The day after the rape the woman enters her office, deposits her belongings on her desk, walks into the women’s bathroom, locks the door, moves to the farthest corner of the room, crouches low, collapses into a fetal position and presses herself tightly against the wall. Eyes squeezed shut – feeling for a brief second the relief of a mind wiped clean.
The minutes stretch out. She stays there as long as she dares. Until it will be noticed. Until they will come looking for her.
She stands up, adjusts her clothing, moves to the mirror and smooths her hair — staring vacantly at the reflection of a woman she no longer recognizes. Finally, she unlocks the door and steps into the airless colorless battle zone which is now her life.
For years she lives like a hot house flower under a glass dome, cut off from the world – breathing her own recycled oxygen, drenched in her own sweat — the only sound, her own labored breathing.
When they will let her, she narrows her view to that which is directly in front of her – a rain drop, the tip of a sharpened pencil, the tiniest petal of a flower. These things fill up her brain, pushing out all the rest — the voices talking at her, questions people ask, memories, thoughts, the future.
Then one day many years later, the woman feels a tiny spark of warmth in her veins. Her eyes begin to recognize beauty again. She surprises herself and laughs. As time goes on, she feels her limbs releasing and unfolding. The tight coil in her mind loosens. She absorbs moisture through her skin and expands like a sponge. Oxygen moves into her lungs once again, so she can breathe.
Tiny windblown seeds deposited in her body at her birth, begin to sprout and unfurl their leaves.
Surprising chartreuse and orange sunflowers bloom within her.
New blood courses swiftly through her veins and she can feel the gentle receptive heart of a woman begin to beat again.
On a whim, she steps outside and turns her face to the sun.