You’re eight years old, hiding in your sisters closet trying not to breathe too loudly or else she’ll know you’re in there, trying to steal that one sweater again.
“I just don’t get why he hasn’t called,” she’s saying on the phone to her friend. “We hooked up on Saturday and that was four days ago.”
You don’t know it yet, but this will be the year your sister tries and fails to kill herself, after a note scrawled on the bathroom wall suggests there’s nothing else for her to do,
no one likes a disgraced, deflowered and dethroned virgin, and she’s too young to know that Eve didn’t just decide to eat the apple, and it’s okay to blame Adam when things go wrong.
You’re fifteen sitting on your best friends’ bed trying to piece together the events of last night, because the space between that first drink handed to her by a friendly upper classman and waking up with her pants around her ankles and her shirt on backwards is a gaping expanse of what will later become regret, a blackhole that will threaten to devour her whole, because that is what secrets do,
and who would believe the daughter of the town whore when she cries a four letter word that makes the Mayor’s wife hold her son a little tighter and demand she take back these accusations,
and you’re both too young to know the difference between the freedom to choose and being given a choice, too young to know that consent is not in your murmured acceptance of a strangers hands pulling you down the hallway and into places darker than the nightmares you had as a child.
You’re nineteen and lying on the backseat of this week’s friendly fuck, and he whispers sweet nothings as he fumbles his way around your body, pretending to know the difference between your sighs of pleasure and
And you’re too young to know the difference between fucking for fun and fucking to fill a void, because your dad hasn’t been home in three weeks and no one but your sister can navigate the minefield of empty wine bottles next to your parents bed, somewhere in the middle of it is your mother, too tipsy to teach her daughters that they are not women at the whim of the men around them.
So you’re twenty three and leaning on the edges of the bathroom sink for support, willing the mirror in front of you to open into a new world where the hand that fits so perfectly in your own doesn’t match the mark on your face,
breathless once reality has caught up,
damagd men will seek out damaged women and try to conquer the ruins left behind by those before him,
and some men plant flowers, others just pick them.
And you’re wishing you were younger, before the blood you taste from biting your tongue doesn’t remind you of all the times he told you this was all your fault,
before you started referring to each day as how many it had been since that last visit to the clinic and were handed those two little pills from a lady who just wanted to make sure this was your choice and not his,
and even after all this said and done, you’re still not sure
whether it was.