I laid there with the hot water dripping down my foot and for a few seconds I wondered if the scalding pain would force me to move but my eyes have been so heavy and before I knew it they were fighting to stay awake, the sounds of a house asleep and the rhythmic burning drip running between my toes putting me to sleep like a parched-summer welcomes rain.
I opened my eyes and I was still in the tub, only I was standing in the shower and it was home, but not this home, not where I have come to be but where I ran from and my body deceived me, not moving or comprehending what was going on. My hair being used as a handle to push me to my knees and I thought to myself “I remember this” as the panicked bile started to rise.
I instinctively closed my eyes knowing what was going to come next. My head pushed back into the wall and there nothing to grab, the shower curtain replaced by shower doors and nothing to hold onto and the only thing keeping me upright at all is the knotted hand in my hair.
I heard his voice so far away and yet too close for comfort. Did I dream that I had escaped? His salted heat hit me in the face and I didn’t want to open my eyes because I didn’t want to see him, or his body. I just wanted it to all go away. Did he really just do that to me? And before another thought can even begin he twists me around and his urine hit my hair, running through it and down my back and then my face and chest. Tears stuck somewhere inside of me as the degradation and reality set in. I was his all right. I had no choice. Tossed out of the shower and cuffed behind my back before I could even try and wipe myself clean.
I jolted awake and saw my foot growing red under the faucet and looked around, I am not bound anymore and yet 11 years after escaping I could feel it all like it was yesterday. I scrubbed and scrubbed again, making my skin itchy-red-raw and my hair so clean that it feels like straw.
Flashbacks plague me. Not everyday, but when they do they come fast and hard and without warning or notice. I felt so filthy laying in the bath I had to get out and I couldn’t hold it down anymore and my body heaved and purged itself of the toxicity of the memories of the past.
I scrubbed my face and took in the smell of my moisturizer -fresh roses- and stood there looking at myself naked in the mirror, staring into scars I don’t want to see, scars that tell anyone who sees that I have been used, abused, and that I am ugly. I slipped on my pj top over my wet skin with my hair hanging and dripping into the thin fabric.
The panic still trapping me like a coffin being nailed shut even though my surroundings indicate I am free. I feel the weight on my chest and the strain in each breath. The lights are all on but it’s the blackness from the underground that I can see.