I’m standing on a stage with my hair in a cap and lights in my eyes.
The play is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I’m Charlie. Freckles drawn on my cheeks.
A disguise I get to live inside.
My brother is an Oompa Loompa.
My mother is dressed in black moving set pieces around with a fleet of naughty boys who are too irresponsible to learn lines but want to play.
She’s made them her stage hands.
I’m ten years old.
When I’m 17 I’ll fall in love for the first time.
With one of those naughty boys.
He’ll teach me about sex.
How to smoke pot.
And about mood lighting.
And sleeping under the stars.
He’ll teach me to open my heart.
He’ll teach me how much I like to be held.
How to spoon.
How to share a bed.
And put a condom on.
He’ll teach me about laughter.
He’ll teach me.
He’ll teach me about blue balls.
And to question my worth.
He’ll teach me about betrayal.
How to compare myself.
To other women.
But today I’m Charlie.
Today my body is not my own.
Today it is a canvas for a story to be told.
Today I have words to speak that my head didn’t write.
I have permission to speak.
Nights in my twin bed with a highlighter in hand.
For the first time, my brain is excited by memorization.
No test to study for.
My poor spelling and grammar are irrelevant.
There are no equations to understand.
Numbers to add up.
Pure. Unbridled. Imagination.
I’m teaching my body how to hit marks.
My voice to hit cues.
I have purpose.
I have movements that can convey an entirely different being.
Garments that are not my own.
Someone has given me words to speak.
I have a voice.