Astor Snow

I can’t cry. Things happen around me that could suffocate an entire world. Sometimes I’m moving forward, moving my lips and blinking my eyes and reacting like a normal person would, and inside me there’s nothing but uncried tears. It fills me until I feel them spilling from my mouth and nose and ears, all vicious emotion, but there’s nothing there. I can’t cry, and sometimes I wonder if I’m hollow. My husband speaks to me and his words seem to blur before they hit my ears. His cocky smile should do something to me. It should make me wither or gasp or even just blush a little. But it all feels like requests for responses I’m not equipped to display. It all feels like heavy requests and I just stare, unable to deliver. Inside me is an ocean of violent screams, of an agony I can’t release. Sometimes I just want someone to finally see me, to finally understand me, and rip me to shreds. Tear me into literal pieces. Release me from being filled, being drowned, being weighted. I just want to be ripped to shreds. I can’t cry. But I can scream.

he put her cigarettes out on my arms a lot. I’d see the cherries moving slowly in the dark, her bright, big eyes watching me, and she’d connect with my skin. It sizzled, as expected, and I never reacted, as expected. The skin underneath would warp and curl into itself until the cherry finally died out, leaving ash and char. I never stopped her. Just watched the thing mold my arm for her viewing pleasure. In a few hours, the skin would be fine. The char would be gone. I would be back to whatever it was that defined normal for me. For two accomplished, bougie black professionals, Noah’s parents almost never engaged with us. Here I was, their adopted child. Here Noah was, their almost textbook promiscuous, edgy daughter. And we sat and smoked and burned in the bedroom without a worry. I didn’t feel it then, just like I wouldn’t feel it now. But it always annoyed me. “You don’t even scar. Ugh. I bet you’ll look the same way you do now when you’re fifty. Or a thousand.” She was the only one who knew and she delighted in that. When I ate at the table those big things, those giant