Never such beautiful sunset colors have felt so ominous…
Seeing Miriam looking so genuinely happy is so devastating. It reminds me of the first page of the flashback when she was pregnant and pulling her suitcase and looked so adorably happy before she knew what was happening 😥
Her only crime is trusting men will treat her with the kindness and love she treats them 😔
I love the way you have shadowed his face, Rusty! Really adds to the ominous and untrustworthy vibe.
Thank you! I feel it adds to the “outsider” perspective readers has. We can see the red flags (dark foreboding face shadow) but Meriam and Shez cannot.
Oh no… He isolated them from a possible support system (Meriam has no job anymore. Significantly harder to try to leave, especially now with more children, and Shez isn’t going to school where she could possibly tell someone if Chris did something) and barely waited after one child was born to get Meriam pregnant again, Red flags all around.
Also I like the detail that, in the last page, when it was just Meriam and Shez, Meriam wasn’t wearing makeup, but now that she is engaged to a man, she’s wearing it again.
I’m sure Meriam felt painting her face and growing out her hair was the least she could do to thank Chris for his “kindness”. 🤢🤮
There’s something alarming about the sunset-like palette of Shez’s backstory reveal, and I think I’d feel that way even if there weren’t numerous implications that Meriam and Shez survived DV.
It’s kind of like a sepia filter, but also very vivid and red in all the “wrong” places. Like you’d expect it to be nostalgic, like childhood should be, but you know something painful and wrong is about to happen.
Insightful readers are already pointing out Chris’s many red flags, but I like that we’re seeing them from the perspective of Shez and Meriam, who (at least at first) think he is a goodhearted man rescuing them. I feel like a lot of the general population (especially men, not the readers here) has a very narrow idea of how to recognize when a woman is being abused. There are so many people who ask “why didn’t she see the red flags?” when, say, a female celebrity opens up about a man who hurt her.
And I think this illustrates how the man in question tries to make those flags look less red – he “helps” with the string attached that she only depends on him, he takes her from her difficult situation into a seemingly easier one, and he obscures the similarity between “not having to provide for yourself” and “depending on the man for everything s she has no one else”.
He knows what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. It’s not her fault she didn’t see through it; it’s his.
Yes, yes, yes, yes!! It is very easy as an outsider looking in – particularly in retrospect – to see the signs. It breaks my heart to see women escape these situations, confide in other people, only to be met with “why didn’t you”s 🙁
Never any “why DID you hurt her” for the men. They always manage to escape questioning it seems.
Love how evocative the colour choices have been with you too!
Rusty is writing to what an immigrant woman is the equivalent of a trucrime intro. This is a horror comic to me now.
Also, Imma guess this chris mf is either a ‘traditional’ westerner or he’s trying to win the blue bingo (having a boy) and Meriam genes aren’t having it and that’s going to be his catalyst to reveal his true colors.
Also Imma say…a lot of women that come out of bad rps and into worse ones, usually do so (unlike victim blamers do) because they have examined men and have seen them act the opposite, or very differently from their previous partner and conclude they cannot possibly be abusive because of it. Like I see Meriam in the first pages, she’s young, coming from a muslim majority country, and therefore most probably with a muslim man. And Im gonna guess that she was the mistress in this situation just because she looked pretty young and is fairly attractive.
So, after Meriam gets fucked over by the first male, chris enters the picture and she´s like, ‘Oh, this man isn´t treating me like second dish, I’m not the sidechick, Im the only woman here, he’s making promises he is delivering, look, he put a ring on my finger, he got a house, he clearly got money because he’s staying at a hotel just to be around me, he isn’t sending me away and he wants my already existing daughter; Plus he ain’t muslim like my ex, so I won’t have to go through the same type of treatment my culture, and or religion overlooks. He’s passed the test!
And that’s precisely how all of the new red flags pass over her head now that he’s dealing with a new type of toxic, a new type of abuser. You can filter and test all you want, but a man will take his sweet time, he will say the right things until he’s at that sweet spot where he can flip on you and you ain’t got nowhere to go and no one to reach out to without looking crazy.
Absolutely beautifully said ❤️
The “this is a horror comic” part made me laugh tho 😅 Reminded me of when I showed one of my test readers of this chapter and she was like “this started as a lesbian romance…”
Made me want to add a joking addition to the original summary:
After a mix-up with their leases, two lesbians, Jaden and Riley, must learn to share a small, one-bedroom apartment. Friendship,the harrowing realities of homophobia + misogyny, the vicious cycle of fraught mother/daughter relationships, psychological horror and eventually romance ensues!
on god hahaha this was supposed to be a romantic little webtoon now you got us worrying for a mother of four.
More like Chris genes aren’t having it cuz he’s the one who gives X or Y sperm, its not her fault his jizzboys are poor swimmers and the girls keep winning.
No wait 🤔 Unless… AU where Meriam’s womb is hostile and male fetuses result in miscarriage/spontaneous abortion. Then you’re right, my bad.
Ms. SBD you took me tf out with this one 😂
well that’s a win in my eyes so I am glad!! 😊😝
Oooh you right! I forgot it’s the males who are responsible for that. Lmao, making female children it’s his only redeeming quality and he resents it. Many such cases.
No worries. TBQH I think i only remember it bc one of my 4th grade teachers explained to us that before science advanced many many men thought the women were the ones that determined whether it was gonna be a girl or boy through some unknown mechanism and so many mothers were blamed, hit or had more and more pregnancies in the quest for a boy. Its one of the few things i still clearly remember from that class to this day, probs because it was lowkey upsetting
Yeahh, at the very least i can’t help but feel glad his selfish desire didn’t materialize for being a predatory piece of sheet 😤
I’ve seen recently that indeed the uterus is a very hostile environnement for the spermatozoids so she’s been killing all the boys and all the girls have been winning !
😱 Whaat for real?!? lmao i meant the 2nd part as a joke, didn’t expect it to have some fact to it.
Do you still have a link to the info about the hostility??? Thanks for letting me know! its genuinely interesting
In agreement with above comments, this palett looks like a sepia filter in horror. So many red flags, the color bled all over the screen.
Given how exhausted Meriam looks in the last panel, I assume Chris wanted a “traditional” household, where the woman does all the housework and child-rearing.
At least Shez lucked out to get sisters…
“So many red flags, the color bled all over the screen.”
Omg, I LOVE the way you described this.
Very accurate in your guesses about Chris too 🙁
Getting her pregnant within the same year that he met her? 😰 This is definitely very ominous, he’s trapping her more in the marriage.
Rusty, your attention to detail in creating this is impressive as always – noticing the subtle changes in Meriam’s appearance makes me worry about the expectations Chris is placing upon her, and also, noticing the fact that both of Shez’s younger sisters have names very similar to Chris feels like a highly possessive move on his part.
So glad you picked up on the names too. Shez’s full name, Shanzey, actually means Diamond. So I chose Crystal as a compromise between – its a gem like Shez, but it’s also just Chris’s name with a suffix.
Karissa does not share the same compromise :/
She looks tired in that second picture, like she just aged so much in one year. And no surprise, with one baby right after the other. Chris clearly have no fucks about her health.
and there’s ANOTHER one coming!!! (shez has three little sisters) 🙁
Oh absolutely not. It is crazy how much pregnancy affects women permanently thereafter. I feel like it shaves years of their lives sometimes, even 🙁
Dude don’t just say “I feel like it shaves years off their lives”- pregnancy, for all that it is a natural and beautiful process, it is a straight-up dangerous health condition that can kill individuals, as we all know. even today, maternal mortality is unnacceptably high! also, women are too often treated in an absolutely dehumanizing way in hospitals that makes it clear healthcare professionals are primarily looking after baby.
Pregnancy is great, and it is also *terrible*, and neither side of the discussion can be left out when talking about such an important facet of human life.
I’m well aware of the health risks of pregnancy to women. It is straight up body horror what their bodies go through, and I feel if women were properly educated on all the risks, many of them wouldn’t go through with it.
The fact so many women aren’t told they’ll bleed after even. Aren’t informed about the contractions post-birth as everything goes back to pre-baby size. Women in my family have lost ALL their teeth during breastfeeding because the body had to to get calcium nutrients from somewhere.
It’s a very fucked process.
And let me guess, it’s somehow Meriams fault for not “giving” him a son 🙁
An excellent guess 💔
Like I said before, men should have an illness called “Henry VIII syndrome” when they’re not happy when they don’t have a son “for the surname/genes” shit.
Baby Crystal is so wise beyond her years! She already knows what we know and is trying to choke out her father🙏🙏🙏
I have never expected to the “man character illness” to act so quickly on Chris.
It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when an intercultural (is that the term?) couple has children but the children are all named after the father’s culture and *his culture exclusively.
It feels like the mother is told her lineage doesn’t matter, the kids are his. Even though we all know who’ll be the one actually doing the cultural education… Nvm that the kids have a right to that part of their heritage too, and not just their dad’s.
And the social+financial isolation of both his wife and (step)daughters… how messed up does one have to be to spend months and even years planning all this?
It’s been an all-nighter and I don’t even know if I’m making sense anymore. All I know is that Chris disgusts me
Part of me wants HorseBlaire to come galloping through that forest, kick the soul out of Chris and rescue Meriam and her daughters before the poop hits the fan but part of me wants Shez to be the hero so like, clawing the seat clenching my teeth seeing the progression 😬 trying to stay normal *sniff* it’s gonna be okay…
Seeing Meriam wearing makeup on the last panels reminded me of a woman who used to be a neighbour of mine. In her 40s, Divorced in her 20s, Straight in orientation but androgynous in terms of fashion and had a mannish fade haircut. I liked her quirky independent vibe and how she was one of the few women i had ever talked to who didnt feel insecure or ashamed of being almost flat chested. Then one day She met a man and suddenly grew out her hair and dyed it, started wearing more obvious makeup, now carried purses and wore earrings, and wore dresses more often. I kind of grieved her change tbh but never said anything because it was obviously rude and selfish, it was once again this gutted feeling of “woww not even her could escape it” (the general pressure to conform to gender stereotypes). They dated for a year, then married. and then separated 5 months later, according to her he was ‘exhausting’ and she had been accustomed to living alone too much to handle the extra stress so she pushed for the divorce. It remains unknown to me whether the sudden feminization was a pressure coming from him or she just did it on her own to try to be more appealing and “proper GF material” but either way i saw her again a month ago and now she’s back to her vibrant androgynous shorthaired self.
We can’t see it here cause of the panels only showing torsos but gut feeling tells me Meriam also picked up shaving/waxing her body now that she’s with this man.
Young tomboy Shez looks so so adorable, loving her whole style you picked. I like the contrast between her and Riley, cause almost always the stereotypical or gender conforming people tend to have a ‘linear’ progression as they age both in media and in real life, but gnc people do not. it’s gc kid to gnc adult, or gnc teen to gc adult, or gc kid to gnc kid and teen to gc adult and elder, it’s u-turns and zig-zags instead of a straight line. Riley is a clear example of this in the story (I think Ruth too). So it makes me happy to see Shez be actually allowed to have that same obvious linear trajectory that gc people tend to have where there wasnt conflict or lack of acceptance at home (inb4 i spoke too soon and some of the next pages will have Chris trying to press Shez through Meriam to change herself because he wants a normal family image and she’s getting too old so it’s not acceptable anymore in his eyes and it causes a fissure between mom and daughter 💀💀 Either way pls do NOT spoil or hint author, i prepped for the sucker punches dw, i prefer the surprise)
Ahh december arrived, time flies. I’m not big on it (grinch adjacent soul here lol) but hope you get many cool Xmas fanarts author 🤗
HorseBlaire lining up to take the shot:
I’ve seen so many female family members do the same as the woman you described ( all the while insisting that they make these choices “for themselves” ) ://
You’re absolutely right about Meriam’s leg hair too 😔😔
Thank you for leaving so many thoughtful comments lately! Really enjoy whenever you share 🥰🥰
i’ll do my best
I trust you and ur hooves.
He made her name both the new girls after himself. Both their names are plays on ‘Chris’ 😭 What the heck. New levels of ‘men see their kids as trophies not people’ behaviour. That must have messed Crystal and Karissa up so much when they found out the truth. I hope at least Meriam was able to also give them names from her culture.
Sadly if they followed Meriam’s naming convention, they’d also be supposed to inherit their father’s first name as a surname. Name daughter of Father’s Name. I highly doubt Chris would approve of Meriam naming them like she named Shez: Shanzey binti Meriam aka Shanzey daughter of Meriam.
Fatherhood has to be socially enforced (women going from fathers surname to husbands surname in marriage, kids getting fathers surname) for men to maintain control (and feel important). You can’t prove which man gave sperm without a test.
There’s no such issue with maternity 😅 Just ask the mother, she was literally there when the birth happened 🤣
If we lived in a world that made sense and not one run by men, It would make much more sense for family’s to be tracked thru their mother’s.
Very suspicious of couples who have multiple young daughters but keep on having babies, one after another, almost like they’re trying to “get it right next time” 😥
And of course the eldest daughters end up taking on the role of second mother to keep up, seeing Shez holding Karissa in that last panel is bittersweet, like an omen of her future, nothing rips your childhood away quite as fast as being a girl with little siblings, especially brothers.
Fingers crossed for Shez that Chris doesn’t get what he so clearly wants, what we saw in Jaden’s backstory was so tragically on point and Shez has enough to deal already 🤞
Ai, noooo… God she looks tired in the last panel, 2 in 2 years? Chris better stay OFF off her
Theres a line in one of my favourite comics “She didn’t entirely want to have 4 more kids you know? But none of us could leave”, talking about the narrator’s mother. It’s heartwrenching every time I read it. and this page was immediately, viscerally just *real*. It felt like cold water.
I’m WORRIED!!! MAAM YOURE LEAVING US ON A CLIFHANGER….
That line is heart-wrenching, damn 💔 Flattered to be compared to a work you hold so close! Sorry about the cliffhangers tho, hehe. There’s more where they came from 😁😁😁
I, as the token gay man, refuse to accept this man-hating. Not all men are like this!!
(This is sarcastic. Horseblaire pls hold your fire)
But what is interesting to me is that Rusty gets so much sh*t for not having non-lesbians when here we have a straight (or at least bi) woman represented as hardworking, loyal, and loving. Almost as if the problem isn’t someone being straight.
And on the “bigotry/closemindedness” point, while I’m not convinced of the “women should never partner with men” stance, i’ve never felt like I needed to hide that amongst the strong willed women/people here, unlike how I had to hide views back in my gender-affirmation days. It’s almost as if I trust “the bigots” here to be reasonable and not demonise others for disagreements.
Love the reputation HorseBlaire has garnered here in the comments 🤣🤣🤣
I’m also glad you feel that you don’t have to hide and appreciate the POV to gender nonesense you bring forth as a gay man. I know as a whole gender critical spaces aren’t without their homophobia – but I’ll always do my best to make this a place free of it.
no one is safe
SIGH in the last page I was thinking about how isolating Shez and Meri’s life was. I sure HOPE there was someone in the hotel who could speak their language. But still, very isolating . . . . Until Shez got to go to school, that opened her world up. but now it’s right back into the isolation chamber for them.
I’m thinking of my cousin now. Her dad was trash and she was an only child. Her mom remarried to a New Trash Man and had kids with him. New Trash Man was awful to everyone, but he had a Special Awful he delivered to my cousin. Told her she was NOT his kid the way her brothers were. ugh. i hope shez is spared that kind of treatment, but it would shock me if she were not.
Sad to see Meri wearing make-up again. if chris loved her with her bare face, she wouldn’t feel the need to do that. If he loved her bare face, the make-up would disturb him, wouldn’t it? I love my wife’s FACE and if she puts a ton of make up on it every day then I don’t get to see the face that I love! but yeah we all already know men like chris don’t love. they just don’t. Sometimes they’re convinced they do, but real love comes with respect, and they don’t have that.
How much of a cool experience this is though, initially. How much of a fairy tale this is at the time. Going from living in a hotel to a big beautiful house in the country. Even with the loss of her friends at school, this had to feel really cool to Shez too at the time. Look at all that room to run around and play in!!! uuggghh you really did a great job of portraying something that seems so objectively good for both of them at the time. Like what kind of weird mindset would Meri have to be in to be like “no thanks….. I’d rather struggle along as a hotel maid and keep my daughter in this environment!!! shez doesn’t need that fresh air and wide open space and big beautiful house and neither do i!!! see ya!!!”
I hope The Man is at least away at work a lot of the time, and the girls can all have fun together just all of them…. I hope they all love each other… Abusers sometimes can really get inside the heads of other family members and make them turn against each other and take his side. ugh ew.
I’m still obsessive over Alex’s family dynamics, you can build such cool and interesting family dynamics, so I’m really interested to see how Shez and her sisters turn out. (i just dont care about jacob that much boohoo what a boring useless little leech doesnt stand up for jaden at all i’m way more interested in sister and mother-daughter relationships)
And wow look, it’s DIGIGUYS!! WOW SHEZ LOVED DIGIGUYS! DIGI GUYS, DIGITAL CREATURES, DIGIGUYS ARE THE CHAMPIONS! 😀 I wonder which DigiGuy is her favorite guy, I personally love GATOMON the best by far, but her evolution angelwoman makes me mad because she’s all weird and sexualized then… come on Shez, talk NERD with me!!!! Let’s feel nostalgic about (the good, kid playing outside part) of our childhoods! Did you ever imagine YOU had a DigiGuy buddy with you as you ran around outside like me, Shez? 😀 listen shez you’re forced to be my friend now shez, it’s digiguys!!!
As always really loving how much reading the comments enhances LeaseBound. so many smart and funny commenters. Always women seeing cool things I don’t see. Feels like my comic reading experience is enhanced by your vibrant community here. CHOKE HIM OUT, CRYSTAL!!!
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