Porcelain 1920 959 Erin Lyndal Martin

Last week was paper chain week at the White Rose Brigade. We all made links out of construction paper and connected them in the church basement, making a long chain that wrapped around the room twice. Heather showed us how the construction paper was so easy to tear, but how much stronger it was because it was part of a chain, and that a chain was only as strong as its weakest link.

She explained that we were all also part of a chain too, and we had to be strong for the integrity of the whole chain. Then she gave us notebooks to write down our feats of strength for the next two weeks before we met again. She told us to keep track of the times we resisted temptation and showed sin who’s boss, and we could discuss our results over donuts at the next meeting. She told us to call one another when we needed to be strong.

We called each other about wanting to take a sparkly bracelet from the store. We called each other about touching ourselves but pretended it was about other things. We called each other when our fathers left swallows of beer at the bottom of the bottles.

Then one of us called, said her uncle had tried something again and she didn’t give in to that temptation but she kicked him hard in the groin and then she kicked him two more times and now she was scared God would be mad at her. She said she’d put this in her notebook as a failure. We told her to cross it out.

We said to meet by the body shop near the river. We said to bring the doll she kept in a drawer by the bed.

We took our own dolls.

We painted their faces with the Wite-Out, waving them in the air to dry. We took thick black markers and marked out their eyes and then their whole faces.

The shiny hair didn’t gleam. We were stronger together.

Some of us tore off the dolls’ hair with our teeth. One of us took off her doll’s gingham dress, stuffing it in the hollow of a tree. One of us ripped her own dress on purpose and didn’t write it down.

There was a man there at the river already throwing his own dolls in the swamp. He didn’t notice us at all. We lined up next to him and threw our dolls in, one at a time but all at once.

Header photograph © Yasser Alaa Mobarak.

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