I Still See Her

By Hannah Highfield

It felt like the world slowed to a stop before spinning in the opposite direction. Things looked the same, but they felt foreign and I lost my footing. I never imagined what his lips would feel like. I never really thought about it. He was a face in the background that added volume to the laughter of drunken nights. He wanted to be more than that. He sat on the floor next to the wine-stained velvet couch I was perched on, his face coming up to my knee. That was the last time I felt above him.

“Do you want a cigarette?” It was innocent enough, though I should’ve tasted the poison that laced the proposition. My groggy buzz and lungs that itched for something toxic made it easy to ignore better judgment. He was nice. He made me laugh a few times. I got up and followed him outside. Pine trees jutted towards the stars. I wanted to talk about how far away they were. How they looked so small but they could swallow us all whole. I wanted to tell him that those stars—the ones right above the red roof that shone a little brighter than the others—they could be dead and gone. We don’t know. I had a feeling in my abdomen that something exciting and chaotic was stitched in the next hour. Something irreversible. The smoke blurred details. Lips on lips. I could taste cinnamon whiskey and feel the aggressive eagerness that ruled the movements of his mouth. I smiled in the face of attention. He wanted me. I wanted to feel wanted. His hands found places that didn’t invite his touch. I was a virgin in the company of a thief. Pulling and grabbing, groans of discomfort and uneasiness, unsure and pleading for a moment of clarity that he didn’t want to wait for. I didn’t remember signing up for this. A messy fight that was over in an instant, but the dizziness of defeat still follows me. I was so easily silenced. He whispered two sentences that dissolved my spine: “It’s okay. It’s okay.” The black and white spirals of hypnosis pulled my body onto busy streets. Eyes glazed and sullen cheekbones highlighted by headlights from oncoming and unstopping traffic.

I still see the girl I was that night. Walking by herself at four in the morning. On her way home. Emptied and hollow and moving a body that no longer felt like her own. A toy manufactured for one purpose. She had a voice, but it meant nothing. She had dreams that warped into nightmares. Happiness was overrun by fear. I remembered seeing the deer from my grandpa’s hunting trip. Suspended upside down, fragile, thin hind legs tied together. It’s marble black eyes still open like the gaping slash from its neck to the abdomen. Red, visceral death matted briny fur. But even that doe had a purpose within the lines of dinner plates. That empty girl crossing rain-soaked streets had no purpose. She was broken for the hell of it by a man disguised as a friend. When I drive down that road, I still see her trying to find her way home at four in the morning.

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Hannah Highfield was born in Montana and has lived on the East Coast, West Coast and is currently stuck in the Midwest. She watches a lot of horror movies and has a rather large cat that meows a lot. She’s an undergrad working on her English degree.

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