Flash Before Her Eyes

Her hands were petite and boney like a child. Bruised knuckles the color of dark prune hung over the side of the soaking tub unmoving. An empty glass bottle lay on its side dry as bone as Amelia’s thin body rested in the darkening water. Her eyes gazed upward rounded and vacant like two clumps of brown dirt. The pieces of asphalt that once clung to her knees lay in the stagnant water, the smell of lavender consuming the room. She was the image of someone who no longer could live simply to exist.

This was her death.
It was anticlimactic in the sense that there had been no great revelation. When she sighed her last breath, her chest tightening, there was no peace. She hadn’t felt weightless when her eyes took their final curtain call because she knew there would be no more dreaming. There had always been something missing—a sense of self, maybe that had been the missing puzzle piece to her reaching some type of nirvana.

Even when Amelia had stood out on Park Road nights waiting for cars to roll up to the curb, she hadn’t been present. That hadn’t been her sliding into the back seat of the parked car. She had never clawed at the worn leather seats of strangers who refused to set her free. Her clothes had never been drenched in the smell of sticky sex and exhaust. She would’ve never trudged back home with a busted lip ready to do it all over again the next night. God, that hadn’t been her.

It was who she became.
“When you get older you’ll have a figure like mommy. Why not use it?” Amelia’s mother would tell her as she primped herself in the mirror for a night out on the streets. “Let mommy teach you something. When you walk, you have to stand tall with your chest out like this. Go on try it,” she encouraged poking out her two perky breasts.

Amelia turned away from the glow of cartoons to stare are her mother. With round brown eyes that watched her mother closely, she stood to her feet, straightening her spine. She glanced down at her chest that was a flat terrain, then looked over to the large mounds that were her mother’s.

“Don’t worry honey. Soon enough you’ll have your own to show,” she grinned. “Now come help mommy pick out her perfume for tonight. I’ll let you try the lavender.”

Amelia walked over standing in front of her mother waiting patiently by placing her small hands on her mother’s stockings, feeling the nylon soft beneath her fingers. She watched her raise the bottle and felt the cool wet drops rest on her neck, the smell of lavender making a home in her nose.

Her mother was silent for a moment, letting the moment resonate around them.

“You hear that?” the mother asked as if gazing into the future and listening intently. “I hear all the little boys calling you to play. Isn’t that exciting?”

Amelia knew nothing about boys, but she nodded anyway.
“You’ll be just like mommy one day. Don’t you wanna show everyone you can do fine on your own?”

Amelia nodded without missing a beat. The parasites that were her mother’s words crawled their way into her ear. They began to fester, digging their way deeper into the crevices of her brain as her mother taught her the tricks of the trade. It told her stand with her chest out. It told her to charge an extra ten if they tried to lower her price. It told her not to struggle. This infection stuck to her like a leech draining her slowly.

“What’s your name?” they would ask.
Whatever they wanted it to be.
“How do you like it?” they would smirk.
Any way they wanted it.
“Like this,” they would grunt.
Yeah, like that.
It was a never-ending cycle. No matter how bad it became, it wasn’t bad enough.
“If life doesn’t hurt every once in awhile, you’re not doing it right,” her mother would say on the days she’d come home bruised and tattered. She’d walk over to the kitchen and pull down a clear glass bottle and poor herself a tall glass of amber liquid. “If it hurts all the time well…you’re fucked.”

Now, here Amelia was with glazed eyes raised to the light because it had hurt all time. Her honey brown skin had never glowed before, but there never had been even the slightest illumination beneath. She was a shell of what had become and never would be again. She was a copy of a copy. An illusion. All her life she had wanted to see herself, but even during that last desperate moment she hadn’t. She had seen her mother and then she had seen nothing at all.

2 thoughts on “Flash Before Her Eyes

  1. Joe Miller says: January 12, 2009 at 12:46 pm I really enjoy Gretchen?s literary approach to happiness

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