trigger up: Hallelujah


trigger warning for BDSM.

(sung)”the minor fall and the major lift/ the baffled king composing hallelujah / hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!”
(speaking) back in college, i liked her best when she was my boi friend. face not stubbly but smooth, she bound her chest and called herself Nick, swept her short blonde hair up beneath a baseball cap and stealthed her hourglass figure with a navy blue hoody. one night after i’d sung us thru the dark winding drive like a torch

(sung) “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!”

(speaking) she handcuffed me to her coffee table and beat me, her family upstairs sleeping or reading or whatever they were doing, so i kept silent while she left violent pinch marks, a ringing in my ears as my mouth gawped at the inexpressible. i thought i might choke on my own half-swallowed wails. they were not terrible, those screams. they came from a well of gladness. my heart beat electric blue in my chest and the edges of my vision went black, though i did not faint. after, she brought down a collar from her wall and fastened it, tho after that night i needed no accessory to find myself enchained. she, still becoming familiar with the rituals of BDSM culture, did not take it seriously as i think i did, though she vowed to protect me. when the time came, she was nowhere to be found and the only scorched earth was that under the rain of my father’s open-handed blows. but that came later. it was not long after that evening with her that i was cornered in a dressing room at a mall in plano with my mother. she saw the black and blue eyed marks and her own eyes widened in terror. “don’t worry, it’s consensual. don’t ‘let’s talk about this,'” i begged. she quieted herself and went back to attempting to convert me to floral prints and feminine pastels, forced on me an outfit meant to quell my bizarreness with its normalcy. it felt like putting on a doll’s costume, the colors, shape, and conveyance all wrong. i think of this now when i see Nikki, sculpted and femmed, subtle lipstick and silky henna locks, little black dress cut to reveal her sturdy, curvaceous limbs and intricate scars. it was Nikki, not Nick, who shared a bench with my mother at graduation. in these later years i am amused that when asked, my mother’s opinion of the lady in question was too small town for you. But Nikki was the first and among the only to cast me off in favor of other turns, first as a farflung traveller, now as a military wife and mother, tho still as kinky and non-monogamous as ever. she pops up again, at a party i’m throwing or a performance, and always manages some mutedly grand gesture to let me know how much she still thinks of me. the summer before last she memorized and sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and emailed me the video for my birthday. my housemates watched with me as tears welled up and my heart clenched in my chest. i thought to myself, the first girl i ever really fell in love with, tho it was the boi, Nick, that I love(d) best and most of all. we failed one another in various ways as teenagers so often do. it was not just her untimely departure that unraveled our romance. i find her now too altered by time to wrap myself up in our inevitable contradictions again, though a year or two ago i fell in love with the bruising force of someone for whom she might have been the prototype: freckles, relentless sparkle, masculine femininity, and all.


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