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Comfort

Wednesday, November 9, 2016. The day after the American presidential election. Donald T***p has won and I can't stop crying. Hillary Clinton wears a suit with fabulous purple lapels for her concession speech and I decide to read Sarah Kane's play Blasted. In hindsight, this was an awful choice on a day that was already so dark. In hindsight, this was the perfect choice on a day that was already so dark.

For anyone who knows the play, you know that it is grotesque, challenging, terrifying. It's the kind of play you can't look away from, where even reading the words silently in your mind makes your stomach churn. Even with all of the magical elements, you still wonder if someone, somewhere, is going through something like that right now. And with all you know about the wars and genocides of the world, you're pretty certain there is.

Weeks later, there is one moment that won't let me go. The moment when I had to put down the play for fear I would scream (and since I was reading this on a bus, I feel that could have been alarming to my fellow passengers). It was a simple stage direction:

Ian crying, huge bloody tears. He is hugging the Soldier's body for comfort.

The Solider has just raped and mutilated Ian before killing himself. And yet the body that moments before was Ian's greatest source of pain is now his last source of comfort.

The line is so chilling in its aptness, in its horror, and in its tenderness. How deep our human need for comfort goes, how badly we need to feel the bodies of other people, that we will cling even to the one who has so severely wronged us. What would we not do for a moment of comfort?

Megan Johnson