So there’s a door open. Remembering the Afghani girls opens a door to the time I was at Yuri’s before Natalya came, and I don’t know what is behind it. And it’s frightening. I have a busy week ahead of me and two dates I know might be triggering, and I don’t know what other memories are going to surface, and it’s scary. Because I don’t know what they will be or if I can handle them.

Farzana—the girl who seems to be most important—is not like Nata. She isn’t fierce, and she doesn’t protect me. She is nurturing, but she isn’t protective, and so it scares me to think of remembering a time when Yuri was in charge but there was no Nata to make sure I lived, or to make sure that anyone she had any power over at all would not be allowed to hurt me.

It’s not a long stretch of time in between. It’s maybe a year or six months. Before then, it’s a different set-up and although that set-up is also terribly exploitative, it is not so emphatically abusive. Or I know about the kinds of abuse. It’s less of a surprise. Or something. Something that makes it less scary.

But that stretch in between is also a time when I have no one to talk to about things. With Nata, there starts to be this ability to use language to understand my experience. That’s partly developmental, and it’s partly the nature of our relationship. We talk about things. We talk about our emotions. We talk about why we think people do the things they do and what things mean generally. It’s partly too that, over time, I learn Russian. The same things happen again and again and eventually I have a language to talk about them in.

But before Nata comes, I can’t. I am not developmentally prepared to talk about the kinds of things that are happening, I don’t really have a common language with Farzana, although she was clearly my best friend. We can maybe talk about daily life—do you want tea? That kind of thing. And I think also there was a different attitude about emotions. Nata is expressive. She expects emotions, she doesn’t ever tell me to repress them unless being expressive will get me killed. I don’t have to be a big girl for her. If I am sad or tired, she just comforts me. She will comfort me like a smaller child than I am.

And Farzana is not like that. She comforts me too, but she isn’t open about emotions in the same way. I can’t be expressive. She is comforting, but only sometimes. Sometimes I have to be a big girl and stop crying. It is just very, very different.

I also think she died. I think I knew Farzana died at the time that it happened. And I am going to get to deal with that too.