Momma always told me that monsters weren’t under my bed, that they didn’t come out at night. I was safe. But when I was five years old, I learned that the monster snored in the room next door.
That he did not come out at night, when the darkness swept over us like a shadow cast over our sights, he would stagger into walls with a cry of slurred curses and collapse with the sound of thunderclouds, only to press repeat the next night.
No, the monster also came out in the day. He was an artist: he painted blue and purple flowers that branched across Momma’s face. He took Momma’s breath away, he held her high like a trophy on a pedestal. He clutched his trophy tight. By the neck. And claimed his prize.
“You’re nothing without me!” he would scream, loud enough to make my ears ring. One night whilst he was passed out, Momma took my sister and me by the hand and we ran.
In the darkness that hid us, we ran towards a better life. Or rather, that’s what I thought. No matter how far we ran, he never left me. I was shackled, and no matter how hard I tried to break my chains- I was weighed down. Every night, I woke up glistening in sweat, covered in a second skin of fear. I felt cold- so cold that it reached my bones. I wanted to scream, but my voice was stripped from me, just like how he stripped me of my innocence. I could no longer contain my pain, the rage that was ripping through me, wanting to be released. So, I became that girl. At age 12, I had clean cuts decorating my arms, legs and hips. No! That was not an open invitation for you to stare, trying to find the scars to prove that my statement is true because I could be “just looking for attention”. My scars go far deeper than my skin. They’re embedded in my heart and mind. They will go everywhere that I go, they are a part of me no matter how hard I scrub my skin.
Momma always said, “There aren’t monsters under my bed.”
No Momma, he’s in my head.