MERCY
by Andrea Dworkin

Copyright © 1990, 1991 by Andrea Dworkin.
All rights reserved.
Excerpt from Chapter Four

In February 1965 (Age 18)

If you try to say some words it is likely people don't understand them anyway. I don't think people in houses understand anything about the word cold. I don't think they understand the word wet. I don't think you could explain cold to them but if you did other words would push it out of their minds in a minute. That's what they use words for, to bury things. People learn long words to show off but if you can't say what cold is so people understand what use is more syllables? I could never explain anything and I was empty inside where the words go but it was an emptiness that caused vertigo, I fought against it and tried to keep standing upright. I never knew what to call most things but things I knew, cold or wet, didn't mean much. You could say you were cold and people nodded or smiled. Cold. I tremble with fear when I hear it. They know what it means on the surface and how to use it in a sentence but they don't know what it is, don't care, couldn't remember if you told them. They'd forget it in a minute. Cold. Or rape. You could never find out what it was from one of them or say it to mean anything or to be anything. You could never say it so it was true. You could never say it to someone so they would help you or make anything better or even help you a little or try to help you. You could never say it, not so it was anything. People laughed or said something dirty. Or if you said someone did it you were just a liar straight out; or it was you, dirty animal, who pulled them on you to hurt you. Or if you said you were it, raped, were it, which you never could say, but if you said it, then they put shame on you and never looked at you again. I think so. And it was just an awful word anyway, some awful word. I didn't know what it meant either or what it was, not really, not like cold; but it was worse than cold, I knew that. It was being trapped in night, frozen stuck in it, not the nights people who live in houses sleep through but the nights people who live on the streets stay awake through, those nights, the long nights with every second ticking like a time bomb and your heart hears it. It was night, the long night, and despair and being abandoned by all humankind, alone on an empty planet, colder than cold, alive and frozen in despair, alone on earth with no one, no words and no one and nothing; cold to frozen but cursed by being alive and nowhere near dead; stuck frozen in nowhere; no one with no words; alone in the vagabond's night, not the burgher's; in night, trapped alive in it, in despair, abandoned, colder than cold, frozen alive, right there, freeze flash, forever and never let loose; the sun had died so the night and the cold would never end. God won't let you loose from it though. You don't get to die. Instead you have to stay alive and raped but it doesn't exist even though God made it to begin with or it couldn't happen and He saw it too but He is gone now that it's over and you're left there no matter where you go or how much time passes even if you get old or how much you forget even if you burn holes in your brain. You stay smashed right there like a fly splattered over a screen, swatted; but it doesn't exist so you can't think about it because it isn't there and didn't happen and couldn't happen and is only an awful word and isn't even a word that anyone can say and it isn't ever true; so you are splattered up against a night that will go on forever except nothing happened, it will go on forever and it isn't anything in any way at all. It don't matter anyway and I can't remember things anyway, all sorts of things get lost, I can't remember most of what happened to me from day to day and I don't know names for it anyway to say or who to say it to and I live in a silence I carry that's bigger than my shadow or any dark falling over me, it's a heavy thing on my back and over my head and it pours out over me down to the ground. Words aren't so easy anymore or they never were and it was a lie that they seemed so.


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