Cassandra D’Angelina

Give yourself to fate and forever struggle against restraint.

The last time Cassandra had been high, she’d dreamed of her mother. She remembered it well. She’d been in her living room one early morning, shortly after arriving home from work with a fix. She’d sat in her bean bag, held a lighter beneath a spoon, found a vein in her foot, and watched the liquid flow from the needle. She’d set the needle on the table, leaned back, and closed her eyes. Everything felt better.

Time moved beyond her mind, and her body melted into a slippery flow of pleasure and pain beyond the senses. She heard a full-bodied mezzo soprano not unlike her own prior to a few years of cigarettes. Her mother’s voice sang “Blackbird” in a jazzy, swinging style quite different from Paul McCartney’s. Cassandra smiled.

Cassandra moved toward the voice with the body of her five-year-old self. She walked the hallway of her childhood home. A light gleamed around a cracked door, and she knew what the light would reveal. She tried to stop the tiny body, the body of her innocence. That day she’d been sent home from school with a stomach ache. Her teacher had spoken to her father at work, and he’d assumed her mother hadn’t answered because she’d gone to the store or the neighbors or had been in the yard. Cassandra had lived around the corner from school, and the teacher let her walk home. Adult Cassandra knew what her mother had been doing. She tried to stop herself from following the song, but she couldn’t control her past. Her youth took direction from a mind that didn’t yet know consequence.

That day, when she’d been a child, it hadn’t been a song she’d followed. She’d heard noises, painting, grunting, and screams, sounds she’d never heard before. She’d never heard them syncopated to the rhythm of lust. She’d thought someone might’ve been hurt. She’d wanted to help.

Hadn’t she? Hadn’t her curiosity been as innocent as her inexperience? She couldn’t remember.

Cassandra couldn’t stop herself. She followed the sounds. The sounds dictated her movements. She’d lost control. The door had been ajar. She’d peered through the opening at first, unsure of what she saw. She’d leaned into the door for a better view. Her eyes met her mother’s. Her mother screamed a normal scream, a sound Cassandra recognized. The man twisted from on top of her mother. He saw Cassandra in the doorway, and everyone’s screams lost any resonance with pleasure. 

Cassandra didn’t know the man. Like so many men she’d known, she couldn’t remember his face. Cassandra leaned forward and vomited.

Cassandra opened her eyes. The memory and the taste of vomit jolted her from bliss.

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