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Sarah Kersey Dec 2015
When I was 10, we lived in a neighborhood that was always under construction
My parents installed an alarm just in case anything were to ever go awry
They set up the defenses that should have been indestructible
But there was this one day that I ended my walk from the bus stop to my place of safety by entering a house that didn’t sound an alarm to footsteps in the doorway
The batteries were just dead
Before I allowed myself to indulge in an hour of mind-rotting after school specials, I checked every room in the house for intruders
I have always been cautious like that
I told my parents the alarm batteries needed replacement but I never told them about how I checked the room we kept our water softener in to make sure there wasn’t anyone dwelling where they shouldn’t have been

I tried to write an essay one time comparing the ****** assault I endured last august to my house getting broken into
I talked about being brave in the aftermath of a tragedy
After pouring all my blood and half-assed tears into that paper, I received a C- and a try again
It didn’t connect, it didn’t make sense, and my metaphors were confusing
I think I tried too hard to make the trauma a metaphor instead of emphasizing the reality:
my own personal home that I had been inhabiting for seventeen years had genuinely been broken into
And the alarm didn’t sound
And that didn’t feel brave

I think all I did in that sham of an essay was convince my teacher I was a coward
I talked to her about it once
I think she may have suspected that my batteries were dead

Either they were dead the evening I endured my attack or I had just chosen to brush off the persistent ringing of panic that was sounding in the air because it sounded too much like my anxiety
I’d always pushed my gut feelings away so I could continue to live without fear of going outside
Some instincts you just had to choose to ignore
I chose to ignore the wrong one
I chalked up the burrowing feeling that had made its home in my stomach that night in the glow of that artificial light to simply being nervous
So I turned off the alarm and I let him kiss me

There’s two glaring repercussions that being sexually assaulted has produced
I can’t look at lava lamps
And I can’t end poems about you
Lava lamps remind me of your bedroom
I can’t end poems because that would mean that I have closure
That you’re gone
That the alarms are intact
But I still have a creeping suspicion that you could be hiding behind my water softener
I can't seem to get my thoughts in order anymore. I'm trying.

— The End —