“Photograph” by Janette Schafer

In a photograph where I once was happy, my arm hung loose around your shoulders, and the cufflinks of my tuxedo glinted a refraction of light. We were baby-doll butch girls playing dress up, donned in garments of swagger and bravado, the moment bathed in fairy dust.

Near the end of that summer, you found out about me; frail, flawed, and needy, not at all the person that either of us needed me to be. I wanted to explain myself, cut off your accusations and litany of my perceived failings, but I’ve never performed well in the moment. I need preparation. Are you really doing something wrong when you don’t know what it is happening?

It’s never been the same now, has it? You feel so very strange. I must also seem completely different. The shattered glass I hid inside me like jagged stuffing is spilling from the holes it bored out of my skin. I leave bloody shards wherever I walk. I am broken in a way that makes me forget what it was to be whole.

I rub my hands together and smudge oily thumbprints over our faces. The joy in them was hurting my eyes. I forget now why I was smiling.


Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, part-time rocker, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the founder and artistic director of Beautiful Cadaver Project Pittsburgh. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Social Justice Anthologies.