“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”- Micheal J Fox
The man is a bully. I can spot them a mile away. I recognize their scent as well as a rabbit smells the coyote. I hear them talk and I only need a few words spoken to confirm one is in my presence. It’s not talent or intuition alone that allows me to spot a tyrant. It’s a skill; learned from years of playground wedgies and classroom spitballs. Instincts honed from tortuous hours spent in a public school gym class or working the drive thru at my job. I have seen his kind a million times before and I have learned to be wary.
So why is this time different, you may ask? Why am I sitting here, watching the scene unfold, rather than moving to another waiting room? I’ll tell you friend…because yesterday I was a victim; today I have evolved. I’ve learned a new trick; discovered a power where before there was only weakness. This time is different because, this time, I have a gun.
The bully moves in on his target. She is small and soft. She cringes from him. There is an old bruise healing on one eye and her hand rests on her bosom in a protective position. She is broken and hurting, as is most in this room of pain. I am not broken. I am focused. I am free.
I hear his whisper to her.
“Now make sure you tell them you fell, right. You forgot about the top step and you fell.”
Her eyes meet mine and for a moment we are locked in telepathy. I am sharing her secret and she pleads with me for help. Then she remembers her lack of self-worth and breaks the eye contact. She looks down at the floor in shame, the only emotion she refuses to repress.
“Don’t fuck with me on this one babe,” his hand reaches up her back, to the tendons of her neck. He squeezes and I watch her wince quietly, “I didn’t want to hurt you, but that won’t stop it from happening again if you fuck with me. Understand?”
Although it must pain her, she nods and once more looks at me. When she meets my stare again, I can see she is asking for something. Perhaps help or confirmation; more than likely she seeks some sort of understanding.
She looks to me for compassion because no one else in the room will meet her gaze. Some of them disregard her in ignorance. Most discount her plight because they, like her, believe she is deserving of the abuse.
The staff for example, they know what is really going on the second they see this couple walk in. The nurses and doctors passing by have been witness to a million women like her try to smile through the lie while he stands watch. The receptionist observes in compliance the girl’s struggle to fill out the paperwork. She has to use her left hand because the bones are broken in the right. The doctors will repair her injuries out of obligation and pat themselves on the back for it, but no one will campaign for her existence.
There is a security guard standing less than five feet from the desk for Christ sake, yet no one raises a flag. He does not use the mace he is provided as a weapon against the bully. No one does anything to help! Anger builds in me at a society that accepts the rape of its inhabitants as easily as it accepts the day.
I alone understand her. I know her reception of his fist is avoidance to something much more frightening- perhaps its abandonment. I can identify with her victimization. I was maltreated myself and I too have used complacency as a survival tool. Not anymore. I have compassion. I have a responsibility. I have been commissioned her saving grace.
This is part of a longer story that I hope to include in my published works later this summer. Thanks for reading- Talyn Marie.