Shield Maidens (March Story)

Oceans ripple, then rise, then come crashing at the feet of a woman wronged and discarded as soon as her mouth has released the words, indelible now that they have their place on the world. She cannot retreat behind the borders of false allies now. Armies materialize around her and flock to her side, their faces familiar, made up of old neighbors, lifelong friends, sisters, mothers, and strangers. 

These soldiers are battle scarred, their shields battered, their weapons keen in anticipation of the next fight. They share their armor. They share the fire that tempered their weapons, and hand her the beginnings of her own. These warriors offer her weapons of “You’re not alone”, and the ocean whispers its stories back in to their mouths, its rush repeating their tales for all to hear. They share back alleys and locked bathroom doors. 

They build walls from silence and shame, form ramparts from too many drinks laced with too much trust and poised on the stones built from that which would be used to silence them. They pull each other up the slippery sides, one after another, building ladders and ropes from epithets and victim blaming and stare down those who would position themselves at its base and yell at its parapets

“What were you wearing?”

“Why were you alone?”

“Why didn’t you scream?”

So many of us share the armor that when another joins our ranks, we are already prepared for her. Her shield and sword are laid waiting, a scarlet sash to hang on her shoulders, to embroider with her name, on that cannot be ripped from her or covered by the mud of “victim” and “statistic”. Sometimes they whisper in to our ranks, camouflaged behind the wall of their predecessors. When they join our ranks, a new shade develops in the tapestry of her acquaintances. Texts, facebook messages, comments all take on a new hue. 

Drip. Drop. Drip

“Me too.”

Drop.

“I know how you feel.”

Drip.

“You’re not a lone.”

Drop.

“We’re having a meeting”

Drip

“Do you need anything?”

Drop

“Here is a sword.”

Drip

“Let me help you climb”

Drop.

“You are safe with us.

Drip.