bobby pins

I pulled the door closed behind me as I stepped softly into the bathroom and finally let out all of the stale air that had been collecting in my lungs.

I collapsed on the cool porcelain of the toilet seat, making eye contact with myself in the mirror. Eyeliner had formed dark bruises under my eyes. I noticed several defiant bobby pins peeking out from under my wilting curls. My scalp was stiff with hairspray.

Rising slowly, I quietly slipped the straps of my dress off of each shoulder. The delicate yellow material brushed gently against my skin as I lifted my arms and let the dress slide down below my hips. It was still slightly warm as it lay crumpled over my bare feet.

My gaze drifted loosely along each soft curve of my body as I stood vulnerably before the mirror. I felt your ghost hands exploring my body as only an hour or so before, shivering slightly with the sensation.

The memories began to flood forth—your eager, fumbling kisses; your troubling ignorance. Has anyone ever told you that you're beautiful? you had whispered. Yet even then, I couldn't bring myself to look you in the eye; I could only think of his sweaty hands, searching, desiring in the terrible, suffocating dark. The pain was a dull roar, diffusing throughout my body with each beat of my livid heart. I clutched desperately at the edge of the sink, seeking control over the waves of nausea and grief that shook my brittle frame.

I recalled our conversation earlier that day, bitterness and regret swirling in the overflowing pools of my eyes. Your uninformed irritation, unable to comprehend my reasons for refusing your naïve advances. I need you to trust me on this one, I'd insisted, not even fully understanding my own logic. My blood simmered with unfathomable frustration.

Then I heard the wooden floor creak very slightly on the other side of the door. As I looked into my own eyes once more, filled with the perpetual rage and sorrow that I desperately wanted you to understand, I silently pronounced the hollow, necessary words of endurance and strength. Just get through this night, I whispered. Just get through this night. I quickly pulled on my clothing, straightened my spine, tucked a few incompliant wisps of hair behind my ears, and felt myself breathe in as I turned the cool doorknob and quietly reentered the world.

You were standing silently by the stairs as I came out into the hallway. I could feel your gaze on me as I slowly lowered myself onto a carpeted step, a small smile fixed to my face. And as you helped me to remove the bobby pins one-by-one from my hair, I could not bring myself to look you in the eye.