There is a sculpture in his office. She is graceful, without legs, just a torso extending backwards in an expressly female gesture, the top of her hips flaring slightly.
I stare at it when we talk, sometimes. I wonder if I would look that graceful, if I would share those lines, if I would dance like that, standing still, if I hadn’t been raped. It’s always a fleeting thought, and I point my eyes to other places when it comes to me. To the little Kachina dolls dancing in glass cases, to the cactus right outside the window, to his collection of impossibly fashionable shoes, to his kind face. To memor’s opal, to my hands.
Today he wasted little time in getting down to business. I had always talked matter of factly about the reality of my rape. I didn’t use cute euphemisms for the event, or burst into tears at the mention of it. So when he was equally as blunt in his questions, it came as no surprise.
So are you ready to really talk about the rape, Christine?
I glanced over at her, her curving hips catching my eye. Yes.
Give me some background..
I told him the where and why, in detail the likes of which I have never gone into before. Down to the color of the tile that pressed into my cheek when I was shoved into the wall. I remembered the shape of the light that shone over my head. I remember 22 thrusts of the knife, the “S” motion it made inside of me. I surprised myself by keeping my voice completely even but looking at that sculpture through a face laden with 15 years of pain. 15 years of not having my story only half told.
He thanked me. He thanked me for trusting enough to let it out.
Are you ready to try to get rid of some of the nightmares?
Without hesitation, Yes.
Do you feel safe to close your eyes?
I closed my eyes to his kind face, and his wonderful shoes. To the tacky Kachina dolls, and the cactus. Closed my eyes to the woman carved of stone, to get in touch with the woman made of flesh. The one with my soul.
We played mind games, he and I. I went alone to a movie theatre and sat alone in the seat. Guided only by his voice, I envisioned myself before I was raped. I placed that girl on the screen, and looked at her, as someone in the audience.
Turn it black and white and turn off the sound. Come out of your body, leave yourself in the audience and come into the projection booth.
I watched myself, watching myself. This happy girl, in a satin dress, in varied shades of grey. I was acutely aware of people moving around outside of the office but I looked back at that smiling girl and watched her move, with her slightly flaring hips.
You’re going to watch the rape happen to her, on that screen. but keep yourself out of it. Keep yourself in the projection room.
Without the color and the sound, the images played out like the scenes of a sadistic silent film. Something dreamt of by the Marquis De Sade. I saw the girl cry, I saw the knife, I saw the grainy texture of the light on the screen. I saw him take her, her body, her innocence, and I saw a black pool of blood.
Tell me when it’s over.
I found myself running my fingers over my grandmother’s opal, to keep myself calm and found that without color and sound, that it was easy to separate myself from the drama played out before me. Ok
Good, open your eyes.
Breathing and meeting that kind face, I found that I was calm, centered and grounded.
I laughed and closed my eyes.
It would be the last time I would laugh in that hour. His voice guided me through the same steps, and my calmness remained. Then his instructions changed.
Freeze frame the end. Come out of the projection booth and come into your body.
My heart began to speed, and my mind jumped to the torso, with no head, no legs. He could have left me for dead, I thought….
Walk to the screen and climb in.
I walked the empty theatre of my mind and hoisted myself into my own horrorshow. I stood in the black and white freeze frame, in the dark pool of blood.
Put the color back in.
At that moment a sob escaped me as color flooded every inch of the twisted scene. Every pore of my 17 year old self and every pore of my 32 year old self engorged with disgusting hues of flesh and blood, copper penny smell filled my nose and all was lost. I sat, mourning the fear of these colors. I wanted to gather her up in my arms and protect her, to wrap her back in her protective cloak of black and white. Into the silence that made the attack just a bad movie.
Open your eyes, Christine, open them.
When I did the subtle colors around me were an assault. The slate blues attacked me. The reds were running rivers of blood from my womb, and my flesh was torn from the silver of the mirrored table. As tears fell I remembered the gray tile on the bathroom wall scratching my forehead.