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by Roshan Zoe Moazed

Naomi doesn’t like us because we have scars on our arm or some shit like that.

They’re messy lines like we spilled purple grape juice on our skin, and that’s

very stimulating for Naomi, so she has to sit in the destimulation room for

hours. The destim room has greyish walls and three chairs in it. There’s

nothing stimulating there. Naomi pronounces her name like “Gnome-y” and I

can’t understand why there’s an “a” there, out of place and confused and

adding extra sounds except not. I fall asleep thinking about this “a,” feeling

sorrow for something soundless but there, invisible in a ward of noise that

drowns me. Her hair is thick like broom bristles and forms a brown triangle

around her dimply face, creviced like the moon that is mine and so I like it,

almost. The way soft fat dips to create pockets of moon dust, rising to form a

ridge. I like it almost except Naomi doesn’t like us because we have scars on

our arm like we’re bleeding rubies from wedding rings wrapped around the

finger of a mother. She visits twice. Our arms are very stimulating for Naomi

and so the staff clear their throats like they’re choking and ask us to wear long

sleeves, please, its’ the policy. Except it wasn’t the policy until Naomi joined us

on the unit. They don’t say that part, though. Jade talks back, if Naomi is

allowed to be disturbed by a scar multiplied to many why can’t we be disturbed

when Naomi stalks the ward in sunglasses and a gas mask like she’s Bane from

Batman, wheezing through the metal grate of a muzzle, her voice muffled and

lost like an “a” in the psych ward. But of course we are reminded Naomi is

sensitive to light and smell, and when she goes into the laundry room she needs

her gas mask otherwise she will die from the fragrance of lavender laundry

detergent. Jade nods her head. Of course. Sometimes when I’m hot I forget to

cover up my body part, and watch Naomi’s eyeballs roll backwards into her

skull. I want to ask her if she would to have to destim room unlocked but

instead I stuff my arm behind my back like it’s a secret and keep walking,

trying to blink gas masks and tear drops out of my brain and thinking of

invisible letters begging to be heard. Gnome-y doesn’t like us except I almost

like her because her face is round like moonlight that runs through my veins,

keeping me curious and breathing still. But we have scars on our arm or some

shit like that, and the floor is filled with silent a’s sobbing, and our arms bleed

scarlet gemstones, and we’re psychotic in the psych ward, or aren’t we. The day

I pack my suitcase and leave the unit to return home or something like it I see

Naomi in destim, rocking back and forth on the second chair with her gas mask

in her lap, a’s seeping from her scalp and into the air like ghosts. It makes me

want to cry. But I don’t because I can’t, and so I grab an a from the air and

shove it into my pocket and whisper inside my head that I’ll speak it one day, I

promise. And I do.

About the Author

Roshan Zoe Moazed graduated from Brown University in 2017, and now lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she works at a coffee shop she loves with all of her heart. When she isn't making coffee for the patrons of North Cambridge, you can find her sitting on the floor typing furiously on her laptop, working on her MFA applications, making homemade soap, and
collecting things the color of sunset orange. She is excited to go to grad school in Fall 2020 and plans to write feverishly until then.

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