The Worst Thing I Ever Did To Myself

I crawled out expecting the cave that once sheltered me to shelter me still.

I waited for the world within my mind to match the one without it.

I expanded in my own skin but painted it to match my mother’s eyes.

I waited for men who had the audacity to claim to know how to love me, try.

I beat my skin raw and offered it up to the sun in submission only to be burned black, too rubbery for even the foulest of mouths to chew.

I waited for permission that would never be granted, to exist as I needed to be.

I imagined a hundred lives and was a victim in almost every one. When I woke up, I was 82.

I became water, then ice. Malleable at first, then unyielding. After countless failed attempts to flow, to touch every nook and cranny, fill every space with my presence but remain see-through, I froze. Stunted, I became an amalgamation of rigidity and determination. I retracted and expanded silently within myself.

I am soot, gravel, clay. Molten lava on your back. I was tossed into the ground and commanded to grow but I became embedded into the sole of your shoe. Over six thousand miles of land and ocean, I leached. And for decades I survived in a barren land until what was whispered for years was finally shouted: I waited.

Every time the sword perforated an organ, blood gushing and oozing to coat the perpetrator in guilt – red on metal – I waited. For absolution, for freedom, for acceptance.

But today, the fat lady sings.

© Leila Chammas, February 9, 2017.

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