By Blaise Harrison, TIWP student at SiTY

The story that follows is a work of fiction.

The men always thought my smile was blinding. They’d say, “C’mon pretty lady, be happy for me.” And I would. I’d give out my smiles freely and gladly and flash those pearly whites without a care in the world. Now that’s a used-to thing.

I didn’t dress like this back then. I’d throw on a skirt an’ a blouse and walk outside feeling safe. I was all sunshine an’ flowers, sugar an’ spice. But y’know now when I bite my tongue I can feel the bitterness flowin’ through my veins. It tastes like rusted metal and curdled milk. Represents me I guess. An old bitch whinin’ ‘bout an instance that happened long, long ago. But things can change in an instance, an’ those things stick ‘round for a while. The day after it happened, I didn’t tell my friends. No, I kept it all inside and withered. For the longest time I wouldn’t, I couldn’t speak or move with my pa in the room.

That’s not to say I changed completely though. I still smiled at the boys, years afterwards and much more wearily, but I did it. I like to think that I could’ve gone back to my previous wear, but I was too aware and mature to do that.

Sometimes I still think that I deserved it. That I did something to provoke them, entice them. ‘Cause no matter how many times people nowadays say it was their fault, they told me different. Well lemme tell you somethin’ kid. No one deserves it. I gotta messed up mentality ‘cause no one bothered to therapy my thoughts away, so I’m not always of the right opinion, but I can tell you one thing for sure. No one deserves it.

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