Father watches me, and I watch him
Meteoric eyes that bore into my own, savoring my own hangover. My seat is at the front of what is meant to be a church but is more of a stadium. A glissando of lights descend upon my father, and he once again has to remind the audience that this is about God, not himself. I don’t believe it, not for a second, yet the crowd drinks it up. He sashays across the stage, his jacket glinting the same gold as his tooth.
It’s a performance, as much esprit as a rockstar. The Bible in his flips behind his back like a basketball, catching the light as his hands snatch it again, snapping it open. He croons. He moans. He carves out his incendiary interpretation of ‘Truth’.
And he says things. Things he pretends to lash out at the audience. But with every pause, every invisible punctuation mark, in the shadow of a breath, I know he adds my name.
Memories of last night keep me sane.
Lecture drones on and my notepad is a labyrinth of some fantastical city. My laptop hasn’t fared much better, tabs open to online shopping sites, each one showing off a foliage of dresses. All of them are stamped with prices that make my bank account weep. Perhaps if I sold a kidney.
I scratch at my legs. It’s all stubble, a mirror for my face. Razor craved, their itch is a testament to my willpower. Or so I’d like to believe.
Microeconomics froths forth from every sensory outlet the professor has available to him. The ritzed up transition on his slides, the crispness of his British accent, the artificial smell of a freshly painted lecture hall. All of it screams currency.
My pen draws another canal, Remoria, let it connect to the main train station.
I spot Sapphire and Dynamite in mortal human form, remarkably short without those six inchers. Innocuously attractive without contours. I only notice because I stalk. They’re two people in front of me at the college cafeteria.
I don’t think they’d believe me if I told him who I was. Not that ‘young Christian boy’.
Father’s fists clench over my own at the dinner table, making my palms strangle the rosary. The tiny cross below us dangles like a fishing hook, leaping and darting–the only true metric for our silent conflict.
Mother and my two sisters sit quietly, palms pressed together eyes closed, mouths wordlessly reciting alongside us. Yet father watches me, and I watch him, he wants to see my tongue curve and spoon out every word.
We won’t stop until Grace has been uttered another fifteen times. I can still remember when I remarked how quantity dilutes.
I can still feel the sting of his slap.
Robyn Ryght scans my groceries. His stubble has grown in slightly since last Saturday, and his greasy black hair doesn’t hide his widow’s peak as well as his electric-blue wig does.
I know he’s checking me out. If only he knew we kissed once.
Perhaps I’d remind him if only father’s breath wasn’t washing down the back of my neck.
“Raise up your trousers”
“Because I said so, boy. Lift the leg. Raise them the fuck up. I don’t–“
“YOU COME HERE NOW. RIGHT NOW.”
My work shift drawls on forever. Ten o’clock takes six months to come around.
I don’t bother heading home. I know if I do, I’ll never get out, never escape his gaze.
Father thinks my wardrobe is burning at the state dump, it’s in a storage unit instead. I head there now, my feet pumping on my bicycle.
Cell phone rings. Ignore it.
Cell phone rings. “Fuck off.”
I open the storage unit. It’s simple, one dresser, one mirror, one desk.
Strip. Makeup first.
Foundation, to erase the blemishes of the week.
Draw those lines, ease off the masculinity.
Eyeliner, swirling it out in luminescent blue fractals (the YouTube tutorials served me well).
Mascara, get those cursive eyelashes. Lipstick is killpink, turning my lips into twin popsicle waves.
Three pairs of pantyhose, enough to make the hairy stubble on my legs melt away under perfect curvature. Neon bubblegum fishnets over that.
Raspberry-vanilla wig, brush it, curl it. Let it cascade.
Latex opera gloves, hide those biceps.
Onyx piercings, encrust the ear.
Faux leather one piece. Leotard, Show it all off. Don’t forget to tuck.
Glitterpunk Stiletto boots. Seven-inch monstrosities. Razor heels to slice across the dance floor.
I enter. Saiyanne exits.
Call cab. Ignore weird looks. Tell him Remoria. Meet weird looks with venom incarnate.
Phone rings. Double fuck off.
Remoria glows like a prismatic ice-cream in the middle of downtown. Pastel yellows, cyans and pinks form a u-arch, a tunnel.
Saiyanne, struts out of the cab, the line for the club cheers.
One fifteen am. Last call in an hour.
Just an hour. Fuck work. Fuck college. Fuck father.
Strut in. Expected. Cataracts of lights tremble upon Saiyanne. Upon me.
DJ tells me I’m up next, playing gospel from her chrome altar.
Her altar, my stage.
The crowd is a sea. This is primetime.
Cue music. Goldfrapp.
The lights peel off their topaz shimmer, becoming pearl.
Galactic disco ball, stars fall upon me.
The crowd croons.
Goldfrapp sings, but my lips make them Truths.
Remoria cries in ecstasy, together. For me.
One hour. One mass. One performance.
Sam Jowett is a queer writer/law student who lives in Toronto, Ontario with his fiancée and five lizards. Lizards, as is common knowledge, are reliable proofreaders and help edit Sam’s writing to become even slightly bearable. They may have also written this bio.