I get out of the car and they’re on me in seconds, beady and blue.
They scan up and down, back up again.
Wide, eager, nervous.
Blinking rapidly now.
Confusion seems to follow.
Still fat, and yet, at ease?
I feel them find the regrowth of my hair, the tufts of natural mousey hair sprouting at my parting.
I feel them touch upon my sports gear, narrowing at my make up-free face.
I don’t breathe in.
I don’t tug at my jacket.
I welcome them to look, I allow them to wonder.
I am not afraid of them, not anymore.
I see as they leave me, a mixture of disappointment and envy.
How can someone once bound by the same chains suddenly be so free?
Jealousy. Rage, even.
How can one waste four decades, maybe more, with such shackles and yet one with half the dedication, a mere 15 years, be liberated?
Backhanded comments and whispers will follow.
In the moment they will sting, like tiny ant bites under my skin, venom into my soul…
But in the silence, when the plane lands, I will rediscover all at once that strength I had left behind, all that clarity.