by Jessica Granger

I spend my days waiting for her, waiting to feel her hands search my base for the switch that would illuminate her face. We’ve been together for several years now, since the paint on the walls was changed from pink back to white. She enters the room and sits in front of me again. I can hear a sound and she reaches out to pick it up, she puts it to her ear and there’s silence.

She throws her head back and makes the face she does when she’s happy, the days when I seem to shine a little bit brighter against her fair skin. Her teeth are exposed, lips split wide as she starts to spread colors on her face with a brush. She leans in closely to the shiny surface that sits behind me, touching the puffy circles under her bloodshot eyes, the only indication that she doesn’t sleep well. We spend most of our mornings and nights this way, sitting within arm’s reach of each other.

She sets the device down, dims me, and we face each other. All of that false bravado leaves her in a rush. Her face suddenly blanches as she turns to stare behind her. Lips crinkled and unformed, she clicks me down again. She turns toward the open space of the house beyond the door and pauses, waiting for something to move. I can’t see the rise of her chest, as if even that has stopped.

She does this every once in a while, reacts this way to a sound just outside of our space, and it always ends the same way. She would turn me down even lower, until I was almost out and there was impending darkness. She would try to hide in my shadow, a penumbra of comfort, as if she held completely still he would just go away, but he never did.

He’d come in and knock me over, jostle me from my spot next to her in his mad dash to grab her so hard the table I sit on would shake from the force. I’d fall over, but she would always pick me up when he left, fix the little pieces of glass that would break off during the earthquakes of his movements.

He’d loom over her, rip at her skin, and fall on top of her like a coffin. He’d gyrate in deep grooves that seemed to suck her in and rescind her livelihood, when she’d melt into the mattress and turn her head away from him. My light is never strong enough to see much of anything, but I never miss the shine of tears like a beacon on her beautiful face or the dark stains on the sheets once he gets up, breathlessly laughing as he wipes himself with a pudgy hand.

I am always there afterward to highlight the scrapes and bruises along her collarbone and down to her ankles. We are always together when she turns around and checks the rainbow colors as they fade from her hips, and I watch her as she always, finally, finds the courage to shut me off at night, even if I can still hear her crying in the darkness.

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