The Shine Journal

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The Weapons Victims Use


S. P. Ravi
 When she woke to the soft rustling sounds, her mind raced. Was it a
 coyote chasing its prey, or a lost deer thirsting for sweet waters of the
 Colorado River, or a prowler on the loose? She tightened the blanket
 around her narrow shoulders and tried to slide back into the besotting
 dreams. But, what instinct was forcing her body to go tense, throat to go

The rustling got closer; her eyes ventured open to check who was
 invading her last bastion of solitude. She saw shadows flitting across
 the window at the foot of the bed. The scurrying feet went faster. Her
 heart sprinted without grace. Her words stuck in her throat. The door
 opened and two men entered. In the moonlight glow, pointed knives lacked
One man bumped into the half-empty coffee mug she had left on the
 footstool last night; he cursed. She stayed in the bed like an earthworm
 stuck to a piece of wood. Shoes thudded through the rooms. Voices argued; china cups crashed; Daniel Defoe, Earnest Hemingway, and others who kept her company at night tumbled to the floor.  The jeering of the prowlers reached a crescendo. 

She knew how their ire could skyrocket any second since she had nothing of value in the house to reward their efforts, except for the two hundred dollars in cash and the one painting she had been working on for weeks that she would sell in New York a month from now. She had been trying to capture the shadows on the mountains from the
full moon glow.

 A cold knife drew down her cheek; dread stopped her from touching the
 spreading wetness.
 She wanted to say, take what you want; leave me alone, please. Her tongue
 failed to move; the words froze in her saliva. She never begged anyone in
 her life the way she silently pleaded with these roving creatures in masks, not even when her husband left.
 The prowler man turned on the lights and stared at her. Crashing sounds
 in the kitchen, pots and pans flying, cursing. The shorter man brought a
 wad of money he just found and their guttural laughter filled the air as
 they pocket their loot.
 Refrigerator hummed sanguinely.

 For years, the worst she had anticipated in the middle of the night was
 an arm flung over her chest, a foot pushing and pulling the blanket, or
 rats running in the rafters. Or a turn of the head when her husband would
 announce, “Is it time to get up?”

For the past  year, she had lived alone, slept alone. Sometimes, she preferred sleeping on the floor to take a break from the whispers of the past. She escaped the city life every six months to return to the cabin that her father had built for the family, only for a week or two at the most. People warned her; too much trouble around lately. She would not listen, getting bolder with each successful visit. This was the only way she could renews herself. 
 The shorter man threw away his mask, drew closer, as close as skin on
 skin, lips on lips, hand sliding down the nightgown grabbing her breast.
 The nightgown ripped. She stared at the easel with the shreds bowing
 limply in shame.
 "Please, listen..."

 "Did you hear that, Joe? She's begging me; I like that."

 "I'm just a woman...."

 "I know, honey. You're a woman alright."

 "My husband died of AIDS; look at the pills I take." The tall and short,
 square and round bottles of pills stood on the counter like sentinels.
 The shorter man gasped. 
Her apologetic face angered them more. The curses and laughter faded when she looked out the window at the mist, muck, and the swift smoke from a lighted cigarette. Fog, gossamer thin, swallowed the receding heads
 seeking new ventures, the treetops standing like statues with silent
 mountains as witnesses. She sniggered. Her threat-weapon, even if untrue,
 had worked better than the gun her father stowed under her bed.   



Motivation: I was in a cabin at Yosemite one night and my imagination went wild.

Bio: S P Ravi is a retired physician dabbling in fiction  whose stories have been published in several magazines. SP Ravi has lived in Bangalore, India but calls the Bay Area home.

Email TSJ: Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

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