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A Stray, Wet Cat by Roxie Stricker

Could she have done something? It’s too late now to tell. Too late to go back. She’s gone forward, for sure. More than most. But she still feels it. Fear can’t seem to escape her coursing bloodstream.

She wants someone to hold her. To protect her.

She is but a cold stray cat who has lost all its fur, but even once warm and dry and “safe”, still somehow cold; still somehow wet; still somehow moving forward alone.

She shivers.

On the verge of tears for days, but she never cries.

Nobody knows.

She must be strong… set an example. Others admire her for her strength, use it to give them strength of their own. She can’t take that away, or we’ll all be worse off than we started. But you need someone to let you be weak.

Constantly straining your muscles to show a strong façade, you tire.

You did have someone to trust, to lean on, who would let you be weak. But he’s not here; your lives seem to be leading along different paths. You think of him more often than you would like too and you wish he was here. But he isn’t and who knows if he ever will be. So you must be strong on your own.

You’re afraid; you’re scared that if you lose your strength you’ll fall apart.

There’s no time in your schedule for you to fall apart.

If you don’t focus you’ll fall apart and fall behind, all the opportunities you have falling from your fingers.

But this feeling of fear, of being the shaven stray cat is heavy.

You carry it with your strength, as if it were but a training exercise, a workout in preparation for the horrors you may be presented in the future. You feel your strength tearing under the weight, but you have no spotter to alleviate even a bit of the painful burden, at least until you get your footing.

That is all you ask… but is it too much?

Rape is a heavy weight to bear, even to share. And those around you have their own issues.

Holistically your life is pretty good. You know what you want out of life and you’re finally on the path to getting it. You have people who love you, even if they lack in support, and there are people who have it much rougher than you do.

You were not beaten, or held at gunpoint, or killed. You were not passed around or sold. You have a roof over your head not under threats of bombs or robbery. You are not targeted by the police because of the color of your skin and your family is not in poverty. You live in a place where as a woman you are not only allowed to get a college education, but are more likely to and can afford one. You have a family who trusts you and people you love who depend on you and treat you with respect.

But I can’t shake this cold, wet, weight. I can’t nap it off, forget about it, or talk it away. I don’t know what to do, so for now I will power through.

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