The Martyr

Every time she came home she fell on the bed in full clothing and went to sleep. She hated the way her house looked, clothes covering the floor like leaves that covered the ground during fall. She just did not have the will to pick them up, every piece of clothing was so heavy. Her sheets were never made on her bed, always torn to the side as if an animal nested there. She considered herself that animal.

She woke up every morning, wide awake. Her eyes would snap open, her heart beating fast, feeling she had to do something. She got up quickly, took a shower, and changed her clothes. She always had her clean clothes in an old backpack, it was easier to wash and move around that way. Her two-minute showers were the only time she allowed herself to have. She would notice how the water droplets sparkled in the early morning sun. Her dark hands shining brightly through the droplets. She would turn her hands over again and again to feel the warmth, as if she could absorb that feeling for the rest of the day.

She would abruptly stop her shower when the two minutes were up on her timer, her alarm resounding throughout the apartment like the call to prayer.  She wanted to save water as much as she could and she used her old towel, one she got second hand so as to not buy something new, something probably synthetic. She looked at herself in the mirror for just a moment. She saw the dark circles under her eyes and touched them, as if feeling them could make them go away.

She sighed and put on newish clothes, the clothes that were designated to the chair of limbo. She made a quick breakfast of granola and almond milk, eating it as fast as she could when she received her first phone call of the morning. She knew the rest of the day it would not stop.

She ran out the door to her first meeting, one with the city for the permits of the march. Four others were already there, and even though she was on time she felt late. They debated about where to start the march with the police who said they were just trying to help, when she knew fully well they wanted the march to be as small as possible. She knew it was pointless to argue with the police about how these were people dying, knowing fully well they did not consider animals people.

She then grabbed a quick tea from a local vegan juicer in downtown San Diego. Another moment where she could rest until her next meeting. She could not stop looking at Facebook, where she saw so many people share the lives of animals, and their brutal endings. Seeing the eyes of the pigs as they went to slaughter, she saw where she was in the live video, desperately trying to give the pigs water who cried inside the trucks. There were so many trucks. She wondered, angrily, how could the public not care? She felt so much for these innocent beings. Their love she felt so strongly, just as a mother lion would want to protect her child. She was that lion, and was determined.

A tall woman came in for her meeting and sat down across from her. She forgot this was not an actual activist meeting, it was in actuality something she neglected to do for a long time. A date. She smiled awkwardly putting her phone away. In her mind she thought intensely Please be vegan, please be vegan. She smiled her fake smile. This girl was cute, her tan skin and dark eyes. She had dark black hair that had huge curls in them. Oh please be vegan she thought as if it was a wish that could come true.

The woman sat down and smiled a gorgeous smile across from her.

“So, this is a vegan place. Very hipster,” the woman smiled humorously, sarcastically speaking in a low voice. It was perfect. The woman was perfect except, it was clear now. She was not vegan.

Her heart sank and she let it go. You never know, people can change, she thought. She felt this spark, as the woman touched her hand resting on the table.

“Well, yeah, I mean, aren’t all vegans hipsters?” she tried to joke, annoyed with her own flirting, setting aside her own morals. But the woman was so beautiful. She was torn between being her true self, wanting to tell this woman everything, but also not wanting to scare her away. She took her hand away. She could feel the sadness and confusion of the other woman. Can’t get too attached, she thought.

“Did I say something wrong?” her date asked curiously and seemed a little wounded.

“No, I just don’t want to go too fast,” she replied lying, though she wanted to go so fast. It had been so long she had felt love, she had felt someone love her. She pushed that away, thinking, no, my life is for the animals.

She went up to the counter to order something. She realized she just did this to run away from her date so she did not have to answer her, she had no idea what to order. I should probably order her something. She realized then and asked, “What would you like,” from afar.

The woman surprised said, “Um, I’ll have what you have.”

Great, that is helpful, I can barely think right now, she thought as she felt the heavy wave of sleep deprivation set in. She massaged her temples. Why did I agree to do this? She thought and then remembered Oh, right because I deserve to feel loved. Though thinking it she did not feel she believed that thought whole heartedly. As if her pleasure came at the cost of the lives of innocents. She then remembered her friend who pushed her to do this.

“Come on, you need a break,” he said. “You need to be loved, you need sex. Like hot smokey lesbian sex right now.” He said as he swiped left on that stupid app for her. Before she could do anything she just sighed and took the phone back. The woman he swiped left on was cute, beautiful actually. There was something about her eyes. She had laughed at him and agreed to do this.

She realized then the woman at the counter was just biting her lip, waiting for her to order. “Ummm, I will have two vegan cob salads and two green tea lattes with almond milk.” The woman behind the counter seemed happy with this and punched in the numbers. She then realized it was basically all her money. There was no money in activism, though she had tried many times to receive money from people who should support her, it seemed almost impossible. People had excuses, lived their lives, saying they wanted to help. She let it go, hoping someday, people would recognize activists for all that they do and to support them if they can.

The woman behind the counter gave her the salads and she sat down. The woman across from her looked excitdely at the salad. Maybe there was hope.

“I have never tried vegan salad before,” she said. Her date ate the first bite as she waited impatiently to see what she thought. “Mmmm, this is delicious,” she said and continued to eat more.

They talked for a bit about various things. Living in San Diego, the beach, comic books. She liked the same comics and had a wicked sense of humor. She could not help but think that her date was so perfect in so many ways.

Warmth spread in her heart. Maybe this could work. She thought, for once, maybe she could be loved and be happy. She then touched the woman’s hand again. The woman smiled at her.

“I see you feel differently now,” her date said laughing. “Good, because I felt something the moment I came in, drawn to you,” her date said looking her directly in the eye, moving closer. She smelled a faint scent of lavender. She wanted this moment so badly. She wanted to feel good. She could not help but feel the weight of the reality of what animals were going through that moment. She witnessed so much.

“I really like you, but I am just not sure this is going to work,” she said sadly, feeling the heaviness in her heart.

“Really, you think because I am not vegan, that is a non-starter?” her date asked. She could feel her date’s sadness and some anger about it.

She sighed. “You are beautiful, smart, funny, you are everything I would want but…”

“But I am not a crazy vegan like you,” she said annoyed, her hand she took away and crossed her arms. This sparked sadness and anger.

“This is why I don’t date carnists, none of you understand what we go through.” Tears started falling, she could not stop them. She felt so stupid. She was supposed to be strong for them. Now she thought she was just another crying vegan.

She wiped her eyes angrily. She could see the her date felt sorry in her eyes.

“Wait I…” her date was about to say, but already embarrassed she got up and left right away, not wanting to look back at the possibility she was leaving behind.

Her phone rang and she realized she missed two meetings, one with an organizer from LA, and another with the press who wanted to interview her before the protest. Her heart sank as she walked out. She put her hands to the sides of her head, her tears lightly falling. She looked up to the sky. Hoping to the universe that one day, it did not have to be this way.



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