Bruised

She was excited, twirling in her pink chiffon dress. The same one that hangs in her closet. The one she sometimes brings out and might wear.

She hasn’t worn it since that night. That I can remember.

I don’t want to think about that night. A flood of emotions is coming back. I don’t want to think about it. But I’m forcing myself too. I don’t know why.

I feel dizzy and hot.

She’s talking.

I look up to her and she says he’s taking her dancing.

I think she’s excited.

Even then, I knew what that meant. I always knew what it meant when he took her dancing. She only danced once. I think. Maybe more but I’m not sure.

I was scared. Like I’m scared now.
Like I get scared sometimes.

Sun’s out but I’m shivering.

Like when I wake up from my night terrors.

Even now. After all these years.

She came home bruised.
She didn’t dance.

Staring at the wall but I remember.
I remember everything. That night. The hurt. What he did to her.

Like when he threw the plastic goose at her.
I pulled close to the wall.
Screams.
I cried.
Quiet.

Screams.

I’m scared.

“Stop! Stop it.”

I run and yell.

“Go to your room.”

I won’t.

I can’t.

He won’t hurt me.

I’m sure.

I need her.

I yell again until he stops.

She comes into my room.

The door is locked.

Crying.
She kisses my head.
I saved her,
that night.
And every night.

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