I am dead: Thou livest; …draw thy breath in pain, To tell my story Hamlet Act V scene ii
Trigger Warning: Child sexual abuse.
She simply died, infected by the touch of him. It began, this slow death, with a hand upon hers, iron fingers curled around small bones that could snap like twigs in an instant. A wrist too small, always too small for this. She was born small, stayed small, perfectly small for this.
She died from the hands that pushed gently at first against birdcage of rib, that explored uninvited, and peeled her apart; fibres of clothing, layer of skin, knot of muscle, fair hair and crescent nail that wrapped up the essence of her. She came undone quickly and easily, like a parcel; his fingers deft and determined. She died, because he got inside, found a way underneath and she drowned in the darkness of him, the plague that overwhelmed her and closed her down bit by little bit; toes, shin, shoulder, temple, with every press of thumb, cup of chin, emboldened grip and violent cold stare of empty blue eyes.
Only her fading self noticed the smut of handprints that remained, the blackening and spread: that turned into mould, creeping across stomach and thigh, seeping into cells through osmosis, to be taken up by her blood, flooding and smothering body and brain with a staggering sickness too strong to overcome. No one saw her lips that turned blue in the dark; fruitlessly sucking at air not there, soured by the heavy stench of evil. No pairs of ears heard the mouthed jumble of words that flowed in a rushing stream, from her mouth: where are you? and please help, and what is wrong with this world? Words that were silent, unformed and stillborn in time. They noticed only a slight shift in atmosphere, an almost imperceptible glitch, a look, a moment, a hesitation and pull of their gut and a sinking of the heart, but they shook it out of their heads and said, not here, and this can’t be, and, but what can I do about it? and carried on as before, taking care to look the other way.
No one noticed the dying as the body kept beating and speaking, walking and sleeping. It awoke every day and it stepped through life and years but it left something behind.
It left this tainted child, the one that retreated and curled up small and watched this charade from within herself. It left this child that never grew up as she should. This child died and the other half: the adult, lived to tell the story.
She will draw a breath in pain because it hurts to be split in half and separated from part of yourself. She will take a breath and speak, because it needs to be done. Words need to be heard, for the child’s sake. Her own dead one, and the living, the ones with twig wrists and hearts that flutter under skin and ribs, the ones too small for this, the ones with who turn silently to the wall and mouth unheard words to unhearing ears just a floor out of reach.
She speaks her own story and catches sight of her wrist, the one she opened that desperate day, failing in her quest to release the black. She sees this wrist of hers and sees it is still gripped, for these memories are here to stay. Her mind’s eye wanders and remembers the child, views her there on the bed and wonders if she can connect after all. She wonders if they can merge and become one but it’s too late. This child is not here anymore. It is possible, she sees to her surprise, to exist without this severed half. Recovery was possible even if it was not quite as she envisioned. So the adult, not quite whole, but with a clear voice, speaks. She speaks instead.