Male bodies in doorways leaning smiling like they know something We don’t They stand in corners sit on sofas, their legs spread wide. “You like this couch? It folds out into a bed.” A wink. Another can of cheap beer. A sweaty hand on my leg and a knee resting against mine.
It’s not the first time, the tightness in my gut and throat. Familiar warning signs— eight years old at the bus stop, going to the library, by myself. Summer reading club. A grown man’s hand on my ass except I didn’t say ass then— I was too young— I walked away. I avoided. I leaned my back against the thick plastic bus shelter. I held my breath until he walked away, too.
We learn fast. We learn too soon. There is power in bodies, just not in ours Our bodies belong to Everyone. On display, even when fully covered. Strange men touch because they can. A graze in public, a hand on lower back and “pardon” in a crowded room, a drink and a pick up line a shoulder blocking the exit. Their bodies in control, taking control of Ours.
When will Our bodies Be Ours?
Emma Burcart lives and teaches in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have been published or are forthcoming in The MacGuffin, The Manifest-Station, Conclave: A Journal of Character, NonBinary Review, and The Citron Review.