– Cathy Linh Che –
It was hot, covers thrown off. The girl slept on the top bunk
with a stuffed raccoon, her brother sprawled on the lower
bunk, fast asleep. In the room, a wood panel TV, white plastic
couch, pale pink carpet turned black in the dark. She was lying
on her back when he entered the room, a shadow, a hand undoing
the top snap of her denim shorts, she turned away toward the wall,
pressed the metal back in, it made a dull pop, her body
an S on the bed, head curved forward, legs tucked under, deep red
arrows were stitched onto her pockets, he reached over, unsnapped
the waist again, pulled her zipper down, tooth by tooth, she shut
her eyes, in her mind, a tug of war, the red flag moving slowly
to his side, he lifted her up, she pretended to sleep, her arms
hung limp, calves dangled over, he carried her into the next room.
[In the late 14th century]
In the late 14th century, the word rape meant to abduct or
take by force. I think of an eagle seizing a fish with its talons.
The Latin rapere was used for sexual violation but only very
rarely. My mother says, hãm or hại, which means to rape or
to injure in Vietnamese. When my mother was three, my
grandmother snatched her up and yelled, “The French are
coming!” All the women of the village started to run.