Trauma has left us between times and worlds. In a response to our May prompt, “Other Me’s Request” experiments with time as we follow “Me” and “Other me” through an experience of childhood sexual violence. The two versions of our protagonist represent the common experience of feeling separate from oneself in trauma, as though a child version and adult version are coexisting. Disparate images flow into one another, and grounding details help us understand where and when we are as the piece moves forward. The present and past are simultaneous, and they skillfully converge to one final moment of clarity and growth.
Other Me’s Request
“Please, no,” I beg from the linen closet shelf behind a wall of pillows.
Footsteps come from the outside stone walkway.
“It’s ok,” My voice says from outside the shack. “We can do this together.”
I slip out from the closet, darting away from the guest bedroom.
I peek out the door at the dune grass, the waves and my eyes staring back at me.
“Please, no, not again.” I shrink behind the door, heart racing.
“We must. I need you to,” other me says from outside the door.
I stand outside a bathroom, crayons in hand. “What are you doing?”
Jeff clicks on mommy’s dog groomer. “Just getting a hair cut. Want to help me?”
I hover at the door. “What can I do?”
He buzzes the front and top. “Can you hold the mirror so I can get the back?”
I grab the mirror and stand on the toilet.
“No, you are avoiding it,” other me says.
I startle dropping the mirror, it shatters. “Please, I can’t go in there. Don’t make me go in there.”
“For us, can you?” other me asks.
Jeff’s sitting on the guest bed. “You like drawing. I can show you some of mine.”
I reach up to set my crayons on his desk.
Jeff closes the door then grabs a folder. “This one is charcoal. It’s of the plum tree in your yard. Here.”
I take the picture, as he guides me to sit on the bed. “Wow, how you make it like the tree?”
He smiles at me, brushing my curly hair. “Lots of practice.”
“No, let me leave,” I plead at other me.
“We have to,” other me says, standing by the desk.
Jeff pulls out another page. “I did this rose in ink.”
I’m afraid to touch the paper. “How’s it stand off the page?”
Jeff’s hand slid down my back.
I scoot away.
He follows. “I can show you. Sit on my lap by the desk, and I can guide your hand.”
“No, I want to be free.” I throw the pen at other me. “Why won’t you let me be free?”
“You were going to hurt us. I got us help.” Other me holds out our hand.
“It’s not fair.” I move us to the old pier holding a rock.
“It wouldn’t have worked. We want to live.” Other me steps up, reaching for the rock.
“Because of you, it’s all because of you.” I slam the rock into the water.
I stand on the edge of the unfinished third-floor balcony. “Should I? Steve would have to do the cleanup. No, police do that.”
“Hey, new guy, you putting up the rails?”
I bite my lip unfreezing. “Yeah, I’m getting right on it.”
“It would be done. Why didn’t we?” I say, turning to run.
“Because we want to live,” other me says, following a pace behind.
“It’s not working, leave me alone.” I turn, trying to push other me away, but he’s gone.
Jeff pokes my side tickling me. “Want to play a game?”
I pull my hand out from his dropping the pen and shifting on his bony thigh. “Ok, can we go downstairs?”
Jeff taps his chin, holding my back to his chest. “It’s a secret mission. You need to make sure we are safe and secure.”
I push at his arm. “Let me up. What do I do?”
Jeff set me down, standing on the floor. “Make sure nobody’s home but secret like a spy.”
I ran out of the room.
“Let’s go to the linen closet. He doesn’t check there.” I say to the other me climbing the stairs.
“Are you there?” My arm points back to the guest room.
Other me says through our mouth. “Please, we need to.”
I bound through the door. “Detective Scotty reporting.”
Jeff musses my hair. “You’re a spy.”
I swing my arms from side to side. “What’s the difference?”
Jeff gets down on a knee. “Spies don’t make a sound. They move through a building and find secrets.”
I tilt my head. “What secrets?”
Jeff shrugs. “I’m not a spy, so I don’t know.”
He picks me up, swinging me around the air. “But they fly and do secret missions.”
“No, I don’t want to again.” Tears fill my eyes. “Please, I can’t.
Other me pushes me out from us. “I’ll do it again.”
“What no, can’t we just stop it?” I stumble to the door.
“It already happened. You’ve left every time,” other me says.
Jeff lands him on the bed, tickling other me.
Heat burns behind my eyes as numbing water fills my veins.
I burst from the shack onto the beach
I climb the white dunes.
I float into the air.
I climb escalator after escalator till I’m sitting in a recliner.
“I don’t know how to let myself feel.” I grip the paddles buzzing from hand to hand.
As Jeff slides a hand up other me’s shirt.
“Too much comes up. I get overwhelmed.” My numbness forms a knot in my throat.
Jeff licks other me’s ear. He struggles under the crushing body weight.
“I wish I could feel the emotions and, at the same time, hate the mere idea of it.” I swallow the knot.
Jeff has other me’s pants off.
“I remember, but I can’t feel the memory. I go numb to fast.” I chew my cheek, staring out at nothing.
I shutter, hearing other me scream and cry. No one else hears.
My counselor leans back. “And what would you say to that little boy part of you if you could?”
My lip trembles. “I want to be there to help. I don’t want him to be alone. But he is. He’s always alone with it because I can’t let myself feel it.”
Other me hides in the linen closet after Jeff falls asleep.
My counselor leans forward. “What would you tell that little boy?”
“I’m sorry you were alone.” A single tear tickles my cheek.
Scott is a rape survivor. He is going through EMDR and trauma therapy. He lives in New Hampshire with his husband, dog, and chickens. He has an MBA and a BA in psychology.