The beginning in the end


Once again we were sitting across from Portlandia, but there were no longer crowds and banners and straining eyes, no longer any danger that our party would be rained on. "We" no longer consisted of every woman of rapeable age in Portland, but only the inner circle, and even that slightly decimated. Sam and Diana had left us and Portland for bigger and better things. It was a different season in a different year and our public uproar was a thing of the past. We still had a celebrity in our midst, but few people were familiar with Deborah's face, her fame being of the paperback variety, which doesn't include jacket photos.

Despite the heat, we had chosen an outside table in the shade. We were all dressed for heat rather than air-conditioning. If we went inside, we would have to put on sweaters.

The reunion had been inspired by a front page story in The Oregonian a few days previously about the dramatic rise in rape statistics in the Portland area. "The end of the war, huh?" Myrine commented.

"Still, what we did was important," Lyssa insisted.

"You've got to remember, Myrine, these are official statistics," Carrie said in that earnest way she had. "Numbers may be up, but I sincerely doubt if rape is. We haven't noticed more women coming to us. Actually, it might even be a positive sign--more women are going to the authorities."

"That doesn't change the fact that numbers definitely are not down," Virginia pointed out.

"The month of the strike was like an oasis in a desert," Mercy said.

"The uproar over Chernobyl drowned out the noise we made pretty fast," I added.

"But Chernobyl was important!" Lyssa said.

Roxana looked at her suspiciously. "Whose side are you on, anyway?"

Lily laughed, holding her bulging stomach with both hands.

"People have short memories," Deborah said. "Even without Chernobyl, they would have forgotten the strike as soon as the fanfare died down. If you want to keep something alive, you have to assist memories a bit."

"How are we supposed to do that?" I asked.

"We'll have to publish a reply to the Oregonian article," Lyssa said with purpose. "Would you be willing to do that?" she asked Carrie.

Carrie nodded. "Sure."

"I was actually thinking of someone writing the story of the strike," Deborah said. "The story has the same effect as the deed. And it also has a longer lifespan."

"How about you, Deborah?" Mercy asked. "You would be perfect."

"No I wouldn't. I can only write about what I've imagined, not what I've experienced."

"Then who should write it?" I asked.

"I'm certainly not the only writer in this crowd," Deborah said, smiling. "What about you, Mercy? How would you like to write the chronicle of our struggle to end the war between the sexes?"

Lily laughed again. "Exactly. Mercy! Mercy should write it!" she agreed enthusiastically.

"It might never get finished that way," Mercy protested. "All I've ever finished are some academic articles and a dissertation."

"And a couple of poems," Myrine added.

"And a couple of poems," Mercy agreed.

I looked up at Portlandia hovering above Lyssa's head. "I wish I'd been around," I lamented. And as I contemplated the monumental female figure, long since gone from a glowing gold to drab brown, I had an idea. Or rather, an idea I'd had long ago returned. It was about time I started running down my own dream; a room of my own was no longer lacking.


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