When I was a child, I thought as a child, I ran and played and jumped as a child. But then, I became a woman. In the midst of childhood, I grew into womanhood, sprouted roots into the soul as a dame. I looked up at you, your face a mask of cold and indifferent amusement. You took it from me. It was the thing that truly defined who I was. You made me who I am, and you have never paid the price for the crime you committed. I remember-I remember the way my grandmother’s patchwork quilt lay over our laps as you thrust your finger deep inside of me. And I remember the shadow in the corner that told me to kill you. But I thought it said kill you, or did it say run. The voices now are so thick that I cannot remember what the shadow said. I think the shadow was you.
I like to think that shadow had kind eyes and called me princess, because I wanted the shadow to save me. I let it follow me throughout life, keeping me company, holding my hand. It whispered into my ears that I was special. As you took me over and over again, the shadow man played in my peripheral vision. He waited there, as if he were looking through time, wishing he could save me.
“Hello.” I stood in front of the mirror, my little auburn curls handing over my delicate shoulder.
The mirror was dusty and so was the room. My father was gone, mother was cooking something putrid in the kitchen. Maybe it was a hog’s head or a turtle’s tail. Nothing really came from the grocery store anymore. We were primitive peoples called hunters and gatherers. We were modern day farmer, yes, maybe that was it. But we paid no attention to one another, until I was a bad girl or I skint my knee. Yes, that might have been cause for slight alarm, but not for long. I was told to go play, and I did go play. Then I stood in my grandmother’s room and looked into her mirror again.
“hello” I spoke softly, but nothing spoke back.
My reflection was hollow and pale and when I spoke, I swear my lips never moved. My expression never changed, not did my little curls shake at the vibration and movement of my unmoving lips. The air grew funny and thick with a moldy sort of smell. I looked around. There was no one in the room but my grandmother’s crochet throws and her stacks of patchwork quilts. In the corner was her sewing basket, a chest of drawers and a torn and tattered bible. I wondered if Jesus could see me now.
My face was static and so was the dark feeling inside. I reached to touch my chest, just below my little yellow stitched ducky on my jumper dress. As I moved my hand to my shoulder, I looked into the mirror. The girl that was me did not move and her arms were hanging straight at her sides. She stared ahead with no expression. I smiled, but she did not. I coughed but she did not. She did nothing and I wondered if she was alive at all.
Mother came running into the room and smiled at me.
“Dinner’s ready sweetheart.”
I looked into the mirror again and smiled. This time she smiled back and I heaved a sigh of relief. Mother left the room and I sat down on the edge of grandmother’s bed.
“Mr. shadow man, can you come get me. I think I am broken.”
In the corner, the shadow man appeared.
I like to think that it had kind eyes and that it called me princess. It was easier that way, easier to believe that it would save me.