Apprehension, I am engulfed, and the sign says, “PLEASE RING
BELL.” Figures move behind the glass and a
click of the lock signals an opening of the
door into a dimension of domesticity, violence absent.
Every face is normal enough, and I
feel like my eyes need to adjust to the freckles of our
guide, this woman everyone knows with
her knowledge and experience and Chinese tattoo.
I am at the bottom of a pool, watching the chlorinated rings around the sun as
Joyce tells us about the eye of the storm, tells her husband she will
kill him if he beats her again. We draw pictures of three things we
love, and I have a hard time sifting through so
many feelings to find a few more pieces of myself.
Nightmares, snippets of half-forgotten images, a blur
of orange, and I dig a hole into my chair. The
plush of the carpet blooms between my toes to ask a
question, “Is this safe? Am I away from the
rippling, the ripping, the red, the rest?” I am
saved by a throat clearing way for another story, and
Tabetha counts the pairs of jeans in her closet, the
underwear kept in the back of the drawer, holes torn open to spell
V-I-C-T-I-M. I am beginning to
wonder if I knew the secret of the scar tissue holding my veins together, for
X is the most violent letter. It has been over two
years, and though I cannot remove from my dreams the broken
zipper that haunts me, I have removed it from my heart.