Qiuhua sees it in the way the air blurs and shimmers when Yangfeng is near, the blood-clotting warmth and organ-squeezing butterflies.
There’s something unnatural about the way that humans dress themselves up, fabrics and armour and metal hanging from every available surface. Something almost narcissistic; something that boasts ‘human beauty’ over all beauty and yet…
Qiuhua looks in the mirror again, fretting and fretting and-
Yangfeng laughs behind her, smiling ear to ear. Watching with a keen eye as if she was being particularly entertaining. Qiuhua finds herself caught in their gaze, constructs of beauty melting away in the face of the joy she sees there.
“What?” Qiuhua finally asks, composing herself. She shifts, uncomfortable at being observed.
“You look good!” Yangfeng rebuffs, another grin sneaking up on them. They’re adorned in a well-worn denim jacket. She could practically feel the denim beneath her fingers as she eyed it across the room. “Stop worrying.”
“People aren’t going to score you, it’s not a fashion exam.” Yangfeng raised an eyebrow.
“It’s…” she paused, trying to find something to say as she fiddled with her too-loose jeans again. She’d have to buy a new pair; this pair clearly didn’t fit. “It’s not about that.”
Yangfeng’s hazel eyes on her weren’t helping, heart beating a million miles an hour. Surely she didn’t have to explain this?
“What you wear tells people who you are.” She finally admitted, the admission seeping out of her like fluid from a blister. “I just…find freedom in that. Somewhere.”
Yangfeng nodded slowly, as if trying to get it. Qiuhua thinks that they do; they certainly dressed like they knew that already.
She scanned her outfit again in the mirror. She was body checking, she knew, but the print of her psychedelic green shirt wasn’t sitting right.
There was something different about fashion between the pair of them, and they were all the richer for it. The way that Qiuhua draped coats and earrings, necklaces and hair, unspoken and speaking for itself. It always seemed like when she did it, it looked clunky and uncoordinated, but when everyone else did it it complimented them perfectly.
Somewhere between the years of being told to shove every wrongness into Pandora’s box and seal it shut, it all spilt out. Coming back up like the eggs and avocado Qiuhua had had for brunch, blood and bile and vomit — an explosion of proportions Prometheus couldn’t have even imagined.
Qiuhua’s wardrobe and mouth had erupted, words of truth and blood staining the whiteness of all of her shirts, the white walls of her childhood home a bloodbath.
But at least she could wear whatever she wanted.
People vilify Pandora for opening the box, but…
Qiuhua couldn’t help but admit that Pandora had the right idea.
“I still can’t believe we managed to get my hair purple. After weeks of setbacks,” she remarked, smiling back at Yangfeng as they lounged in their desk chair. Reminders of the breathlessness and honey-trickling veins, Yangfeng’s face just mere inches from her neck as they helped paint and spread the dye through her hair.
She turned from the desk-facing mirror to hide the red cheeks.
阳风，我很难听到你的爱，但…pouting and hands against hands, skin against skin. Yangfeng carries their-self like their body is both all they own and something unfamiliar to them.
She was the opposite, despite the stretch marks that clawed deep into her sides. Yangfeng’s eyes have lingered on them before, on days that she has worn crop tops. A question in their eyes, but not going to broach the subject if it could bring her pain.
Qiuhua’s ample body was a war zone, a captive prisoner in the constant defence of her chosen identity. Chest stained permanently red, heart having bled over and over. The only thing that anyone truly holds over their loved ones is their body, their safety, their health.
The only thing that Qiuhua can do is give it the respect that one would give a dead body; dress it well and send it on its way. Adorn it in beautiful things in hopes the stench of rotting death doesn’t send people running.
She casted her gaze back to Yangfeng, who had smiled at her remark earlier, but who’s attention had inevitably drifted back to their video game. They were embellished in their usual all-black ensemble; jeans and a button up shirt with an anime jacket layered as the crowning jewel. Qiuhua’s gaze almost always drawn to the dynamic but graceful lines of their face with a bone-seeping ache.
Yangfeng dressed like they were prepared for a funeral, but in a young and hipster way. Body soft with liveliness, they emblazoned their interests in less subtle ways than she did. Qiuhua constantly had the urge to sink into it, to lose herself in it, regardless of the scars that may be lurking- carefully hidden- beneath their garb.
Qiuhua sees it in the way the air blurs and shimmers when Yangfeng is near, the blood-clotting warmth and organ-squeezing butterflies. Feels the tumult as her heart tries to jump out of her chest. There’s an urge there — to trace the muscles and ligaments and tendons, to put the medical knowledge between the pair of them to use watching Yangfeng gasp and twitch beneath her. To bear witness to the rawness that is the unveiled human body but kiss it in adoration just the same.
Because what can anyone do when their bodies bear the brunt of unspoken wars? Pull their heart out of their chest, still beating, and offer it? Drench each other in the blood of it until it erases all their scars?
Perhaps all anyone can do is learn to love imperfectly.