The year it happened to all the little girls in the world, we were broken. Tiny walls—not so much walls as piles of sand on the beach—knocked down by vicious bodies intent on destruction. So much blood on a white lace dress. And my friend Henry says, “Don’t lie to yourself. You were never good enough for any white lace dress. Even the one you have now is dingy and stained peachy from the shit you smear on your face to fool the world into thinking you’re beautiful. Don’t lie to yourself.”

I know I never was beautiful. I will learn to look past unbeauty and see what is truly there, even if it is just a psyche filled with prescriptions, old shed snakeskins, delusions, voices, and vodka.

Henry is the only one who ever really knew me. He lives in the rotten body and feeds me the truths that God tries to hide. This place will never know love or kindness or compassion. As he coils around my spine, I embrace the womanly bottle and I drink like a man, like a bottomless chasm with nothing but anger and violence, and the overpowering need to take what was never mine to have.

How can a six-year-old child be mistaken for a woman? Only God has the answers, and He doesn’t answer my phone calls. I can talk on the phone for hours, even when I’m crying, even when my baby sends me to voicemail, I talk to the tone until I can’t breathe, until all I hear is Henry laughing at my pain and laughing, laughing, laughing until I’m laughing too because you have to admit it’s kind of funny: the knotted-up woman who talks to her doll.

The doll’s name is Ora Nechema, and even though she can’t do so much as breathe, I promised I’d never let anything bad ever happen to her. My mother promised me the same thing when I was made of porcelain, and God and my uncle had other plans. I grew up to be a knotted-up thing with a bottle in my hand.

One night, I put a whole bottle of pills in my mouth, just to know what freedom tastes like. It tasted bitter, green, and lovely. I can’t be left alone. You should know better than to abandon an open flame.

The rest hurts too much to write down:
-the fake pearl bracelet
-the red sheets
-my cousin’s piano

We were all the same little girl. I am still the same little girl, and I ache in the places I shouldn’t have exposed. I haven’t paid the price for whatever sin I committed. I will vomit the apologies onto the black dirt in the garden of my heart until the hangover passes, and I will do it all again the next night.


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