You hear that? You remember that? “You lie, you liar.” Put your ear against the wall. There. Hear the other room. Do you remember?
She’s in the closet, that’s what she always does. Remember what it’s like to sound like that?
Like a girl in the closet of a locked room. Like Jimmy in 7th grade when he tie my hands up with a gym rope and beat my face to touch me, or like Galvés in 5th grade when he spit on me and call me an ugly bitch, or his younger brother Roco who tell me my big ass is my only good thing. Sound like my mirror when she say my teeth are ugly and my eyes are mean and my tits are old and tired ‘cause nobody holding them at night and my pussy abandoned. And Max in 3rd grade who tell me
yo got a pussy so mean, even your fingers be scared of it! that’s why they shaking right now!
And the ones who laugh. I don’t forget the laughter. My fingers wasn’t shaking cause of my pussy. They was shaking cause of him.
Sounds like that, remember?
A healer told me. Told me a man gonna come along one day, sent by the goddess to worship me, caress my wound like a cloud, love and pamper me like a king, to restore the broken me. Healer said the man would have a sound to him I’d recognize, ‘cause I knew him in my previous life. He would see my wings where no one sees, because we were birds then. When I met him, I didn’t know it was him. I let him into my home, but not to the Mirror.
She won’t stop. You tell her, you can sleep alone you little crybaby. Tell her, nightmares are just lies from the night, little girl. She can sleep alone. But she don’t stop trying.
She can’t stop crying.
She can’t stop trying to make you join her in the dark room.
She can’t sleep. She can’t stop trying to say Mama I’m scared.
Because of the people at the office, who say you give like the mother they never had, and then when the birthday party’s over and everyone from work is gone and it’s just you, her, and the man who sees your wings, then you don’t remember what happened, you call her a liar, the child, the only one who came from your womb: you tell her, you keep lying and eventually you’re going to get in big, big trouble with me, ‘cause I am tough and I will hit you, and don’t you know when I was your age I used to beat kids with a smile on my face just because I wanted to? Do you want to know what the palm of my hand tastes like when I DON’T want to hit you? That’s the worst thing you can make me do. The worst thing. You understand what you’re making me do?
I will hit you if you keep lying, even if the man you like, the goddess man, is here cuddling with me in front of the TV, the man you want me to marry, the man who smile at you so nice, the man you want to call daddy, remember I call him daddy first, I call him daddy when he love me good, remember he tickle you but he fuck me, remember, you don’t ask him to be my boyfriend, he ask me that, you hear?
He got to ask me for that. He don’t get to kiss me, I have to suck his cock first, then he got to beg for my pussy, then he’ll be on his knees to worship me, and then I will grant him my lips, and his grip will own my mouth and my throat will own his soul, and then I call him daddy when he grip me every night. He going to worship me!
And somebody needs to stop getting in the way.
Cause I call him daddy when he love me, and he call me Queen!
And the girl, she already have a daddy, and that man don’t deserve you, but she deserve him.
No, that’s not what I said.
Oh yes, you did…
But I don’t remember saying that.
But she just need some learning. I just need–
But don’t you remember?
She’s in the closet, and the door’s got nowhere to go, and you’re the one who locked it. Where are you?
I remember. I got my ear pressed to the wall. The girl, on the other side. I remember now. Why I’m here. The man, he was a soft cloud, a passing cloud. He’s gone. If she hadn’t asked him to be my boyfriend, he wouldn’t have left me.
If she wouldn’t have said, “I want you to be my mama’s lover,” he would have stayed.
Because then you wouldn’t have slapped her in front of him.
He wouldn’t have seen.
You wouldn’t have called her a liar in front of him.
She wouldn’t have lied.
He should never have seen her.
She should never have seen him.
She should never see anything.
Nothing. I will show her nothing.
Then go. Unlock the room.
Rolando Lopez has written dark fiction since a Catholic schoolteacher washed his mouth with soap for talking dirty in Kindergarten. He portrays images of abuse, violence, and absurdity. Technologies of Fear: The last story features Robocop. He is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Currently, he is the 1st Place Voices of Color Fellow at Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing.