“Explanation for Bruises”

Gabrielle Garza

I called you at 11:27 that night and asked you to make the 32 minute drive from your house in Lake Ransom Canyon to my apartment off Genoa Ave because I needed to not feel alone; you didn’t hesitate to say yes. You came and you stayed, all night, a giant of a man lying next to me in bed and I curled up next to you like a child in a womb, your hand reassuringly sweeping back and forth along my spine.

“Lots of mishaps can result in the formation of a bruise.”


You said it was an accident. You were simply just bored one night, restless, and I wasn’t available to entertain you (your needs). She was a woman you met on Adult Friend Finder; a lonely divorcee who had a vacancy in her bed that you were willing to book for the night. You didn’t even know her real name. You didn’t mean to get caught do it. I cried so hard and for so long my lungs, my eyes, my heart felt bruised.

I promise it won’t happen again.


I was sitting on your parents couch playing with your cat George when your mom told me I was one of the best things to have happened to you. She said that I brought out a part of you she hadn’t seen in some years; that your blue eyes shined once again, that you laughed more than ever, that you were truly happy. I wasn’t sure what to say, other than thank you, because at the time, I wasn’t sure that you were truly happy. I had a feeling that your happiness was just a façade you put on in your forest green Jimmy when we made the 1 hour and 47 minute drive from Lubbock to Amarillo to visit your parents so that they wouldn’t worry. Still, her words gave me hope that maybe you (we) really were happy.


I tried to indulge one of your fantasies but I wasn’t able to follow through. I went as far as buying a cheap, see-through negligee and posed provocatively while you snapped shots on a disposable camera so you could use them for the nights I wasn’t able to join you in bed. Just of your body though, I won’t get your face. I told you I would get the photos developed, but I never did. I couldn’t make myself drop the camera off at the Wal-Mart photo shop. I sat in the parking lot running a million scenarios in my head of what would happen, who would see them, what would people think if I allowed those photos to develop. In a fit of anxiety, I tore off the paper wrapper surrounding the camera, pried open the back  with my fingernails, torn and bruised at the war waged between keratin and plastic, and exposed the film to the harsh sunlight, erasing the photos, and with it, my shame.

I lied and told you that the photo department lost the pictures. To hide your disappointment you made some joke about a male Wal-Mart associate seeing my photos and liking what he saw, he took them to use later on. Or maybe, he posted pictures of your breasts and ass in the men’s employee bathroom and now all the Wal-Mart guys go back there during their break and whack-off to them.

“Although the pain might last for only a couple of minutes, you’ll be wearing that ugly bruise as a reminder of your blunder for a while.”


We were both so empty, me at 23 and you at 31.

We just needed – no –


something (someone) to fill the void.


You convinced me to move in with you. Convinced me it was the best for both of us: financially, emotionally, sexually. I knew deep down, that I shouldn’t do it. I knew I needed to back out while sitting at the leasing office signing the paperwork, and while balancing your queen-sized mattress in my hands trying to load it into the back of your step-father’s truck, and while unboxing my dishes that were too large to fit inside our new kitchen cabinets.

(That should have been my sign.)


We met on a dating app. I had just moved out into my own apartment and the empty space felt larger than it actually was. I wanted company, but not just any company; I wanted the company of a man. I felt most noticed when it was from the attentions of a man. You were quirky online; gentle and sweet. Within an hour you had me talking on the phone. We made plans for you to come over the following Sunday night. In preparation, you told me to buy a box of condoms with the condition that I pay for them in a checkout line with an actual cashier; you said this was because it was more thrilling if people, even strangers, knew what you were about to do. I did as I was told.


The crack of flesh meeting flesh echoed in the apartment, so loud it seemed, that even the neighborhood dogs could hear it, howling in protest at the sound that wakened them from their evening slumber. The pink heat flushed and spread across my cheek, stinging at the contact from the saltiness that leaked out the corners of my eyes. I was stunned. Shocked. Couldn’t move.

Look what you made me do.

“When a bruise is brand new, it will appear reddish due to the color of the blood that leaked from the capillaries under the skin.”


We spent every day, every night, every free moment together. I was happy, (I thought), lying in your lap with your fingers entangled in my hair, watching a new bootlegged indie film that you had read about on your movie blogs. You told me I was beautiful and smart, that anyone would be lucky to have me, that you were lucky to have me. And I believed you.

(This was my first mistake.)


Our first holiday spent together as a couple was thanksgiving. You rode in the back seat as my mother drove us up to the little town of Muleshoe. You didn’t utter a single word during the entire drive. My family had thanksgiving at the church that year on the basis that there were too many people coming to fit in my grandmother’s small two-bedroom apartment, but we all knew it was because the memory of my grandfather’s death the thanksgiving before was too fresh in our minds, the bruises not yet faded away.

I thought you were enjoying yourself. You talked with my cousins, my uncles, my aunts. You cracked a smile, shared a few jokes, took a second helping of dessert.  Imagine my surprise when at the end of the day, after we had said all our goodbyes to all of my family, after indulging a secret to my cousin Lacey that I thought we might get married, after spending, what I thought, was a perfectly wonderful day, you punched me with words that left bruises in my chest and emotionally doubled-over with pain: Don’t ask me to come with you to your family stuff anymore because I will never do this again … today was the biggest waste of my time.

“In general, the harder your bump or blow, the larger your bruise will be.”


When we first met, you made it clear that you didn’t want a relationship. You had been heartbroken too many times and didn’t want to feel that ever again. You and I were to be casual. A person to call when either you or I needed an itch scratched. Not a person to call when one felt lonely and was craving attention.

I broke that rule too many times to count.


You were unlike any man I had ever dated. You were going to be a mechanical engineer which reeked of stability to my unstable mind. You were older, supposedly more mature, and had a unique way of thinking: so analytical, so technical. I was drawn to your smooth talking tongue, the authoritative way you moved your bulky body, your calloused hands and how they felt against my skin: rough, scratchy, threatening.

“In general, bruises at their worst are momentarily painful and an eyesore … but sometimes bruising can indicate danger …”


You lied.

You let it happen again.

And again.

And again.


I blamed myself.

I blamed myself because I had been unavailable: emotionally, physically, and sexually.

I blamed myself because you had needs that I hadn’t been able to satisfy.

Because of me, you had to go find satisfaction between the legs of another woman.

And then another.

And then another.


You said you were aiming for the wall but my chest and my ribs and my back got in your way.

The worst bruises aren’t the ones you left on my body. No, those eventually faded over time. No, the worst bruises are the ones that even I can’t see, the ones that are hidden within me. They have yet to heal. They have deepened and darkened into a purple that is almost black, tender to even the slightest touch.

“The appearance of a bruise changes over time and you can tell how old a bruise is and where it is in the process of healing by observing its color.”


I think that I love you.

“A bruise, or contusion, as it’s referred to in the medical world, appears when blood vessels break due to a blow to the skin. Blood leaks out of these vessels resulting in a red, purple or black mark on your skin … in most healthy individuals, your body eventually will reabsorb the blood and the bruise will disappear.”

Non-fiction piece by Gabrielle Garza

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