As she stepped onto the crowded train, she could feel the eyes on her. All of the male eyes and, yes, a few female eyes; they were all looking her over and passing judgment. They were all passing their verdict on the end result of 25 years of existence.
We know you, those eyes said, you are a whore.
And she knew they were right. After all, hadn’t he just told her that to her face not more than half an hour ago? Maybe he didn’t use the word whore. No, that was her aunt and all the other old ones talking. They were the only ones who used words like whore without irony. No, this was 2011 and people only said whore if it was being delivered with a smirk.
No, what he had said was simply this: “I love my wife.” And when she had broken down and demanded, “What about me?”, he had coldly replied, “You know why we were together.” It was the were that hit her. Past tense. He’d referred to her in past tense. Nobody had asked her if she was ready to become a ghost; a lingering phantasm of the past. It didn’t seem quite fair.
You know why we were together.
Oh gee, I guess I’m just dumb because I really don’t know. Why, oh why, were we together? Enlighten me. Fill my pathetic little head with knowledge. Show me the light. Ram your wisdom deep into me.
You were a whore and you were only there to be a whore.
She glanced down at her shoes. Black high heels. She almost laughed out loud. What was she thinking wearing black high heels? How was she going to get around the city in black high heels? How was she going to fight the suffocating, poverty-reeking denizens of the rush hour commute in black high heels?
If this was one of those grindhouse horror flicks that she loved so much, you would be sitting out in the audience and taking bets on just how long it would take her to twist her ankle in those high heels and end up graphically gutted for the amusement of bitter virgins everywhere.
Black high heels! For a commute on a train? For an afternoon in a motel room with a rock hard mattress, no cable, and no room service? Black high heels to carry her over into the past tense. What the Hell were you thinking, bitch? What the Hell is wrong with you!?
It was, she figured, the type of stupid thing that a whore did because everyone knew that whore’s just weren’t that smart.
What was it Dorothy Parker — a woman who she once imagined herself to be — had said? You can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think.
She clutched onto the pole dividing the car as the train lurched to a violent start. Looking at all those people on the car, knowing they were passing judgment on her — look at her with that red hair, with that obsessively starved figure, with that short dress, with those high heels, She may claim to be an intellectual but she’s obviously just another whore! — She felt a sickening hatred rising up within her. She hated that feeling, that bitterness, that anger. It was a side of her personality that her constant smiles and vapid flirtations were supposed to hide. But that hatred was there and it was never stronger than on that day. She hated everyone on that train. She hated everyone who prayed for her. She hated him for thinking she was a whore. She hated you for thinking she wasn’t. She hated everyone she had ever seen. She hated them for having lives to go to, for having families to love them, for having anything that brought them any sort of comfort or happiness. She hated them for not being hurt, for not having tears forming at the sides of their eyes, for not being her.
For not being a whore.