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No One Understands The Things That Lisa Says

The Things That Lisa Says

Lisa started drifting away from us when she was, oh, thirteen, fourteen.”

Her gray eyes were cloudy and dark. He could barely see them across the dim room.

“By the time she was 16, she was hurting herself, with razors, you know? And then drugs. By the time she was 20, she…”

The darkness in Lisa’s mother’s parlor seemed to be sucking the light out of the day, as he imagined a black hole might suck the light out of passing stars.

Lisa had been his best friend for a couple years toward the end of grade school. They rode their bikes down the back roads, by the Eucalyptus trees. Her folks took them to the beach. They went to Knott’s Berry Farm together on her birthday.

They talked in a way he’d never, ever talked to anyone. Never thought to talk to anyone.

She asked him one day what he wanted. They must have been ten.

He looked at her and she looked back, not blinking.

“I guess,” he had said, looking beyond her toward the distant hills, “I guess I want a mountain bike.”

She laughed.

He felt confused.

“What? Do you mean like — when I grow up?” He tried to sound already grown up and archly sarcastic. He’d only recently discovered sarcasm and he equated it with worldly sophistication. He continued:

“Like a fireman, or astronaut?”

“Like that, but more, I mean… ” her voice trailed off a bit. “I mean what do you want? While we’re, you know, here. On earth.”

In the years since, he’d thought back to that moment over and over.

Even when he was eleven, he thought it was an odd thing for another kid to say. He knew what she meant, here. They’d joked and prodded each other about their different religions, what they were supposed to believe — and what they really believed. They’d talked about death, bantered about possible afterlives. But, still, he had thought it was strange, then.

“So, what do you want from your life?” he finally asked her. “Do you know?”

“Yes, I know,” she said. She seemed satisfied with herself like she knew something good he didn’t know.

“So, what? What’s your big plan for your life? Doctor? President?”

She made a show of staring off toward the late afternoon sun. He thought she was about to tell him. For a long time neither of them said ainything.

Finally she said, “I should go. My mom worries so much.”

She never told him what it was she knew she wanted. But he was pretty sure she never got it.

previous AYoS version

The Things That Lisa Says

No one understands
the things Lisa says
they just shake their head
they think Lisa’s strange

No one understands
the games Lisa plays
singing to herself
and dancing in the rain

No one’s ever seen
the world where Lisa lives
it’s all some crazy dream
she’s just a crazy kid

No one understands . . .

No one really cared
and no one showed her love
she just sits and stares
since they locked Lisa up

No one understands . . .