Broken Like She Is
Suzanne Marie Hopcroft

She doesn't feel well. Hasn't since the world flipped upside down and exploded into fire and then shut the lid on itself so that there was only dark, the kind of dark you wake up from shivering because the room smells like murder and you can't feel your legs and they won't tell you where they've taken him, your boyfriend with the Adam's apple protruding like a camel's hump and the thin, faint scar running from brow to hairline, the little blond tufts not yet receding deathward -- had they seen him? She'd asked them one by one as they appeared into view and then faded away.
Fuck this culture of fear, he used to fume spurting, as though he would boil over. It's like Charles Manson tried to tell us: lock your windows, pray ‘til Sunday, keep the television on high -- buy the face cream or die alone. Always another cliff, another fence.
She'd try to gently interject. It's Marilyn, honey.  Not Charles. And yes, there were things to fear. Ways they might be cut down. She'd tried to tell him. Tried to explain, to remind him that they needed to be careful.
These days she doesn't drive, wakes up every morning in the Eastern city where she transplanted herself because just the thought of a California freeway would make her stomach churn and her skin break out in hives. She has a way of sensing now when speeding cars are close, a kind of telepathic curse that makes the thud of the wheels over cracks in the pavement and the whirr of the overheating engines as loud to her as they were above the roar of the flames and the sound of plastic and metal melting. She hears them and shudders and leaves a trail of red chips behind, polish fragments that are broken like she is, and they stretch out after her like a kite's tale or a bed of crunching flower petals or a trail of drops of blood.