She liked the trees on the hills because they looked like broccoli.
When she was a child, she would see the light glistening on the rolling hills and watch the broccoli toast from a rich green to a golden brown–and as the sun set, she would watch it burn deeper and deeper into a blackened crisp as night fell on the countryside. At a certain point in the morning, she would think that the broccoli trees had melted cheese on top, just like how her older brother liked it. She used to imagine herself falling, falling from the cauliflower clouds, down, down through the air and past the rain drops, falling on the canopy of greens and springing up again, bouncing, bouncing and flailing and laughing endlessly. The hills drank the sunshine like holy water and shone brilliantly, and her house was nestled underneath the treetops in the same way an engagement ring is hidden within a bouquet of flowers. She loved the warmth and safety of her home, cradled like a secret under the grand and everlasting broccoli trees, for herself and her treasured guests only.
In her late teens, she dyed the ends of her chocolate afro a deep forest green, and laughed about bouncing on the tops of broccoli trees. Her body, the strong ebony trunk that lead to her beautifully voluminous and unapologetically wild locks, supported her mind and soul with a firm confidence only found in girls like her.
When she walked, she walked as a tree grows toward the things that bring it life.
When she danced, it was with the freedom she deserved to have, spinning under a sunset of sparkling party lights and unnaturally sparkling drinks.
When another approached her, she greeted them with a warm smile: genuine, friendly, and as organic and unadulterated as her being.
When she shook her head “no,” her neck turned in the way a tree bends to avoid a strong wind and her green hair swished back and forth in refusal.
When she yelled in protest, her lungs shriveled and stung, struggling for the clear air that had been promised them–and when her wrists were held in the grip of the intruder before her, her hands jerked and her fingers scratched in a way no tree could ever do justice in metaphor.
When she cried, her cheeks absorbed the fear that enveloped her heart and took hold of her tongue, halting its ability to fight more.
Her home, along with the warmth, security and solace that came with her choosing whom to invite in and whom to refuse access, had been broken into. Robbed, damaged, scarred. It was still a treasured home, with no lesser value than from the day she was born. But it had been wronged in a time when there was no sunlight to revive her, and not enough rain in the world to heal her wounds or replenish her vandalized confidence.
The suffocating shroud of night burned her skin and her memories as she fell, fell from the cauliflower clouds and into the broccoli trees–this time sinking through the branches and not springing up again.
This was originally just going to be about how I think trees look like broccoli, but I’ve been seeing so much about this Stanford case that I couldn’t write about anything else. Just to be clear here, I’m not using the tree metaphor to objectify or romanticize this issue in any way. I’m using the metaphor to shed light on the gravity of the situation and the simplicity of the concept of sexual consent for those who have yet to understand. I am in no way pretending to understand how someone feels when they have experienced rape, because I have not. But I do know what it is to be afraid to walk alone as a young woman, and I know what it is for someone not take “no” for an answer. It has to stop.
Thanks so much for reading, and please keep fighting rape and rape culture. Writing and spreading awareness is only a small contribution to a huge cause.