art by Liz Clarke
by Amelia Beamer
"Thank God," my anger says to me. I had just found her, buried in a closet, and I took her outside into the yard to look at her in the sunlight. I was excited to realize that I owned her. She took the form of a dark cloak, the kind I'd seen on other women.
I hung her over a low branch. She was covered in heavy dust. So I beat her with a stick. I thought of all the times I had gone out in the cold, shoulders naked, while she had hung forgotten in the closet. All of the times I'd seen my friends wearing their cloaks, and how jealous I'd been that they felt confident enough to cover their nice outfits in such selfish, shapeless darkness.
Dust rose, making me cough. The Chinese say that lung problems are caused by grief.
I waited for her to say something. I beat her until my arms were tired. Then I stopped to catch my breath.
"See?" she whispered. "See how thick I am? See how solidly I was constructed? You cannot hurt me. That's why I can protect you."
"Protect me from what?" I said.
"Everything you do not want them to see," she said. "You go out in your whore outfits or your 'I can't be bothered' pants with the holes in them, and in that way you tell the others how you want to be treated. You protect yourself from their judgments by judging yourself first, but it doesn't work, does it? You're shit scared of them seeing you, and you're even more scared of them not noticing you exist. But I can keep you safe."
I liked the way she talked. I wrapped her around my shoulders, just to see what she felt like. The sun beat down on us.
She whispered into my ear. "Now that you have found me, we need never be separated. You can wear me up and down the high street, every day, and I will protect you from caring about the way they look at you. In your heels. In your holes. They will not see you any more. Only me. And I will never go out of fashion."
I began to sweat under her weight. My skin grew prickly. I liked the power I felt from her, but something wasn't right.