Wednesday, 08 June 2022 08:26

A Letter to Myself: “Write What You Need to Read” By Merel Moors Featured

Merel Moors is a student at Mermoz High school in Saint Louis, Alsace, France. Merel is one of three winners of a flash fiction contest her school held. Each student was to write about a societal problem that worries them. This is Merel’s story.

 

From a distance, Rachel seemed like a strong, intelligent young woman, always ready to help, always in control... but those who know her story know that she is not in control at all, especially since that night. Since that night, she has not only lost control, but she has also lost her happiness, her will to live and her serenity.

Rachel graduated in Sociology last year from the prestigious Cambridge University in England. She has been looking for a company to hire her for a few months. When the Norel company finally contacted her, she was ecstatic. She was so excited to experience the working world; it was a dream come true. However, the dream quickly escalated into a nightmare.

Rachel was 1.78m tall with long blond hair and light blue eyes and had a Norwegian dad that she never knew. It wasn’t easy to grow up without a dad, she was jealous of the other girls whose dad always came to pick them up at school or brought them to dance courses. Moreover, her mom never wanted to talk about it. “There is no point in rehashing bad memories,” she said.

Her mother Dorothea, who was French, was drowning in work and little present during Rachel's childhood. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but cold. Her parents did not speak to her since she told them she was pregnant at 16. At that age, it seemed wise for Dorothea to follow the "love of her life" to England and settle down to raise their child. And so it was, until the child's father abandoned her for another woman two years later. The young mother found a job in a restaurant as a waitress where she worked from 8am to 10pm almost every day. It wasn't easy, and she had thought of getting rid of the child and going back to live with her parents, although she would never admit it to Rachel. However, she never did. Instead she raised her strictly and pushed her to get the best grades in her class while warning her about the bad behavior of boys.

 

Rachel wasn’t interested in boys anyways; she preferred books, especially the classics such as Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Moby Dick by Melville, and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, or her favorite, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She never really cared about the male gaze; she was caught up in her world.

However, around the age of 13, she noticed that the other girls were trying to get men's attention by putting on makeup and laughing at all their jokes, even if they weren't funny. Rachel never understood why, but she still acted like them to fit in. But when she realized it wasn't working, that she still felt like an outsider and that the boys didn't like her, she decided to focus solely on academic validation. That was who she was: a smart girl, not a pretty girl.

So when, a few months ago, Maverick, one of her new colleagues, took an interest in her, she didn't know how to react. He clearly flirted with her, and even though he wasn’t really her type, she was flattered because at the age of 22, Rachel had never had a boyfriend. They went on a few dates, they hit it off, they had fun. He was super nice and gentle with her, which heightened the surprise and petrifaction when he forced himself on her.

They were having a great time in her apartment until he started touching her, clearly showing his intent. They already kissed but never went further. Nonetheless, that night, he wanted more: his hands became more demanding, touching her everywhere. She didn't want to have sex with him, but it didn't seem to matter to him.

That night she was hit and abused by a man she hoped to love one day. Since that day, Rachel has avoided any physical contact with anyone, she is distant with others, she stopped wearing dresses and wears only large clothes that hide all her feminine curves. She has never told anyone; she has never confronted Maverick. All she wants is to forget what happened; but it's hard when it keeps you awake at night or when every time you look at him you want to throw up.

The young woman lost her spark. She feels guilty because, after all, it's her fault, isn't it? She shouldn't have invited him in and given him hope. She provoked him with her outfits and her smiles.

But we know that that isn’t true. She should have the right to flirt with whoever she wants, to refuse or accept as she pleases, to seduce or not, and to simply feel good about her femininity, her sexuality, and the image she projects, but he destroyed it all. He destroyed everything that was beautiful about her. Dealing with the psychological damage he inflicted is a million times harder than putting a band-aid on a cut or waiting for a bruise to heal or fracture to mend.

On average 250,000 rapes are reported each year. But many more unreported rapes occur. We all have the right to freely control our bodies and to be treated with respect and dignity. To say "no" and be heard instead of being lectured by those who think that men know our desires and rights better than we do.

Often, those who have the most to complain about don't even raise their voices. That is why we need to raise people’s awareness about sexual assault. It is important to make men and women understand that they deserve to be heard.

Additional Info

AUTHOR BIO: Theo Davidson is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has been recognized as an honorable mentioned for the Writers of the Future contest for speculative fiction and published poems in WriteCause and Cathartic Lit Magazine.

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