Friday, July 17, 2015

Her Own Skin

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, but here’s a fun twist--no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

July ~ vacation ~ seashell ~ full moon ~ dancing ~ shooting star

They were submitted by:


Denny laid on the strewn leaves looking up at the full moon hoping she might catch a shooting star dancing across the sky. The heat of the South in late July had baked the ground keeping her warm despite the breeze blowing her hair into a tangled mess of chestnut curls. She should be on vacation right now hunting for seashells along a white, sandy beach or sitting on a lakeside dock somewhere dipping her toes in the water and hoping beyond hope that nothing eats them. Instead, she’s here, staring at the sky.

Even still, she has no desire to move from this spot. Maybe ever. Maybe it would be perfectly fine if her body melded with the ground below her so she never had to miss this sky full of stars or her shooting star. Instead, though, she would have to tear herself away and drag her feet back to reality, back to the home where she had never been accepted and probably never would.

At home, she had a closet full of dresses that felt like alien skin when she wore them. A costume. The walls of her room were pink. The comforter was white lace. There were posters of boy bands and a box full of Seventeen and Elle and Vogue. She hadn’t had a choice or voice with any of it. In fact, she had worked all summer long to save up and buy mens’ jeans and tshirts and baseball caps and boxer shorts that she didn’t dare let her mama find. Instead, whenever she went out, she donned one of her dresses just long enough to stop off by Jessica’s (her girlfriend) to change out of the costume and into what made her feel like herself.

When she was alone, she could walk and talk the way she wanted. She could have on makeup and still wear the clothes that she loved, that fit *her* the way she wanted. When she was out of that house from under her mama’s prying, judgmental eyes, she was free—free to be herself instead of forced and modeled into this box full of expectations and stereotypes, a box build on social acceptance that she didn’t really give two shits about. It was mama who was always asking what people would think if she went out in “that getup” before all her clothes were trashed and replaced with frilly dresses. It was mama that wore that face of shame whenever she heard of her classmates call her Denny instead of Denise, and it was mama that flew into a rage every time Denny wasn’t “ladylike.”

If she was fully trans instead of more or less androgynous, Mama would probably lock her in the basement. As it was, Denny still thought of herself as a girl, still accepted “her” and “she,” but she wanted to be her own definition, and Mama didn’t accept that girl could mean whatever anybody wanted. To Mama, "girl" meant something very specific.

In short, Denny had her own way, and Mama refused to let her live it, so Denny hid and planned and plotted. She had to. If she was ever going to live in her own skin by her own rules, she had to get out of that house, out of the stupid dresses and the box they came out of, and away from Mama’s expectations and ignorance.

Too many times she read stories about people like her (well…people like her and trans people) killing themselves to get out. She could understand that. It’s not like it hadn’t crossed her mind a time or two when she was younger and especially when Mama burned all her clothes and redecorated her room. But, she wasn’t going to do that. She couldn’t do that. As much as she dreamed about a future where she didn’t have to hide anymore, a life where she could really be herself, love who she wants to love without fear, dress and be who she is without being bullied by the one person who was supposed to love her no matter what, she couldn’t give up on that. She couldn’t give up on the future just because her now was a little difficult.

Still, sometimes in her weakest moments she felt like giving up, giving in, and letting go. If it wasn’t for Jessica and Jessica’s parents being more accepting, she wouldn’t have any support or anyone to turn to when she had those dark days. When the bullshit Mama put her through seemed to cave in on her all at once, and she felt like she would be crushed under the weight of it, she couldn't help but think that being free of that anycway possible would be the sweetest release. This wasn't her end, though. She refused to let the darkness win when so many people made sure she knew that they were there to help her carry that weight whenever she needed them.

The breeze picked up again blowing the long hair Denny mostly hated across her face tickling her nose. She reaches up, moves it out the way, and sighs before she finally pushes herself up from the ground giving one last look up at the stars—a sight that never gets old, never fails her the way so many people have—and trudges off towards home. She smoothes the dress and pulls her hair back into a loose ponytail, throws on an extra coat of lip gloss and feels the tension pull her shoulders even tighter.

She may as well have been going into battle.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts: Baking In A Tornado Spatulas on Parade The Momisodes The Bergham’s Life Chronicles Southern Belle Charm Dinosaur Superhero Mommy Confessions of a part-time working mom Someone Else’s Genius Climaxed Never Ever Give Up Hope Sparkly Poetic Weirdo The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver The Angrivated Mom


  1. As always, your writing totally pulled me in. I was rooting for Denny, hoping that the future is better for him, that who he is and who he feels like can match. Freedom comes in lots of forms.

  2. Independence and "being myself" are my most important values in life, so as Denny I'd probably try and run away from home.

  3. What a terrifically written story. I hope Denny finally gets to live the life he wants to be able to live. Like Karen said Freedom comes in lots of forms. This is my first time in the challenge and I am having so much fun! You did a marvelous job with the words!

  4. Gripped by your story. You should continue it with a sequel. Good use of words as well.

  5. Rooting for Denny all the way. Hope he gets to live his dream

  6. oh Denny...I am sobbing right now, hope he gets tolive his life and be who he is. I would never want AJ to feel so much unhappiness and fear because of my beliefs

  7. As always, your writing is amazing! Let Denny be whoever Denny wants to be, that's what I say.

  8. A very touchy subject right now and all over the news, it hits home for me as one of my adult children struggle each and everyday to find who he is and find his way in this world.