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By Mystique Meredith, Virginia State University

Photo 194609647 © Florin Lupsa |

I sit in a dimly lit boudoir, as "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone plays softly on repeat from a speaker in the background. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath, then open them to look at myself in the mirror. I begin the routine of putting makeup over the bruises on my face before moving on to covering my body. I smile softly, to myself, and finish putting on the foundation, moving on to contouring my face as the lyrics float from the speaker to my ears:

It's a new dawn, It's a new day, It's a new life

Although I’ve heard this song many times, the words have never held much meaning for me, until this moment. For the first time in my life, I have a feeling of freedom. I feel strong, unstoppable. As I finish my contour, the last chorus reverberates across the room: It's a new dawn, It's a new day, It's a new life, It's a new dawn, It's a new day, It's a new life, It's a new life, For me.

I place my makeup brush down, lean back on the bench, stretch my arms out wide, and just sway to the music; the beat, the instrumentals, the lyrics. I let them all wash over me, like a wave in the ocean. It is as if the song has revitalized my spirit, my hopes, and my dreams. I feel none of my usual anxiety, fear, panic, and paranoia. 

Just freedom.

Taking in the feeling a few moments more, I move on to applying my eyeshadow–gingerly so as not to irritate the bruises surrounding my eyes. I paint on a smokey eye to draw my clients to my mismatched eyes, one cornflower blue, the other russet brown like a dark halo. Then comes the shimmery silver highlights to accentuate my gorgeous cheeks, my bone structure, and the pièce de résistance: a glossy red lip to make sure I leave my mark. 

“You taking foreva,” Susie Q, my best friend and confidant, admonishes me through the door. 

“Chile, come in,” I call back. “Why you yellin’ through the door anyway? Imma need yo help putting on my ‘fit.”

“Girl, you ain’t ready yet?” she asks as she opens the door to my boudoir.

“Naw, Imma a lil excited, remember?” I chided her, “Ain’t gonna be much longer.”

“Yeah, yeah I remember, I’m gon’ miss you when you gone,” she tells me softly, a look of sadness on her cherub-like face. Her blonde curls fall forward as she tilts her head down, not wanting to look me in the eyes, not wanting to cry and rim her sapphire green eyes with sorrowful red. I grab her face and tilt it up, forcing her to look at me, then I lean in and kiss her softly on her peachy-pink lips. We close our eyes and touch our foreheads together, taking a moment.

“You can come with us,” I volunteer.

“No,” she says breathily, “You deserve to get outta herr, mo’ than any of us herr. Now come on, we gotta finish gettin you dolled up.”

I smile softly, to myself, keeping the hope that one day she’ll join us. 

She saunters over to the mannequin displaying my outfit for my final show. A silver, shimmery-sheer halter top sits above a silver glittery thong and a pair of red lace-up platform stilettos. I drop the satin robe I’d been wearing and slip on the top, tying it around my neck as she ties it around my back. I slip into the thong, lace up the heels.  I stand up and look at myself in the full-length mirror, give a twirl, and smile as the outro plays: And I'm feeling good, I'm feeling good, I feel so good, I feel so good.

About the Author

Mystique Meredith, Virginia State University

Mystique Meredith is an English and Creative Writing major at Virginia State University. Born and raised in Ettrick, Virginia, Mystique is all about diving into different worlds through reading, writing, anime, video games, and comic books. As a fat, Black, fem, nonbinary bisexual person, they pour their heart into creating diverse and inclusive fiction across all genres, from fantasy to cyberpunk, and they invite you to journey to new worlds together!

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