You ask me for a four letter word, I say, “Debt.”
You ask me for a four letter word, I say, “Guts”
You spin my tongue like a combination lock that you don’t have the code for – slowly, carefully, listening for anything that might give the answer away. You were never good with numbers. Neither was I. Maybe this is why you don’t ask me for help – only stick your fingers inside my mouth and turn.
I wonder what you think you’ll find.
Birds, if the poems are anything to go by.
Or maybe gold coins. Or orchids blooming so strong they’ll make you sick.
“Home,” I say.
I hold my jaw open until it aches. The sound spills out, but your fingers are too slow to keep track of it all. I try not to scrape your knuckles with my teeth – I have swallowed enough blood over the years just trying to keep quiet. I want to help.
I say, “Miss” then “Mist.”
I think maybe you’ll appreciate the joke, but you only shake your head.
I say, “Done” and bite down hard.
I swallow blood.
I’ve had your fingers in my mouth for so long that I’ve learned to breathe around them, and I’m sorry. I know what you want to hear. I cannot say it. There are things inside of me that you don’t want to find.