Written by Minza Mirza
Graphic by Irene Sibi | @irenesibi on instagram
I hold my skin taut as this stranger sucks in her dimpled cheeks to produce a cool tobacco scented blob after each stroke from her tightly gripped thread. Caressing my face mindlessly, as she does with every girl my age, she scowls when I open my eyes or shift my hands. I want her to throw out a word or two at me. Women her age usually spill out “doll” or “rani” because of my resemblance to the young women in their lives: short, dark hair curled up at the ends, glimmering skin with deep pimple scars, frail wrists but broad shoulders accompanied by a bit of a bloated belly. The broad-shouldered-imperfections vary from girl to girl, but each one has a bloated belly from time to time. Our frames: globally anguished, internationally obscure. My girls.
This one keeps me quietly tucked away, forming a box to hide me in with her left arm and her gut as she speaks to the other women in the salon. Her focus stays on my brow bone, and my focus absorbs the flecks of our special soothing substance flying from her small mouth. The purposeless flecks appear meek in relation to the blobs, which felt like kisses with their intent to soothe. Grazing her thumb, I’d like for her to apologize. She moves her eyes to my touch and wipes the mark of unintended malice from my cheeks before continuing to speak, her voice rising from her belly and resting atop her larynx before making its wet way to my dry ears. Truce.
The women in the salon speak of a storm. A few label it a cyclone, others a tsunami. I’ve seen neither, only read about their wreckage disguised as beauty from privileged onlookers. I can describe the way these forces frolic about deliciously but know little of the dirt they sully into mud during their loud ballads. Ballads in which they conceal obscenities such as bitch and pull at girls labeled freaks. Proud freaks they are, these girls, but the label carries a weight of violent perception. It taints their girlhood and melds the objective with the subjective. While these girls pride themselves on the lines they blur, the melding of the strictly familiar creates an individual cyclone of doubt and confusion within them. Slack bodied and limp, the way they flail becomes a sick fucking joke for sick fucks who suck and flick near and far. My girls. Cute freaks with sugar tongues and stubby fingers, hiding their mothers in the gaps between their teeth and their fathers in decayed cavities. Sweet freaks spin around my mind as my cartridge mutters, “Close up shop.”