top of page

Sequin Truths

Daniella Southin

Soft red blisters the peeling mustard paint surrounding me. It dances in the dim light as I twist and turn, my imperfections magnified by the bias of my mirror. Eerie silence always drowns my ears in moments like these – broken only by murmurs of domesticity lying beneath my worn heel. I gaze at the paint, the light reflections, marvelling at their movement over the scratches. I wander whether the sequins themselves glide over my body with the same effortless grace. Bodies swarm my mind – sensuous, alluring, musky bodies pushed close, sharing the same air.

My mother’s voice creeps under the crack of my locked door. The bodies, the wide eyes fixed on me sink into my chest; fall to the pit of my stomach. They are churned and spat out again as my mother’s averted eyes as I pass the living room doorway, her sequin dress tight against my skin, my large feet forced into her scuffed heels. Her face is as vivid as my own in my grimy mirror. Her smile is all I crave. I search for it in my own.

Instead, there is a red smudge, unblended, towards the high arch of my plucked brow. I create a crisp even line of shadow with a damp wipe, exposing a singular patch of reality. Stained, I toss it into the ever-growing pile– those resting atop with only their corners tarnished with finishing touches; those at the base smeared with coffee coloured clumps.

All that remains are my lips. I rummage through my meagre essentials, hidden in a crumpling shoe box. There’s rustling beneath my painted toes. My eyes dart towards the door. A false alarm. I clasp a subtle nude gloss, my pointed nails sticking to the plastic. There is nothing subtle about the thick layer of moisture that glides across my plump lips, the brush worn down but still retaining a trace of the softness my mother must have felt before it was shoved into the back of her vanity drawer. As my eyes are lost to my lips, my mind is lost to others. Lips are locking with my own. They’re brushing, they’re gliding, they’re pressing deep into each other. Then they’re gone. Shame bleeds into my veins. Shame seeps back into my veins; the natural but uncomfortable, two thudding pulses threatening one trembling façade. My eyes are pinched shut. With a start they open – bloodshot.

A shiver goes down my spine. Reaching my arm around my back, a loose hair traces the muscles like fingertips. I twist it around my fingers, tugging painlessly until a sharp snap releases the strand from a slight knot. For a moment, I weave the weak synthetic around my palm until it snaps in two. £5.60 an hour doesn’t provide the luxury of natural hair. With a brush entangled with remnants of taming my almost slick waves, I search for perfection, running the harsh bristles through the final knots. The delicate strands cling around the nape of my neck, fall over my tight chest, tangle in the red sequins grazing the skin of my shoulders. It is exhilarating.

The reality of looking so… feminine, hits. It’s not like the waves down my back, but like those that crash over my mother’s face when she sees a fake nail on my bedroom floor. Thinking of the double takes, the undeniable looks of confusion that will stalk me down the street is enough for my hand to clutch my roots. The pained face in the mirror stops me. So full of shame, dread, fear. Resolution manifests deep within, flourishing in the blood of my veins, the air pumped through my lungs.

I rise, descend the creaking stairs, one pointed toe in front of the other. I glance through the doorway at my mother, her heavy head bobbing as sleeping breath escapes her wrinkled lips. The corners of my mouth tug upwards. For now, I’m still her son. At the door, my hands grasp the handle. My eyes shut. I breath – deep. Pushing the door, my eyes open.

bottom of page