They are writing her out of the novels. There is a silent and far-reaching corps storming libraries, bookstores, basements, parlors, systematically erasing every mention of her. They are replacing her character with another, killing her parents before she is born, preventing them from meeting in the first place. They are writing out her husband, her children, her neighbors and friends. They are setting fire to her birthplace, writing her town out of existence, leveling her schools, businesses, buildings she has frequented more than once.
They are slicing her out of films – forcing themselves into theaters, archives, warehouses, cutting her out of frames, murdering the actresses that portrayed her. They are burning photographs of the film shoots, shredding newspaper reviews, kidnapping professors that teach her films. There are journalists disappearing, projectionists gone missing, co-stars who are never heard from again.
They are cutting her out of the songs – swapping her name for other women’s, dragging musicians to their recording studios by their hair, forcing them to re-record and rename their albums. They are melting vinyl, bombing radio stations, building a pyre of instruments that have played her anthems. They are gutting symphonies and opera houses, piano bars and jazz clubs. They are swallowing reams of sheet music whole.
They are hunting down the writers, the filmmakers, the musicians who have populated their works with her presence. They are imprisoning the artists, starving the poets, quarantining the actors. They are locking up the authors at risk of including her in future novels, herding them into large windowless rooms with the divas and dancers and architects whose future work is susceptible to her invasion.
They are lobotomizing the audiences who have read her books, watched her films, sung along to her songs, had conversations about her, lusted, yearned, discovered themselves through her, searched for her and dreamed her real, wept for her, wished she was their sister, mother, daughter, lover, rearranged their lives for her, whispered her name unknowingly as they fell asleep nightly.
They will gather the hunters, the burners, the destroyers and assassins when they are finished with their task, convene in their vast headquarters for a final rally. They will celebrate their exhaustive and complete eradication of her existence from the universe. And once they are assured that it is done, that every last trace of her is expunged, they will close the doors to their base of operations a final time, douse themselves in gasoline and set themselves on fire, extinguishing the final memories that remain.
But here you are, reading this.
Illustration by Daria Golab