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The Cycle
dead roses

The Cycle

by Callie S. Blackstone

It all started with the curse of my tits. Women’s bodies are cursed. Everyone tries to look at them, everyone tries to ignore them. Everyone tries to erase and destroy them. I was what polite people called flat-chested; I was what school bullies called BOYTITSBOYTITSBOYTITS. When he fumbled with my tits, pulled them out of the cups of the bra I didn’t really need, he told me he loved them, that he loved my body. Love is the worst curse of them all. It all started with his love and that curse of a cock. God, the power of whiskey: my mother warned me to stay away from the stuff, and look where I am now. The appendage that man called a cock was shriveled and dry, he barely had that thing working, and when he did, it went in and out and in and out and got worse and worse. I could tell he forgot I was there, who I was, becoming totally focused on cumming, and not in a fun way, but a frustrated need to prove things way. Then he squirted inside of me and that was that. He didn’t even bother rolling over, he literally fell asleep with that thing inside me. When he was done it shrank up so much I couldn’t even feel it, my pussy felt empty, my body a cavern. I remember thinking, Where is it? Is it inside me anymore?

I learned soon enough to hold my tongue and put down the whiskey, to avoid men in dark places. Thirteen days later my period didn’t come. I was initially happy; I had forgotten to smuggle a tampon in my bag and my underwear remained pristine. Oh, to be happy: to not know anything: to keep one’s mouth shut, to go home before curfew. Oh, the ignorance of youth. Yet here I am, old and full and stuffed in a pair of blinding white panties.

* * *

I curse you. Thing that lives in my womb, I curse you. I evict you. Pennyroyal teas. Hangers. I have punched my gut 28 times today alone. I curse you. And yet you carry on, you unwanted tenant, you parasite. And so, I curse you. When you climb out of my womb covered in juices from my cunt, let them be a poison to you. Let your first breaths ring quiet: let there be no crying in these halls.

When you climb out of my womb and still manage to breathe, everything inside of me completely breaks. The cavern falls in on itself. My lungs may continue to work, but it is at this moment I know that my life is over.

* * *

Cursed was the first word that lined my mouth. I knew I was cursed from the beginning, from before I could speak, from when I was a mere speck stewing in your juices. Cursed. My hair, a curse–neither straight nor curly–endless tangles, as a child it was slaughtered into a variety of bowl cuts and mullets against my will. Cursed. All of my clothes, inexplicably stained. No matter what I do, stained. No invitations to birthday parties or late night rendezvouses. My movie of choice is always sold out. I keep getting flat tires, one after the other. And no, the mechanic who comes to save me does not think I’m cute. My cat pukes over and over and over, and no matter what, my bare heel finds the warm mess. I was fired at work today. Rent is due. Actually, it’s past due.

The hairdresser couldn’t help me. Nor the housecleaning aisle at the grocery store. Everyone swiped left. Someone stole my info on the darkweb. Someone stole my life from me, long before it started. Someone stole from me, and I want restitution. The women in my family passed down a bridal trunk to each other, the older ones filled it as they grew: linens, fine china, things they would use to keep their men comfortable. No one bothered filling the trunk for me. When I reached 18 and unlocked it, there was a set of combs and bath products that the lone attendant of a childhood birthday party had given me. When the contents of the trunk were revealed, my mother laughed and suggested that I should take it as a sign. As if I needed one. I uncapped the Walmart bottle and it still held a suffocating sweetness, even after all of those years. Dying flowers. I took off my sweater, the ugly corduroys, and climbed into the tub. I poured the body wash all over me, rubbed it into my dry skin. Choke on it, I prayed. Choke on the flowers. Let my life end here, lined with something cheap and beautiful. Let my life end.

I went down to the graveyard and stared at the stones. I went down to the graveyard with envy. Not only of the state of death: but of the decomposition, the wasting away, breaking down until there was absolutely nothing left. I was jealous of the stones, cold and polished and reflective in the bright sun. I was jealous of people remembering someone after they died, of people being afraid of forgetting how their face looked. I was jealous of the tacky whirligigs people stuck in the ground, the plastic flowers, the balloons deflating in the wind. I was jealous of the tears that fell into the earth. I laid down in the dirt and buried my face in it. Clumps of dirt, dry and claylike, filled my mouth and I began to choke. I savored the dirt on my tongue, all that grittiness. I let my body slow down, I let it memorize the place and the sensations. Someone tripped over my ankle and I had to roll over.

Who can help me? Who can help a sad little cursed girl like me, pickled in bad luck and self pity? The last time I went down to the graveyard I wandered into the nearest church. The priest initially laughed at me, told me we are all blessed with God’s love. I tried to make him understand, I filled the room with all of the things that are wrong with me, all the things that have blackened my core. He turned away to greet someone else who had walked into the church. I wandered down the sidewalk and entered the offices of a PSYCHIC, as advertised in flashing neon. I opened the door, met by a heavy veil of curtains and the heavy smell of roses and jasmine, incense curled toward the ceiling. Candles flickered. It was a small room. There was a small table, two chairs; a crystal ball and a deck of cards on the table. I surveyed the space, no one was there. I was alone. Eventually, a rustling from the back increased and she appeared, a scarf wound around her head, dark curls framing her face. OUT! She shouted OUT! OUT! OUT! She would not stop shouting, so I stumbled out of her lair, crying. As I walked home the moon emerged, but it was a small sliver. Even that had turned its back on me.

Callie S. Blackstone writes both poetry and prose. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Plainsongs, Lily Poetry Review, Prime Number Magazine, West Trestle Magazine, and others. Callie is a lifelong New Englander. She is lucky enough to wake up to the smell of saltwater and the call of seagulls everyday. You can find her online home here.