Content warning: The following item contains material relating to sexual abuse and suicide.
Her Name is She
By Eve Harris
I would rather be called “She.”
It sounds better.
Better for who?
I don’t know. Maybe me.
A vase of Chrysanthemums adorned his desk. The flower of truth.
This is the day her life changed.
She never imagined she would suffer such an indignity, this violation, this heinous act that was thrust upon her without consent.
She had known the man for many years. He was her masseur, this man who touched her skin and saw her from above, his vantage point where he had the power and she had none.
She lay on her stomach as she had done before. This time he asked her to put her arms alongside her body with her palms facing up. He meticulously rolled her ugly knickers down to mid-thigh.
She only ever wore ugly knickers to have a massage, she imagined it would make her look fat or frumpy or unattractive, it was just something she did, that’s all.
Usually she felt safe. Today, strangely, she was uneasy. He talked about nothing important while he watched her from above.
He moved rhythmically. She felt something in the palm of her hand. She was confused, but knew
instinctively what it was, her mind trying to make sense of the sensation.
He can’t be, she thought, but he was.
What was he thinking, when did his life change? Or had it always been like this? Was there always a dirty little secret tucked away from his doting mother and his beautiful children?
A dirty little secret tucked away in his pants.
She looked at his feet from her vantage point, where there was no power. He rocked back and forth, slow at first then faster. She was lost in space, motionless, like a wasp that hibernates in winter, but she wasn’t a wasp hibernating. She was with a man, all alone, almost naked.
It stopped. She lay quiet, scared, unable to move.
He walked around her. It started again on the other side of the table. She looked at his feet through the hole in the table, again she felt the back and forth motion, her hand full of his penis. She was frozen, no screams. Powerless. Then it stopped.
He asked her to turn over. She obeyed like a robot. He held a towel up high to screen her from his eyes – an odd return to professionalism. She was on her back now as he placed the towel gently over her nakedness. He cornered the towel to expose her nipple. Her brain was numb with fear. At that moment she found strength. She pulled the towel up. He looked into her eyes, eyes full of fear: she noticed his red face and his breath, his musky terrible breath blowing over her face. She turned her head away, repulsed by the image in front of her.
He stared at her for what seemed minutes before he said, “That will be all today” and left the room.
She tried to get off the table, falling to the floor, her body numb and unresponsive. As she struggled to get dressed she caught sight of herself in the mirror on the wall. A frightened woman was staring back at her.
Her husband had just walked in, politely holding the door open for a lady. She looked at this woman and wondered if she was about to go through the same indignity.
She felt weak as she stumbled out of the reception area, hoping to escape this nightmare, leaving her husband with the man who assaulted her.
She told her husband. She told the police.
She doesn’t know how to deal with it. She’s still struggling to understand how that beautiful sunny day changed her life.
In the weeks that followed her husband understood her rejections. He’s a kind man who loves her unconditionally.
She had it all worked out in her head. She would go to court with all the others, he would be found guilty and go to jail. That was her tidy thought pattern. Her closure was to see him suffer like she and the other seven women had.
That all changed in an instant. He had changed her life and now he ended his. He couldn’t face the doting mother, his beautiful children, the community. Did it hurt? Did he suffer? He chose to end his life knowing the disgrace the truth would cause his family. They would see the real father and son. They would watch him in court, then jail. How could he face them?
She couldn’t stop thinking of him alone, frightened, cornered, contemplating his death.
Did he get the rope from the shed? Why not an easier way? she thought.
Did he get a ladder or a chair?
Did he think, what have I done? I am forty-seven. What have I done?
Is this what he thought?
As he climbed the ladder, did he think of his mother and children before that one kick, final, forever?
Taking with him his pain and leaving all the women he hurt behind.
He took his life and changed hers forever.
She is not a victim. She will not allow herself to be labelled.
He was the victim.
When did he change? she still asks herself.
His mother cries sadly by herself, the grown-up boy and girl quietly read his suicide note.
They can’t imagine their father who loved them could be capable of these acts.
But he was.
“She” kneels quietly placing white chrysanthemums on his grave.
About Eve Harris
Eve Harris is an emerging writer with a wealth of knowledge, compassion and life experience. Her writing delves into unspoken topics with understanding and empathy. From personal pain to triumph, Eve captures the heart and soul of her characters. A wife, mother and grandmother, Eve’s life has been filled with heartache and happiness, which is reflected in her writing. Eve was a member of the Loddon Write-ability Writing Group in Bendigo.