There is an underground attic inside of me that holds my damaged pieces.
Once, a boyfriend found the hiding place. He listened, tried to be tender. He swaddled me in soft cotton, whispering sugar into my ear. “Ashley,” he said, “it’s going to be all right.”
I wanted to believe him. I leaned close, heard my heart scudding up against his chest like a bumper car unable to find forward or reverse. But he was only a hard set of lungs, not at all pliant like I needed him to be, and so I knew. I knew he’d never understand.
You don’t expect the world to be fair, yet what a surprise to learn how evil it’s gotten, so clever and blatant, too.
We were cramped inside the transit, chins to chins. Overfilled with so many people, the bus felt sweaty, but safe. A second later, men wedged me into a corner, pressing and owning me with wire rope and a cloth gag while we rocked through the long black tunnel, strobe shadows ricocheting.
My father is learning to visit less. Yesterday he said, “It’s time you got out of that apartment.”
But he also didn’t believe at first. “It couldn’t have been more than two minutes,” he said. “Wasn’t there a crowd on the bus?”
I know the world is a heavy place for strong people, and so I keep lifting myself from one corner to the next. I am almost ready. Any day now, I’ll be there.