1639 c/o Carolyn DeCarlo


She stands by the front door, right on its edge, her toes pointed toward the threshold, not touching but very close. She’s very near to the door even though she knows she shouldn’t touch it, wouldn’t dare to touch it, her palm up to greet it although the greeting will never reach it. This feeling comes and goes and sometimes she has to get as close as she can, as if to tempt his rage. Outside, she hears the familiar grainy vibrations of a tricycle, the burgeoning voices of children racing past and she has an impulse to join them or invite them in that she must suppress and she feels the cool, varnished wood on her palm before she can react or stop it.

Impossibly fast, the voice descends from the stairs What were you doing? and he is upon her, rushing upon her too fast it’s impossible, one hand twisting in her black hair, pulling down sharp on her neck. Ah! she cries and the sound is quick and high. He pulls harder until her knees clip the tile. What did I tell you? he yells but his voice is suppressed and she knows she is going on a journey, her calves bite the grout as he slides her toward the stairs and up, the turning key a familiar sound then blackness.

He doesn’t touch her any more, his fury has changed—it is quieter now but always there under the surface—and she often wishes he would, just to break the hopelessness of it all. In the beginning, when everything was heightened, he would push into her room after her, his pants around his ankles, pushing into her and rough. In the beginning, when she still had the confidence to leave and he still had the sexual drive to force her submission. Sometimes she misses that, the harder actions, the deeper burn that is over now. She is afraid of this feeling, but it is there and she will admit it.

It has been too long since she first crossed onto this suburban plot of land, since she last saw her mother or felt the unexpected thrill of a stranger’s face nearing hers or invited the mailman in for a drink. In the darkness she counts the seconds the minutes, the time he leaves her growing longer as the years accumulate. He is able to forget about her when she is in there and she thinks that must be a pleasurable feeling and sometimes she wonders why he doesn’t just release her but she remembers the deepest hunger is for power and he will never let her go. All that remains now is a routine without feeling, a routine built out of force that will continue until death, which she assumes hasn’t happened yet, and may continue after. She pulls her dress down and pushes her breasts up and hears him approaching on the stair and hopes at least he will hurt her a little.