My first morning without you did not feel like a victory. There was nothing surprising in my slipper-socks on the hardwood, nothing thrilling in my coffeemaker being low on water, nothing tangible for me to hold and say: “Look. Just look at this massive achievement.” For everything I had overcome, I was met with only silence from an empty apartment once filled with the layers of my pleading with you and your hands on anything they could grasp.
I sat on the toilet lightly tracing the lines of the tile floor with my big toe & thought vaguely of you in the living room the night before slamming your bowl against the wall, of you in our bedroom dumping the contents of boxes labeled ‘sentimental’ into a large trash bag too quickly for me to feel the sting of any of these memories being tossed away so carelessly. None of the feelings were the same. Already when I went back to these places they were dull, hollowed out, no different than a memory of me, age seven, carefully balanced on top of a trapeze on my playset. Already when I pictured these moments I could breathe.
Liz Howard is a queer single mom living in Philadelphia with her troublesome three-year-old & very loud beagle. Her writing breaks open her experience with abuse & leaves it in all its ugly little fragments. She has work in: Split Lip Magazine, The Harpoon Review, bedfellows magazine, (b)OINK, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @Mother_Faulkner.