South End Stew: A Woman’s Experiences

This is the second in a series of three pieces. The first can be read here.

by Kelsey Hamlin

It shows in the way she comes out from the bedroom, shirtless, gripping the sides of her hips, pulling her skin from her sides with fists full of flesh, asking of her daughter, “how do I get rid of this?”

The invasive seeds have grown in full force, showing their strength when my grandmother changes her Will to include The Man she met only that year. He will now own more of everything she has when she passes than her own kids will. The whispering seeds struck an unbelievable deal. The fruit of their labor clear in my grandmother’s Will.

It showed in the years after my half sister stayed with The Man who pushed her down the stairs, pregnant. It shows in her constant stake in vanity and her demand for The Man’s material — surely no joy for either of them.

It shows in the understandable paranoia of my best friend when something goes bump in the night, reminding her of the rape endured for nearly half her life. It shows when a Man, an ignorant roommate, decides it’s all in good fun to tease her post-traumatic stress.

It shows when that same roommate merely discovers the existence of these whispering seeds and their flowering patriarchy, and gets an arbitrary raise for the mere acknowledgement.

It shows in every moment the very back of my mind wonders if a friend raped me once because I was so drunk but I’m still pretty sure he didn’t.

It shows in the moment a Lyft driver goes somewhere they shouldn’t and The Man’s first reaction isn’t that the situation is dire while we sat in the back contemplating if we were going to prepare for a fight.

The seeds sprout again even after someone used weed killer for years. The invasive species came back when The Man made it his job to convince me from my “no” and I was persuaded amidst tears. When beyond his sight and behind his head and later in the bathroom I cried because there was just too much to digest and I kept going back and forth between what I wanted. It shows in the expert silence I demanded of myself in those brief tearful moments.

It shows when a newspaper considers a Man for editor but continues to promote him after three women requested otherwise because of how he interacted with them.

It shows when my roommate decides being an asshole is better than showing how he actually feels, but in so learning of his seed byproduct, decides the moment he is not heard is the biggest wrong of all.

It grows in the moment both male and female friends mistake my expressed joyful interaction with a male for sexual desire.

It shows in the numerous, permanently shared phone locations between female friends and myself, often initiated before a date with The Man.

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