I am used, she thinks. Hands calloused, burnt—I am used, she thinks again, and coughs, grins, and clenches her teeth. I am clenching my teeth, she thinks. The plate cracks. She is washing dishes. She throws it against the wall, the rest of it. Tighter, she mutters. You can’t put your fucking feet here, she screams suddenly, shrieks, say—she is washing dishes. There ain’t nobody here, she decides, mutters, confused, smoking. Old, thin, pale, malnourished, yellow. I look yellow. The sun is yellow. I don’t look like that. You ugly goat, he says, smiles, laughs, comes in loud, yes, belligerent, classic and unimaginative. He slaps her on the ass. Hard, iron, and weak. Drinking and drinking. She is worthless, he will say later, drunk, exhausted, removed.
He would not consider potential, possibility. Recognize principle or action or quality of worth—coming of worth. Ambitious, quite ambitious. No, the opposite, she proposes, stretching, stretching, in class. A proposal. Angst, meager. I only want to know the odds, the chance, you know, the number. Four, I have four children. Squatting, stretching. There are characters missing, she mentions, but not on purpose, yes, accidental, for a later correction, edit. So intentional? She blushes, coy, cute. Empathize with her, the instructor supposes, intentional? Again, she blushes, perhaps intentional, he decides. How many years? The whole time. Questions vary in difficulty, some much more frequent and common others rare and seldom chosen, presented. Physical violence, sure, yes, of course. Coarse. Yes, of course. Quick. Emotional violence? Do you really know, sure, I suppose, I don’t know, I suppose. Weakening, no longer blushing, undressed. Panting, erect, solid, singular—and solidarity, of course, the union. Forward, subservient. Verbal abuse? Yes, yes, of course, I mean from what it seems. Aroused. Re-crossing and un-crossing, tempted, sneaking, the small built of skin against the sock, perhaps, not only the sock. She fiddles, with herself, occasionally. No, not often, no not often. He is working. Quick, at ease, aggressive, though. Aggressive.
She is preoccupied, suddenly preoccupied. It is black night. The moon is disappeared. She is preoccupied, the moon is disappeared. He slaps her again. She is washing dishes, only washing dishes. Exercises in human mood, arrival and departure, back and forth, up and down, hard, simple, engage, sweat, sweet, exercises in containment, repress. Press close, firm, it is black night. It is black at night. She is washing dishes. I am used, she thinks again. Thinks back, back into teaching, there was a full sentence, all of it, a thought, a person. Tall and thin and proper and well mannered and manicured and warm. Warm and not wet. Thin and proper? The concern?
Of course. The average adjustment period to a predatory lifestyle, an antisocial lifestyle, is not measured by time but by degree of exposure and age of participant. He is six. Six times six equals thirty-six. A formula, an average, it is not a guarantee. Smile, confident, repress. He is suitable, ignorant. Like apples and cinnamon and holiday. A formula, a statistic. Three out of five, even four out of five. Not real participants or real people. No, just a guess. A reasoned guess. Sure. Very little danger. Of course. Red.
You have a 36x chance of being violent and in jail in two years. It is probably even higher now. Consider the other conditions. Loss of electricity, heat, gas. Yes, higher. Mathematics, statistics. A murderer. The likelihood of snow on Friday. The likelihood of snow on a holiday. The farmer’s almanac. It is three out of five or two out of five. It snows on Friday. Yes, of course, it snows on Friday. The likelihood it will snow on Saturday. Three out of five, one out of five. Four out of five. There are only five people here. She is crying. Washing dishes. The plate breaks. Warm, wet, cold, dry.