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Poster Child, Prologue-3

The nurses sang a song from the musical Annie as the anesthesiologist fitted the clear plastic mask over my face in the operating room and I began to count backward slowly from ten. The mask was like a toxic flower, and with my nose pushed deep into its dull, gray-colored petals, I was being forced to inhale its dangerous scent. The anesthesiologist stared down at me as the flower-venom disintegrated in my mouth. I was already too tired and too heavy to struggle. “Good job, good girl,” the doctor said, and the notes of “Tomorrow” faded into silence. My breathing slowed. My muscles loosened. The anesthesiologist’s big hands held the mask to my face. His nose was round and slightly red; sweat leaked out from the edge of his blue cap. I would never be able to snorkel or dive without thinking of that mask. Having plastic in my mouth or over my nose always makes me feel as if I am about to inhale a substance that will put me to sleep and when I wake up a part of my body might be missing, gone forever. The nurses’ blue caps blurred together, and all the voices stopped. I never got past the number seven before I was completely asleep, floating in a dreamless oblivion.

Music crooned softly from the corner speaker in my bedroom as my hair was wrapped once, twice, three times around an unyielding fist. Dirty fingernails scraped sensitive skin and rather than my hair being fisted it felt as if I was being suffocated; heavy fingers clogging my only way to breathe. My breaths became shallow as the demeaning gesture caused a vibration of pain to spread from my scalp all the way down to my toes. Disgust pooled low in my stomach. The taste in my mouth was bitter, like soured milk, and no matter how many times I cleared my throat it wouldn’t go away. Cruel brown eyes came into my vision and I stared blankly back, feeling any emotion leave my face. My mind was screaming, begging, taunting me to get away, but my body felt heavy under his weight. There was no struggle left in me. “Good girl,” He whispered maliciously into my ear as the song changed, the tempo picking up speed with my heartbeat. My body went rigid at the sound of his voice, the feel of his left hand clamping down on my jaw. Eyebrows grew closer together as he concentrated on ruining me. I would never be able to hear that song or see the shade of his eyes without the memory of his too big hands on me. Without the memory of how it felt as he carved his name and his insults into the soft, innocent flesh of my mind and my heart. The lyrics haunt me in my dreams, the once beautiful words now harsh against my ears as I wander aimlessly in a maze trying to find my way back to who I was before. I wake up no closer to that girl than I was yesterday. She is lost to me now, her kind eyes and unapologetic smile strangers to me, the lifeless shell left behind. I wake often during these dreams, my vision blurry and my heart racing in the hollowed out cavity that I have come to recognize as my chest. I press my fist to my heart to feel it beating wildly as the images slowly fade away, as my mind slowly fades away, leaving nothing but a darkness that reflects the murky water my conscious has become.

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