My friend Avery Tingle inspired me to post this after sharing a personal story of his own.
A memory like a carpet stain.
The thing about carpet stains is you can scrub and scrub the surface, and the stain may fade or go away. You use chemicals, scrub and scrub, sometimes using a cleaning brush, toothbrush, whatever it takes.
The stain may fade for awhile. Although the surface looks clean and innocent, the real problem is the carpet pad underneath. It hasn’t been cleaned or scrubbed. Sooner or later the stain will seep to the surface, and you have to deal with it all over again. The only solution is to tear up the carpet and clean the pad, or if the stain is too bad, replace it entirely.
The memory that keeps seeping starts with just one image. Blue, crystal rosary beads. They are in my hands, their comforting smoothness and coolness slipping through my fingers one by one, as prayers tumble through my mind. “Hail Mary, full of grace, please don’t let him hit me,” but of course, he does.
And he does something even worse. He rips the rosaries out of my hands and flings them across the room, screaming “These aren’t gonna help you now,” and of course, they don’t. I have no salvation.
My mouth tastes like copper, in anticipation of the taste of blood fulfilled. Terror is palpable. Kidneys feel tight and hot, bladder is full. Please God, don’t let me wet myself, as if God cares if I have piss-wet panties. As if God cares at all.
All coherent thought is gone, and will return slowly, like a small leak in a boat. Heartbeat like the flutter of a hummingbird’s wing. This all occurs in the split second before the first blow; the overload of sensation is like slamming into concrete. When it comes it’s almost a relief – the steam escaping from the tea kettle.
This is the stain under the carpet.