Sweat dripped from my brow as I gasped for the jungle air. “You’re strong. You’re so strong,” he said as we heaved ourselves over the mountain. We were meant to go around it, a twenty minute stroll, but a wrong turn led to an eight hour trek through cascades and mire. My soggy socks rubbed my skin into blisters.
Maybe then, at the beginning, he was right. But he picked away at my pieces and made little puncture wounds – perforations so pore-like that I barely noticed they were there. I should have noticed that day I waded into the shallows of Caribbean blue. I should have noticed when he beckoned me out to the depths, laid me on my back and told me to float. To trust him. Something should have clicked when I was sucked into the green-blue salt and rose to the surface sputtering with bloodshot eyes.
Two months have passed, and it is only now, as I listen to the homely post-thunderstorm cacophony of baby magpies, that I realise my truth. I have been made into a reefed ship, tattered and full of holes. I look out towards the river that runs behind my home. On the left bank, I see a wraith of myself. Her skin hangs in tattered ribbons, haunting me with what it is to be in our body; a forbidden dichotomy, vulnerable and brazen. I want to swim across the water and tell her where to go. But I can’t. I know that I would sink.