One Week Before Congress Voted That XX Bodies Were Intended as Vehicles for Male Stories

An activist broke her heart. The girl whose heart broke was not a feminist. She stayed away from politics and male-dominated tropes.

When asked to describe herself in a freshman essay, Heartbroke used the word traditional three times. Listed dreams that involved a good husband, a beloved wife, a safe suburban family likely situated in the suburbs of a thriving southern metropolis. She has pastel tshirts and bumper stickers and a B- minus in freshman composition to prove it.

Heartbroke can't help thinking her embrace of femininity has been held against her. As if any living human should sacrifice their dreams to a frat boy that bought her a drink at the Row Row Row Your Kappa Alpha Boat party.

And then left her in alley behind a warehouse.

On a street she didn’t recognize.

In the sprawl of a boy whose name she didn’t know.

Who isn't in the right frame of mind to be anyone’s loving Daddy.

She thinks the very nice church-lady understands. The church-lady promises that we are all sinners.

The church-lady clutches her hand and presses it to her chest while swearing that we are all sinners. There is no need for shame. Things happen. Satan attacks a man's mind and forces the man to attack a female.

Heartbroke carries tiny morsels of hope into this church. She becomes an official visitor. Her name appears on the prayer list. During prayers, she tongues the word sanctuary like a lozenge.

When Heartbroke gets distracted from the sermon, she imagines being saved, maybe marrying the blue-eyed fellow that places checks into the silver tray.

A few guys in a nearby pew turn their heads from her bloated belly.  

Rode hard and put up wet, she hears one guy whisper.

She can't erase the tandem drum-whirr of snickers.

She can’t stop wondering if she is. Or what she is. And who made her that way.

Heartbroke wonders how much more they will ride her to please a man they don’t know. She knows that to please any man requires effort and dedication.

How many more months of being ridden, and then—into motherhood, forever?

Near the restroom, Heartbroke sees the poster. It says no body is innocent. Not since that girl in the garden. No girl gets blamed without a cause. No man escapes losing his mind to lust every so often. The culture warns us. The man takes the fruit. The woman offered.

*

When she sees the kind church-lady at the clinic waving a sign, Heartbroke’s feet freeze into icicles or stalagmites or whatever those things that grow in caves up from the ground due to a single drip drip drip.

Has the church-lady seen her? Did the church-lady get her name from a list and then invite her to the church? Did the church lady hug her and introduce her to her husband, three sons, and single daughter for a reason that wasn’t casual?

“Emma!” The church lady shouts in a wrung-clean voice. “Jesus loves you! Don’t murder his baby!

A man to the left calls her “Jezebel”, his tongue forking into a hiss.

She thinks when a girl is pregnant her name must not matter. She is whatever a lousy fellow screams in a gravel parking lot.

She thinks about how the activist said her job was saving lives. There was money in saving lives. The activist received a paycheck for bringing God’s love into the world.

She thinks the lives saved by the activist do not include her own.

Jezebel.

Child of Satan.

She forgives the rapist, a nice middle-class boy, driven by the sudden urge to have her. She remembers how his eyes gleamed when she cried, when she said it hurts. He liked it. She forgives him for the terror. But she will never forgive the activist who breaks her heart. She will never forgive the woman who knew her name in that clinic parking lot and said nothing, nothing, nothing.