Viva is powered by Vocal creators. You support Clarisse Guevarra by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

Viva is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

Coffee & Crime

Here are some metaphors: lots of sugar, lots more black coffee.

'The Sugar of My Words, the Coffee of the Crime.'

I couldn’t figure out where to place the million jumbled thoughts I have. They swarm in my head like bees that, unlike real ones, refuse to become endangered. One voice in my head told me to write poetry, the jagged kind that doesn’t have to make too much sense or rhyme. Another voice told me to write a book, but that requires telling more of what you would call the “story.”

I’m not exactly sure what this is.

I don’t think it’s poetry. Poetry is beautiful, and my mind is not beautiful. I’m not saying that because I’m not confident in myself. In fact, I pride my intelligence. The part of my mind that isn’t beautiful has nothing to do with intellect, but it’s also the part they want me to “Spread Awareness” about.

The million thoughts that jumble up are what I know are ugly.

So here I sit here at the crack of dawn writing my version of what they call “Spreading Awareness,” because it’s April and I guess they want to hear from a real Victim, even if by the time anybody reads this it’ll be the middle of August or February or who knows when. Some people would call it brave, but those are the people I’ve never met. You know them. You've seen them. They're people on the internet that retweet pictures about spreading awareness on problems that people suffer. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate it. It's nice to know that there are still some decent people lying around, even if most of them are just pretending.

But it's not that simple and I can't write it down.

And that’s the problem, really. I have an infinite supply of words that I can't write or say. The words don’t ever stop, but they don’t make sense. Or they don’t match. Or they don’t make up a solid plot line that people look for in a story.

I wouldn’t call what happened to me a “story.”

I can’t write a story about it. People don’t want to hear it, even if they say they do. People don’t want to hear the full Truth, not really.

Then what is the full Truth?

The full Truth is the ugly. It’s the million jumbled thoughts that, if put into words, would terrify and repulse the masses. It’s imagery. Vivid imagery. Visual, auditory, gustatory, kinesthetic, olfactory, organic, and tactile. That’s what people use in a story, and that’s why I can’t write a story about it.

Do you really want to know what happened? What did I see? What did I hear? What did I smell, taste, and feel? What did I experience beyond the five senses? Do you really want to know about the shadow of a hulking monster that has never left my memories?

“Awareness,” you say. What do you want to be aware of?

If I spit the Truth out at the people who claim they can take it, they’ll end up staring at me with wide eyes. Disbelieving. Horrified. Traumatized. 

And that's where the sugar comes into play.

Here are some metaphors: lots of sugar, lots more black coffee.

The sugar of my words, the coffee of the crime. Sweet, sweet, sugar. Lay in it. Drown in it. Bathe in it. Live in it. Sugarcoat it all. Sugarcoat everything.

“What happened?” they ask.

“Tell me the truth.”

“You don’t have to be afraid.”

That last one is my favorite. They always say that.

I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to be afraid.

Guess what?

I'm not.

I know they’re only trying to be kind. They don’t want the Victim to feel troubled when telling the Truth.

The Expectation: The Victim is too afraid to open up about the crime.

No, no, no. Not me. Other people might be afraid, and I hope one day their fear melts away and frees them from the prison of their trauma. But not me.

I can open up. Hell, if you can take it, if you want me to sit you down and give you all the imagery you want, I will. But nobody can take it, and I care too much about other people to let them suffer through hearing it all. So when the friend, the teacher, the counselor, the parent, the sibling, the therapist, the psychiatrist, the psychotherapist, the nurse, the doctor, the social worker, the police officer, the minister, or the world says,

“You don’t have to be afraid,”

I think to myself, I know. But You will be.

And so I suffocate them in the sweet, never-ending cyclone of sugar. How much is a lot of sugar? One cup? Two cups? Three cups? I give them more. Short phrases. No imagery. Just the bare minimum. Ask me what happened. I will answer:

“I was [insert age] years old.”

“He did this,” and, “He did that.”

“This happened.”

“That happened.”

Or I say nothing at all.

"What exactly do you remember?"

Silence.

"Where did he touch you?"

Silence.

"That's okay, You don't have to speak. I have a body chart here. You can just circle the areas where he touched you, okay?"

Silence. 

"Here's a pencil, sweetie."

Silence. Unmoving. Unresponsive and uncooperative.

I don’t look them in the eye. They might see my memories if I do, and I can’t have that. They won’t be able to handle it.

Four cups? Five cups? Six cups? Lots of sugar. And they don’t even know it. You will never be able to tell where the sugarcoating happens because no matter how much sugar I add, there will always be more black coffee.

But then, like I said, who cares?

The way I go about it leads some people to believe that maybe I'm lying, that maybe it is just a story or some delusion created by excessive stress and the need for attention. I even tried to convince myself once that maybe, just maybe, they're right. That it never happened. But it did. 

I just don't want to scare them, and it’s not like a lot of people ask. I know plenty of people wonder, but it's rare for someone to actually question me out of the blue. It used to be a secret, just because it felt like it had to be. But now I don’t really care. Still, it’s not like I run around screaming to the world that it happened. That’s not how “Awareness” works for me. For others, maybe. But not for me.

It’s all right. I’m tough.

There I’ll go, out into the world.

My million jumbled thoughts will remain, but I will contain it. I will sit there, outspoken about many things and silent about others. I’ll walk around the streets of this terrified universe the way I always have, in the ways I'm obligated to. On roads, in hallways, in classrooms where high school boys make rape jokes in Spanish class, loud enough for the teacher to hear yet somehow always unheard. Hell, I’ll even laugh with them, because I guess part of me is happy for them. I'm happy because they don’t know the terror well enough to understand that laughing about it takes all the metaphoric sugar in the whole, terrified universe.

That’s about .001 percent of the million jumbled thoughts I have, sugarcoated.

Go ahead. Share all the tweets, post all the pictures, speak out about whatever you think should be said, plastering “National Child Abuse Prevention Month” or “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” wherever you deem necessary. New movements happen every day. I appreciate it all, I really do. But for now, this is all I have to offer for what you call “Spreading Awareness.” You don’t have to tell me that I don’t have to be afraid. Not much changes for me just because it’s April, except for the weather.

April showers bring May flowers, even if the flowers of before were already destroyed.