tonight my heart is beating so fast it keeps me awake
and the past tugs at the currents of my breath
like a something i've misplaced and must reclaim
before i can rest.

i go for a walk down by the water
and stare at my reflection
in the place where you held
my confidence under
laughing as it turned blue.

i was thirteen and it was the first time i thought i was going to die -
my soul a plastic bag jammed in my throat.

i never had an antibacterial mind.
i grew up scratching stories in the dirt of my imagination,
and the particles got under my nails and into the cracks of my skin:
marked my fingerprints, and even if
i wash my hands one thousand times
that image will still be etched into my memory.

fingerprints don't change.
they get scratched and scarred in our day to days
but they remember who they are.

i remember my closed up throat
my burning skin
the marks where i tried
to scratch your fingerprints
off of me.

the spot on the wall
where you pressed my back,
where i couldn't push you off
because it burned my skin to touch you.
so i stood there,
stuttered lies
until you left me
alone with my disgust
and a head full of thoughts
that weren't my own.

i ran until i choked up the memory
of your poison hands grabbing me:
unable to cry out;
unable to repeat what you'd called me;
unable to give a reason why i couldn't go back.
words rotting inside me
becoming toxins in my bloodstream:
truth and lies swallowed like a cocktail of kitchen counter pills
a handful of possibility snuffed in the struggle
to break free of my contaminated skin.

i knew they would say it wasn't my fault, but it was, wasn't it?
it was my fault lines you found, that you forced with bad jokes and rough hands,
until i fractured, cracked, crumbled. it was my fault.
because if it wasn't,
if i really had no control,
that was worse.

i lived in my head,
and you made that a place
i didn't want to be anymore.

i spent a lot of time off on my own trying to disassemble myself.
if you bend and erase and cut out pieces of yourself to fit, a lot of empty space is left.

yet somehow, i am still here.
all of me.
and i am still not quite sure
what that means.

losing everything is like happily ever after:
they never talk about what happens next,
but something has to.
it must happen to people every day.