equality / Feminism / gender / Short Story / writing

Short Story: Words (and the injuries they might cause)

As he finished the final line and set his writing back on the plinth, he looked at her with triumph, she saw. She knew she was expected to say something, give some response but instead she was silent.

“What did you think?” He finally asked, though the curves of his smile had begun to slowly drop at her hesitation.

She stood. Walked to the precipice and looked out upon the world. She sensed his impatience and his desire to be praised.

“You kill me.” She finally said, her tone cold and distant. Her voice had removed itself from his presence, there would be no feeling to it again for him. “One more time you have killed me, and one day I will die from it.”

She did not turn back to face him, instead she turned her head to the side so that he might only ever be able to look on one side of her, a side she would armour.

She heard the annoyance in his tone as he rebuffed her words “It isn’t about you. The woman in the story isn’t you.”

She closed her eyes and sighed, let the breeze blow coolly over her. She savored the feeling, wanting it to transport her somewhere else, but knowing she couldn’t let it. She had to stay here and face his words. So often she had turned from them. She hadn’t wanted to hide from them, but her anger had been so great at them that she had run before she allowed herself to speak in fear of what she might say. Now though, she was beyond anger. In her belly the heat of a biting rage, but her exterior, as she had promised herself after the last time, was cold and detached. Showing the anger would do her no good, he would turn it on her and throw more destructive words at her soul.

“Yes she is me. She is always me. You maim her, abuse her, molest her. You rape her and humiliate her. You kill her. You butcher her. You hide her body, that once contained her soul. You freeze her. All for a story. And the story is not even about her. You created her, gave her life. You did not mould her into a person, you left her blank and empty, and then you filled her up with horror. You created her so that you might destroy her. She is me. She is every woman.”

“I don’t understand why you are so upset…” He started.

She raised up a hand, with it a barrier. A wall between them, muting his words.

“You create her and destroy her so easily, because to you women are nothing but vessels for men to create, mould, use and destroy. You write pliable women because you know I am not pliable. You kill her because you cannot kill me.”

His words were strangled now by the wall so he could not respond. But the protest was writ large upon his face.

“You want me to tell you your story was clever, and it was. That it was funny, and it was. That there were elements of greatness there that you have teased from human nature and committed to your page. But you want me to still find it clever and funny, to praise it, when you then create a woman to kill her. You forget that I am a woman. You forget that we exist and care, you forget we are every woman. When you kill one of us, you kill us all.”

He was unable to even whisper a retort despite his attempts.

She closed the fist of her raised hand, and as she did so his hands went to his throat.

“A long time I have been considering this, designing the correct injury for you. I have taken your voice. You will not speak, you will not spin or weave or create any words. You will birth no new stories. Not until you know what it is for you to have killed a woman. Not until you understand and have remorse for her death.”

Only breath came from his mouth. His words gone, the wall between them, her armoured side to him, she allowed the breeze to lift her from the precipice. She would allow it to take her somewhere far from his reach.

Her final words to him floating back across the expanse – “I fear I shall never hear you speak again.”

a side she would armour

a side she would armour

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One thought on “Short Story: Words (and the injuries they might cause)

  1. Pingback: Reading Emotion | crea•ture/ˈkrēCHər/Noun - An animal, as distinct from a human being

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