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by Nod Ghosh

On Monday, he packs with careful precision. Handkerchiefs scented lavender blue. Pencil skirt in leather case; something to wear when he’s out of view. His mother checks his coat for fluff, likes him to look his best; doesn’t see web-like lingerie nestled under charcoal slacks and shirt.

He leaves for work sans make-up.

His tie is ephemeral green.

***

He arrives at the theatre and relaxes into his role. Pleased that the technical crew are encouraged to be themselves, while actors are obliged to become someone else, he changes in the unisex toilet.

Hidden behind proscenium arch, he is accustomed to musty costumes and the smell of old cigars. After the show, he breathes the perfume of disappointment. He rues the lie that locks his identity to weekday disguises.

***

Tuesday evening he floats over the stage, operating the winch. His navy-blue skirt looks fine with a voile blouse. Glimpsing his mother’s friends in the audience, he shrinks a little.

His brassiere bears the paltry weight of prosthetics; its fawn elastane rubs his skin. The colour of raw chicken, the inserts have the texture of cooked albumin.

He positions his legs carefully. One slip, and someone might see what’s underneath.

His petticoat is damson pink.

***

Shopping for nightgowns on Wednesday, he invents a wife and wonders why transvestite is a dirty word. He locks carefully collected negligées away; can’t sleep in them for fear of Mother’s penetrating eye. Their egg-like smell is familiar and shameful. Wishes he could wash them clean, but there’s nowhere to dry the lace and froth. He settles for a different cloth, the caress of silk pyjamas on skin.

Extinguishing the lamp, he weeps for the loss of femininity.

***

On Thursday, he rotates a revolving stage, and contemplates the faces he reveals to the world. He is comical in silver-blonde wig, tragic in isolation.

***

On Friday he cradles a martini after the show then removes mascara under dressing room lights.

***

Saturday, he reverses M to F steps in flat-soled shoes. He’s always hated his feet.

***

On drab Sundays, Mother sets the tone. Seated at the head of the table, a monarch in her throne. Dressed as a boy, he carves the roast; breast for her. He settles for thigh.

Without the benefit of blusher, the colour drains from his face. He is uncomfortable in the comfort of his own skin.

***

At weekends, he feels less at home than ever. Though he knows Monday’s just a day away, he longs to move from M to F and never return.


Nod Ghosh’s novella-in-flash The Crazed Wind (Truth Serum Press) was released in July 2018. Short stories and poems have appeared in many publications. Further details: http://www.nodghosh.com/about/.

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