Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

A woman sits on a filthy blanket, her clothes in a neatly folded pile at her side. Her head rests atop her knees and she embraces them, pulling them into the oily smear at her breasts.

Her head lops to the side and her eyes track the human waste, the faeces and bloated tampons that course through the ribcage cavern of the dead dog that lays hollowed in the gutter at her toes. Its carcass now a channel that ushers our filth down from the sun-polished towers and the corrugated iron hovels and out into the gasoline fingered lap of the sea.

This place is a midden but here on the outskirts of the great city where it tapers to wheezing pipes and rusting decay, there is peace.

She aches as again she feels the throb in her eyes and she squeezes them shut and again she tries to erase, to delete the thing that he did. An act etched in her head. Carved as if he’d ripped off the front of her skull and held it in his hand like a chalice, the prize as he then gouged into it with the tip of his blade the endless tome of his hate. Sometimes she wishes she could too tear off her head, oh to pull it away from her body and cradle it instead in her arms.

“I am the Cephalophore”

There was a time when she thought she’d beaten him, as she wiped clean her mind until not even a hint of her own name remained. But he came back. Tingling at her toes and then searing up through her body, laying waste again and again to that which he took. Like a fire that torments the peat in the ground. Unseen, insidious viciousness ever ready to flare and consume.

The woman rocks gently and then smiles. His hand is on her shoulder and she thinks that this is the first time she has not flinched at his touch. This beautiful man. Himself so broken and scarred. She runs her fingertips across the war welts he wears and she kisses the tremor at his lips and licks away the feculent tears at his cheek.

Maybe tonight she will tell him. After the sex, as they wrap and whisper in the blanket he lay out, she will tell him. She will tell him that she loves him. She will tell him for the first time of her rape, and she’ll probably blame herself. For it is true, it did happen now so many long years ago.

She will tell him she can’t live without the way that he, without question, without so much as a word, stoops down and pulls her back up and hugs her back together. Holding her tight as again and again she falls.

And then, she will tell him…

She will tell him that she is a machine.