Blamed

Your voice is too friendly,
Your smile too inviting,
Your laugh too welcoming.
Don’t speak.
You’re giving these people the wrong idea.
Be silent.
 
White powder spread across the table,
glass bottles scattered on the floor;
the loud men filling the room
grow more menacing with each snort of cocaine.
Such peace for me in his chaotic life
when he doesn’t notice me.
He reminds me,
“Lock the door before you fall asleep.
Otherwise, it’s an invitation.”

I close the door,
whispering a silent prayer of thanks 
for the drugs that have 
unseated me as the object of his affection. 
The walls of the room are so thin
I hear every rowdy laugh
and every drunken stumble. 
But I am safe in this room, 
behind this locked door. 
I soon drift off to sleep,
dreaming of a life of my own.

Too soon I am awake,
my life irreparably altered.
Completely helpless, I try to speak,
but my mouth is fastened shut with wires.
It seems fitting;
I’ve always been told not to speak.
This must be a dream.
Using a clipboard and a pen, I ask where I am
and learn that I’ve been attacked while I slept;
the face in the mirror no longer belongs to me,
eyes so red you can’t see the brown,
face so swollen and bruised it doesn’t look human,
a body so broken and damaged
that it no longer feels like my own.
 
I hear words floating around,
Assault. Rape. Assailants. Police.
The police who told my parents of a fight,
instigated by their child under the influence,
apologetic for incorrect assumptions,
correcting themselves and announcing
that I had been raped by two adult men,
and beaten half to death,
couches and walls covered with bloody footprints,
walls smeared with the blood of a girl desperate to escape,
found delirious, naked, covered in blood.
 
He was there.
He did nothing.
Now he asks questions:
“What did you do?”
“You must have done something.”
“You did something to deserve this.”
Raped and beaten,
Blamed.

***

Amy Menkhus is a Colorado Springs native and the mother of one small child who is the delight of her life. She has spent her life caring for others as a nanny, CNA, health assistant, and administrative assistant in higher education. She is a passionate pursuer of all human rights for all people but prefers to work behind the scenes. When she is not working at a local college, she spends her time hunting for bugs (and letting them go again), acting out the wonderfully silly stories told by her son, and running around barefoot.

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