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OUTSIDE the CIRCLE

by Hannah Logan 3 months ago in bipolar · updated 3 months ago

A disturbed eleven year-old on a mission. A bipolar, actor turned teacher going down fast. A life-threatening ride.

Madness - Ron Logan modified

11:02.

The smell of Blazin’ Hot Cheetos makes me choke. A chubby-faced eleven year-old is the source, her face an inch from mine. She holds a pistol against my cheek and scowls.

I want to die anyway, who cares.

Hayley’s sparkly, cat-ear headband does not make her look adorable.

“Hayley—,” I croak.

“Get up,” she hisses. She’s a movie villain. Scary.

Presses the gun hard in my cheek. Where did she get—? How the hell did she get into my apartment?

At least she’s not a rapist, right? Lucky. If I’m gonna have my head blown off, at least I won’t be sexually violated first. Cool.

“Get up!”

Hurl her to the floor, come on Esther! No, could lose an eye. I don’t even like running out of bronzer. Bullet to the face? I’m not badass enough for that.

This is why I haven’t been more successful as an actress. Talented, but no real ovaries. That’s how I ended up here… a rapid cycling, bipolar teaching artist with a vengeful 5th grader pointing a gun at me. I deserve this for being such a chicken shit about following my dreams.

Photo by Ron Logan, Artwork by Anahata Joy Katkin

Thoughts on a Lazy Susan spinning a hundred miles an hour, none helpful, considering the circumstances.

Shoulda had my meds checked last week. Now would be an excellent time for access to rational thought.

“Get up or I’ll shoot you in the face!”

Hayley’s got a mission. A poorly time cackle threatens. Suppress it. Dirty Hayley marches me to my car.

Gun shoved in my side. I glance over. “Watch the road.”

Photo by Ron Logan

“Where are we —?”

“At Junipero turn right.”

“If you don’t want to play theatre games Hayley, you can just—”

“You’re stupid.”

Read the room, Esther!

Won’t even sit in the damn circle. “Hayley, please join us in the circle,” every week. Sits outside the circle. Lays outside the circle. “I’ll wait.” I see what you’re doing, Hayley. But I’m the cool, hip teaching artist, with high boots and cat-eye glasses. I am loved. I get hugs when I walk in the door. You’ll love me.

DO WHAT I SAY, YOU LITTLE SHIT!

Breathe, Esther.

“Come on, Hayley. We’ll be Kumeyaay and make baskets!”

Goddammit! I told them I would NOT teach that shit again! Bullshit lying curriculum. Native Americans were slaughtered! But I needed the—! I’m on my way to Hayley’s favorite dark alley to pay for trying to get her sit in the circle... and for not honoring the Kumeyaay!

Painting and Photo by Ron Logan

“I SAID TURN RIGHT!”

Slam on the brakes, whip down Junipero Boulevard. Burst into tears, which quickly turn into a hyena laugh. Yeah baby, Mama’s cycling!

“What’s wrong with you?” Hayley asks, the way kids do to make other kids feel like shit.

“What’s wrong with you?!” I snap back, the only child in the car with no ammo.

She glares at me. “Turn in at that sign with big lips.”

Photo by Ron Logan

Laughter lures me again. I bite my cheek, try to understand why Little Bonnie Parker has compelled me to drive to a strip club.

Keeps the gun on me. Pulls a cellphone out of a little purse slung over her shoulder, like a soldier’s semi-automatic.

The purse is not cute.

There is nothing cute about Hayley, except her chubby face and the headband, and Alanni.

Alanni who always sits in the circle.

Alanni who remembers last week’s theatre terms and raises her hand to answer my questions and makes really specific gestures when asked to pantomime weaving a basket from grasses like a Kumeyaay.

Alanni doesn’t seem to mind that her bestie is mini-mafioso.

Hayley checks the time on her phone. “She’s coming out soon.”

“Who?”

“My Mom.”

I’m suddenly depressed. Crying is imminent anyway, but knowing this kid-gangster’s mother is a stripper doesn’t help.

“You’re going to tell her to not take her clothes off for money.”

“Uuummm—“

“And DON’T tell her I’m here.”

“You don’t seriously—“

“If it doesn’t work I'm blowing the place up and killing myself.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding—“

She points to the back seat.

A package, wrapped in brown paper. No way! How could she even—? But then, here we are. And how is that? Fuck!

“There she is!”

I look toward the club. A tall blond woman. Tight jeans. Tighter tank top. Hayley pushes herself to the floor.

I remember myself at 13, on the roof of the high school. Desperate, giving no fucks.

Photo by Caique Silva on Upsplash

“I can just run away,” I say.

“Blood on your hands.”

“Blood on my hands? Where did you learn that —?”

“GO!”

“What do I—?”

“Last week’s theatre word!”

“Wha—?”

Gun to the knee. Ow!

“Improvise, dumbass!”

Fling the door open, slam it shut, hurl myself across the lot at Hayley’s mother.

“Uh, excuse me, Miss— “ No idea what Hayley’s last name is. “Hi. You’re Hayley’s Mom?”

“Do I know you?”

“I’m one of Hayley’s teachers.”

“No you’re not.”

“Yes, I—“

“I don’t know who you are, but if you taught Hayley I’d have already met you, because it’s the middle of the year, and all of them have already given her shit and called me in for meetings to give me shit. So who the hell are you?”

“Oh, not the normal… I mean regular… I’m a teaching artist… I do drama. We integrate the curriculum—“

“Oh, your’e the actor, with the Indians… and the baskets. She told me.”

I do drama, alright. Ugh. Where’s a high school roof when I need one?

“Nice boots, but these guys aren’t hiring right now.”

“Huh?”

“Leave them your number they’ll cal you if a girl leaves. Some guys like that whole bad girl-librarian mash-up you got goin’. Little old for it though.”

Suicidal ideation not improving.

“Look, it’s none of my business, but I think your job, um… might be having a negative effect on Hayley.”

“What?”

“I just think—“

“What the hell do you know about my job.”

Mania takes mouth.

“Uh, Hayley won’t sit in the circle. I mean, anything you ask her to do, she does... she might have… it’s called Oppositional—“

“Defiance Disorder. I know. Are you here to tell me that while no one is looking Hayley is solving complex math problems or could one day cure cancer, maybe be president?”

“Well, no… look, when I was young— “

“Oh, God—“

Cue tears.

“Shit, girl. Pull yourself together.”

I do. Somehow. Because, Cat Ears with gun. Maybe bomb. And no offer here to be drawn nigh for comfort on her very ample bosom.

“Whoever you are... I teach Hayley to not take shit. She might not go to college or whatever, but nobody’s gonna get the better of her. She's not gonna be like you, I’ll tell ya that. You’re a mess.”

Aaaaand. Cue laughter. Hysterical laughter.

Fuck Big Pharma and their under-researched meds.

“Lady, you're so right.” Howling, like a dog that should be put down. “I don’t wanna be like me either.”

She stares. “What’s wrong with you?”

Catch my breath, open my mouth, everything slows. Tears in my throat. DON’T YOU DARE CRY AGAIN, ESTHER. Good girl. Yes! I’m a fucking rockstar. Aaaaand now my eyes are watering like we’re in a scene from The Notebook, like I can’t stand she’s about to leave. GOD!

Hayley is going to kill me and all the strippers and herself, and I'm "Demi Moore in Ghost, last goodbye" camera-ready... like an asshole.

“I’m sorry. I’m bi—“

“You're hitting on me? Seriously?”

“NO! My drugs—“

“You doin’ drugs teachin’ my kid?”

“NO!”

“Better well not be.”

I blink at her. One perfect tear. Sonofabitch! Opens her door.

“We done here, Waterworks, or you wanna tell me about how your Mama didn’t breast feed you?”

Did she?

I just stare, thinking her breasts were made for breast feeding. Not real, maybe. Now turned on. Stupid mania. If I’m not blown to bits, straight to Urgent Care... or, whatshisname's.

Drives away. God, hope I didn’t say anything about her breasts.

Back in car. Hayley in her seat. Just looks at me.

Photo by Ron Logan

“Your Mom’s kind of a bitch.”

“I know.”

“Is that why you’re a bitch?” Zero filter, zero fucks left to give.

“Not a bitch because I think pretending to be Kumeyaay is stupid. They were massacred, forced to build missions and shit, dumbass. Alanni told me all—”

“I KNOW THAT!!!!”

Hello rage mania! Welcome to the party!

“Ya know, Hayley, I didn’t want to be a teaching artist! I’m an actor! Blew that up! Like everything in my life. Ha! Blew it up!”

“SHUUUUT UP!”

Shaking. Breathe, Esther. Breathe.

“I’m going to the back seat now. Don’t move.”

Gets out. BAM! Shit, duck! Car door, you idiot!

Think of speeding off. Is there a remote control in her ammo bag for the bomb. In what little kid street gang did she learn to—?

"Don't try anything?" Points the gun from the back. Grabs the box.

I want to die anyway, who cares.

Puts the gun on the dashboard. Dares me with her eyes to touch it. Whips a paring knife out of her bag. Seriously, kid? Slices the tape on the edge of the box. Opens it.

Two chocolate cupcakes.

Smiles at me.

Leave the gun, keep the cannoli.

“Is this my last meal or yours?”

“They were gonna be payment for if it worked. I thought you’d be more convincing, because you said you're an actor.”

That punch landed. I coulda been a contender, Hayley… story for another time.

Hold the tears, play the scene. Last week’s theatre word.

Hands me a cupcake. Delicious.

“Why do you like Alanni?”

“Huh?”

“From class.”

“I just do.”

“You like her because you want to be like her.”

“No I don’t.”

“Okay, whatever you say.”

Sit. Eat.

”What did my Mom say?”

Say nothing.

“That you’re stupid, right?”

“Yes, but that you’re smart—“

“She didn’t say that.”

Why ask, dumbass.

Look at the gun.

“Aren’t any bullets in it.”

Dumbass. Laughter stirs. Bite of cupcake.

“Mom keeps it by her bed, but the bullets are somewhere else.” This is stupid. Guns are stupid, but if you’re going to have one…

“Where does she think you are?”

“Alanni’s.”

Sit. Eat.

“So Hayley, you probably won’t really get this now… maybe ever, but there are lots of things we’re powerless over, like who our family is, and whether we end up in a class where we’re expected to learn stupid things or—“

“Or what job we end up with ‘cause we gotta pay the bills?”

Where's a bullet when I need one?

“Uh… right. I’m just saying you don’t HAVE to be a bitch, just because your Mom says don’t take shit from the world. It’s not the only way to not take shit from the world. Not everybody is out to get you. Like don’t hate everything JUST to hate it, is what I am saying.”

“Whatever.”

Tears have their way. It’s not Hayley. It just is. Something I’m powerless over, but also something I can do something about. Just doing a shitty job of explaining that to her.

“Yeah, sure, maybe…”

Gulps the last bite of cupcake. Throws box on the floor. Grabs the gun. Out the door before I can say, “But I hope you remember I said it.”

Thoughts on a Lazy Susan spinning past at a hundred miles an hour. Grab the edge, Esther.

The smell of Blazin’ Hot Cheetos makes me choke. Hayley scowls at me. Her chubby face is an inch from mine, the water pistol in her hand pointed at my face.

“Okay, I'm improvising! I’m a Spanish explorer. You’re a Kumeyaay. Weave me a basket. Build me a mission.”

Wide eyes watch me from the circle.

11:34.

Shoulda had my meds checked last week. Now would be an excellent time for access to rational thought.

Shoulda brought cupcakes.

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

bipolar

Hannah Logan

Act/Pen/Direct/Produce

Truth-Teller * Believer of Magic * Laughter Lover

My hope...

to make art

that matters, moves, (a)muses

unlocks The Mystery

leaves good in my wake

so others

might do the same.

www.thetruthfulcreative.com

Insta @mshannahlogan

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