The year is 1973. It is October. Emma, who has just begun the fourth grade, receives an invitation to Suzy’s sleepover: an asymmetrically scissored heart, cut from pink construction paper. Emma smiles. Emma doesn’t yet know that she will walk home from that sleepover after midnight. Emma doesn’t yet know that her mother will say, “You don’t just say things like that. You need to go apologize for being such a rude guest. Don’t ever speak of this to anyone else. What would everyone think?” after she shudders out, “Mom, I was raped.” No, Emma doesn’t know any of this yet. She goes home and packs her knapsack. Toothbrush: check. Jammies: check. Chatty Cathy doll: check. She doesn’t yet feel Little Suzy’s brother’s friends holding down her flailing limbs after all of the little girls fall asleep. Her shrieks are not yet concealed by 16-year-old palms. Emma hasn’t yet felt her body numbed to stillness, as she hovers above, watching her own innocence being emptied.
The year was 1973. The Year of Roe v. Wade. She might have needed an abortion, but she was only 9. Emma had felt completely alone until she realized that this was not uncommon. She grew up hearing the resounding “Me too” of her sisters and cousins and friends and colleagues.
The year is 2018 and Emma’s daughter knows her mother’s pain. She doesn’t ask, “What would everyone think?” No, she stands next to her in court, as her daughter makes a statement of a crime that will go unpunished. Emma’s daughter writes a social media post about her assault and how her rapist walked away, scot-free. She says that she likely wasn’t his first or last victim. She isn’t alone in her experience and neither is he. Emma’s mother reads this and dials her phone number. She asks her what her daughter was wearing. She blames Emma for this happening to her and thinks it’s distasteful to write about such things on the internet. Emma presses “End Call” because she doesn’t have time to explain what isn’t willing to be absorbed.
Emma and her daughter grasp hands, raised up in unison. They won’t back down. They won’t stop fighting. They won’t stay quiet. They know that the time for action is now. They know time’s up.
Savannah Slone is a queer writer who earned her B.A. in English: Professional and Creative Writing from Central Washington University and is completing her M.F.A. in Writing at Lindenwood University. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in or will soon appear in Manastash Literary Arts Magazine, Creative Colloquy, Heavy Feather Review, Boston Accent Lit, PaperFox Lit Mag, The Stray Branch, The Airgonaut, Ghost City Press, Sinister Wisdom, decomP magazinE, Maudlin House, and FIVE:2:ONE. Savannah lives in Skykomish, WA, where she works a handful of part-time jobs and cares for her toddler with autism. She enjoys reading, writing, knitting, hiking, and talking all things intersectional feminism.