I saw him again, once, briefly, years later, the man who raped me.
I was looking at scarves at the women’s section of the department store, making stream-of-consciousness associations: fabrics with light, colors with moods, prints with voices, trying on new layers with which to define myself, not thinking about unmade beds or untended corners of the past,
when he found me. He was cocky as he’d always been, coming up within a yard of me and calling my name out loud, flashing a smug, macho smile like maybe he expected me to salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I froze and stared at him for a while, not remembering who he was. It came back to me all jagged and contaminated, like fistfuls of dirt, suffocated by a slow-moving anger and a helplessness that for a while used to give a monstrous form to my inner darkness, and that I was only able to crawl away from by closing my eyes and waiting for it to be over and pretending it didn’t happen. Not out of shame; no, I have learned that shame is too simple, and too big a word. I did it just so I could recognize my body in the mirror again.
He was already far away by the time I had dug up all the bruised and bloodied details of the old nightmare that contained his face and his name. By then, the scarves had become crows and rattlesnakes had started spilling from inside the shoes that were on display two aisles down. And I felt violated all over again.