she told me it took a long time

She told me it took a long time. She told me it took a long time before she stopped seeing him everywhere he wasn’t. She told me it took a long time to unlearn the cringing, to unfurl during the phone ringing. She told me it took almost as long as they were together to be comfortably apart, not to expect the other shoe to drop, his other shoe, when his feet weren’t even near.

She told me it took a long time, not that she expected it to be short. Once you are terrorized in a certain way, she said, your body exists only within boundaries of panic. For long, hollow years later, she would be flooded with adrenaline from a glimpse of the color of his hair. Fight or flight, but of course she did neither.

She told me it took a long time to allow herself a leisurely shower, an indecision over clothing, a detour on the way to the market, a reshuffling of plans. Sometimes, after years of only being grabbed and pulled by the wrist, she would just sit, sit somewhere quiet, and hold her own hand.

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