Short Fiction by Victoria Fayne
I have my father’s eyes. They stare back at me in the mirror.
“You’ll never make the baseball team,” they are saying.
Rows of boys in letterman sweaters—a snapshot of the American Dream.
“God bless President Kennedy,” they are saying.
They are not me.
Drip. Plop. Water seeps from tap to sink in front of me. I am chipping at the mould with my nail. Scratch. Scratch. Here is not the place I would choose. But I need to be alone. I am turning the key in the door.
I slip the razor from my pocket and, as my father taught me, so I shave. The calmness of drawing a blade across a face. A soothing swish. A strange power. This is a weapon in my hand.
With one finger, I stroke the tube of make-up as it pokes from my bag.
“Sand,” it says in silver italic letters.
It is nothing like sand, more like the gloopy chocolate malt I slurp at Eddy’s every Saturday.
As I am pinching the end, a trail of brown is curling onto my finger, making a circular snail shell. This is my mother’s colour, not mine. I watched her pat it into the creases of her face—puckers from smoking, the drawstring of her lips. I saw her smooth it across her brow, a magic eraser, women’s remedy for the cruelty of time.
I asked her why she bothered every day.
She said, “little boys shouldn’t make personal remarks.”
I am not a little boy.
The cream on my finger is silky, flowery. “Female!” It shouts.
I am cupping my face as if I love it, gliding make-up across cheekbones. Whoosh. Swoop.
There is rouge for the apples of my cheeks. Specks of red dust, a sandstorm of blush. It promises me Hollywood glamour in a hexagon of black and gold.
I am reaching for the eye paint now, gleaming in the fluorescent lights. Smooth, cold across my eyelids.
The colour of our swimming pool.
Mother, hovering with a towel for my dripping five-year old body. I am hurtling around the kidney-shaped water’s edge.
Her dress is as yellow as the tickseed in the garden.
“When I grow up, I want to be a runner!” I am screaming.
“You can be whoever you want to be,” she is smiling.
I see him too. He puts down his paper long enough to grin. “Go easy there, son.”
Sorry father, forgive me for what I am about to do.
His eyes look back at me in the mirror again. “I am not angry, I am disappointed.”
Globs. Balls of soupy eyelash paint, clinging to a brush. I am sweeping too wildly and spluttering black onto my cheeks.
Pfft. My spit lands in the sink. Try again. You can do it. I am trailing the brush upwards, catching every hair. Done.
But I don’t want to look yet.
Reaching into my school bag, my fingers close around stiff cotton. Crunch. I am pulling it slowly out. Her yellow dress. The forgotten staple of a summer. My chest is squeezing as I pull off my shirt.
Clunk. My belt buckle smacks to the ground. Levi’s around my knees. Arms into the yellow, reaching through the sun.
I am turning to the mirror as my head pushes through the lace collar. Here I am. My mother’s dress. My father’s eyes. My own smile. I am me at last.
As a child, Victoria quickly got stuck into making things up. After studying poetry, she was inspired to create plays with the Royal Court and Liverpool Everyman. From living in London and Paris, Victoria relocated to New York – working for artist Joshua Neustein and filmmaker Frank Capri. Her work has been shown globally at film festivals such as Phoenix Film Festival, The Otherness, Equality Festival and 300 Seconds Shorts and her story, The Face of ‘66, was published by Brick Lane Press.