My lover has corduroy skin now, sea shell irises and feather-stuffed limbs that he swings around me as we slow dance on a night when my parents are out. If my brother catches me, he’ll be cruel like all the rest of them. He’ll call me, “Idiot” because I’m sixteen and still clinging to a teddy bear. But my brother doesn’t understand how precious you are, how wonderfully you keep secrets, not like my schoolmate who turned me inside-out so that now there are graffiti slurs written beside my name and places I can’t go without being spit on.
It’s a cheap road that I’m taking, I know, I know. I don’t want anyone getting sad on my account, yet I didn’t choose to be here either.
I kiss my lover goodbye. I’ve knotted a string of Mother’s scarves together. I tie one end to the canopy bed and one across my neck. I know I’m not a slut. I know I’m not a bad person, even if everyone else disagrees. God will take me in. His arms are long and warm, his voice a soft prayer all itself.
These are visions I need to be true, the last things I tell myself before leaping. LS