The real reason Dracula could not see
his own reflection in the mirror
wasn’t because his body
was actually invisible, but
because antique mirrors
were cast from silver, pools of light
crafted from the single element
meant to erase him. I myself
find humor pooled inside
life’s darkness: in the ash-cloud
of a cancer sonogram, I once found
the mask of Donnie Darko;
another time I faked a broken knee
before my school play. April Fool’s.
My mother would pop Freddie Krueger
in the VHS player and tell me,
confront the fear,
and conquer it.
Confront: a childhood spent
short, shy, and effeminate,
a lifetime of recesses survived
only by the grace of Stephen King.
Confront: a lack of vocabulary
to speak my own body into humanity.
There was only one name for us
and everybody knew it meant
crazy. Weird. Not real.
Confront my compulsions:
addictions that sent me flailing
like a horror movie heroine
chased up the staircase by a slasher,
sprinting away from the only door
worth flinging open,
separated from freedom, from peace,
from a body left whole.
I have another name for myself,
now. Brooklynn. I am the one
who keeps trying, reading, studying,
laughing. And this really is a funny story:
that time at work when I met
the patient’s daughter, and her face
bloomed red, stutter-mouthed
and overloaded, unsure
if she was allowed to ask
if I were a boy or girl. Unsure
if she was allowed to see me.
Yes, I told her. I am a woman.
Brooklynn, with two ‘n’s.
The one who has conquered.
– Brooklynn Richardson’s Story as Told by Marissa Rose
Marissa Rose lives and works in Muncie, Indiana, where she advocates and supports everything from early childhood support systems, adult literacy, and trans rights, among other issues. When she’s not advocating, she’s usually writing.
This story originally appeared in Facing LGBTQ+ Pride in Muncie, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Muncie OUTreach in Muncie, Indiana.