This is an excerpt from a short story tentatively called The Myth of Margaret. It’s intended for a collection on the concept(s) of privilege. What I love about this character is that she can do anything – as in, she is capable of anything.
Margaret never met her mother, though their lives had overlapped by several days. And for her, that was not the beginning of an explanation as to how she’d end up. Especially since there was nothing to miss. For her first conscious years she’d stoically considered the assumptions of others. While her own conclusions made sense to her – in that they seemed more genuine than the theories that provoked them – she still had no explanation for the question. And so her mind went around and around, appearing dormant only to defiantly double back with queries that demanded how she could be simultaneously curious and aloof, how she could know herself and yet question how she came to be. Why the questions at all. Yet she was almost relieved when it came: a tangible something on which to rest her finger. Something to claim, at least, when finally her femininity developed a use. When the thing she blamed for the uncharacteristic inquisitiveness – and whose exploitation was her father’s most impressive and telling strategy – would at long last become an asset. In the meantime, she dabbled in self-abuse and, though it would seem to escalate, its purpose would soon change.
Promptly at age six, Margaret began staring back at her reflection in the mirror and watching her features swell and contort in the mist left over from her shower. She never smiled, never tried to change what was already so present. And yet back then, she could never have told anyone why. Little girls enjoyed being pretty, so why didn’t she? Why wouldn’t she let comfortably tepid water clean her? Her still baby-soft skin looking blisteringly sun-burnt after a painful shower was the only indication that she had momentarily seared away the mysterious and invisible layer of filth. But then, perhaps she was sinister instead. That crayola-red hue was only half the reason she stood so long in front of the mirror checking each patch of visible skin; the rest of her waited expectantly for the return of that amber crystallization only meant to gather where a wound coagulated. She knew it would return, would ooze from the pores that were always in a desperate state of repair. This knowledge alone made her smile.
(About 4,000 words)