It’s later, though not late enough for dark. Not late enough to drown the memory of his filthy words from her mind with multiple glasses of wine.
Not enough to erase the shame that burns in her body, making her wet in places she feels too guilty to admit to, let alone touch, let alone speak about. Not that anyone listens to her when she speaks in any case, but still.
It is late enough, however, for the descending winter storm to dim the neighborhood sufficiently such that the many strands of multi-colored twinkle lights click on, shining their holiday glow of greens, reds, oranges, and blues from underneath a fresh frosting of snow along the windows and trees.
She hadn’t meant to go so far as to actually interact with him online. It wasn’t something she normally did but, alas, quarantine seems to have blurred her virtual boundaries. Isolation, that is, along with the pale white wine she appears to have increased her tolerance for exponentially over the past many months while stuck inside with nowhere to go.
How many months has it been now? Eight? Nine? A year? Five, ten? Doesn’t matter, of course. The damage that was to have been done is done and here she finds herself quite alone, aching for touch, watching the heavy snow pile up on the street, pouring her precious liquid escape into a long stemmed glass.
The way the alcohol numbs the skin and tingles it at the same time makes her feel like she is flying high and sunk down as low as the Titanic at the bottom of a tranquil distant sea. Her limbs, heavy and light and chained to the ocean floor.
Looking up she sees little children coming out to play across a few yards down the block. Screaming and throwing themselves all over into the snow drifted hills. She remembers doing the same once in a tiny pink snow suit, little white boots with little white tassels. Her eyes like wide sapphire stars staring blurry into the heavens as she opened her tiny pink mouth to taste the falling frozen droplets on her warm protruding tongue.
How could a creature so innocent grow into something so grotesque with insecurity, so riddled with deviant desires and angst.
Perhaps that is how he somehow suddenly caught her off guard when they spoke the other day. Perhaps that is how he managed to skewer her right there between her near animalistic craving for affection and the jagged edge of her breath-taking loneliness.
The mouth of the world overflows with judgement, of course. She had been every nasty thing they called her growing up: a slut, an easy lay, a bitch, a snob, a brat, a loser, a loner, a nobody, a disappointment, a whore.
Sometimes they would say it outright, sometimes just with the slant of their prissy eyes. Either way she knew what they meant and how they wanted her to feel. Like an outsider. Like a freak.
The thing about certain older men was that when they looked her dead in the eye it sent her heart racing into her throat. With a gentle word, the slightest touch, they could send her fragile bones trembling with want, soak her head to toe with need.
When they spoke to her with sincere admiration it set fire through her thin pewter veins and made her feel desperately alive.
The addiction to approval. Intoxication by flattery, even if by calculated design.
So what if they had bad intentions.
So what if she was bad, too.
Photo by Peter Bucks