It’s his back I remember. I remember him walking away, and I remember staring at it until his shoulder blades and his spine began to blur. I was seeing him clearly for the first time.
He had a thing for backs. He loved touching, and massaging, and admiring, and stabbing. I have a messed up back. It’s where my tension and stress meet, forming ropes of twisted muscles that I can neither forget nor ignore, no matter how hard I try. One day, he was massaging my back. He found a knot, and he worked on loosening it. He kneeded and kneeded and wove his hands around the tense ball of muscle and lactic acid that had melded together next to my spine. I cried with the pressure, convulsing with pain beneath his strong and heavy hands. It was loosening, painfully, and he was getting to the source. It was a stubborn, tight knot- a wound up rope of acid and stretched, misshapen ligaments that would not give out.
He worked on it, and I cried. He was helping me, so I was grateful. He was hurting me, and I was grateful. He kissed it to mask my hurt, and I believed his lips. I believed his hands, and his touch, and his entire body. He was being good to me. He knew me. He understood how to fix me. The pain was a necessary bi-product.
He couldn’t fix the whole knot. But he didn’t realize it was because he was the knot. He manipulated my muscles, my so-called source of strength, and replaced it with his own. He could ease it, he could deepen it, he could move me to tears and reduce me to a puddle of weakness beneath his hands with only the slightest application of pressure. And no matter how hard I tried, I could neither forget nor ignore it.
I see it still, his back– strong, wide shoulder blades, easing back and forth as he walked away. Each muscle contracted and moved independently of each other, and I knew there was nothing holding them together. He walked until he was so far away that I couldn’t see him clearly. But I could see his shape. I felt the knot tighten behind my spine.
You know Ludwig Meidner ?