The Bounty

The government, having used up every other source of energy, issues a bounty: 50,000 for a girl’s scream. At night, our fathers and brothers march into our rooms, with mason jars and earmuffs, to pry open our throats. In the morning, our mothers sit by our beds, with ginger tea, to thank us. The rice bag is finally full.

Some of us press our faces into our pillows one last time, then reach in and fish it out ourselves.

We watch the small ball of sound pound against the walls of the bottle all night. By morning, it barely shudders in our hands.