Listen to Dylan Farrow
by Stephanie Goehring
You’re in college. It’s been a really good night of getting stoned with a group of your best friends you’ve known for years. You’ve shared meals, road trips, heartbreaks, concerts, victories. Tonight you’ve shared your evening: good conversation, music, jokes, television. It’s getting close to sunrise, and you sink into one of the couches in the living room where several other friends have already fallen asleep. Another friend heads to his bedroom. Your body is so heavy the couch must be part of it. You know you will be asleep without even thinking of the word sheep. You hear a door open and close, which would normally startle you from half-sleep, but you are so heavy and you remember one of your friends was still out back smoking a cigarette, so you aren’t scared locked inside your exhausted body.
The throw pillow behind your head is hardly a pillow, threadbare and flabby, but you are so tired it feels luxurious. There is noise coming from the television but you thankfully can’t make out the words. There is a hand on your breast. You feel a hand on your breast and it isn’t your hand. It isn’t your hand and it’s on your breast and you are so heavy. The door opened and closed and crawled across the room as a body and it’s here now touching yours with one of its hands. Its fingers are cold even over your clothes as it strokes you. You have eyes; why can’t you open them? You have a voice; where is it? You have a hand on your breast that isn’t your hand and it squeezes you and then is gone.
Except it’s never gone, not really. You finally fall completely asleep that night and dream your whole body is made of hands and none of them are yours. You should have two hands but you have hundreds and they do what they want and you can’t even show your disgust because your mouth is a hand and your voice is a hand and your face is so many hands reaching.
You wake in the afternoon, stretch your arms over your head as your whole body yawns, and go out back for a cigarette. You don’t need any hands to light it because your friend does it for you, the thumb of one of his hands on the spark wheel and the other hand cupped nearby, trying to block the wind. You say, “Thanks,” and he smiles.
You want to tell him you know what he did, but you’re scared he will deny it. You want to tell him you know what he did, but you’re afraid he’ll say it was no big deal. You want to tell him you know what he did, but you’re scared he’ll say something gross about how you must have liked it if you were awake and knew what he was doing but did nothing to stop him. You want to ask him why he thinks your body is his. You want to tell him that even though it lasted less than a minute, it was assault, and you can’t believe he committed it. You want to tell him how it makes you feel, but a decade has passed and he’s probably forgotten.
So you do what you can: You pretend that you don’t want to say all these things you want to say, and you tell yourself that something doesn’t matter if you can’t say it out loud. But you know that’s a lie.
A thing doesn’t matter when you do say it out loud and no one listens.
Stephanie Goehring is co-author, with Jeff Griffin, of the chapbook I Miss You Very Much (Slim Princess Holdings, 2011/13) and author of the chapbook This Room Has a Ghost (dancing girl press, 2010). She is also a visual artist. Find her online here.