Friday, 19 March 2010

War Widow (#fridayflash)

How dare you call me beautiful? Here I am, pregnant with a child I will only ever hate. His eyes will always remind me of his father's, of the man who shot my husband in the back as I watched, then pinned me to the floor, gun to my head. I hoped he'd pull the trigger once he'd taken his pleasure from me. Instead, he stood, zipped up his trousers and laughed, then howled and whooped as I screamed on the floor.

How dare you speak of lessons in suffering? Suffering has only one lesson: Those, like you, who speak of the "redemptive potential" of pain are morons. Did you hear that? Morons. Heartless, soulless, shallow morons.

How dare you say that God is on my side? What did God do for me? I, the vanquished foe, have no honour. Yes, I am vanquished. Yes, I am disgraced. You can keep your God of the oppressed.

How dare you say it was barbarous, what he did? Did you see his eyes? Did you? You do not know barbarity. How dare you speak of what you do not know.

How dare you take my voice? I have my own voice. I am not voiceless. Can you not hear me? I can speak for myself.

How dare you speak of making peace, as though you have a special calling? Let me tell you this: Without me, without my dead husband, without my bastard child, you would have no peace to make. We are the conflict, the raw materials you use to create peace. We do not want your peace. I will spit it in your face. It is too late for me, for us, for all of us that you pity, for all of us that inspire you.

Yes, you look at me with pity. You see me on your TV screen, and you look at me with pity. You philosophise with your friends as to how you might help. You feel bad for me. "That's terrible," you say. You, whose colleagues are researching how to improve upon the gun that killed my husband. "Mechanical Engineering," they call it. You, whose elected officials ensure the guns are sold. "Diplomacy" and "ensuring economic stability", they call it. You, who do not speak to judge.

How dare you speak of me? How dare you speak?


  1. Excellent notions of the language used to obfuscate the fleshy horror of war and reduce it to bureaucratic 'collateral damage' and requisition forms etc. And of course rape is all about power and domination and not sex. Women civilians are increasingly being attacked as a conscious military strategy to weaken the resolve of the population under attack.

    That last line sums everything up so succinctly.

    marc nash

  2. Riveting piece, this. Raw, hard look at the people behind the story.

    Yes. How dare us.


  3. Wow, very powerful piece. Well written.

  4. Yes, this is quite powerful, with a voice that is unrelenting. Well done!

  5. Very powerful and raw. Excellent.

  6. Angry, like taking a hard bite of something and spitting it out unchewed. And who can blame her.
    Very fine, David, very fine.

  7. Absolutely visceral, David, nice work.
    The first paragraph was particularly good, her anger and the scene perfectly set

  8. There's a definite raw energy about this piece which I really like. Great stuff!

  9. Ooh there's a challenge to all of us in this. Not just the arms traders but all of us who work for peace too. "How dare you speak of the God of the oppressed?" And how do you ever cope with such a trauma as this.
    Great stuff.

  10. So angry. Powerful use of language.

  11. Full of power and anger. Excellent voice.

  12. Interesting paradox here where your character says 'I have my own voice,' but of course she doesn't, there is only the author projecting his thoughts on to her, or conveying them through her.

    In fitting with the theme of voices, should the last line read 'how dare you speak *for* me,' rather than 'of me'?