I am walking circles around our dining room table.
I am folding napkins and placing them,
beside each setting.
I am all jittery elbows and forced witty banter.
I feel his fingers slide down my shoulder –
some strapless thing I must tug back into place.
I am letting my thoughts skip
dancing along the frayed edge of our tablecloth
like a kitten, distracted, disregarding.
I am going to tell you tonight
that the man who filled this seat at our table,
that let your baby boy sign his name blind
to a contract for five years,
one head injury,
a lifetime of PTSD…
I am going to sit in the seat next to where he sat.
I am going to keep my eyes so low
I can count the grains of salt on the table.
I am going to tell you
I was locked in his bathroom.
That the sound of the metal scraping
as he picked the lock
is etched somewhere in the thin skin at my temple.
I am going to tell you that I can still hear his laugh
when my boyfriend called, trying to find me.
He laughed and I felt it shake through me.
I am going to tell you that the bathroom linoleum
had blue paisley flowers and they were pressed frozen against my cheek.
I am at our dining room table
“You’re going to ruin this for your brother.”
and dinner is getting cold.
“Why are you causing him trouble?”
And I am fragile as the neck of a weeping mandolin –
“You need to tell the truth and stop this.”
but you heard my song and cut my strings.
© Laura A. Lord, 2020
Thank you to MindLoveMisery for the prompt.