I Looked At A Rapist In The Mirror And Saw Him Smiling Back.

RaceBaitR

*This piece has been published with permission of the referenced ex-partner. Other relationships may have been slightly altered to protect specific identities.*

The first time I was sexually assaulted I must have been 9 or 10 years old.

I was violated by two family friends who were brothers and who would have been about 14 and 15.

Or maybe that was the second time.

The first time might have been by an older female cousin around the same time. She pressured me to go into a closet and make out with her. I think we may have done more, but I don’t like to think about that.

I didn’t object to any of these interactions. I was too young for that to matter, of course, but it was difficult for me to make sense of the fact that I consented without having the agency to do so, thus I had…

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The Fourth Decade

Amanda Mininger

One of my closest friends turned 40 today. I’ve been thinking about this one, trying to figure out why we put this much significance on a birthday, why we decorate this particular mile marker with lights and flowers and well-meaning phrases full of pith, borrowed from antiquity or Sex in the City, one of the two. I’ve had this conversation before with friends in their late 30s and early 40s, and we all say the same thing: “I don’t feel 40. I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like, but whatever it is, I don’t feel it. Does it mean we have to wear longer skirts now?”

Whatever cause for contemplation there is, I’ll take the bait. I know that, at minimum, turning 40 gives us permission to take stock and see where we are, to ask of ourselves: What have I learned (if anything?) What have I…

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Searching for My Grandfather in the Pages of His College Textbook

so... this is my life now

When my father’s father died a year ago, even though he was my first grandparent to pass, I wasn’t emotional. His was a slow slipping: first his professorial mind decayed, jumbling his memories and mixing the files in which he stored Shakespeare and Tennyson, then his body, which he refused to care for because he was too proud to admit he needed help. In his final years, I think we were all hoping he would let go soon, and find peace.

Everyone expected me to have a close relationship with him. He was an English professor, and I was the only grandchild who inherited his literary gene.  But we were on different sides of the world, growing old and older on opposing paths: when he tried to engage me in discussions on Dickens and The Great Writers, I was still reading fantasy chapter books from the kids section; when I…

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Dipping my toes

chanyado

It was a Thursday when I found out my ex-husband had a child. I never did like Thursdays. At my desk, in between writing radio scripts, with Bob Marley blaring in the background, I did the math. We were still married when he fathered this child. Still sharing a bed, sharing a surname, sharing dreams. It was only three years later, after the divorce papers were signed that I now found out. Google snitched. Facebook confirmed. I may have never known. Perhaps one day on a Thursday evening, many years from now, in the middle of the supermarket at the tampon aisle, I may have run into a teenage girl with the green eyes of a man whose heartbeat was once my lullaby. These eyes would have haunted me all night, as I tried to figure out how she stole the eyes of a child that was supposed to be…

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Into the Light

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Please welcome first-time contributor Matthew, a 34-year-old from Australia, currently based in Singapore, who for a number of years has fought a battle with substance and alcohol abuse. Photography has played a large part in his recovery. It forces him to live in the moment, to focus on those subtle but special moments where scenes play out that reflect his past and present.

About this photo: “I traveled a lot for work. I used to love the freedom of not having anyone watching over me whilst I was in exotic places such as London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Mumbai. Of course to an addict this is free reign, to lock oneself away and consume. Hong Kong was always one of my favourite places to do this. In recovery I have used photography as a means to fill the darkness that consumed me and when in these cities to venture out…

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Dawn Broke

For the nightmares which are all too familiar.

                                                                 Dawn broke, even as I 

                                                                 Heard myself scream 

                                                                 In my sleep 

                                                                 Last night
                                                                 You bore me to death 

                                                                 With threats of death,

                                                                 You ugly demon-sly, dormant

                                                                 Lurking under my bed
                                                                Your antics fail 

                                                                To surprise me now

                                                                 Even as I wake 

                                                                 With a start
                                                                I greet you

                                                                Like an old friend

                                                                Who’s now unwelcome

                                                                 I shut the door
                                                                To your face, for

                                                                I have another guest

                                                                To embrace, entertain

                                                                 Tomorrow has arrived
                                                               To you, I owe no apologies.