There are two ways to be robbed. The same thief, on the same day, same snatch-and-grab, can rob two people, two different ways.
One will see the robbery, feel the fingers as they take what isn’t theirs, and feel the missing weight for a long time afterward.
Maybe they scream when it happens. Maybe they scream again the next day when they miss what they had. Maybe they scream a hundred nights afterward when they wake in the dark feeling the robbery all over again. Maybe, just maybe, they scream when they start to believe it will be the only way to tell the rest of the world that it happened.
Because they know what it was: theft, a mugging in the dark, violation, all the wrong sides of force, criminal, rotted, wrong.
The other will miss the robbery. Maybe the dark was too deep. Maybe their sleep was too deep. Maybe they just blinked. But they won’t notice.
They won’t say anything, because there’s nothing to say anything about, but they’ll learn from it without thought. They’ll measure the world by it, chart the new edges that they hadn’t touched before, fit themselves in the new spaces. They won’t feel lack, because they never felt the lift, the take, the loss. And if it suits them, if it’s ground they land on, and they see that robbery was written into the rules, maybe they become robbers, too.
Because they don’t know what it was. It was just part of the shape of the world.
She saw the theft. He didn’t. She’s just about screamed herself hoarse, and he’s picked up the thief’s tricks. She’s fighting to fill in a single inch of the mile she’s lost, and he’s just fighting because he knows he can get what he wants from other people’s pockets. We can love her, and despise him. But they were both robbed.
We can stand with her fiercely, and we can stare at him in disgust, because she’s screaming, and how can he not?
But we’ll have a hard time measuring who lost more, when she’s lost her peace, and his hands are wet with someone else’s crimes – when she lost everything that should have been, and he lost knowing that anything else could have existed.
She’s teaching us to fight back, but he just might be the one to teach us pity.