Sparkles in the Skin Museum

I stand for hours glaring at myself in the mirror, just trying to figure out what I am looking at. All these normal people are so obsessed with attaching labels, categorising, compartmentalising, sorting, colour coding and identifying. I like to be a little bit of everything, all mixed up in a little chaotic bundle. I carefully consider each little lump of meat and flesh and skin that makes up my body and my face. All those blood vessels and organs and skin and cells, glued together so haphazardly. I never understand why these normal people have to give something a name, just so that they can understand it: Thesis. Antithesis. Synthesis.

I try extremely hard to be normal, or at least considered remotely similar to normal. When I feel like I don’t fit in, like a place for me hasn’t been carved out yet, I seriously consider hanging myself, or driving off a bridge.

I used to have a little kitten, called Hugo, that used to live with me here, in this obnoxiously glittery flat. He used to nuzzle around the decapitated mannequin dolls, all wrapped up in sparkly feather boas, and costume jewellery and teddy bears with the insides pulled out.

I make little sculptures, made out of human hair and ribbons. I lay them all out on the windowsill, surrounded with twinkly fairy lights and old broken machinery parts, and disused batteries and hollowed out femurs. I like to wear pieces of people’s faces, torn out of glossy magazines. I rip out the shiniest smiles, artificially sweetened and impossibly white.

I keep all the teeth, wrenched out by the root and stand them up, all laid out like little porcelain figures on a foosball table. I fashion my own clothes, made out of the skins of animals and skins of other things.

Hugo, my little kitten, used to scuffle and snuffle around in all of this disarray, he was so soft and sweet, begging for a little treat, huddled in the corner, wrapped in PVC and animal skins, all stitched together with music and angel wings.

I like to secrete myself in cinema queues and savour the scent of the pretty, young ones, all painted and on display, dipped in gold, silently dreaming about the contents of tiny silly underwear: little petals all curled up, hiding, screaming to be claimed and consumed. I find it difficult to find shoes that fit, especially the chrome platform ones, or the ones with shoogly fucking stilts attached. I sometimes grow my moustache to use it a disguise, to hide behind it, with polyester shirts, freshly pressed slacks, crisp and at attention, waiting by the radiator.

I need to tell you something, whisper it so it’s not too loud and you have to promise not to tell: but, I really like killing people.

I like dismembering and disembowelling the weak. I like cutting off tits and hiding little pieces of spleen underneath my pillow. I feed my little kitten the slivers of liver, when he hasn’t eaten for days, but his little silver jacket is fashioned by Dior. His diamanté collar sparkles as he feasts. He always looks resplendent, standing at bus stops, stationed under overpasses, dripping in gold lame, and even the vet looked shocked when I took my little kitten to have that fragment of bone removed from under his poor little busted lip.

I follow people home from discos, slathered in couture, pieces of skin and something else, adorning my finely tailored pantsuits. I’m a fashion designer by night, but I also fix dishwashers and arrange flowers for funerals and I design centrepieces for wedding parties: all lacy and white.

I have been told that I have an above average-sized penis, that I keep suspended in a jar. My vulva is delightful, inviting, daubed in paint, framed on the wall. I keep my shoes polished, when I take them by night, under the glow of neon lights.

I always make sure that they stay hydrated before I start to cut, as otherwise, my creations will just never sit right, the previous places all curled up and dried out.

He never really loved me, and I realise that now. I tried to tell him that I was trapped inside the wrong body, stuck inside this big fucking meat bookcase, scratching at this alien contraption that constrained my true identity. I had been given the wrong label, by all of these normal people.

I still cannot accept that he is gone. He told me that he needed some time to think, some space to work things out. He said he was moving into his mother’s when I started the hormone treatment. He didn’t seem to understand that this means everything to me, this is every moment that I’ve hacked at myself and held this inside for 24 years of marriage.

Every morning, when I laid out his breakfast, he would kiss me on the cheek, barely brushing against me, even though I hadn’t shaved yet, and I knew he hated the sensation of stubble on his lips. I explained the procedure to him over and over again and that it would still be me on this inside, the person that he fell in love with, but I could be different, I could be free. I could be happy.

I always knew, deep down, that he wouldn’t understand and he even threatened to take away my precious little kitten when we were finalising the divorce. I couldn’t understand why he was being so vindictive, so bitter, so petty, so intent on causing me agony. Even now that I have lost him, I still yearn for the days when we would lie together, entwined together, cradling me so gently in his arms, when all we needed was each other and the next breath, taken as one.

I have tried to recapture the pain he caused me on my victims, shackled, debased, humiliated, defiled, removing their plastic masks with surgical scalpels and preserving their faces in formaldehyde. I wear their pretty faces and pose for polaroid pictures, surrounded my endless mirrors, begging for them to notice me, with their eyelids crudely stitched together, flashbulbs exploding into eternity, removing their genitalia and working them into a dress with a double-stitched hem.

Each of these identities removed with razorwire, all these photographs and sculptures were for him.

I tried so fucking hard to be perfect, to be beautiful, all these faces stitched on over mine, not even a GLIMMER of recognition, so now I dance around drunk on mint juleps, with his lacerated penis dangling from black elastic and Velcro, plastered over the fleshy lips of my vagina, weeping for the day that the Social Work Department took away my little Hugo, his golden hair all matted and his leopard skin two piece all crumpled and torn.

Then supervised visits in a contact centre, clipboards and parenting capacity assessments and allegations of wilful neglect and child psychologists investigating a “gender identity crisis.”

So, I smear yet another layer of crushed-up beetle carcasses across my rosebud lips and I pull at the black elastic straps and Velcro bindings as his old decaying penis undulates under the rippling fabric of my vintage Lindy Bop dress with the ever so special lining, teetering on sinfully tall high-heels, as I plan another addition to my ever-expanding gallery of skin.

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