"Where the Rest Went" by Corinne Leong
Where the Rest Went
I couldn’t let him touch me today. I sat on the arm of his couch as he rattled off to me about David Hume and prairie voles. The mug of hot chocolate he had made me was cold the last time I’d tried it, and now it sat demurely on the coffee table as two houseflies made love on its brim.
I wasn’t thinking about him. I wasn’t really thinking about you, either. I was counting the number of times you’d made me french toast for breakfast. The number of afternoons you’d taken me on bike rides, washed my laundry, stroked my hair. I counted in handfuls the number of sand crabs on all the beaches we’d ever walked on.
I was thinking that Mama had her own beaches. And Mama had someone the way I had you, someone who felt every kiss of dark water against her ankles like an ache of his own. I imagined the two of them on some unchanging shore, patrolling the horizon, turning sea glass over in their fingers, listening to radio static. In the evening, after they had shaken the sand out of their shoes, he would lead the dinner table in prayer and raise his eyebrows at each mention of a teenage boy.
I think about the ring on Mama’s finger, and how there’s a spot on the floor, right where the tile meets the laminate, where I would have loved to see a blemish when I woke up the next morning, and all of the mornings after that. I think of the long list of things I wish she had said to you. I taste it in the back of my throat.
I think of all the Hillary Clintons and Jackie Kennedys and Camille Cosbys and Aunt Judys and Mrs. Marshalls from down the street, the long line of women with clasped hands and tight smiles from which I’ve been delivered, and I want to wring every last ounce of forgiveness from my body until the rest of me follows.
I have to go, I tell him, and this is true, even though there is nowhere I should be. I leave him with the TV on. I shut his door behind me. And, as I walk down the driveway, I stare at my hands and wonder if I’ll ever be able to count the days I would have to live in reverse to see the rest of the numbers roll back: those you've touched, those you've loved, those you've wounded.
Corinne Leong is a writer based in Los Angeles. Her work focuses on themes of youth, femininity, and mental health. She currently studies creative writing at the Windward School.
Headshot: Sofia Pirri
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