Personal Essay: She’s for Me


Mark Maner

(A tribute to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road)

She trots through the flames like mad folk, and my heavy footfalls echoed after her, as if I were her shadow, as I do when I find one who interests me, for the only one that catches my fancy is the one who is not sound and whole, one broken at heart and mind, and who has found solace in the twisted heart of darkness, crazy for the love of one who shares the same mind, insane for the joy of shattered minds, and so broken, so broken, that society can’t mend her back together to conform to its ways, never stuck in the rut of regularity and lack of individuality. She is the infinite waterfall that refuses to be tamed and controlled and be lost to those of formal decorum.

Hailey was a strange mental health nurse. She zoomed around the office and grabbed files, almost like she materialized them from air and shred them with the speed of a demon. She stormed through the medical ward and applied care with the touch of a dark angel, saving patients from becoming pill-zombies without the doctors noticing, and she would dance down the dark hallways, singing her illustrious siren song, lulling the shattered lambs to sleep with the voice of a dark seductress. She does all this with her dirty nurses cap and gown, torn and muddy slip-on shoes that leave messy trails, and long abyssal hair. Her mind is just as twisted as each patient, but despite all these things, she smiles, a smile that can calm and soothe or frighten the most broken of minds. She never judges based on what you seem, rather on who she sees you are, and she is crafty, always able to get out of her bleak and white padded office.

All my other friends were foolish and lacked originality. Bigot Rick, who never saw others for what they really were, condemning others he saw as ‘different’ with his ugly drawl. Straight Nate, who only sees life as a single road, lecturing others with his hoarse voice, similar to that of a smoker. Or else they were the overly jealous and unoriginal Jane Arkansas, with her covetous gaze and lying ways, or Kelly the Mirror, who was always stuffing her rather sticky nose deep into fashion magazines, dressing the same as all the supermodels, never expressing herself, almost as if she was a mirror that grew a set of twig arms and legs.