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Not long ago the youngest, hesitant, said she could walk home alone, late at night, from a friend’s house, fearlessly, boldly, but her eyes held doubt.

I pondered this idea for a while, attempted to process it, contemplated various scenarios, gave myself a few more gray hairs, and told her I was unsure that she should do such a thing.

She laughed and said, “C’mon, it’s not like I’m going to get raped!” Raped? What?? Rape was not even on my radar. Rape did not even make my top ten list. Rape was the farthest thing from my mind. I turned to her confused, and asked, “What?”

“Rape, you know, the worst thing that could ever happen to a girl.” She saw the puzzled look on my face and continued, “A fate worse than death, right?”

Oh my sweet child, you so do not even know what the world is capable of. Rape? Rape is a trifle, a moment suspended in time. Speak to me of elderly drivers, of dark clothing at night, of mangled metal and torn flesh, the ache of regret. Speak to me of shallow graves, shattered illusions, of broken hearts and wounded spirits. Speak to me of zombies with their empty eyes, of psychopaths who seek to harvest not your body, but  your soul. Speak to me of slow, tortuous diseases, of severed spinal cords, of a woman left on the side of the road with her arms cut off. Speak to me of excruciating pain, of betrayal, of being thrown out, no longer human. Broken dreams, broken lives, dirty needles cast aside, bare mattresses lying in pools of stagnant water, bits of collateral damage seeking refuge on them……Ah kid, there are more things in this world that can rot your spirit and rob your soul, than you can even imagine.

How blessed this child is. How innocent, how naive, what a safe and friendly world she lives in. She cannot even comprehend anything more horrendous than rape, something she equates with another thing far above her pay grade, death. I have no desire to rob this child of her own inflated sense of self importance, but those who have walked in dark places and seen the horror that lurks there, know rape is just a trifle, less dangerous then a cold on a city street that can quickly turn into pneumonia and leave your body stiff and frozen on the pavement.

No doubt my jaded eyes will offend some people. Surely I am full of malicious intent and suspicious motivation, seeking to malign the character of every rape victim ever, to trivialize rape, a rape apologist, prone to wither crops and shame the grandmothers….

Rape, a fate worse than death. What an odd concept, really. And death the worst thing of all, yet another pleasant illusion, as if “worse” actually has a boundary to it, some imaginary line it dare not cross, some final place you can go to escape it.

There’s an interesting moral dilemma hidden among these ponderings, if one knew the truth of what was to come, was in possession of some great knowledge, is one morally obligated to warn others or is it far kinder to just leave them to the temporal nature of their own illusions? Are we not all entitled to a few more precious moments of deception?

Does one tell a child they are full of wildly unrealistic expectations, of distorted views, of insane dreams and romantic ideas? Does one explain to them that their greatest fear is nothing but ashes in their fingertips, as insignificant as dust?

No. One simply hands them a can of pepper spray and bids them good journey.

She has my jaded eyes already. I see the quick shadows that pass across them when she catches a glimpse of dark things that others don’t often see, of a world full of deception and madness.