She had, as we say in the industry, a flat affect. Relaying
a monumental series of traumas; from a stepfather
with indecent proclivities, to a stolen Dodge pickup,
the night she spent in the woods after her aunt forgot
to count children when she packed up the campsite,
to the cop who violated her with his baton two blocks
away from the homeless campus downtown; her eyelids
never twitched, her fingers steady as she patiently brushed
a stray hair from her forehead. I wrote that her voice
was warm and low, but rarely ventured from its singular
baritone note. Until she recounted the recent escapade
that resulted,for now, with her sitting stiffly in a chair,
approved by corporate for its ergonomic properties.
With the vigor of a newly converted Christian, she leaned
toward my desk, urgency pushing her breath out in quick gasps.
‘I had to leave that night, that’s why I took Nick’s car, I couldn’t stay another minute, I couldn’t bear it again, it hurts so much, every time they do it, and you get it, right? I mean how would you feel if worms were leaving the forest by the dozens and climbing through your window just so they could cut you open with their razor teeth and leave those nasty chips in your stomach. Look, here!’
She lifted her pink t-shirt; her torso was smooth, unscarred.
I mumbled empathetically, unable to commit but unwilling
to alienate myself as we were just getting acquainted.
As I scribbled furiously about dysphoria, delusions, hallucinations,
she pulled a ten-inch-thick folder from her bag, placed
it gingerly on my notepad, her large brown eyes begging me
to believe her.