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Description: “We come from different spots. We have different cultures. We all suffer from the same inequality.” This issue of DeltaWomen Magazine is put together by our contributors’ perceptions of “Culture” and “Spot”. I am surprised by the very same thing that concerns our readers: inequality. This simply means that we are different but we are not alone in being different. And the whole point of this magazine is to celebrate life’s greatest paradox.

DeltaWomen Magazine August 2013 Editor s Note We come from different spots. We have different cultures. We all suffer from the same inequality. This issue of DeltaWomen Magazine is put together by our contributors perceptions of Culture and Spot . Reading through all the submissions the thing I enjoyed the most was not the diverse approaches towards the suggested themes. I was to be honest surprised by the very same thing that concerns our readers inequality. It is a very rewarding thing working with people who have different fears doubts and judgements but share the same concern. This simply means that we are different but we are not alone in being different. And the whole point of this magazine is to celebrate life s greatest paradox. We always love hearing your side of the story so if you want to join the party do not hesitate to contact us. Elaheh Zohrevandi i 1 by Aswathy Mariyam Mathew News Paper The bicycle bell rang at the house gate and the newspaper boy dropped the newspaper. I know that I am a lazy person still I love to go through newspapers. The hidden fact was that I always wanted to be a writer. But I was always confused about myself. I didn t have any confidence to come out of my shell. Years passed by and I treasured my dream of becoming a writer. I was born in an upper middle class family in India and I had an ancestry of engineers and doctors. All of my cousins were into engineering. Automatically after my 10th grade I was also dragged into physics and math. My family always wanted me to be an engineer. They always wanted me to uplift their heritage. The heritage of showing off our brilliance in math and physics like Ramanujan and C.V. Raman (Indian scientists in physics and maths). But I myself didn t know that I had fallen in love with Shakespeare and Milton. 2 I somehow managed to tell them that I wanted to be a writer. My parents raised their eyebrows. You a writer they just bursted out. They started putting me down on all occasions due to this fact. Still I fought for my dream. I joined a journalism course. That day I realized that I lost all the love and affection from my family. I tried to survive. Survival of a life without love care and empathy. I had a tough time in my college life. At last I got my masters in journalism with high grades. Being in a third world country like India unemployment was the greatest curse. I knocked at so many doors for a job. At last I got an interview call from a newspaper office. I felt so happy. But during the interview the interviewer ripped me apart. He told that my English was gibberish . I thought at that moment I would cry but I didn t. I realized that I lost the art of crying also. I was numb. I still don t know how I survived that phase. Somehow I got of his office broken hearted. At that time I realized that life and dream are two different things. They are two parallel lines. But I was always trying to intersect these two lines. I always tried to prove that things can happen. But being in a third-world country who cares about life Who cares about dreams Unemployment poverty and population are the curse of my country. Years passed I kept an aversion towards newspapers. I got married to a software engineer and came to the U.S. My husband was a great reader and he reads 3- 4 newspapers daily. But he always wondered why I stayed away from newspapers even though I was a journalism degree holder. He used to encourage me to start writing. He even quoted Paulo Coelho s words that Dreamers can never be tamed. One day he left the newspapers on my table and I quickly took a glance at them. I picked it up. Newspaper I was holding a newspaper after four long years since the interview. Again the dreams within me started spreading its wings. My heart again started to beat according to my dreams. I took a pen and my ideas gushed out after the long imprisonment. I believed in the power of my words that they would travel all over the world and one day people would come to know me as a writer as a great writer who overcame her challenges and even changed the meaning of the word gibberish through her life 3 2 by Mercy Hazarika Gogoi Walking along this path unknown I meet many eyes Some smiles and frowns Numerous beauties enthrall me And pleads with me to be born. The Path Called Life When the path looks hostile I try to keep my steps firm With chin high and shoulders strong I stumble and tumble several times Yet manage to move on. 4 I exude serenity A pride within me that I dared not give up Dared not freeze or mourn And I m still moving on. I hear vaguely A maiden s melodious tune Like Wordsworth s Solitary Reaper A song of ease and contentment I smile letting my hair Dance with the wind And murmur merrily rhyming With my unknown friend And I continue to move on. 5 3 by Mohammed R. Monifi It was dark. The bats were flying up and down as though they would hit me. The drizzling winds of the night were not retiring they were blowing strongly through the leaves the leaves soaring before me. I opened the gate and I entered my garden. The gate was ajar sometimes it swung on its hinges and sometimes it shut loudly. My heart leapt up and my body crouched. I closed the gate with a rope disposed on the bar. The trees in my garden seemed to be moved by the winds. I was very horrified. The sound of the wind and the sound of whizzing trees merged and produced a terrifying sound. Quickly I shivered and pulled my coat very tight around me otherwise I would be undressed by the wind s coarse The Blood Spots 6 hands. They stopped suddenly then I heard water dropping from the tap. It was close to the barn. I went there and turned it off. My mom always told me to install a tap behind or next to the barn to water the birds and the animals rather than going inside the house. Proudly I like everything related to my mom. Although this tap is non-living but for me it is more than living triggering my exuberant memories with my mother. My mom was raising animal and birds such as hens and doves. She liked the doves most. Once I asked her why she loved the doves most- I never forget these minutes- When she was about to answer my father called her then I never asked her that question. It is a question I could not bother myself with such questions. I did not feel well that time every day had and has- its own problems. After her death I was very closer and closer to the doves watching them for many days. Doing that I live in Animal World no worries. 7 I discovered that the male and female doves are very devotees to each other their marriage catholic no divorce they both sitting on the nest they both leaving the nest and searching for the food they both feeding their kids. Finally I wished to be a dove. I missed my mom. I turned on the lights. The living room was very calm no voice except my breath no winds except the clock. I though my sister was asleep up in her room. I disrobed my coat and sat on the coach. I Laid myself on its back bending my head backward to look at the ceiling. I caught the remote control and turned on TV. Nothing interesting. I was very thirsty so quickly I went to the kitchen. I could not believe my eyes I saw blood spots on the floor. I bent down to sense its wetness but it was dry. It was seven hours ago since when I left home. I looked back and I found a trail of blood directed towards the living room next to the wall. It ended at the threshold . I looked right and left to know the source of the blood but I found nothing. I could not stay longer there for the weather was cold and windy. Also I could not investigate the garden the atmosphere around my house was creepy. I got back to the kitchen and looked at all directions. While I was walking I found a knife in the sink yet it was clean no blood. sleep and I could not wake my sister up to ask her. I spend all night pondering. It was hard to believe that a thief broke into the house whilst my sister slept very peacefully. That made crazy. Before the dawn I unlocked my sister s door until she did not feel scared. I woke up. I slept after I had unlocked her When I opened the door of the living room before and turned on the external lights I did not see the blood on the threshold except five spots. Quickly I ran upstairs to my sister s room. She was asleep with a peaceful face nothing in her room. I wonder where the blood did come from. I thought my sister injured herself or was injured by somebody. But why the blood was near the wall and ended at the entrance door. I went out of my room going to my sister s to lock her door with my key. And I locked my door. At that night I could not door. I went hastily to her room her bed was tidied up. I went downstairs yet I did not find her either in the living tom or in the kitchen. Perhaps in the barn. Yes she was there feeding the animals and the birds. Good morning she said. I looked at her arms her head and her legs but they were in good condition. Good morning she said loudly. Morning I will prepare the breakfast I replied. Okay Thanks. Thanks very much. You see I m very busy. By the way I did not get in the kitchen. When I heard the animals 8 sounds I thought it s better to feed them first. You did good. Good job I said. I headed towards the kitchen. The blood was still there next to the wall and inside the kitchen. The table was ready. I sat and she sat. I had to ask her but she started. When did you come home yesterday I was waiting for you for a long long time. Said my sister eating tomatoes slices. When did you go to bed yesterday ... Don t do that again. I can t stand being alone in this house. She interrupted me sipping the milk. Her words made me frightened. I wanted to know. I must ask her. There were blood spots in the kitchen and the living room. Near the wall. I spoke finally. Hahaha. Oh no the blood. You were afraid weren t you I say why your face was very pale when I said good morning . When did you see it When I came home. I am very sorry. Very sorry. I killed a rat in the kitchen. It bled a lot for its size. It was big but not that big. I threw it in the sack at the entrance door. Then I called a boy to take it to the rubbish container. Why didn t you wash the floor She replied Because yesterday was your turn to sweep and wash the floor. So I left it to you to wash it . 9 Photographer Mina Sattari 10 4 by Paromita Bardoloi The Happy Town Everyone knew this story of the happy town. The men worked. The women stayed at home. The men traveled. The women weaved the stories at nights. Everyone was happy. Oh Whoever heard this story thronged before the happy town. 11 But in whispers there was another story buried in history. When no one was around the old hunched-back woman spoke in dead voices. There own beauty behind an old ugly broken tree. They came out Raged and rose Questioned and fought After midnight when hearts were deep asleep the women of the happy town Hung there longings and desires in a very very old oak tree. They borrowed a leaf that looked like a smile and pasted on their withered lips. But the tree was so so old. One day it gave way. Thus remained no place again to mourn and hide. The story after that was tightly sealed and guarded. That the women just realized They had nothing anymore to hide What they hid was themselves 12 And finally Won a place under the sky of the Happy Town. But no one knows this story. Because they buried it deeply in history. Everyone only sang The men worked. The women stayed at home. The men traveled. The women weaved the stories at nights. Everyone was so happy in the Happy Town. 5 by William Kin Females have been overlooked and considered for centuries as only a personal property of fathers and husband. They were often robbed of their own rights and at times viewed as e imbecile and inferior species. Females have fought hard in the male dominant society Emmeline Pankhurst was arrested outside the Buckingham Palace in 1914 after trying to present a petition to the king George V which prior to this incident Emily Davison threw herself under the King s (George V) horse in 1913 which lead to her death. During the 19th century females had started to enjoy some rights unfortunately political and sexual equality was not Lights Camera Spot... Light And Action 13 one of them as Victorians viewed women as man s better angel thinking that it was the female natural role to be a wife mother and homemaker. This period also saw little progress in some areas Elizabeth Blackwell in the USA and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson in Britain beat all odds by studying medicine while Florence Nightingale effectively transformed nursing into a skilled occupation during the Crimean War. In the 20th century leading towards the 21st century many societies and communities have taken drastic actions and procedures in achieving gender equality. Unfortunately some have cast female in a disrespectful and insensitive form. The fashion industries especially fashion show runaway have caused many criticisms around the world. As per requirement female must have a height of 1.70m and above. However with that height the body will have a certain weight. Females models have been recorded to have an average 14 weight of 55kg and below. Several studies report in 2013 showed that the average female model weighs 23% less than the average American woman. Twenty years ago the difference was only 8%. This can be only achieved either if the female has a high body metabolism alternatively they have a strict diet controlling the calorie in their food. Some female models end up bulimic. This does not only cause strain in he body but also relationships within friends and family. Fashion designers have often been overheard describing some female models as walking skeletons . Unfortunately due to the intensity and pressure from the industry females have no choice but to accept the norm as the increase influx of viewers and spectacular prefer to view the ideal size of the runaway models Movies and TV series have also played a vital role in promoting gender equality such as having female play some lead roles. For the past decade the industry has changed drastically apart from the plot and storyline many producers and directors have resorted in using skinny and sexier actresses to play supporting roles. Sexual and violence scenes have become a norm even children movies. Magazine and other social media has focused more on female models or actresses on the wrong side often publishing articles or pictures of females who are messed up successful actresses or models are hardly found in the frontpage but messed up ones will. Advertisement have used females to sell certain product or deliver message having females wearing less such as only wearing their lingerie. Most photographers if not their managers would suggest to them to pose as if they are about to take off that last piece of clothing item. In conclusion females have persevered yet they are still being undermined in the male society. Even though females have made numerous impacts in the society they have 15 not been recognized nor has anybody taken the time to give them their recognition they deserve. Unfortunately many social media have resorted in using females as their pin up without a doubt Sex sales but the real question we beg to ask is as a society have we lived up to the suffragette objective Photographer Mina Sattari 16 6 by Ankita Andad ColorCoordinated I may have privileges you lack Yet sister I am not that different from you I too have been black And at times blue too Though different points on the atlas The same lines run through us 17 7 by Jeanette Perosa Kate s Choice The knock on the door was loud and urgent jarring Kate from her sleep. She gazed around her dark room for a moment letting her eyes adjust to the dim light of her alarm clock 12 30. He s late. I got to be home by eleven he had said as traced his fingers down the side of her face. Kate smiled at him and got up from the sofa. Plenty of time. He began loosening his tie while following her into the bedroom. ) We only have an hour or two. I have to get right back home he had said before wrapping himself around her. 18 ) Let s use our time wisely then Kate replied as she dropped her dress spilling it into a puddle on the floor. They must have fallen asleep. Kate shifted to her side drifting into his sleeping form. His bare skin appeared grey in the dull light. His dark tousled hair splashed on the pillow. His cologne filled Kate s nose causing her skin to dimple with excitement. The doorbell buzzed into the silence. ) Keith someone s at the door Kate whispered in his ear before softly swinging her legs to the floor beside her bed. The wooden floor felt cool beneath her bare feet as she padded across the room to the window stopping to pull Keith s shirt over her naked body. He had tossed it on the chair she had purchased at Home Goods for half price before slipping into her bed. ) The banging started again a loud rapping on her door followed by the bell ringing. It raced into her ears like bees stinging her back to reality. Kate slipped her fingers between the slants in the blinds peering out onto the driveway. She saw a blue Honda Odyssey with four stick figure decals gracing the rear window a mom dad and two kids. Kate had seen that van before on the day when he couldn t go with her cancelling at the last minute. 19 ) You said that you would go to the play. I bought the tickets three months ago Kate had pleaded. ) Baby these things can t be helped. Douglas has a fever and I promised Amanda that I would watch him. It s her Book Club night he said wrapping his arm tightly around her waist. ) I don t care about her book club. When is this going to be over Kate had said pushing him away. ) I ll make it up to you. ) Kate watched him leave with her from his office window his wife s flowing auburn hair dripping over his shoulder as he stretched his arm around her. Then he kissed her knowing that Kate was watching in the building behind him. ) You didn t have to kiss her Kate said over her chocolate martini. ) His face twisted with annoyance as he wrapped his thick fingers around his scotch. ) She s my wife. His reply was cold unlike the passion that raced red-hot when they were alone. I have kids to think about. It s not all about you. ) Kate sat there facing him as heat crept up from her stomach and reddened her face. She should have gotten up and left but instead she found herself falling on the soft down covers letting his warmth drown out the lies. His hands tangled in her short blonde hair singeing her body as they slipped in and under her clothing Kate would give in losing herself. ) I m all yours. You re the only one I love he whispered to her as his lips grazed her neck. ) He was intoxicating just like tonight. )) ) ) ) ) ) Mom I don t want to talk about it. ) You deserve a man of your own. You don t need to share. ) Mom I am not sharing. ) Her mother made a small humph sound that resonated through Kate. She could feel her head getting hot. ) What do you call it then Her mother retorted sending Kate into silence You deserve better Katie. ) I deserve better Kate now whispered to herself as she pulled back behind her bedroom drapes. Kate rushed back to the bed running her hands along the dresser in the darkness sending a picture crashing to the floor. Keith shot up like an arrow. The buzzer rang again and again pausing only long enough for her to shout out his name. ) Keith ) Shit what time is it Keith asked as he pushed his legs into his pants Is that Amanda ) Her van is in the driveway. ) Keith eyes went wide as he jumped from the bed pulling his clothes from the room and running his fingers through his hair. ) Give me my shirt he hissed tugging on Kate. ) Keith. Keith Goddamn it I know you re in there Her voice pushed its way around and through the door and into Kate s living room the living room that Kate and her mother had decorated. The soft creamy drapes the warm wood floors all chosen with his taste in mind now being invaded by her voice. ) He s married isn t he Kate Her mother had said as her brow etched with concern from over the top of her sewing machine. ) Mom he s practically divorced. They barely even speak to each other Kate replied from her stepladder reaching and stretching as she hung her drapes blocking the sunlight. ) They all say that dear. Does he have children 20 ) Her arms slipped out letting her nakedness fill the room. She stood there feeling her skin turn hot and red as she fumbled for her robe. ) The pounding started again loud and urgent each thump filled with anger. It jolted Kate making her flinch. Keith rushed around the room grabbing his personal affects phone wallet belt. ) Keith maybe we should just tell her Kate said. ) Keith paused for a moment eyes wide and boring a hole through Kate. ) You re kidding right ) No. You always said you re going to leave her. Do it. ) Not know Kate. Keith shrugged and pushed past her. ) Kate followed him into the dark living room front door vibrating. Kate peered out the peephole. Amanda s hair was wild shooting off her head in auburn springs green eyes flashing in the porch light. Her face was streaked with tears dragging lines of black mascara down onto the edges of her lips. Kate felt her heart grow heavy and sink into the pit of her stomach swirling and burning. She backed away from the thumping door step by step never taking her eyes off of it. She felt his hand reach 21 around her waist before whispering in her ear. Kate stiffened. ) I m going to slip out the back. You let her in and tell her you don t know what she s talking about Keith instructed her. ) What Why Kate stuttered. ) His hand felt like fire on her skin. She brushed him away twirling around to face him. Amanda s pounding had slowed and sobbing was trickling in around the doorframe. Kate stood tall as her eyes met Keith s. ) Tell her. Tell her that you love me. Kate said her voice clear and ringing around the room. ) Keith shifted his weight and twisted his face into a scowl Not now Kate. It s complicated. ) Every pore every vessel in Kate started to scream. Three years she had been waiting three years of lies secrets missed dates and broken promises. She pushed away from Keith and made her way to the door. ) Tell her now she said as her fingers wrapped around the knob. ) Kate please Not now. ) When Keith When You need to tell her or don t come near me again. ) Keith paused for a moment letting his eyes soften. He took a step towards Kate reaching out with the back of his hand and brushed her cheek. Kate we ve been here before. It s complicated. ) Kate moved away from Keith s touch. ) Is this what you want Keith asked. He raked his long fingers through his hair tipping his head eyeing Kate. She felt like melting rushing him out the door but the doorbell buzzed her back. It felt like an electric jolt. ) Yes. Kate turned her back not letting her glance meet his. ) He left rushing out through the kitchen and into the night. Kate opened the door slowly locking her eyes with Amanda. ) Where s my husband Amanda asked lips quivering. ) He s gone. Jeanette Perosa is a graduate Arcadia University s MFA program. She has a love for fiction Miniature Schnauzers travel and good wine. She has been published in The Thorn Literary Journal Perspectives Literary Journal Adanna Literary Journal and her work has appeared on The Spoken Word Audio book A Collection of New and Emerging Writers. 22 8 by Aswathy Mariyam Mathew Now I Stand Alone I stand alone in the midst of applause I feel alone in the midst of relations I thought I had relations and bonds But it was all a mirage Mirage of love and friendship I thought I was been loved by people I even thought what would my loved ones do when I pass away But now I realize that nothing will happen Rivers will flow like as they were 23 Sky will be blue as it is always Wind will be always whispering to the leaves That he always loves them. People whom I loved will not even find time to think Once they had a daughter a friend a lover and a sister And I will keep on moving to the darkness Darkness of numbness and detachment I will not wait anymore I don t want anyone to see my heart Which is dark red and beating for my loved ones. Now I love to hear people calling me as a Loser A loser who couldn t win love and affection Even though I died for it Even though I longed for it But now this is the end My heart will not beat anymore And my eyes will never open again. 24 25 9 by Alice Benson) Porch Therapy The call of the porch zinged through Monica s blood. It pulled her up and moved her quickly through the shelter to her favorite room at the front of the house a warm and comforting three-season porch where women gathered and she could smoke. Three residents were already there curled up with coffee sodas candy and their own cigarettes. Monica loved sitting with the women on the porch. The conversations were sometimes disjointed but always interesting and usually supportive. They called it Porch Therapy. As a counselor in a domestic violence shelter Monica found that the porch chats were often more productive than her formal sessions. The air was hazy when Monica walked through the door so she flipped a switch and turned on the ceiling fan. The grandfather of all ceiling fans it groaned a little but was able to swirl the air. Years of smoke smudged the porch s 26 white wainscoting and crown molding still it managed to retain the distinction of an elegant older home a little beaten and shabby but in spite of everything dignified. Time for a good spring-cleaning Monica thought as she sat in a wicker rocking chair and lit a cigarette. Tiny tendrils of nicotine reached deep and Monica felt the morning s pent-up frustration blow out of her lungs with the smoke. For now she could let go of the fact that the jackass district attorney responsible for prosecuting criminals and protecting victims believed punching a woman in the face was justified if that woman was drunk and obnoxious. Monica could deal with him later. For now she would enjoy the cigarette enjoy the women enjoy the porch. Lauren sitting directly across from Monica came to the shelter last week but she wasn t new it was her third stay in six months. She looked tired. David s mother called me today. ) Beth a resident of just two days gasped. How did she find you ) Lauren shrugged. David knows I m here. The kids call him every night. I suppose he told his mother and she called and asked for me. Sometimes people call here for the residents. Everything is confiden27 tial so the staff just uses a regular line There s no one here by that name but if I see her I ll give her the message and then they give us the message. So she called and I got the message and called her back. ) Don t you have a cell phone Anna s question mirrored Monica s thoughts. It was rare these days for someone to be without her own phone. ) No. Lauren leaned forward and took a handful of M&Ms. I did have one but David said I was using it too much and he took it away. ) Maybe you re lucky Anna said. Tony texted me fifty-four times yesterday. I finally turned my phone off and buried it at the bottom of my bag. ) Beth pulled her legs under her oversized sweatshirt and looked at Lauren. Are you scared that he ll come here and get you She seemed amazed that Lauren s husband knew where she was. ) No I don t think so. I mean he hits me sometimes but he s not that crazy kind of violent where he s going to come here with a gun and drag me out. Lauren s dark hair fell in waves past her shoulders. She pushed it behind her ears. Besides I don t think he s really that worried about it. He figures I ll come home soon. ) Will you Anna s voice quivered. Will you go home soon ) There was silence. Monica heard the click of a lighter then the soft intake of smoke before Lauren answered. ) I don t know. ) Monica saw the slow nods from the other women. They knew they understood it was okay. ) So what did his mother say asked Beth. Short short hair laid flat against her small head and deep bags under her eyes were evident even through concealer and small rectangular glasses. ) She thinks I should go home. Lauren s laugh was tiny. ) There s a shock Beth said snorting. Even Anna huddled under a blanket on an old piano bench in the corner smiled. ) Then Lauren s laugh disappeared and her eyes clouded with tears. She said it was all my fault. She said if I wasn t so loud and if I didn t talk so much he d be nicer. I m always pushing him he can t help getting mad. ) It s not your fault. Beth and Anna said the words at the same time a split second before Monica causing Monica to highfive internally. Most days that was the shelter mantra they said it sang it tapped it 28 out in Morse Code. Still no one really believed it not deep in their souls where it mattered. Down deep the violence was always their fault. But Monica was encouraged to see they believed it at least enough to repeat it to someone else. ) I know I know. Lauren s bare foot slowly covered then uncovered an ancient jagged gouge in the oak floor. She pushed her big toe down into it as if trying to disappear out of her life through the hole in the floor. But still I was thinking. I could be a better wife if I tried harder. I know I talk a lot. I know I can be irritating. ) Monica couldn t keep quiet. All people who know each other well who live together irritate each other. That s no excuse for violence. Shit shit shit. Keep your mouth shut you re lecturing. ) But Lauren didn t seem to mind. You re right I know that. But when I m talking to David or his mother I don t feel right. When she tells me that I m breaking up my family and I need to be the one who holds everyone together I just feel spoiled and selfish. ) It s not selfish to want to be treated nice. Beth looked at Monica as if waiting for approval. Monica nodded at her. ) Lauren shook her head. She looked down at her lap and tears dripped past her hair onto her folded hands. He told his mother that I m frigid. ) That fucker. Anna s words were quiet but diamond-hard. ) He told her that he had to treat me rough to make me have sex with him. More tears dropped. ) She believed that shit Beth said. What s wrong with her ) I don t know. I think David s father is pretty violent. I think she s afraid of him and afraid of David. I think she says what they tell her to say. Lauren wiped her eyes. She looked around the room stopping at each woman separately as if gathering courage to speak. No one said a word they all waited. ) Lauren hugged herself before speaking her voice almost a whisper. I really don t like having sex with him. Maybe he s right. Maybe I am frigid. ) Five seconds of silence. Monica was planning her response carefully when Anna spoke. Why would you like to have sex with someone who s mean to you That s not frigid that s just smart. ) Her words hung suspended for a split second before the whole porch erupted. The laughter hit the ceiling bounced off the walls and completely cleared the air. 29 ) Maybe it s not my fault Lauren said wonder in her voice. ) It s really not your fault Monica said. Now she was going to lecture just a little. When abusers blame their victims for the violence they keep everyone focused on the victim s behavior. They take all responsibility from themselves. ) Lauren picked up a piece of red licorice and held it like a cigarette. I m just not sure what I should do. I mean I know what I should do I guess but I don t know if I can do what I should do. She made a face. I guess that makes everything clear. ) I think I know what you mean but let s start over Monica said. Don t worry about what you should do. If we take should out of the equation what do you want to do ) Lauren pulled her legs back into the chair wrapped her arms around them and rested her chin on her knees. I can t even answer that. I m not sure what I want to do. Well maybe that s not true. What I really want is to go home and be happy and have David be nice to me and not hurt me anymore. No one looked at Lauren. Monica needed to say it. You know that s not going to happen don t you ) Lauren bowed her head slightly and her hair fell forward covering her face.) So your first choice isn t an option Monica said. Have you thought about what else you might want ) I guess if David won t stop hitting me I d like to live somewhere else. I d like to leave David live on my own with my kids and have us all be safe. The words came out in a rush. ) Monica nodded not wanting to interrupt. ) I d like to stay up and watch that late night TV show with Craig Ferguson. David goes to bed early so I do too. I d like to eat cereal and pancakes for dinner. I did that once and the kids loved it but David got mad. I d like to get a kitten David hates cats. Lauren s possibilities danced through the room streaming like sunlight through the leaded glass windows they cut through the haze with a vision of freedom. ) Anna and Beth smiled at each new idea. Monica was entranced. ) Then Lauren s mood changed abruptly. But I know it s not as easy as just saying it. ) No it s not easy Monica said. Beth and Anna sighed the possibilities obscured the sun went behind a cloud and the fu30 ture was once again murky in the smokefilled air of the porch. ) It is hard Lauren said. People think that s stupid don t they They think it s stupid that it s hard to leave someone who hurts you. ) Shit be careful with this one. Yes there are people who don t understand that it s not easy to leave someone even if he hurts you. They haven t had your experiences. They don t know what your life is like and they shouldn t judge but sometimes they do Monica said. They really do. Anna stubbed out her cigarette and leaned forward. I have a friend who keeps asking me When are you going to leave How can you put up with it Me too Beth said. And that doesn t help. It just makes me feel bad. Monica nodded. I know. We hear it all the time when friends and family call when we re speaking in the community that s always one of the first things people ask. Why doesn t she leave What do you tell them Lauren said We talk about all the things that keep people trapped in abusive relationships the lack of money of options the guilt the fear the good times and the love. As Monica spoke Lauren s hiccup turned into quiet sobs and she buried her head in her hands. Everyone grew quiet. It just seems so stupid. Lauren looked up and wiped her eyes with the bottom of her tee shirt. But I love David I really do. It s not stupid Monica said. Tears glistened in Anna s eyes. Sometimes he s so sweet and sometimes he makes me laugh. I was only sixteen when I met him. I ve been married to him for almost half my life Lauren said. I m not sure who I am without him. People are complicated. Lives and relationships are complicated Monica said. Situations sometimes seem simple when looking in from the outside. But they re not. I tried to tell my friend that I couldn t just leave that Ben was really sorry and I thought we d be able to work it out. But she just got mad at me Beth said. Why does she get mad at me Because she s scared Anna said. She pushed the blanket to the floor and sat up. Her thin arms shimmered with purple bruises as she popped open a can of diet cola. She wants you to be safe and she doesn t know how to help you so she gets mad. 31 I think that s true. People want to help and they get frustrated and scared. They just don t understand. Monica paused. You know one thing that we always tell people Asking Why doesn t she leave takes the responsibility for stopping the violence off the abuser and puts it on the victim. Lauren sat up straighter in her chair. That s not fair. This sucks Anna whispered. It s so hard to know what to do Beth said. It is Monica said. It can be overwhelming. But you know what Beth bounced a little on the couch. We don t have to know right now. We don t have to make any decisions today. That s right Monica said. Take some time to think about your life to make plans to look at the possibilities. That s why you re here. Let us help you when you can. You ll find your way. A shelter volunteer pushed open the door to the porch. Lauren Lauren gave a little wave. I just took a message for you. She handed Lauren a slip of paper and went back inside. Lauren opened it. David s mother wants me to call her again. She laid the note on the table next to her chair and wiped her hand on her pants. I should call her I guess. Why should you Beth crossed her arms over her chest. Lauren looked surprised at the question. I don t know. I mean she called me and it seems rude not to call her back. You re so nice Beth said. She s not calling to help you. She s calling to talk you into something you re not sure you want to do. She s a bitch. Who cares if you re rude to her Who cares if I m rude to her Lauren repeated. But... They all waited. I mean she wants to talk to me because she thinks she s doing what s best for me. Anna snorted. She s doing what s best for her. And for her son. She set the soda can down and pulled the blanket back up to her chin. Beth lit another cigarette. I m sorry her life s not so great but that should make her want to help you not try to drag you down. Yeah I don t think she really cares what s best for you Anna said. Besides who gives a shit what she thinks is best She doesn t get to decide what s best for you Beth said. Lauren stared at the paper lying on the table. Monica lit another cigarette. You get to decide what s best for you Anna said. They all smoked silently for a few minutes. Lauren s face showed no emotion and Monica wondered if anything they said made a difference. The old clock in the corner of the porch cuckooed five times. Lauren pushed herself out of the chair. It s my night to cook dinner. I m going to make tacos. She turned to leave the porch then stopped. Oh yeah. She picked up the paper ripped it in half and tossed it in the garbage on her way out the door. All three women smiled. The porch glowed in the late afternoon sun and Monica s internal high-five soared. 32 Call For Submissions Upcoming Themes War and Peace Fear Deadline September 26th send submissions to elahehzohrevandi me.com xxxiii Staff & Contributors CEO Elsie Reed Contributors Aswathy Mariyam Mathew Mercy Hazarika Gogoi Editor Elaheh Zohrevandi Mohammed R. Monifi Paromita Bardoloi Kirthi Gita Jayakumar William Kin Ankita Andad Photography Eleanor Bennett Mina Sattari Jeanette Perosa Alice Benson xxxiv Copyright 2013 DeltaWomen NGO All Rights Reserved. xxxv