Should have gone home: A poem by LauraWritten by Laura McKendrick
Content note: themes of sexual violence and consent.
With a glass in hand,
you tell others about
and freedom to make the choices,
the mistakes, the missteps.
You preach and gush
and proudly say your piece.
“You don’t owe anyone an explanation, or
Any of your time.
Your life is yours to live and love – or hate.
And mine is mine.”
Your eyes glint,
your smile widens
and your voice gets louder in the bar.
More bold. More certain.
You make your choices,
your decisions, and you own
your not-so-well-thought-out ones.
You convince yourself,
and somehow, everyone else,
that that is freedom; your freedom
and it’s what you exercise and prioritise
above all else.
You sit amongst faces, new and old,
and you finish another drink.
that glint, that drew him in,
becomes a glaze,
the smile settles into a distant look on your face, that says
you should go home.
He gets up,
and insists you shouldn’t go on your own.
You smile and agree,
and try to clear your head
and practice what you preach.
This, is freedom – you tell yourself
you can go and still say no.
And you can say yes
because you know it’s what you want.
you take his hand
Then you get to his
and you start to fool around.
But it’s too much, a bit too
and so you tell him
to chill and that, down there is a no go.
“Why? Because I said so.”
And in your head this no means no, but
you kiss and you like it, and
somehow no changes into, “No,
don’t do that, I’m just not feeling it. No,
let me go down here instead” – in your attempt to feel in control.
But you tense your arms
trying to resist him pushing on your head too hard.
and you, kind of
Your eyes lower and your face changes as you become
fully sober. And then,
it’s no longer any kind of no,
just that no ones there – until he says
So you move
and get out of the way.
A quick glance,
and he catches the grimace in your face.
And there you are on the toilet seat,
head in your hands
looking at your feet and the tiles and your toes, wondering
how you didn’t make your no mean no.
And you start the process
of trying to let it go.
Your skin feels cold compared to his warm lips
as he kisses you on the cheek – so softly.
And you make the excuses that you have,
“so much to do tomorrow.”
You shut the taxi door.
You try to chat – but the hard leather of the seat is
kind of sore.
And your hair smells
like latex and cigarettes,
like a night you weren’t going out.
Where you should have said no
and meant no.
You only have yourself to blame
because you wanted to go.
Picture courtesy of Wolfram Burner.
Laura is passionate about all things body positivity, mental health and encouraging people to realise their self worth exactly as the individuals they are. Lover of podcasts, travelling and conversations that make her to see the world differently. Find her on Instagram @ellemackhere.