Cherry — Shayleene MacReynolds

In the beginning, there is power in the body. The way a woman carries herself, and the promises of all the things she will become. When she walks, how oceans curve and change the patterns of their tides. Her words, and how they carry certainty. How flowers bloom from her mouth. 

In the beginning, there is a body. 

There is a house where she has had too much to drink. Where she stumbles in a tunneled sort of darkness. There is a house with a bed that sits too low upon the hardwood floor. She loses words.

When she wakes up in the morning, she panics at an unfamiliar room. Seconds feel like minutes as she orients herself and looks around. A body in the sheets beside her. Clothing on the floor.  Missing pieces of a wardrobe missing pieces of a night. A throbbing headache.  Panic.

Six a.m. on a Saturday, a pair of legs inside a string bikini climbs out from the backseat of a cab, and she pays him and she goes inside and she puts whiskey in her coffee. She climbs into a scalding bath and lets the water ease the places that are aching deep inside of her, the aching of a space that she can’t see but knows is there. She drinks her coffee with the whiskey, and she counts the bathroom tiles. There are bite marks on her breasts.

She cannot remember the night. She remembers his hand, a bed that sits too low to the floor. 

For three hours on Saturday, she empties the tub and then refills it with the scalding water. She vomits twice and tries to gather memories. She gets up to pour more coffee, leaves wet footprints in a trail across her home. 

The bed too low to the floor is perfect for a woman to fall upon. There are bruises on her skin. 

She feels strange but doesn’t want to seem dramatic. You are just regretful, someone says.

I am just regretful, she says.

And they laugh about a pair of legs inside a string bikini climbing out from the backseat of a cab. 

In the beginning, there was power in her body. The way she carried herself, and the promises of all the things she would become. When she walked, the ocean moved beside her.  Her words grew flowers on the surface of the earth.

Now, the bite marks on the breast are healed. Now, a baby is sleeping deep inside her womb.  When she walks, the waters dry out up into the soil. When she speaks, entire landscapes wither and they die. 

Her body—

A mirror to reflect his power.

Words that tell a story she has never heard before. 

At the clinic, they ask if she was raped. But no, she is just regretful. An honest mistake, she says.

They give her two pills and a bright red cherry lollipop. Do you want to see a picture? The lubricant squelches from between her legs. The paper gown crinkles up against her skin. It sticks to the inside of her thighs. When the nurse leaves the room, she cries. 

At home, she bleeds so much that she stays for days inside the bath. All that baby pouring up and out of her. She gets high and mixes pain pills with the whiskey and still it hurts, the baby pouring up and out of her. 

She never remembers the night. She laughs about a pair of legs inside a string bikini climbing out from the backseat of a cab.

An honest mistake.

Two pills and a lollipop. 

I am just regretful.