Where the light doesn't go

Submitted into Contest #92 in response to: End your story with a truth coming to light.... view prompt


American Sad

When does truth stop being the truth and the truth you live is the only truth you see.

Because the truth you live is what you wish it to be.

The truth that covers up the ugliness around you and inside you.

When all the choices you make yourself fuel the truth that is imagined,

in myriads of moments that take you further and further away from the truth that once was.


The first time it happened in college, she had woken up from a night fueled by tequila shots ending in cheesy breadsticks from the campus favorite pizza place. She had woken up feeling distended, feeling the effects of the booze in her brain and the carbohydrates in her stomach. She felt repulsed by herself, the putrid morning breath and the bloat in her stomach. So she threw it all up, emptying herself of her choices. She felt better as soon as the water whisked away all that was vile, both because the toxins were out of her body but also because she felt forgiven. She looked at herself in the bathroom mirror, naked in the morning light, and sucked her belly in. She had undone the damage of darkness-fueled hedonism. What could stop her upchucking the hurt that sat in her belly, so she was free of it, so she could deny it ever existed?


She woke up next to a stranger, the dull ache between her legs illustrating they had been acquainted in some way not long ago. The morning light made the dust dance, and her heart sink at the drabness around her. Somewhere in the midst of crumpled beer cans and stubbed cigarettes, she spotted her underwear on the polka dot sandals she wore the night before. She moved with the grace of a floating feather, not wanting to wake the snoring man next to her. She slipped on her underwear and searched desperately with her eyes for everything else she had arrived with the night before. Moments later, she spotted her dress coiled in between the sheets right next to his dangling right foot. Fuck. Tip toeing on a carpet that hadn’t been cleaned in years, she delicately slipped her hand into the sheets that had witnessed the night of what she could only remember as drunken wrestling. She didn’t remember the face of the man next to her, or how he made her feel. Only that he had temporarily patched up a crater deep inside her. She had now become practiced at finding a quick intoxicating fix when her belly gnawed at her. Nobody could see the void, only she knew of its existence. Did the man next to her? What had she said the night before in the rapture of a desperate need for consolation? Suddenly, the idea that the man in the room could know her at all, have any glimpse into the endless tunnel inside her, frenzied her. As she put on her dress, looking at the tattoo of an eagle-headed tiger on his back, she knew she would never recognize this man if she saw him on the street again. That was her comfort for now.

She heard a faint voice calling after her, “Hey…” as she closed the door behind her and fled onto the streets to the nearest pharmacy to erase the last of her memories away from the night before.


The sound of a phone ring startled them awake. Instinctively, he jerked upright on the bed and grabbed his phone. “Shit,” he murmured to himself, blearily squinting into the blue screen. Even without him saying it she knew he had to leave. “Don’t go,” she screamed into the echo chamber in her head. As if she had said it out loud, he turned to her and said, “I don’t want to but I have to. Evie is…” He trailed off wondering if saying it loud would make either of them feel better. Moments later he was gone, home to the bed he should have spent the night in, leaving her bed smelling of their night together. She looked out her window, searching for something that could quell the savage emptiness inside her; the gnaw was back. The sky was an ombre of inky blues and tangerine suggesting the sun was about to join her. Maybe it would lay with her a while, warm her up in the coldness of her empty bed aching for the man who had lain beside her not long ago. She wasn’t sure if it was the man she wanted or the space he cocooned, an antidote to the vortex deep in her belly. The void that met him one night, at a bar, ignoring the glinting gold on his finger, latching on to the same void in him. It was what fueled their nights together, never quite making it into the morning hours, so he could go back home with his void in tow.

She now felt the sun beaming in, uninhibited in its reach for her. She was thinking too much about it. She had to move on with the day ahead and leave the void on silent on her bedside table.


The florescent light of the room blinked down at her as she stared beseechingly at it. The razor sharp feeling was unavoidable even in the haze of the anesthesia. She ached for her choices past and present, that had led her to that moment, laying in that hospital room, with the doctor’s face in between her legs.

She ached not for what she was losing, but for what she had already lost. She had lost it when her period never came and she knew instantly. She lost it when she knew it wasn’t hers to keep because she couldn’t share it with the man to whom she was married. Like so many choices that came before, she had to rid herself of the evidence. She made the decision with the clarity of an archer. She would rid herself of it, like the poison in her stomach, like the dress in between the sheets, like the sadness in her, it would never come to light. It was like it never was.


In the morning light, where so much is illuminated, how do you hide the things you don’t want to see? When you have to hide it from yourself, light or dark is inconsequential. It lives on in the dark folds of your memory, somewhere deep within the pit of your intestine where you can choose to never remember it again. But really, it builds, deposits itself, and over time, even though the actual memory is long lost, it shows up in the way you look at yourself, when light illuminates your reflection. You look at yourself and see the shadows cast of choices that filled the void but took you further from yourself.

May 08, 2021 00:13

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