The Notched Wing

Helen Tara Hughes – Poetry, Fiction, Film, Phantasms

Man, Woman, Streetfight

This just happened on my quiet street. I am reading in the cool air by the window, three stories up:

I hear a woman screaming. “Don’t touch me! Get off me! Let me go!”
I look down and an SUV parked below my window is rocking. I can see her struggling against a man. What do I do? Do I run downstairs?
The door pops open and she breaks free, runs. He jumps out, chases.
She runs back to the passenger side, gets in, tries to shut the door.
He grabs the door, ‘Get out of my car.”
“No! Why!”
“Because you’re crazy right now. I can’t talk to you.”
“No! Just get in, let’s go! Drive! No!”

I have that tiny moment of trepidation I get whenever I know I should step in and do something. I always think two things: ‘It’s none of my business.’ and ‘Here I go please don’t let me fuck this up.’

Here begins a situation in which no one is right and everyone is wrong, and something just gets a bit out of control that I can’t watch and do nothing about.
She seems irrational, but that’s no excuse for the way he reaches for her next.
She is holding onto everything she can in the car, and he is ripping and tearing at her limbs. He is a big guy. She is screaming and he is yelling.

He grabs her hair.

“Are you all right, Miss?” The words fly out of my mouth before I’ve even thought of what to say. “Do you need assistance, Miss?”
The young man turns, looks up.  He squints to see me through the leafy branches of the tree outside my window. Rapid-fire dialogue.

“I’m not hurting her, she won’t get out of my car!”
“I don’t like the way you are touching that young woman, sir. If you want her to leave your car, hold the door open and ask her to leave your car.”
He reaches for the girl again.
“I am watching you, sir. Do not touch that young woman. Use your words.”
“It won’t work!” he cries.
“It will work,” I say, “Be patient and use your words but do not put your hands on that young woman.”

He steps back, holding the door. Stand-off. Exchange with the young woman:
“Get out of the car.”
“No. You’re embarrassing me in front of the neighborhood. Take me away.”
“No, get out of the car. Your apartment is right there.”
“No!”
“Yes. Get out of the car.”
She scrambles across the seats and pops out the driver’s side door, running up the street away from me where the trees partially cover her movements from my gaze. She is zigging and zagging, he is chasing. He is yelling at her to come back. She is saying nothing, just running for her apartment, I guess. By now, more people are watching.
Soon I see him walk back to his SUV, get in and drive away.

People disperse.
The street is silent.

You’ll never know if you did the right thing.
You might have fucked it all up.
You might have been hurt.
But no woman – no matter who she is, or who is in the right – was hurt on my street tonight.

Grateful for my voice training & voice teachers for giving me the skills and articulation – rusty as they may be – to open my mouth, speak, and be heard.

Author: smallboy

Helen Tara Hughes is a writer, producer and actor. An award-winning theatre performer, she cut her teeth in classical and new work at major theatres across Canada, including the Stratford Festival. Her first taste of documentary work – a POV radio documentary for CBC’s ‘Outfront’ – gave her the documentary bug, and in 2009 she transitioned into Producing with the feature documentary, Goodness in Rwanda. As a writer, she has been published by Backofthebook.ca, Eros Digest, and TWISI, and has a book of short stories that will be published in the fall of 2012. As a filmmaker, she creates short films based on poetic writing. She moonlights as an Asst Producer and Coordinator for documentary, factual, and independent films, and is developing a slate of her own media projects for 2013.

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