The Rebuttal

by Sachi Nag
The Writer's Block
Honorable Mention, July 2009
Judged by George Szirtes

An actor is charged with raping the house maid.

His wife expresses undiminished love.
Her voice cuts through the disquiet, disgust.
She extols his virtues as a father: ask my kids! Law
is not a river. Virtue is no inheritance. There is fairness.
The night is just, despite the voyeurs;
vultures don’t scare angels paused for breath.

What do we know of lust?
Of revenge, retribution, greed?
Why should we pick nits between force and will?
Who can claim to know what ever is real?

Retreating into quarantine, she turns on the shower.

Water whistles down her forehead in a red stream,
she mistakes for an untimely period
but it’s just broken vermilion. She scrubs hard,
the red stains are washed, the vacant scalp
between her parted hair is deep scarred,
shiny and redolent of lavender.

"The Rebuttal" is much more straightforward. It is an anecdote with potential for fable. The story as story is powerful. I just wondered whether the ending lay a little too pat, a little too willed. The writing is direct at the beginning moving to rhetorical questions in the middle. I thought the writing very good, the questions for real and was looking for a sufficiently complex albeit incomplete answer. The end closure here doesn't quite do it for me. --George Szirtes