Sui Generis Hath Won the War

Lone swan in a body of water, the illustration is mostly in grayscale with blue highlights.
Illustration by Emma Lloyd


Stretching her mouth towards a grin, lips glossed to perfection and cheeks rouged just right. A thick layer of polish coats the deficiencies of her cuticle, so her nail exactly reflects every beam of fluorescent light. Eyeliner widens and rounds out her eyes so that no one will know of her sleepless nights. She can walk in high heels as if she feels tall and powerful, and she can wear skirts that swish so that her hips seem swinging to a beat. The buttons of her top dance in the breeze, and her hair flows down her back as if she is free.

She can snap her tongue although the words aren’t ever her own. The thoughts trickle through her teeth like burning lava. She is beautiful without feeling so, and everyone mistakes that twinkle in her eye for a smile when it is actually a tear.

Her fingers tremble as she reaches for her glass at dinner, and they shake as she picks up her fork. When her feet slip slightly on her pumps it isn’t just her body that could come crashing down but that glimmer of support that disappears around every corner. Like a pixie carrying sparkles that could burn the human brain, her family loves her then traps her and leaves her without care. As one relative locked the door and twirled the keyring ‘round his thumb, she swore she heard him whistle. The sound of his final note echoed for many years to come.

Her cage is beautiful and soft. They admire the luxurious pillows that surround her prison. She is one of a kind, unique, and always told she was special. But while her body is pristine, lies and martinis and dirty thieves of the night adulterate her mind all the same…Some say her imprisonment  is romantic, but no one ever told of Rapunzel’s darkest thoughts. And when the lights come off at night or the rain falls down, she finds herself searching the corners of her cell for her lost diamond core. She doesn’t believe in wishes. To be held and loved! To be sung of and to sing to; how we relate to one another as people. The phrases catch at her fingertips, for that connection is indefinable. It’s the fountain of cool water that bursts into flames, yet at what moment does liquid become a blaze? And at what moment does it dissolve into black muck, flowing down the toxic creek of oil and waste? That latter moment is the one that breaks our hearts, sobbing and crying behind the bedding.

Giggles and tears define our feelings to the outsider. But time goes on, and the expressions of emotion change. Some brighten and glisten with fresh water and sunlight, robust green leaves to flaunt upon the bookcase. Others fade, like sepia photographs hung a wall behind cold shadows. Estranged from art, they become history and science. We examine and name the remains of these memories, list their characteristics and identify their species. The last remaining spark becomes an ash.

She picks up the ashes and tries to rekindle a fire but to no avail. So she tries to move on, and focuses on her and her connections. Not the ones she was born to, but the ones she has created herself and has yet to compose, a song that she can sing without judgment or fear.

So she lives! The cage is no more, and her words ring golden. She can free herself, for her pen has defeated the sword in her side! Her tongue snaps with the ferocity that only passion can bring. Freedom never tasted this sweet on her fresh, born-again lips, and her spirit floods back like ambrosia each day.

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