Drama LGBTQ+ Transgender

Floral and sweet fragrances sell unspoken promises. As I walk past the lush amount of perfume counters on the first floor of the department store, my senses are flooded with scents and images, each carrying silent vows of power.

The massive images boldly sell illusions of what a real woman looks like. The perfumes, however, weave a subtle magic. Some promise the confidence to catch the man of your dreams. Others might promise to change you into a boss girl, the kind of woman who would turn heads and cause whispers and stares of admiration. I don't need any of that. I don't need to be a boss girl or to catch a man. What I need is only to be taken seriously as the woman that I am.

I feel comfortable and beautiful today. Today is a big day and I dressed the part. I am wearing a bright yellow sundress that my house sister, Teresa says highlights my dark skin. I've got my favorite stilletos on, high, feminine and blingy.

Today is the first day that I'm alone at the mall dressed as the woman I've always been inside. This might sound like something trivial to most, I know. A day spent at the mall alone, bitch, please, many women do this every day.

To that I say, "Nah, they don't. They don't walk in my heels. They don't show my truth. They don't choose not to see the glares of unexcepting eyes."

Today is my victory, one of many small ones that have sculpted me into the woman I am now. I'm proud, but not fearless. My house sisters, now those ladies be fearless. I envy them so much. The way they carry their bodies, pose and confidence realness, absolutely always.

I was born Martin Xavier Williams. "A strong name for the strong man you'll be one day, boy," my mama used to say. What a deep disappointment that strong boy ended up to be when he started wearing his mama's makeup and dresses.

"There's no other way," mama had cried as she threw my belongings on the curb next to me not much later.

I ran into my mother a few years later. She hardly recognized me. She shrugged and said, "I heard you go by Alijah now."

I don't go by anything. That's who I am. I am Alijah, it's not a stage name or a persona I jump in and out of. Some people will never get it. Best let them be.

Damn! I need to go to the bathroom. This is a problem. This is only ever a problem for someone like me. I stare at the two bathroom doors each displaying proudly which sex is welcome inside. I have had bad experiences behind both those doors.

In our younger days, my house sisters and I walked into the gents only to be met by a few beefy truckers who didn't appreciate the way we looked. We left the mall with cuts and torn dresses that day. Not one person in the mall made eye contact as we walked out the doors.

The female bathroom didn't go any better. Last month, my house sister, Jasmine and I had gone in giggling about a boy who had caught her eye. The ladies in the bathrooms looked at us in disgust as they powdered their noses in front of the oversized, bright mirrors. "Y'all had gone walking into the wrong place," the one with large hair and a horrible shade of red lips said as she snapped her compact shut.

"Y'all gotta come correct," Jasmine spat back, "we belong here just as much as you skinny ass bitches do." We were thrown out by the security guards that day. I had cried that night as Jasmine and Teresa held me. The world had been unkind to us all, they just dealt with it better. They never showed weakness, not even a tear.

Now here I am, alone. Am I strong enough to endure something like that again? Jasmine and Teresa always joke about my stilettos. "Girl, those shoes announce your entrance, Alijah," they'd laugh. "They proclaim that Alijah has arrived. Sit up and pay attention!" How I wished I had them by my side right now. Their jokes run through my mind and I wonder for a minute whether I should remove my shoes. I could slip into the bathroom quietly, undetected, unnoticed.

Just as I bend down to loosen the strap of my shoe, my eye catches an old woman. She's bent and withered. Time had been cruel. She seems lost and she looks like she might loose her balance any second. I grab her arm and offer my help. She touches my arm with cold fingers that have grown askew. Her fingers are rough with calluses and warts.

"Here, let me help you," I say gently when I see that her eyes are completely misty, covered with cataracts. She thanks me warmly with a soft voice that sounds like it's nearly given up. Nearly but not yet. She asks my name and when I tell her she smiles and says," That's a beautiful name, child."

I help her for a few minutes before someone runs towards us. "Mama, you go running off again! I told ya you'd be the death of me," the woman says trying to catch her breath. She thanks me warmly as she takes her blind mother.

As the old woman lets go of me, she grabs my hand and says, "You, my dear, are a lovely woman." She smiles and just like that they are gone.

I smile to myself as her words ring through my ears. Yes, I am a lovely woman. A strong, remarkable woman. I am a woman who belongs. My stilettos are clinking on the tiles with every step I take like my own battle cry. They announce me wherever I go. They say wordlessly, "Here comes someone incredible. Take notice." I enter the bathroom with my head held high.

May 27, 2021 15:08

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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