He Didn’t Look Like A Nightmare At First

Emilio Küffer
Emilio Küffer

In fact,
he looked quite like a dream.
He was something I had seen at 13,
something so unattainable,
something so unlikely for a girl like me.
I thought,
are only for dreaming.

He didn’t look like you’d think a nightmare would taste.
His fingers always smelled like coffee
and when he touched me,
I could feel it brewing.
I have never smoked a single cigarette,
but his mouth became a nicotine patch.
I swallowed more and more of this addiction,
eagerness would spill from my mouth.
“It’s okay.”
“I forgive you.”
“I understand.”

We would inhale,
I coughed up a lung one night,
he stuffed it back down.
Hushed me softly,
So I stayed silent.
He told me I tasted like serendipity.
I was honey-dipped hope and he wanted every last drop.
He took it all,
until I was nearly empty.
Bare bones.

I caught my reflection one night,
felt like calling the cops.
I thought of dialing 911.
Because the nightmare wasn’t him.
This nightmare was me,
I did not know this woman looking back.
This girl,
not who I thought.
Not the strength I thought.
Nothing much,
I thought.
So I pushed her to the point of nonexistence.
I would undress like a blank canvass,
ask him to paint whatever design he please.
I would speak with butterflies escaping,
this fluttery hummingbird heart of mine.
Not skipping beats,
but tripping over itself.
Sprinting down the avenue,
running a marathon
and shattering,
bloody bits of pulp against the concrete.

He didn’t look like you’d think a nightmare would taste.
He looked quite like a dream,
I was lost at sea.
I never asked for a lifejacket,
so I wondered if it was my fault.
I know that tastebuds change as we age,
so the time has blisters healing.
But I still feel smoke in my throat.
I remember the burning,
And that I walked through it.
Until I almost choked.

I almost choked.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t choke.

I stayed afloat.
And made my way back to the shore,
with internal bruising and a new idea
of what nightmares look like
when they wear sheep’s clothing. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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