Written by Lisa Pond-Keter
Artwork by Sophie Ryan
This piece was originally published in ‘Memento Mori’, Bossy’s 2021 print edition.
CW: Gender dysphoria.
The fires of my mind never relent nor pass sympathy, kicked-up smog and dust coat synapses, winds roar with false epiphany. The ideology of motherhood calls to me, but I have no capacity left for impossible torments. I must be a mannequin that grew sentience; in that strange nightmare of feeling wrong and untouchable, rhythmic sins in my mind flow down like ropes of bile, unlovable, undesirable, repugnant and perverted, I reel from it, sometimes revel in it, repeat it and accuse myself of it, generous self-hatred bears a fearful prize. I’m on my back now with my heartbeat, rhythm untempered. I’m stuck and weeping at the thought of destiny. I wish I could just change myself, please.
I’ll get it done—painted lips and a modelled body, stitches finally removed with scars settled in, a tainted soul yet to follow. I act as if I am pretending; the art of questioning me. An unrelenting surge of heat feels like disease with no release, previously numbed nerves convulse from an irate panic. Getting it done, practicing smiles and stirring misery, that Mannequin in her stupor and drudgery found the ability to paint herself a face. Seeming to never be perfect, full of pockmarks and plot holes; expression nevertheless came to be explored.
The Mannequin painted on red lips and eyebrows, but all they had was alabaster mascara in its pale glory, so she made the most of it. Despite sacred texts, the eyes revealed a human who would wish for the world—not for power, just this simple verse; all the same, it is me in my reflection.
Could I change my body in a day? Circumvent retaliation? Have children and be treated the same, live my life free from miserable separation? I have not smiled like this in months, said the Mannequin. Where do I go from here, what could I be? Painted, I count down hours until I feel my life renewed; until then, I come back here every First of June.