I am an alien. The worlds that I carry around with me are not mine. They belong to the story. I am only a caretaker. My destiny is to give away everything. To you and others.
Rugged mountains covered with shantytowns and the sprawl of human life set the backdrop. I observe this place that is not my home from inside an illusory bubble of safety. My routine is that there is no routine. My companions are aliens too. Unwelcome. Our routes remain the same, but nothing else does. Except the chaos.
All is dust. Every tree looks tired. Animals labor under a sun I thought I knew and didn’t. This is not my world. A maelstrom of activity means that I am always watching. The natives are not friendly. My companions and I watch for magnetic bombs in every hand. Have you ever seen your death in someone else’s eyes? I have.
We study every vehicle and every pile of trash carefully. Things in this world explode, unexpectedly. With great violence. Anyone passing by could have a grenade. And the grenade might be wearing bits of me at any moment. If not today perhaps tomorrow. Sudden, violent endings hide among the throngs of teeming life here. Patiently. Waiting.
I see the girl. For a moment the rest of the details are fuzzy. Then clarity comes. She is perhaps 14. Possibly 15. Maybe 12. She is beautiful. I should not be able to see that. Because her head should be covered. In modesty. It is not. The girl is chained to a tree. The tree is chained to this world that is not mine. I am chained to the memory of the time and space.
She is bleeding from her forehead. She is crying. The rocks hitting her are uncaring. The boys throwing them are cruel. They are laughing. And I have rules to follow. I want to stop my vehicle. I want to get out of my armored sphere of unreality. Unchain the girl from the tree. Save her.
But I don’t. I keep going, saving only her memory. I carry her world inside mine. The rules were yours then. They are mine now. Because I took them away from you for doing this to me.
I woke up one morning not long ago and thought of the girl. I love her. I failed her. I thought of you. I love you too. I thought about how much I hurt you and others. When I give you pain, it is hers and mine and yours.
When I hold you tenderly it is her face that I see sometimes. The girl chained to the tree in that other world. The one I am the caretaker for. Please let me hurt you in a different way. One that is good for you. And let me be a part of your story until it ends. Because I’ll never know what happened to that other girl I love.
I am an alien. Love me. Better than I love you. I need polyamory and pain. Do you understand why? I can never stop loving her. Never stop failing her. Never stop trying to save you in the midst of it all.
Also published on Medium.