Just a memory #MeToo

I was 21, a student of archaeology and happy to have landed a summer job on a remote part of northern Norway. The journey north was long and arduous, as I was on my own hauling a massive amount of luggage – as much as I could possibly carry. Not for personal use, it was for work.

I came to a harbour, I don’t recall where, in the pouring rain. A ferry was scheduled to come by a couple of hours later, that was the last part of my journey. The harbour was large and empty, situated away from the town. There was a small building there, a hut for travellers to wait in. I dragged all my bags in and sat down to wait.

A middle aged man was there as I arrived. He greeted me in the thickest northern Norwegian accent I have never heard, and I responded politely. The man kept talking, I barely understood and I had no interest in chatting with this rather unsavory looking person, so I tried to signal disinterest by picking up a book and quietly starting to read.

The man kept talking to me. My replies were still polite, but short as to not encourage further conversation. Not that he cared if I was interested or not.

He started asking me something, it was hard to make out what – his accent was just a garbled mess. He wanted me to do something, but I couldn’t understand what. He walked over to where I was sitting, came to look down on me, and repeated the request over and over. I stared down into my book and tried to ignore him. In the corner of my eye I saw him stick a hand into his trousers.

He started to jerk off, right there, with his groin next to my face.

I stared at my book.

The moment he backed away a bit I stood up, grabbed my many bags, and hurried outside. The rain was still pouring down but that mattered little. I sat down on a bench, within seconds freezing cold and soaked through by the rain, and with shaking hands grabbed my phone. For some odd reason I didn’t even think to call the police, no. I called my boyfriend, now my husband, and asked him to please just be with me on the phone for a while, as a safety precaution.

I sat in the heavy cold rain for two hours until the ferry came. The disgusting man in the building behind I never saw again.

Afterwards a load of good options were obvious. I should have called the police. I should have punched the bastard in the balls when he started masturbating. I should have, I should have, I should have. But I couldn’t. At the very moment it was happening, I couldn’t. There was only one thought running through me – don’t provoke him. Ignore. Be boring. Don’t provoke potential violence. He might have a knife, he might be violent, who knows? Stay still, don’t look. We were alone in the middle of nowhere, if something serious were to happen I’d be completely lost. So I stayed motionless.

 

I was lucky, he didn’t actually touch me. Nonetheless the memory still has a nauseatingly sharp burn. And you know what? I feel ashamed. So many women have suffered far worse, and here I am crying about a man who didn’t even touch me. I am ashamed that I couldn’t just handle the situation better, that I just sat there like a dumb fool and waited for it to end. I am ashamed that I didn’t even think to call the police.

 

There are no good words to end this post with, so I’ll just stop.

Wandering

Again I have been silent. No, I haven’t forgotten about you all, I have merely retreated for a bit to take care of myself. Times are rough, emotionally. But I’m hanging in there, so don’t worry. I’ll climb back out of the hole again. Hopefully with some fresh insights after lessons learned, but for now I’d settle for just being able to go through a day without chest pains and tears.

 

I’ll be alright.

 

My greatest sadness is the strain it all puts on my beloved husband. I so wish I could be a normal, happy, rock steady wife for him, but instead I am this. That is what hurts the most. It is worse than all the rest, and it is not rare for me to think those horrid thoughts – that he would be better off without me.

 

But, there are also still moments of joy. It’s in the scent and warmth of my husband as I hold him close. It’s in the deeply satisfying realization that I’ve learned something new. It’s in being able to help a friend, and put a smile on another’s face.

 

woods.jpg

 

If you are lost in the woods, who would you rather have guide you? One who has never been in those woods themselves, only seen it from the outside, or one who has walked the paths herself, and found the way out? Or perhaps even she who has made the woods her home. No longer lost, but safe and happy right where she is? I don’t know, I am still wandering.

 

 

 

Amputated (Dream)

 

You can’t do that! I cry out in fear,

watching the woman laid bare on the bed.

A blade presses gently against her arm, 

trailing an invisible line across her skin. 

And then once more further down, 

across the thigh above the knee.

It is diseased, you say. 

All between the lines you see.

There is no other way. 

 

I cry, I fear, I panic and think

that woman will die.

For how could she not?

 

You listen not to me.

Your hand is steady, 

you cut and reshape

the flesh that remains. 

 

It is with great relief I see

the woman stand

alive and free of pain,

free of all that was. 

So much, cut away, 

she’s now no taller than a child

but still alive.

 

Yes, I see her walking.

Through painful loss,

and frightful aid,

a brand new life.

Before they are gone (Dream)

 

I am awake.

How long I have slept, I can’t tell. 

Rising from bed I come to face a mirror.

Tracks across my bare skin, I see them there. 

 

Footprints, paw prints, bird prints, 

prints of unknown beasts.

With a careful finger I follow the tracks, 

trying to make sense of what can not be. 

 

More, there is more. 

Pictures emerging, figures and faces, 

beings of this world and the next.

I marvel at the sight.

 

Fading, they are fading quick. 

Record them, photograph them,

commit them to memory

before they are gone. 

Not Without Risk (dream)

 

The wilderness passes by at a slow pace, to the clop-clop-clop sound of hooves. It is not a horse I ride, not even a pony. Just a donkey, so small that my feet nearly touch the ground. 

Clop-clop-clop-clop, on we go.

Something catches my eye beside the road, something moving between trees and bushes. A blurr of colour, orange or yellow, swiftly gone. To see it better I take the spyglass from my side and raise it to my eye, seeing through the tube a picture only somewhat clearer. 

A tiger. Slowly stalking through the edge of the forest, slowly coming closer. I lower the glass, the animal has come close enough for me to clearly see it even without such tools. It has its eyes on me. It is coming.

Clop-clop-clop-clop I urge the donkey on along the road. We are too slow, all I can do is hope the attack never comes. 

 

 

 

A Cleansing

 

snowy skies

 

 

In rainwater soak

Leaves of birch chopped fine

Into it coarse salt pour and

Mix with almond oil

 

 

Strip down bare

Even if cold

Leave not a thread

Even if cold

 

 

As thorough as ever then

Wash your limbs

Wash your body

Wash your hair

Rinse in running water

 

 

With salted birch and oil you then

Scrub your limbs

Scrub your body

Scrub your hair

Rinse in running water

 

 

Afterwards

Clean new clothes

Chamomile and honey tea

Sleep and be reborn

 

 

snowy skies

 

 

 

Tainted

 

The flame of Odin’s candle flickered, thrown back and forth as if in agony. I took a breath but found no air. I closed my eyes but found no solace. Guide me, I asked. Please, guide me.

The writhing flame only screamed.

Please, I asked. Please.

No.

Every twist of the sacred flame charred my intentions. Please, I cried.

No.

Not when word of self loathing mark your body. Why would I speak to one who is worthless, one who is no one? 

The flame crackled and twisted around its own self as I reached for my blade. My hands were steady even as my heart trembled. Sharp, so very sharp, against skin.

Words of self loathing, I scraped them off. Words of self degradation, removed from my flesh.

When not a trace of shame remained, the flame grew silent.

Such words are not easily erased. The naked eye might not see the hateful lines, but still they are there. 

He did not speak to me. No booming voice nor gentle whisper. Only agony.

Do not approach me so tainted. 

 

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