47.2 - Spring 2018

Page 65

breath left her lips ajar, a door waiting for someone, something to enter—another gasp, then another, then another, but they didn’t come. The room was open, empty. In her life, she would never call my mom, too afraid she’d interrupt something important, and my mom now does the same to me, reluctant to impose her sounds upon my silence. My grandma’s yard was dark, and the moon was so bright, if someone had been watching, studying, they’d have seen my pupils contract as the sun’s reflection flooded them with light just before salt tears drowned them. I didn’t sob until I saw the moon that night. Not a moment sooner. Not till then. That night—fourteen, fifteen years earlier—at the house where my grandma raised my mom who raised me, I stepped from the dining room to the kitchen and felt my skin part, open for the nail my foot had found—synesthesia, even now I could swear I heard a sound like a balloon being carefully punctured—not popped, but the sound of taut skin’s small release. The house was full of people, but the kitchen was not. I hobbled on the side of my foot, maybe hopped, to the bathroom. I locked the door, double-checked the lock, sat down on the toilet, and crossed my ankle over my knee. I remember holding my breath as I pulled the nail free, how the skin was like a fish mouth, sucking in air. I wrapped the nail in toilet paper and buried it deep in the trash can, under tissues and tampons, deep so no one could find it. I didn’t want to be found out. Not ever. I didn’t want to be asked about my wound, to uncover it, to give it voice, or breath, or air. I cared for the nail, hid the foreign body like a corpse, then tended to the perfect hole in my foot. I disinfected it and kept a constant refrain whispering in my head for days—don’t limp, don’t limp, don’t limp. Run, jump, play. Smile, don’t grimace. Learn what to show, and what to hide—the scar that’s still there, hidden on the sole. SPRING 2018

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