Forward Thinking

May 26, 2023

Trigger warning: sexual assault


What do I need for justice? What hidden wounds must I find for peace to be restored?

I think it was falling off the hammock—

Slamming onto the edge of the porch patio at the lakehouse.

Screaming with nothing coming out.

Wind knocked out of my lungs.

I don’t doubt I hit my head or my face.

Everyone was either inside or on the dock.

Not a person in sight.

A covered patio:

In the A-grade placement of a

newly manicured shrub,

the screams of a




— but also the assault. I became quiet about it after I told my friends back home. It’s scary, and I feel

ashamed that it happened. I gaslighted myself—thinking, well, I legitimately asked for it, but I never

talked to him until that night. —

You were across the room.

And the way you looked at me

made me feel wanted.

And that’s all I ever wanted.

First thing you did was make fun of me.

My initial reaction was to return the favor.

You brought out my childish behavior—

I liked that about you.

I did what I thought was safe.

So no one drove,

“Sleep at my place.”

Fifteen, and introduced to drugs, sex, and alcohol,

and rock ‘n’ roll,

and what it meant to roll.

Rolling over to an empty bed, texts on read, a pounding head

the dread sets in.

Where have I been?

What have I done?

Memories like snapshots—

Where do I begin?

I fell for you.

Or did you fall into me?

In-between my legs.

You propped my body down the hall.

I could barely walk.

I knew what I was doing,

until I couldn’t remember everything:

Making out, lights low, and the night gets fuzzy.

“Just fuck me,” I said, according to you.

Who’s to say?

Looking back, what would you do?

Hovering over me

Eyes blank, hungry, and blazing

Hands grazing over a body that’s not yours

but no longer mine

With a shadow cast from behind

Then all feelings pushed from my mind

and the innocence lost at a toll.

At first, I thought I needed knowledge. I thought the solution was power. The notoriety left me empty

and dry. The knowing left me restless as the witching hour. Then, I thought I needed distance. I traveled

a thousand miles to regain my sanity. Recount my memories and build new ones with a sense of

anonymity. New faces,

new places,

and a new sense of stability.

Even in a new life lived insecurely.

An itching inquiry,

“Is what you get what you see?”

“Is doing anything I set my mind to, the key to being free?”

Just because I can, does NOT mean

I have to,

I need to,

I should.


Kailani Norwell has a big mouth, a big heart, a big brain (metaphorically speaking), a big fucking ego, and an even bigger take on everything and anything. She has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge–to learn all that she can–and for personal development. While she dreams larger than life and encourages others to follow what puts sparks in their eyes, she typically plays incredibly small. She has indebted herself for America’s most expensive therapist–a bachelor’s and master’s degree in clinical psychology. Writing is her passion. It’s what ignites her soul. It is her most sincere form of expression. She doesn’t think she’s to write the next great American novel, but she’s to write something.


Featured image by Ali Abdul Rahman on Unsplash