I want to set my skin on fire
but I’m supposed to be at his apartment
in an hour when i come across the dress.
a long sleeve, four inches above the knee length floral patterned dress.
it was hidden away in the back of my small dorm room closet
it is hidden with the rest of my skeletons-
they all look like you.

i decide i will wear,
or not wear many things for him
but not this shame.

i set it on fire.
out by the baseball field parking lot next to my Volvo.
i can barely use the cheap lighter i find under my seat,
i’ve never used a lighter before.
it is not mine and i do not care.
i watch each layer of fabric catch the flame,
and moths, as cliché as it is, come to it
as does the campus security.

a campus security officer comes over to me,
he is older-probably in his late 50’s.
his eyes remind me of my rapist.
he asks me what the hell is going on here? and what the hell do i think I’m doing?

i tell him that this is my therapy,
that this is my path to forgiveness.
i’m lying, i don’t say any of that because i am terrified
instead, i tell him with my eyes and my mouth full of salt,
that this is the dress i wore when he took my voice and safety.
i just want it to be smothered out, like he did me.

he stares for a moment,
it is silent except for drunken students yelling in the distance.
he tells me he wants me to make sure the fire is gone when the dress is,
i look him in the eyes, squaring my shoulders i tell him i will.
he tells me he is sorry.
i nod and watch the fabric be kissed by fire yet again.

Annie is a college student and retail store minion from a small town in Rhode Island that no one has ever heard of. She likes Fleetwood Mac, iced coffee and hanging out with her puppy named Ruby.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.