Trigger Warning for rape and dating violence; please proceed with care.
There is a leash tied tightly around her neck. She does not know how long she has had it, but she always remembers it. The leash changes hands but someone has always held it. Some give her free roam as long as she greets them each morning with a kiss and a smile and a promise to come back.
Others choke. Others starve. Others kick.
Now she holds her own leash. She does not understand. Who tells her what to be? What to do? Who makes the rules?
A phantom emerges from the shadows. Pats her on the back, like he used to. Reaches out for the leash, and waits.
The threats masked as jokes the constant need to keep her down down down where she belonged the waiting up the coming over the accusations the lies the rape the rape the rape the rape the rape the rape the rape the rape the
He roams free while she wears a leash like a kicked dog offering it up to the first person to show her a scrap of kindness. She still manages surprise when she is kicked. Still rolls over and cries and swears to be good. Still finds the kindness outweighs the kick.
The phantom’s fingers brush the leash as he whispers, “Mine.”
She runs but she doesn’t. Screams but doesn’t. Only cries.
He tightens the collar until she can’t breathe. He reminds her that he is her world. Before him, she did not exist. Without him, she is meaningless. She was born to hold all the hate and trauma he pours into her. She is a minor character in the movie that is his life.
He reminds her. She remembers. Every day.
She paws at the collar. Today, it gives. Today he does not smile triumphantly as he lords his supremacy over her. Today the phantom disappears like the smoke from his last cigarette.
She cries. She holds the leash. Runs her hand over the worn leather. She imagines cutting it off someday.
For now, she grips it tightly, takes a deep breath, and chooses a direction.
S.B.R. is learning how to hold herself up.