Me and the seductress hang out sometimes. She’s been coming around a lot more, lately. She crouches with me on the fire escape and watches the older men who scrouge for bottles, the woman who we’ve only seen on the balcony once, angrily hanging clothespins and disemboweling sheets, the people who never say hello but are sometimes inspired to scribble cartoon whales and hearts in chalk on their brick while we gnaw at our fingernails. She gets drunk with me and whispers sweet-nothing-somethings in my ear. We hang over the edge, sometimes, and peer down into the dark, but it’s not high enough to be worrisome. We’re just thinking.
She rides my bike with me. Sometimes, she takes hold of the handlebars. Sometimes, she covers my eyes and allows me to roll in blissful ignorance, and it’s almost dark. It’s quiet there, and it’s nice. Calm. But then I’m yanked out again, a cruel, hard, and forceful pull, into the light, and the sun comes blaring, glaring down and soaking my shirt and underwear. I stink of sweat and vaginal secretions and I’m unsure as to whether others detect the stench. I squiggle and squirm and try to hide myself inside myself, but it keeps pouring out, pouring out of my pores and into the abyss. There are people in the abyss. They float around, unawares, but I think some of them see me. So I shirk back. Because all the time, I’m terrified of being discovered.
I’ve done all the things they’ve told me to do. I’ve been a good girl, and the regret weighs down on me heavier than the solid metal iron my mother once dropped on her foot in the kitchen. (Bruises make a much more beautiful blue than any sky.) It sucks my breath in and I choke on my own memories, when I can remember to have them. How are we supposed to remember? I have bits and pieces, flashes and incomprehensible and impossible whatevers. I think I lie to myself all the time, but I’m unsure. So she comes around and places a gentle hand on my sternum, just like he does, and she reminds me that she is there. Just in case I need her. She is only scary here. In her element, she is the most peaceful being there can be. Quiet, And calm. And dark.