**This one deserves a dedication, but not one that I'm about to post on the worldwide web for everyone to see. Thank you.**
Once upon a time there was Heaven, Hell, and Avery: an uncomfortable love-triangle that never sits still. Hell is a bridge-burner, a people-pleaser, a Lost Boy. Hell's a little cafe, a little French bakery, a little piece of the place where you grew up minus the sod and the shingles and the grocery store brand PopTarts, yes, Hell is where I meet you on the corner.
And my time in purgatory in neither here nor there.
"Hell," you say, "is a little hole in my heart. Hot like strong coffee and prepared for war."
"Hell," you say, "is actually quite roomy. It's actually quite tropical this time of day, when the kids are in school and the daytime news in on. Hell has government-funding and healthcare benefits and fire departments with firemen made of bread and butter, and fire engines made of human hair."
But I know all about Hell and fire hydrants and homesickness. Hell is my home away from home, a little place where Heaven is hemorrhaging. I've written enough prayers across the sky in stars, hoping to scar myself, I've stepped on enough fingers and forgiven enough sinners and paid enough credit card debts to call myself a saint; I speak blasphemy fluently and gracelessly. I'm happy here. Skinned and sanctified. Gospelized and canonized and photographed more beautifully than I actually am. I've been neither kind nor dishonest, but my side of the family is known for exaggerating, so every time I prayed for rain, I prayed for hurricanes. And every time I said "welcome home", it was your name. the advice I give and the advice I get are the same: Don't kid yourself.
Call me Avery, the incorruptible and disreputable queen of many virtues, the lazy Shiva, the last gynecologist on earth, the one and lonely, yes, Avery, a name I've tarnished and sweat upon, but it still sounds pretty in your mouth. I am an uncomfortable member of the human race.
Do you love me? Circle "sometimes" or circle "no".