—I’M QUIET LIKE THAT LAST “E” IN SILENCE
CRYING IN H MART / Michelle Zauner
Some of the earliest memories I can recall are of my mother instructing me to always “save ten percent of yourself.” What she meant was that, no matter how much you thought you loved someone, or thought they loved you, you never gave all of yourself. Save ten percent, so there’s always something to fall back on.
I realized while I struggled to be good, I could excel at being courageous.
I scrambled to the mirror to find my reflection.
Everything I wore was an agreement.
How she’d shiver and whisper that she would always suffer to bring me comfort, that that was how you knew someone really loved you.
He was an undesirable partner in a game with the highest of stakes and insurmountable odds. He was my father and I want him to soberly reassure me, not try to goad me into navigating this disheartening path alone. I could not even cry in his presence for fear he would take the moment over, pit his grief against mine in a competition of who loved her more, and who had more to lose.
“Do not break. If you cry, it’s acknowledging danger. If you cry, she will not stop.”
Such was puberty, one big masochistic joke set in the halfway house of middle school, where kids endure the three most confusing and sensitive years of their lives, where girls who’ve already sprouted D cups and know about blow jobs sit beside girls in trainers from the Gap who still have crushes on anime characters.
“What are you then? Was the last thing I wanted to be asked at twelve because it established that I tuck out, that I was unrecognizable, that didn’t belong.”
“I’m scared, so afraid to show I care…Will he think me weak if I tremble when I speak.”
--“She does so much for me. No one has ever done for me what she has. She even wipes my ass.”
--I want to wipe your ass, I wanted to say, realizing it was ridiculous.
Where are we going? were her last words.
Because here they are, the tears I’ve been saving.
“You have to promise you’re going to be there for me.”