It’s been about five, six years. I’m still picking his shrapnel out of my bones, I’m still learning how to walk again without a limp; I’m still training myself to forgive and to understand and not to flinch.

I can romanticise it, of course I can, weave it into my story, make it floral and meaningful and pretty. That’s how I made sense of it back then, because back then everything else was futile.

However I make it, it was what it was. It exists in fragments still; amulets of fear and sharpness and words I can’t quite make sense of, not even now. The jagged mirrors still sit in my guts forever reflecting the grief the hurt the terror, but also, inexplicably, the strength I found.

We all tried, fighting the currents, internal battles cracking leaking all over each other. I was twelve, thirteen, fourteen though.

I had not quite learned how to stitch some things back together, when no one else could. I had not quite understood how to carry others’ hurt without cracking bones and tearing joints. I ran and I hid and I fought back with a courage, but in the end, I was only fighting tidal waves. 

There is no easy villain here, but there are too many easy victims. I go back in my mind and I sit where it all unfolded and I do the only thing I ever did well back then, I write.

If I could go back and untangle those threads I would. Maybe I could craft some serenity and peace and a love that wasn’t marred and weathered, that wasn’t left to erode in my hands, a sandpaper love against sandpaper skin. If I could go back and save all of us I would. 

But it was what it was, and now I am who I am, and we are who we are. I pick out the pieces and am still learning to leave them be and let them go, to not continue jumping at shadows and being washed back into the murky past.

Sometimes by the water I still hear the echoes though, still see that scared kid staring back from the depths; in his eyes is a silent plea for help but I can’t help him, not yet. He’ll find me in time but the time is not yet. I play with the memories like stones heavy with all that was back then. I let them sink to the ocean floor, to be weathered slowly into dust.

I’m still picking out the shrapnel but they aren’t who I am; rebuilt myself around them, refused to be sharp, refused to sink. I heal and I’m healing and I am more than I am; until the past is only a story, in my hands now, no longer a helpless product of circumstance. This time, I tell the story. This time, my recovery is mine.