By Jaime Colley
My fingers rest on my hip bones. They slide along the bone, pinch into the fat on my hips, trace the stretch marks that reach down to my legs; they simply feel my skin. My forefinger slides up to my stomach. It traces the curve of my tummy which overhangs my pelvis. I once would’ve seen it as baggage. My finger slips up the sides of my ribs and takes note of how deep I need to push until I feel the bone, but I don’t cringe. I glide my palm up across my stomach and feel the softness of the skin, how delicate it seems.
When I force my eyes to the mirror, I let myself drink up the reflection. I get drunk off my curves, the freckles and stretch marks. My eyes well, a single tear rolling down my cheek and off my chin.
There is so much of me.
Once when I was younger, I wanted to slide my hands under my skin and pull out the parts I didn’t like. But now, all I see are the places he touched. His hands have left a ghostly trail of fingerprints along my skin. If I could see them under a UV light, I would light up like a single star burning in the late evening.
I want to try and remember my body before someone else decided it was worth less than the cement my cheek was pressed to. However, all I can remember is a time where I hated, hated my skin, my thighs, my stomach, when there was nothing really to hate.
There was so much of me.
But now, standing in the mirror, the bruises puckering my skin, the scabs on my lips burning, the invisible feeling of his touch snaking around my thighs, I realise there is no longer so much of me. I am a garden, and he has pruned away all of my flowers.
I dress, grab a bag and leave the house. My mind feels like two arms stretching away from my centre. One arm stretches for the need to be alone, the other reaches for company. I am terrified of both. I’m terrified of my thoughts, the ones that slip from the cracks of my mind to underneath the stitches in my heart.
But I’m terrified to see the shock in people’s eyes. That a girl like me, such a safe option, could have been at such risk. Their thoughts will blink in their eyes like news headlines: What is the world coming to?
My feet take me to the bus stop. I sit and let the buses pause and then go. My eyes never leave the cement. It was only thirty odd hours ago I picked myself up from the ground and staggered home.
A little girl and her brother walk and sit beside me on the seat, waiting for the next bus. The little girl looks down at my scabby and rough hands. I watch her. She takes my hand in hers, her small, soft thumb rubbing circles into my palm. The brother doesn’t notice. My skin shifts and softens under her touch. She’s so untouched by the horrors of the world.
Suddenly, I am glad there is so much of me, that I am a large mass of person, because I wish with every inch of my being, with every centimetre of skin on my body, that that little girl will remain untouched.
The next bus comes, and the brother stands to hail it. The little girl leans into my ear, “You should go somewhere fun. Like the dog park.”
She then stands and boards the bus with her brother.
I grip the fat on my hand. There was so much of me for him to take, and somehow, he managed to take nearly all of it. Mum had always said, “If you lose something, retrace your steps, and you’ll be sure to find it”.
I reach for my water bottle in my bag. The water burns my mouth. It slips under the scabs on my lips and sizzles. I screw the lid back on and place the bottle back down at my feet. Somehow, I know sitting here at the bus stop where my world became tilted is not going to straighten out my mind. A bus buzzes from the down the road.
Maybe the dog park is a good place to start.