Pleasant Girls (creative nonfiction)

Anger wakes me up at night. I have stuffed it. I have eaten it. I have forced myself to sleep through it. My dreams bring it out of me no matter how hard I fight against it.

I scream at my sister. I scream and shake my fists at my brother-in-law. I break up with my best friend. I cry out of frustration. I pound my fists on my ex. Sometimes I pound my fists on my god.

I wake up and my heart is beating fast. I sweat. I breathe hard. Sometimes I cry. I am a cliche. The sadness stays with me throughout the day.

I am angry and I am sad that I’m angry.

I’m a nice girl. I’m well-behaved and, despite the odd mood, I’m laid back and easy to get along with. Nice, pleasant girls don’t feel rage.

I’ve heard men say they don’t get angry. They say they get annoyed or irritated, but not angry. They, I think, have nothing to get angry about. Not all men—the abusers who have smiled at us pleasant girls and said they don’t get angry. Even while they beat us well behaved girls, they say, they don’t ever get angry. Not really.

-N. Ashley

An Empty House

Windows with closed mouths
Wallpaper scrubbed clean
An antique porcelain tub
Where no one drowned
An unfinished basement
Where no one clawed and cried
No horrors under the floorboards
No broken furniture to remember
No shadows in the closets
No starvation in the dining room
Unused door locks
Original doors
Gently closed

-M.

Silent as Dogwood Snow

Dogwood snow in blue
Efficiency light, midnight
Red earth, grass, shadows
Receive the floral frost

I lie in blue efficiency
Light, midnight
In green satin pajamas on
Green, Spring grass

Shade trees hide the
Moonlight. Starlight too
Does not touch Earth
Here. Only my bare feet

My bare fingers, my
White light hair tangled
In green, Spring grass
And falling dogwood snow.

My bare feet bleed
This night, like so many nights
Having fled and found jagged
Gray rocks hidden in the grass

I have fallen here
My flight this night will be
Unsuccessful. He will find me
Anyway though I am green

In the green grass
White in the blue light
Red blood on red earth
Silent as dogwood snow.

-M.