Water

The prompt was “Water”.

Water is always blissful for me. I love being near it. Whether I’m at the beach, looking out on the Pacific Ocean with a thousand other people or I’m walking along a river or I’m gazing at a lake, I find peace always.

Water calms me. If I’m feeling capricious or my mental illnesses are too much to bear, I know I can at least find some semblance of focus.

I love being near water.

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The lake always gave her tranquility.

And it was a gift. Tranquility was something she did not usually possess. Yet as she sat on the shore, a blessed calm passed over her, blanketing her in warm silence.

Her mind, too, was quiet.

So she relished this, away from the pressures of a life gone horribly wrong. A life that could have gone a thousand ways, but had chosen a harsher course.

Still, she had the lake, and all that it gave to her. Strength could be found in its peaceful waters.

Heeding the wisdom of the still water, she survived.

© 2017 Heather Stephens

To Fly

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Whenever I’d ask her about her hopes and dreams, she’d always say that she wished to fly. But women are not made for the skies. They must be grounded, sincere. That’s what

I

told

her.

She never wanted to hear it. She would brush me off, telling me that I didn’t understand. So

I

told

her

that she would never be happy until she learned to choose happiness. She discarded my advice like it was irrelevant to her. When, finally,

I

told

her

that I wanted to marry her, she laughed. She walked away as if she couldn’t hear me.

 

 

 

©2017 Heather Stephens

Voice

The prompt was “Voice” and so I am joining mine to fight for justice for all women. In the media, feminists and those who regularly stand for social justice are stereotyped as white women fighting for white women.

I reject the Lena Dunhams and Amy Schumers of the feminist movement. White feminism needs to go.

I am not perfect. I am not the strongest ally. I can’t be because I am white-passing and I don’t face the struggles that so many of my WOC friends face every. single. day. But I can try to empathize, I can prioritize understanding their issues. I join my voice under theirs, but with theirs.

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She stood on the pulpit, megaphone in hand. She stood for black women, dying in private prisons in red states and being mocked for reading comics in blue states. She stood for native women, being shot at routine traffic stops when they dared travel outside tribal lands. She stood for Latina and Asian women, being reduced to sexual fantasy and quota fulfillment.
She stood because she could. She stood to lend her voices to the millions of others demanding justice for the slaughter of so many lives, hopes, and dreams. She stands to silence the indoctrination that still lives on.
© 2016 H.R. Stephens

She Went on a Date

“You can’t say things like that,” she said, her brow furrowed.

“At least not in public,” he replied. His grin looked more like a sneer.

Her lips pursed together before she took a final sip of her cocktail, pouring all the remaining liquor down her throat.

This date was doomed from the moment he commented that she’d lost weight since the last time he’d seen her.

She wondered why the good men never showed their true faces.

She wondered why all the “nice” guys were just wearing masks.

She wondered why racism and misogyny ever persisted.

She’s better off alone.

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

Just a thought about women.

A man could lay himself down at the end of the day, satisfied that he had achieved all that he set out to do.

A man could be content, knowing that he knows no master but himself.

Can women claim such comforts? May women claim such comforts?

Because it seems to me that women have everything dictated to them: how they should look, what they should wear, how dramatically they may paint their faces before being branded a whore.

For men, freedom lies in the masculinity that gives them their confidence. The future is theirs, ripe for the picking.

Women must climb higher, striving to bypass the low-hanging fruit that men can reach so easily.

Wine

The prompt for this week was the word “Wine”. I find that amusing because I’ve been craving wine all week, but only just got around to reading the prompt (a little late, but I have two kids so I was busy, damn it). Coincidences like this always make me curious about the tapestry of life, but never enough to consider a metaphysical significance.

It feels good to write again after a busy week. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to devote several hours a day to it, several days a week.

Someday.

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There is much to say about the elegance of self-sufficiency.

The woman felt coziest when she could come home on a rainy evening, pop the cork, pour herself a glass, and sit alone on her sofa. With her legs curled underneath her and a book in her hand, she felt a satisfied peace not easily found in those her age.

She didn’t need a partner, a child, or a pet to keep her company. Her personality was interesting enough to keep her content and the thousand worlds she’d explore through literature offered ample excitement.

She’d always be her own best friend.

 

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

Sleep

This week’s prompt was the word “Sleep.” I pondered my options – should I do another one based on current events or should I return to my strengths and explore a more romantic idea? You can see what won.

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She loved to watch her partner.
Sweet in repose.
Quiet and unaware.

Waking at dawn was of little consequence when she could doze until noon, wrapped in their arms.
Legs tangled together.
Pillows discarded on the floor.

Nothing could be more intimate than syncing her breath to theirs, listening for two heartbeats to drum together. Each breath deeper than the last until she too succumbed to the dizzy lull. With love deeper than any lust she’d ever known, she found sensible fulfillment. Slowly approaching bliss gave her a sober hope that things could stay as they were – content and untroubled.

 

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

The Resilience of Diversity

To feel you are not the sole arbiter of your destiny is painful. Indeed, the sorrow lies in the million little violations engineered to teach you to stay in your place. The lane designated especially for your kind.

You learn quickly that freedom is to be achieved in this world, so you rise. To escape the confines of stereotype and systemic aggression is hard, but worthy of the effort. Even if you fail, achievement lies in the fight. Your children will continue the battle for you. This is the only war that once won will leave the world better place.

 

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

The Illusion of Women

Note: It has been found that while women in leadership are now being perceived as effective as their male counterparts, women are often found to be judged more harshly for being assertive. This is hand in hand with the gender stereotype that women are either weak or controlling, and never in between. 

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She is not frail.

.She is a woman who speaks when she has something to say.

She is not weak.

She is a woman who stands after being knocked down by life’s hammer of happenstance.

She is not broken.

She is a woman who champions justice and fairness for everyone and wearies when it fails.

She is not complacent.

She is a woman who strives for equality but doesn’t always know how to achieve it.

She is not domineering.

She is a woman who knows how to lead and help others achieve great things.

She is not frail, but resilient.

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

Posterity in Her Works

Note: While I am a mother, I have many friends who are childfree by choice. This is sometimes viewed as a controversial decision. While I understand why some might find it odd, I do wonder why being childfree by choice is still considered taboo. But it is absolutely vital that women who are childfree by choice are respected. Bodily autonomy is essential in an equal society, and that means women cannot be forced or even guilted into childbearing. 

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Her niece had the biggest, roundest eyes she’d ever seen on a six-year-old girl. She spent the afternoon diving deep into them as she listened to the philosophy of early childhood. An evening over mac and cheese taught her the virtues of always being nice to the lunch lady because she’s the one who controls the chocolate milk.

Afterwards, her friends would ask her if her biological clock was ticking.

“Didn’t it make you want to try?” they’d ask, nudging her husband knowingly.

It didn’t. Parenthood would never be part of her plans.

She’d never bear children. And that’s okay.

© 2016 H.R. Stephens