This article is taken from Stand 237, 21(1) April - June 2023.

Daniela Esposito The First Time
I remember the first time. You were wearing black, like you were mourning something. Your hair was long and dark. It tickled your eyes as you moved but you didn’t push it out the way. I lay there like a fish who doesn’t know it’s dead yet. I wanted to close my eyes and be done with it but whenever I did, I found myself in my childhood bedroom. I was worried that if I kept them closed long enough, I might never come out again.

She’s three years old now. Would you recognise her if you saw her in the street? She’s growing bolder every day. I keep her close to me. Lying awake at night, I can feel her drifting, as if she might just spread her wings and fly away.

The lights are on so I know you’re in tonight but I think I’ll wait out here just a bit longer. I’ve pictured this moment many times. I just want you to see her, just the once, what we made, together, you and I. She’s a work of art, did you know that? My little cherub with her buckwheat curls and your cerulean eyes. Oh—I see you’re not alone. A client of yours or—?

I remember the first time. A black gun was lying on the side. ‘You needn’t look so scared!’ You smirked. ‘It’s not a real gun.’ You pretended to shoot me between the eyes. I thought about climbing off the bed and running away, of saying, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have to do this.’ We could even shake ...
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