Slowly, I stared at the crowd I expected myself to mingle among. They were boisterous and happy. They were open and free. I turned my face to one side and looked in the mirror. I was a miserable young woman. My face was closed, and my lips pursed. I looked every bit dour.
With a deep breath, I decided to become someone else. Someone who could be loved. I eliminated my breasts with careful binding and wore a man’s clothes. A laced tunic and trousers would be fine, with some grand boots, as well. My outfit was dark in hue, to contrast my light hair.
Despite being out of fashion, I donned a cloak and fastened it with a simple pin that looked like a pill formed of common obsidian. With all of this in place, I looked in the mirror.
It was missing something, this new self. Something that would become my symbol, my emblem. I looked about my room and found an old masquerade mask. Feathers and sequins were yanked away, and glitter was carefully scraped off. I painted over it in a dark color and used cloth to hide my eyes. I fastened the mask and fixed my hair over top.
Once more, my eyes traveled to the mirror. Ah, I was presentable. I smiled and struck a cocky pose, then winked at my reflection. Surely today, my adoring throngs would notice me. With a certain, sure beat to my steps, I emerged and walked down the stairs from my tower to join the throng below.
As I entered, I postured and preened, and it took little time for my mannerisms and speech to draw many a woman to me, though my eyes often drifted to the strong, tall men.
None of these people were anything special, I found. They spoke unintelligently, with horrible skill. They dressed horridly, and they had no taste. I began to feel distant from the people that I distantly recalled wishing to join with in social glee.
I flitted as a butterfly from clique to clique, seeking for some group with which I could relate. The few groups I found were full of pretenders– those who knew nothing and were lazy in their endeavors.
Relationships came and went as men and women alike became close, only to fade away from my side as others pulled them away or as I pushed them to preserve myself.
A wild sense of panic began to well inside of me. There were none thus far; not a single person who I felt had permanence and drive. I felt alone, despite the crowd that thronged about me, begging for my attention.
I tried to become a woman again to seek out people with a face I barely recalled using, but felt stifled, as though my former face was a prison. It was not long before I completely scrapped the old me and began to do even daily tasks as my new self. My old self became simply a way to earn money without shaming myself as I sent her to work at whatever work I could find for her. She was disliked, and withdrew more and more into herself.
Absently, I wondered if that was healthy, and forced her to try to make friends. A sense of humor emerged, and eventually, she learned how to smile. I introduced her to my favorite books, and she learned how to cry.
Pride slowly grew as she learned how to become a person, and I let her socialize at parties in my place, claiming her as my twin sister, who came when I was too absorbed in my books. My fans didn’t mind– they knew me well enough to know that it was no sleight to them, merely a statement of how well I enjoyed literature.
We became adept at our dance of deception. I was the night, and she was the day, and she slowly overcame depression and loneliness as I mastered her puppet strings.
I did not completely cure her of all that brought me to be, however. I had to remain needed. She drew on my strength when her own was not enough to bring her eyes up to meet another person’s. She drew on my charisma when she wanted her smiles to ring true. She drew on my perversion to begin to enjoy the forms of other people. My intellect and wit helped form her humor, and eventually, she became almost as twisted as I.
Eventually, we opened up to a few lasting friends, and they remained beside us, though more openly so. They spoke to us as though we were a singular entity in private, but continued our charade in public with us. False romances bloomed and withered as we turned the charade into a grand drama, where the only ending would be completely final, whatever the outcome. Would we fade from their eyes with not a bit of notice, or would blood and fire and feud end us? Would we become discovered and welcomed, and meld as one?
I pondered these things, while my female self continued her life.
Eventually, one of those that knew our secret approached. It was a man we each had known for a long time, and we admired him deeply.
“I need you.” he said.
“What do you need?” my female self answered, for it was her night to enjoy reading by the fireplace.
He reached for her and placed his hands on her shoulders. His gaze was intense as he waited for her to look him in the eye. She managed, and became frozen by his stare. “I need you.”
Our heart skipped a beat, and she screamed for help. With practiced ease, I took control and leaned forward to kiss him with lips that were far from uncertain. He didn’t notice the change. Nobody did, when it was so smooth. “Tell me what you need of me.” I urged. Slowly, I licked my lips as I gazed into his eyes, timidity gone.
He pulled me into his arms and removed the bandages around my chest. He called me lovely things, and I followed him to the bedroom I took as my own, across the hall from the bedroom I was born in– my female side’s room.
Together, he and I fell onto the bed, and he ravaged me. I encouraged his roughness as he stole away my eager virginity, and after we both got our pleasure, I felt something slip around my neck. The pressure aroused me, and we went another round as he choked the life from my form as I stared up at the eyes of a man filled with a rage that shocked me. He leaned down and whispered something into my ear, but I could not hear it over the sound of my throbbing veins. Blackness filled my vision, and at some point, I woke.
The man was absent, and I was nude. I cleaned, washed, and dressed, and checked the time. It was nearly time for a party at a friend’s home. With a smile, I left. To be late would be horribly rude.