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inkskinned:

a secret code between women: are you safe? in a contact of eyes. i’m here if you need me, the littlest shift of a skirt, of an inclined head, of watching the man who is asking you to smile, bitch. you aren’t alone on the walls of restrooms, i was where you are too. the quiet doling of emergency numbers, the shelters. the space between two women in a largely empty train station. the waiting game of two women strangers who walk, quietly and quickly, to their cars in abandoned parking lots, who watch to be sure the other leaves safely. text me you get home safe. the tally marks of drinks on hidden wrists, carefully disguised as other things ever since men picked up on what it meant and used it to target the “weakest link.” 

my father tells me we have nothing to worry about. last night he sent me one of those email chains that say at the top “Safety Tips For The Women In Your Life!!!! Don’t Let Her Die!!” 

me, and the stranger on the train. she is asleep and the man is asking me who i am going home to. i feel tears pricking the sides of my eyes. i am 13 while he towers over me. he reaches out one hand, and while i don’t know how she knows, she speaks up without opening her eyes: “If you touch my daughter, sir, I will murder you.” Whatever he grumbles is lost in history, because this moment I am so grateful for the existence of other people that I cannot breathe.

I am 19 and on my phone when i become aware of a 13 year old girl is smiling nervously at a man who’s saying disgusting things. I grab her arm. “There you are, cindy,” I say, and then look at the man like he is bile. “Do you need something from my sister?” i ask, and i walk away with her. she cries later.

this is the way of things: a silent, secret web. our promise to each other that despite our differences, when it comes to the wire, we become family, instantly. the unspoken promise. i’m here. i’m watching. i’ll witness.

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Schweinderl