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Elissa Bassist

On Silence (or, Speak Again)

Illustration by Homestead

Elissa Bassist | Longreads | August 2019 | 26 minutes (6,529 words)

He knew I’d write this. He said so years ago. He was a well-known author and editor — at least in certain major cities — and I was an unpaid volunteer for his literary magazine.

I remember we were at a mutual friend’s book party when he told me what I’d do: that I would, one day, “take him down.” Six thoughts banged into my mind: 1. He thinks the worst of me. 2. So he admits he’s done something to me and to others worthy of a public takedown. 3. He knows I am so desperately hurt that I would expose him. 4. How much dirt does he think I have? 5. This is why I shouldn’t go to parties. 6. I won’t be the one to take him down; he’ll take himself down, eventually.

I’ll show you!” began the imaginary one-sided conversation I had with him later that night when I was alone in my apartment. “I’ll never say one word! To anyone! About anything!”

It was an effective silencing technique.
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