By Gabrielle Hamel
TW: Sexual assault
a young woman, frail and fragile, presses her palms into the frame of a vanity
vanity – to love oneself or to lose oneself? if she is not her own, whose is she?
she inhales sharply.
a stranger tugs intently at the back of a corset designed to minimize – to make her small.
designed to harness harsh words, subdue independent thought, repress even a glimmer of individuality.
what she loses in breath, in dignity, she gains in image.
the hoop around her hips swings in the lines of her movement, the layers of stockings, dressings, tulle, and frill surround her in a halo – a shield – to what she did not yet know.
she drapes jewells round her neck, hating their touch
believing that to be the most unpleasant thing to graze the nape of her neck tonight
the gloves hide her hands, childlike and small, still grasping for purpose outside of her home
one last glance towards the sage-rimmed mirror meets her with wide, excited eyes
they still glittered then.
and for a few short hours, they did still as she spun and danced and saw her world in the palm of the hands that would later take their liberties with her youth.
a young woman, frail and fragile, wanders down the Ocean City strip
her halter neck top is looped around her throat much like a bridle –
designed to subdue the wild freedom that is woman
the chill of Friday night cold sends shivers through her body and she rubs her arms in frustration,
believing the wind was the worst thing that might run its fingers across her midriff tonight.
she dances across the cracked concrete with a shadow, one of tall, looming stature
and when he replaces the loop of her top with his hands, the brush of the wind with his fumbling fingers,
she is no longer free, she is no longer hers.
for you see, their talons cannot be dismayed by tulle, or corsets, or stockings,
not jewells or gloves or dresses.
and at the end of the night, when the glitter is gone, it does not matter what she wore.
halter neck tops and full body corsets look the same when they are crumpled on the hallway floor.