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Women Who Stay, 1

The Introduction

By Suze KayPublished 2 months ago Updated about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - April 2024
28

In 2015, Janie Robichaud's response to my initial query was direct. How much are you paying?

Nothing, I replied, along with a longwinded explanation about the truth being its own reward, journalistic integrity notwithstanding.

Then I have nothing to say.

So it was with surprise that, two years later, I found another similarly straightforward email from her in my inbox. I read your series. I have reconsidered. Please call me.

Hi Janie, I wrote back. Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, I have completed my work on "Women Who Stay." If you'd like to tell your story, I can recommend other reputable journalists who would be more than interested in what you have to say. -- Miranda Ken

No, she responded within minutes. I only want to talk to you.

___

I pitched "Women Who Stay" to The Cut because I knew it would sell. It was a yearlong series, posted monthly, profiling the wives and girlfriends of convicted felons. I optimistically envisioned it as a feminist stand, an exploration of the stark choices that women must make in the face of danger, but the truth was murkier. As it so often is. The women largely professed ignorance or confessed to fear. They craved stability for themselves and their children. They didn't believe in divorce, or they couldn't divorce the love they felt for their husbands from the men they turned out to be. And so they stayed.

I sensed in some of them an undercurrent of sexual thrill. In one case, I was certain a woman had participated in, if not outright instigated, her husband's acts and escaped justice. But for all my coercion, I could not coax out a single revealing quote on those subjects. After a year of these 3,000-word profiles, I lost sight of what I'd hoped to find. I found myself filled with unwanted contempt for these women and their weaknesses, their religious platitudes, their eyes-wide-shut approach to their bedfellows. I was tempted to interview the men instead, suddenly more curious about the beaten-horse tropes of what drove them to violence. I felt myself a weaker writer -- and woman -- than when I'd started. The story I wanted did not exist, and the story I'd found I could not elaborate.

After the last profile ran, I gleefully returned to writing up She-E-O's and badass survivors. I started outlining a book about women in the Paralympics. I unfollowed the myriad of true crime podcasts clogging my Spotify feed and removed the Google alerts I'd placed on my subjects and their spouses. I put it all to bed.

But still, after her insistence, I found myself searching Janie's name. I found myself pulling out my notebook. I found myself falling down the rabbit hole of who she was. What she knew. And why she stayed.

___

I cracked my back and rolled my shoulders. As evening fell around me, I'd hunched ever closer to the glow of my laptop to read my scrawled notes. I don't believe her, I'd written last. I'd underlined it twice. I began to bookmark a link in my browser, briefly hesitating at my old source folder for "Women Who Stay." I didn't know what this was yet. Everything I'd read told me Janie was unreliable in her history, full of inconsistencies and manipulations. I couldn't see the shape of her story -- if it was just another profile or a whole book on its own. Either way, I didn't think it fit the old brief. This was something better.

I made a new folder. I called it "Janie," and I finally responded to her email.

______________

This is the first installment in a series of short chapters I'll produce in the near future, all building the same narrative, all around 600 words. Please let me know if you're digging it!

Read on to chapter 2 here.

PrologueTrue CrimePart 1
28

About the Creator

Suze Kay

Pastry chef by day, insomniac writer by night.

Find here: stories that creep up on you, poems to stumble over, and the weird words I hold them in.

Or, let me catch you at www.suzekay.com

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Comments (17)

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  • L.C. Schäfer21 days ago

    I've been holding off on starting this until I knew I could dedicate some time to really read it properly. So here goes - rolling shoulders,cracking knuckles!

  • Belle28 days ago

    I love this!! Will be digging for the next chapters. Congrats on top story!

  • TheSpinstressabout a month ago

    Sounds super interesting! Looking forward to chapter 2!

  • Sandra Matosabout a month ago

    I'm digging it! On to chapter two!

  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    I have been seeing these chapters as they've been published but unfortunately, have not got here until now. But I love the premise and am very curious about Janie and what she has to reveal so I am in.

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    I've read through Chapter 23 now and LOVE - LOVE - LOVE this series. I have liked each one and read each but haven't commented on each one only because I'm pressed for time. I find your story completely enthralling and addictive, exactly the type of story I relish. Will keep reading til it's pens down for you on this one, but I'll be so sad when that time arrives. EXCEPTIONAL idea for a story and very well executed. (So to speak!!)

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    You've got me!

  • Kay Husnickabout a month ago

    As always, captivating writing! I know what I'm reading on my way to the airport this week now.

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    You reeled me in...congratulations on your TS!

  • Kenny Penn2 months ago

    OK I’m hooked! Great start, time to read the next one!

  • This sounds good, I am curious and yes, to the next one. Digging it :) Congrats on TS!

  • Digging it so far, Suze.

  • Ameer Bibi2 months ago

    Congratulations for top story 🥳🥳You're on a roll! Your motivation is igniting a path to greatness

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!!

  • Davina Zinn McKee2 months ago

    Great start! Although, I’m one of those people who can’t stand cliffhangers for television shows, and wait until a series finale to start binge watching from the beginning. So I’ll check this out when it’s done. 😄

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    I'm in!

  • John Cox2 months ago

    Totally immersed and digging it!

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