1 nonfiction piece
by Amber Taylor
Amber Taylor is a writer and poet from Columbus, Ohio. She works as a pharmacy technician by day and writes about race, gender, and sexuality by night. Her work has been published in Crab Fat Magazine, Rigorous Journal, and the new edition of Colonize This! When she is not working or writing she enjoys watching Korean dramas with her two pups.
a corpse is probably what I am.
When the doctors told mother to start pushing, I turned over and went to sleep.
Even now I’m not used to being alive. I’m always sleeping. There is a picture of me in my childhood home as a baby sleeping with my cat on a flowery blanket. I’m smiling as the sun stripes us in light. I still sleep comfortably, like in that picture, but I also bend my body to sleep in stairwells between classes. Now I sleep on park benches and furniture store couches; I sleep on the train even when it jerks passengers forward and back every time it has a stop.
It’s like the world doesn’t bother me enough to keep me awake; or maybe it does bother me and all I want to do is escape. I could tell you that when I sleep, I don’t have nightmares. I could tell you I never see state troopers gutting my father’s car for drugs he never had; I could tell you I never relive the moment a white girl inspects my hands to know if the melanin in my skin purples the moons of my nails. I could tell you that I always know the difference between being asleep and awake.
If you do try to wake me, don’t touch my hands. They feel like rags dipped in ice water; you’ll think to press them to your forehead on a hot day. You’ll think I’m dead.
I could reach out to you, touch you with my icy fingertips, and you’d feel the way you do when you’re in a hotel room with a drafty window. And you’d look at me and say, “oh my god, are you okay? you’re so cold!” and I’d say: yes, and I don’t feel anything, and yes, all of my extremities feel the same, and no, never share a bed with me because my toes are cold even underneath an electric blanket.
The people who know me are used to this shit; they don’t treat me any differently for being a little dead. Sometimes when I’m singing in church choir, my hand accidentally brushes the person next to me and they quickly shy away, but they don’t make a fuss.
There has only been one time when I’ve felt like maybe there was something wrong with me: I was in middle school. And a white girl—there were so many white girls—leaned against the padded wall during gym class and told me that I wasn’t like the others. This was the same white girl who told me in the library that my nose was so big. Next she would tell me that my afro looked like pubic hair, or moss. I knew what she meant.
I could have cussed that bitch out. I should have, but I looked at her and shrugged. I was too tired for that shit.