I dreamt I was trying to write Sherman Alexie a sentence that would help me understand him. Something about intergenerational desperation and toxic masculinity. Something about power and how hungry Sherman must always be. I didn’t even want to make this point, but I was editing it.
But before I wrote the sentence I was looking at him in the eyes, about to be quoted on his beauty while a man with a camera filmed us. I could see beauty, I really could, but I needed a moment first to enjoy him and Sherman was not used to waiting. Each time I inhaled to speak, he accidentally interrupted me.
But before he interrupted me, an entire tree had snapped in half, because he had snapped it. The man with the camera was interesting and handsome, or so Sherman had thought I had thought, and he was upset I‘d given him the gift of my conversation. I felt Sherman turn into a glacier and touch me, 500 years of slowly destroying everything in his path. But I was a woman and not a valley, so I looked at him without an echo. “I love you,” the look meant to say, “so stop,” but I could only say it once.
“What first drew you to Sherman?” the man asked me, wanting to protect me and so he protected Sherman, lifting his camera and pushing record.
Before the man lifted his camera, Sherman was holding a carton of broken eggs. The carton itself was soft and falling apart, yolk and whites dripping like a song being sung badly. He looked so proud and I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was an absolute mess. There might still be a good egg in there, I thought. He held it in one arm, like he was waiting in line to check out.
Before he waited he was walking. He was walking beside me, someone he did not need, except he needed me to need him, so he needed me very much. We were at the carnival! It was an abandoned carnival. I was having so much fun, I convinced myself, even though it was a sad place and there was nothing to do. I had just met Sherman. I knew he was not a good man for me, but that he was a good man deep inside.
Because before that, long before that, men discovered a million ways to prove they could be dangerous. Men who are ashamed are the most dangerous, which is why I was taught to forgive them before I ever met them.
Before that I was free