By Karen Ho, Yale-NUS ’17 – See bio
You can’t expect her to know when to stop. They hand them to her and she downs a shot for every guy who’s reached into her only to leave with a part of her soul. She gives herself away like the worst kind, but she’ll never stop; she can’t, there’s no point, so much of her has been ripped away already. Your soul can’t regenerate; once a piece of it is lost it’s lost forever, clinging to the feet of yet another, someone who you thought would give you warmth that lasted longer than the moment.
She thinks of the six-in-the-mornings; she rolls over, her head nestled against his back, and he’s stirred awake and he sees her again, just a stranger asking for more than he paid for in her drink. Walks out the front door – she sees a little part of herself stuck on the underside of his shoe; he drags her soul out to the sidewalk.
Him is a thousand hims, a collective; they used to have names and faces and the kind of memories that made your spine chill, shiver with heart-trembling intimacy. But they were too painful to keep, and she realised that the more she remembered each chance at love, the bigger a piece of her soul they tore away. You can’t grow it back. It doesn’t heal; the rip remains red and raw.
Force herself to be numb to the pain. That’s the only way to go on. She’s lost too much; there’s no point turning back, no point wishing she could be made whole again. Here’s another shot for the one who explored the whispers of the bushes with her when she was fifteen. Who smoothed over every rise and filled every crevice. Who moved with her every breath.
Here’s a shot for the one who waited for her to knock herself out so that he could have her, and she knew it was what he wanted, and she gave it to him, because he might have been the one not to let go after that, but he left. Another shred of her soul.
Here’s the one for the one boy who was good. He tried to hold her hand and tell her that she had more beauty in her than she thought. She thought he was one of the rest, who wanted her before they would look at her seriously, so she gave him what they wanted. He was a good guy. He had run away in the night; she heard his sobs when he woke up and realised what had been done. Here’s for the one who was good. He took the biggest piece of her when he left, even though he didn’t want it.
Too many shots for too many guys and she knows she’s on the floor now, the solid marble that comforts her in this place. Some of them are bending over to take an amused look. Go on. Look. Look; she wants you to come and join her. Show her you won’t walk away.
She wants you to touch. She wants it. Look at her eyes. Touch her, give her the electricity that tells her there’s hope. Stop refusing, she’s scared, like they don’t want even the least of her anymore. You’re making her worried. You’re making her cry.