M. Elizabeth Hershey
I was twenty-three when I got my superpower. It was the one I had always wanted, but as soon as I had it, I felt like the man at the start of that X-Men movie, sobbing and clipping his own wings. This was the power I had wanted but not a power that was useful to me.
I was twenty-three the night I was walking home from the subway and a stranger punched me in the face. After that, the power I always wanted in a way I never wanted. Teleportation. All it took was footsteps behind me on the street, the right shade of khaki, a clenched fist, a duffel bag, any of these things sent me through space and time, right back to that night when I was walking home from the subway, and a stranger hit me.
I was twenty-three when I said I was lucky the man had meaty fists, and PTSD was something soldiers had.
I was twenty-five when I gained a new time and place where I could teleport. An apartment near a train station, two stories tall, but I was always on the upper floor. The bed is soft, but I am wishing I could teleport anywhere else.
I was twenty-five, that is to say, when I was raped by someone who I had thought was a friend. Someone who, in retrospect, had been waiting for me to slip up. His propositions, whether he was drunk or sober, only came when I was drunk.
I was twenty-five when I was finally too drunk to do anything but follow when he led me to his bed. Soft. Messy. A single boy’s bed. It was three days after this that I recounted the story of the bad hookup to a friend and she labeled it what it was. Rape. Now all it takes is a thick, pale hand, a stray word, the smell of vaped marijuana, a single pushed boundary, and I am right back in that bed and wondering if perhaps I stop moving he will stop.
I was twenty-five when I said I was lucky he had only used his fingers, and PTSD was something from the movies.
I was twenty-eight the most recent time I was contacted by the man who transported me, drunk and unwilling, to his bed. I am not sure how old I will be when I will feel secure that it
was the last time.
I was twenty-eight when PTSD became something I could own, a shield against self-blame, a bandage on my clipped wings.
I was twenty-nine when I returned to the train station near the apartment where I was raped, and that was all it was to me even though dozens of friends lived walking distance from the same tracks. I got into my best friend’s car, and they told me I was safe. Then, I was safe.
I will be thirty soon. Perhaps I can learn to teleport to their car instead. To safety.
Ria Hill is a writer and future librarian with a BFA in film from New York University. Though their heart will always be on the east coast, they currently reside outside of Boulder, Colorado, where they are pursuing a master's of library and information science and working on too many writing projects for their own good.
M. Elizabeth Hershey is a Philadelphia-based freelance photographer who specializes in events and weddings. She continues to pursue artistic endeavors from inks, painting, and paper designs to different photographic projects.