Many things unfurl me, open as a riverbend dressed in crooked lines on my belly. This is how teenage girls hang on the brute lips of transgender long enough to own its sting, flush through their own shadows in a bid to forget their skin in the slim case of a boy, who drinks from open trenches and bathes constantly in grief.
Sometimes, he barges into me— a mini volcano weighing the floor in a wild spin, testing my footprints for the index toe, then the smallest one with a sore that stinks like leprosy. He would soften his ankle, whittle his limbs to sludge, molding them on my tarsus with the same mastery he uses to clean the cobweb on my shoulder blade. He would give his brows a masculine touch, taste his voice on the wind’s back, stir his breath against his wrist till it’s thick enough to bear the hate of a misogynist; he would call the woman bathing in the tub weak for sponging her body, careful not to harm herself. His chubby stature dissing motherhood so well, more fat would mess up the magic. This sheet of flesh wearing my footprints with so much entitlement that feels like my father & his morning crave for greeting, or my brother & his boring taste for patriarchy, constantly leaves me half the boy I was— bearing no broad shoulders or male beards.
In the bathroom, my body warms into a state I cannot call my own. Not that I do not pay attention to water when it breaks on my skin. In the light of day, I mourn the loss of my feminine side. This is not me being a freak, I merely survived my own fear not to notice the young girl slipping out of me. And, how I pay the price of renting a safer skin, when mine is beaten into a loose shape, too bogus to contain the menace of society.
Ellipsis for my feminine body, for the emptiness breeding in me: vacant lines portrayed as dot to sub for all of my insignificance in family matters, talks and court judgements that sees the woke part of me as being a feminist. Ellipsis for the pain in lacking harsh paws to hose them into yellowing or the joy in losing one’s beard to the cost of living and fitting into every fattening room to mourn the death of men breathing.
I do not hide a responsibility I do not know how to feel comfortable carrying. I parent my body up to the stage where I am no longer responsible for its actions or misjudgment in places that mold me wrong. I choose to know myself as a spike with an airbag for bursting, and I’ll make it into the news this way, because nothing deserves me, or maybe I actually deserve nothing— not the boy wearing my footprints, not even this girl slipping out of me. Maybe I’m far too risky: a vacant space in the human race with nothing to run for. But I cherish this: some weakling’s idea of scamming a boy into a body that was never his. Maybe to own a sense of luck or a moment of being a better bet when push comes to shove, and trannies no longer make sense of their own bodies or how they wish to be addressed in public. I know it makes no sense when I say I feed off my mother’s boy stature. Resemblances are terrible things to own sometimes, so instead of sulking, I think of it as a natural indictment towards life, and I carry it for all that is left of my identity.
I see him— the boy groping in the dark, eager to wear my footprints—and feel the urge to ease his pain. I stroll briefly toward him, near enough to knock him out of this trauma. Even God did the same when he took a rib from Adam to make the Eve in us grieve. I lap his queer weight against the impression of my feet, getting to know the space in between each toe to buy time to reconcile my losses. I seize his feet & embalm them with the curves of my insteps, so that they will never run out of shape. I make sure he can grow new skin. He twitches in his sleep & soils the framework of his limbs. I make to assemble them— I wouldn’t be the one to cripple another boy’s effort of molding me into steel: a man with wars and so much frown to pet on the faces of his kind, tagging as women in every neighborhood that shares their grudge and sentiment.
Gradually, he wakes into this struggle—this time not in Eden but a dimly lit cubicle with no trees to hold onto while learning the workings of my footprints. He slouches & hides his body from God, even though he isn’t naked. Too ashamed to be in my shoes, he unbuckles my footprints, spitting into both ankles, like that alone would clean the imprints. Knowing my fault in all of this, I draw closer, and he yells at me, screaming the worst of excuses: like how he could not bear the stench of shaving creams or own a perineum. And the numerous rape files littered on the desk of every constable that has a stripe starched to his chest. He holds my hands in fright, saying he can’t manage the gift of being pregnant— like we all would have had our breaths if our mothers hadn’t let nature take its course.
I draw near again, this time with a bold conviction to get a grip of him or watch him slip, and this he does, wearing the most useful part of me. I only stand there long enough to notice my head buried in the thighs of the moment. I guess this is how we know a bit of our loss: as a woman with a wound for healing.
Nnadi Samuel holds a B.A in English & literature from the University of Benin. Winner of the Miracle Monocle Award for Ambitious Student Writers 2021(University of Louisville). He got an honorable mention for the 2021 Betty L. Yu and Jin C.Yu Creative Writing Prize (College Category).
Featured Image by MART PRODUCTION