What It Means To Be A Woman
by s.a.

She walks down the street with her books in her arms and the sun on her face, and she thinks about the woman she loves. She thinks about the way they made love last night and how everything seems so perfect.

She remembers that when things are perfect, the world usually crumbles, and her smile dims slightly until she sees the light of happiness reflected in her lover's eyes in her mind.

She sits down on a bench and flips through a book, oblivious to the man on the corner who gives her a lecherous glance. She doesn't know that when she is seen, she is found shortcoming because she is a woman and a lesbian and perceived as innocent in ways that would make her cast her eyes down low.

She watches the birds as they eat the bread left for them by laughing schoolchildren and she realizes that she wants children, if only to teach them about love and beauty and the trust a child should have in a parent.

She wishes then that her mother were with her.


She watches the rain pound against her window, and she wants to see her mother again. She knows she is loved, but there is nothing comparable to that infallible love of a mother.

She walks to her bed and buries her head in her pillows, thinking desperately of days gone by, striving to see another memory behind her eyes. She wonders if love is real if you are not. She hates that this still occupies her mind in darkened hours when everyone but the residents of this house has gone to sleep.

She sits up and looks at the drawer where she kept her journals, mostly dust but some still intact enough to salvage. That is her history. A forged one, perhaps, but still hers.

She wishes she were like her sister sometimes. It's not jealousy; she got over that a long time ago. It's more like something closely resembling respect but a bit farther from admiration. She wants to spend more time with her, and it's been happening--sporadically. She figures she'll take what she can get, because who knows if she'll lose her again tomorrow.

She remembers the boy that looked at her in class today. She didn't know what to do; she's never been prepared for that kind of interest. He makes her feel shy, like she's even more awkward in her own body than she already is. She almost wants him to not look at her at all.


She wishes he wouldn't look at her like that. That subtle stare that locks her into his eyes, whether she wants to be there or not. It involves a specific variation of his eyebrow-raising and half-lowered lashes that only look good on him. She wants to stop thinking about him.

She walks from that stare and leaves through the door, leaving him hanging, as always. She hates this part of the ritual, when he expects more from her, things of herself that she is unwilling to give.

She sits on a tombstone and knows that it's not because of him. It's because of a thousand things: of dying too young, of knowing too much, of being what she is. It's because she's been hurt too badly and can't afford to be hurt again. It's because love is simply too much for her to give.

She watches him out of the corner of her eye as he slinks behind a tree, following her home. She doesn't need a protector, and she knows that he knows this. But she doesn't stop him, because though she has no intention of returning his love, it's nice to be cared about.

She remembers falling in love, and she remembers knowing she was finished, and she remembers waking up here. She doesn't know what scares her more: this cold, empty feeling that haunts her body, or whatever role she still has to play in this universe. She doesn't want this power anymore.


She remembers not having power. She doesn't like to think about it, but it's one of those things that creeps up on you when you least expect it. She was weak then, expecting so much of the world, despite the baddies and the demons. But then--she found this, tapped into this. She never knew she had it, but there it was.

She walks slowly to the bookstore, taking in the sights of her small town. The people jaywalk, argue, eat, drink, talk; all perfectly oblivious to the world that lurks beneath the surface of their mundane lives. She likes having this secret, not only of what goes on at night, but also what she does to fight it. It makes her special in a way so few people are.

She sits at the main bar in the coffee shop, orders a tall double caf French Roast latte, to go. There's so much she could do now. She could stir the sugar into the coffee with her mind, or make the waiter into a cow, or stop time. She's that--powerful.

She watches a couple make out on the street corner, and a small smile lights her face. She thinks fondly of her own love, how good their relationship is. Life is good. Life is pretty damned close to perfect, actually, and she thinks happily that it's because of her. She saved them, this time.

She wishes they would see it. It's like they don't want to be happy or something; her friends--her family always seems to find something wrong in their world, even when things are as good as they are. She wonders sometimes if things wouldn't be better if she could just make them see how she does.


She watches them as they mill around the shop, and she knows they don't see what she does. She sees eight people barely walking in each other's worlds. She's one to talk; more often than not she's thinking about herself, and the things that go on in her sphere. She can't help it. Many things are wrong, and just as many are right, and that is simply one more consequence of being human, she supposes.

She walks to the counter, putting inventory on its glass surface to be reviewed later. There's always so much to do. Marrying is time consuming business, and she usually tries to keep herself busy. She was once a career girl--er, sort of. She likes to remind herself of that time. It's a way to battle against this increasing sense of incompletion. It feels as though she's missing something fundamental, like an aorta or her spleen. Which is a disconcerting thought, that she has a spleen.

She wishes her unwanted thoughts would bury themselves deep in her psyche. The others' well-used denial tactic would come in handy here, but a millennium of blunt truth doesn't simply disappear overnight. She will look over at him, and be mired in her insecurities: whether they will be happy, or if they are right for each other, or if this entire experience is simply one exquisitely painful dream she will wake from tomorrow.

She sits behind the counter and rests her chin in her hands. Life, she realizes for the millionth time, is hard. It's hard, and painful, and rarely rewarding. She's heard the saying "look for the small joys in life," but the fellow who said it bought a periwinkle robe and a plastic wand, so she doesn't really trust his judgment. Usually it is enough to be with her love, but on days like today when it all seems much too overwhelming, she thrusts herself into her job and her money and can stave off her own questions for a few scant hours.

She remembers her former life, what she was, and tries to figure out if she really misses it or not. She wonders if anything will be perfect again.


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