Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Yadira Arroyo

I wake up at the sound of the alarm’s buzz, buzz, buzz. The time is 11:30 a.m. on a completely free day. Free from work, free from school, free from friends and maybe even free from family. I hit the snooze button. About ten minutes later, I am grabbing my towel for a much anticipated, summer-morning shower.

In the bathroom, I pull the hair elastics from my slept-in, lopsided pigtails, scrunch my hair with my hands and then lazily undress. When all my clothes and hair accessories are piled on the toilet seat cover to be taken to my personal hamper after I am done, I grab my toothbrush and toothpaste and place them on the dry ledge of the bathtub. I look into the large mirror opposite the shower, as I always do, and think that it may not be a bad day to skip makeup. I run my hands over my face and then look at the rest of my body, not unsatisfied. I squeeze my breasts because they ache ridiculously, then notice that I need to shave my legs and underarms. I grab a razor from the compartment behind the sink mirror to put beside the toothbrush, but as I close the small door, I squint my eyes to get a better look at what I hadn’t noticed before. It’s there on my upper right arm, ugly and evident.

I turn to the long mirror again and look into my eyes; they begin to flicker in every direction as my body plunges bluntly into accelerated thought. Maybe it was an accident, races my mind. I step up closer to the mirror and examine it. The mark’s shape is so easily distinguishable that there is no mistaking how it got there. There are flashbacks from the previous night. I place my left hand over it and squeeze it gently; I feel the bruised pain at each of its perfectly-arranged four points. I stare at the floor thinking of everything it could mean outside the four walls that I find myself hiding in. The shock of such frailty mocks me.

I turn around to slide open the shower door, turning the showerhead on as soon as I step in. The cool water slows the feral molecules that had begun to boil my blood. I breathe. Calm gloom sets in and I begin to sing. I sing a song that carries me as far away from the cause as possible. If this is your venom, I can just as fiercely conjure my antidote. I force myself to bliss.

When I am done, I wrap a towel around myself and look into the mirror once again, my brown eyes tinged with disappointment. This is not my destiny. I take another angry glance at the mark, holding back tears, and walk to my bedroom. Once away from the bare vulnerability of the cleansing room, I dress myself. Covering the cruelty with a striped blouse, I trap the shame in the mirror. If I succumb to weakness now, it is an eternal loss. I finish gathering myself and open the front door. The sunlight once again wraps me in truth as I walk across my front lawn; my destiny remains clutched in my own hands.

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