To contain, to hold a word loud enough to overpower the memory if both placed in the killing jar that had become his present, knowing desperately that the word would win. We wanted something nice, something decorative, something he could give an aunt for her birthday, but this wasn't it. He knew it, but he went ahead and wrapped it between two heavy pieces of butcher paper tied with baling twine. The card read:
Happy birthday. The truth is there were times my suffering overpowered me, pressed me between what had happened, how I had not been able to stop it, between how I remember it inch by inch and the single, life altering blow that changed me at both 16 and at 30, the sharpened damage puncturing each year much like a nail driven through a deck of cards makes the same hole in the jack of clubs and the joker, the deuce and the ace.
The only difference between a hero and a victim is that one goes willingly to his suffering.
But I am willing to be wrong about that. I am willing to be wrong about a lot of things, he thought, if only you'll show me the ways in which I've been damaged gently, like a mother who washes the same thin hair again and again and again because it never will stay clean and there's no reason to hold this against anything or anyone. And her hand knows to not make a point of the healing or the harm it's doing in the same way there's no reason to continue staring through the hole when you are at least holding some kind of hand. It is what it is. Let's just accept that.