon Woman

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