Tilottarna Chowdhury

© Copyright 2021 by Tilottarna Chowdhury

Photo of a girl looking in a shop window.

She stopped and looked through the glass window of the clothes store. The window was decorated with Christmas trees and New Year jingles. Two mannequins wearing, what looked to be, the shiniest clothes the store could find, stood faceless gazing out at the streets. To anyone who passed by she would seem to be just another girl looking at the sale prices, they would think she was just another girl wrapping up her last minute Christmas shopping.

But they would be wrong.

She stood there not looking at the glitz and glitter but at her own reflection on the shop window, she couldn’t help but look in awe. She had now gotten used to her soft feminine features, but she would still startle on some mornings when she felt her long hair tickle the small of her back or catch a glimpse of herself in a mirror.

Every day the face would change ever so lightly and she would spend hours looking at her reflection trying to familiarise it. The change had been drastic, but it had been a welcome one.

It had not just been her face that had changed but her body had too, the soft curves and a fuller bosom had been strange to touch at first, but she was fond of her delicate curves.

She still had pictures from last Christmas; a scrawny boy with sharp elbows and a gaunt face. She had never been comfortable in her body then. Always feeling out of place in her own skin, she had longed to belong to herself and now she finally did.

She remembered looking through the same window last Christmas, but she had been looking at the clothes then. The gossamer and silk had called out to her, she remembered looking down at her own polo shirt and jeans trying to imagine what those dainty fabrics would feel like on her skin, she imagined it felt like ecstasy. She had desperately wanted to touch the elegant clothes, to exchange her nylon shirt for cashmere.

But she hadn’t dared to step inside the store, after all, what would people say about a teenage boy in a woman’s clothing store? They would call him a freak and throw him out of the store if he asked to try one of the dresses on.

Oh, how she had wished she was like those mannequins – faceless and hence genderless. At least they got to wear those clothes she so desperately wanted to just touch. But there was nothing she could do. So, she had stood there staring longingly through the window, till the store had closed for the night and she was forced to return home.

When she stepped inside the store now, no one threw her any curious glances or looked at her with lingering suspicion. Now she could touch the clothes to her heart’s content, she could wear them and revel in the silken feeling. She felt a heady rush as she inhaled deeply, the scent of perfume tickling her nose.

A lilac dress caught her eye, it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. She hurried into the changing room, slipping the dress on, the material was so soft that it felt like cool water on her skin. When she finally dared to turn and look into the mirror, she was pleasantly shocked.

The lilac colour complimented her dark skin, making her look more radiant than ever. The more she looked at herself, the more she could not believe that the girl in the reflection was her.

She felt pretty, she felt beautiful. It was a different feeling, it was a good different.

She carefully folded the dress, carrying it to the purchase counter. The dress was more than a little pricey but she could not have cared less, all she wanted was to make it hers.

The lady at the counter smiled kindly, wishing her a happy holiday. She wanted to tell the lady about how she had stood outside her shop last year, and how she was finally able to wear the clothes she wanted. But she swallowed her story back, as a warning from her mother resurfaced – not everyone needs to know because not everyone would understand.

She could not help but constantly touch her new dress as she walked back home, the feeling of silk on her fingers was almost addicting. She tore the tags off as soon as she reached home, donning the dress yet again. She stood in front of her mirror, she could not get enough of how beautiful she looked. She finally felt comfortable in her skin, she finally belonged to herself.

She stayed up all night, drunk on giddiness. The cold morning breeze made her shiver as she looked at the rising sun.

As she celebrated the start of her new life, she found her new name fitting – Aurora.

It was Latin for dawn; the start of a new day.

I began writing a few years ago and have contributed a number of poems and stories to literary journals and competitions including the Australian South Asian Center and Intrepid Times. I also have a self-published poetry collection and a novel that have been published in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Through my writings, I wish to create a change and hope to stir my readers' thoughts.

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