Tank Man | By Georgia L

I never realised how hard the fall would be. Others had tried to warn me, to help me prepare. But it’s more painful than I imagined.

Waiting, watching. Waiting for some kind of release. Watching my purpose come apart around me, piece by corrupted piece. Existence itself slowly drooping like a withering flower, ever so gently ripping gaping holes in my universe.

The fact that I can’t stop it, or even move, makes the fall all the more terrifying. Falling backwards, pinned by the pressure, having to watch the apocalyptic destruction of Heaven with dark and regretful eyes. I’m so used to being powerful that this knocks the wind out of me. My weakness. My vulnerability. A brand-new feeling of fear. I’ve never had anything to fear before, a privilege that I didn’t realise I had until now.

I, and everyone around me, used to be flawless. Perfect bodies accompanied by perfect spirits existing in a perfect universe. But soon enough, His idea of perfection changed, and everything became twisted. Broken. Flawed. The ground we walked on changed, the homes we lived in became dust.

He was most powerful spirit ever to exist, and the oldest. He had been here since the beginning of everything, and this was the destruction of everything.

My back hits the earth, and the pain of thousands of years of existence crashes down onto me, filling the lungs that I don’t know I had and clouding the brain that feels heavier every second I lie on this planet. Moving is impossible, at least until the sky is dark and freckled with the stars that I’m so used to seeing below me. The worst part is seeing the shooting stars and knowing they’re my brothers and sisters hurtling to the earth. This isn’t their fault. I want to scream, but all that escapes me is a quiet whimper that sends stabs of pain through this thing the humans call a body. This isn’t their fault.

The gentle cushion of my wings slowly dissipates, and I’m left lying on concrete, wishing my existence would cease as quickly as breath snuffs out a candle. Heaven has ceased to exist, and I am full of fear.

But then my remaining senses finally light up. I finally hear the conundrum about me. I finally smell the blood-soaked earth. Panic and chaos, screaming and shouting, smoke bombs and tanks. I finally understand where I am. Beijing. Tiananmen Square. 1989.

Only the downfall of perfection could allow what I see before me to happen. Only complete and utter corruption could cause this. Death is everywhere. It has infected everyone. No one in this place will walk away, not unless this nightmarish brutality stops. I’ve never cried before, but by God do I cry now. All these people, deserving of a beautiful and happy ever after, but with no Heaven left to go to.

The sound of fear is everywhere. Pounding feet, desperate screams and the sobs of those who have already accepted their deaths. These people used to look small and pathetic to me, but now, stood here amongst them, I realise I am exactly where I need to be. The only reason these creatures turn against each other is fear, this thing that I finally understand. But being fearful isn’t equal to being weak. These humans that live through fear every day are stronger than I have ever been.

The advancing tanks will crush everyone who remains. Dead, alive, young, old, they don’t care who they kill anymore. They’re too scared to see what they’re doing is wrong.

While everyone around me runs, I stand my ground. I cannot let this happen. I at least have to give those who are not ready to die a chance to flee. The tanks stop. Crush me, if you will. But please, just leave them alone.

I can’t put my emotions into words. For the first time in eternity, I’m feeling. And I don’t know how to express it.

My hand stretches out in a gesture of power and defiance. A gesture of no.

And suddenly, I am fearless. For everyone on this planet, I am fearless. Instead of heavenly fearlessness, when you have no need to feel fear, this is the kind of fearlessness you feel when protecting people. When rushing into the road to save an oblivious child. When giving your life for someone who deserves the rest of theirs.

Compared to these people, I have so much of my life behind me. But them? They have yet to accomplish so much. They have their whole existence ahead of them. Me? I’ve already lived mine a million times over. Since the fall of Him, what else can I do with this new-found mortality? I am willing to lay my life down, for them. For the people already dead, for the people I’m trying to protect from death. For as many as I can. Isn’t that what I was created for? To protect? To be fearless for those who can’t?

They called me the Tank Man. Once everything was over, once everyone had been mourned, my legacy would continue. The actions of a lonely angel, newly mortal, trying to make themselves worthy of the existence bestowed upon them. Letting their fear drive them to be fearless, and hoping that the actions of one could save the lives of a million.

Women in 1200-1900 | By Lexy D

In this essay, we will be looking at the way the role of women has changed between the 13th century and the 20th century. We will be looking at three areas: behaviour and expectations, work and money and leisure activities. In each section, we will first look at the 13th century and then compare it to the 18th-20th centuries. Finally, we will summarise whether things improved for women or not in the 700 years we will be looking at.

The behaviour and expectations held against women, in my opinion, have not changed all that much. For example: in both 1200 and 1900 women were expected to do all the tedious, unwanted and dangerous jobs in factories, fields or at home. They were expected to clean, look after the children and keep an eye on the servants. In 1200, they had to behave how their husbands wanted them to behave, and if they didn’t behave well their husband could sell them, beat them or even use a scold’s bridle. In 1900, it was slightly better, but not by much. Girls were finally allowed to go to school, but women’s jobs did not improve.

Money for women, as with all their other possessions, was actually owned by their husbands or fathers. They worked in very simple, repetitive jobs that men did not want to do. They were therefore required to have very little skill. Even if they managed to do jobs that the men would do, they would be paid substantially less than them. All the work was some kind of manual labour, such as farming. Once they were married, they would normally become a housewife. Here, they would have to look after children and their husbands, and they would also have to do all the cleaning in the house. If they managed to get a bit of spare time in amongst all the housework, they would be expected to either do spinning or sewing; still manual labour that was required to help them live.

Throughout the next few hundred years, things didn’t get much better for women in the workplace. In fact, the conditions of their jobs were actually getting worse and were gradually becoming more dangerous. They were still given the tedious jobs that men didn’t want to do and it was always manual labour. Even by the 1900s, they still had no financial control and all their hard earned money would automatically belong to their husband or father. The scenery had also changed too; instead of just being housewives, women could now get jobs as farm hands, although few chose this option as they still had to do most of the work a housewife would do anyway.

During the limited spare time of women in the 1200s, they were very restricted on how they could relax. They most wealthy of them would be allowed to go riding and most would be able to visit friends, mainly female, and if they were to visit male friends, it would never be unaccompanied. If their house contained a garden, then they would quite often be found relaxing there, sometimes reading a book, if they were literate. Everyone would have been religious, and therefore religious practices would be allowed, although, as it was something that was expected of all people, not just women, I cannot justly say that it was something done for leisure.

Nothing changed at all in the years before 1900, the only freedom that was given was that women were now allowed to play games of cards, although everything they did, they could only do with fellow women. Things may have got a bit better, but not a lot had changed and women were still greatly underprivileged.

I don’t think that any progress had been made for women between 1200-1900. In fact, in certain areas, I think that the status of women had decreased, although only slightly. By 1900, women were still greatly inferior to men and they were still basically owned by men. Everything they did was controlled by men and they were hardly ever allowed to do anything without a man watching over them. I think this was greatly unfair and I would have expected more progress to have been made in the way of a woman’s rights and status over a period of 700 years.