My suit is nearly complete.
Only the headband remains. And the tailband.
Hours spent threading and gluing static activated pulp. Ink-stained fingers securing its cover.
Still too hot for a jacket.
"You sure you're alright?" Sonja asks.
Years walking this planet, yearning for escape. Within arms-reach.
"I didn't intend to word it that way. I'll take it down," I say into the headphones.
"Listen, whatever you need. I'm always here," she offers before I hang up.
I was supposed to remain broken. Brittle.
Wheeling away from my workbench, the elevator we'd installed for Father awaits.
The metal gateway parts on the first floor. I awkwardly shove the back door open while my suit sits securely in my lap. The wooden ramp zigzags toward the fenced-in lawn.
No one to eye me. Or my work.
I crack the suit's spine. Wind whips its sheets.
Words envelop me.
Bones reform. Ribs. Pelvis.
Stretching into the distance, an ancient kingdom. Or is it futuristic?
I fly upward, realigning worlds at my whim. Stars form at my fingertips. Colors spill from my feet as I tear through reality.
My sister calls for the fifth time today.
"Why'd you hang up on me?" Sonja scolds.
"Was done speaking. Had other things to work on," I say.
She means well. Everyone does. Healing takes time. The perpetrators have been brought to justice. I'll land back on my feet.
People care for as long as I post on social media. Following the incident, few friends texted, dropped by, called. Everyone busy with their own battles, crises, self-promotion, adulation, morality-posturing.
To strangers, I'm supposed to remain the victim.
To rally behind. Represent those silenced by the system, by death. My every word society's sword.
"What more would you like me to say?" I ask.
Sonja says, "No one demands you to say or do anything, but when you post videos like that people are going to worry. And then I hear about how the police were tweeted to check in on you."
"No — it's — I'm not scolding you."
"I'll do better. Love you."
"Wait — "
I place the phone on vibrate and toss it onto the porch.
My suit awaits.
Leap forward. Fall into its folds.
A tale sewed as escape vessel and armor. Another person's skin. An impossible world. My own life unrecognizable in its creation.
The fiction suit insulates me, allows me air with which to refill my damaged lungs. No fear of collapse.
My phone dances along the porch railing.
I retreat further into fantasy. Wrapped in romanticism. Roaming among remains of old gods, righting wrongs in impossible realms.
Untethered from the suit's otherworldly oxygen, I briefly breach the surface to glimpse my private messages.
A young girl seeks advice. Saw my video last night. Suffered similar circumstance. Two subsequent failed attempts. Hospitalized regularly.
The suit's escape hatch lies open.
Rolling back down the ramp, I scoop up the suit. Clutched to my breast, its binding absorbs the quakes threatening to reopen ribs.
I learned of fiction suits through my favorite author. A practitioner of chaos magick, told true tales of utilizing sigils to rewrite reality. How belief breeds results.
Spent weeks designing my hypersigil in the aftermath. During my hospitalization.
Crafting not only the extended persona for my primary self but also its binding. Its physical form. Rewriting myself better within its fabric.
Paging through the suit, I read of a woman unscathed by the world. Knife-proof skin. Unbreakable bones. Impossible to cage.
Incapable of feeling.
A lifeline lays limp on the porch. The preserver cold in my hands.
Unleashing the hypersigil required I paint a clear line to who I wish to become from who I currently am. Hating the victim, honoring the hero.
Only now, I no longer recognize myself in these pages. Others. Thousands cry to be heard.
To be safe.
Saltwater raindrops spot the suit's pulp.
I came forward as everyone advised. Provided names. Retold the story in exacting detail for the university.
To combat the narrative of my promiscuity. My willingness. My eagerness. My abuse of substances. My history of mental illness. My education. My smile. My dress. My hair. My makeup. My words.
To reclaim my story.
I shared every ounce of myself online. Strangers privy to my life, claiming rights to my experiences. Rushing to my defense. Bashing me for not appropriately valuing their consideration.
The girl's plea remains unanswered.
I realize the hypersigil is no longer my own. It's yours. It's hers.
Finding a blank verso of my fiction suit, I scrawl, "________, thank you for sharing your story. The pain you paint touched me deeply. I promise to hold your story dear and to never betray your trust. In return, I would like to share a part of myself with you. If you'll have it.
"Attempting to cling to some aspect of who I once dreamt of becoming, I created something. A living suit powered by narrative. A tale in which the main character is powerful, capable of rescuing herself/himself/themselves without need of sacrificing their own happiness. Without need of explanation of themselves to others.
"I want you to have this book. For as long as necessary. Return it whenever. Or pass it on to someone else in need of its magick.
"I pray this totem of our tribe will help you resist the urge to shut yourself off from others. That you will resist others' demands on your story.
Opening the girl's messages, I type, "Please, send me your home address. I have something to mail you."
Once the girl responds, I will delete my social media accounts. Call my sister. Ask if she'll come over for dinner.
But for now, I will sit in the shadow of my maple trees. Feel the wind in my hair. The breath in my lungs.
A smile on my face.
Secure in my skin.