She tells him she is thirteen,
And he tells her that she can keep her shirt on when they fuck.

She walks by the coffee shop that is no longer a Starbucks,
But she is no longer the little girl
Who ran to the other end of Grand Central on a fractured foot.

When a strange man turns to ask if she will be his girlfriend,
She can no longer reply with her age but with the rage
Of a little girl who gasped out “Fuck you,”
And heard laughter in her wake.

Who was told “You’re 15, I’m 32…”.
Who can still feel the unease of a red stoplight and a shout.
Who remembers her first boyfriend and his webcam.
Three men and keys between her fingers.
The paranoia of being followed.
The few seconds of knowing something is wrong,
The body language, maybe, and then a hand hits her ass
As if the only time she wears a dress, it’s an invitation,
And suddenly she is screaming because five years later
All she knows how to say is “fuck you.”

The shyness, the urge to be polite, the fear,
All boiling, bubbling over, not just an unattended pot
But a stove that never should have been on in the first place.
If they want to treat her like a glass statue,
Let them be cut with the shards,
Or her rosy thorns.
The pastels and oils are smeared away from their Ophelia,
The only drowning is that
of the vile sounds of unwanted advances,
of old men who gamble with naivety,
of an urge to not make trouble when an ugly voice is asking for it.

Photo Credit: quinn.anya Flickr via Compfight cc

E. Mason Kaye

E. Mason Kaye is a mechanical engineering major at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, previously a drama student at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. Mason has one year of editing experience with Polyphony H.S., an online annual publication written and edited by teens. They are a freelance stage manager, occasional actor, and passionate writer. Mason particularly focuses on feminist works as well as integrating science into art in addition to themes including gender fluidity, queer identities, modern politics, and a general attack against bigotry.

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