Look how content she is, all curled up on my Loki blanket.
If I told you I felt ageless, would you tell me I'm not old?
24 year old lover of mischief & nonsense.
Potentially over-worked CNA, & a dreamer in the worst sort of fashion.
Occasionally clever. Often mischievous.
Incredibly devious, though you'd never guess.
Fan of miscellaneous topics, but primarily literature. Poor at self-description.
Generally amicable, if sarcastic.
A certain handsome boy was running his fingers along my legs the other day when he said, in a murmur, that he liked the lines on my calves. For a split second I thought he was referring to my scars and I was rather taken aback; but almost all of my scars are on my thighs. So I rolled over, sat up, and looked at him quizzically.
“The muscle lines. When you move your leg, you have these definite lines where the muscles are toned. In your calves, your thighs,” He pushed me back gently, his fingertips pressed to the now-prominent bones of my clavicles. With slow hands, he ran those coarse palms across my stomach, under my shirt, and continued, “You can see the lines along your stomach, too, where the muscles are growing tight. You’re shrinking, darlin’. You’re growing fit, like a doe.”
I wanted to run my hands across those taut muscles of his back, or remark coyly how there are so many of those lines on his arms. But I didn’t. I stared up at him, my jaw set, and tried not to cry. He kissed the tip of my nose, then the crest of each of my cheeks.
“All your sharp angles are showing, again. All your bones.” He kissed my lips, then, very softly. “You look a bit wild, now. Beautiful, beautiful and wild. Like summer.”
I feel a bit wild. I feel frightened, and ecstatic, and strange.
Was this what I wanted?
Once, when I was younger—16, when I was acutely aware of what my culture expected of me by then, and was passive-aggressively rebelling—I had gone to the diner with a group of other teens from the public high school. Friends, and friends-of-friends, all plain-vanilla American kids. We had just gone to the end of the school year art show. My hair was still to my hips. I wasn’t broken, yet; my parents were still alive. Andy was effectively out of the picture, then, but just barely. I was coming into myself, a bit—I knew I wasn’t ugly, I knew I wasn’t stupid. I was excited about planning for college. We were all sitting at a big, round table in the center of the back dining room, and I can just imagine how idyllic we looked through the large, plate glass windows—kids laughing and drinking milk shakes, stealing fries, blue jeans and tees. I was sitting between Sarah and Kacie. It was honestly innocent. It was simple. It was nice.
All of a sudden, I felt someone tilt my chair back, just a bit. Judith Marie, a few years older than me. The daughter of one of my father’s close friends. A ‘cousin.’ She pulled a long, white scarf out of her bag and quickly tried to wrap it around my head.
“What are you doing!”
“Adam’s here. Adam and his dad and my dad, and oh my fucking god, you’re sitting with a bunch of gadje, eating meat?”
I felt the blood rush out of my face. “I’m not eating meat.”
I was drinking tea.
“Well, there’s that at least. I’m sorry. Wrap it tight. They didn’t see you. I lied and said I had to take care of a lady problem,” she breathed a dry laugh, “They’re all outside smoking.”
I quickly debated hiding—ducking into the kitchen, or sitting in one of the booths obscured by a wall. My friends and friends-of-friends were all staring at me. Judi exhaled hard while I tucked the ends of the fabric in.
It was not necessary, per se—but it was preferred, to be modest. My immediate family was very lenient, for the most part, about customs. The extended “family” was not.
Judi smiled at me wanly before scurrying off to meet up with the others. I prayed they sat in the front room, even while I knew they wouldn’t. I prayed they wouldn’t notice me, but the scarf made me even more obvious. Without it, I was just a girl with really long hair sitting with her friends. Nevermind that I looked just like my Dad. If I didn’t face them, maybe they—
My chair is pulled back again, much more forcefully this time. I grab the vinyl with both hands to stop myself from sliding off. I felt the chair tilt, then spin on the back legs.
“Mandalyn Beth, what finds you here?”
I know Judi’s father, standing behind my Godfather was looking at what I was eating; his grunt of approval saved me explaining. Edgar’s voice was calm and friendly, but his face…oh, his face. I swallowed hard.
Mom knew where I was. Mom had given me cash to get tea. Mom had told me to be back by 10, and it was only 8:30. Mom very likely had not told Dad.
I could feel the collective stares boring into my back. I could feel the collective looks of disapproval scathing my front.
“Da, leave her be.” The voice is dispassionate at best.
Adam. Adam looking very displeased with me, but registering that I was not up to any ill. Adam with his still-fresh bruises, his blood-streaked boots.
But Edgar wasn’t having it. He drug my chair up to their table with a terrible smile, the metal legs scraping audibly across the thin carpet. I didn’t even speak. When my friends decided to leave, they cast wary looks in my direction. Sarah, most of all, knew not to say anything. She was the only one I’d ever even vaguely told. She told me, much later, that she’d signalled for everyone to just drop it.
God bless her, for that.
They ate and talked about work, and I bit the inside of my cheek so hard I tasted blood. Judith looked as though she might cry, tugging restlessly at the edge of her headscarf. Adam ordered me another cup of tea and tried repeatedly to hold my hand beneath the table, while I none-too-gently jerked my hand away. He finally snatched me by the wrist, very subtly—his face perfectly blank, his eyes still focused on Judith’s father, who was speaking. He held me very tight for a long moment, his large hand entirely wrapped around my wrist. He then placed my hand on his lap, and slid his fingers up to cover mine, his thumb pressing circles into my palm. He was trying to calm me down, because he knew, just beneath the surface, I was roiling, spitting mad.
“Da, it’s late. I’m going to drive Evey home.”
Edgar looked at Adam for several beats, then smiled. “Good idea, son. Go on.”
I’d never stood so quickly in my life. I was rearing to storm out when he snatched me by the elbow and forced me to walk slower.
“That was foolish of you.”
“Go fuck yourself, Adam.”
Some men who want to compliment random women on the street are genuinely good guys who just don’t understand why their comments might be unwelcome. Some men who want to compliment random women on the street are creepy predators. Most are somewhere in between, and guess what? I don’t know you, I don’t know your life, and I have no idea if you’re going to leave it at “Hey, you look good in that dress!” or follow it up with “But you’d look better without it! Har har! C’mon, where’re you going? I know you heard me! Fucking cunt, nobody wants your fat ass anyway, bitch.”
When you compliment a random woman who doesn’t know you, no matter how nice you are about it, there’s a good chance she’s going to freak out internally because for all she knows, you could be that latter type. And I get that it’s really unfair that women would just assume that about you. I get that it sucks that sometimes, expressing totally reasonable opinions like “hey you’re hot” will make women terrified of you or furious at you. That’s not fair.
But if you’re going to lay the blame for that somewhere, for fuck’s sake, don’t blame the woman. Blame all the guys who have called her a bitch and a cunt for ignoring their advances. Blame all the guys who may have harassed, abused, or assaulted her in the past. Blame all the people who may never do such a thing themselves, but who were quick to blame her and tell her to just get over it. Blame the fact that if she stops and talks to you and then something bad happens, people will blame her for stopping and talking to you.