Unsaid 


Standing at the kitchen counter, she quietly and quickly assembles the sandwich, squaring the meat and cheese and bread, just so. It goes into the Baggie with a pinch and a zip. 

As she methodically works, her thoughts are busied with arranging today’s list of things to do: call the school, revise the contract, do some laundry, and on and on.

Behind her, as is true of most mornings, she hears his footsteps on the hard floor, slow and uneven, tentative from sleep. As he nears, she feels the muscles in her body tense. She knows why, but she doesn’t want to know why. Already, she is telling herself, “Let him in, let him in.” Still, she tenses, closing her eyes, her body deceiving her, as usual. 

Enclosing her, his arms wrap around her, sliding in under her own arms and around her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder, and his whiskers brushing against her cheek as it locks into the crook of her neck. 

“Good morning, beautiful,” he says, optimistic. 

She hears the sigh before she feels it, knowing it has just escaped her own lips, wishing it had not. Closing her eyes, she wills her body to relax, but it does not, she is busy after all. There are so many things to do, doesn’t he know that? 

As soon as the last inch of air releases her lungs, that telling sigh, she feels it. The courage, the risk, the hope, slowly letting go – his fingers not so tight, his arms not so strong, his head a bit heavier on her shoulder.

Again.

-a post from a few years ago reworked and shared in response to the daily prompt, Uneven; photo found on Pinterest

Mirror Image

Her favorite blanket tucked tightly beneath her chin, she laid quietly on the couch as everyone else went about their business. Bickering over who had control of the remote, her younger half-sisters sat on the floor in front of the tv. Her mom cleaned up from a dinner she hadn’t eaten.

More than anything, she wished she was invisible right now, and yet, she couldn’t make herself be alone with her thoughts. So, here she laid, watching the world go on around her.

No matter how hard she tried to divert her attention from the hurt, she could not. It bubbled beneath her skin. It pumped through her veins and sat behind her eyes threatening release. It sat like an anvil on her chest, making it impossible to breathe deeply. She was afraid if she tried, she might burst.

She didn’t know what to do. How to feel. How to move. Her feelings were so huge and twisted, it seemed as if she’d never escape them. She had no idea how to go about a day without the weight of it pulling every thought to the pit of her stomach. Into the darkness.

I wish I didn’t feel anything at all.

It was hurt, there was no doubt. She’d hurt him, and she felt terrible. Worse than terrible. But it was bigger than the immediate hurt, it was much deeper than that.

She’d done something really stupid, sleeping with that other guy, and the guilt had forced her to tell Doug the truth. Well, mostly. Shame had kept her from telling him the whole story. And fear.

She tried really hard not to think about the whole story, because when she did, the loathing was so intense she could taste it’s metallic tang and smell it’s charred blackness. The fear would burn and churn in her stomach until she could feel the sting of bile in the back of her throat. The worst part was, it wasn’t even the first time. She’d done it before and let the guilt liquefy her insides all this time.

I’m just like her

It was her biggest fear, her biggest hurdle. She could not let herself be just like her.

Her mom had been married 5 times already. They’d moved in and out, and in and out. All men who were not worthy of love, none of whom treated her mother with respect. Men who took. Who hurt. And it seemed as if her mother searched for carbon copies, over and over, leaving the good ones in her wake. She cheated on every one, and always seemed to be looking for a plan B. And it often felt like she and her sisters were just along for the ride, and it had no breaks.

How on earth will I ever be able to outrun that? Look what I’ve already done, and I’m only 17.

It took her by complete surprise when her mom knelt down next to the couch and stroked her hair. It was uncharacteristic; she was not cold, but she was also not a huggy-touchy type. Vulnerability wasn’t in her wheelhouse.

“Are you going to be okay,” her mom asked, making eye contact.

“I don’t want to end up like you,” she replied, through quivering lips and involuntary tears, but maintaining eye contact, the hurt vibrating softly with each word. She couldn’t believe she’d said it aloud, but it had been sitting right there, on the tip of her tongue, for so very long. And maybe, just maybe, her mom might understand. Maybe she could help. Maybe it would help.

But, no other words passed between them. No words were needed. Her mom’s eyes had replied.

Hiding tears of her own, her mom stood and walked away.

-image credit studiojoslizen, found via google images

 

Silence

*Trigger Warning – contains imagery which may be upsetting and is of mature subject matter. 

“No.”

She knew he’d heard her, his face was so close to hers, she could feel his whiskers on her cheek as he moved, like the stab of needles tattooing her skin with unwanted ink. 

“No,” she said, again, a little more forcefully this time, the word escaping her throat which was beginning to feel constricted, pure panic coiling itself around and around, from the inside out.

All she saw was his eyes. His eyes spoke for him, they gave his response.

Evidently, her eyes spoke, too. One arm pinned her down across her chest as the other pulled down his own pants and ripped her black panties aside. His full weight upon her, he pushed her back further into the couch. She tried to push back at him, to wriggle beneath him to get away, but her own muscles weren’t working like they should. 

Her body went cold. She could taste his scent in the air, a toxic, billowing smoke invading her lungs, fighting for what little air her lungs would allow. Her skin absorbed his vile presence, black sludge through every pore, her stomach twisting and wretching. She could feel her body’s resistance in the rigid freeze between them. 

But, she didn’t scream, even though her friend was just upstairs with the other guy. She didn’t struggle any more. Fear kept her quiet, and not just fear of him. She was immobilized by her own voice. 

Fear of her own voice.

Jerking his head upward, he looked into her eyes again, and she felt his muscles tighten even further. 

No,” she whispered again, reminding herself. 

He invaded her. His hips worked ferociously, grinding and impaling, his elbow digging into her chest.

He took without apology. He took and took and took. 

Behind her eyes, it all slowed, each slam into her, every recoil, in slow motion, his elbows becoming knives, his arms boulders, and his incessant body the evil, leaded blanket reminding her of her own silence, of her smallness. 

He took what he wanted.

When he finished, she stood and quietly adjusted her clothes, never looking at him or speaking a word.

She walked up the 18 stairs, her feet making an oddly uneven sound, and she knocked on the blackness of the wooden door until her friend answered. Thank God the look on her face must have spoken for her, because her friend followed without her ever needing to speak.

She walked back down the 18 stairs and out the front door. 

Automation took her feet toward home, still in silence.

She was halfway home before she realized she was only wearing one shoe. 

Along with her shoe, she’d left behind the last of her voice, the one which spoke up for her. 

It would be years and years before she began to find it again.

~image credit waleoladipo.com

Help Me

Standing at the kitchen counter, she stared at the bag of Doritos. She’d promised herself she’d treat herself well, energizing her body with fuel that truly made her feel good, inside and out. She knew how, she’d done it before; she’d lost 80 pounds naturally, with sweat and tears and finding what worked for her, over and again, through every misstep and plateau.

Yet, here she was, staring at the open bag of Doritos, sliding in her hand, promising herself she’d eat just a few.

Oh, wow. I forgot how good these are. 

A few more won’t hurt. 

That few, allowed a few more, and a few more, until the rest of the bag was gone.

It was so easy, even now after all that hard work, for her to squash that reasonable voice which begged her to stop, that reminded her how awful she’d feel after. And she knew that awful feeling! She’d stared at the bottom of dozens of Dorito bags in the time before. She’d rationalized that voice away hundreds and thousands of times, allowing fear and stress to twist her thoughts ass backward and tell her she deserved to eat yummy things, to be rewarded for her hard work and effort, and not feel deprived. She’d felt that all too brief euphoria after the indulgences, stuffing that rational voice to the pit of her gut under all that junk. She’d stuffed it away until the scale read 260.

It had been been an endless cycle of stuffing feelings, feeding them with food, and feeling guilt and shame. It would be now, too, if she let it.

Staring now at this empty bag, she was sure her shame would more than fill it. It grew and grew, until it took up all the space in the room, permeating her pores, infiltrating her gut to a wretching level. Tears dripped down her cheeks and onto the bag….crack, crack, crack.

Wiping away the tears, she walked the six steps to the bathroom. She glared at herself in the mirror. For a moment, she contemplated sticking her fingers down her throat, purging and purging until all that molten shame was out, flushable.

That’s too easy.

I have to live with the consequences, that’s what I deserve. 

Again, tears came, trickling down her cheeks, dripping from her jawline into the sink, although she paid them no attention.

Oh, God. How did I get here again?

“Help me,” she whispered, to no one, the no one looking back at her.

Created in response to: Help, Daily Prompt. While I’m at a much better place now, this is a part of my story. It was an all too familiar place for me. I see glimpses on occasion if I let myself; the struggle continues.

Hello, Dear Friend

  
~photo courtesy of listcrux.com
 
there are these deep set, vivid green eyes staring at me, transparent, yet saturated with the depth of long roads traveled, courses diligently charted, wars fought and won, some lost, but either way, she never gave up  

their warmth tells tales of love, the kind which permeates her soul and never dies, the kind that grows and evolves, seeds selflessly sown and soil organically enriched with her bare hands 

their penetrating regard alludes to a life with sharp edges, eroded over time by life’s river whose water was made less murky as she filtered out the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s to see deeper, to finally see clearly her own reflection 

there’s something in her eyes that nothing earthly could ever extinguish; I have no doubt her eyes possess a radiance, even amidst life’s darkness 

looking in the mirror, I see my oldest and dearest friend 

hello, hope, I’ve missed you 

*written in response to the Daily Prompt, friend.

The Fifth of July

Bang, pop, whoosh. Sizzle, snap, crack. Fizz, hiss, BOOM. BOOM.

BOOM.

In a haze, after the initial phone call, she rushed to be by his side. She had tunnel vision getting there – she couldn’t think, see, feel anything else. Nothing else registered, none of her surroundings, nothing at all.

All she thought was – I need to hurry. I need to hurry. I need to hurry.

The doc had just left after delivering the news. Now, as she stood there, in her peripheral, realizing it was the 4th, she could see the colors exploding in the sky just outside the large window next to his bed. She could feel the rumbling vibration of each detonation. She could feel.

BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.

Once she arrived home, though she’d needed the sleep, there was very little. She woke early, dressed and returned to him.

As she walked down the stark, institutional green hall, each step bringing her closer to seeing with her own eyes what had been conveyed to her in words the day before, the weight of those words sunk like quicksand to the pit of her stomach.

Today, she was acutely aware of the clinical smell surrounding her, the smell of sickness, the stench of sadness filling first her lungs, then permeating outward, finding an unwelcome home in her veins, thick like sludge, coursing and thumping.

She could hear the cries of sorrow in the bated breath wafting from some of the doors she passed, she could taste its metallic tang on the tip of her tongue.

And as she arrived at the doorway of the room to which she needed to enter, she felt it in her bones, in her marrow. When she opened the door, she became its embodiment.

The few steps to the bed took her years. She passed herself snuggled on his lap as he read to her for the millionth time, Put Me in the Zoo.

She watched as she sat between he and her mother on the yellow paisley couch as they tried to explain why they would no longer live together, then saw desperation on his face as he allowed her to call her mother, but would not yet let her go home to her, still.

She remembered tearing open the Christmas wrap to see the purple down coat she’d wanted so badly, the yolk-only egg sandwiches on Sunday mornings, and stove-popped popcorn with a rented movie on their every-other Saturday nights.

She saw his suntanned, orange-tinted left arm that was darker than the rest of him from hanging out his truck window, his splashing in the pool and volleyball in the summer, and helping her step-brother with homework at the kitchen table while he looked on drinking Pepsi from a two liter bottle.

She remembered the wishing she belonged, that she fit with them differently, more.

The coughing, she remembered the coughing that just kept getting worse, the constant handkerchiefs in his pockets and on the end table with his Winstons next to his chair, the red-faced breathlessness and the wheezing. And the fear in his eyes.

She remembered the devastating, life-altering heartbreak and the disappearing and the wondering, the worry and the doubt. The reconnecting and the doctors and the testing.

And finally the hope. The hope which had fizzled away the night before with every sizzle and crack, hiss and bang and pop.

Standing next to the impersonal-feeling bed, she gripped the cold, stark metal of the railing with both hands, trying to take in all that she saw. The blinking and the beeping in the semi-darkness, the machine whose trepidus noise filled the room.

Suck, push, suck, push. SUCK. PUSH. Eerily loud and unwelcome, it was reminiscent of the sounds heard outside the window the night before.

Her eyes ran the length of the shiny metal pole on which the machine was mounted, down to the swiveling wheels which allowed it to be maneuvered to where it was needed. She noticed the simple black cord which extended to the wall.

How could such an ordinary-looking plug hold life in the balance?

Letting loose her grip a bit, she became deftly aware of her own breath, in and out, of her own heart beating, ga-gong, ga-gong, so loudly in her chest that it rang in her ears.

Reaching out, she rested her hand on his chest, feeling the unfamiliar, robotic rise and fall. She felt the cool absence, the force of what would not be.

And then she looked up, nodded her head, and closing her water-filled eyes, she felt with the length of her fingers, with the lifeline in the palm of her hand. With her very soul.

The robotic gave way to an arhythmic slowing:

Rise..fall….rise…..fall…….rise……..fall.

Fall.

Beneath her palm there was only stillness. In the tips of her fingers, there was only the thump of her own heartbeat, the trembling cry of her core.

BOOM.

And he was gone.

She Believed Him

She could see him standing in the doorway, paused. Struggling to keep quiet, the tears escaped, she couldn’t even contain them anymore. Hugging her pillow, she felt the wave of emotion, trying to make sense of it. She knew she needed him, more than ever. With everything, all of her being. And she needed him to know, for there to be no question.

Hunched over her pillow cradled in her arms, she sat with her legs crossed, her back against the headboard, watching him with blurry eyes. Needing him, but worried she might need him too much. That her need might push him away, that it might be more than he ever bargained for.

“M, I’m sorry,” she said, those words coming easily, now. “It’s me I doubt, not you.”

She’d finally let him see all the parts she’d hidden so well for all those years. The parts she knew had pushed others away, or caused her to push others away. The murky, dark parts, the irrational, broken-feeling pieces.

“You are my life. My love. I’m not going anywhere. You could NEVER truly disappoint me. Ever,” he said as he sat down next to her on the bed, looking into her watery, green eyes. She saw the love and acceptance in his eyes. She felt his arms wrap around her, one hand tucking her cheek against his chest, his chin resting on her head.

As he sat there holding her, his embrace reminded her he’s all in. Hell, his behavior over the past decade had proven he’s the most trustworthy person she’s ever known. He was worth the risk. They were worth it.

Now, the tears really flowed. For the first time in her life, she felt safe and whole.

She believed him.

She Can Imagine

She could still see him standing there in the doorway, paused. Struggling to keep quiet, the tears escaped, despite her best efforts to contain them. Biting her pillow, she muffled as much of the crying sound as possible. Oh god, more than anything she wanted him to turn around and come to her. To scoop her in his arms and tell her everything would be okay. She wanted to feel safe, she wanted to hear it and believe it. Yet, there was also this part of her that didn’t even want him to acknowledge she was crying. Who didn’t want his sympathy. Who didn’t need his help. That same part of her who wanted him, but might never be able to admit how much she needed him. To breathe.

Hunched over her pillow cradled in her arms, she sat with her legs crossed, her back against the headboard, watching him through blurry eyes. Needing him, but that other part of her willing him to walk away. To save himself the ache.

“You are my life. My love. Why won’t you let me in?,” he asked as he turned to face her.

But he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know there’s nothing there. It’s a swirling mess of darkness and ugly. It’s cold in there. No one who has ever seen any part of it has wanted to stay. No one.

“I’m trying,” she said, desperately hoping he’d believe her.

As he stood there looking at her, she saw the pain in his eyes. Those eyes that told her he’s all in. Hell, his behavior over the past decade had proven he’s the most trustworthy person she’s ever known. Which makes it all the more risky to really let him in. There’s more to lose.

And she can imagine losing it.

I Know Her

She stood there, quietly and quickly assembling the sandwich, squaring the meat and cheese and bread, just so. It goes into the Baggie with a pinch and a zip. Her thoughts are busied with arranging today’s list of things to do: call the school, revise the contract, do some laundry, and on and on. Behind her, as is true of most mornings, she hears his footsteps on the hard floor, slow and uneven, tentative from sleep. As he comes closer, she feels the muscles in her body tense. She knows why, but she doesn’t want to know why. Already, she is telling herself, “Let him in, let him in. Today.” Still, she tenses, closes her eyes, her body deceiving her, as usual. His arms close around her, sliding in under her own arms and around her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder, his whiskers and cheek locking into her own. “Good morning, beautiful,” he says, optimistic. She hears the sigh before she feels it, knowing it just escaped her own lips, wishing it had not. She wills her body to relax, but it does not, she is busy after all. There are so many things to do, doesn’t he know that? As soon as the last inch of air releases her lungs, that telling sigh, she feels it. The courage, the risk, the hope, slowly letting go, his fingers not so tight, his arms not so strong, his head a bit heavier on her shoulder. Again.