Locks

by melissakiefer

He tells me I used to giggle just like that in high school when he tongue-tickles the underside of my top lip. When his cold-outside hands slip under my sweatshirt to find all the warm flesh. I know him when he laughs. When he freely sings the old songs in his head. I know him in all the ways you don’t understand. I know all the gentle good.    

My sister and I had locks on the doorknobs of our upstairs bedrooms and bathroom. When one of us got mad or annoyed, we’d lock the other sister out. But on the ledge of each doorframe was the key. We’d stack chairs upon chairs and stand on tip-toes to snatch it. Because the intrusion of privacy made us madder. Still, the key on the lock was an extra step. It bought several seconds—the key had to jiggle in the lock just so. Seconds allowed sisters to barricade the door, or later, when boys came, to fix and reposition clothes when parents climbed the stairs.

I married the one who got to take off my clothes. And he doesn’t allow me to lock the bathroom door.  In this house, there is no key to the bathroom lock. Or we don’t know where it is. Sometimes I’m so mad that I need space. Need to breathe. Need to get warm. Need to drown. Would rather drown than talk. And he would smash the door down. Just to look at me and make me communicate. Would you please just get out. Get out of my face. His face I used to hold to memorize.

 He knows me. He knows all my bad. Don’t you dare ever lock that bathroom door again. Ever. And I won’t. Because the truth is he knows everything you don’t understand. He knows that space can be dangerous for me. He knows I really do want him–just him–to come in.       
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