Thursday, 4 May 2017

Fractures in the Wall

[Media prompt] Antifa chick goes to Turkey with Muslim loverboy, gets raped and beaten.
Fractures in the Wall

At first, nothing changed after the Somalian refugee raped Addison White. A fleeting tremor of shock rippled through our community of activists, a small wave of personal suffering expiring on the shore of solidarity. The word rape was expunged by silent consent, our lives continuing as though Addison had not been physically penetrated against her will. Indeed, it barely registered as a disturbance. Naturally I ceased all interaction with her. What choice did I have? I had been penetrating her myself for years.

Beneath the surface it was a different story, and discord soon descended upon us, along with winter. The first storm of the year banked enough snow against the northern fence that Dr. Shapiro sent me out on the snow plough for a week. I was glad to get away. My attempts at avoiding Addison had become farcical, culminating in an attempt to hide behind a tree so small that she could not help but see me. For weeks, I harboured an absurd level of resentment against her.

When I look back on operating the snow plough that winter, I think of it as therapy, the means by which I experienced manliness on my own terms for the first time. The northern fence was isolated from the main camp, running parallel to and less than a kilometre south of the border. The Canadians insisted on a no man’s land of more than thirty kilometres between the fence and the northernmost tents, so returning to my room each night, especially in bad weather, was impossible. Instead, I bunked with the tower guards in their hut, just inside the northern gate. It was rumoured they hated us, we believed they hated everyone, but they neither shunned me nor made a fuss, perhaps because I drove the snow plough so they didn’t have to.

While I was out in the snow, cut off from the daily life in the camp, the first fractures in our wall of silence started to materialise. Addison, contradicting the advice of two camp doctors, insisted she was fit to resume work and attended the weekly Sunday morning meeting. This was for staff to report on accommodation, hygiene, medical clinics, food distribution, births and deaths, waste, water, the mosque, and so on and on. According to my roommate, an unreliable adventurer who claimed to have been in every global zone of conflict during the preceding decade, Dr. Shapiro dissembled as usual until Dawn Okafor raised her hand and put the matter bluntly, as she did with everything. Was Addison, she said, going to bring charges against the Somalian?

There was a long silence, and then Dr. Shapiro coughed, aligning the edges of some files in front of him, and said it might be better if the matter was tabled at another meeting. Dawn, whose passport I knew said Adams, not Okafor, had foreseen this and was suitably prepared. She had enlisted support beforehand, including the Director of Communications and Media Outreach, who said it was important our messaging wasn’t derailed by journalists focussing, should the story become public, on interpersonal relations rather than the organisation’s core work, which was the protection and enhancement of refugee rights. Dr. Shapiro said, well, yes, that was true.

When I returned from the northern fence, the storms abating and the radiant snow-covered prairie running to an indistinguishable horizon, something inside me died. Or rather, I realised something had been dead inside me for a long time. I had no love for what I was doing, and no love for what I had been. What happened in Sweet Grass in the winter of 2039 is not the only story I have that’s worth telling, but it’s the one that’s worth telling now.

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