You know I was all about the otherwise, the as long as, the even though. The anything to never be left alone. You never did anything. But I needed you and all your inaction. You lay in a hotel room silent beside me while another pinned me down laughing hot. In another room washed dusky gray, low ceilings and the stench of adolescent sweat, you let tongues cut me and never drew your sword.
In strange rooms I’d wait for you, skin prickling, throat sore. My mantra always—she’s a good person, otherwise. After all, wasn’t it you who rescued me from that honey-glazed cabin with the shrieking women and the sadistic girls, drunk on blockbuster blood? I paint you as a saint, darks to lights, omitting the way I begged you to take me with you. You did nothing, otherwise.
A king is a king regardless of the ghosts he courts on cold floors, the bones on pantry shelves. If the lady doesn’t dance, she doesn’t dance. But she’s not a lady anymore. Gorgon, siren, minotaur. (Only a labyrinth could keep her quiet.) Certain slants and splendors of light illuminate her ghastly visage. But a wound only reflects its maker.
I never want to be a woman like Athena. The kind a young warrior might praise as he slew a girl with too many scars. Who then would toast a king who raped his way to demigod.
Just throw me to the dogs.
My heart is a locked ward—
no easy exit;
Come again during visiting hours,
and maybe I’ll agree
to see you.
Just don’t expect me
to be able to follow you out.
Elizabeth Breder is a writer and artist currently living and working in Massachusetts. Her work can be found online at elizabethbreder.com and elizabethbrederart.tumblr.com.