This story is paired with “First Epoch, The Story Continued by Marian Halcombe” from The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free.
It’s better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.
I am a real nobody.
But I want to get better.
On fells buzz-bright with furze and uncurling fern,
low thrum the bees flying in the blue.
Bone wings beating against my honeycomb cell.
They speak to me: insistent, insect secrets.
A swarm is myriad, thoughts are endless
blossoming, overwhelming, heather scent.
Their buzzing, blattering voices
make tainted honey in me.
Everything is wrong: curdled milk, dusted chaff, egg-shell strange
I would be solitary.
One bee against the clouds, free
blown by the white wind, dissipating into the blue.
I would be better.
From the hive’s windows I watch the clouds.
Making them into anything I want.
Come winter, when the wings beat slow
I’ll make me better.
I’ll be wax tabula rasa, impressing
myself a glorious fake somebody.
I’ll be blank slate writing my own soul
with crushed bone chalk, alabaster pure.
White against blue slate sky,
into the place where one voice speaks.
Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children.