Trigger Warning for Rape
Sometimes my rape affects the way I look at my boyfriend. Nature walks feel like thorns in my spine and I expect strangers to jump out of bushes, erect and ready, naked except for maybe a mask. My boyfriend and I swing dance through the grocery store at midnight, and I think the worker riding the floor scrubbing machine will try to run us over. I worry about being raped again all the time. I would rather die, so I also think about dying all the time, almost as a comfort.
I give my boyfriend my antidepressants to keep for me. He examines the half emptiness of the orange bottle in his hands and I can’t look at him when he asks, “What did you almost do? What did you do?” He is too good for me. I think every day I should break up with him to free him from the burden of loving me. I feel like I am only veins, no bones for structure or muscles for strength, just blood rushing through nothing, rushing for no reason. I would be very easy to rape or kill. There is no fight in scarred skin, and there is not enough room for the love my love deserves.
We make happy plans like sticking glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling, me sitting on his shoulders to reach that high. I would feel strange, uplifted, but empty, like there is nothing to lift up. He would teach me constellation shapes and I would see myself in the empty spaces between the dots. Cepheus the triangle hat. Pegasus the big ass box. My favorite is Cygnus the swan. Every internet quiz I’ve ever taken says my spirit animal is the swan. I want to look up to this every night, this beautiful flightless bird, but I am too fragile to make plans like bringing the outside world in.
I ask my boyfriend what he would do if his girlfriend turned into the moon, and without hesitation he replies, “I would travel to the moon so I could be with her forever.” He is an astrophysicist, so he could figure out how to follow me. I trust this. He is perfect, so I never worry about him raping me. I trust this. No one gets raped on the moon. Only on earth, which would be nothing more than a pale dot, a vague memory, balled up and left behind without a glance like stained sheets.
“I just don’t want to be alone,” I don’t tell my boyfriend. I tell my cat. She licks my nose, eyes wide, blank and black as a new moon. The moon is never alone. It rests in the embrace of the entire sky, no matter what phase it is going through, how whole it is. I could be half empty and loved. I could believe this is natural. It would be okay.
Bethany Mary is a gerontology student in Minnesota. She also reviews books for Vagabond City Literary Journal, works as a home health aide, and volunteers as a sexual assault advocate on a crisis line.