Based on a True Story by Kat Gonso

He asked her if he could try something. Her lips were wrapped around him, so she looked up to meet his eyes. She nodded. In one swift motion he grabbed her head and pushed it down once, twice, three times—harder each. She gagged. How was that? She looked down, ashamed by her shock and the tears. Disgusted by her own weakness. He twisted her into position and she did not protest because it was easier than saying no. A few days later, she told her roommate. They decided it wasn’t so bad. At least she hadn’t been raped.

Years later, she gives birth to a girl—her zygote turned fetus turned child—and, while the baby is latched to her, she feels newly exposed, pulled by a vulnerability so strong that she barely sleeps for days, caffeinated by the theory that something tragic will happen to her daughter, pulled into a sleepless depression guided by the fear of not being a mother anymore, or that the girl will one day meet her own thrusting man—and in these moments she recalls the scene vividly, the question, her consent, his grin and she remembers it all as she sways in the glider, infant sucking, sleeping, sucking; she looks down and thinks: if a man ever does that to you if a man ever does that to you if a man ever does that to you (over and over, a beating of a drum, a chant) I’ll kill him I’ll kill him I’ll kill him.

Kat Gonso’s fiction has been featured in SmokeLong Quarterly, Hobart, The Southeast Review, Gravel, Corium, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, among others. Her flash piece, “What Home Will Look Like When We Return” won the 2017 Gover Flash Fiction Prize and is featured in Best New Writing. She teaches writing in Boston.

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