There is a castle I live in, with glass walls that kiss the sky.
It holds clasped around it an air of mystique, of whispered secrets and hushed murmurs, cloaked around those four glass walls no one has seen within. There are no doors and windows. No way of entering at all. The glass is tinted, so that everything inside is merely a grey blur.
Inside: the grass is dead, the air stale.
Each day, I step outside, and I am remoulded, recast into different flesh, en vogue.
I step outside and my shadow is lighter, as though I have left a shade of it behind.
I step outside, and my world is anything I want it to be.
I can be one amidst a million again, a thread blending seamlessly into the cloth. Or I can be a single streak of silver against black.
I am a storyteller: telling fairytales of life inside the grey, never lying, nothing true.
Look at the tapestries, I entreat, flourishing the cobwebs that hang from the ceilings.
I am an enchantress: weaving threads of magic in place to fabricate my own reality.
Look at the grandeur, I urge. How the walls stroke the skies, crystal glistening in the moonlight, outshining the stars.
I am an architect: setting stone upon stone, carving a world into being.
Look at the glass walls, I whisper. For you shall see nothing beyond it.
I am anything I want to be.
Your eyes widen, in awe, in admiration. In wonder.
It a heady feeling, that sense of being put on a pedestal, as if the laws of gravity no longer apply to me.
As though I could fly as long as I don’t look down.
I can no longer stop, I have gone too high to fall.
I cannot bring myself to care.
I can fly.
Which is the dream now? Which is the lie?
Then one day, you arrive. You knock at the glass, hand rapping sharply on the walls with no doors. I do not respond. You should not be here.
You knock again.
I hold my breath and then sigh, leaning against the walls.
Footsteps echo into silence. You are gone.
I am relieved. Relieved of the truth, of how close you came to seeing it.
But there is a twinge of something I cannot identify right there. Regret? Longing? It is not pleasant, whatever it is, and I dismiss it.
I have only a second’s warning when glass explodes into the air, cracks spiderwebbing along the walls.
You walk straight through: through the tinted glass, the façade of castles and fairy tales, tapestries and skyscrapers.
You do not flinch.
Not when the glass shards pierce through your skin, blood dripping onto the dusty wooden floors.
Not when you take in the cobwebs, the damp, musty smell of neglect.
I want to scream. To rant and rage. To throw a fit.
You are not supposed to be here.
I say nothing.
The balance has shifted. The power is in your hands.
I want to strike out like a cornered animal, glaring into your eyes, challenging you to make a single misstep, longing for you to just give me a reason to be angry. It simmers just underneath the surface, underneath this overwhelming shame, the guilt.
My pedestal has gone, and I am falling, falling. I look down.
I am Cinderella, without the –ella, only ashes.
I will not be ashamed, there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Exposed. Vulnerable. It’s too much. Too soon.
And then you make an obscene comment.
The transition is smooth. Seamless. There is no hitch, no falter in your steps. No pity in your eyes.
The air is stale, the grass dead, but you are the same.
I am grateful.
There is a castle I live in, with glass walls that kiss the skies. There are no doors and windows, no way of entering at all. The glass is tinted, so that everything inside is merely a grey blur.
I pause for effect with all the grace of a serial-gossip about to reveal the biggest secret of her infamous career.
But there are ways, I whisper into your ears. Cracks in the glass.
I nod emphatically for emphasis.
Who knows? One day, she might let you in.