Bruises

Flash
Ala Fox


Photo Credit: Abby/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Once he observed a bruise on my arm and he pressed it—softly. Softly he said: “I like how this looks on you,” and he kissed me.

I pressed it too—gently. Gently I kissed him, and I smiled.

*

Once, Perry saw the bruises on my arms and he frowned. He observed their pattern and thought he read a story there.

“Did somebody do this to you?” he asked.

I said nothing, but my heart skipped. Perry thumbed my bruise and pressed down.

“Tell me his name,” he said.

I met his eyes but said nothing. I wanted him to say more; I wanted to see everything there. If he keeps speaking, perhaps I won’t have to. And I don’t want to lie to him and I want to lie to him.

“You don’t have to tell me,” —Perry.

Then, abruptly: “It’s fine if you like it.” He says this offhand, as he drops my arms and looks away.

“But if you don’t, you should tell me.”

Now he is staring at me. He grabs my wrist and holds it firmly. His grip tightens as I begin to squirm. “Who was it?” he demands. I can feel his fingers on my bone; tomorrow there will be a bruise.

*

Later, I observe the small purple knot blossoming on my forearm.

Was this love? My heart skips, falters, trips, jumps again.

I hold the picture of his face, angry and confused, as he’d clamped down on my wrist. I remember the neat fingernails, boring crescent moons on my skin, and bite my teeth against the hopeful smile that escapes.

Was this love?

pencil

Ala is a Muslim-American daughter of Chinese immigrants. She writes in English, Python, Arabic, and Javascript. When not programming, she contemplates on life and love in her essays. She is passionate about racial equity and Oakland. Twitter: @alalafox Email: fox[at]origin-of.com

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