In the morning as you slowly open your eyes, you feel your body throbbing. This time, it is not just your head that hurts – dull aches resonate from deep inside your skull all the way down your spine until they reach the very tips of your toes. Turning over as best you can, you notice the gray floral print of your comforter pushed down to the end of bed, taking the white top sheet with it. To your left, a limp, lifeless hand the color of coffee rests next to you and as your eyes trace the outline of fingers and then an arm, you suddenly remember whom it belongs to. With great effort, you force yourself to sit up and realize your apartment is in disarray – pillows and clothes everywhere, a pack of American Spirits on the desk, shot glasses and an empty bottle of vodka perched on the countertop. Bits of the previous night flash before your eyes and instantly regret fills you as if you are a hollow hole being packed with dirt. Your hands glide to your face, your head bends in shame, and just then he starts to stir.
His hands glide over your body and you let him. You think because you allowed it last night you cannot say no to it this morning even though all you want is for him to put his clothes on and disappear. So you submit and it does not feel good but you have done it before and when it is over and he finally leaves you, you just want to shower and forget it ever happened. In the bathroom, the steam heats the room and as you strip off the t-shirt you had on, you glance at yourself in the mirror. What you see at first is not abnormal for a morning-after – knotty hair, bloodshot eyes, makeup smeared across your face. But as your eyes linger at your reflection you spot it.
You cannot forget as the water runs over you. You cannot forget as you try to sleep the rest of the day away. You cannot forget when you sit down to dinner with your parents that night. You cannot forget the next day or the day after that. You have to keep it covered because you have been branded. You have to keep it covered because something that deep and dark does not happen by accident. You have to keep it covered because after years of abusing and disrespecting your body, someone abused and disrespected you right back.