I love him. He smells like jasmine. Jasmine — that’s what I call him and he lets me; he smiles. I’m the only one he lets, even though all the other girls try. He said it’s okay if we never do that. I told animal thinking it might shame him, but he only touched me more. I’m quiet, and I don’t cry.
Right before animal hits me, I surround myself with jasmine. I see myself in a field of flowers, the petals tickling my cheeks, the smell reaching all the way into the very bottom tip of my lungs and propelling coughs thick with jasmine if I take too much in at once. It’s as beautiful coming in as coming out – a slow inhale and exhale, don’t cough, don’t cough, don’t lose any of it, whose entire duration I treasure. Jasmine loves me.
Get off of me, you animal, I say. Jasmine makes me strong. I lose all thoughts, all reason, and my mind clears of everything but hate. It makes me push animal into the wall, again and again. It makes me kick and scream and bite him, blood slipping down my throat. I bit off a large portion of the skin right under animal’s collarbone when I was eleven. I hid in the woods, but he found me and he — I didn’t cry. I don’t cry. If you don’t cry, if you’re quiet, people love you. They learn to love you even though your hair is kinky type 4b and will never have defined curls. More like a sponge, animal tells me. A dirty sponge. I’m beautiful, you ugly fuck, I say, to myself, not to animal. I’m quiet, and I don’t cry.
p.s. part two of this story is here