behind the scenes

“What the literal fuck was that!?” Cindy Owens wails eyes nearly out of her head “we’ve got the footage!? What footage do we have!?” looking around at the silent staffers “well!? I’ll tell you” pointing perfectly manicured finger at no one in particular “I’ll tell you what the fucking footage is-a conversation!” stamping and jumping up and down on heeled feet “a short violent free conversation!”
Breathing turned near heaving our host composes herself turning slowly to give cold furious eyes to each and every employee. “Now, I’m sorry y’all, I’m just” sighing and fanning hand over eyelashes “it’s not your fault” grabbing a young grip by the shoulders “and it’s not yours” she quickly shuffles to a make-up artist who she hugs. Shaking her head “it’s not everyone’s fault and I’m sorry” she sniffles a bit and wipes a tear away “the monster got out, but we all know how I get…” with a heavy sigh and fist trapped in her bosom “it’s too protect all of us” arms outstretched “but someone has to be held accountable.” She walks slowly around the circle that’s formed each employee with their individual tell, she knows them all by heart.
The group seems to gulp as she nears their focus “uhh” a small voice and hand pop out from behind several others into the circle. “I… I set up the-”
With a million dollar smile and honey topping the words “walk with me sugar”.
Side by side Cindy Owens and the senior PA walk through the building hallways. Smiling and chitchatting as Cindy calls it “and you know what the little guy tells his teacher he wants to be a peace officer” cue loving motherly sigh “that ones a little angel, only seven.”
The PA pushes her glasses up laughing nervously “that’s wonderful heh kids are… blessings” keep laughing girlie.
“Yes, yes they are. Now, Natalie-”
“Brenda”
Eyebrow raised her eyes narrow “Brenda” pronouncing each letter “tell me how your footage helps sell the Samaritan’s?”
Hiccup this frogs in boiling water “um… well I thought-I-I” Cindy’s eyes are dead, but little Brenda sees hope. Poor little froggy ” just having the footage y’know and giving the public the comparison y’know?” letting out a laugh the water gets hotter.
“No, I don’t know.” Cindy replies dryly our host her lips, and fist are twitching.
“Well y’know you-y’know no one else is-”
She’s had it with the amphibian “no I don’t know how showing” air quotes “the public a clumsy do-gooder in the colors of the dark ages tripping over Alpha is going to sell them!” Cindy’s screaming in the froggie face “do you have any idea what your incompetence could cost us!? Any conceivable idea what this could do to me!?” she turns violently around then in a blink she’s back “no! No! You don’t! That’s why you are going to fix this!” Heaving she attempts to catch her breath now arms length from Brenda.
The PA’s eyes wide words escape her, she wonders if this is real, it is. Keep quiet little lady.
She downs a glass of water brought to her by Brenda’s trainee those made for TV eyes never leaving the senior subordinate. “Ahhhhh” she sighs shooing the junior away. Shaking off the monster her million dollar smile returns “so Brenda” emphasis on the ‘a’ “fix it. Kay?” Brenda nods slowly at first then faster as with both hands Cindy bats her away. Then when the PA has gotten some distance our host sweetly calls “and Brenda” froggie stops, turns, the whole world’s listening as the women make eye contact “if you don’t fix it, don’t bother coming back.”

I am Columbia

“Welcome back!” Cindy Owens smiles through the cameras “we were just talking about the big, big, big, big-big, big story of maybe the century!” the crowd is going wild “and you know I got the footage!” leaning forward mouth and eyes wide she let’s out a “HA!” the audience roars now out of the seats “okay, okay, let me finish everyone” her voice like butter, smile ear to ear, and that I’m not from Texas Texas hair ever so Texas. “Good Samaritan’s are what the news has dubbed them” audience gasp  “ladies and gentlemen tonight we have footage of two of these” air quotes as the crowd is silent “‘good Samaritans’ special, only here on the Cindy Owens show” the audience again erupts as she demures only slightly then with a quick cock of her head ” alright let’s watch!”

The screen behind our host shows an empty street, midtown in the Marina District to be exact. Nothing. Then the click clack of heels-
“Slow it here!” Cindy shouts turning to the audience as old friends over to watch a film “Alpha everyone!” for a moment the crowd vibrates with hushed glee before she signals to continue rolling.
Alpha stops short turning swiftly around, she’s being chased. Taking up the left half of the screen Alpha stands high heel clad and fierce in spotted regalia looking like the Jane Tarzan wished he had. She looks confused. “Stooooop!” two women make the scene one covered in red, white, and blue star spangled and oh so out of date, the other in gold hot pants, tube top and boots looking like a discos wet dream. “Stop right there” the patriotic cutie is breathless.
“I’m not moving” Alpha sighs obliviously disappointed.
“Don’t get mouthy!” miss breathless screams raising her finger “tonight your reign of terror ends! Alpha you are under citizens arrest under clause 2.007-”
Our golden black beauty fights a laugh as our hyena’s jaw drops “you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me…”
“What no… you-you’re coming with meh-eh!?” she shrieks as Alpha sprints away yelling
“find me when you grow up!”
“Come back!” her would be captor screams moving to run but her foot catches hem and face catches concrete. Head spinning she continues ” I am Columbia!”
Her friend lifts her from the ground “yeah, yeah girl you’re Columbia alright.” her voice smooth as she dust off Lady Liberties former who looks sadly up at her “next time a little more physical?”

The screen blinks black and the crowd looks too Cindy for a reaction “well” looks like she was promised blood too “that’s just craziness!” out of her chair she runs to the audience who find themselves in an uncertain frenzy “what do you think about our vero Alpha” she picks a young brunette woman who shakes wildly with excitement-big Owens fan.
“Omg! She’s so cool, but, but I don’t know the Samaritan’s protect the law right? That’s good.” as the crowd buzzes with nervous uncertainty.
Cindy smiles and takes the mic moving to a middle age man ” and you sir, team vero or…?”
The man is urban through and through the girls with him young and well adorned he smiles wide with platinum teeth “team vero! I know that Alpha is one bad bitch, but the Samaritan got the colors of the dark ages on man. And you know I don’t want none of my bitches taking up in no filthy sewers! Never again y’all! ” with that Cindy shouts and prances back to her throne. The audience cheers for their team now dancing to the end of show music “well team vero or Samaritan our audience seems to have decided, I don’t know, can’t say, but I hope you’ll tune in tomorrow night to continue this discussion. I’m Cindy Owens, goodnight Liberation Land.”

 

Parasite

We find ourselves still on the scene. Our huntress blissfully unaware that she is now prey. Finding Alpha exactly where we left her, face smattered with blood, fist still rising and falling with vigor. She’s being stalked. A figure moving in the shadows, salivating, growing restless as the vigilantes victim has been long dead. The hyenas hysterical laughter beginning to drive the creature-certainly it’s a creature-mad.
“DIE! DIE! DIE!” Alpha screams at this point punching carpet, the woman’s head mere goo. Her eyes crazed through the blood soaked mask, she’d waited too long to get this one.
But tonight Alpha’s off the clock and possibly on the menu, “You talk too much!” the words escape the creature’s mouth, which formed the bottom half of what appeared to be it’s head. The sound is of distorted voices speaking all at once but out of tune. Our heroine stiffens, eyes scanning the darkness-no clear escape. Hands over nailed down daggers she begins weighing options. No time. Suddenly every solid object seems to explode as crashing tendrils shot out and passed our crouching hyena. Her eyes dared to move in socket witnessing the sudden pull back. The tendrils had a bulging end, the color a pasty sickly flesh-this is bad.
“Dinner!” cried the creature charging full speed, zeroed in on Alpha. She manges a back flip flying daggers in hand over the moving mass. Landing on feet she prepares for battle eyes having adjusted to the darkness long ago. The creature let’s out an inhuman cry turning to its victim-it’s body an over sized clay figure that seems to melt into itself.
Masses of pasty flesh bubble and move as its head tilts “no eyes” Alpha breathes widening her own as the tendrils shoot out again. Stopping right before contact this time plainly in view. One bulbous end within her eyelashes nearly touching her pupil-don’t blink! As quickly as they came they snap back-run, baby, run!
She doesn’t move. The earthquake starts the mass throwing itself toward dinner who watches wide eyed. Taking note of it’s ever changing flesh she drops to the floor falling on her back.
The creature stands over her wailing-unable to see tendrils shoot out this time from all directions. “Shit!” Alpha screams recognizing the fatal mistake as the mass reforms the creatures shapeless face above her own.
“Diiiiinnner” it moans. Mouth opening wider releasing an unholy sound as it prepared to devour her.
Meeting the end is not tonight’s plan. The animal rages from within; eyes bulging, teeth barred, arms thrashing in their tendrils confines and daggers still in hand. Into the creatures mouth she roars back defiantly clicking her heels together like a battle ready Dorothy she reveals the concealed blades. These ain’t your grandma’s ruby slippers. Continuing to thrash as the creature begins to struggle keeping hold of her, a meeker voice crying ” waited… waited… too long…”
Without waiting for context Alpha takes the opportunity-war boots meeting their target with a bang. The creature cries out rearing up momentarily giving the daggers in hand time to meet their new friend. With that our girl attempts to exit, it doesn’t need to be dead-she just needs to be alive.
Struggling to run she makes her way toward the escape wails and thrashing in the wake “what the fuck are you?” she breathes not looking back that is until that sound hits her ear. Eyes bulging she orders herself “faster! Survive faster!” seeing the beast protruding feelers darting toward her gives that delicious life saving a second wind. No matter how beat down she is she has to make it home.
The earthquake begins as she finds the stairwell, not bothering with steps instead swan dives off the rails-12 floors down.
She begins to count realizing the creature followed suit. One. Her hunter wails “FEEEEED!”. Two. Alpha begins frantically hitting the red button on her choker. Three. The creature still wailing shoots out its tendrils several hitting Alpha pushing her further down “thank you!” she calls out, four. Five. Six. Seven. The creature pulls back it’s feelers letting out an earth shattering wail-one soaked with desperation. Alpha reaches out grabbing on to a hand rail then flinging herself to the floor the creature falling down passed. She doesn’t wait.
Getting into the nearest elevator she begins the slow decent down. Is this safe? No, but remember Alpha is blonde albeit functioning. The music plays typical for the scene- she waits.
The doors open-screams. Not an other worldly beast something more familiar. Alpha reluctantly follows the sound to the stairwell-do not try this at home!
Opening the door she sees the creature holding onto a red, white, and blue clad woman. “Columbia” she sighs as the picture of liberation screams in utter terror, no hope for survival.
Against all better judgement our hyena launches onto the creatures back. Ignoring the gases and fluids bursting from it as she strikes over and over again. The hunted gets the hunter. That is until they witness it’s body break down, suddenly, there is nothing but goop on the floor as though the creature rapidly decayed.
The two made eyes, but both understood-not tonight. Not another motherfucking thing tonight. With that thought Ari pulled up.

Luna Towers

Tonight-oh! Ladies and gentlemen tonight we bring you Alpha! We find this sexy hyena stalking prey at no other than the Luna Towers. Our ladies got a score to settle.

Everything was dark except one office in the distance where the bitch sits, but Alpha isn’t thirsty. This little piggie will come to her-did the darkness get darker? In that office it did. “Oh fuck!” Amber exclaims grabbing her tablet to light the way to the circuit breaker.
Our heroine smirks as the air gets heavy-snickers, cackles, and howls? begin to fill the space. Amber stops just outside the office door, the tablet light on her face-as though that’s a great idea. “What the shit-someone there? This isn’t funny.” the fear is apparent as she furrows her brows. Stamping a foot “this is stupid Amber” she laughs and moves toward the breaker. Stumbling along the way hitting shins on chairs and so forth Alpha gets bored.
Beginning to count the seconds as the light turns in the wrong direction “oh for fuck sake!” the savage lady screams. Amber’s light turns her way and finally the tablet turns outward. The young CEO can see the deadly beast-a lucky last sight. Before she can make a peep Alpha topples her breaking her legs at the kneecaps as they fall.
The pain induced wails send shivers down our heroines spine as she sits atop her victim. “Oh darling don’t cry!” taking her blades out she stakes Amber’s hands to the floor. “I’m gonna need you to be quiet honey” cooing she rips the girls shirt sleeve off then stuffs it into her mouth. Our beauties lips begin to twitch into hysteria as she looks at the other woman’s fear “Amber Warren” runs fingers down her forehead, nose and lips “a descendent of filth which is a product of filth which can be traced all the way back to the dark ages. Of filth no less” Alpha places her cheek on Amber’s  “you are what’s wrong with this world. Pathetic, weak, and so willing to die. You are the reason people like me exist.” Running gloved nails down her cheek “no matter” she looks into her fear filled eyes. Cocking her head to one side with that manic smile “either way you die!” Never flinching from her gaze she begins to beat in her face, her gloved fist meeting bone with glee.
Her crazed laughs echo through the offices, filling the darkness-along with the awkward background noise from when this all started. As her fist fall again, and again, and again. Alpha enthralled with this eventuality.

Alpha

Boys you better watch out!
There’s a new bitch in town
and she will-
Take. You. Down.

Sexy, wild, and deadly-
this little hyena will eat your heart!

Beware the sound of heel clicks and cackles for it could save your life!

This vixen doesn’t waste time
before you see her
you’ll already be dead.

Girls on the train

A pair of girls sit directly in front of our heroine discussing the nights performances-the newsreels couldn’t get enough! “Oh. My. God. Did you hear about” in a whisper “the murders? In Mission no less” she seemed giddy, most young girls were, unprecedented city fame!
Her counterpart let out a giggle leaning in “I know!” louder than expected the girl looked around making a quick glance behind her seeing our heroines face planted in a book. “They were saying she took out-”
The leader cut off her friend “five! Five guys without weapons-”
The conversation struggle began “they said her nails are like knives-“talk about diamond polish” they laughed before the leader insisted on retelling the tale.
“They did she followed the men home, they were, like coming from a work party or something. All drunk they stumbled into an alley or something confused they just stood there trying to figure out where they were. So, like, standing in this alley asking” in her best male voice “‘ughhh where are we?’ ‘huh huh huh gulp’ you know a drunk laugh or something” back to normal voice “then they hear the click, click, click of heels one of the men just hoots loudly thinking he’s funny or something the clicks get closer then silence- then BAM!” she yells loudly startling the entire train cart lowering her voice immediately continuing “she’s on top of them. They say she fights like a hyena ripping out the throats of the five men in an elegant violent twirl-the reports say she cackled like one. She left their bodies in a bloody circle their throats ripped out their hearts gone-” the train slows. Their ride over.
Her friend takes a deep  then sighs “they must have been…”
“Bad men” our heroine smiles as she passes their seats a small smile on her red, red lips.

Liberation Day

I woke up to a note be safe today, love Ari he had laid some clothes out with another note that read don’t kill me, please, just be safe. I normally would have taken offense, he would have come home to a very unhappy place, and I would have been and still am justified in my anger. The thing is-he’s right. Today was not the kind of day to go prancing about in a short skirt, every pecker would be out tonight, and they were always ready for a fight. I took Ari’s advice I knew it was only out of love that he went to the lengths he did-I wasn’t always the best judge of what is safe.
The clothes he laid out for me were very feminine a dark red maxi dress and a thin lace sweater nothing too clingy, nothing sexy, nothing that would make me stand out. He even picked the jewelry to match a silk collar, a simple and thin line across my neck, nothing flashy, it was simply something that looked casual and elegant but wouldn’t draw attention. Lastly droplet earrings the same dark red as the dress he only picked them because he made them for me and knew I’d be reminded to mind myself in public. I looked at them with a bit of disdain I almost burst into tears thinking about what lay outside my door “Get it together Madison you’ve got a long fucking day ahead of you.” I didn’t bother with the television or even the radio at this point nothing would be on but drivel anyway. I just went about getting ready adorning myself first with my clothes and then moving to the war paint. It had to be subtle today, not too much black, nothing flashy, nothing sexy, nothing dangerous. I did what I could to make myself presentable, but as with any day I played it safe I hated the fact that make-up still existed. The alarm went off, it was noon already-fuck.

I ran out of the house as quickly as I could if I missed the train I’d be stuck either getting fired for not showing up, or worse I’d be stuck attempting to get a taxi. Running for the train was always a bad idea if anyone noticed you doing it they may offer a ride, or just take too much notice of your existence and that is never good, but if I lost this job the chances of getting another one with this pay was damn near impossible I’d be stuck living off Ari again and hearing about how I’m one of the lucky ones. I got to the station exactly when the train pulled in I bolted jumping in front of other people to get in I moved quickly to the back where the single seats were and hopped on in. I pulled my hair back when I sat down no need to call attention I took out the black scarf I brought and wrapped it loosely over my head saying a silent curse for having to do so. Yet, today was not like normal days, some girls did this daily, I wasn’t one of them so the significance of me taking the precautions was monumental-even if I had been doing so for the last seven years. I took out a pair of black gloves and put them on as well no real purpose beside protecting the hands after that I grabbed my tablet and began reading I didn’t take note of my updates, or even glance at the news reel, knowing what it would say. Liberation Day.
The ticket checker came and I handed him my phone the ID code ready for scanning he smiled politely as the train made its first stop “Happy Liberation Day ma’am I hope you are enjoying the ride” the words left his lips and we both noticed a group of Armani wearing men coming toward us he took a second glance at me and grimaced. “Tickets boys?” he asked stepping in front of my seat seemingly blocking me from their view. The boys all grinned and pulled out the latest iphone letting the man scan their codes. They talked about their plans for the day as he did so, I kept my head down, they mentioned going to the red light district and I bit my tongue. The mention wasn’t the problem, it was the fact that they mentioned it today, I felt bile rise up and tried not to shift as my body so desperately wanted me too. “Alright gentlemen get comfy and enjoy the ride!” the checker extended his arm showing the boys an area that would seat six with a convenient location at the other end of the cart, but one of the boys had spotted me and taken the window seat across from me.
“Thank you sir, but we are fine right here.” he said with a one-sided grin. The others, still standing, pushed the checker onward taking seats surrounding me as well. I hadn’t bothered looking up yet even though I felt their gaze on me-heavy. “Happy liberation day cutie” he said with a full toothed smile his voice smooth and dangerous.
I turned with a bright smile of my own why don’t you eat shit and die! “And happy liberation to all of you as well” my voice was disgustingly sweet.
“Where you headed today honey?” another asked from the seat directly in front of me he turned his body toward me putting his leg before my exit from the small corner of the train.
I beamed at the pet-name none of your fucking business that’s where “oh no where fun just work.” GO AWAY! GO AWAY! GO AWAY!
And of course the inevitable question followed “where do you work?”
“At Clerks as an intake worker” I lied smiling and attempting not to sound too uncomfortable. If I told you assholes what I really did you’d just take it as more of a reason anyway dickwad. The boys all looked to one another at that point, maybe I used the wrong tone?
“Clerks, that’s near-by where we are headed” the first guy said.
“We can keep you company until then” the other grinned. I put my tablet in my lap and began to fiddle with my gloves as though they were uncomfortable “What’s your name beautiful?”
“Oh!” I laughed pulling off my right glove slowly to draw attention to my hands “sorry my name is Madison” I talked while staring at my hands slipping my left glove off last slowly pulling it from my fingers and revealing my engagement ring you made me do it. And as though I did nothing at all “where are you boys headed?” added with a grin and a girlish giggle.
The first boy glared at my hand for a long while until one of the boys still standing said “well its liberation day, we’re headed to party-harty man!” he exclaimed biting his lower lip as he scanned my body. “it’s a shame you are working today girlie you could have come party with us! Really you should ditch out on work I mean it’s a fucking holiday baby!” you are pretty much the definition of gross aren’t you pretty boy? And my name is not fucking baby! my inner tantrum continued as the boys seem to close in on me without moving, “What do you say?”
“I’m flattered I really am-”
“She’s got work guys I think the pretty worker girl might be afraid of getting fired” the second guy added with a sarcastic and almost wounded tone.
“Well yeah… I mean like I said I’m flattered because you guys seem so awesome its just I don’t want to lose my job they have a zero tolerance for holiday no-shows” I don’t want to go with you, why do I have to explain that? I don’t fucking know you creeps! He nodded, his eyes clearing and the wounded look dissipating a bit, but the first guy still glared at my hand, his face hard with unrelenting anger. Eep did I make the wrong choice with the gloves….Ari always said it was a toss up…
The second one smiled to the others seemingly comfortable with my response and as the doors opened to let on new passengers he stood searching for other girls to talk too presumably. I began to relax a bit when the train began to move and another of their entourage nodded to a group of three young girls seemingly ready to party, but then the first said “What your husband can’t provide for you? Why the fuck is the little bitch making you work anyway?” I gulped this is exactly why he calls it a toss up “I mean what kind of pussy lets a beautiful woman like you spoil herself at clerks?” he looked to the others with the same hard angry look as he had for me.
They all chimed in referring to my supposed husband as a bitch, a pussy, a pansy until the second put his hand on my knee “get fired baby I’ll take care of you real good I got a six figure income and a place by the beach.” his cool smile was terrifying fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck…. it didn’t seem even a naked group of girls would get them away from me 15 minutes until my stop…
Being who I am becomes problematic when you don’t know how to react properly to men like this any other day this would have been over a long while ago, but today was not the day to pull a knife or even to display pepper spray. Today that behavior gets you labeled a feminist and even I didn’t need that as the boys laughed and the alpha male starred through my flesh I stayed silent laughing with them nervously not knowing how to respond correctly. SAY SOMETHING ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN SILENCE! I swallowed hard “I would hate to agree, but its true I guess, he’s not on level with a man like you.” I heard the approving tone of voice and almost vomited now I was inviting them in I wasn’t sure how to escape and as the fear took over my younger self came out I was 12 again and all I wanted was for it to be as painless as possible. The second guy moved his hand up my thigh leaning in as he did it lucky for me I decided to wear two pairs of leggings and unexpectedly lifted his hand to pull down my headscarf.
“I hate that pretty girls like you wear that shit! I mean you are gorgeous baby!”
Quickly I said “oh its for my hair the blonde gets lightened by the sun!” I laughed like an airhead and bobbled my head a bit you are acting like a real idiot Madison keep it going!
“So that bitch husband of yours what would he say if you just didn’t come home tonight?” the first asked standing holding on to the carry-on space above my head.
“He’d be…” I looked down and pretended to choke on my breath a bit “…very angry.” I pressed my lips together like I was fighting the urge to cry. The guy dropped to my level placing his hand on my knee shooing the second guy away. His eyes looked so sincere but deadly all the same, he was unaware that I knew the tricks, and he was more unaware that any other day I would have been the last woman he would have hit on.
“Angry? Does he hurt you?” he asked as one of the other guys scoffed ‘bet she deserves it’ “Shut up Lance!” he growled returning focus to me.
“He picks me up from work for lunch, and at the end of the day, I only rode the train today because he is out celebrating for Liberation day as he should be y’know, but if I weren’t there when he comes to get me today well… he’s only doing what’s right.” I said with a firm nod and a small but sweet smile as though I was his version of the perfect woman.
“Well, I guess if you were my wife I’d feel the same, but why does he force you to work?”
“Oh! No… its just I wanted to try it. I don’t mind being home all the time and making sure the housework gets done and that dinner is made for him its just… I thought if I could help more, why not?” I shrugged my shoulders a bit and smiled at him as doe-eyed as I could.
“Good girl! More women should be like that” he ran his hand down my back as he stood the others chimed in about finding a woman like that as the slogan goes before every good women is a man she’s pushing forward finally I felt more at ease. The perfect house wife. He nodded at the other girls who had since added to their party and the others went like a pack of wolves toward them. “So, Maddy girl how about you give me your number and we hang out some time? I could sure use a woman like you.” his million dollar smile only made me tremble out of fear whereas I am sure he thought it lust. The perfect woman will always desire a gentlemen. Without a word I pulled out a scarp of paper from my purse and scribbled a number down moving my tablet and swiping on a 30 second alarm tab.
As I handed the paper with a seductive little grin he put the numbers into his phone and called it took a brief moment then my tablet went off I silenced it and put my hand on his phone “If you call make sure its after 7 just in case” I winked and he laughed blowing me a kiss before rejoining his pack. Good job Madison, now just get to the office on time and you’ll be safe the rest of the day. All I had to worry about now was getting home the train slowed and stopped and I jumped out. I had about ten minutes to get to work before being late, but being late was better than a no-show on a holiday, even if most women traded schedules just to be sure that they had to work the company really had a zero tolerance policy. At one point I thought it was to ensure that workers actually came in but after a few years here I realized it was because-especially on Liberation Day-if you didn’t show up there was no one willing to cover you.
When I clocked on I saw the office staff all secretarial lounging about with music blasting-it warmed my heart. Everyone was working but since all the men were out celebrating their day of liberation the female workers were more relaxed able to focus on their tasks and not think about who might be looking where and what might trigger something inappropriate for the office. “Madison!” my supervisor Ariel called she was a short, plump, redhead, who I just adored. “I got worried when you weren’t here an hour early like the rest” she smiled the woman had scars all over her face, fine lines that were sporadic and sometimes very jagged, but to me she was the essence of beauty.
“Yeah, no Ari and I decided to have a movie marathon at 9pm last night I decided to sleep in” I shrugged as she walked me to my desk as much as I hated this holiday the relaxation at work was nice. I thought that maybe it was like the all-women spas they are supposed to have over seas the kind of place for real relaxation, the kind you hardly ever get while with others.
“You would, do you two have any big plans for tonight? How’s the wedding planning going?” she asked jumping on my desk with her short legs dangling down.
“Not really, you know Ari hates today almost more than me” I whispered the last part as even among women you never knew who was listening. “How about you? The kids bugging you to do something?” I asked pulling out my To-Do list a heavy list of tasks that all seemed faraway at the moment.
“Of course! The little hell raisers want to watch the fireworks” her eyes were sad as she spoke “I try to say no but the boys insist they have a right to join in on the fun, and my girl is hitting that age, all she wants to do is be around her brothers friends and..” adding air quotes “fit in.”
“She’s what 11? God it happens so fast these days, I remember I wanted to” air quotes followed “fit in, at 16. Nowadays I guess it’s the preteens worried about image-”
“Its everyone! My girls 6 and put herself on a strict no sugar diet, the little shit eats healthier than me.” Ara said coming over to my desk her hair down and uncovered “My husband says she’s doing the right thing, so what can I do? Apparently 6 is a good age to watch your body and make sure she’s suitable to marry off.” her eyes were bright and her smile strong in my eyes she truly was the perfect woman and even if her husband seemed oafish at times she seemed to love him regardless and that made her glow.
Ariel shook her head “when I was 6 my mom put me on a diet!” she laughed rubbing her stomach “Ara, I think all you can do you are doing, I can see you holding your little girl and making her eat even if she wont touch sugar, and at that age its what’s important let her get healthy before she starves herself for a man.” I watched the two as they began their back and forth the two went on and on about the tricks Ara used to make her daughters eat as Ariel explained hers has begun to starve for perfection just like her friends at school.
“Oh! The other trick I’ve started using, appetite stimulants if your daughter is drinking bottled water all you have to do is break the tablet and put it in-takes five minutes you can’t tell the next thing you know she is so hungry she’s begging you to cook, just make sure you don’t let her over eat!” Ara explained as I began to type in the morning reports the two remained there for what seemed hours, when they left I tried to keep my mind on the data input. Nothing but numbers and my fingers dancing on the keyboard. It was meaningless work when you really thought about it, but it needed to be done. During a normal day I typically went over my supervisors work and revised it before giving it to the department head. I got lost in my work the day playing out smoothly nothing but relaxation.
As the day began to end Ara came to my desk probably bored with her own work she didn’t need to work and often would just throw her hands up and take a break. It was an interesting practice no one dared say anything as everyone loved working with her and really no one cared. She sauntered over to me and just smiled as I finished typing in the last bit of data. “Finally done for the day?“ she asked with a brilliant smile the one that says ‘you are done because I’m going to bother you so you can’t do your work’. She was a fascinating woman really, who had 5 children and whose husband allowed her to work to keep her sane, something many Muslim women get denied. We began chatting about her kids as her son just turned 18 and her husband desperately wanted him to begin working at his company rather than going to college “it’s a very good thing that my son doesn’t want his wife to be like me” she started to say as I commented on how admirable she was “I may have a good home, family, and husband, but he knows the danger I face at work. His father assures him that because I am who I am I don’t have to worry, but he knows his future wife will not be the daughter of a wealthy land owner over seas” she laughed a twinkle in her eye, the other reason she could work was the sheer fact that her family didn’t have too. It was more like a novelty for her husband to have a wife that worked, unlike with me, where the fact that I worked reflected negatively on Ari, for her husband it was an amusing topic of conversation. “I just want him to have a nice girl, a girl that isn’t afraid of him, you know?” she spoke quietly staring out of the window where a group of young kids walked past talking about the fireworks excitedly and loudly.
I knew exactly what she meant “yeah, but he is your son, I think he will be fine.”
“Yes, he’s a good boy, respectful, like his father but without the rough edges” she giggled at that knowing I was not a big fan of him “but I want for him what his father and I have, when I met Yar for the first time I was not the least bit timid which was very, very unusual for me. I grew up very scared of what my husband would be like, but my mother assured me she would choose a good man for me and when I met him I knew it was so. That he would be who would share my future.” her eyes lit up and a smile curled onto her lips “It was also lucky that he is wealthy as well” a burst of laughter surprised even her and she covered her mouth eyes wide with shock.
“Ara you are ridiculous, but I’m glad you are so happy with Yar its always good to see a happy marriage.” And it was true, it was always nice to see the look of genuine happiness on a woman’s face when talking about her spouse. “What are you going to do tonight?”
“Ah… well Yar is taking our eldest to a party I’ll be with the girls at the fireworks…” there was a sense of dread in her voice the fireworks with two teen girls that sounds like hell “Luckily my sisters and cousin will be coming they don’t want to spend the nights alone and the men will all be going to the same party.” I packed my things as she spoke and as she noticed she checked her phone “Oh I hope I didn’t keep you! Are you taking the train? Do you need a lift” she asked grabbing my hand.
The gesture startled me into a blush “oh-ha no thanks its still early I’ll be fine” adjusting my head scarf I added “I do need to run though I want to get to the station as soon as I can, you have fun tonight, and be safe, okay?” She nodded with a smile looking a tad worried.
She had every right to be and if I had taken the time to think about it I might have second guessed my answer. The walk to the station was slow and quiet it was still light out so a lot of celebrators were still inside drinking, smoking, or otherwise, but that was typically the easy part the difficult part was the travelers. I looked around at the posters for random events, parties, and sales special for the day. The images on some made me shutter I was glad that I was staying in, and to my disgust more so that I wasn’t going to be alone. It was the catch 22 of being in a relationship like mine you could never tell exactly why it was comforting to be paired, whether you were paired because it was what you wanted, or if it was needed. I got to the station and to my disdain there were groups all about the place and scattered about there were the singles. I went to the platform and stood in between two different groups of girls about six or seven on either side it hid me well and as they were wearing liberation colors and dressed for the occasion there seemed little reason for anyone to notice me, even them. I stood staring at the floor a good ten minutes before to my misfortune bumped into one of the now clearly drunk girls. She knocked in to me probably having leaned to far on stiletto heel and hit my shoulder “What the fuck bitch!?” steadying herself I glanced up let’s not, okay, Madison let’s not…”I asked you fucking a question you fat skank!” yeah let’s not this is hardly worth dealing with cops.
“First, my fat content is none of your concern and you bumped into me. Please, let’s not make this a big deal you are clearly too pretty to fight like this.” I said trying not to snarl as I did it.
“Sarah, she’s just waiting for the train come on!” one of her friends said starting to giggle hysterically grabbing her shoulder and shoving a water bottled filled with bright pink liquid into her hands “Drink!” she urged looking at me and mouthing sorry.
I couldn’t be mad seven years ago I was that girl, I would have been drunkenly getting prepared for the fireworks, rushing to get to the station and catch the train into downtown. I turned away again and began staring at the floor the situation playing over in my head. Once I got on the train I would jump to the nearest single seat and try not to look anyone in the eye, once off I would have about 20 minutes to get home before the street lights came on, good thing I wouldn’t have to run. I heard snippets of the girls conversation one in particular about guy-hunting. The girls were going over how to get a guy with their “fat” friend who looked uncomfortable stuffed in a white dress two sizes too small. Laugh at all their jokes, don’t correct them, be open to what they want to do, encourage them to do those things, and above all else drink if you get uncomfortable. The last piece of advice played over and over again in my mind and I remembered the day I was told that and the day I told it to someone else. It made me a bit sick to remember. I shook my head a bit shifting uncomfortably as a group of guys began to cheer I tried not to look but the cat calls intrigued me “Hey its jailbait! You legal yet? I can’t wait to hit that” the guy looked about forty and the girl he was now having twirl before him looked like she was still in high school as he continued to question her she shook her head-not legal. Consent is 16… She’s not even 16…
I tried not to get anxious and instead thought of what Ari may have cooked for dinner, tonight would be special we would watch a variety of old movies and get drunk by candle light, it was a tradition I started when I turned 22 and stopped going to the fireworks. I did this alone every year until I met Ari. It made me smile and as the train pulled up I felt at ease which caused me to move without thinking as I stepped into the train car quickly as I always did. I hit something hard and as I looked up noticed a very large man-the wall I ran into “Oh shit! I’m sorry! I wasn’t paying attention” the words burst out of my mouth as I moved past him his grinned widened and as I made my way down the isle he followed. I was lucky enough to get a seat by myself but the guy took liberty to stand right next to it. It was the afternoon trip all over again but this time with a heavy set man instead of a group of 5 college kids-great
“Happy Liberation day!” he said smiling big with a glare coming off his shiny bald head how about you go fuck yourself?
“Happy Liberation day to you as well” I said in a rather unimpressive tone Madison! NICE GODDAMN IT! “heading to big plans tonight?” I asked in a sweeter more interested voice.
“What else would I be doing little lady?” he asked with a hand on my shoulder, the kind that you think could have been dropped on accident until you notice it hasn’t moved away yet. “I’m headed to a party, you party?”
I scanned the area quickly the train car was full and there was no chance of me weaseling out into another without bumping into a dozen or so people “I use too, but I’ll be celebrating quietly this year” the words came out soft, but seemed to rub him the wrong way.
“Quietly!? Why the hell would you want to be quiet on Liberation day!?” his words weren’t inherently threatening but there was something about the way he towered over me that made the unease climb up my spine. “You don’t got a man do you, or at least one like me, because if you were my lady tonight I’d be making you scream” Wonderful and now I can smell the booze on your tongue… his hand moved to the nape of my neck where his fingers pinched ever so slightly. I moved slightly to the right hoping to shake the hand, but he only held me in place. He was scanning my body and almost salivating as he did so, I hate traveling alone for this reason!
“I do have a man!” I exclaimed rather loudly hoping that maybe someone would hear and begin paying attention to what was occurring “and well… I never said I wouldn’t be singing my own national anthem…” the words came out too fast and as his whole hand enveloped my neck I knew he didn’t like what I said.
“Oh you do have a man, small dick?” he turned my head to look at him again and I was in no position to hide my fear.
“Um… that’s an uncomfortable question” I laughed like an idiot trying to sound as bubblegum pop as possible, but it only made him grin more. “Its along the lines of what I’ve had before” the comment came out the same way a question would I didn’t know how to proceed today was not the day for mistakes, but I hadn’t been approached like this in a while. The benefits of being paired and working very different shifts, but once the words left my lips I knew I had sealed the deal.
He put his free hand under my chin and lifted it with his palm “so you are a dirty girl after all” his eyes were bright as though he was a child getting a new toy and I suppose to some extent he was. “I thought with that little get-up you were one of those stuck up prissy types, but I think we would have some fun together.” why because I said I’ve had sex ooooh big fucking connection! He ran his palm down the front of my neck and as I ripped myself away he pulled me back with the hand on the back of my neck I put my arms around my chest and could actually feel a whimper come up. “Come on sexy let me see the goods” I could see a young girl sitting with what appeared to be her family she was watching and grinning as if she couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I grabbed the hand around the front and laced my fingers through it smiling as seductively as I could, he moved it toward his pants. “That’s a good girl, come play with me tonight, what do you say baby?” he puckered his lips as I pulled my hand back.
“I have to go home.” I said firmly realizing that my only options were to fight or take the assault with a child for my audience, but I was terrified. There were no clear escapes, and I’m sure he would follow if I managed to break through. I peaked at exterior of the train What luck! The next stop Madison you have to get off the train somehow… think damn it think! He looked hurt, and angry, and insulted as he starred down at me boiling.
“I can show you something you wont ever forget, something that put that man of yours to shame” with his now free hand he began unzipping his pants “I’m gonna make you forget all about home sexy you ain’t got to worry I’ll take good care of that mouth” but the train came to an almost abrupt stop as we came to the next drop off it jostled him and forced him to let go of my neck to maintain balance in that moment I jumped through the gap between the seat directly in front of me and his fat stomach praying that I made it through the door. I stumbled a bit and felt his finger tips against my back but propelled forward. As I hit the pavement in front of me I could hear him screaming “Fucking tease! Little bitch!” I didn’t bother looking up as I heard the train moving on, but as I stood I realized I was a lot further from home than I thought I was, and couldn’t really be thankful about getting away just yet.
I had about a 30 minute walk home with 35 minutes before the street lights come on shit if I had stayed on the train I would have had ten more minutes and then a 20 minute walk fuck my life! This for my immediate safety was the best thing that could have happened, but it was getting late and if I didn’t move quickly I wouldn’t beat the sun to bed. I began moving with a purpose but trying not to call too much attention to myself it was tricky, but with most people already intoxicated it couldn’t be that bad. Keep it together, keep it together, just keep it together. The streets were filled with people dressed to impress, all the girls from the slums were about trying to make sure they were as noticeable as possible, and all the guys from the slums were moving forward on their “pub crawl” list. Those who were headed down town were rushing to the station and as I moved past group after group I became more anxious. It was getting late and I didn’t seem to be making much progress 26 minutes. I started moving faster and even thought of calling a taxi as so many were flying past but I wasn’t desperate yet. I just kept moving staring at the ground and clutching my purse at my side I even tried not to listen to the noise surrounding as feeling in my own bubble kept me moving swiftly.
I turned a corner and sighed in great relief I was at the station I would have exited from with 15 minutes to spare-wasn’t perfect but I’d take it. I picked up the pace feeling relieved I lifted my head and let myself smile. The crowds were less here for whatever reason and that was pleasant. I began salivating over my hopes for dinner and the wine that was waiting for me I hope he made lasagna tonight it’d pair great with the wine I got! I can’t wait to be home and cudd-
Without warning my body was slammed against the ground 8 minutes until I’m home…”Hey sexy, sorry about the fall” a man stood before me dressed in slacks and a button up shirt he extended his hand to me and automatically I took it. I knew this alley well it was a few buildings down from my own there were no doors, no ladders, no escape routes other than directly in front of me where the man stood. “What’s your name cutie?”
7 minutes left…”Madison” Ari… I’m almost home. I began to wipe my back off securing my purse around my shoulder to insure it would not be dropped.
“Madison, sexy name for a very sexy lady.” He sneered “So how about you do me a favor, help me take care of something?” he moved closer and I backed away fiddling inside my purse which now sat at my lower back. He didn’t seem to notice as he lifted a hand and ran it down my cheek.
“No. I need to get home.” I said firmly 5 minutes…
“No?” he looked rather insulted “You are saying no to me? You? Have you looked at yourself!? God you should be thanking me for offering this to you!” his gentle hand turned hard as he gripped my chin “Now be the good little slut you are, and help daddy out.” His smile was sickening.
“I will say this one more time, and if you don’t listen something bad will happen; no” I growled. He didn’t respond he only glared and as he put his hand in his pants to pull out his almighty phallus I struck. From behind my back I swung my knife around the blade out making contact directly under his Adams apple, blood gushed out, but not the kind you see in the movies this was real. He staggered backward and I stabbed him again and again and again until my gloves were soaked in his blood. He finally fell to the floor “I said no, and you chose not to listen, and now you are going to die.” I watched him bleed, his eyes glossing over as he tried to make a sound “does it scare you that no one is coming? That you will die here alone? I bet it does. I am not your victim, you see, I am your worst fucking nightmare.” I nearly spit the words as I took my blade and cleaned it on his clothes before ripping the gloves off using the interior to clean any stray blood that might have gotten on me. 1 minute Madison get to the apartment now! I bolted down the rest of the street, people were out in greater numbers apparently all rushing to catch the next train, a group of happy women dressed in their Saturday best watched me run to my apartment stoop and gazed in pity as I struggled to unlock the door. I made eye contact with one and for a moment she looked sad as though she knew exactly what had happened to me today and I thought with disdain that she did.
I reached the apartment without another mishap entering to the smells of fresh ravioli-not what I wanted but just as good. Ari came out of the kitchen a smile on his face and the bottle uncorked ready to be drank “Hey bab-” he stopped a moment put the bottle down and met me on the couch “What happened?”
I handed him my purse which now held the bloodied gloves “nothing new, but… I had to take care of something…” He looked inside the bag and kissed the side of my head I fell into the curve of his arm and began to cry.
“Anyone see?” he asked softly I just cried louder shaking my head. He held me tight “I’m sorry” turned on my favorite movie before leaving my side to get dinner. Liberation Day if anyone saw me I’d be in line for a train alright…

Happy Liberation Day.