by Geoa Geer
cw: sexual assault
Lying in the grass, tummy warm in the sun, loud chatter across the river bisecting this New Zealand city, loud and beautiful and touch while the rest of the world waits inside, still and waiting and remembering.
Sexual assault comes up, again and again, drifting and heavy in my thoughts and shoulders. It felt gone and then, last night, drinks and laughter and words winding down this path, again-again, worn steps and memories of all the times I supported myself and my friends and you through this nightmare.
Listening and remembering, appreciating the lights and greys and the repeating, tessellating darkness of it all. Lights sparking through depths, shining and deep or wavering and watery, water running across my esophagus, coughing, hacking, gone.
It's never as simple, never as cut paste done, fixed ready gone, not as rare, not as never, not as forgotten as I want it to be, the taste lingering too long on our tongues and words and logic, misty brains focused, endlessly, repeating in circles the trauma once had and continue to hold, echoes twisting and cold.
No comfort taken in “but I said yes” to the hurt inside, the dirt the gross the sweat the squirm she remembers and feels and yet, still, empty and skin and swirling grey.
Learning no, encouraging no, trusting that no is no and not...an invitation. Convincing convincing convinced, fine. Trusting that no isn’t the last we’ll ever touch, fear-anxiety crumbling into broken and sad-hurt rhythms, forever.
Or yes, echoing the same, off tune and kilter.
Obsession obsession, again and again it returns, my words heard on other quiet angry tongues, regret and sad and wonder, the why, really, always returning, pressing me down, the vastness of the problem making my chest tight, COVID but not, anxiety helpless need, forgotten but never.
One time, an assaulter spoke to me and his grief was real, same feelings, different side to my own.
He told me he was filled with church and fear and shame when he assaulted her, years of blurred lines and unclear everything between them, dating but not, and then hands down her pants and then stuttering, shuddering no after the angry first few minutes of shock. Friendship fractured and lost in a moment, aching-gone, trust, disgust, regret, shame, and now just… why.
Circling around the why, the weight of his church's abstinence burned onto his fingers and heart, wishing he had had words and kindness, not shame, guiding him, then and now, and always.
They talk again now, he says, sadly and happily. Years passed and she reached out, missing him and empty a little, trauma gone but not forgotten, imprinted on her and him and them, both, together but separate and aching, still, lights dimmed and grey and different but still–alive. I guess. So I’m told.
Haunted new lives, echoing circles and broken new paths, twisting inside and around, hurt and new and truth, new life new vibe who dis, same words different voices, tired–
It was my fault, I overreacted–
I said no but I guess–
what even why did this even happen why–
I wish she had just–
I just wish they could, understand,
I wish I could just not.
I wish to live, and I do, love and sex and light and hope, lying on the grass, back warm, listening to people chat and be, safe, tiny river gurgling happily beside me in this moment. Circles broken and eddies wafting, sadness eyes grey and circling my heart. Wishing and wishing and stepping beyond. It must be obsession, I think, returning to this spot, this memory-space worn thin, the words sharp and dull, different each time I return, but comfortable somehow nonetheless. Returning returning and turning away, again, leaving the weight for another day, another time, another laundry list of words and wishes and eddies, swirling, angry, gone.
I stand, grass between my toes and falling limply off my clothes.
Featured in our February 2021 issue, "Obsession"