You smile, emerald pepper in hand, and you shrink me
into a single consonant, a controlled identity, the Beta.
B — her throat is the steel kettle on your electric stovetop,
simmering and boiling and compressed — she is trapped
in a Stockholm prison, where you peel apart her threads.
July is a blister, a heatwave dancing over asphalt, and B
says no until the word is a sound without meaning.
She swallows, eyes closed, mouth seared to numbness.
You buy B a subscription to National Geographic to hold
her down, another reason to be grateful dressed in a selfless
narrative, and the summer salt sits on her tongue when
the solstice weans into autumn. November, she drops
the magazines at your door, she’s itching at the throat you
forced yourself inside. B, she’s weaving her threads back
together. You know she won’t say anything, that B is
simmering and boiling and compressed — I am trapped.
Bina Ruchi Perino is a post-baccalaureate student at the University of North Texas, seeking a Bachelor of Arts in English, Creative Writing. She lives in Denton with her dog Maya. Her work has appeared in The North Texas Review, The Nassau Review, Sonder Midwest, Royal Rose, and other places. She is a survivor of sexual assault.