a tiny staff break room
a shared history
perpetrated by the ones closest to us.
cockeyed in her chair
chewing a PB&J.
She woke up
her pajama pant leg neatly cut away,
betrayed twice in a night
once by the muscle relaxer that sent her deep into
and once by the man she called
My bad, he said, the next morning.
My bad, he said, and laughed.
She had to dig pieces of the crushed tampon out of herself
with a spoon.
She tells the story with no tears
(He didn’t even
she was mad.)
it wasn’t the first time men
had taken what they wanted.
Her first experience was at the hands of her best friend. He
lured her into the woods for
his classmates to have their – what
did they call it?
That’s the word.
(They laughed, too.)
I was three, I say.
They were my mom and dad, I say.
They were supposed to be
against the monsters under the bed – not
I finish my sandwich first, drop
a hand to her shoulder almost, but
hovering (no permission, no touching, not mine)
She reaches up
grabs my hand and squeezes
to her sandwich.
the staff room door. The floor manager stumbles back, her face
in anger and disgust.
Her hand clamps on my arm, yanking me into the hallway
Her voice hisses in my ear
You better not
You better not say things like that
You better not say things like that where people can hear
We’re all decent folk
This is a decent town
We don’t hold with
people who are
Grace Alexander survived growing up in a Quiverfull Dominionist cult and an abusive marriage. She now lives on a Uruguayan ranch with the love of her life, Amanda, with whom she runs a sanctuary for old and disabled dogs. Grace spends her days writing, cooking, and reading while surrounded by assorted children, dogs, cats, horses, goats, rabbits, and a fruit bat who lives in the barn.