Trapped

She is not nice. She isn’t mean, exactly. At least, she’s not trying to be. But she is not nice. Her eyebrows are pencil perfect, one furrowed in gathered bristles, the other stretched high and reaching. Together they are the perfect image of judgement — crisp, composed and final.

Her pointy shoulders are tense. She breathes sharply, loudly. I can hear it across the room. She is waiting on me to fulfill my promises, to make good on my word, and as usual, I am letting her down. I’m behind. I’m always behind. She knows this and she doesn’t care. She won’t go away.

I try to shake her off. I grab my green sheet and pull it around me, twisting until I’m safe. I drown myself in Netflix. In Hulu. I might even buy a movie if I get desperate. And when I do, she eases off a bit. Her glare dims to a faint yellow glow, and that I can ignore. For 20 minutes. 40 minutes. But 60 minutes is pushing it. She taps me on the shoulder. Tap. Tap. Tap. Until I look up at those crisp eyebrows and scurry back to work.

She watches me all day. She curls in bed with me at night. Sometimes she’s far away, and I forget she’s there. But other times, she’ll come in close, lean in, and whisper a hot quiet, filling my ear with failures and missed deadlines and disappointed people. Her words hit me like rocks. They catch me in the chest. I bow over, curl up, but she won’t let me go. She grabs my face and holds my chin steady. We lock eyes until I remember what she’s made of — immigrant dreams and chocolate skin and a deep loathing for good enough. She doesn’t blink, but I can see her eyes water. She is desperate. She makes me promise I’ll do better. I’m too weak to respond. I nod, and she lets me go. And together, we climb into bed.

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