Ouch, I wince, Is it supposed to hurt this much? She removes the metal from deep inside me, shaking her head. No, she says, setting it on the tray. I see my blood on the speculum. I see myself on the cold metal, so small and nothing, smelling of pennies and death.
I roll down my underwear to pee and notice blood. I examine my period, thinking about what it could’ve been. Funny how things can live in me and leave when they want to. Ghosts who get tired of wandering the same halls.
Holy spirit flows through my pussy at 3600 volts per minute, long distance, controlled by a stranger I met online. I’ve never seen his face and now he is inside me, moving me to sing his gospel.
A trail of blood, dark as heavy wine, on the dick of a lover who entered unexpectedly, interrupting my uterine lining as it shed. I just didn’t expect you to do that, I said, between tears. From now on, he makes me beg him to come inside me. From now on, he’s afraid – like me. But not really. He’s still got the thing that pushes into spaces, and I’m still just empty ‘til I’m not.
When I was 21, anytime I’d have sex with a man, I wouldn’t tell him if I had my period. He’d pull out and see blood on the condom and I’d just say, I haven’t been fucked like that in ages. I’d been taught that my body was something to be broken into – broken in two. A window shattered by a rock.
My town’s local haunted house was full of broken glass and teenagers fucking because we had nowhere else to fuck. We bartered with ghosts – used condoms for refuge.
Oral tradition of scary stories told by the campfire. The girl with the green ribbon around her neck reminds me of the girl in my town who sent a picture to a boy where her nipples were covered by only a ribbon. Her head never fell off, but everyone started calling her Ribbon Girl.
A class trip to Highgate Cemetery in London where Marx is buried. We walk into a crypt and the guide tells us two twin boys are buried here. My classmate whispers that when a ghost is close to you, the air becomes chilly. As we walk out of the crypt into the sun, my hands and legs go cold. For the rest of the tour, I babysit two Victorian boys, each lingering by my sides. I never considered myself a person with maternal instincts, but the dead seem to think otherwise.
Kids were always dying or dead in my town. One drank bleach and survived, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t already gone. He’s a Nazi now, he wrote a book and asked me to read it. I never wanted to kill myself, I just wanted to understand why everything felt like knives and why everyone acted like being stabbed wasn’t so bad.
Strange to think of the person I’ve been – more of a gas than a solid to me. Memories are hard work, the harder I work the less real I feel. Pearls on a slick marble floor. A wash. A mist.
Before I left Brooklyn, I saw a sliver of myself everywhere. I’d sit alone at a table set for two waiting for her to show up – to sit in front of me with dead eyes and breath that stunk of gin, to talk about the places we went, the people we fucked, the time we lost. I wanted a kiss goodbye, for her teeth to dig into my bottom lip and refuse to let go.
Tell me about my uncle, how he danced off a cantilever bridge and into the Mississippi. Tell me what he knew that I didn’t. Tell me how good a swimmer he was. Tell me about purpose.
Suppose I had a séance with my uncle and the fourteen-year-old boy in my town who accidentally blew his brains out and my friend who overdosed a few weeks after he sold me Adderall. Would we eat In-N-Out and swap ghost stories? Would I tell them about Ribbon Girl, the strangers I’ve let inside me, and the little kid in my family’s scrapbooks who feels so far away from me? Would my throat feel less swollen then?
I’m haunted by ghosts of people I once fucked in the everyday faces of the unknown. I look, then look away, gaining composure. When I look back, I always find that I’m wrong. This person’s nose is a hint too big, their eyes farther apart, they don’t have any tattoos. I can breathe again, but for how long? Someone new always comes along and I’m launched back into the place I cannot touch but touches me when I least expect it.
I chased my Uber a block from the tattoo studio, my blood still wet, blending with the colored ink. I got into the car, covered in sweat, my elbow streaked with artificial blues and oranges. The driver laughed and said, It worked out because you found me and I found you.