I read somewhere that your skin replaces itself every seven years – that who I am now is not who I was seven years ago; that one day, I will have a body you will have never touched.
I am wondering if the brain works the same way as the skin. Will my memories replace themselves too? It has been six years now, and I still wake from dreams where I picture your face perfectly. If I close my eyes tight enough, I can see the constellation of freckles on your back. I spent five years memorizing the details of your life and burning them into the back of my mind; I have spent longer trying to escape the maze of the memory that is the layout of your childhood home.
The knife did not nick my skin but I still keep my hands to my throat 6 years later. It is a defense mechanism, an automatic reaction. I try to think of poetic metaphors to explain how I am still so afraid of everything, but the blood always rushes from my head and instead I am imagining it on the floor in front of the door of the house in the woods. It stains the wood grain; it gets matted in the cat’s white paws. Somewhere, in the hush between the trees, I had said: “please, stay.”
Now, I would have rather you cut out my tongue.
The skin on my neck — is that new yet? Or is it only my hands that have forgotten how to hold you? Will time erase more of this muscle memory so that one day I might wake up entirely free from the nervous, reactionary, ticks I picked up? Or is all of this an ongoing side effect of the drug I had taken, the one mislabeled ‘Love’? I am trying to regain my senses but it is difficult when I lost them so long ago. Sometimes I think I left them scattered behind the house in the woods, buried where my body could have been.
There was nothing poetic about your exit; it is a book I want to burn. But I can’t set fire to the fundamental beginning of who I am.
I am the girl who keeps boys who cut her with words; I am the girl that asks the one with his hands around my throat to stay, to place them on me in other places later in the night.
I am also the girl who found the strength to erase you from her story. I am the girl who grew to realize that what has already been written cannot be erased, but that there is always the ability to create new chapters.
I want to wonder what will happen after the seven years, what will happen if I never forget or feel whole again. I want to get lost in the memory of your childhood home, searching in cupboards and behind closed doors for the good times that I was so certain were once there. I want to scrub myself raw, bathe in bleach, finish what you started — anything to speed up the time it takes to get you off my body and out of my mind.
Instead, I start a new chapter.
I turn the page, I shed some skin, I continue to begin again.