In Quotes

max-van-den-oetelaar-buymYm3RQ3U-unsplash

Photo: Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

 

“Oh, wow!”

“I know.”

“Did they really decide you were threatening violence against others?”

“Aha.”

“You!??”

Sigh.

“But you weren’t!”

‘I know.”

“And you’re the last person I can think of who’d do anything like that.”

“Thank you. Indeed I wouldn’t. I was speaking out against the threat of violence … and yet …”

“Whoa.”

“Yeah.”

“So now what?”

“I don’t know. As soon as I saw they suspended me, I’ve appealed. I pointed out I was protesting false-choice and threats of violence against the helpless. That I was absolutely not promoting violence. I pointed out that I’d placed any graphic words in quotes exactly because I wanted to make sure it was clear that this was an example of what someone like a Mafioso, in their false-choices, might say. I told them that this was an analogy. That that’s why I put it in quotes. I was certain they’ll reinstate my account. Instead, they wrote back to say that they’d reviewed my appeal and ‘found’ me to have been threatening violence and therefore they won’t restore my account.”

“I can’t believe this is the conclusion they’ve reached!”

“Me neither. It hurts my heart.”

“But you were doing the opposite of threatening people!”

“I know. I abhor violence. Against anyone. By anyone. In fact, this was why I was pointing out the wrong of using violence as a threat.”

“Can’t they see that for themselves? Also, all they need to do is read some of the stuff you write and do and stand for. I mean, this is ludicrous!”

Sigh.

“You of all people …”

Sigh.

“Sheesh! What’s wrong with them?”

“Actually, I’m not angry they wanted to take a look. If anything even appears to be threatening, it should be examined. I’m okay with that. What does upset me is that even after supposedly reviewing this, they say I was threatening violence, when I was absolutely not. I’m dismayed that in spite of me pointing out that this was a quote (and yes, it was in quotes!) of what a mafioso might say to gain compliance, they don’t see this for the analogy it was. I’m upset they don’t believe me I was protesting, via use of the mafia analogy, the untenable situation others are currently facing. I was protesting violence, not promoting it!”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I know.”

“So now what?”

“I’ve re-appealed. I hope they’ll reconsider.”

“Now you wait?”

“I guess so.”

“And in the meanwhile?”

“I write here. I continue speaking against violence and injustice. I continue to trust people will do the right thing. I breathe. I don’t know what more …”

“Can I help?”

“You already are.”

“I am?”

“Yes. It helps that you’re listening. It helps to have you validate that you know I would not threaten to do harm to anyone. It helps that you’re here. It helps that you’re kind. It helps that you’re you.”

“Oh.”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: Oh

 

 

Collateral Damage

sharon-mccutcheon-AuPRHJe8Mhs-unsplash

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

 

“They’re collateral damage,” he said, and gestured toward the flash of news images across the screen. “It’s not anything personal against them.”

He shrugged as if his words explained all of what happened. Of what continues to take place.

“They never should’ve put themselves in this situation,” he added, perhaps because he’d perceived my incredulous stare as an invitation to explain further, or perhaps because someplace, somehow, he felt ashamed. That is, if he was capable of shame, which as the evening dragged on I found myself increasingly doubtful of.

I glanced at Brenda, whose dinner plate seems to have become her world. Her absconding only made me angrier, but the boulder in my throat allowed no sound. I shook my head.

“Well, they could’ve stayed where they were,” he retrieved a comb out of his pocket and proceeded to slick back his salt-and-pepper hair, and the outrageously incongruous act against the reality of utter misery, somehow released my breath.

“They are children!” I choked on the word, but the rest tumbled out behind it as if afraid to become lodged again. “They could not make the decision to stay. They had no choice where to be born. Or who they were born to, or whether or not to put themselves in any situations.”

He continued to groom himself with the comb and I fought the urge to grab his arms and toss away the thing, one of the many things, the children were denied.

“Their parents should’ve taken better care of them,” he added blandly.

I took in a deep breath. “Even if that was true, which it is not in the vast majority of the cases, how does that make it acceptable for others to deliberately traumatize these children further?”

He raised an eyebrow in disdain to signal that my upset was the overreaction. “If their parents stayed in their own countries,” he stated sedately, “instead of coming here, the children wouldn’t get locked up. It’s simple, really. If a person doesn’t want their kids to suffer, they should not do certain things.”

“So now we’re talking like the mafia? Threatening people with harm to their kids?”

“Calm down,” he drawled. “Now that people know their kids wouldn’t have it easy here, perhaps they’d think before they decide to make their kids into collateral damage. If they did as they were told and stayed wherever it was they belonged, none of this would have to happen.”

I inhaled and glared at his wife, the colleague whose silence at the face of cruelty made her increasingly less of a friend. Her eyes scanned the wall someplace not quite behind my head.

“So you approve of terrorizing children,” I stated, my fingers groping for my purse. Her birthday dinner or not. I was done. “This is exactly what mafia does.”

He actually cackled. “They’re the mafioso. It’s their fault if their kids are cold and wet and getting hurt. What did they expect, crumpets and tea?”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing challenge: co-