There are nights when my legs move, and I do not know where they will take me. They have their own minds. Out to the 300ZX parked in the grass, my legs find clutch and brake, send a message up my arm to place a key in the ignition. There is fire- spark and life, my right leg finds the gas.
Then? The street’s end. Then US 41. My legs take me north. Midnight, and I am in Venice. I part ways with the vehicle, parked along Venice avenue, and my legs take me west. It’s still on the beach. Not still like a church is still between Sundays, but still like the places far from cars and far from jobs and far from people. It is still like a place with crabs spooking at my approach. Still like a place that knows the wind because it is windy now.
My legs take me north. Along the beach, along surf I’m almost certain has been sectioned off and owned as if sand can be owned, as if sky can be yours, as if sea turtles know what boundaries are.
This is muscle memory, now. My legs take me west onto a jutting of rocks, and my muscles remember tight tight tight. My muscles remember him tall, towering, remember implications of ownership.
My muscles remember, but my mind will not. I do not want to see his face, filled with scorn for my academics. I do not want to hear his voice, filled with “How long does it take you to have coffee? You drink your coffee and come home. I don’t want you going out for so long!” …I’d been gone two hours for coffee. Two hours for there and back, hellos, goodbyes. Placating, placating, I offered sex. Whore.
It is not muscle memory, my fear. It’s in my bones. “I don’t like you hanging out with them–I don’t like the way they touch you,” looming. “Stop calling so many people. How often do you need to talk to people?” towering. “No, I won’t make you a house key. If you leave though, you have to lock the door behind you.” The yelling when I stayed to talk to a professor after class. The days he drove neighborhoods to find me on my bicycle pedaling homeward. He said this was all because he loved me. He never cocked his fist; he took his six-foot-four and leaned in over me, head stooping, full volume. He backed me into corners, drove me to the floor. Placating, placating. Whore.
My legs stop me where the water licks the stones. Here, here, jelly-like, they fold. Here, here, when I thought I was in love and didn’t know. Here, here, when I didn’t know him, and I offered comfort when she left him. Here. I met him here.
Spark and life. I take it all back. No comfort. No sympathy. I know why she left you, jerk. I know what you did to her. The same as you did to me, sir. If I had known, I’d have pushed you off the rocks, here, here. Drown in your own self-pity.
I stand, and my legs hold me. They carry me back to the car, move it back to my home. Some nights, my legs move, and I don’t know where they will take me. They have their own minds. Some nights, they are smarter than I am.