I feel weird, filled with something, some odd feeling that lives at the corner of sadness and anxiety. The minutes, they slowly creep by me, each one wearing into me like the scrape of sandpaper. And I wonder if I can stand it in my own skin. At the same time, I feel locked inside myself. So I tell myself to breathe, just breathe. And I rock myself. And rock and rock some more. And, though I remain at odds with this memory, I tell myself that I’m okay, that I can live in this skin, that I will get through this moment, that I will not self-destruct as I unleash the vicious memories that haunt the obscure corridors of my mind. I glance at Robert’s picture ~ evidence that I have moved on from you ~ and glimpse the gentle passion in his face. And I know my heart knows that everything will be alright.
“What happened to you,” the hotelière, Frederique, asked me from behind the bar as she poured me a coke.
I blinked. Then asked, “How can you tell?”
“You seem a little flustered and anxious, as though something bad happened to you.”
After a very long moment, I began to speak, began to tell her the lengthy and somewhat painful story of how, exactly I ended up at Hôtel Normandie in the sleepy little city of Auxerre at one am, with a strange man from Chad carrying my luggage. We’d walked through the entire old city. At least it felt like that. This strange man from Chad, whose name I never got, came upon me at the shabby bus shelter across from the Leclerc’s store ~ the Leclerc’s where the police took you away ~ late one evening in the pouring rain. This bus shack provided, at best, scanty shelter from the rain. I felt alone, so alone. And unwanted. In the entire four or five hours that I sat there, only one person stopped to offer me assistance. I could not accept her offer though, since she did not speak English and since my French really, really sucks.
So, back to the man from Chad. He insisted on accompanying me around the old city to find a place for me to stay; he would even pay this one night for me, he said. I tried to refuse politely, suspicious that he expected something, some kind of sexual something, in return. He insisted though, insisted on making himself my salvation. Did I even need another saviour? No, no, I certainly did not. Nonetheless, I relented. Still wondering, though, at what cost. I had paid so much already, and I didn’t have it in me to pay anyone any more. I’d lost all the most sacred pieces of myself and didn’t feel at all certain I would ever get them back. Do only the Borgs regenerate, or do humans, as well?
And so I recounted the tale of my knight in shining armour, the one with raging fire in his eyes, the one with rage enough to kill, the one who frightened me so, the one who drank a 26 ounce bottle of Balblair 1989 Whiskey, neat, from the bottle one over the course of one night and then raged at me repeatedly. Yes, I recounted the tale of my knight in shining armour, the one who raped me more than once, the one who sold my vagina for one night’s stay in a cold and dirty abandoned house, the one who hit me outside a busy supermarket while no one did a thing to stop him, the one who left his mark on me, the one the police hauled away for drunken and disorderly behaviour. And I recounted the story of the pouring rain, of how I sat in it for hours, waiting for a bank transfer to come through.
I did not, could not, convey just how ashamed and alone I felt, because I simply could not find the words. And perhaps because I believed that if I didn’t talk about these things, they maybe would remain not real, like they did in my mind. After all, how could I live with the fact that you, the man I loved so deeply and intensely, treated me with such violence and disregard? I could not. What do you do when the man you love rapes you? You pretend it never happened, that’s what. Because that’s the only way your heart and mind can survive getting smashed to smithereens.