[Content warning: abuse, rape]

It’s funny the way a song can bring it all crashing back. The way a melody can stir memories long forgotten. A beat brings about feelings long passed.

A song comes on, I don’t even know the words. Yet I know I heard it with you. Suddenly we’re back in your car driving around, heading down to the beach maybe or possibly just heading home after a long day. It’s a song full of murky memory, a song that sounds like you.

Panic grips my chest. My breathing grows labored as tears sting my eyes. All this from a few notes of a song unexpected. Who would have known the reaction I’d have to a song I barely remember? But I check the name and I know I must have heard it with you, confirming what my fear already knew.

I’m wrenched away from the bright lights and low din of my office. Computer monitors and clacking keys give way to a time I never wished to go back to. I still see your car so clearly. Though I often struggle to form pictures in my mind, suddenly you are there, smiling that deceptive smile.

Suddenly I know which car ride this is. The final one. We sit in your driveway facing each other, having the conversation I knew we must. This was when I confronted you, when I broke up with you, when I accused you of raping me. This was when you played your games with me for what I wish had been the final time. You apologized and seemed sincere. You tried to get me to change my mind, to stay. Yet when I persisted, the façade fell away. Accusations flew from your face. I wanted it, you said. I liked sex so who was I to say know, you said. Slurs and accusations rained down on me as I crumbled inside.

We’re in your car at the beach. We walk out onto the cliffs in the night. We stand beneath the stars and look out of the sea. What a romantic night to spend with a monster.

We’re in your car driving around. Singing along to our favorite songs. You introduce me to bands I didn’t know, and I sing the tune as I learn the words. New music and a new relationship. We drive off into the distance. I’ve always found it easier to talk when driving, when I don’t have to look you in the face.

The song ends and I return. The bright lights and low din a sharp change from the murky memories made clear. The panic lingers in my chest to be wiped away by a pill. My thoughts are a jumbled mess of intertwining past and present. The threat of the past casting a shadow on this bright morning.

The power of song is a funny thing. Songs can move us, make us feel things. We can be transported with the artist to emotions and memories that don’t belong to us. We can also be cast back into moments long passed, some good and some we’d rather forget.