The film projector in my head never stops spinning.

It is outdated and it skips through fragmented memories.

It begs for accompanying music so I find the saddest, slowest songs I can

because my memories need a chaperone.

No one else can see the screen or hear the film rolling;

they can only see my expression when I realize there is no conclusion to this film,

no resolution.

It ends at the climax and then starts over again.

I’ve seen this part of the film before, but each time feels brand new.

I’m watching from the third person, just as I did before.

There’s a stranger on the screen who looks an awful lot like me.

I want to tell her what to do, scream at the screen like the plot of a predictable horror film.

Don’t go in there.

Can’t you see it’s dangerous?

Poor, naive thing never saw it coming, even when it happened again and again.

The roll of film stops momentarily and I’m left stewing in the memory

of what never should have been.

It’s ten years later and I’m safe in my bed, but I can feel the hardness of the dirt underneath me

and I can feel the warmth of the sun rising as I lay still the very first of many

sleepless nights that followed.

I can feel the weight of my body, heavy from the dense layer of shame I put on every morning when I wake up from the savior that kept me going — sleep.

I can carve through the invisible tension from staring at the back of his head in class,

wondering if he knows what he did or if he even cares.

He didn’t. He doesn’t.

He has no idea he is responsible for separating me into two different people: before and after.

He has no idea he created a new person who will always wonder who the old person was supposed to be.

He has no idea he composed a never ending plot of a movie I never wanted to see.

The settings are old photographs.

Sets I’ve seen many times before and know like the back of my hand.

They bring anxiety that I carry in my pocket like a small pet.

I nurture it and check every so often to see that it’s still there.

Just making sure.

Suddenly, Reality jolts me awake.

I’m the only one in the theater and the usher has asked me to leave as if it’s that easy.

To him, the movie is over.

To me, it is not. I’m just waiting for the intermission until it is queued up again.

But I am burdening everyone else by staying.

Just get up and walk out, he says,

but I am glued to the chair and I haven’t finished my popcorn.

The credits didn’t even roll and I want to know who that other actor was.

I want to know his story because he did such a good job of playing the role of ‘monster.’

Before I leave, I want to hear him explain how he did it so well.

I want him to tell me what he did.

Was he just acting?

I’m tired of this film and it’s not a house I like to call home,

but I don’t know how to stop watching without setting the whole theater up in flames.