I may still have the piece of crime scene police tape from that time. Maybe it’s crammed into a box in my storage locker. Maybe it’s wound up with all the others: the used and the waiting. Maybe it’s lost.
It wasn’t very long. Six feet maximum. A bit longer than the corpse it had surrounded and cut off from the world that had made her so. A corpse. An oddity to be wondered at. Police Line Do Not Cross. Do not cross over what happened to her as we think that it will never happen to us. We have nothing to do with it. She chose the life that put her there. Keep everything separate. She and I. You and me. Us and them. A curiosity. Maintain the line. Walk away.
The man told me how the piece of police tape was dirty from having lain in the mud for a few weeks. He had to wash it off when he got home. It was becoming buried. As though it had been trammeled upon by indifferent feet. Late November. The season when the rain pummels for days and causes the river to slop over its banks. Mud, always irreverent, smears the line between water and land.
A week or so after he had found the body, on his early morning walk with his dog, the man took some of the police tape. The body was long gone, but I imagine the horror still hanging in the air, palpable, adding a thicker pungency to the smell of late autumn decomposition. He tugged a piece from the mud, shook off the chunks of dirt as best he could, crumpled it into a ball, and shoved it into the pocket of his raincoat.
He told me later that he took it because he knew I would know what to do with it. And he was right. I did. With this shred of evidence, with this dulled spark of another taken woman, was born my first act of feminist resistance.
I had no idea where it came from, from where the idea and the energy had sprung. It was just there. Having lain latent for four years, waiting for a trigger to jolt me beyond my personal pain into what is much bigger than me, waiting for me to heal enough so that I had the strength to dive back in. Alive in the wisdom of what I have survived. Fierce in not accepting what doesn’t have to be true.
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