She’s the bag lady in several layers of clothing, toothless and greasy-haired, pushing her shopping cart like a silent wraith along the sidewalks of your block.

She’s your elderly neighbor who willingly hid behind her husband for 40 years and who now, with his passing, lives in frightened invisibility.

She’s the woman you see every day at the bus stop on your way to work, her perfectly made-up face a carefully arranged mask of aloof inaccessibility.

She’s the morbidly obese woman who hates herself as thoroughly as she loves to eat. To avoid any chance of intimacy, she builds layers of fat around her core self and, by this means, hides in plain sight.

She’s the rude cashier at your supermarket, handling money day after day, too bankrupt in spirit to afford what it would cost her to question her easy acceptance of her unchallenged life.

She’s the most popular girl in jr. high (and how you envied her!), an early bloomer with full curves and naturally blonde hair, who a year later walked the school corridors with lowered head, muted by the shame of a bad reputation—a parting gift from the boy who swore he loved her before using, and then abandoning, her.

She’s the 8 year old suddenly robbed of her childhood, aged beyond her years by unwanted touches.

She’s the teen forced to bear her own father’s child.

She’s the woman whose mind fractured during a brutal childhood of constant rapings, whose survival depended on her ability to dissociate, to create many separate personalities to cope with the horrors lurking within the 4 walls of her suburban torture chamber.

She’s your sister, your mother, your best friend. She’s your daughter, your niece, your aunt, your cousin.

She’s shallow, to all surface observations. Her entire world revolves around her dual roles of wife and mother. Dull, you are swift to conclude, not comprehending that if she’s obsessed with recipes and laundry it’s because she can’t talk about the weightier matters (such as losing her virginity when she was pre-verbal) that keep her awake far into the night, long after her hubby and brood have fallen into peaceful slumber. You will consider her frivolous, if you consider her at all, not someone you wish to befriend, for the parameters of her domesticity would smother you. You can’t know that her easy submission to her responsibilities is her only lifeboat, providing something tangibly solid to cling to for dear life.

She’s a prostitute selling what she hates most: her flesh. When she lies beneath a stranger, going through the motions of feigned intimacy, she is remembering the scent of a particular aftershave, and furtive, middle-of-the-night gropings which resulted in the alcoholism, and self-mutilation, that began at the tender age of 11.

Sometimes she’s your soft place to fall.

Sometimes she’s your doppelganger.

Or, she’s your Princess Charming rescuing you in the only manner possible: by reminding you of your inherent value, thus awakening you from your trance of surface compliance, and decades old self-contempt.

She is you.

She is me.

She is.



Happy Valley, United States

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