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All the cups aligned, he's wiped off the dust, neat to the bone, puts his utensils back into place. He knows every cracked surface, polished silver, old porcelain fissure. Don't tell me he doesn't check every night if his dishes are still there. He does.

Every little strand of hair, she picks up. The floor, after brushing her hair, littered with them, like straying children around her feet. She sorts her hairs together, peeling one after the other from the tiles, small, tender fingers. You wouldn't ever notice, because you are never there to watch her. She performs to a silent audience every single night.

Bed in place, closet closed, no space, edge, or corner filled with anything useless. A wonderfully clean suit, a fabulous silver stained tie resting from its hanger. One silver ring. One expensive wristwatch. One comb, thin. His loud snoring, the only sound mimicking life.

A hand upon a face, broken mirror. Seven years lost to a memory, loop-holed. Eyes tired as the day, weary, she stands still. Measures exact seconds to be sure. After 30, she can go up. After another 30, she can enter her room. Hand on the switch, on, off, on, off. Sitting on her chair, folding her dress seven times over. Hand on the switch again, on, off, on, off. Finally, as her mind unravels like an egg being peeled, she tires.

Bare feet on the carpet outside the living room. He's turning circles, afraid of the sound of the television, his child hands against child ears. Moving faster, but steady. The rhythm must not be broken. His left hand slips as somebody opens a bag of chips. He shrieks, the sound is too much to take.

Always mistaken, a faded photograph in her head, she bangs it against the wall. Again, and again. Her hair flutters madly, hits her skin boldly. She punishes herself in a manner that is so different, but so alike the one she fears, dreads, hates. Cannot escape tonight, can she, nor any of the nights in her life to come. Her head against the wall until the nurses arrive, or the lone guard. They'll hold her down, she knows this. She hates all touch done to her, but it's her punishment, always, she thinks, it's her fault. A faded photograph by memory, his hands on her body.

Overcome me, overcome me, they scream at me in streets, open spaces, crowds, one on one, taking my hand, shaking it, laughing at me, with me, for me, smiling, open eyes, closed faces, stories told, trivial glances. Sometimes they avoid me, so overwhelmed by the way their presence is enhanced through me. So overwhelmed by their pain. Sometimes they are angry, snapping animals, scared. They'd rather hate me for giving them an honest answer, the bridge to leap, than hating their pain. It's easier that way. I understand.

I see them. Why don't you?

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