Writing Exercise


This is a very short story, which was written for an assignment for my M.A. Novel Writing program. The purpose was to explore both body and mind as places.

Caution: Some people may be triggered by some of the language used in this piece. I in no way condone the use of derogatory language against anyone. It's use is meant to illustrate the emotional impact that words have on people.

When I rolled out of bed this morning, wiping the sleep from my puffy eyes, I asked myself "Do I feel strong enough today?” Since I wasn't sure of the answer yet, I decided to stand in front of the mirror for a while. This usually wasn't a good way to feel strong — but I thought it might at least help me to decide how much I thought I could take. As I stared in the mirror, I saw a body that looked like it had been drawn by a child: a big, boxy torso with skinny stick arms and legs. 

     The first outfit I tried on was a pair of grey sweatpants and a black hoodie. This was the type of outfit that was “appropriate” for my frame. “Appropriate” was not how I felt so I took it off.

     The second outfit was one of my favourites. A pair of purple skinny jeans, a cute t-shirt with a llama on it, and a long flowing blue sweater that went to half way down my thighs. The sweater was almost like a housecoat or a blanket, it was so warm and soft. I began to smile as I rubbed the sleeve against my face, until it inevitably caught on my stubble. 

     I had begun to feel like I might have the strength to wear my favourite things today, at least I had until that last part. 

     “I don't need the constant stares and barbed comments from others to remind me that the way I look and the way I feel are two very different things,” I thought to myself. I took a long look in the mirror and asked “Is it worth it today?”

     I'm tired. I'm tired of the sniggers, the eyes watching me, waiting to see which washroom I'll choose.   I can't help who I am and I can't help the body that I'm trapped in. These legs, this stomach, that chin, they're all attached to me, but I have never felt like they belonged to me. Sure, everyone is unhappy with parts of themselves — but most people don't have to walk around all day feeling like aliens came in the night and threw you into a stranger's body. All I want is to feel comfortable in my own skin. But every time I try to reach for that feeling I'm met with 'freak', 'fag', 'tranny'. I can't control the flesh I'm made up of so why does everyone want to rob me of the things I can control? Who am I hurting by wearing the things that make me happy?

     “That's right, I'm not hurting anyone and I won't let them hurt me today! I will be strong and I will be me! If not for myself, then for all the others like me who can't be brave yet, who aren't able to do it for themselves. That's right, I have a duty to be myself and to lend a little courage to those who need it. Little llama, here we come!”