The Three Books of Reality

Connor James

CW: Near death experience, discussion of white supremacy

Book of Learning

I almost drowned once when I was a kid. I was scared of water for a bit after that, mainly pools. It seems dumb but that’s what I almost drowned in. Not a lake or an ocean or anything with a strong current or depth, just a pool. The reasoning was even dumber. My cousin, a couple of his neighbors, and I were playing on the pool deck. We were all big kids with big bellies. Naturally, we slammed them directly into each other to knock the other off into the pool. On one of my turns, my foot slipped between the deck and pool. Completely through, past the ankle. Then I bent over and in. There was shock at first. Everything was clear. I could see just fine, even though I’d been wearing glasses for years. I could tell I was in the water, but it wasn’t cold or anything, just holding me. And I could hear. “What are you doing?! Pull him out, pull him out!” A hand grabbed my wrist sticking part way out of the water to rip me back up and out. There was so much pain. I screamed, “Don’t you touch it! Don’t you dare touch it!” I could not tell you to this day how my leg did not break. I just limped away with help and a hell of a bone bruise. No fracture. Nothing broken. This same cousin who I once looked up to, who I thought was kind, generous, caring, and a good man is probably the most quietly racist and homophobic person I have ever met. Looking back, I can see the signs. Things said that I let slide because so many in my family said the same. I only ever truly snapped back once when I was playing hockey. I’ve always been more willing to confront while I’m angry and competitive. But this same person, who saved my life and one of my other cousins, I can only think of as a monster now. How bad of one? I don’t know. But I’ve been told he was somewhere on January 6th. Supposedly it was happenstance. I don’t believe that though. There’s no way it could be. It was deliberate. How far did he go? I don’t know. I don’t want to ask. Part of me hopes maybe the bridge could be restored even as I standby with gas and matches to make sure it never could be. Staying in between hurts less than to think how much of my life and childhood was a big fucking lie, that I didn’t do enough and couldn’t have done enough. That I made and make exceptions for my family while I still condemn them. The person who saved my life, who I wanted to be as good as, I’ve become better than him. I thought that could never be the case. I thought that it could never be because he was worse than me. I guess the nickname was the truth. Snake.


Book of Regret

I drown. I pain. Frozen in spirit. I drift. 

Hands grab. Pull up. Out. Into reality. 

Friendly hand. Familial hand. Lying hand? Open hand.

Don’t touch. It. Don’t you dare.

Promises one side. Made. Broke.

Words heard. Excluded. Included. Ignored. Snapped.

Natural time drifts. And drifts. Sadness to acceptance.

Acceptance to embracement.

False smiles at. False meetings with. False people who.

Family. No. Wretchedness does not. Count

Wretchedness who? We. Hope blinded. Run.

Escape to exist. To stretch away. From. Snake.


Book of Guilt

There is for long a truth.                 Truth is shared between

Family.                                       Truth is heard always but can be                

Ignored.                   Pain from the past translates to pain in the

Present.                                    A life saved does not balance a

Death.                      Death by conjoining and shouts is still

Crime.                                        Even as I type aloud there can only be

Guilt.                        Drowning in water or drowning in flags of

Supremacy.                             It is still suffering even by other

Names.                    Learned ignorance and cruelty persists



For long this is the truth.                 Still shared by a snake stare.

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