Monthly Archives: October 2016

Hurricane-Inspired Short Fiction

By Raghav veturi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Raghav veturi (http://creativecommons.org/licenses]

                         THE MOORING

A tropical storm swirls out at sea. A boat tugs against its mooring, the vinyl rope stretching and relaxing as the waves rise, the water churns.

She watches this out of the rain-splattered window too close to the rising waters, which are beginning to splash over the concrete seawall.

The old center console fishing boat has never been used for fishing. It was a checkmark, ownership its sole purpose. The salesman’s words long ago echo in her ears now. This elegant machine is built tough for rough off shore waters. But the fish lockers remain clean of fish scales. The 350 horsepower engines have never chased down a single marlin or red drum fish, elegantly or otherwise. Potential wasted.

THE OTHER WOMAN. She can’t quite make out the blue lettering stenciled on the hull, but that’s what it says. Her husband’s idea. Better than Masterbaiter. Bow Movement. Fish N Chicks.  Men being clever always involve a bodily function or a woman.

Her spine is getting stiff, her eyes dry. But she cannot tear herself away from the window. Not even to board it up. Minutes turn into hours turn into hope. The ringing phone is a mosquito. She bats away the sound. It’s too late now anyways. She’s seen photos of boats after a storm surge. Boats turned on their sides, half submerged, no longer elegant. THE OTHER WOMAN is taking on water.  She can see her sloshing and splashing as the swells rise and fall. Panic crawls up her throat. But something else is happening, too. The rope is coming undone.

Will she sink or will she break free? This is all that matters now.

If she sinks, she will be reborn. Like those lost treasure ships, she could rest in the silt; become the whole world to a marine microorganism community; bath in silky green saltwater all her days; grow emerald coral and forest green algae. In Feng Shui green is the color of tranquility but also of renewal. Green would suit her new life.

If she comes undone, unmoored, that would be a new life, too. One of adventure instead of peace. Swept out to sea without a way to steer, without a way to control direction or speed. Madness, really. Alone. Uncharted. That did sound exhilarating. Her spine protested as she straightened it. Her twelve-year-old blind-in-one-eye tabby wound itself around her swollen calves, stretched out on her arthritic feet, anchored her to the floor with affection.

Time has become background noise, like the ringing phone. The storm is what they call “bearing down” now. Wind gusts rattle the window. She is squinting through sheets of rain and fogged glass at THE OTHER WOMAN. The sky is layers and layers of blue-black-charcoal-grey-black fury. The sea has erased the distance between them. She is not afraid.

Either way the storm will be her savoir.

 

 

Let’s Learn Something From This Whole Trump Mess

 

The new book I’m working on, tentatively titled “Constellations of Alice” is heavier than the cozy mysteries I’ve been writing. But Alice has been bugging me for a few years to tell her story, so here I am.

 One of the themes in this book is sex trafficking. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this (and sexual assault in general) and I can tell you, the statistics are shocking.  

One in 5 women and one in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime.

This has to change.

And it can. I believe it can. But it has to start with changing the mind-set of our society.

This whole Donald Trump thing has blown up an important issue and started a dialog about sexual assault. The silver lining in a very vile, dark cloud.

His lewd comments about women and about being able to kiss them or grab their private parts whenever he wants amounts to sexual assault. The fascinating and disturbing thing to me was watching the fall-out as both men and women defended his talk as “locker room banter.” Including a GOP Senator who doesn’t think grabbing a woman’s genitals is sexual assault.

So what? All guys talk about women like this. Just words, right?

Well, NO. Wrong. Words are nothing more than an outward expression of a person’s mind-set.

This mind-set is dangerous. He thinks this way so he speaks this way so he acts this way. And he’s had more than one woman accuse him of sexual assault or rape.

Including a thirteen year old girl.

His ex-wife. (Who, under oath, accused him of violently raping her. His chief counsel’s defense was, “One can’t rape one’s own spouse.” Just. Wow.)

A business acquaintance.

I’ll stop there because this is actually not about one man. The problem is bigger than that.  

This is about the culture we live in. A culture where abusive masculine power has taken root and allowed men like this to terrorize women.

How do we fix this? Well, I can tell you the answer is not just laying down and accepting it. Nor is it women covering our faces or our bodies or staying indoors or being escorted by a male guardian everywhere we go. 

The answer is men changing the way they think about women. Period. (And I know there are good men out there who don’t talk or think this way, but since 98% of sexual assault perpetrators are male, this has to be addressed as a male problem.)

It’s been encouraging to see the men who are standing up against this kind of abusive speech and behavior. But it’s time for the others, the “boys” who are being “boys” to grow up and become men. To drop your sense of entitlement. To see women as more than body parts there for your entertainment.

It’s  also time for women to stand up and stop tolerating this mindset as “normal” male behavior. It may very well be the norm right now, but when men know better they can do better. So please stop defending “locker room talk” as innocent and harmless.

It’s neither.