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“Some Women get erased a little at a time, some all at once. Some reappear. Every woman who appears wrestles with the forces that would have her disappear. She struggles with the forces that would tell her story for her, or write her out of the story, the genealogy, the rights of man, the rule of law. The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.”


― Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me




Venus is seven months pregnant with her second child when we find her hiding in the dark of her city balcony with her back pressed tightly against a heavy glass door. She is straining, trying to keep it closed with the weight of her swollen body, while her husband Leo rages on the other side of it. The pounding of his fists vibrates her, and she wonders if the baby will wake up inside.


The hinges break and she launches forward onto all fours,  protecting her belly. Pain radiates all the way through her spine to her sternum, and she yelps. 

The air changes, then. He lifts the door off of her quickly and his voice is not a hungry growl now, but a high fluttering. The sound of an apology, without one. Pressured softness, like fresh flowers in a blender. Like wet eyes trying to blink out a bug. Like hypnosis under duress. 



She brushes her teeth without looking in the mirror and climbs into bed, staying along the furthest edge. He slides his hand onto the curve of her hip, and everything inside of her contracts.


She is coal dust.

She is building a diamond inside of her.

She can hear the wind whistling through the propped up balcony door. 

She pushes his hand away and scoots further to the edge.


The baby cries on the monitor and he jumps out of bed and hurries to her room and slides in, locking the door behind him with a click. She listens to the baby scream her name for hours, and can't bear to turn down the blaring monitor. 


The next morning in the shower she stretches her arms over her head and her sternum pops and she screams. At the ER they can’t take an x-ray because she's pregnant. She doesn't tell them about the door.

In the car on the way home her 21-month-old counts to ten by herself for the first time.

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