By Micki Findlay

Robust, ruby gem 
dangling high on a serpentine limb 
Dancing with the autumn breeze 
Hollow groans lurch from my belly
Reaching up on tiptoes
I gingerly twist the scarlet orb from its branch 
A gnarled leaf clings; lifeless
Careful. Don’t drop it. Never EVER drop it!
I know, only too well, you can’t always see the bruises
but they’re there
Running home, I pause before creeping in the kitchen door
I must be quiet. I must ALWAYS be quiet!
Staring at my contraband
I begin paring off the smooth, red veneer
It lays there dormant in a frenzied heap
But for how long? 
Its façade stripped away, there’s no more pretending 
I can feel it seething 
The silence frightens me
I know what’s coming 
Trembling, I cut into the white flesh
It spits at me, stinging my eye
Mistakes are not allowed. Mistakes are NEVER EVER allowed!
My hands quiver as I cut faster, faster, faster 
before it spews its frothy disdain… again
Slice. Precision. Slice. CAREFUL! Slice. 
Something catches my eye. 
Terrified, I look down
A silent scream echoes in my head
I should have known 
I dared to believe 
to hope, to challenge
Tasting bloodied tears, I glance at the pasty-white slices 
laying there motionless
Today, I fought back
Did I win?
For now…

Micki Findlay is a contributing author for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jazz House Publications, and a freelance columnist for Oasis Magazine, where she features local artists making a difference. She is also a songwriter, memoirist, poet, and digital artist. She feels very blessed to live on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, amongst many talented and innovative creatives. You can find her website here.

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