Scorching heat of the sun. Vast, endless sea. I’m bobbing up and down quietly, listening to the waves lap against me. Ships yawn a long, low groan, and I realise that even though they’re dry and hollow, they’re not in want.
Probably because they know to keep things casual. They’re listless, but they know where they’re going.
So I chase them. Swim. Struggle. God knows I’m warm only where the sun touches me; down below I’m frigid through and through. And if I could just borrow their wide, open decks, maybe flip myself over and stretch out, at least until I figure out where I’m heading …
Don’t make them wait.
Even though I’ve tried to prepare myself by listening to AC/DC and Jason Mraz on the bus, my intestines are still determined to uncoil and recoil themselves and switch places with my rectum.
Goddamn it, what if I’m not good enough?
Pssh wait – good enough for what exactly? We’ve been through this before. So what if they think –? You’ve come so far. Too far to let anyone tell you otherwise.
Breathe. You’ve got this.
I think I’m saying something but I don’t remember what it is. I look at my hands. They’re not quivering the way they did over lunch, little seismic waves causing the sweet and sour pork to hop around like popcorn on my spoon.
It means I’m not nervous.
I flex my fingers.
Not quivering – confirmed.
I take a sip of water and enter the room.
No one wants me because I’m too flimsy. I’m splintered all over, and these sailors will only pick me up gingerly between their thumb and index finger. Dangerous to touch. Useless to use. They cast me away.
This makes me swim harder, faster. Give me a chance. Give me a chance. Give me a chance.
I realise it’s a cycle of sorts. I’m so rotten only because I’ve been left out so long. I need to rest, more than anything. Maybe after they leave me out to dry, I’ll be good for something again. Give me a chance. But no one will give me a chance, precisely because I’m rotten. I can’t help that I’m rotten.
Bits and pieces of me chip away the more I struggle. Saltwater is permeating and flowing through my open wounds. Searing pain. I think I might drown if I stop trying to stay afloat. It’s cold. I’m tired. I want out.
I stop moving.
Nothing has happened.
For some reason, I’m still here.
I take comfort in knowing I don’t have to do anything to exist, that my being has enough form to stay together, regardless.
I despair in knowing I still exist.
I don’t know what to say I don’t know what to say I don’t know what to say what to say what to say my body. Careful fingers, roaming the surface. Exploring every nook, feeling every cranny. Pressing down firmly where my muscles are knotted. Rubbing, easing, releasing.
What to say!!! What to say what to say what to say?! Am I being too quiet or do they want me to talk or ???
Slowly, gently. They take their time. Eventually the little radio station in my head is tuned out, and I’m listening to the fabric brushing against my skin. Slithering buttons. The creak of the ropes around my torso as I inhale, exhale.
I’m smiling because I feel… Free. My mind portrays the mood of this scene most accurately by playing it backwards. Begin with this body bound tight, limbs contorted, breathing uneasy. As time progresses, watch the ropes come undone. Freedom. Like a bird from a cage.
There’s a point when the rope goes around the stomach. I startle, because of the way it compresses my flesh. Flashback: Mother and sisters are pinching bellies, slapping thighs and butts, saying,”Fat already. Don’t eat so much.” Fat. Vernier caliper fingers. Why does it matter? Is that a bad —
“Do you think I’m fat?” I ask.
Pause. They’re still working the ropes behind my back. “Is that a trick question?”
“No, I mean really. Do you think I’m fat?”
I’m staring at our reflections in the mirror. My face has a strange, placid expression.
“No.” They lean forward and place a hand on my hips. “You’re… meaty? No…”
“How would you describe my body then?”
“I grew up thinking I was fat,” I blurted out, not really knowing why I was saying this. I didn’t even know if they cared. Maybe I didn’t care if they cared. “My family said I was unattractive because I didn’t fit into the stereotypical idea of a slim female. But then that doesn’t make sense, ‘cos after I was molested, they said it happened ‘cos I was too attractive. My mum, … she said,”Maybe he touched you because your ass was sticking out from your pants. Which didn’t make sense, because she told me to wear a dress earlier in the morning, ‘cos it was my first day at internship and it was more professional, but then after the molest she said,”Lucky you never wear a dress.”
What am I saying?
Why am I telling this person? I don’t even know them. Do they care? They can certainly pretend to care. You — You never have a good read on people, don’t you remember? Stop opening yourself —
Hands, on my stomach. I quiver, waiting for nausea to punch me in the gut. Wasn’t it a different pair of stranger hands, similar in wanting to caress me? Hands, still moving. Why choose one over the other? Maybe things would’ve been easier if I had just let anyone feel me hands. Warm, careful hands, cupping my thighs.
My vision is blurrrry. There’s no disgust at these hands, tenderly trying to coax me into believing that my body is precious, my body is beautiful, my body is strong.
Strong is a good word. It’s a word for everyone.
Flashback: cold hands on my stomach, belonging to someone whose cock I eventually let slide into my vagina. A voice that said,”Your stomach is smaller than I thought.” As if it mattered. Flashback: binge drinking. Flashback: crying in the shower, saying,”I forgive you” over and over to myself, a year after my first molestation, wondering what I was forgiving when there shouldn’t have been any blame.
Every experience, every memory was recorded through this body. I have so much to thank it for. After everything it has done for me, am I really going to let its looks spell my death penalty?
Hands, patting me still. For the first time, someone is with me while I heal.
I wonder if they know.
Driftwood. Meant to drift. I don’t care so much about chasing ships anymore. A couple of people have used me to build their rafts; I’ve even been the splinter of hope for wrecked souls, while they find a place to go.
For these experiences, I am thankful. But I do not boast, because they say nothing about me.
How many years has it been? How long more will I stay like this?
Driftwood. Do not hope. I am meant to drift.
But something tells me I’ve always wanted to be a part of something bigger, anyway.
Maybe, maybe one day… I might collide with someone, something that fits.
This shit makes no sense. I don’t think I’ve let them through – have I? Let’s be realistic. I don’t know shit about them. They don’t know shit about me. Just because we shared a moment over rope doesn’t mean we’re suddenly closer, or that it’ll stay. It’s the oxytocin that’s mucking up my head.
What is it I want, exactly?
Am I expecting us to continue like — like this? Like what, exactly?
Am I hoping for more? Like what, exactly?
If I can figure out what the fuck I want, then it’ll be easier. Maybe. Okay, let’s start with the basics.
Am I in love with them? Hell no. Love is so overrated HAH.
Am I sexually attracted to them? No.
It’s not.. shock, at who I’ve become. ?? I think?? I’ve let someone into a private moment in my life, shared it with them, but… How come I still feel so… hardened, inside? Why does it still feel like the core of my heart is a lump of coal, heavy and dead?
But if that’s true, what is this connection I felt with them? Hormones?
How can I connect with someone I don’t even know?
I’m not even surprised that I’m not hurting, or pining for more. I mean it. Previously, I think I would’ve been aching for days over this… severing of ties. But now I know that I was never a part of their lives. I’m just a passing cloud, maybe.
But my tears are still coming. Why is that? Loneliness doesn’t have this flavour; I don’t know what I’m tasting.
I don’t know who to tell.
But I do feel… that cold, hard lump of coal again. I wonder: if it’s broken open, will I find something that’s dry and hollow?
Scorching heat of the sun. Vast, endless sea. I’m bobbing up and down quietly, listening to the waves lap against me. Ships yawn a long, low groan.
I think this permanent transience will destroy me.