the word no

[estimated reading time 2 minutes]

[tw — sexual violence]

this is the prologue for a new novel, expected to be published later this year.

in the beginning was the word. no. not just once, you understand. i screamed it until i had no voice but he was deaf. selectively deaf. he couldn’t hear me. but it’s not cause he was drunk or high. which i think he was. but he simply didn’t want to hear. it was like screaming into a pillow. and then when he’d had enough, it was, in fact, screaming into a pillow. screaming, crying, gasping for breath as he held me to the ground with it and i thought i might finally be released. released was the only word on my mind. escape was impossible. but release, i could do that. i didn’t believe in god. i still don’t but after that i don’t think anyone does anymore. even before, though, not since i was little. god and santa disappeared together. but he fucked it up. i passed out and my breathing was shallow and he panicked. and he ran. and he ran out into traffic.

when i woke up it was all over, they told me. i was going to be ok. sore. very sore. beaten absolutely to shit but i’d make it. might have to have an abortion but that was something that could be figured out later. the important thing was i’d survived. not from my perspective, though. i would have been pretty happy for it to have been over and taken me with it. they told me he’d run out the front door of the house, straight into the road. four in the morning and there just happened to be a fedex truck. not sure what the fuck they were delivering on a quiet street hours before dawn in the middle of winter. but they were there. dude was on his phone and probably having a snack and doing his nails or something. the nurse said he was flattened. but he wasn’t.

it was two days before one of them told me. he was in another wing of the hospital. broken jaw, broken lots of things. but he’d survive. so i hobbled up two flights of stairs and over to the next corridor. i guess the nurse didn’t understand why i was so curious what happened to him. thought it was about guilt and shame. i could feel him tense under the pillow but he had no strength left. he’d used it all up inside me. and lost the rest on that icy street. i feel shame for what happened to me. i shouldn’t have gone to that party. i shouldn’t have got high. i shouldn’t have kissed him. i know. i shouldn’t say these things and i know they’re not true. but they feel true. oh so true. but there’s no guilt about the pillow. do unto others, they say. well, he did into me. and in the end was the word. the question may have been about forgiveness. but the word was no.

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thank you for reading. your eyes have done me a great honor today.