moral tension

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: July 29, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 29, 2012



always prided herself on

what she believed to be the

“right way to live,”

standing up straight, abiding

by the rules, going to church,

paying her parking ticket on

time, doing her 9 to 5 gig every

monday thru friday, always

on her soapbox & always

having it easy cause’ she never

got her morality put to the



her favorite cousin asked her

to come visit the city &

though inside she was a bit

reluctant, she hadn’t seen her

cousin for such a long time &

the summer was the time for

having a little fun anyway

(so she told herself), so the

hop on the Amtrak was quick &

lo & behold, she arrived at

Penn Station

round 4:00 pm.


that night they went out on the

town, the group of them &

when crossing the street she

heard a scream---it was shrill

& short, as if it had quickly been


looking in the direction of where

it had been coming from,

she saw with her very own eyes

a man repeatedly striking a

young woman in the face, whilst

yelling at her in between the blows---

they were more like hard slaps than

punches, but the sound that they made

she swore that she could hear them

over the sound of the cars & the



while her friends continued to walk

as if nothing was happening, she

found herself slowing down &

as she watched the scene unfold,

it was over in real time much quicker

than the delay in her brain,

which seemed to vibrate in sync with

the increasingly rapid thump of her



with so many people around,

why wasn’t there one person trying to

stop this malicious individual who

was wailing on this woman?


while the watcher opened her mouth &

nothing came out, the man hitting the

young woman had stopped, pulling her

by the arm along behind him back into

the crowd---the woman who had been

hit was all disheveled & weeping.


the watcher didn’t know the relationship

between the two, but she knew that

what she’d seen had sent her into a moral

panic, wherein what she knew to be

“the right thing,” she simply had been

inadequately prepared to deliver a

response &

this kept her up at night

for the next week or so.


at home, away from the city,

the watcher didn’t walk around as

self-righteous as she had before,

in fact, it seemed to some who knew her


that she had got right down off her


for she just couldn’t shake the memory

of that man slapping that woman so hard

that she could hear it across a crowded


worse yet,

she couldn’t shake the idea that she hadn’t

done a thing to stop it.


and you want to think that she did something

about this---

you want to think

that when she was waiting for her son to come

back from returning videos at the shopping

center &

she heard a father who was sitting in a pickup truck

out in the parking lot

yelling at his teenage daughter,

you want to think

that she got out of her car &

she walked right up to his window &

told him to stop yelling at her,

before he swatted his daughter across the face

with the back of his hand,

making her begin to cry---

that’s what you want to think---

but she just watched,

just like she had

years ago in the city,

telling herself quietly

that her hands were tied &

that to do anything at all

would only escalate the situation.

© Copyright 2020 delapruch. All rights reserved.

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