by Paloma Spaeth
But Z is me, sort of. She's a part of me that I don't usually focus on. She's a more daring, more perverse, more shameless version of me. I'd call her an exaggeration of myself, but let's face it, sometimes when we exaggerate ourselves, it just comes out looking more honest than we're used to.
I guess Z is not really a girl at all, but a woman. I forget sometimes because Z can remember her childhood so well - or, should I say, she remembers my childhood. So, I may think of her as a girl-woman, but Z has no question that she's left girlhood behind.
Z tells stories that aren't quite my stories, or so I think at the time. She goes places that can make people cringe, make them approach me after I've read my work, bringing wide eyes and the question, "Wow, did that really happen to you?" I shake my head, and I'm halfway through my no, no, nos when I realize that yes, that is my truth, in a way. They're the same places I've been, just called by different names. The same colors I've seen, cast in different shades. But I continue shaking my head, and draw out my chuckle so it doesn't halt as a lump in my throat.
Z feels what I feel, only she lets herself show it. She even gets angry. Anger, the emotion I fear the most, swells in Z like a beat that won't hit until it courses through all of her veins. She's like me in the way that anger makes her tremble, makes her feel like expressing herself will set off a cannon that can't be recaptured, only Z wants to make a sound. Her biggest fear is, sometimes, my biggest comfort. Silence.
I'm not sure what to do with Z now. Sure, I could set up some long-term goals for her, all the works, with a book series deal and a reality TV gig and all, but I'm talking right now. I don't know how to finish her poems. I don't even know how to finish this post.
In a way, that's why I like giving up some control to a raw character like Z. I think I could learn from stepping back and listening to her memories and insights. It may be a messy process, one full of surprises, but with Z's truth, mine comes stumbling forward.