I had a friend. She had a lover. Her lover beat her up every night. And woke her up with kisses and breakfast in bed in daylight. She loved him and he loved her. So the bruises probably didn’t matter. One night, he beat her up in front of my eyes. I took a blow to save her. She left me for her lover. She still gets beaten up every night. And enjoys Sunday brunch under the afternoon sun. The bruises probably do not matter.

My first cousin. Her lover broke her phone one day and fucked her friend that night. She cried and cried and cried and I held her shaking body tight. I will never go back to him, she said. I hate him, she said. But she hadn’t slept alone in a long, long time. So, she went back to him. I asked her why. She said, I cannot sleep. She said, he cannot sleep. She said, leave.

My best friend. She was brought up like a princess. She was a princess. But he told her she was worthless. Fat and worthless. Dumb and fat and worthless. Ugly and dumb and fat and worthless. And she never let the mirror tell her the truth again. My princess became a pauper. An ugly dumb fat worthless pauper.

A girl from school. She drank with her best friend. She drank enough so she couldn’t move. He said he thought it was consent. She couldn’t move next day. Or the day after. Her neck ached with animal bites. Her vagina bled and her lips were blue and swollen. He sat by the window, smoking a cigarette. None would ever talk about it again. Truce?

My class mate. The warden touched her thigh when she came back late one night. He touched her thigh because only one kind of girl comes back late night. He held her by the crotch before she pushed him out of sight. She cried all night and called home when the sun shone again. What were you wearing, her father asked over the phone. Not, how are you? You are not alone.

My lover called me a bitch one day. I punched him in the face. You must apologise, my girlfriends suggested. I knew what they meant. Take it easy, girl.  At least he didn’t beat you up last night. At least he didn’t fuck you with your hands tied. He didn’t even call you a whore. He could have slept with that hot friend of yours. He didn’t. Be thankful. Now, go, apologise.

I didn’t.

The girl who travels in bows



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