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Shoulders -- flash fiction by Neha Varadharajan

She doesn’t tell them a word.

Here we are, holding it on our backs, without complaining. But she feels sore and scared. We want to give her that release. That freedom.

Take off your clothes.

We hear it every day. His hands graze off us before it begins. We look at them, pitiful, shocked, angry.

But she doesn’t tell them a word.

Tell them, Jen. Tell them, and see what happens.

He shuts the door and she whimpers.

She walks out four minutes later with us. The burden feels heavier than ever before.

The weight may cave on us. She can feel it, too. We can see it on her face. Today, she might tell them.

She walks up straight to them. She opens her mouth. They gasp, and they ask her questions.

We feel it lifting.

And lifting.

And lifting.

And we feel light, relieved.

She does, too. She lifted a weight off us.

She lifted a weight off her shoulders.


Neha Varadharajan is an aspiring and amateur writer in her sophomore year of high school and is a rambling tumbling bumbling mumbling teenager. She is a 2019 Sweek Microfiction International Contest finalist and a two-time winner of the national TOI NIE Star Achiever Journalism Prize. She mostly writes flash fiction, questionable poetry, and creative nonfiction. Her work has previously been published in the Dreich Poetry Journal, Page and Spine, Friday Flash Fiction, The Secret Stories, and The Times of India. She lives in India with her family.

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