The other night I dreamed about you,
of all people!
Yes. That way.
We had sex against our will.

It is said we have no self,
no place in our protoplasm
where identity lives.
We are thoughts and feelings and that’s about it.

So who is the ringmaster of our dreams?
What demented little demi-god is pulling our strings?

Decency, limits—he couldn’t care less.
All he wants are stories,
the more unspeakable, the better.

They don’t last long, these reckless visions.
Banished by the logic of day,
they turn to shreds,
fall back to the bedlam they came from,
leaving only our embarrassment behind.

At work the next morning, you looked so innocent,
your head bent over your desk, your earnest, blameless forehead.

I was innocent too of course,
though I didn’t feel that way,
having hosted the event
and the sweet shame that went with it,
the thrill of knowing your flesh for free.

Published by


Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Napa, California. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals, including Other Voices, Pleiades, The Summerset Review, The Massachusetts Review and The Blue Lake Review. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. A collection of her short stories, SURVIVAL SKILLS, will be published by Ashland Creek Press in 2013. Please visit her website at

4 thoughts on “Non-Consensual

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