He thinks I don’t think, but I do. My face looks different, and my body doesn’t line up the way it used to. He doesn’t like it when my hair gets shaggy, so he trims it back every other week. At least he doesn’t use a bowl. He’s handy with the scissors, and he’s patient when he trims around my ears. He’s not a patient man. Fourteen years alone with him has taught me that. I can’t walk by myself anymore, but he walks with me, arm around my waist, shoulder against my arm. I’m taller, but I think I’ve shrunk some, atrophied, and my spine feels softer because I can’t sit comfortably, or stand at all.
I talk, but the words are garbled, and it took him time to figure out what I was trying to say. I can’t write down what I’m thinking, but I can think about what I’m writing in my head. I’m not an idiot, though most people treat me like one, like I’m a stuffed animal, or an ugly pet. I used to be embarrassed, but I’m not anymore. I can’t blame anyone, unless it’s God, and what would be the point?
I’ve learned to paint pictures in my head, create landscapes with grassy rivers and tumbling winds. I write poetry, create vistas, sing to the angels and the pretty girls on the street, but no one knows. They see this block of skin sitting in a chair, staring out the window, dreaming nothing but echoes. My voice is clear and singular, but it comes out of my mouth as jammed, wet vowels. Some days I’m a cowboy, some days I’m a poet, some days I’m a hiss of steam rising above the flesh. But mostly I’m just me, sitting, waiting, thinking. It doesn’t matter what others think I am: victim, useless, a waste of life. They’re all just characters that drift in and out of my landscape. Except for my father. He’s the director in this cast of one. He tries to be patient, but he’s not. I wish I had five minutes to tell him to stop. But he wouldn’t. He’s stubborn and proud. You can’t change that in five minutes, or days. I wish he could see inside my head, but that would make him some kind of god. He’d like that, I think.