The Blood of Women by allecto

The day had been in the hands of Dante, and through the sweltering heat the girls had sat, listening to the important dates of mankind in History and partaking of subservience in Homemaking. And now the wind blew humid from the ocean, whipping their hair around their faces as they ran and jumped their way towards the beach.

One of the girls had a pale, clean face trimmed with neat plaits of gold. She held a stiff, straw hat in her hand, decorated with a conservative band of navy blue and marking her as a private school patron, a daughter of wealth. Her face had a lean, almost feral look and her lacklustre eyes were not unlike those of a street child. Hope had lost its place in their pale blue depths.

The other girl had coarse, dark hair, matted, with sun-bleached strands of red running like flame against her brown skin. She held a pebble in her hand which she turned continuously and passed from one palm to the other as she walked. Her public school rags gave the impression of careless dirt and squalor but it was impossible not to notice her eyes, bright with the dangerous sparkle of an inconvenient intelligence.

They walked. A strange pace between them, one with a graceful, swinging step and the other in graceless strides, coming upon the water with a kind of ecstasy. Casting aside their shoes and school bags, the girls ran towards the sea, entering the water with a laugh. And time could stop in this moment, for they were both of them alive.

Weary yet refreshed with the salt of the sea, the girls climbed up the shore and threw themselves upon the sand. It was a peaceful moment, an intimate sharing, as they watched the sun shatter the water into millions of reflecting pieces.

“I hate the gulls,” said the private school girl as she lazed against the sand, following the birds in the distance with her eyes.

“Why?”

“They are too like humans. Always demanding and cajoling, never satisfied. Do you not hear the profanities they utter when they are not given satisfaction?”

The public school girl smiled. “I hear too much, too much. It would take more than one life to make sense of it all.”

Gently the private school girl placed a hand on her companion’s leg and slowly she smoothed her thumb along the dark skin. “I always thought that you were living two lives.”

The other girl did not move away. “Ah, yes. But I am only entitled to one.”

The twitch of the blonde girl’s lips could have been an answering smile but it disappeared quickly as she looked out at the water. Her hand fell from the knee and into the sand. “Tell me a story.”

A silence descended between them as if carried by the crest of a wave and a ghost flickered for a moment on the edge of sight. “I’ll tell you hers.”

There was no response from the girl save the smallest flicker of an eyelash.

“Heat blurs the sharp edges of reality, as does time. This story begins in a place I have never seen. It ends with a woman walking out among the waves, standing proud against the tide, the sky turning red and yellow with passion as she takes a breath and dives into the waves.

“Her man was not of her race and he grew old before his time, yet he lingers here, fighting the demons of his own creation, believing still that the earth is flat. And that spirits walk upon the land, oh yes, this he believes. But he has not courage enough to confront them, not like she had. Not like she has.

“He met her long ago in the water. A shellfish and oyster gin. He thought her teeth shone like pearls in the bay and her skin like a river stone of ebony. As you well know, white men tell the value of a thing by the way it gleams.

“And she gleamed that day as he walked out into the water, the sapphire of her skin set into the turquoise and blue of the waves. She showed him secret places, known only to the native mind and satisfied in him a curious yearning.

“They cut their feet on oyster rocks and smiled as their blood intermingled. He had thought that they had bonded there, as blood speaks to blood. It was late in the day that he had realised that his kiss had no power to bind her. Their bond of blood had been weakened by the water.

“The water keeps her own and a spirit never can forget the things that tie them to place. It is a sentiment that is stronger than the one we call Belonging.

“Each spirit has an element and hers was water. He brought her to land but always always, he could hear the sound of the waves calling her back, calling her home. The man was blind; but years of listening to the sea had taught him that the future of all peoples is written in the vastness of the ocean.

“With this knowledge came the surety that she would leave him, for who could deny the sea? He made her body heavy with child to tie her to the land, forcing upon her an anchor that she would be unable to cut free. The child stilled her eyes, which once were restless, and she was contented with the babe. Caressing it with her eyes as she had once caressed the sea.

“But the pull of the tide is strong and the man found her often in the water, offering her child to the spirits, her voice in song casting ripples across the glimmering surface. His fists affected her little and did not stay her visits to the sea. In desperation he forced another child upon her, attempting to enter her with her power of the ocean.

“He had no power to speak to her. He had looked upon her flesh yet he could not look upon her heart. And in her eyes was a spirit, savage and unintelligible. What was a mortal man to do with such a spirit? He did not think to let her go for it is true that he did love her. Bearing her the love that a man has for a perfectly cut jewel.

“When he found her once again in the ocean, a babe in her arms and another playing in the dancing foam, he split her lip with the knuckles of his hand and her blood sprayed red into the sea. He took her on the beach and in the view of the ocean, he claimed her as his own.

“A third child sprung from this union, stilling the call of the sea until the moment of its birth. Upon that moment the sea broke forth in all its fury, sweeping down the coast and unleashing all its power, ripping up the land which it once loved gently.

“With the child from her belly, her eyes rolled back into her head and when she opened them, a sudden calm struck the sea.

“The man watched her as she rose from the bed, a fear seizing hold of his heart. The spirits were angry and demanded their own. He trembled as she fixed him with liquid eyes, breathing only when he knew that she had gone.

“The sky cleared with the first of her footsteps upon the sand and she walked with purpose to the water. Naked she walked, with the fat of three children adorning her body; she was beauty in her soft black flesh.

“As she sank beneath the waves, the blue water coloured red by birthing blood and sunfire, the clouds crossed the sky. Spirit to spirit, blood to blood. In the coolness of the water she was home.”

The distant cry of the quarrelling gulls could be heard in the silence. The blonde girl turned onto her stomach, resting her chin on the knee of her companion, her blue eyes assessing.

“That was your mother.”

The other girl did not respond, looking out at the infinite point where sky met water.

Closing her eyes and pushing a hand into her greasy hair, the dark girl said, “she did not belong here.”

“None of us belong here.”

“I hear her voice sometimes, carried on the waves. I can not hear what she is saying. Yet when I listen harder the voice disappears.”

“The ocean is eternal. She will speak to you forever.”

Turning once again onto her back, the blonde girl buried her hands into the sand.

“I also have a story, though it is not as near as yours.”

She picked up a handful of sand and let it trickle between her fingers.

“This is a story to be told beside the sea. With the birth of Christ in the near future and the myths of murky light and fading darkness, where man was whole and never fallen. In this time where gods were but men and men were gods. The fantasy of Zeus, you see, could be believed.

“And like your spirits, the gods too have memories. Echoes sent out to mould the future, even as we like to shape the past. This is one such echo.

“Athena, in all her glory, sprung from her father’s head. She was born in this way and she lived in reverse, with her father inside. He festered low and dark, ever internal and shaped the way of women. She with the divinely controlled mind, she with the divinely controlled heart. Her song was Zeus’ wisdom and ever wise she gave aid to men in battle. She sang Zeus’ song but in a woman’s voice.

“All this while she dwelt upon the earth, living for wisdom and for war, until at last she grew weary of the tilling of blood. Listless, she walked through the heavens in a pointless search. Wisdom she had already; the play of war was her field of honour.

“Yet even still she searched, sifting through the gentle clouds of Olympus until she came across a coarser terrain, a lower tier of the heavens. Here she found a twisted tree, the suggestion of torture in its lifelike shape. The tree lent its sparse shade to a nearby pool, a dank and still body, which gave forth no reflection.

“A shiver ran though her golden body as she looked about this place. A forgotten place on the outskirts of the forbidden realm of hags and harpies. No god or mortal could linger here.

“Though the pool was still and the twisted trunk was bare, Athena could feel the pulse of decaying life that drew her in and held her in a morbid sway. It was not her that willed her legs to fold and placed her back against the twisted knot of tree, and yet she did not resist it.

“And she of little patience, who quickens men in battle and in lust, waited.

“The water stirred. Only a little, but it was enough the set the reflection of the tree upon the water. When all was settled, Athena saw the shape of a Crone’s face upon the water.

“The eyes opened. ‘Athena, my daughter.’ The face within the water shaped the words with her aged mouth but the sound of the voice was that of the creaking of wind through a wood.

“Eyes wide with childlike brightness, Athena answered. ‘Who are you?’

“ ‘I am that which lives in men’s minds but which they often neglect to use, I am that which lives in women’s minds and that which they are forced to use.’

“Athena replied, ‘Your answer is a judgement which I cannot elucidate without knowledge of your mind. Pray, speak without judgement and with sense.’

“The woman in the water answered with a cackle and a smile with too many teeth. ‘With sense she demands and yet she has not any, for who with glory would come to rest among the harpies?’

“Patience being not a virtue valued in wisdom or in war, Athena delivered herself sharply. ‘Tell me your name so that I may speak to you.’

“ ‘Oh, indeed, but I have already told you enough for you to guess it for yourself. You are not worthy of your fame Athena.’

“Bronze armour flashed as surely as her eyes and Athena gave her answer. ‘You have told me nothing old woman. You are ungracious.’

“ ‘Oh ho I see you have the ailing wit and spitfire of your father. Though I live among the hags and the harpies, did you take me for a lady?’

“With this Athena stood and drew her sword, pointing it with purpose at the tree. “In truth I took you for someone with more wisdom.’

“ ‘Ah, and once I called you daughter; once I did protect you,’ the aged face creaked sadly.

“ ‘I have but a father and he is ruler here.’

“The face cracked open in a crooked, wicked smile. ‘Oh, no my dear, he has no power here.’

“ ‘His power is everywhere,’ Athena declared faithfully.

“The spectre in the water frowned. ‘And you, are you not also divine?’ The voice creaked on without hesitation. ‘I shall tell you. There once was a goddess. She was called Metis and she bore the gift of wisdom yet it was both a blessing and a curse. You now bear this gift Athena and you wear it wrongly, for what is wisdom without knowledge? But we shall come to that.

“ ‘Long ago, Zeus was told that Metis would bear a son to rival even him. In his fear and anger he swallowed Metis whole to gain her gift for himself and prevent such a son from rising. Little did he know that Metis was an unpalatable woman, she made him pay for his foolishness.

“ ‘Trapped inside, the wise goddess shook within her confinement, never giving the god a moment of peace or rest. Eventually even the all-powerful Zeus could bear it no longer and he wished to be free of his affliction. In the lower part of the heavens he came across a pool and into this he vomited up her soul. But a second soul, a younger soul, was still trapped inside his body. You see my dear; Metis had been with child when he consumed her.

“ ‘Even consumed, she had toiled and she made the child armour so that newly-birthed the child would not be defenseless. Even now Metis waits for her child to become the son that she was born to be.’

“Athena shifted, the weight of her sword held carelessly by her side as she thought.

“ ‘You think with your wisdom and you see no mother,’ the voice gravelled on. ‘She has been here all this time and she was waiting.’

“A gleam on her sword, Athena smiled and in her smile shone her father’s wisdom, her father’s glory. ‘You are a fool to think that I can be deceived thus. Harpy!’ she screamed and she thrust the sword deep into the gnarled trunk.

“Blood gushed in a torrent from the deep wound, and soon the little pool overflowed with red. Athena’s ears were filled with the booming cackle of the old woman and she was suddenly afraid.

“ ‘That’s right my dear, drink deep of the well that your beloved father has dug. This is the innocent blood of the hopeless and forgotten.’

“Her boots beginning to brim with blood, Athena jumped from the sky, landing in Triton’s calm and enduring sea, the waves washing her of the knowledge. Safe, she let his arms embrace her and pull her down, down, down until all thoughts of Metis had receded.

“This day and all subsequent days she proved herself her father’s daughter.”

The gentle wash of the water upon the shore had lulled the girls into peace. The sun was beginning to dip low on the horizon and the air was rich with the anticipation of evening.

“It is strange,” said the dark girl, lying on her back, her eyes half-closed, “the many ways we can recreate the world in story. In your tale the sea was a soul-destroying force.”

“Yes, but that was long ago. We look upon a different sea today.”

“Do we? I wonder. I still see my mother with the spirits, hunting for her dinner amongst the reefs. But Triton is there also, watching for a bronze clad woman with fire in her eyes.”

A pale arm extended and reached towards the sky. “And over there in that dark corner of the sky sits Metis. And she is waiting, waiting.”

The dark girl opened her eyes and looked up to the cloud. “She will be waiting till the end of time… perhaps longer.”

The pale girl stood, the fire on the horizon setting her locks aflame as she offered her hand to her companion. “Perhaps Athena will come to her eventually,” she said as she pulled the girl to her feet.

“Do you think her capable of making such a choice?”

“Oh, choice,” she said dismissively, “is not something I readily believe in.” Yet still she held fast to the dark girl’s hand as they made their way from the sea, back to places that were deemed more worthy of the title ‘home’.

A wind rose up from the sea behind them and swept across the beach as they walked, leaving no record of their existence in the sand.

by allecto

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Dear Mr Postmodernist by Michelle

Dear Mr Postmodernist,

Stop telling me the body is nothing more than a ‘text’, merely ‘discursive’, nothing concrete, but fragmented, ‘engaged in performativity’.

What is that all about?
How is that helping?
What revolutionary purpose does it serve?

These insights of yours are purported to be groundbreaking, radical, cutting edge, liberating because they break down
‘binaries’,
‘dichotomies’,
‘totalities’,
all ‘essential’ and ‘universal’ notions.

Apparently I should be thankful to you for all this, kissing your arse, because these insights of yours claim to be able to free me from the shackles of the biological & embodied reality of being ‘woman’, I can now be liberated from that ‘essential’ identity category ‘woman’.

Thanks to the insights of you & your brothers, other male academic elites, fathers of the anti-radical feminist bodies of thought, postmodernism & poststructuralism, my sisters & I can now treat our identities as women as ‘discursive’, constructed of language nothing more, free-floating. So now we can play around with our sex/gender identity, because they are ‘texts’, constructed out of ‘discourse’, not blood, skin and bones.

But tell me Mr Postmodernist, up there in your ivory tower, away from reality, the reality of real women’s lives, how talking about bodies and identities as ‘texts’, is helping to liberate women?

Women’s bodies are ‘texts’? We should see ourselves as ‘texts’? We should celebrate our ‘textuality’ by playing around in ‘discursive spaces’, postmodern stylee?

No.

No, women’s bodies are not fucking ‘texts’. ‘Woman’ is not a ‘text’.

Because women, women’s bodies, women’s fleshy bodies,
skin, blood, bones & brain, heart & mind are
bruised, battered, bloodied, bludgeoned & boxed in every day,
because they are ‘woman’.
Domestic violence, rape, FGM, cosmetic surgery, eating disorders, man-made images & lies
leaving their indelible, very real mark on women, women’s bodies, women’s fleshy bodies.

Women’s bodies aren’t fucking ‘texts’ THEN.

They aren’t ‘discursive constructions’ playing postmodern games with their gender and sexuality, ‘engaged in performativity’ THEN.

Mr Postmodernist, no matter what you say, no matter how hailed you are for revolutionising the academy with your revelations about how bodies and identities are ‘discursive’- you haven’t and can’t-revolutionise women’s lives for the better.

You cannot contribute to women’s liberation.

In fact your theories, coming at us in that precious, overly-academic, inaccessible language, (even though you claim to give a shit about the ‘real people’ aka the non-academics, the poor, the oppressed), are stalling women’s liberation.

Because if we can only talk about women as ‘texts’, that means we can’t talk about women as real human beings. And if we can’t talk about women as real human beings, that means we can’t deal with what happens to women as real human beings.

Because lest you forget Mr Postmodernist, women, women’s bodies, are only too real.

A woman has a body, a real fleshy body, which she inhabits, feels and experiences as real, all too often painfully, particularly when the patriarchy gets his hands on her.

Yes, that’s right, PATRIARCHY, that big, bad, naughty word we can’t say anymore thanks to you Mr Postmodernist, up there in your ivory tower, because to talk about patriarchy is too simplistic, too ‘totalising’, too ‘universal’.

Well, fuck that.

Patriarchy exists. ‘Woman’ exists.

Listen here. Woman exists, woman’s body exists,
– when she is penetrated against her will by ‘man’-
– when her breasts are cut open & inserted with a man made substance –
– when she’s aborted because she is the female sex-
– when she starves herself to conform to the media images you postmodernists love so much-
– when she’s wolf-whistled at by man on the street for possessing a female body.

Are you really telling me, Mr Postmodernist,
That women’s bodies are texts HERE?
That patriarchy doesn’t exist HERE?

Tell me, how do these realities fit into your world of postmodern, ‘textual play’?

I’ll answer for you. They don’t.

Don’t you see? Your emphasis & preoccupation with treating bodies & identities as ‘texts’ does harm to women.

To women’s liberation.

Only men, only male, middle-class academics like you Mr Postmodernist, could come up with such bull. Because you have the privilege to, because you aren’t woman, and therefore haven’t, nor will you ever, experience the above realities.

You think, Mr Postmodernist, that you can come along & proclaim the ‘death of the subject’, of the body, of patriarchy? Well of course you fucking can because you were the ‘subject’, never the object, never the body but the ‘rational mind’, never subject to the patriarchy but its perpetuator.

So now thanks to you, radical feminist theory is ridiculed & lambasted.

Andrea Dworkin? Catherine MacKinnon? Shulamith Firestone? Kate Millet?

‘Who were they?’ proclaims Mr Postmodernist, ‘but over-simplifiers, ‘totalising’ woman and man, pointing the finger at patriarchy all the time?’

‘No’, says Mr Postmodernist, ‘here I am with the new and improved theory (even though I also proclaim the ‘death of theory’) that will do away with all that radfem crap. Now it’s all about ‘discursive identities’, ‘multiple subject positions’, and power as ‘decentred and dispersed’.’

Mr Postmodernist, they weren’t perfect, those radfem theorists, I’ll admit it. But your ‘total’ lambasting of them is uncalled for.

Because truth is, they did way more for women, real women, the women beaten, abused, oppressed & exploited, than any male, supposedly cutting edge, elite, privileged postmodern theorist like yourself.

They wrote theory that spoke the truth, that tried to uncover the truth, of women’s reality. They were bold. They were righteous. They weren’t afraid to tell it like it is, to get their hands dirty in the task of explaining women’s exploitation.

More than you, Mr Postmodernist. But then you don’t like dirt & stark realities, do you? You prefer style over substance, flowery words over plain and clear ones, medium over matter, to immerse yourself in the play of performance than the poison of pain and oppression.

No, these women were not postmodernists. They were radical feminists.

A lot easier to say. A lot easier to spell. A lot easier to understand. And a hell of a lot more relevant & useful.

They recognised woman, her fleshy body; a body that bled every month and gave birth, a body that because it belonged to a woman, meant susceptibility to rape, abuse & all the other manifestations of man bullshit.

So no, Mr Postmodernist, they didn’t see the ‘body as a text engaged in performativity’.

Because they were too concerned with the minor, trivial, unimportant stuff.

Like treating women & their bodies as real, penetrated against her will, bloodied, bruised & bullshitted to at the hands of fucked-up men with too much fucked-up power thanks to the fucked-up man-made, man-owned, man-ruled, man-controlled society woman inhabits.

These radfems’ sins according to you? They called out the patriarchy. They defined women as a collective, a potentially revolutionary collective at that.

Oh, how convenient that you came along to denounce all that, Mr Postmodernist!!

‘There is no patriarchy’, you say, ‘power is more decentred and dispersed than that. Women, you can’t go calling out male-dominated institutions for their sexist bullshit, it’s not as simplistic as that!’

‘Woman’, you say, ‘cannot be generalised, in actual fact you don’t exist, there is no ‘woman’, there are too many differences between you, so there’s no way you can organise yourselves into a revolutionary collective.’

Oh, Mr Postmodernist, how can I ever thank you? Just want I wanted, another man to come along to sort me out, tell me what’s right and wrong, to shit on women.

Of course these insights of yours are very convenient for you; to follow them through means we ignore the oppression played out on women & their bodies & resign ourselves to the fact there is no patriarchy and give up forging links with other women. Oh, how very convenient. Suits your male privilege just fine!

And they call you the radical? YOU?

But your theories- which laud individualism, style, imagery, flashy fairy lights, pretty playful sparkle, masks & make-up- fit right into the Western conservative, capitalist consumer culture.

Did you not know? Politicians & big business love you, Mr Postmodernist.

They want us to see ourselves as individuals, without stable identities, so that we won’t organise as political entities bent on change.

They want us to see ourselves as ‘texts’, so that we’ll go shopping & spend our money on fashion & things in order for us to take part in postmodern play.

Seriously, having your theories gel with conservative politics & capitalist big business is in no way radical, Mr Postmodernist.

So, to end let me tell you this.

I am a radical feminist.
I believe there is a patriarchy.
I believe there is ‘woman’.
I see & experience women’s bodies as flesh, not ‘text’.

And I think I’m in a better position than you, Mr Postmodernist to say this.

Yours in ‘embodied womanhood’,

Michelle

Always Remember by Rebecca Mott

Introduction 

I want to write about the time in my life when memory was hard to find. I was a time when I lived as if violence was normal. At that time, I handled my life by not handling it. I chose to drink, I try not to sleep, I would not eat healthy food. I had chosen to live reaching out for death.

I had chosen not to see or feel my life. I was only just breathing. I thought I was dead. For then, everything would mean nothing.

Now, I am remembering. All I can see is through a haze. I cannot feel for then, only a coldness in my stomach. Nevertheless, from somewhere, that I am remembering the real.

I know as I am sick in the bathroom.

***

I had always thought that being abused by my stepdad was enough. I had known fear, I had known pain, I had known confusion. I did not need to know any more. Only, I did not know that life was just one big sick joke.

I do not remember when I was first abused outside of my home. All I can remember is being at a party. I am standing so still. Listening to – “Whore, you’re a fucking whore.”

I don’t care. After all, it was what I was, what I will always be.

I think that this was my first feeling of fear outside of my home. I think I was 12 or 13, I cannot remember. For by that time, I had become a zombie.

I was at my friend’s birthday. The night before, he had stopped being a friend. Now, here, he is an enemy. This cannot matter, it will not matter.

I had known him since I was a baby. Now, at his home, dead in the countryside, I have forgotten how to see.

When I arrived at his home, I was dazzled by how rich everyone was.

In the guest room, I just feel lost, but I always feel lost.

I see him in the room. I don’t mind, he is my friend after all. He is teasing me. He tells me how stupid I am. He tells me that he likes dirty girls.

I think that I am laughing. Only I cannot remember.

He is touching me, he is pulling at my clothes. Saying – “You know you want me.”

I don’t. I feel his hand in my cunt. He is pushing me onto the bed. I feel the familiar pain return. I don’t want this.

I am kicking him away. He is just laughing – “See, I always knew that you were a whore.”

I wanted to scream at him, but my voice froze in my throat. I could not speak. Instead, I acted the good guest.

Looking back, I was in shock. I had never expected I would get abused outside of my home. I had thought that I was in control of my life. I was beginning to realise that I was never safe.

It was the beginning of giving up.

Afterwards, he treated me like a servant. I was expected not to complain. Once on a walk, he push me into a haystack, lying on top of me. I fought him off. Only, as I fought, I felt that I was losing my will.

By the time the party arrived, I did not care. As I was called a whore, I did not care. After all, I did not matter.

***

As I became a teenager, I lost belief in hope. Instead, I made death my best friend.

I could no longer understand anything. I tried to make sense of my world, but I did not want to live.

I turned to self-destruction.

I had begun to drink in order to die.

As I grew into a teenager, I disappeared into pubs. I drank lager, but I could not taste it.

I would just drink to remind myself what a piece of shit I was. I knew that all I deserved was death and pain.

Now, I look back at my drinking, and I cannot imagine how I stayed alive. I look back at myself, and I don’t want to recognise her. I see a person who lives in order to die. She is not scared, she just accepts pain as being normal. I had decided to lose who I was. I wanted not to feel. Then when things happened to me, it was as if nothing had happened.

In my drinking, my world grows smaller. I wanted to forget everything. Always, pain reminded that I was still alive. I chose to believe that pain was all I deserved.

***

As I grew into being a teenager, I had lost everything that should of matter to me. I had lost my family, I had lost the habit of going to school, I had lost my love for my cats. I had lost the sense that I really existed.

I knew I had to do everything alone. I knew I would have to invent my own rules. I would run away from home, but I always went back. I thought that I should stop eating, only I didn’t like being hungry. I thought that I should not sleep, only my eyes always shut.

So, all I could do was to cut my arms. I saw the beauty as the blood was flowing.

Remember, how quiet my room is. See I am alone. Sitting so still, holding my knife. I do not remember how it got into my hand. It is just there.

I can feel nothing as I draw the knife across my arm. It feels so right. I feel that I can control this.

I know this the only private thing that I have left.

***

I had drifted into a world where nothing could matter. I could feel my self-hate creep into my every cell. I wanted so much to stop feeling. I wanted to be as nothing.

I am 14. I do not go to school. Only to be registered.

One day, I am by the teacher’s cars, I am hiding. Then I see someone. I see her eyes. I see her blazing with hate, then quickly going dead. Yes, I see her, as I know that she sees me. We know that we must be friends.

I see that she does not care about anything. We don’t care as we play “Roots”. I, white, tie around my neck, crawling on my hands and knees, I was Kunta Kinte. Her black, stick in hand, playing whipping me, playing my master. No, we did not care, we could not care. We enjoyed shocking our teachers, pulling us apart as we hit each other. We would just run away, screaming –”Fuck you all.”

Yes, she was my friend as we loudly spoke of hating our parents. My friend as we lay on her bed, drinking. My friend as I shown her my cuts. We would just laugh at death.

Yes, we understood each other.

Now I look back, all I see is that I was desperate for some type of love. I needed to be needed. I always knew that she was dangerous. Only, I still thought that I was in control.

We had begun to run away with each other, running into the night.

We did not care for our homes, but we wanted our homes to care for us.

She said – “I know somewhere that is really bad.”

I thought that I knew what bad was. I knew nothing.

She took me to a club. It was around midnight. I saw a short queue of young girls. They all looked as if they were dead. I decided not to look.

I was excited to be going to an adult club, especially as we got in for free. Inside, we got free drinks. We felt great, we were special.

Looking back, I can see how blind I was. I could not see the reality. I did not see that all the girls were underage. I would not see the older men.

I was 14, and I thought that I understood. I thought that I knew everything.

I enjoyed having my drinks brought for me. I thought that I was sophisticated. Only, no man would speak to me. So I imagined that I was in a movie, imagine I was Joan Crawford. I would drink cocktails, I would say one-liners. I thought that I could belong.

Only, I always said nothing.

All I did was to wait. I waited for the music to stop. Then the men would come to me. Then they would take me away. Always there were no words. I just knew to go with them.

As I went, I could feel ice going through my body.

This is a time that is so hard to remember. I always want to blame myself. I don’t know why I stayed in the club. I do not know why I did not run away. I had the dumbness of cattle going towards their own slaughter.

Always we went back to a private flat. Close the door and no one will care. No one will see.

There is a kitchen, a corridor, a bathroom. I can see, but I cannot see. There is always the bedroom.

I knew what to do. I knew to get undressed. All this was normal. I lay naked on the bed, and I knew to wait.

Waiting, for what I thought that I knew.

Always I can remember the closed door. After that, all I see is flashes. All I feel is a sickness. As I want to remember, all I feel is scared.

I can remember that I had a fury all the time.

I can remember thinking that it would be just sex. I knew that I had to lay still, I knew not to feel, then it would be over.

I knew nothing. As I saw their eyes staring into me, I could feel their silence. I did not want, but had, my arms tied. Only then, the sex happened.

I could feel terror. I wanted to forget what happened to me. Only, I always get flashes inside my sickness. I can remember as one man was on top of me, I could see others standing round watching. I can remember that I was choked. I can remember that the pain was everywhere. It was not just inside my cunt.

Mainly, I can remember their contempt. They would never speak to me. All they did was to push into the right position. I never had time to think. All I could do was remember how to breathe.

Afterwards, I was just thrown out onto the street. I knew I was just a piece of rubbish.

Now, I can see slightly more. I can see how many injuries that I had. I imagined that my bleeding was the curse. I know that I was lying to myself. I was just terrified to think anything else. I decided not to see I was bleeding all over. If you don’t see, it is not there. I would see the cuts and bruises all over my body. This could not matter. It must not matter.

***

I walked through my injuries. I had been thrown out of the flat at three in the morning. All I could was to wait for the sun to rise. I watched people coming home from night shift. I wanted to stay on the streets. It was so calm.

I waited for my friend, she would walk me home. I could not think where she had been.

I just got ready for school.

At that time, I had lost the will to be aware. I wanted to be a ghost. Maybe then, nothing could hurt me. Maybe then, I would stop caring that no one cared.

Sometimes, I would imagine that if my mother saw my injuries, it would force her to care. I would dream that she would stop the world for me. Then she would take me to her heart, saying – “I’m so sorry, so sorry.”

I dreamt that everything was fine. That it had never happened.

Always, I would wake. Hearing my mother say – “What did you do to deserve that?”

Until I was 17, I thought that my mother would care. I hoped against hope, that she would see her wounded daughter and save her.

All she did was to ignore me.

I needed her attention. I thought by accepting violence, she would see me. I thought that if I was murdered, then she would be sorry.

I was accepting that I deserved men’s violence. It was my way of being close to death. I learnt to accept their games in strangling me, taking me to the edge of death. Only, to bring me back to life. I learnt to get use to men raping me one after the other. After all, it was all that I deserved.

I thought that as my mum saw me as a slut that was all I was.

I was not even good at that. Often I only got £5, I was cheap. Mostly, I was not paid. I was too confused to notice. Sometimes, I was not paid, because I was knocked unconscious.

What I did not notice, or choose not to notice, was the presence of my friend. Sometimes I heard her chatting with the men. She was laughing with them. This was too confusing. She was never bruised. I never saw her having sex. Finally, I saw her taking a wad of money.

She saw me, and laughed.

***

I was changing, changing into a person I did not want to know. A person that I grow to hate.

I put my terror deep down into my stomach. I choose to forget that I had a brain. I stopped imaging that I needed love. None of that mattered. I was just a piece of shit. Why else did I live with pain all the time?

I was living by the skin of my teeth. Personally, I have no idea why I am still alive. At that time, I only know that I was alive, because I saw it was morning.

Once when I had taken an overdose, I made myself unconscious for a few days. I was able to touch death. I do not know why I survived, only that somewhere was a fierce will to live.

Somewhere there was a voice saying – “Live, one day you will tell your story.”

***

Abuse destroys memory. That is all I know. When I do remember, it is all messed up. I remember with doubts that any of it can be real, even knowing that it is the truth.

Abuse destroys emotion. That is all I know. All that is left is an empty shell. Crying, hiding in corners. Anger rises as bile from the pit of my stomach, only to get struck in my throat. I put compassion deep into a grave.

I do not want to remember, I do not want to feel my teenage years. It is a broken time.

I had become a person who walked towards danger. It did not matter, for I would be dead soon.

This time did not matter. It must not matter. Now, I look at my past. I want to see beyond the sickness. I want to see with tears. All I can feel is a coldness. I see that I have survived. I want to miss out this time, and go straight to the end. This would be so easy. I could avoid what I do not wish to see.

Only, I must remember, I must allow myself to feel. For that time belongs to me. All I know is that as I remember, I am learning to rest.

I can remember that I was wandering the streets. I can remember that I used to cut my arms. I did not why I kept cutting, only I could not stop. Anyhow, I had forgotten who I was.

***

Now I will try to lay down all the abuse that I can remember. Maybe then, I can gain some stillness.

When I do remember, I always I forget my age. All I can feel is other people’s hate all around me. All I knew was that I deserved their hatred.

I can remember that I thought that I could be friends with men. All I found was rape and battering. I taught myself that I was just an object to be used. I was a slut after all. I chose to stop feeling. I watch as their eyes went into me. I would be still as they touched me all over. I forget that they could be friends.

I just know whatever happened could not be stopped. There was nothing that I could do. It did not matter, for now I was nothing.

I became angry that I was still searching for love. I thought that I would find myself a lover. I imagined that I would be brought flowers. I would be taken to the cinema. I would be special. Someone would like talking to me. I would be seen.<

All I knew was to accept violence. I remember that men would fuck me in alleys behind pubs. As they unzipped my trousers, I lost all emotion. They did not ever look at my eyes. I was just a hole where they would leave their sperm. If they did speak, it was to call me names.

I remember a man screwing me in a graveyard. I remember the coldness of the stone. I know the man did not see me. I imagined that I was sinking into the grave. There I could suffocate. All I heard was – “Was that ok?”

I had separated from my cunt. It was nothing to me.

After all, my cunt was betraying me.

***

I can remember big events, events that can penetrate my brain. What I don’t remember is how I continued to live.

Looking back, I see a person who walks towards death, even as she wanted to live so much.

I heard somewhere – “This is not all there is. Please child, hold on in there.”

***

I am walking. I think I am walking home. I know I am walking somewhere. I walk down a familiar road from the same old pub. I know the route by heart.

I imagine that the streets are safe. From nowhere, I think that I am ok.

I allow myself to glimpse happiness. If I got scared would it make me vulnerable.

I walk pass the Catholic Church. I see a bunch of skinheads sitting on its walls. I see people avoiding them. I think nothing. I see them spitting. This means nothing to me. I walk straight past.

They see me. They know me, know that I am easy.

They decide to surround me. I don’t think. This is nothing. They push and poke at me. I can hear their words, I can see their laughter. I just imagine that I am safe. I hear – “There’s only one thing to do to dykes.”

For some reason, all I thought of was Anita in “West Side Story”. I thought these things don’t happen. Not with all these people walking round.

I could feel a hand reaching into my cunt. I could hear the skinhead girls screaming at me. All I could feel were their eyes staring into me.

I just lay like a dead fish. I just wanted it to be over.

From nowhere a policeman came. He did not seemed worried, only said – “Calm down, boys. Don’t be so silly.”

I saw the policeman laughing with the skinheads. Nothing must matter.

The policeman turns to me.

“You know, it’s not safe to be out so late at night.”

He lets me walk home alone.

***

I decided that I would give up on trust. I lived in a world where I made my own rules. Only as I tried to invent my life, I had no idea where to start.

All I know was that I had to change.

Until I had changed, everything went on as always.

I was being betrayed by wanting to be friends with men. Even there, I was caught up with violence. I lose all hope.

I wanted so much to find friendship with a man. I thought that then I would be normal. Maybe then, I would be able to relax.

I thought I could be close to a man. A man I did not fear. A man who I thought of as a joker.

After I sat in shock, I have forgotten how to speak. I just shut it out.

I just shut my eyes. I could not cry. I just felt my body shaking. I must remember how to stay in control.

All I can think is that he had been a good friend for a few years. He had never touched me before. I remembered that I had always felt safe with him. I had allowed myself to be drunk in front of him. After all, I had never felt fear around him. With him, I could imagine that I could trust men.

Here, now, he is just smashing all that. Here, now, he is over me, inside my flat. Here, now, he places me back down in the sewer.

He would not leave. He stayed destroying me for six hours. Still, somehow, I imagine he is still a mate. I needed so much that idea. It was safe. Only as I saw his eyes staring into me, I knew that friendship was gone. I knew not to fight.

But for some reason, my pride got in the way. I kept telling him to go.

He just hit me, hit me so hard, that I hit the wall across the room.

So, I gave up. After all, I still wanted to live.

All I could feel was his hate creeping into each inch of my room. I know that no escape, only there may be an end.

He told to get undressed. I knew to obey him. I knew to stop thinking.

When he was fucking me, all I could hear was him asking what I was scared of. Then he would do that. Sometimes I could hear him speaking to me in the voice of a child. All the time, he was giving pain that I could not have imagined existed. He bit, scratched and ripped at my vagina. I imagine that he was tearing it out. He placed his penis in every hole he could find, including my left ear. He kept me tied up. All the time, he would not stop speaking. He told he was doing aversion therapy, he would take the place of my stepdad. After all, wasn’t he curing me?

As I lay under him, I just try to remember to keep breathing. I try watching trains going pass my window. I imagined that I was fine.

Only, I had stopped breathing. It felt so nice. It was calm, I felt myself floating away. I just look down, seeing someone, seeing me. Seeing a lump of flesh getting fucked. I can see now how it is. I see his penis in my mouth, pillow over my eyes. I see his fist in my cunt. I see it all, only I don’t believe it. I will not believe it. I think I will just die. That would be so easy.

But no, he is pouring his hot breath into my lungs, saying – “Don’t die on me, bitch.”

Even now, I still hate him. I hate that he betrayed me. I hate that he would not allow me to die. I hate that his biggest wish was that I would remember him. I hate that I cannot forget him. All I know, is that I wish him some of my pain.

I know that I should have told someone somewhere. All I know, was that it was my word against his. I felt silence was safer. After all, he told me that if I told, he would just say that I enjoyed violent sex. After all, wasn’t I screwed up after being with my stepdad?

So, I continued as if nothing had happened.

***

I decided that I was not affected. But I was losing control. I was drinking in order to die. I would only eat junk food, as little as possible. I was throwing myself away.

I try not to close my eyes. If I fall asleep, then I would relax. If I relax, the pain always comes back.

I was living in pubs. When they closed, I would go to men’s houses. There I would let them hate me. Inside their violence, I could forget that I had a brain.

I could not care. Now, for me, being raped was normal. As I got smashed up, I knew that it was all that I deserved.

I would not feel how terrified I was. For wasn’t I strong? Whatever men did to me, I never died. I could not die.

All it was because that I was bad, that was all.

But, for some reason, I could not stop caring. I wanted to die so much. Always, something wild wanted to live. It was always there.

I would hear a child crying – “Please make it stop. I just want it to stop.”

***

When I was seventeen, I was in a place where I worshipped death. I know that hope was a wasted emotion.

As I reached seventeen, I tried suicide. My mother caught me, and she just laughed, saying – “You can’t even do that properly.”

I was walking headlong into danger. I did not care, I could not care. Pain was all I was. Safety was just a dream.

At that time, I thought that I knew everything. I thought that I was in control. I thought I could handle my pain. After all, I knew that I could stop it any time.

God, I knew so little.

One night, I stay behind in the club, waiting to go home with the DJ. I wanted him. He had a reputation of hating women. I knew that he was the sort of man that I deserved.

I thought I know how he would treat me. Oh, I was so naïve.

I can see it now. Now I see a teenager attempting to make sense of her world. She tries so hard.

I see her whenever I see “street-wise” kids out looking defiant. I can see their fear. I can feel their emptiness. As I see them now, now I can cry.

Then, I could not allow myself to think. I could not feel. All I knew to do was to keep moving.

I allowed him to take me to his flat. He never looked at me. After all, I was a whore. So far, so normal.

In his room, I was fascinated by all his posters. Pictures of women crawling to the camera on their hands and knees. Some were dragged along with chains, some in cages. I thought that I understood.

When he fucked me, it was so hard, so quick. I could hear somewhere that I was screaming. Only, I never made any noise. I could never show that much fear.

But he was hitting me, telling to stop screaming. He threw out of his flat. I had no time to think if I was in pain.

Only, I found that I could not stop bleeding. I just ignored it.

The bleeding went on for days. The pain would not fade. I could hardly walk. I fainted going down the stairs.

As I rose from the fainting, I heard my mum saying that I was faking my illness. I said nothing. Only, let the hate grow.

Somehow, I knew that I was pregnant. Even after taking a test that was negative, I knew. I could feel the being slowly spreading poison into my veins. As the second test came out positive, I thought, there, I don’t always lie.

I do not know how I knew, maybe I thought it was just my luck. All I knew was that there was no way that I could have a baby.

How could I bring a baby into my world? A world where my mother hates me. A world where the baby has no father. How could I tell the baby that its father is a rapist? A world where the baby’s mother will be dead soon.

No, I could not have a baby.

But, I so wanted something that I was mine. I wanted a baby as my private prize.

So I did the right thing. I had an abortion.

No one asked me how I felt about it. So, I carried on as if nothing had happened.

Years later, I cried for my loss. I have always known I was right to have the abortion. Only, then, I thought I would be a mother later.

***

I knew that to escape my world, I had to reach the bottom. Only by touching hell, could I find that I wanted more. Maybe then, I could find myself.

I went back into the world where I was paid for sex. I knew this world. I thought that I knew myself, I was just an object for sex. I thought I could forget the pain, if I was counting the money.

At the time, having money meant that I was someone. Only, I could never keep hold of the money. I would throw it away, for it was burning into my heart. I was paid a lot, but I would waste it, I never saved. I enjoyed throwing it into the river.

I was drawn to men who debased me. They fitted my image of myself.

I found a punter who enjoyed hurting me. It was a slow suicide. I know he would not run out of ideas of how to hurt me. I did not care, I just took his money. After all, he did pay well over the top. I decided I would be his property.

Every time, he fucked me, I felt like I was dying. But, always I would go back to him. I was addicted.

He would anally abuse me. He would always force it up me. I would never get any warning. Always, he pushed me against a wall, legs together. Often I would faint, I could feel my heart trying to stop. It was ok, I didn’t die.

I stopped the pain by drowning in whisky.

It was my way of committing suicide. As I stood taking the pain, I knew I finally had become nothing. I would go in and out of being conscious, nothing mattered any more. I let him humiliate me. It did not matter. I grew used to him telling me to be quiet, when all I wanted to do was to scream and scream. It did not matter. All this just meant nothing.

Only, my body was always shocked by the pain.

As this went on, I could not just go on. I tried act normal, to act as if nothing was happening.

Once after being with him, I went to a party. I walked across town, ignoring the pain. I ignored the blood in my knickers. I walked, imagining that I could forget. When I got to the party, I danced as if there was no tomorrow.

Only, I sat down. The pain shoot up me, going straight to my heart. I fainted. I had lost control.

There was a panic, when others saw the blood on my chair. I could not understand the fuss, after all, it was not important. Before I could speak, I found that I had been taken to hospital.

I had always been scared of hospitals. I thought I would be locked away for good in there. I was scared that if I was ill I would be vulnerable. I was scared of being scared.

Once there, I was treated as I thought I deserved. The nurse took one look at me, and dismissed me. When she saw my injuries were anal, she said I wasting her time. After all, no one gets torn there unless they want it. I felt as if she saw me for who I was. I did not care that she did not use a painkiller, as she sewed into my bum. She looked into my bag, seeing a wad of cash. Yes, she saw me.

I just wanted to be invisible.

For the first time, the pain was penetrating my deadness. I still made no fuss. Only, inside, my screaming was getting louder and louder. I wanted to cry. Only, I couldn’t.

When I got home, I just lay on my bed.

The next morning, I could not move.

***

I was paralysed. My body had given up on me. All I could move was my eyes. At first, it meant nothing to me, only it went on for days.

Now I know that my body had had enough, so it closed down. It would stop me from destroying myself. My body had had enough of pain in every cell. Enough of eating junk food. Enough of drowning in alcohol. Enough of knocking back pills in order to stay awake. Enough of the cuts across my arms.

Now, enough was enough.

All I could do was think. As I stared at the ceiling, I was alone.

I knew I could quietly slip into death. That would not matter. It would be nothing.

Only –“Live, damned you, live.”

I decided to live, if only to prove that I could.

Conclusion

This piece of writing was the hardest thing I have done. This is because, this goes back to a time that seemed to have no end.

Only, there was an end.

Now, I looked back with awe and wonder that I came out of that time alive. Now, I look back, and I am deeply proud of the person I was then. I see I was always a fighter. I was never destroyed completely.

They could rape my body, but they could never reach me.

I cannot say that I was a good person then. I don’t care. I survived.

by Rebecca Mott

She is Risen by allecto

This poem is dedicated to Rebecca Mott because she inspired it. You are an Amazon, Rebecca. Don’t you forget it.

She is Risen

Sing to me, siren
Of the night
Let the melodies take you
Distant tunes in the dappled light

The faithless drifting
Whilst I am caught
In a song and her eddies
With the lost and once-owned.

And she rises
Shaken from the seaweed
Riding the cantankerous waves
Of these times

Singer of the mountains
Singer of the sea

Sing to us of morning
And the mourning
That has come.

Those faithless
Blinded still.

Unwavering,
The moon still turns the tide.

She is risen.
She is risen.
And we remember her.

Sing to us now
Of the Amazon who was
Many memories
Fallen by the way

Bring them back to us
With sword in hand
And light of truth

Ease the stars
Back into the night
And wake me ‘fore the dawn.

She is the Warrior
The Storyteller
And the Muse

Walk with her
Into this darkness
And believe.

by allecto