Women Reading: Martin Crimp

Amelia holds a white pillow. Her Housekeeper tidies the room.

There are women who believe
all men are rapists.
I don’t believe that
because if I did believe that
how—as a woman—could I go on living
with the label ‘victim’?
Because I am not a victim—oh no—
that’s not a part I’m willing to play—believe me.

She smiles.

I was just fifteen
living with my father
living very very quietly with my father
when the first man came to my father
wanting me. He described to him
the various ways he wanted me
while I listened outside the door in the very short skirt
and the very high-heeled agonising shoes
I had begged and begged to be allowed to wear.
I ran up to my room. Locked the door. Stopped eating.

She smiles.

Three years later and I’m married—
incredibly—to a soldier—
to the only man
who has ever remembered the colour of my eyes
after a single conversation under a tree.
I am eighteen years old and I have a house
a husband and a bed—
a bed with white pillows—
and a child.
I abandon my course at university
to become the mother of a child—
even if he—the father—
the soldier who is by now of course the great general—
only sees this child at distant intervals
like a farmer inspecting a crop
in a remote field.
Because my husband is sent out
on one operation after another
with the aim—the apparent aim—
of eradicating terror: not understanding
that the more he fights terror
the more he creates terror—
and even invites terror—who has no eyelids—
into his own bed.
And now those operations are over
instead of being respected for having risked his life
time and time and time again
he is accused of war crimes—murdering a civilian.
They say he dragged this boy off a bus
and cut his heart out in front of the crowd.
Which is why we were shipped out here
to the suburbs
close to the airport perimeter
and told ‘Don’t talk to the press’ blah blah blah
while my husband vanishes—
is driven away in a black car
with black glass in the windows
and I’m told nothing—
nothing now for over a year.
Are you saying that’s reasonable?

Housekeeper   I’m not saying anything, Amelia: that’s not my job. My job is to run the house—clean it—make sure the ironing’s done and that the fridge gets regularly defrosted. Because I’m not here—I’m sorry, Amelia, but I’m not here to offer advice. Although if that was my job …

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