When I was 17 I was raped and ever since I’ve been saying “yes” even when I want to say “no” because I don’t know how to say “no” without being afraid that he won’t know “no means no.”
It’s easier to say “yes” when he’s still nice to me than to say “no” when he’s hurting me.
When he’s on top of me like debris at a crash site and I’m standing there, smoke in my lungs, a burn in my throat, trying to find clues about how I could’ve let this happen again.
I am tired of playing detective for things that never should have happened.
I wonder if he can see that I’m shaking. That I’m shaking like the last leaf in a windstorm, clinging to life on a tree before winter comes.
You see, “yes” is like depositing coins into a parking meter of kindness that'll expire just as soon as he finishes.
He leaves my bed so fast that I swear he’s about to be ticketed.
Once he’s gone I travel back to that crash site and I start picking up the pieces of me that are broken on the street. The things about me he doesn’t know.
The things like my desire to memorize the last words of people before they died.
Once he’s gone I feel empty. I feel like a freshly decorated Christmas tree. I have on the candy canes to seem more appetizing, the tinsel to add more life, but once you switch on the lights you will see that, that one patch in the middle is totally burned out.
I’m still beautiful and warm, but oh my god I could be so much brighter. So much more full of life. Inside of me so much has burned out. I feel like an empty casing of a person that I used to know. I'm a ghost that haunts my own memories.
I’ve spent so much time reading everyone’s last words that I’ve started to feel like “yes” has turned into nothing more than my body’s dying consent. Except I’m not dead, yet, and I refuse to let myself go with a “yes” on my lips.
I will teach myself to have a voice unlike the one Ariel lost, and I will hang up new Christmas lights and I will decorate myself like never before.
When you see me, you will see the Christmas tree in the Walnut Room at Marshall Field’s. I will be tall, I will be bright, and I will be full of life. There will be no more crash scenes.