The Patrol

By Maxine Pollock, TIWP Student

I woke up to a knock on the door and cursed myself for not waking up when my alarm sounded. My heart pounded as I swung my legs out from underneath my covers and raced to my closet. The knock sounded again and I panicked. I wasn’t ready for the patrol, I couldn’t have anything happen to me. I changed out of my nightclothes and pulled on the uniform:  a shimmery gold dress that plunged way too low, barely covered my butt and highlighted my curves, or lack thereof. I glanced at myself in the mirror as I was furiously brushing my hair and sighed. I looked like a stripper but I wasn’t allowed to look like anything else. I thought I looked presentable, but if I wanted to go outside and not risk being taken away into one of the black vans, I needed another hour to get ready. I didn’t have that time. Voices sounded from the other side of the door and I peeked out my bedroom window to observe what was going on. At every door on our street, men dressed in all black were knocking on doors and performing the daily patrol. The women in the household would tentatively step out, all in the same gold dress, and stand there as the patrol circled around, critiquing, pointing out the flaws and then observe as the women finished getting ready, fixing exactly what they were told. I couldn’t hear them, but I could imagine the words being exchanged. “Pull up your dress, it’s too low,” and “How much time did you spend on your hair? It looks like you just woke up,” or maybe even “You need to lose weight. Do you see anyone else looking like that?” I stifled a scream as I saw one of my neighbors get tossed into a black van. I could hear her protests,”I couldn’t find my dress! Let me go! I couldn’t find it!” She  was wearing sweatpants and a green t-shirt. I stared, having not seen another woman in clothes like that for as long as I could remember. The knocking on my door grew louder, pulling my attention away from the window. I could hear several men outside. As I ran downstairs, my hair fell out of place, and I reached the door out of breath. I opened it slowly and was greeted by the faces of three very angry looking patrolmen. I tried to justify my case, but they were upon me before I could form any words. Two of them had their hands on my arms and another stood behind. They were dragging me down the driveway towards a black van. I kicked and screamed, struggling to get free of their grasp, but the men didn’t even flinch. The closer the van grew, the more desperate my attempts became and just as the door to the vehicle was opening, I got free. I sprinted up the road, away from the van and the men but I hadn’t run in so long and the men were fast. I was shoved to the ground and thrown in the back of the van, and just as the world was fading to darkness, a deep voice whispered in my ear, “Sorry hon, you’re just not pretty enough.”

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