by E.S. Ruete
Dottie woke up wondering where she was and why she was so cold. The first thing she noticed was that she must be outside – she was lying on cold ground and snow was hitting her in unusual places. That’s when she noticed the second thing. Her skirt was pulled up past her waist and her panties were gone. Damn those bastards. It started to come back to her.
Dottie is now on an odyssey; a journey not of her choosing; a journey of healing, integration, and reconciliation that will involve her partner, her friends, her enemies, her church, her whole community. And her rapists. As she fights her way through social stereotypes about rape and rape victims, she also finds the strength to overcome society’s messages of who she should be and lays claim her true self. But the memories, the loss, the anger – and the fears – never go away. No woman chooses to be raped. I asked Dottie why she chose to tell me a story of rape. She said that millions of women, hundreds every day, have stories of rape that never get told. She told her story because she could. Because she had to. Because maybe people would hear in a work of fiction a Truth that they could not hear in any other way.
Mostly what Dottie remembered is that they kept giving her choices. Blood or vaginal exam first. Left or right arm for the blood draw. Keep her clothes or change into the comfortable, impersonal sweats the SACC counselor had brought. Should they call her church. She tried to appreciate what they were trying to do. But I’m so tired, she thought, and still a little cold and god my headache is getting worse. And all these decisions don’t help. Didn’t I hear something on NPR about decision fatigue? Or something like that.
She remembered a book from her youth. The Captain. The new skipper of an ocean-going tugboat couldn’t handle all the arbitrary decisions, so he just alternated “yes” and “no” answers. It seemed to work for him. She tried it.
“Do you want soup?”
“Do you want coffee?”
“Do you want us to call someone at your church?”
“Yes.” Damn!! Did I just say that? I love those judgmental bitches, but they’re the last people I need to see right now.
She wasn’t doing much better when Mandy showed up and said all the wrong things. How could this happen? Why weren’t you more careful? Are you sure you weren’t at some level asking for it?
“NO! Why the hell would I ask for this? I don’t even like men!” SHIT! shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. She just outed herself to her church. She had a feeling the rape was going to start all over again.
A Word From the Author
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Turkey Hill Double Dunker. Mocha ice cream swirled with chewy cookie dough and crunchy chocolate cookie pieces. This season.
Which mythological creature are you most like?
I often liken myself to the mythical camel trying to get through the eye of the needle in Matthew 19:24. But I would have to say unicorn. Shy, hard to find, solitary, armed with a terrible weapon but with few recorded instances of having used it. By all accounts even the stallions are in touch with their anima, their feminine nature. Plus, having served onboard the USS Narwhal, I identify with the cetacean whose tusk is thought to have inspired the myth of the unicorn.
First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.
Winnie the Pooh.Also a book about whaling that we got on a visit to New Bedford when I was about 5. I remember reading at the end about harpoon guns and electric winches used in “modern” whaling. When I look back, I can’t believe how impressed that child was with the ruthless efficiency of human killing.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Probably the best insight into my writing process is Alice in her eponymous Chapter 8. Alice asked Dottie, “What are you afraid of?” Then every time Dottie slowed down, Alice said, “I’m still here. I’m still listening.” That’s what I did for all my characters.
As Dottie’s story came out, I thought about its implications. I realized I had to ask Dottie about her healing process. I had to ask Mandy about what it takes to go from homophobic to reconciling. I had to ask George about why he started it and ask Dick about why he and the others went along. I had to ask Susan about how they investigated the case and Sheri about why she became a counselor for the Sexual Assault Crisis Center.
Describe your writing space.
I have two file cabinets against the back of a sleeper love seat with a vinyl-covered piece of plywood across them. When I’m writing I try to keep the filing and mail off the “desk,” but I don’t need a lot of room. Just enough space for my yellow pad.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
E.S “Ned” Ruete is an author, speaker, group facilitator, women’s rights activist, LGBTQIPA+ ally, lay preacher, guitar picker, and business analyst. He is the author of Seeking God: Finding God’s both/and in an either/or world and Lead Your Group to Success: A Meeting Leader’s Primer.
Now retired, Ned lives in Niantic, Connecticut with his second wife. He continues to offer pro bono group facilitation and facilitation training to schools, churches, community groups and not-for-profit organizations. He has led strategic planning retreats for United Action Connecticut (UACT), Fiddleheads Food Co-op, and ReNew London. He is actively involved in LGBTQIPA+ advocacy and annually attends and presents sessions at the True Colors Conference. He is a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) formerly served on the Association Coordinating Team (ACT, the IAF Board of Directors). He was associate editor of Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal and has contributed articles to Group Facilitation, The Facilitator, and other publications on group facilitation and management consulting.
Off Season is Mr. Ruete’s first fiction work
See his consulting products at MakingSpaceConsulting.com
and his books at MakingSpaceConsulting.com/Publish: (The book is $0.99 during the tour) http://www.makingspaceconsulting.com/Publish.html
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