I have always been a replacement part–spare tire left on the side of the road once my father found a new one, rusty gear holding together my mom’s grandfather clock while she waits for the repairman with his shiny, unused things. My heart is an old spring that creaks, moaning “Please love me,” “Please stay,” even when my voice begs it to stop needing. Be a broken plate. Be a wet and faded newspaper. Be good for nothing, wanted for nothing, always alone. In my dream last week my stepmother pointed a gun at my chest and I was surprised, always surprised although she has been a bullet tunneling through this body for years, bouncing off the steel walls of my skin, ripping trails through my insides, never finding a way out. She was always something shiny and full of movement, a well-maintained part that would never stop. My father can use parts like that. He knows how to make so many things. His hands can tile a bathroom, frame a window, break a deer into steaks, pull an oak tree down piece my piece until it’s splinters fallen in the yard. I built a porch swing when I was 14. He said I had to. I didn’t sit on it much, was always hiding between the walls, listening to my father’s sledgehammer tearing through the drywall. No one’s ever noticed when I’ve disappeared.
I’ve always been a replacement part, part replaceable, part never here long. I’ve always been replaced before I’ve noticed it happening, one twist of a wrench and everything’s in pieces. My heart still begs for love and my mouth listens sometimes, ties strings to the windowsills in our apartment, weaves them under pictures of us on the coffee table, over plans of a yard some day and a dog or two. But I feel like my fingertips are knives, or maybe yours are, that the second you look up and really see me, the rust under my eyes, the cracks that lace my body, you’ll cut each string or bring a flame to the house we’ve built, everything crumbling to ash. I don’t want to be your replacement part, temporary and unideal. I want to be important. I want to be a part of something whole. I want my mother to show me her open palms and call me priceless. I want my father to call me anything. But mostly I want you and I want now and I want you to know me and see me, to want me back. This is all I have, the rusty spring of my heart, this nighttime creaking, this small and quiet begging, please.
But I’ve always been a replacement part, replaced and re-placed, half useful half burden, half useless all burden, burden, the weight my mom hates on her body, the gladly forgotten first try of my father, imperfect from the start, never a whole thing, always lost and not enough, rusted through–see through me, deer with no skin, muscle silvery, almost glass, not quite mirror, browning in the air, left out until I’m disgusting enough to be thrown away. I wish there was another ending, but this is all I have. Rust. Parts. Replacing. Replaced. Use me, please. It’s all I’m good for.