My left ankle clicks with every third step. If I were trying to hide it, I’d put on thick socks to muffle the rhythmic shallow pops from deep within my joint and the smack of my callus-covered feet on the antique hardwood floors.
But I’m not trying to hide anything tonight.
I hide from my family. I dampen my noise nearly to the point of silence. I keep the “me” that I am bound and gagged in a corner of my mind while the “me” that my family is gets her time on the outside. I pull my multitude of earrings out, leaving only a single stud in either ear. I paint my nails blush pink. I wear high-backed tops so they can’t see the tattoo on my left shoulder. I say nothing provocative and I don’t under any circumstance swear.
My feet reach the kitchen. I stand on my tiptoes to reach the top shelf where my secondhand teapot sits. The crinkle of the cellophane covering the fragrant teabag is loud under the bright fluorescent light of my tiny kitchenette.
My grandmother dumps sugar, honey, and cream in my tea. Tonight, I’m pouring in a good measure of Jim Beam. The first sip burns my tongue.
“Shit,” I say to no one in particular.