I sit on the floor & list off all the reasons why I can’t sleep. Last week, it was the couple fighting in the apartment above me. Glass broke, & then a vacuum ran for seven hours. This week, it’s you. In the dream, we’re at a theater in Florida. You’ve got stage blood on your nice white shirt & I’m wearing a pink dress, velvet & borrowed. When we talk, my knees knock together. You pick at the skin around your nails & everyone is watching us. My therapist asks me to look around the room. I can see my sister, wearing fake bruises & white face paint. Your mother is giving her flowers. My parents pose for a photograph. In the corner, a woman is holding a buck knife. She scratches at the wall behind her, & smiles. At you? In the dream I meet her eyes maybe once, or twice. I wake up in a sweat. I don’t scream. The melatonin pill doesn’t work & I want to call you. When we were still friends, we talked about the body you found when you were ten. A woman, a stab wound. She lives here.
I’m trying to forget the sixth floor of a hotel so old the keys are made of copper. I sit in the hallway locked out until you call the front desk because the room is in your name but you don’t really love me & nobody asks questions. This is after you ask me to return to the room where you raped me so we can sleep beside each other as if nothing ever happened, as if some point in the night I won’t wiggle from your grip to see if the balcony doors will unlock so I can throw myself into the street below us. But they don’t & I’m supposed to live. Later I will lie on a hospital bed but I won’t tell anyone about you. My body becomes concave & I am all bone, all scar. I write your name on a piece of paper & burn it; bury the ashes. The spell doesn’t work & the cigarettes never kill you & five years pass & you have a child now. God gave you a child.
The night it happens (again) I sit on the sidewalk & call until you answer. Across the street, a woman peels back her curtains. The neighborhood can hear me. Everyone knows I’m a mess. Your first thought is that he hit me. Or worse. Tonight, he drank straight from the bottle, laughed at the bite marks. Told me they didn’t count. I think he’s lying about wanting to die. I think his sanity is a weapon. Wish you could’ve been there when he called me the devil. Wanted me to cry or kill myself, maybe. So I ran, slammed the door off the hinges. You remind me I’m a final girl; the last one to confront the killer & live. I have always crawled home with split lips & skin. I have bled more than this.
Lauren Milici is a Florida native who writes poetry, teaches English, and is currently getting her MFA in Creative Writing somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia. When she isn’t crafting sad poems about sex, she’s either writing or shouting into the void about film, TV, and all things pop culture.