I shook my head.
“It’s because he’s short, isn’t it?” she insisted.
“No,” I shook my head again. “I just don’t like him.”
“Because he’s short,” Linda said.
“Because I don’t like him,” I responded before turning to the mirror to freshen my lipstick.
“Why don’t you just admit it. He’s short and you don’t like him,” Linda said.
“He kissed my neck!” I shrieked, my voice becoming shriller as the sentence ended.
“So?” Linda asked. “It’s New Year’s Eve. People kiss.”
My hands flew up, splayed out, twitching to ward off the images that rushed towards my interior vision.
Margaret giggled, “You look like a baby given solid food for the first time. Your face is all puckered!”
I glared at her, “He kissed my neck! I hate having my neck touched.”
“What about Cade?” Linda asked. “You lived with him. He must have kissed your neck.”
I flinched. Margaret giggled again. “I’d push him away,” I said.
“You wouldn’t let your boyfriend kiss your neck?”
“No.” My breathing was ragged, wheezy. My shoulders hunched closer to my ears protecting my neck from lips and tongues and fingers. “I hate it!”
“The iron-faced woman,” Sinead said.
“Whaa–?” I asked. I closed my eyes, tried to ease the furrows in my forehead.
“She choked you,” Sinead said.
“How…?” I asked
“You didn’t like your dress so your mother had her change it. It had a sailor collar and when she pulled the tie…”
My splayed hands twitched, unsuccessfully warding heavy, muscular hands that clutched and pulled the bright red cotton tie. I shook my head to clear it away. A tear flew from one eye. My lips curled.
“I forgot I’d told you,” I sniffed.
Margaret handed me a tissue.
“How old were you?” Linda asked.
“More than twenty years ago? You can’t still be bothered by that.”
“Some things don’t get better,” Sinead told her.
Assignment: What losses or absences do you or do we continue to sense from things that are no longer present? In words or images, compose a piece that explores the “phantom limbs” of a trauma or traumas.