By Megan Collins.
My first husband wanted to pee on me. I kid you not. He wanted me to dress down to my skin and lay in that cold vessel of a tub with the drain stabbing me in the head so that he could piss all over me. Can you imagine? I did. I could die. My tombstone a metal faucet with an inscription in scum, ‘Here lies girl who once was. Wild. May daffodils grow in her stead’. I tell you this so that you know what the face of death looks like when she’s staring at you from across a cafe; the grocery store. What the separation of body and a spirit look like walking around in human skin. It is a body covered in piss owned by a man you despise, with the life spirited away.
For the record, I told him I would not. That even the thought of it made me feel dirty and disgusted. So he told me I was a stuck up cunt and that the reason for his late night voyeurism of underage Asian girls and naked, male, jock on jocks with throbbing veiny dicks was because I was stifling his sexual exploration.
I hated him and I hated myself. This skin I was in he claimed felt old and used up; a disposable paper toilet seat cover soaked in urine and shame. Marbled circles of bruised flesh on my wrist, inner thigh, my throat. Livor mortis setting into a heart creating whirling patterns of green on my chest. I would lay in bed, girl on my side, like a frozen mountain range. A position, I’d hoped might fortify my soul up and away from the seeping sickness that spread across our bedclothes, in legions, from his spoiled heart. I could feel the toxins that carry death pooling; cooling along the base of me and pushed myself far away. Pretending sleep, with my eyes wide shut, while blooms of gray like mold spread behind my retinas, staring blankly at a light that is seemingly always dancing on the edges of darkness.
I could smell his rotting while I lay there. The stench of Him rising from the heat of his open laptop while artificial light illuminated his appearance. Jagged expressions danced like shimmering pools of magnificent power juxtaposed with a sickly wasting away of flesh. He could slip from his skin so easy; I envied him. Inhuman. Often the light would shift in such a way that he looked just like a pig with horns. Not much time would pass before his snort breathing would become labored and his pointy little member grew sad and hard.
I am a Mountain. Cold, motionless, ancient.
You can die from a cut inflicted by paper, a rusty nail, a butcher’s knife. You can die from a touch too hard on the neck by a hand that wears your wedding ring. You can die. So easy, he would poke his pocket knife penis, jabbing it against my buttocks. Neglected stump. How many moon cycles had passed while I lay? Perhaps so long organs liquefied and mushrooms bloomed beneath me. Damned flesh. His body. Rooting for a way in. I’m sure for many this is when a light as bright as the aurora borealis would turn on, but for me, the inside of me- no one was home to flick it. My nightmares were made only more real when brought to light.
I’d think of the infamous Dead Zone on Mount Everest where it is common knowledge that one exposed to the insufferable cold and lack of oxygen could so quickly be consumed by it. I never did take the time to equip myself with the appropriate breathing apparatuses with him and my breath felt, frozen and heavy, lodged in my throat. It was better to imagine being near death than alive to what I felt was out of my control. My body was not mine.
Many of those who’ve died making the ascent to the frigid summit are out of reach to rescuers, so for the loved ones they have no body to mourn- only the memory. Bodies preserved so perfectly in bright colored mountaineering outfits, boots still attached to feet that have long since walked the earth. The absence of life behind sunglasses still perched on a mummified nose; a gaping smile. Physical manifestations of prayers, like so much Tibetan cloth; discarded among the shells of human coffins. Morbid mile markers to those who still make the climb.
My frozen body felt shattered, even while on all fours with his hot breath on my back- I felt irreparably broken. Ripping the seam of me with each unwelcomed thrust from behind. I wondered if fossilized parts would not simply snap off, demolishing The Me into millions of tiny shards as it hit the wooden floor.
And I would lay there, a glacier turning to water, thinking, ‘Is it rape if you said yes to calling him, Husband?’
During this time I would take long showers, a lengthy torrent of heat where scalding drops pelted my bowed head and body with needle like precision. I was a fuzzy edged shadow among the humidity and heat; one hand raised in supplication; a plea in this cathedral of clouds; while the other hung, paused, mid shave. A razor blade and steam so thick it burned my throat. A plastic curtain hung, as if an afterthought. What is my name? Tag. Toes in boiling water Ghost girl in a tomb of peach colored tile, I could watch finger, hand, arm disappear into the dewy clouds in front of me.
I felt almost giddy focusing on such a specific a pain. I didn’t want to die, I only wanted to burn away the soft parts of me. Soft clam in a hot pot laying in a stew of the sweet piney scent of my own body. Existing only for a moment, barely alive, and burning.
I’d dream the dreams of caterpillars inside swollen chrysalis of different colors; busy digesting themselves by allowing poisonous enzymes to consume their fatty caterpillar flesh. And in the morning I’d wake with a stone in my belly; shocked and dismayed to still be alive. One hand inevitably clamped perfectly around my womanhood. A reminder that all essential parts of me were still whole and accounted for. There is still time to reach the summit.
Megan Collins is a real life Wild Thing living in the suburban jungles of Portland, Oregon. She loves art, deep rich earth, free flowing forms of water, suckling her babes, her husband, two mini schnauzers, not wearing pants and all things corporeal. She writes to explore and understand the wilderness inside herself, to turn over and examine the soft parts she had buried on foreign shores, and to let go of those things that do not feed her soul. She is a full time student of the nature that drives us all into the ground and a part time Math teacher.
*This essay was born in The Writing And The Body Workshop- created by Lidia Yuknavitch and Jen Pastiloff. To register for one visit Lidia’s site. You can also email Zinn@corporealwriting.com for info on the next one.