Maren Sanchez. Say her name. Journey to the mountains and shout her into eternity. In the mornings mix it with your milk and honey. Carve it into the trees and tell your children about her. Maren Sanchez. Remember her. Do everything you can to keep her in you as drive to wake up in the morning and claim your space in life. Grow old. Endlessly seek your happiness. Do it for her. Say her name like a banner atop a fortress. Remember her as war paint, take up arms, and fight.
I remember when I first read about her. An honor student, sixteen years old, eyes to prom, eyes to the future. She would’ve worn a dress as blue as the sea and her mom would make her spin around, with pride running down her face. She would’ve rolled her eyes and smiled at her dad saying be back by midnight. She would’ve danced with her friends in the strobe light darkness. She would’ve drank punch and laughed and laughed. She would’ve made it home that night. She would’ve laid her head down to meet the morning, and met someone special somewhere down
the line. She’d fall out of love and back in. She’d become a swimming champion. She’d find a job that makes her feel good inside and she’d climb the ranks. She’d settle into a good life with a good person and a good story to look back on. If the world was right she would’ve gotten this.
April 25th, 2014. A boy asks a girl to prom. A girl kindly refuses. Boy then strangles girl, pushes her down a flight of stairs. Boy brandishes a knife and stabs her in the torso and stabs her in the neck. One morning. April 25th, Maren’s entire past, entire future, is stolen from her.
I sat there reading. I couldn’t stop thinking of a family’s pain. I couldn’t stop picturing Maren at sixty, seeing her grandchildren running around the house. I once wrote about imagining her mother spreading her blue prom dress out on her bed and thinking of the blue of the ocean, of how the tide always returns. I once wrote about how I’ll always believe in returning, about how she’ll see Maren again, somewhere in a better life, and that she’ll love her there as much as she did here.
Say her name as rebellion now, as revolution, as vigil, as defense, as a reminder that being a woman should not be a death sentence or a call to a bed or a life lived for someone other than herself. Remember her as gentle and as strength. Remember her as sixteen, as a child who never got to live the life she was promised.
Recently I’ve been fascinated with the concept of song, song in a poetic context; song as fire, as battle cry, as healing, as remembrance. So let us sing a song for Maren. Let her never be forgotten to time. She deserved so much more from life. From here we have to make sure life gives something back to everyone, a little at a time. Take yourself and your mothers and your daughters and your nieces to the mountains and shout her name as healing, as survival song.
Take the shame men have tried to give you, take the abuse and the violence and the expectations, take them all to the mountains and let go. Take it all to the mountain and dispel, dispel, dispel. Carry Maren. Carry her name, her memory, her unwritten future. Carry it all to the mountain and sing.
Elijah Noble El is the twenty-two year old author of The Age of Recovery (2015). His numerous honors include a nomination for Best Writing at the Top Indie Film Awards for the short film Dog-Faced Honey (2016). His work has been featured in Literary Orphans, Words Dance Magazine, The Rising Phoenix Review, Straylight Magazine, Hooligan Magazine, Persephone’s Daughters, Kerosene Magazine’s CONTRA, Illumination, Exist Magazine, Soul Anatomy, The Odyssey, L’Éphémère Review, Erstwhile Magazine, and elsewhere. El is the co-founder of Girls Don’t Cry, the film division of the literary magazine Persephone’s Daughters, a magazine founded by Meggie Royer dedicated to empowering women who have experienced various forms of abuse and degradation.