by Lizzy Logan
The definition of seven is
six plus one,
fourteen divided by two,
eighteen less than twenty five.
For the little girl I used to babysit,
the definition of seven
was her lucky number,
the amount of tokens she had left to use at Chuckie Cheese’s,
the number of finger nails that still had bright green polish on them.
For the old woman who always fed pigeons in Battery Park,
seven was the number of children she had.
The seven hooks she tied her life around.
These seven babies are now grown and gone and have their own lives,
leaving her alone with him for the past seven years.
Leaving her to suffer in silence.
Leaving him to do what he pleased.
For the woman who always used to sit across from me on the subway,
seven was the last digit of his phone number.
The seventh date: the first time he hit her;
the seventh month, however, was the last.
For her, seven was the number of pills she took to escape it all.
And all it took was those seven pills
and seven days
for her to end up seven feet under.
Now the 7 train always feels starkly less full.
For the girl who lived four doors down from me,
the seventh of last month was the day she celebrated
the seventh year her father had not wished her a happy birthday.
It was the seventeenth time she tried to stop caring about him,
the seventy-seventh time she pretended it didn’t affect her,
the seven-hundredth time she had been surprised to not see
the once familiar reminders of his so called affection
trailing down her arms,
and that was just today.
oh for her,
the definition of seven
reminds her of scars and bumps and bruises
that lined her skin
like a story that was rewritten each day.
Seven was the age she learned that
wounds can be healed
and words can be erased, but
nothing ever really disappears.
The definition of seven is six plus one
and age six was the last time she felt clean.
It was the last time she felt like she was whole
because it was the last time that she cannot remember
the you’ll never accomplish anythings
and the you’re pathetics
or the I hate yous
or the I love yous.
But add one and that all comes rushing in.
The definition of seven is fourteen divided by two.
Age fourteen was when she realized that this wasn't normal.
Normal people had a place they called home,
people they called family.
Normal people didn't have secrets to hide beneath long-sleeved shirts.
Normal people hadn't lived in the seventh layer of hell for half of their life.
The definition of seven is eighteen less than twenty five.
Age eighteen was when she learned that
domestic abuse is defined by the
twenty-five percent of girls her age that will experience it.
seven can be the number of times they were beat,
the amount of hospital trips they took,
or the number of lies they spun
until it ended,
or until it truly began.
Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.