i heard about being young but i'm not sure how it's done

It started at 8 o'clock at night. We sat in the living room, and the words came, just like they so frequently did when I was younger: "You are a terrible daughter!"

And that's when I say, "Go ahead and hit me if you want to! I can see it in your eyes." She stops for a moment, but turns and decides to walk away, withdrawing in anger to manipulate me into apologizing to her. I sit down on the couch, my head in my hands. This time the tears are coming, and the words "You bitch" just barely passes my lips.

She is slapping me, but it doesn't hurt. She's over 60 years old, for god's sake. She is weak, but in that moment you jump to your feet and push her off you. You are screaming all the curse words you know, running down the stairs.

Six months later, you sit across from her, your sister at your right and your father at your left. It's like it was back then, during those dreaded family meetings that always devolved into a screaming match. And they are repeating themselves now: "What did we do that was so bad we deserve to be treated this way?"

You're eleven, and she has you backed into the corner of the kitchen floor, crouching against the cabinets. She may or may not have been wielding a knife, but it wouldn't matter. You are terrified.

"You told me when I was 11 years old that if I wanted to get attention from people outside of our house, I was going to get raped, and if I wanted to have sex so badly, I should just have sex with K----!" You angrily wave a hand to your left.

A---'s fist comes down onto the table. She is telling you to leave, and you are screaming that you're leaving, and as you run down the stairs again, hopefully for the last time, you keep screaming "Fuck you!"

They come charging down the stairs towards you, and you know that this is the PTSD the therapists have told you about.

When you are preparing to leave the jail, you say your goodbyes to the ladies that had talked with you through the night. One asks where I used to live, and they begin to offer their services in vandalizing in retaliation. You smile through the tears, because a room full of women in jail had more compassion than your family ever did.

You saw it coming, maybe months ahead of time. Perhaps that's why you withdrew. You knew you couldn't stop it from happening, and you were too weary to keep it up anyways.

And yet. That night you notice first that your lips are hot, your hands are shaking, and your vision is beginning to close in.

You're running down the stairs, you're laying down in the street. And these hands are grabbing you now, they are picking you up, and the voices are telling you that you're going to be okay, and what is wrong, are you hurt, are you sure you're hurt, what's your name, I'm actually a doctor, I'll stay with her until the police get here.

With your back propped against the building, you see your roommate and his friends walk past. Perhaps if they had intercepted you before you walked into the middle of the road, these next things wouldn't have happened. But this isn't the time to think about that.

You're leaning over the edge of the open window. And you know you're doing exactly what you just criticized that other girl for, but you tell yourself you need to breathe air that isn't heavy with cat piss. And it might be the sixth or seventh bowl you've smoked tonight, it might be because you are wondering if S-- is having a good Halloween too, but your mouth briefly fills with vomit before you reflexively swallow it and turn back to the people sitting around you.


useful chamber

I want to talk about these things. I want to say the things you never allowed to say to yourself. And I want them to comfort you.

I want to build up the memories, one brick at a time, until I can remember just how it was. Until I feel the slide of warm skin against my exposed back. Until we're back at the start. This is the time, this is our one chance to get it right. And we won't fuck it up. Not this time.