This is an excerpt from Shannon Hardwick's Aura Girl Series: Essays About a Childhood.
By Shannon Hardwick
What is an aura? You ever heard of Leonard Cohen? Check him out. The first time I listened to him, I was in my room, drinking my mom’s liquor, talking to my reflection, and I started crying. Not because I thought it was beautiful or lyrics mind-blowing, that came later.
I mean that it was like he was in the room and Maryanne was in the room.
And a thousand bees from some hive in southern Spain was in the room.
And my body was theirs and his voice.
That’s what I mean about auras. They just happened to me back then.
Right, so I was a kid and maybe I made it all up. Scientists always like to talk about kids and their imaginations and that’s why they blab on about things like that. But I call it faith. Before a bunch of shit happens and the kids stop thinking they are anything special. Then it fades. And the auras fade.
Once, someone told me that if I believed I could have Christ consciousness, I could. If I meditated long enough to expand my ideas, not even my ideas, but some vibration way out in space, then it would come back and I’d experience a kind of Universal Mind. I think that’s possible. I mean, take drugs for instance. I never tried any serious kinds, but I suppose that’s what it can get you—altered states.
Can I tell you something I never told anyone? Once, in high school, I was over at a friend’s apartment and they started passing out pills. And I almost took one. I won’t lie. I don’t know why I didn’t. But if you look back in your life and see forks in the road, that was a fork if there ever was one.
Anyway, so I just sat there and said I had to go home soon. Mom was cooking steak. Funny, the things you remember. Then a friend of mine came in, kind of drooling. People were laughing at him, saying, Boy you look like an idiot. Sit the fuck down! And boy did he ever. I mean, BAM, smacked his head right there on the coffee table. On his way down he grabbed hold of a confederate flag someone had hanging on the wall. I won’t ever forget it—confederate flag draped over his chest while his knees started kicking. People were still laughing except for me and this one girl. That boy was now pissing himself. I mean, right there, just pissing himself. The other girl started screaming and crying and I got up, real slow, and walked toward the door. I just walked out. I don’t know why. And people started yelling about calling an ambulance, and man, I just walked out. I wasn’t messed up or anything. I was just real calm. Like I was on drugs, but I wasn’t. I drove home, ate my steak, went to my room and shut the door. I got on my knees and threw up. Right there in the middle of my room. Something inside me was broken. I can’t explain it. Something moved through me and out the other side.
Now, why am I telling this? I got something else to tell you. Cause I can guess what you’re thinking about all this Christ consciousness and auras and things…power of suggestion. The mind creating what you want it to create.
When I was sixteen I fell in with a group of people who thought they could cast out demons. It was another night my Mom was making steaks for dinner and I was going be late. She had no idea I was out at a meeting where a bunch of elders from a church were asking me to speak in tongues. Let me explain. They thought I had demons in me. Now, I don’t know why they thought this about a sixteen-year-old girl. Maybe from the church parents of the boy I was dating. He was older. But I was the temptress. No, I told his mother! He told me how else would we know if we were compatible for marriage unless we had sex? I guess she didn’t expect any less from her already-graduated-from-homeschool son but I was still the temptress. Or, I guess it could have been my arms, showing off scars from cutting feeling away because the auras sometimes were too much. Either way, they should have been there when that boy fell on the ground in convulsions from drugs. That would have given them something to shout over.
But there I was, unaware that the group of men in someone’s living room would put their hands on me and claim to cast out demons. They started praying, spitting in my face. Their words started out coherent and then their tongues slipped into that rhythmic Nothingness that I had grown accustomed to hearing at church when people got especially moved by the Spirit or when a Prophet would visit. I closed my eyes real tight to try and find whatever it was that would please them. They said if I prayed real hard, the demons would come out. I was crying as they put a bucket in front of me, the kind you use when cleaning the house. They wanted to clean me out. If I threw up and that would be the casting out of whatever was inside. I did. I started throwing up. I don’t know if it was only to stop them touching me or what. Power of suggestion or what. But I did. And again, I did. Now, they say the mind blocks out certain things to keep the pain away. Next thing I remember, I was home and late for dinner.
Something is eventually lost in all of us. When I was a kid I’d write to God. I’d say, God, I feel alone. God, why don’t you write back to me? I was small and I heard Christ died on a tree so that’s why I started talking to trees. Maybe something would talk back. Before everything else got in the way and people took a small part of what was clearly beautiful and try to steal it, I’d sing to the trees, their auras and all.. Before the beautiful was stolen.
Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick's work has appeared in Salt Hill, Stirring, Versal, The Texas Observer, Devil's Lake, Four Way Review, among others. She is listed as a contributor of both poetry and prose in A Shadow Map: An Anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assault published by Civil Coping Mechanisms. She has chapbooks out with Thrush Press and Mouthfeel Press. Hardwick serves as the poetry editor for The Boiler Journal and her first full-length, Before Isadore, was recently published by Sundress Publications.