Heart pounding. Fight or flight or play dead. Beg for mercy with my eyes but do those other eyes see mine? What do they see? I am reminded of my own madness, of the madness of my mother, of the madness of the two men who have put hands on me and harmed me, of the madness I have not seen or heard but suspect and sense in another. And now this child, his mind gone elsewhere. Where is the boy who would laugh at my silly comments? Where is the boy who apologized for fighting in front of me? The boy who was ashamed at running from the nuns who got injured when he crashed into their car? Where is he now? Not in this office. Not in that chair. Not in that person who makes no sense, whose anger is directed towards me.
Labels percolate in my head. Bipolar. Meds. Hospitalized. Just a week before, I told the boy that his new label(bipolar is a loaded term to me, loaded like a gun, loaded with my pain and someone else’s)would not change our relationship, that I would not judge but protect(isn’t that my way? to reach out to the gnashing teeth and razor-sharp claws, accepting the real possibility that I will be harmed) him. And now he is here, rage seething, and I am afraid. I am afraid he will strike me. I am afraid he will lose his mind but it’s too late. It is gone.
Later, I weep. I curl on an old couch in a dusty office, in a rundown building in downtown Hayward, before a woman who helped me out of the darkness so many years ago, who is once again a guide. I weep for this boy, for myself, for a man, and for all the pain of madness.