I was a bitter brown girl. I clenched my fists and jaw when I saw the favoritism in my family for masculine energies and men. It’s a tone. It’s a glint in the eye. Like, being born a boy is automatically a milagro within itself. A warped kind of worshiping. There was white Jesus with his blonde hair and six-pack and there was also Luis. He had the same eye color as white Jesus. He was never a father to me. He was male gaze incarnate. The way he used to look into me, as though I was a woman at the age of seven. I used to dream in blues, underwater and sinking fast into the bottom of the ocean until a light shimmered on top of my head and forced me to look to the surface. I was trapped inside the blue of his eyes. I scraped at his cornea until I could crawl out. When I fell onto the ground and looked to him, his skin and blood turned cerulean and then exploded onto the walls and onto me. Blue blood and guts eviscerated.
Luis was a musician. I think this is how he got my amá’s attention. I can’t remember if he sang or played guitar. Luis was the first man to look at me as an object. A receptacle. More than a girl, but less than a vessel. He used to pinch my amá’s ass to be playful. She giggled in return and when she wasn’t looking he’d pinch my ass. My thighs. My arms. My crotch. He’d pinch me and laugh. He talked to me like he never bruised my body or froze me in fear as the stars sat in the desert sky. He talked to me like I was his friend. Like I was his daughter.
I was a scared brown girl. I bolted out of any room he entered. I daydreamed about running away. Always to outer space, always to another galaxy, always as far as my little legs would allow me to run. I wanted to transform into nopales reaching toward the cosmos or a rosebush with thorns so big, no man would ever dare put his hands on me.
Luis was the first man I thought about tearing apart. Tearing his skin off and cackling like the bruja stirring in my bones, asking him if he understood what it was like to leave your own body. He invaded my body and asked me to stay quiet for years. Stay quiet. Stay still. This part of my childhood blurs together in my head. I wanted to shrink into a gray pebble and then tossed into the ocean. I wanted to live in another body and watch the body I saw in the mirror rot away.
I lived in numbness and confusion until I discovered horror stories. I read them with an intense hunger. I was in the library every single day. I wrote my own horror stories and tore them to pieces afterwards. I felt less alone as I wrote stories about monsters and ghosts. Writing handed me a portal to survival.
I am still in the process of writing this person out of me. I have dragged him along for 23 years now. I am becoming more and more exhausted of his shadow appearing in the corner of my eye. When I feel the bitter build up on my tongue, I write like a fire and spit it all out. I spill onto paper. Sometimes, in silence, a traumatic memory will slam into my rib cage and I have to tell myself it isn’t real anymore. I have to remind myself to breathe. I have to remind myself this body is mine and I have cherished it and forgiven it. This is what was taken from me: the understanding that this temple has always belonged to me. Not to the church. Not to society. Not to any man. This strength has always been a part of me. The history of this body cannot be changed but I think this is the year I will finally learn how to swim.