We asked the Womena audience to submit a creative piece between 200-300 words inspired by this fierce illustration by Aude Nasr (@ahlan.my.darlings).
Poetry, stream of consciousness, personal story, or abstract thought
My beast and I had a fight
It was quite a sight
He was mean but right
I denied everything with all my might
My beast looked me in the eyes
And said: “Again, You still deny!”
Haven’t I taught you anything right
Haven’t we wasted enough time on that nonsense denial
Don’t you think I am still here for a reason, Aye
Got your facade all up tight
But we both know, we haven’t solved that quite right
I haven’t left your side, you denied me
Oh, little darlin
Haven’t we danced that hundred-thousand times
You are such a perplexing old child
You have given me life
You shed on me light
You talked to me for nights
Oh, my lost child
We kept awake for long
I’ve seen your cries
I warned you and whispered every time
I told you my power lies in your mind
you are the light
I am the shadow
You are the knight
I am the ride
I can be the enemy and
I am your ally
Can’t you see who am I?
Her face was pale. Her hair was tangled. The mirror reflected a figure she recognized remotely. She was not the untamed, strong, and brave female character internet quotes promoted.
She was choking, and the air wasn’t enough. Tired. Dried out. Straight up defeated. She reached for the hairbrush. She felt her bones crack, her skin splinter; for 10 milliseconds, she truly believed her arm was going to detach from the rest of her body and fall dead and decrepit on the dirty carpet. There was laundry and dirty dishes. She needed to open the curtains and window. Ingest the blinding sunlight, let air into her hazy capillaries. Hunger, she felt no more. Thirst only rarely, when the parquetry under the carpet would make a long, creaky sound. It wasn’t even old. She wasn’t either. But the wood got bored of holding her weight. Her body too.
Those feelings crept up on her on a day, long ago, like a cat. Without the purr or the niceties. Like a hungry cat with sparkly yellow eyes and sharp claws. Ripped open her brain, fed on her conscience, licked out with a satisfied grin the core of her being. Her fire turned to shadows, ashes, and eventually to a colourless drift.
She was no lioness, no heroine, no prophet. No influencer either. She never tried it but was sure she couldn’t do it. There were a lot of things she knew she couldn’t do. Like brushing her hair or leaving the room, but as it seemed, she took the hairbrush into her hand with the risk of losing her arm. She lifted it to the level of her head and started pulling stoically at one of her strands.
She put the hairbrush down. No more tangles. She left the room. The mirror broke.
A short stream of thought, titled: a remembering
I couldn’t see you, but I could feel you.
You were always there.
I sensed the weight of our lifetime, and the inheritance bound in our history. And it scared me—the memories. Like a pack of bricks on my back. Like a repertoire of street credit that wasn’t mine.
You never allowed for a clean, easy, introduction. I couldn’t see you, but I could feel you.
You held onto our stories, every letter and word. Every nuance from the wake of the morning to the last goodnight. You held onto them. Tightly wound.
The thing is. Pain, or at least the memories of it, does this thing where it exists in all the folds and creases of my skin. So long as I’m rolled up, in the tightest ball, clenching every limb to each finger, wishing they would meld into each other, there would be a chance, even if it was just a chance, that I wouldn’t feel it. Each wrinkle hiding a secret.
But see this strategy—this is how my body betrayed me.
Calling onto our memory, giving my stories permission to travel. Unraveling my skin, and uncoiling every curl. Letting them sojourn past the rotting lump in our throat. Letting them travel, out from the rolls of our tummy, and our clenched jaw. Letting them breathe, even amongst the flames.
She would whisper: We will not deprive our body of its nutrients. The stench on our tongue might feel like too much, but we will digest. Let them run through our blood, through our veins, through our heart and to our fingertips. Let them seep into our palm, let them sit for a moment. Sometimes our stories just need to be cradled, sometimes they just need to be reminded of what warmth feels like, what movement feels like. Reminded of what it feels like to be alive.
This is the memory of how my body saved me. Through stories.
Letting them grow and form, letting them shape-shift. Letting them go. A remembering.
I couldn’t see you, but I could feel you.
There she is. There she goes.
You held me close
And deconstructed our love
tossed away our trust
Because you felt you had to have what was owed to you.
You did things
I didn’t think you’d do.
Now a big cat growls within.
She stalks my corridors and guards my entrance
Never letting you in.
The memories sit in my psyche
Burnt ash and soot.
You blackened our bond. You cuddled up beside me Parted my legs
Thrusted yourself inside
Even when I cried.
A huge tiger Fierce and roaring
Fills me with strength
As I question
how you did all of this to the very end?
You made me feel obligated You forced yourself upon me You took the choice
Now this pussy Works to keep you out
Clawing you Biting with her snout.
You put your needs above mine You disregarded my heart Never cared from the start Made my body your own You’re a thief
This you know.
Now this warrior cries and cuddles from within Understanding I do not live in sin
I am not a product of your twisted ways
No matter what this warrior she stays.
You lit a fire in my soul Oh, How I loved you And just like that You put it out Every time I put out.
This protector of mine We stand hand in hand She is the victim for me She takes a stand.
Note from the writer: Big cat is a poem that speaks for every woman who has been betrayed by her partner in the bedroom. It touches on the subject of marital rape, and how love can dissolve amid sexual abuse- but also how women build an inner lioness that acts as a shield and protector.