by SM Colgan
They can see it when they look at me. I am certain of it. There is some physical sign which gives the game away. Like skin stretched taut over the bones of my face, or rib outlines evident beneath a too-thin shirt. As if I am suffering from some dreadful wasting disease, the aspects of myself each crumbling away. They glance at me and take in the whole, the unhealthy, unsocial truth of my being.
But what I suffer from is not bacterial, or viral, or vaguely infectious in any way.
And yet they see it all the same. The truth of it is in their flickering glances, skittish horses about to bolt.
By my seventeenth summer I had learned to compose myself, to hide the unedifying truth. By my twenty-third, that skill, too, had fallen away, the undermined mass beneath revealed. The mirror reveals a young woman in what would once have been termed “robust health”. Now she is, perhaps, mildly overweight. Zero points of attraction, a big plain face. Nothing like the walking wraith she feels herself to be, picking her way over a battlefield, held together with blood-stained bandages and too much morphine.
SM Colgan (she/her) is a bi writer somewhere in Ireland. Her work focuses on emotion, history, sexuality, and relationships, romantic and otherwise. She writes to understand people who are and have been, and to ease the yearning in her heart. Twitter: @burnpyregorse.