It is that strange time of the season where the sun comes out and leads you to believe it’s Spring but the ground still harbors snow in some places. In the morning, fog comes out of your mouth, and by lunchtime you’re in short sleeves. Unless of course, you’re me, then you have covered yourself with layer after layer, t-shirt, followed by long sleeve, followed by zip-up hoodie. You tell your friends you are cold, but since Tommy once grabbed your ass so thoroughly you felt his hands finger into you, you have learned to tuck yourself away, to fold yourself like clothes into a dresser drawer, neatly, inconspicuous, so they won’t know you’re hiding. After school, you have time to kill so you follow your best friend because if she had the idea to jump off a cliff, your guts would already be spray painted against the pavement landing. She leaves you alone with a boy, and you rest your legs on his because it’s comfortable, because you ask him if it’s okay, and he lets you. He asks you why you wear so much, why you hide. His hands glide over the edges of your shirts, laughs, tucks them away, does it again, like for a second he might ask permission. But his hand sneaks under the collar, touching flesh, diving under all your protection and stealing the thing that was not offered to him. Your face ignites like the sunlight outside like you hope you are hot enough to melt his hands, like the kind of rage every woman someday wields. You scream with your red face, words you learned from Medusa, words you learn from every woman before you. And as you walk back to school to get ready for the volleyball game, your voice shakes as you tell you best friend what he did, she turns to you and says What? It’s not like he raped you.
Lynne Schmidt is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, and mental health professional with a focus in trauma and healing. She is the winner of the 2020 New Women's Voices Contest and author of three chapbooks: Dead Dog Poems (forthcoming from Finishing Line Press), Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press) which was listed as one of the 17 Best Breakup Books to Read in 2020, and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West), which was featured on The Wardrobe's Best Dressed for PTSD Awareness Week. Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor's Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne was a five time 2019 and 2020 Best of the Net Nominee, and an honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski and Doug Draime Poetry Awards. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.