good by Lauren Tavares

she has always felt more comfortable in a costume, when she’s out of her own skin and building armor around herself with bits of cloth. everything she wears is a costume, really, each piece a tool to push what’s inside away until she can feel the confidence of her character seep into her bones. sometimes she’s a busy street, loud and powerful and all-consuming. sometimes she’s a timid mouse, soft and quiet in all of her three-inch tall glory.

today she is wailing guitars, pounding drums, the scrape of nails against skin. her heels echo across the pavement as she stalks her way around the world. be wary of this girl, for she will rip your heart into shreds and not feel a thing, letting a smile grace her lips as you struggle to breathe below her. it will hurt, it will kill you, but you’ll welcome death.

tomorrow she’ll be just as strong, truly, but she’ll be a different strong: the one that comes with your favorite scarf wrapped around your neck or your mother’s ring sitting snugly on your finger. she’ll be the kind of strong that is born from simply being born, from existing, from waking up and setting out to survive the day. you’ll want to pull her close and hold her as she pieces herself together bit by bit. maybe you’re happy in silence but she’ll keep talking though, whispering worlds into your ears, and you’ll fall deeper into her as you listen to the magic that pours from her soft lips.

but what she wants, really, is to be the girl in the gown, the one at the center of the room with the spotlight on her, all eyes trained to her beauty. she can almost feel it: the skirt’s layers of tulle are heavy around her waist, grounding her body as her heart floats through the air, and the lace bodice scratches her skin but she doesn’t mind. it’s worth it to look like this, to be loved, desired, admired.

fabric flutters all around her as she captivates her audience with a twirl. she can feel them all staring, feel the daggers their eyes stab into her body as she moves among them. sometimes it hurts. sometimes she realizes that silk is not bulletproof and she is vulnerable, so so vulnerable, and she feels it deep in her bones.

but she wants this. she wants this she wants this she wants this.

and every day, she tries to be that girl but nothing works. she cycles through worlds, pulling on denim and leather and chiffon and nylon. her hands are always empty at the end of the day.

and at times she fears she may be lost underneath this costume, or her last one, or the one before that. or maybe she was lost with the first piece she put on all those years ago. there is danger in allowing herself to escape and create a different person every day, there is danger in rebuilding herself from the outside in.

but there will come a time, there will, when the fabric is ripped away and she must face what is left underneath. it won’t be pretty, certainly not, but she hopes it’s good.

after all that has happened, she hopes she is good.

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