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Bright light of a phone screen repeatedly demanding my attention on a diner table—
"Look at me,"
"Listen to me,"
"Let reality sink in."
Shaky fingers hide the device away into the pocket of pants that feel as though they are tightening around my legs,
bouncing with anxious energy.
Rehearsing hypotheticals becomes quickly too tiring
for a pounding head to absorb
Ten years later,
face-to-face with the permanence of trauma
nothing can go on how it was before
to a childhood of threatening knocks on the door,
unfamiliar men in doorways,
"You have five minutes to pack up your things."
Two bags, one hug, countless tears over several years
I will never forget
that familiar flame in the brown eyes that resembled my own but spoke languages I did not know and could never possibly understand;
that flame used to consume him and he would burst into flames—
a fire that would burn down the house and leave all of us scared to say anything that might provoke his fiery eyes;
consuming our lives with fear
the same fear I felt ten years later
face-to-face with those same eyes—
He didn’t say anything I expected him to.
Once Princess, now King
nothing to say except
the indecipherable language of the brown eyes like my own,
a smile that looked nothing how I remembered,
"It’s so good to see you again."