Arrive on the other side of the banks, peeling off pearly scales while you breathe in long enough to capture your head again. Spit the dust from your tongue and pick the last of lovers’ blues and bones from your teeth. Wish for the confectionary wonders and the toothache anticipation of a hand making a home in your hair and days softened into yellow horizons that reach unparalleled beauty in hindsight, when you are later biting your lip and drowning in your bed. And never count the notches in their belts or their secret, underground altars that normalize the idea of a trophy women easily scared by autonomy. Or mistake playing house for potions promising a future as blinding as Crest-cleaned smiles. Or
cherish the names of strangers living in your phone, holding their goodbyes for moments of maximum vulnerability.

Your eyes keep record enough and your body count is not a diagnosis of female hysteria. But no matter how clean your hands, he will see blood spots.

Find the cruelty in aspirational beauty and rearrange your morals each time another feminist hitman breaks your heart via text message. Maybe you can’t shed your body, or let it dissolve into liquid gold, but it is a body that knows how to run, thrive on survival mode. Do not count the collapse of the defensive wall as defeat, do not smile because he wants to drink up something pretty.


Vanessa Willoughby is an editor and freelance writer. Her work has appeared on The Hairpin, Mask Magazine, Luna Luna, The Toast, and Literally, Darling. She tweets @book_nerd212.


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