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christine “she that fights monsters might take care lest she become a monster” Copyright© Cian Sean McGee CSM PUBLISHING ‘FREE ART COLLECTION’ Santo André, São Paulo, Brazil 2013 Second Edition All rights reserved. This FREE ART ebook may be copied, distributed, reposted, reprinted and shared, provided it appears in its entirety without alteration, the reader is not charged to access it and the downloader or sharer does not attempt to assume any part of the work as their own. Free art, just a writer’s voice and your conscious ear. ISBN-13: 978-1484052983 ISBN-10: 1484052986

Cover Design: C. Sean McGee Interior layout: C. Sean McGee Author Foto: Keli BazarBizarro

this short story was written under the iinfluence of: Portishead - Portishead Death - The Sound of Perseverance


“she that fights monsters might take care lest she become a monster�


free art collection 3

for keli, nenagh and tomรกs


chapter 0 The shades were drawn, keeping the wonderful illusion of night acting out its façade to help the young woman that lay curled neath the blankets, cozy and warm in her sleep. Morning had broken some minutes or hours before but the oppressive light had yet to steal Christine from her dreaming and so as her eyelids flickered, her mind imagined all of the things that were only real here, in the comfort of her bed, behind flickering eyelids and drawn shades. The sound of noirish guitar played lightly from the cell phone beside her bed that was just within her hand’s reach. Her mattress was laid out on the floor and she, stretched across the entire bed, slept like a young child, on any angle that suited her. The noirish guitar then danced with a noirish, triste voice, slowly building in its waking resonance so that Christine’s eyelids flickered; at first trifling then trembling and then finally alerting as the theatre in her mind lowered its curtains. Her eyes opened with heavy applause as the ethereal woman canting from the song on her phone sang about uncertainty with such a salient and alleging demureness that it had Christine wanting this kind of affection, to be stripped of the fantasy of her own self. And as the tempo shifted and the beat shuffled through her bones, she lifted herself up until she was seated and leaning her heavy head against the palms of her hands. Beside her; sprawled out on his back, lay her knotted, orange Persian, his legs stretching out before and after his pudgy and knotted orange body and a gingerly smile etched upon his face, hidden under a mess of curling and intertwining whiskers, knotted like the scruffy fur on his body. “You are so friggin adorable” she said, turning to the knotted, orange Persian and diving into his thick fur, pressing her face against his belly then roughly digging her fingers into his fur, rolling him back and forth. 5

“But so lazy� she said whilst the purring cat looked her long in her eyes and stretched one of his paws towards her mouth, pushing his claws out lightly until they pressed against the cracked skin on her lips, coyly pushing her away but really wanting her to lean close enough so he could lick the tip of her nose. The morning light was starting to defeat the drawn shades. Christine turned to the blinds and pulled on a string that hanged lower than the window, down along the wall to the mattress just centimeters from the floor. The cord flung upwards and took with it the drawn shades inviting a deluge of morning sun into the room and blinding both her and the knotted, orange Persian. The music stopped. She stretched out the sleep in her muscles and opened her closet, reaching blindly as she normally would for a blouse and a skirt that would be heaped somewhere beside an old acoustic guitar that was dusted heavily from the years of promises that had been wished upon it. As she walked, she skipped; her hands inflected back slightly so that the tips of her fingers curved like a ramp. And as she stepped upon the cold tiles of the bathroom floor; with the orange, knotted Persian at her step, her toes tingled. She loved this sensation of morning; the chill on her toes and the feel of the cool draft coming from the open balcony door. When she stepped, she lowered her foot slowly, treating the cold tiles as if she were slipping into a hot bath, easing the bottom of her foot, lowering muscle by muscle and touching nerve by nerve so that every inch of her skin could feel as her toes did; having the morning dress itself against her entire body and feeling its passage across her skin instead of ignorantly diving in to a brisk adaptation; how some people changed days like they changed their minds. Standing under the shower and with hot water cascading over the front of her face, Christine thought about her mother, wondering if she was thinking about her and whether she might be angry or disappointed that she hadn’t been around for some time. 6

The water streamed down her face and it was impossible; even for her, to distinguish the tears as they caught flight with the water pooling by her toes before slipping away into the darkness of the drain below. An awkward meow broke Christine from the washing of her sadness. She wiped the stream from the glass door and saw the knotted, orange Persian seated directly in front lifting its paw to the door and meowing in pained distraught as if she were drowning and he were voicing his dissent; mourning the celebration of her grief. “Einzy, you’re incorrigible” she said with a smile kissing her joyless face.


chapter 1 Christine didn’t use a lot of makeup, she didn’t need to. And more importantly, she didn’t feel that she needed to. When she looked in the mirror, she didn’t upset her reflection by imagining it any different than it was. She loved to see it; to smile and see her very self smiling back. And when she did, she didn’t trap herself on any of her probable imperfections; probable because she, like most people, was bound to grace some unique strokes in how her skin bent around her muscles and the contours of her bones and though they were probable, I still couldn’t tell you what they were because describing Christine, looking through her eyes, I myself can’t find a single thing wrong out of place. Christine dressed in a dark suit; pin striped pants that curved to her body but didn’t sexualize her in any way and a jacket that broadened and lifted her shoulders without hardening her feminine allure. She tied her hair in a ponytail that pulled high on the ridge of her head and carried long down her back. She wore, under her jacket, a simple white blouse of which she opened from the second button and which sat loose on her body. The fabric rolled like little waves through the break in her jacket as the chilly morning air wrapped against her quickly moving pace. Christine walked briskly to the subway, only three blocks from her house. She ran through in her mind all the plans that she had for the day; firstly meeting with Devin before the meeting to go over the presentation and ensure that he had learned all of his parts, the script she had spent weeks preparing for him. Then, if all went well, there would be lunch and drinks no doubt as was custom to close any deal. And she had to pick up some treats for Einzy on her way back from the gym and she was also supposed to meet some friends for drinks tonight but she didn’t like going out on a Wednesday night; there was still the rest of the week to act out and anyway. 8

She preferred to curl up on bed with Einzy instead and watch a movie or listen to some music and nurse a small glass of her favourite Chilean sauvignon blanc. The subway was crowded as it always was in the morning. Christine preferred to avoid the conflict and the shoving and nudging and the tiresome grudging, choosing instead to leave her house that little bit earlier so she could afford for her journey to take that little bit longer so; without stress and without much ado, she could arrive at work on time; time enough to pour herself an espresso and prepare the profile she wore around the office; the think skin she wore to shield that particular office demeanour - those traded subtle comments and wayward glares that were as unfortunate and common as flies at a picnic. It wasn’t easy achieving the success she had. It meant a lot of hard work and in many ways working tenfold more than her friends and colleagues, all of them men. She never shied from taking on their share of projects for herself, knowing that any slip along this steep slope would see her fall before anyone else, so she had to be sure, if she was pushing her way up that hill, that hers were firmly dug into the earth for should anyone above her lose their footing, she could take their weight and carry them for as long as she could bear. It wasn’t quite fair but then again, there were very few women who had half the success as she and maybe if she pushed a little harder, dug her feet in a little deeper and climbed a little further, she could be at a height where she could extend her hand and help others like her; inspiring young women to dig in their heels and succeed like her, leading through example - through hard work and through just reward; like her mother had taught her. Her table was at the far end of the office and it was a walk she both relished and reviled, having in one ear, the whisperings of want and admiration with lauding eyes lifting like regal arms as she walked along the rows of desks and then of her revulsion, there were the libelous eyes; looking up with grudging contempt, in vagrant disbelief that a woman was in their command, whispering 9

in their lowly murmur words that she could not hear but of whose spiteful tongue was signing upon their pinching eyes. As she walked, she couldn’t help but feel every eye upon her, for every eye was upon her and every stare was bridged with a hiss or a tisk before eventually, at the height of her passing crescendo, those baying eyes bowed back down before their flashing screens with their fingers typing away, papers shuffling and the volume lifting from a whisper to a dull roar as tongues turned to matters of work and obligation and promises and failings and excuses and blamings. Seated at her desk at the end of the hall, Christine prepared her notes, and stared with her own blaming eyes towards the far end of the room where a door was opening, and from it, walked a young man in a striking pin striped suit, broad shoulders, wavy dark hair, blue eyes - his suit tight and curving to his exercised and disciplined body, his hands constantly lifting to point at someone around the office; clicking his fingers, winking his eye and slowly working his way towards Christine who sat with a ‘that should be me’ look in her eye. “Big day” Devin said. “Are you ready for this? This is your shot you know. If we make this deal, you’ll finally get that promotion. That’ll be your office” he said, pointing to the room at the far end of the floor; the room he had just come from. “You deserve it” he said. Christine had her eyes trained on the door and imagined the small steel plate - which had her focus - reading out her name. And she imagined the door opening; as if a light breeze had pushed upon a half closed handle and she imagined, like those watching her would imagine, how striking she would look, seated behind a grand glass table with monitors lined up behind her, a few personal photos erected in golden frames waiting in attention for her eyes to shift in their direction, her pony tail just visible as her head tilted downwards with her eyes stern and focused on some important documents in her clasp as around her, the room would be decorated lightly with a large golden Buddha on one side, carrying a 10

large golden sack of proverbs over his shoulder and a collection of samurai swords that were probably real, stacked neatly to her left. “Did you get everything done? It’s all prepared?” asked Devin, looking through her notes. “It’s all done. Listen, do you really think this will work? We’ve yet to deliver anywhere near this kind of deadline” she asked. “It doesn’t matter. We can renegotiate the scope down the line. Just make the sale, that’s all we need. It doesn’t matter what we promise once everything is underway, it just matters how we finish” said Devin. “I don’t know if I can do this” she said, sounding nervous. “You have no choice Chris. You’ve come this far. You really want to end up back there in the trenches? Look at you, you’re a woman. Do you know how many women leaders there are in this company? None, not one. Why? Because women are indecisive. They are led by doubt and feelings. Their place is in their home; on their backs or if they want a career, taking messages, holding calls, filing papers and taking dictation… on their knees” he said laughing into her ear, letting her in on a secret, patting her back, inviting her as one of the boys. Christine felt appalled and irascible. She hated the way he called her Chris. It wasn’t her name but he did it anyway so that he could masculinize her; for the sake of work, imagining her without breasts and then at evening drinks, imagining them as all that she had and all that she were. But he was the closest thing she had to a friend and he was on the rung above her so she had no choice but to dig her heels in a grin maddeningly, taking the pat on the back and nodding in abated concurrence. “If I lie and this doesn’t work, if we can’t deliver in six months, this’ll come back at me. They’ll hold me responsible” said Christine. “Listen, Chris, relax, stop being so god damn pious. Look, you don’t wanna lie, I get it. Neither do I. We’re good people. But every truth is born a lie. It’s true. The second we start to sell, there’s 11

no product; it’s a lie. We dress that lie as the truth and we throw it in the air. Our promise is that in six months, this product will be in your hands, certifiable and guaranteed. Whether we can deliver in six months doesn’t make this promise any more or less true. Why? Cause it’s not six months from now and we don’t know if this promise is the truth or the apparent lie that you’re naming it to be. Every truth is born a lie until it’s proven to be the truth. But that’s not your job Chris. Your job is to sell that lie. Dress it as the truth. Keeping it that way, well that’s their job” he said, pointing to the peons before them. “They keep the lie floating, to keep it dressed as a truth so in six months’ time, when you’re furnishing your new office, the lie will become a truth. No promises are real Chris. Anything that is not here and now is untrue, it’s unreal, it’s a lie and it’s our job, the reason we get paid so fucking much money, to motivate those plebs to make truths happen. We’re magicians. We’re fucking messiahs. Every truth is born a lie” he said, seating sideways upon her desk, his hands cusped over his right leg while he scanned the office with his eyes, looking for the returning sexually favouring eyes of less important women, those whose tenure was to have him at the heat of their desire. “Every truth is born a lie” she said in concurrence to herself; dressing her fraud in adulation. “I’m gonna give you the floor on this one. You did most of the prep, yeah? I think you’ve earned it. Whatta you say fella?” he said squeezing firm against her broadened jacket laden shoulders, touching her as he would any man in her position.


chapter two The meeting was long and by the end, Christine’s voice was starting to crackle and bare the wear of her nerves; being acted upon by her growing confidence and want to tear Devin from his rung, watching him wailing and waving as he fell past her on the way to his demotion. Christine had spoken the entire of the meeting, running through countless slides of graphs and bars and lines and numbers and statistics and green and blue were the colours she used the most and when she spoke, she hardened her voice, choosing shorter more abrasive and stabbing words, being more decisive, being more direct and believing in the presentation and the floating of her lie. “And we would like to thank you, for giving us this opportunity to present to you here today. I trust that your decision will best reflect the success that you have in business and I know that we can tailor the most affable solution for your needs and be the partner unto which dresses their service, product and attendance in quality, assurance, innovation and peace of mind. Thank you� she said as a round of light applause allowed her to return to her seat. The men in suits convened in circular fashion, whispering and nodding and pointing and prodding at the documents before them; but mostly nodding. And for this, Christine sat with less worry, her stomach turning like an overworked mixer, piling her doubt and indecision on top of one other and mixing them with the tears she wished she were alone to shed. She looked to her right and beside her, Devin was seated with his hands behind his head, his elbows swinging back and forth in boyish glee while beside him, the directors and board members all watched the umming and ahhing of the gentlemen before them, waiting on every breath to let go of their own and either sigh a celebrative relief or extol a humbling defeat. 13

“If you would like…” said Christine before being finger shushed by her CEO. The men in suits looked up from their negotiated whispers with concurring eyes. “We agree. Well done, fantastic presentation” said the other CEO. A roar of celebration met the awkward silence and broke the spell of nerves that were tossing and turning in Christine’s belly and each and everyone in the room bridged a sigh of relief, wiping the sweat from their palms before reaching for the shaking of hands. Christine felt a well of success tickle at her feet and she smiled with adverting pride, no longer able to maintain her casual reserve. She looked to Devin with a ‘we did it’ kind of grin and wink and his unto her was of a colluding friend, spent within the same breath of air after having held of their last one for so long. “I told you” said Devin, leaning in to Christine’s ear. Christine pulled herself from her chair and walked towards the three men with her hand extended towards the other CEO, expecting him to meet her overture and extend his own. But as she passed the side of the desk; past the window with the open shades that cast her every move to every eye which - followed her every step - and as she raised her nervous hand with her widening smile and her vanishing nerves, her path was stopped by Devin as he took the open hand of the other CEO, closing out the circle of men and leaving Christine with her extended hand dangling in midair to the acclaim of those watching her every step outside of the room. “Congratulations Devin” the two CEOs said as they shook his hand firm and mechanic. “We will need to talk about your promotion” said his CEO. Christine stood in still wonder. The sense of accomplishment that had choired in her blood and in her mind was now deafened by the clashing sound of her heart shattering like cheap glass into a thousand pieces. She felt naked and cheated, feeling the thousand eyes all looking at her in 14

mockery, but she didn’t assume that role. Without the severance of much grace, Christine naturally rested her shaking hand against her friend’s back, defusing her jest with celebration; unable to break the circle, but taking her place by its side. “I can’t take complete credit,” said Devin. Christine kept her hand tight on his shoulder, squeezing roughly as some manly reward, expecting her just applause. “It’s your needs that inspire us to outdo our own potential and provide an ever evolving service, so thank you. Thank you” he said shaking the hand of the other CEO and garnering the affection of his own. “Let’s get some drinks to celebrate. I know a wonderful place nearby. Very chic. They have this whole fetish theme you will just love” he said in a lowish hush to the other CEO. The men all bellowed in a molesting type of laugh, the kind that creeped its way into Christine’s skin, having her want to wash herself immediately as if some stray dog were licking her neck on a summer’s day. And so she wore a pained smile with her hands trapped by her side while the group of men all lined as one and exited the room with Christine in tow, marching in their wake, with every eye once again on her every step, thinking as a general and less like the dunce that she imagined the every eye on her every step must certainly have been attesting her as being. In the limousine, Christine sat next to the driver, offering little response to his probing questions. Every turn of the clock and every extra kilometer that clicked were like a wire turning on her heart and soul and the more it turned, the angrier she became, thinking in her mind of all the things that she wanted to say and wished she had the gall to do. The driver kept asking Christine about the men in the backseat and how much money she thought they probably earned and whether or not there were hookers in the backseat with them. And was that why she was sitting in the front? And why was she sitting 15

in the front? And was she an assistant or was she a secretary? And what is the difference between the two? And did she like her job? And did she think they would be going to prostitutes? And why was she so uptight? And what the hell crawled up her arse? And there was no need to be sour puss; he was just trying to pass the time. And did she know that she thought like a man? And was she eating too much red meat? Because apparently it digested poorly and could block up her digestive system and that could cause stress and constipation and heart disease and cancer. And did she like Portishead? Because the singer was a girl and she was a girl too and give him a reason to be a woman, he just wants to be; a woman. “I just wanna be a woman, it’s all I wanna be” sang The Driver, horribly off key and somewhat confessional. The car stopped. Christine was the first to step out. She walked to the other CEO’s door and opened it before the driver could even manage to undo his buckle. Her hand extended to help him out and to address the congratulations of which had abated her. ‘Thanks darling” said the CEO, taking her hand and when up and about, stuffing a ten dollar note in her open blouse. The two CEOs walked side by side into the bar through a large red door and into a dimly lit corridor; greeted at the door by a woman who wore little else other than a leather corset and knee high leather boots. The two CEOs took a menu from her hand and a kiss on their cheeks before disappearing into the sultry dark. The limousine then cleared of the other men from the meeting including Devin who was locked in heated debate with another man over the proper use of tweed and which girls at the office gave the best head. “Dev” Christine said. Devin walked right past her with the other men and took a menu and a kiss on the cheek from the woman dressed in discipline and desire. Christine lowered her questioning hands, huffed away her frustration and walked towards the open red door. She smiled kindly, extending her hand to take a menu and join the other men 16

inside. The woman slammed the door shut almost taking two of Christine’s fingers clean off. “Hey, what the hell?” yelled Christine. A small silver panel slid open. “I’m with those gentlemen” Christine said. “You’re not welcome here” said The Woman in the Corset. “Give me one good reason” demanded Christine. “This is an executive bistro. There are rules. No exceptions.” “And what am I, an exception?’ asked Christine offended. “You’re a woman” replied The Woman in the Corset sliding the silver panel shut.


chapter three Christine banged on the door with the palm of her hand, furious that she had been refused entry by some whore, just because she was a woman. Who the hell did they think they were? In this day and age, for this type of macho sexist slavery to still exist. “Open this goddamn door” she screamed. Her calm and reverie had escaped her. All she could think of was of her friend, that snake, sitting beside those men, shaking their hands, drinking their drinks, smoking their cigars and taking every inch of her acclaim and for what? For being a lazy fucker who was too busy trying to get in the pants of every damn secretary he could find to offer one second of help and always being there when hands needed shaking, when a crown needed its prince; always waiting somewhere on her tail, catching her easy breeze and casting her aside in the dash to the end. “Excuse me” she said as an old man pushed past her, ignorant of either her worth or her presence alone before him. The old man knocked on the door and The Woman in the Corset greeted him with a smile, a menu and a kiss on the cheek. Christine pressed her hand firm on the door and wedged her foot against the frame to fight her way in. “This is not fair. This is sexist” she said. The Woman in the Corset pulled hard on the door and it slammed shut without any bother. The silver panel slid open. “Listen it’s nothing personal, but this is an executive bistro and you’re a woman. You don’t see me trying to sneak my pincher into the cinema” The Woman in the Corset said. “I’m a dog? What? Do you even hear what you’re saying?” said Christine. The silver panel slid open. “Don’t make a scene, please. Just wait with the other wives 18

and girlfriends by the umbrella.” Christine looked to her right where a white umbrella erected high into the air and under it, sipping flutes of water, were several women, some of them young, some of them old, some of them lovers and some of them wives and all of them, with a peaceful content smile dressed upon their stupid faces. “Are you really gonna just sit here and let them tell you where you can and can’t go?” she said to the women. The women looked at each other; first to their left and then to their right and then back and forth and then back again, all shaking their heads in dumbfounded disagreement unto whatever it seemed they should not have an opinion. “We have every right to be in there, just as they do. Seriously, what century is this?” she said. “Please don’t make a scene. They’ll bring out crackers soon” said one of the women. “Are you high?” said Christine. “Listen, we don’t want to bother the gentlemen in their place” said one of the women. “Bother them? Their place? This is everyone’s place, this is everyone’s world. We already fought this stupid argument decades ago. I’m a manager for Christ’s sake, a female manager” screamed Christine. “But you’re not an executive hunny” said one of the older women. “Now hush a bit, you’re not acting very lady like.” The wire pulling tight against Christine’s heart and soul was now primed to trip. “I say we protest. I’m serious. They can’t get away with this sexist macho attitude. I say we protest, right here, right now. Who’s in?” said Christine. The women all looked nervous but easily led. They looked to each other for assurance but were no match for Christine’s growing confidence and assertion. “We’ll get some paper from across the road, make up some signs. We’ll picket them. We can’t let them get away with it. 19

Nothing may change but there is a principle yeah? You have principles don’t you?” “Well yes, but who will listen to us? We’re women. Nobody will hear us.”


chapter four Armed with placards, Christine and the other women stood by the red door waving their symbols into the air whilst chanting aloft at the top of their lungs, punching their signs into the air like unyielding wooden fists. The women were chanting in and out of succession, most unsure of what is was they were actually protesting until Christine took the reins once more and led them; with her will and with her rage, into a simple repeating cant. “A woman’s place is not at home, by a stove or on a phone. Women’s rights, just and fair, every woman, everywhere.” The women, led by Christine chanted the simple song at the height of their voices, shouting over the sound of passing trucks and cars; revving their engines and honking their horns and the nearby workmen; grabbing their crotches and whistling their profanity. In truth, nobody saw them outside of what they were. Nobody heard them, outside of what they wanted to hear. The only fight they had was with the afternoon sun blazing over their heads. The women were smiling and pacing in circles; some looking at the backs of the women to their front while others stared outwards to the bustling street; raising their voices as their heads passed the sidewalk then quieting, only to heighten again when they passed the infamous red door, shouting at the tops of their lungs in childish rebellion, for the most part, in a sense of joyous glee. The women were having fun and were singing along as if they were humming along to a foreign song; not quite connected to the words, completely foreign to any meaning and their emotion, lacking any definition. There was no fight in their intention whatsoever. They could 21

have been singing Russian for all it mattered. There was no conviction in a single word that they sang and Christine knew this; she could feel it and she could see it in every eye that was absent to their every step and in every absent ear with its hungering deaf applause. “What’s right for you is right for me, the right of woman, the right to be” they chanted. “Mother, daughter, sister, friend, a woman is more than a means to an end” they chanted, roaring the words in heightened appeal like a young child; fervently shouting a word they just learned as loud as they could, over and over and until eventually they tired or accidentally came across the context and then found themselves another word. Some of the women yelled, some of them whispered and some of them giggled as they fought to undo their shackle of shame, preferring maybe to silently support this kind of idea and not make an unfortunate scene by being the nail that stood out. And the people which passed them on the street either walked through them or; unperturbed and unchallenged, around them with none seeming any more affected than they would be by a foul odour or a sounding alarm. “It’s not working” thought Christine. She stopped her marching and rested her placard on the floor. The other women; in her attention, did the same, following her every command, resting their feet and laughing out loud as they dismissed; one by one, every word they had sung and then mocked the manner in which it had been done; themselves saving face so as not to lessen themselves with the queer looks of strangers passing by. “We need to think differently” said Christine. “This is ridiculous” said one of the women. “She’s right” said another. “I can’t even hear myself. Who’s going to listen?” said another woman. ‘We just need to be louder, angrier. They will listen. Shout 22

like you mean it, like you’re actually offended” said Christine. “But I don’t know if I am. I mean, are you offended dear?” said an old woman to another. “We look silly” said another woman. “You should be offended. You have every right to be and that’s the point. You have every right to every right that men have. This is not the Stone Age, we shouldn’t be told we can’t do something or we can’t be somewhere or we can’t be someone, just because we’re women. It’s not fair” said Christine. The other women all looked to one another for someone to agree or disagree so that they could agree with that person. “What’s the point, really? Look around, nobody is noticing, nobody is listening. We are protesting to ourselves, for what? We could be sitting here quietly, not making a fuss. They’ll be bringing out crackers soon” said The Old Woman. Christine thought about all those sexing sneers and winks and patting and touching and rubbing and squeezing and all of the other bonding to which she had given herself; smiling and nodding at lewd remarks, laughing at their amentiferous wit, shaking their hands and then swallowing and repressing every inch of her pride just to be like them so that one day; maybe, she would be enough like them to get away with being able to be somewhat like herself. A fire roared in her mind when she thought of her friend and the way he looked at her and the way he looked at other women; the way he reduced them to vaginas and mouths. The fire ignited throughout her veins when she heard his voice calling out to her; calling her by a man’s name, not seeing her in any way as the woman that she was; the successful and diligent professional, the daughter to her mother and in their office and what appeared to be the whole world, an exception to the rule. But no, to him, to her friend and to her superiors, and to her subordinates, she wasn’t Christine; the sister or daughter of anyone, she was just Chris; one of the guys. Christine clenched her fingers into the palms of her hands, squeezing until the tips of her nails broke off against her callousing 23

skin; hardening by the cementing rage and castigation sweating from her pores. As The Old Woman turned, her eyes almost popped out of her head in shock. Before her; on the floor, lay an expensive jacket that had cost Christine a month’s salary when she first started working at the company. Beside it; crumpled in a heap in a puddle of murky water, was her white blouse, the one she first wore to her mother’s funeral and to every significant meet after that, piling mound upon mound of other people’s shit onto her own plate and smiling as she looked the part, scoffing it all down. And beside her crumpled, dirtying blouse was the last bind of her womanly self; her ordinary cream bra. Christine stood strangely serene, painting words onto her bare chest; angry, defamatory words; vile repulsive words that would sound out like the feigned kindness and deficient pigeonholing she had heard her whole life. The resplendent marginal echoing from her brother, never being set upon and baggaged with curfew and exception like she, to her lovers; for the sake of her sex, making an invalid of her by setting out the most trivial tasks; with their gentlemanly honour, to take from her. But when it mattered; when she really deserved to feel like a woman, they would lick of their own plates and tire of her converse; rolling off of their chivalry and leaving her empty and unattended. “Put your clothes back on, have you no shame? You’re making everyone uncomfortable” said The Old Woman, shocked and dismayed for her; turning away in revulsion from Christine’s near naked body. The women felt strange and awkward and Christine felt empowered and undefeatable; putting tiny slithers of black tape in an x, over her nipples. “If we want to fight men then we have to think like men. If we want anyone to hear us then we have to make them see us first. And what gets a man’s attention? Sex. They see us as objects, as things; something to fuck and something to feed their children and 24

something to clean the house and something to suck their cocks and something they can make feel useful only when it appeases them. I’m not just my tits, I’m not just my pussy” screamed Christine. “Then put them away” said The Old Woman. And stop with that profanity. It’s not lady like.” Christine cut strips of black tape and then took a thin paintbrush and dipped its bristles in black paint and with her eyes locked, she approached each woman with a predatory stare, pinning their restraint and defenses, submitting one and all to her will and to the duce of her tremarious want. One by one, she helped them out of their bondage; their prettying garments that only enslaved their bodies with subservient reward. Over their nipples she placed the x of their defiant censorship and on their bodies she painted abrasion; strong, short, blunt, fighting words. “Now they will see us” she screamed. The women stood side by side, their naked breasts exposed into the afternoon sun, obscenities scrawled across their chests; abrasive, ironic obscenities. Christine was a pith of rage. Her mind was red and it was not so much about that door anymore. That was just a catalyst to something far deeper; a repression that she had assumed as a baggage that she had to quietly command so that she could have success, so that she could claim it as her own and so that she could lead others to it; other women like her, other women who just wanted what was fair. And now she was leading others as she had never imagined, as maybe her plight had prepared her for; to take the cause of righteousness and attack the monster head on, to bow no more service, to play no more the moral chord and to stand toe to toe with her oppressor; it, that bedded in the culture of man, that spoke in through his tongue and encouraged him to repress women with his open hand and his considerate heart. She was by the fore of her droughted isle, leading her 25

women to water; to their right to feed themselves. And as she stood toe to toe with man; the image of Devin scolding in her mind, she looked long into his cavernous eyes; into the abyss, and when she did, the abyss looked long into her and there she found her own reflection.


chapter five By midafternoon, their small group of shouting women had grown, with more woman spilling from the flux of the streets in their direction; finding some reason to part from their lovers or their obligation, taking off their shirts and shouting along with their brethren for change; unyielding the quieted little girl within them that had been educated with weakness and danger and fright since birth. The women marched adamant and forceful in their circles, stepping right up to the line of the curb, yelling at passing cars that drove by honking their horns and whistling their mouths. Above them; on a nearby building, looking down with vehement villain, a group of construction workers filmed the women’s protest; their cameras focused only on their breasts while the voice of the women’s sedition went deafened by the men’s lecherous commentary of all the degradation they would most certainly do; the backslapping, horsewhipping degradation of what they would imagine upon someone else’s daughter, someone else’s sister and someone else’s mother but never their own; for as women had no rights with men, they had even less with their domesticators; their lovers, their brothers, their husbands, their fathers. The women shouted and cursed and waved and branded their clenching fists as Christine had led them to do and they were all coursing on an adrenaline fuelled venom in their veins; high on fight. “Consideration is a farce, I am more than tits and arse” they chanted in the air, throwing their arms like swinging axes as the words on their chests swung with them, painted on their swinging breasts. Still, nobody could see them; nobody that mattered; not the monster they wanted to face. As the women screamed, a van pulled up beside the red door; mounting the curb and almost knocking over the entire group. 27

The women screamed in obvious objection and Christine stormed over to the windshield, beating her clenching fist and spitting wildly against the glass but the driver had a certain look in his eye; as if she weren’t there, as if he could see the outline and detail on the small vase that was blocked from his view, behind her. The man behind the wheel saw straight through her and saw straight through all of them as if they did not exist; as if they were not there. The van door opened and a television crew burst outwards as if they were rushing out of a compound and into enemy fire, assuming their chain of command and acting out their every order. First came the man with a heavy camera on his shoulder, jumping out of the van and pushing through the women; knocking the older woman over as he crouched before the entry to the red door. Behind him; and second, came the sound man, flicking switches on a box tied to his belt whilst thrusting a large boom into the air and taking his stance behind the first man; out of shot. Then came the reporter; a woman, styled, assertive, masculine; ignoring the plight of the women and standing in front of the red door in the light of the camera. The women; thinking their plight had been heard, jumped to their feet and crowded by the red door, waving their placards, shaking their clenched fists and chanting out their songs but the woman reporter spoke as if they were not there, as if the words coming from their hearts were but mere irritation, a background hiss, a backfiring car, a road being broken or a dispute being settled; unwanted, mutable noise. Christine stepped in front of the reporter and held her fist in the air, canting what now sounded more like brazen obscenity than anything else. But behind her, the reporter kept reporting, seemingly unfazed, unthreatened and unbuggered by the apparent distraction; seemingly unknown to the apparent protest; apparent, being apparently only to them. Still, Christine shouted of her plight and the plight of any woman being abused by social condition and as her voice crackled 28

and croaked; still, nobody noticed her. They were not angered, defendant, pestered or amused. They just did not see her and they did not hear her. Except of course for the salaciousness from the building above; whistling and growling and cooing and howling; seeing only the sex which was all that they could imagine. The silver panel slid open and then shut again before the red door opened and from inside the cavern of dim light came a procession of men of apparent importance; importance enough to warrant the reporter to turn her attention away from the camera and solicit a segment’s worth of responses. Christine shouted some more, stepping first between the camera and the reporter, then between the reporter and the important men but it didn’t matter; she didn’t exist, she wasn’t there. The reporter kept reporting. She didn’t augment her speech or raise her voice to be heard. She spoke in the same untethered delivery while the important men responded accordingly, without any contest. They brushed past Christine, leaving her still and stupid with her clenched fist clenching firmer so that her knuckles widened and the muscles in her arms hardened and her blood seemed to thicken. “Why don’t they listen? They’re just ignoring us. I’d rather be ignored with my clothes on” said The Old Woman, taking her bra and shirt from the floor and putting them back over her naked upper body. “What are you doing? We’re just getting started” said Christine. “We are ghosts. We don’t matter. You see them?” The Old Woman said, pointing to the workmen leering from above. “They can see us. That’s all. And look at us; look at you, exposing yourself like that. For who? For them” she said pointing back at the men in disgust. “They don’t know any different. You put back on your shirt, they still see through it. The same way these people don’t see us now. Men, they only see our sex, nothing more. You can put your shirt on for all you like, but those dirty bastards will still see your 29

tits because that is how they always saw you. How they see me now is no different to how they will see you with your shirt on. They strip you in their minds but they can’t strip the insult from my breasts. That will stay with them. If they won’t listen to my words, then let them lick them off my insulting tits” said Christine. “You’re crazy” said The Old Woman. “I’m waiting for crackers. This was fun at first, but you’re taking this too seriously. This is just getting weird now.” Christine’s eyes flared. She looked at The Old Woman; long into the abyss of her eyes and the abyss, it looked back and there; once again, she saw her own reflection and found the effect of man, drawn upon The Old Woman’s skin. “Fuck off ” Christine said. “You’re weak and you make every woman around you weak. Go, get the hell away from here” she screamed, pushing The Old Woman on the path and kicking her in the behind like a stubborn mule to force her on her way down the street. The other women looked on in shock. “They don’t see us because it’s not enough to think like a man or to speak like a man. If we want to fight men, we have to act like a man” shouted Christine. The other women looked at each other confused, apprehensive and a little frightened. “If a man can piss standing on his feet then a woman can piss standing on her feet” shouted Christine. She threw down her placard and stormed back to the red door and banged three times with her clenched fist. The silver panel slid open and a woman’s eyes look down in dismay as Christine took off her pants and her underwear, lifted her leg so that her left foot pressed against the door and started to urinate, resting her hand against the top of the door like a man would, the wall above the urinal or the branch of a tree. She swung her hips in circular fashion as a man would, playing with the rim of the bowl and as she urinated like a man, the 30

other women behind her covered their naked breasts, feeling horribly estranged by what they were witnessing. They clothed themselves ravenously and like frightened sheep, they huddled together and backed away from Christine. “Oh god, are you ok?” screamed one of the women. “Her breasts!” screamed another. Christine looked down and her breasts had fallen to the floor. She continued to stare through the panel and deep into the abyss of the woman’s eyes looking back and there she found; once more, a reflection of herself. Her anger swelled and soared and she saw in her mind the image of Devin laughing at her and in her mind, she tore off his skin, piece by piece until she could see that face beneath it was her own looking back. Christine looked down again and shook the last drops of urine from her penis before backing away from the door, picking up her pants from the ground and casually dressing herself, buttoning her blouse all of the way so that her shirt pulled tight against her neck and she took from the backseat of the limousine beside her, a grey neck tie and she pulled it firm against the collar of her shirt. Christine knocked three times on the door and the silver panel slid open and then shut. A lock turned and the woman in a corset greeted her with a menu and a kiss on her cheek. “Table for one?” asked The Woman in the Corset. “I’ll be joining the other party.” “And your name?” “Chris” she said as she walked into the dim light with the other men and behind her, the red door closed shut.



StalkerWindows: BedroomWindow: LoungeWindow: BathroomWindow: LibraryWindow: 32


This is the story of Christine and the day that she grew a penis.

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