She falls asleep while I talk about my issues and I keep going because I can’t afford therapy. I wish I had more happiness to share, I say, but I can’t remember anything. She growls softly from beyond and I stroke her hair. Everything nice includes you now and the other things are someone else’s life, like episodes from an out of syndication show. I can’t hold on to the past anymore. I know it’s time to stop when she shifts and nuzzles into me, so I put out the light and try to meet her there in dreams.
I wake up early and sit with my doubts in the pre-dawn purple hung over the sky. Traffic waves wash up and down the street, the reassuring rumble reminds me of my childhood beach, and down that tract, latterly the lake. Frozen in my memory, every grain is sharp, the edge foam crests perpetually, sky a vivid blue, hawks hung on currents, her hand on my shoulder, warm but for the cool, thin band of metal, silence taut between us, warn like a shawl. I sit a minute in the haze, visit elsewhere, ready myself for the day.
Remember when you kicked me in the head and told me it was my fault, I’d leaned into it, or when you took me by the throat and told me to apologise for upsetting you? I want to say it’s funny now, but it’s not. I wake with the fruits of your labours festering on my skin, caught in iced droplets of sweat that chill me in ways I can never say. I wish I had scars that could heal, something to show for the violence and pain, something I could use and not merely the memory of abuse.