by...Lea Anne Stoughton
Image by Fritz Lang
Spies (Spione, 1928)
The bulb over the kitchen sink cast its anemic light over the room. She sat at the table, facing the garage door. Her hands shook as she lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. Smoking was asking for trouble, she knew, but it didn’t matter, not anymore.
The ticking clock echoed in the stillness. He had been gone how long, three hours? She hadn’t thought to check the clock when he left; her attention had been on his hands. But the bar closed half an hour ago, so it would be soon.
She shifted on the wooden seat, trying to find a position that favored her swollen soreness from the night before. She felt dull surprise at the way her body never got used to it, even after five years. She should have bought some cushions for these damn chairs…
A shrill giggle erupted from her, and she tapped off the ash into an empty wineglass. Wine, another no-no. But not anymore.
She fingered the bracelets stacked on her arm. All gifts from him, a few birthday but mostly apologies. She preferred the cuffs to the bangles. They hid the bruises better.
The cigarette was gone, so she dropped the butt in the glass. She lit another. Her hands didn’t shake this time.
His hands never shook. They were strong and hard and so very, very fast.
Headlights! An electric thrill of adrenaline shot through her belly and was gone. Through the door came a slurred litany of fucking bitches and stupid cunts and goddamn whores. She thought she could almost smell the whiskey as he fumbled with the lock.
She took a final drag on the cigarette and picked up the pistol. She steadied her aim and waited.
He finally stumbled through the door and saw her. “Wha th fuck?” His keys hit the floor, leaving his hands empty, hands that were strong, hands that were even now gathering themselves together, getting ready to move so very, very fast.
Mansplaining: to delight in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation ~ Urban Dictionary
First an exception- I do not, generally, count as Mansplaining when it comes to mathematics because I don’t discount any person as wrong (regardless of gender) when they explain math to me. I am one of those people who cannot comprehend these concepts. Math is a foreign language to me, akin to Sanskrit. I will never understand it. Yes, I still count on my fingers. On Facebook, I recently outed myself as a cheater on third grade timetables. Ten times out of nine, I am wrong when it comes to math. My limited capabilities are widely known, famous even. I am legendary in my inability to grasp mathematical concepts. And as Talking Barbie so unfortunately, yet honestly in my case uttered: math is hard. I don’t get it.
But I believe that most women have been victims of Mansplaining. The incident that stands forefront in my mind is a debate when I was twenty-two. My cousin’s very cool Monte Carlo had a unique feature beloved by me; when the car sped up or slowed down, the sound system reacted accordingly, increasing (or decreasing) the volume of the stereo.
Despite this being a factual feature of many cars, and a feature I experienced firsthand, a male co-worker insisted I was a nutter and no such feature existed. I was filled with rage. Perhaps it doesn’t exist in autos you’ve ridden in, but I do doubt that you’ve ridden in every auto possible, so how dare you discount my knowledge.
But I do believe this was the first, and one of the very few times I was a victim of Mansplaining. I am immune to Mansplaining. First of all, I’m pretty smart. Out of all the IQ tests I’ve taken, I average a 144. Now, internet IQ tests are nowhere near official. But after ten tests, I think it gives a good general idea. I want to make this clear; I have never taken an official IQ test. I doubt I would come close to qualifying for MENSA, but I am smart. I am well read on diverse topics. I am one of few people who check references, and I take learning as a life’s passion, not something to be done for a purpose and then forgotten.
The funny thing is I have a man to thank for my immunity. My dad Jim is a know-it-all. This does not always win him points, but he almost always wins in a battle of wits. My dad taught me to learn as much as possible about whatever strikes my fancy. Any curiosity deserves research, and some subjects deserve research merely because they are there, like Mount Everest. Learning is a responsibility of the human condition. A day without learning is a day wasted.
Another valuable lesson from dear old dad is that when you’re right, you’re right. It doesn’t matter who spouts off. If that person is wrong, it automatically becomes your obligation to show that person the error of their ways. There is nothing wrong with busting out a laundry list of references to show fools their true colors.
And it’s here that we come to Mansplaining. It is my personal belief that Mansplaining comes from the fragile male ego. A man must be right! Why? For centuries, women have been taught that the male ego is so fragile; they must kowtow to it, even when the man is a complete and utter idiot. Au contraire dit mon pere. Screw that bullshit. Any man who can’t take the truth is not worthy of your time. Merely walk away from the ignorant fool. You owe a man’s ego absolutely NOTHING.
The protection of males and their delicate sensibilities is an insidious practice that I believe is handed down unconsciously from mother to daughter. To her credit, my mother never ascribed to this line of thinking either. Perhaps that’s why my father saw the true worth of his daughter’s strength, intelligence and independence. It’s why he fostered the sense that no man is superior to me simply because he has an outie and I have an inny. Once again, I don’t claim to be superior to all men. But if I am, I’m sure as hell not going to act like I’m not. If a man tries to tell me what’s up, I’m more than happy to let him talk out his ass before shoving him in the hole he just dug himself.
Women are fighting back against Mansplaining, and all I can say is about damn time. It’s time we stop coddling them. Our brains are just as big as theirs. A human’s capability for learning and retaining information is vast. A human’s, not just a man’s. It’s the original inconvenient truth that no man wants to believe, but tough! You’re not talking down to me. In fact, it’s impossible to talk down to me when you’re talking out your ass and my head is three feet above that.
So women unite! Shut down the Mansplaining. Don’t nod and smile, then walk away and laugh. Go ahead and laugh right in their face. Men don’t care about the female ego, why should we care about theirs? Take the lesson I absorbed from my father. I’m right; you’re not, thanks for playing. Collect your parting gift at the door.
by...Lea Anne Stoughton
The child lays under the table that was made big for the day. Knees all around. Teddy has a bow on his head, silly thing. Dress for Special was itchy, and Mommy let her change into the fuzzy feety jammies. Sleepy and warm and still tasting the pie. The grown-up talk washes around her.
“…spread to the liver…”
“…foreclosure, but the bank…”
“…fight that bitch for custody…”
“…her own brother in law…”
“…only two ounces but the judge…”
“…fell down the stairs, my ass…”
“…I told that fairy he better not…”
The child breathes in the smell of cigarettes and coffee, and loves her family.
By LeaAnne Stoughton
Fuck you, words
You've failed me again
Useless against pain
Worthless against sorrow
I thought we were friends
We've had so much fun together
Wasted countless happy hours
But when I need you most, you disappear
Are you jealous?
Are you punishing me for wanting to share you with another?
I love you
But I hate you
But I love you
By LeaAnne Stoughton
Who do you envy?
The one who must leave?
Turn away from what should never be left,
Consciously facing the road,
Responsible for the weight of miles?
Who do you envy?
The one who must stay?
Crushed by the void that cannot be filled
With busyness or sleep,
You cried as you pulled away.
I cried as I stood in the doorway.
I can’t feel anymore. Everything is numb. It never used to be this way, did it? I don’t remember how I got here. The darkness closes in over me, crowding me, pulling me deeper. I want to reach upward, but my arms will not obey the command. There is a strange calm in my mind. It’s cold here, so cold. I can feel the ripple of my mind beneath the surface of the cold that is currently enveloping me. Slowly, the haze lifts from my eyes. I cannot see clearly, though I know I am in water. Weightless and floating. Wetness against my eyes. A tank. A large tank.
Where am I?
How did I get here?
I have no memory of where I was or how I came to be here. I feel a strange sense of relief through the fog. Like I no longer have a purpose and that suits me.
There, just there, I see a coat. It’s white. I cannot recall what kind of coat it is or put a name to it. Something about it feels standard, issued perhaps. I can feel my arms bound down to my sides. A pulling at my ankles that are bound together. Strange. The feeling is returning to my legs. I see him now. Clearly and beautifully, yet I cannot remember his name or how I know him. It’s just there, just a little farther below in my mind, but it is gone as I try to reach out and grasp the thought. His eyes look sad and I wish to never see them sad again. He gazes upon me calculative and analyzing. My eyes have adjusted enough around me to see him more clearly. Through the glass I watch him standing, tall and commanding. It’s his eyes, but who they belong to I cannot recall. Machines all around me being viewed by people standing in the room. There is a man in a dark suit near the door, he seems to be in charge. The water against my skin is heavy, though it feels much lighter than water. Have I been in water before? He steps away from me and I feel a deep sadness, a tugging from my heart I cannot explain. I don’t know him, but my arms are pulling away from my body against the binds, trying to reach towards him. My mind screams at me to do something, but what I don’t know.
A younger woman than him approaches me and seems to be asking me questions, but I can’t understand her. Everything is muted to my ears. Her lips begin to move again and I try to focus on the shapes they form. Regardless of my concentration, her message is still lost to me. She turns to leave and I wish her to return. Her face is kind and comforting. I am so tired. I drift to sleep.
I awake to darkness. Startling darkness. I search for him, but he isn’t here. I push my arms again and find them bound still. I try to pull my knees to my chest. Every move is so heavy, my efforts so exaggerated. My muscles are weak. I examine what I can see of myself. Legs, there are two. Arms, there are two. A glare of light against the glass of the tank gives a reflection of myself. A distance of five feet or so afford me a full view of myself. I examine my face. It’s pale, yet delicate. My hair is blonde and long, clouding in large curls around my head.
The initial shock of my reflection is not my face, nor my hair or the pair of arms or legs that stun my foggy mind. It is the wings behind me that send my mind reeling. The massive span of wings, huge white wings with feathers of silk, glowing almost a silver they are so white. I stretch my wings now, slowly in the water. The memories flood my conscious all at once. Coming so fast they are painful. I fell, I fell so far for so long. The last thing I remember was his face before I fell. Now I remember.
I am Lilith.
I am an angel.
And I fell from grace.
This is our showcase page, containing various submissions from various Authors. Please look for snippets about the Authors following their pieces.