I’m old, just like this squeaky old bed frame I hold onto for support. I seem empty, like my purse open on the nightstand by the lamp, but I’m quite full – full of things… wonderful things, terrible things, marvelous things. I may be old, but I’m hardly dying, like the Mother’s Day flowers still crusting and scrunching and browning on my dresser. The antique gold mirror bent upwards shows my form drooping. I sigh. Posture doesn’t matter to me any longer. I had time for that back then. Time for beauty school and nice legs and pretty heels on my pretty feet. Those things are all put away in the dusty old attic now, put away like I’m afraid of them. Pish posh. Me? Afraid? Well, I’m certainly not tramping up those stairs to dust off the past. Was I like that then? Certainly not. I wasn’t afraid of my past, but I was obsessed with moving forward. Maybe that’s why my bed was the place I ran from. The orange walls that now keep me safe and comfort me – they used to hold me captive from living my life! What used to be important to me was getting into the bathroom first in the morning and meeting him outside on the porch. I glance over at his picture on my nightstand. Again, I sigh. Things change with age. Now I’m content to position my body at just the right angle so that I may fall deep into the serenity of my white lace comforter and the lavender pillows and the sheets with holes that I can still stick my toes through. I move my eyes to look around the room and stop at the door frame with rotted, rusty hinges. I remember nights against that door. Hell, I remember the door itself! Privacy is nothing to me now, though I wish it was. Safety first, she says. Safety first. I remember being strong but oh so naïve… coming home at eleven o clock and sprinting through the front door to my room just so I could relish in the moment before my mother came in and yelled at me for being 15 minutes late for curfew. I didn’t care; I just wanted the moment. I wanted it to be mine. I remember oh-so-brightly the feeling of the doorknob, cool against my sweaty palms, my eyes bright with excitement as I shut the door behind me and did what any self-indulgent starry-eyed girl would do… I fell, my back against the door, and sighed. It was like a flower wilting, but in a happy way. It was a happy death. I was dead to myself but alive in someone else wholly new. Entirely. And as I slid to the floor, every time, every damn time, I closed my eyes and replayed that kiss. Not just any kiss. THE kiss. Ooh babydoll, he knew just how to make my heart flutter. My smile fades. I wonder if she does that. I am silent. The only sound is the noise of the fan whirring above the bed. I’m alone and I just realized it. I sigh, content yet confused as to why. My bedside lamp is still on. My glasses are right there, next to the coaster and the radio. I just stare at the, and imagine them as something else. The funny part is I would probably believe myself, too, if I didn’t know for sure. It’s sick jokes like these that allow me to continue surviving. At least this bedroom knows. The orange walls and the white ceiling and the Berber carpet and the cool, sculpted mahogany all hold me like a dear, dear friend. I have battled for many years with that damn window, though. I can still see the hole where that rock flew. I wonder when they’re going to fix that. At least it’s autumn; I don’t need to twist the old knob on the a/c unit out back. I look around once more after straining to retrieve my glasses from the bedside table. I own a lot of what other people would call “stuff:” trinkets and baubles from odd little places that mean nothing to anyone except for me. And whether I decide to share the reasons why or keep them a secret is all up to me, and it’s a beautiful thing, it is, knowing that I can keep quiet and not just because I’m being told to. I am powerful. That excites me. I giggle. I haven’t laughed in a long time. That hole in the window doesn’t bother me anymore, I realize. Maybe because I forget, but maybe because I know that even if he gets in here, there’s nothing he can take from me. My purse is empty, my house is empty, my guns aren’t loaded. And there’s no way he’d ever know that I’m the most valuable item in the entire house. Like my stuff, I’m magic. An old, rickety, hollow bag of bones. Empty, but hiding the most delicious gold you’ll never get to taste.