—Lyle Rosdahl“Awake” by Gabriela Preiss There once was a girl named Maria. Maria had a very dirty habit of mistaking beauty for innocence. You see, Maria was a pretty girl, but even more so, she was an innocent girl. Pretty Maria met a pretty man, whom she grew to love; she loved this man for his pretty skin, pretty smile, and pretty laugh. This pretty man pulled at Maria, he pulled hard at her, hard at her heart; but one day, he pulled too hard, pulling at her braids, pulling at her skirt, and pulling at her eyelids. Now Maria is a woman a woman who never sleeps. “I remember when it happened,” the women in the barrio whisper to each other, shaking their heads. “She was so young.” Maria is a woman who never sleeps. She is not the innocent girl anymore; she is the woman with no eyelids, the woman who never sleeps, the woman who never sleeps. Maria is the woman who never closes her eyes, never closes her mind, struggling to rationally grasp irrational trauma. “I’d rather be blind,” the women whisper, fanning themselves from the heat coming off the stove. The men stay quiet, looking down at their feet. “I’d rather be blind ” Eyelids tearing, rrripped off. Eyes crying, eyes gnashing, and eyes cringing from what they have seen, what they do see, and what they will forever be forced to see- everything as is. So thin and flimsy and vulnerable, the eyelids, the little veils, aiding us to distinguish imaginary from reality, pain from pleasure, death from life. But little veils are now torn, blood and skin merging reality and representation. Open eyes are an open mind. These little veils that justify the actions of men, the husbands, who stay awake, alert, all through the nights, studying, writing, thinking, progressing and degressing. While the wives, the wives sleep, eyes closed, pretending to be safe and sound, pretending that their roles transcend their homes. But I know a woman I know a woman who never sleeps. “Curse that man,” they say, “for he has made her a monster, cynical and bold.” “Bless that woman,” they say, “for she has survived, cynical and bold.” --- Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com. Send your flash to email@example.com.