Author: Amanda Leon
I live a life by a thousand cuts. I’ve died too many times to count.
I always feel it towards the end, the straining of my old self on new muscles, my bone edging out, ripping slowly through flesh. Some humans never change. They occupy the same body and thoughts that trap them their entire lives. I slip into the shadows, always escaping the confines that snarl in the edges that threatened to confine me—convention, quietness—pureness. They wish to tear out my tongue to not speak, then my eyes to not trust my own judgment, and finally, ravage my body until I am nothing more than a perfectly pleasant possession for others to easily admire.
The warm earth digs into my feet as I make my way deeper into the forest, carefully moving the vines as I climb uphill. I pass by the wildflowers that grow here. The last time I came here they were mere buds, stubborn to grow anywhere in this hostile place.
I remember my first self. She was at my purest, and at my most naïve. In those days, I spend my last weeks listening to the hymns and running to the forest to get closer to God.
They ousted my friends and called me a heretic for reading divine words that were not meant for my sex. My friends and I walked through the branches that licked our skin as we walked by. Those that I confined in, who I loved more than myself filled poison in my cup in equal measure.
He handed the cup, the one I loved more than myself—the first one to deliver the killing blow. Out of his pocket came the knife that pierced my abdomen. As the blade sank deeper, it shocked me that it felt exactly like the warm butterflies in my stomach whenever we were together. My back hit the soft grass as blood oozed out of my abdomen. They had the audacity to place flowers around my body, leaving a pretty grave as I bled out, like superficial beauty would wipe their conscious clean.
My second self crawled out from the damp fertile earth of my blood, where the vines embraced my first self, pulling me down towards the ground.
I was born in a clean white dress. I roamed the earth, the fabric growing darker the longer I walk and the more people push me aside. I was strong but didn’t know my worth. I was pushed and taken advantage of as they sang the same old song. Be polite, be quiet, don’t make waves. They shoved me and pushed me into the dirt until I fell into the dry earth. I gazed up at myself, standing over me, and slit my own throat.
Weakness festers, I whisper to her. Trust in others never lasts.
But in the dark, my greatest shadow remains.