“I’m not Muslim, I’m Sikh.” My voice is too high for a man, and I read confusion in her eyes as she tries to gender me.
- The Angel Maker
- Grebbestad, Sweden
- Gabriel Vinge, spouse
- Jasbir Singh, mentor
- Inderjit Kaur, mentor
- Ronja Eriksson, foster sister
- Gunilla Eriksson, foster mother
- What's your name
- Legally, or the name I've taken for myself? If the second, Satinder Kaur Singh. I'd prefer not to share my legal name, if it's all the same
- How old are you
- I'm twenty-five
- What do you look like
- Do I have to …? Okay. Blonde. Blue eyes. Average height, I guess. I'm not a 'rye-blonde Nordic viking', if that's what you're asking. I am pleased that I finally managed to grow a beard, though
- Where were you at the start of the story
- On an island in the Bohuslän archipelago, fleeing from my pain after miscarrying
- What did you want, when the story started
- Get a family. Or, if that's impossible, at least not be in pain anymore
- Who are your parents
- I haven't the faintest. My earliest memories are from foster parents in Tanumshede, and I was five or six then
- What was your education like
- School, I guess. Dropped out when I was 18, though Gabriel has been trying to get me to go back. I'm good with my hands, though, so do I really need a piece of paper saying I can read and write? I don't think so
- Do you make friends easily
- Not really. I'm a rather private person
- Do you have a best friend
- I guess that's probably Gabriel. I used to think he was my everything, but when I told him I was pregnant things changed. I think he was happy when I miscarried
- Can you get people to do what you want them to? If so, how
- Not really. I can't even stop them from misgendering me
- Do you have scars? Where did they come from
- The biggest is probably on my upper arm. I was at a party when I was sixteen or so. Some guy were picking a fight, and I decided to give it to him. I won, and got two years in juvie for my troubles
- Can you navigate without getting lost? To what degree
- Assuming I have chart and some way to figure out directions, sure. I even know how to sail
- Can you bake a cake
- I … what kind of question is that? No. I don't
- Do you know how to perform basic maintenance on a car
- If it has a motor, I can fix it
- Is there something you do that most other people don’t
- I see ghosts. Or, at least, I think so. Does that count?
- What is the most formative moment in your past
- When I in juvie first heard the word 'trans', and got a name for my feelings. Especially the bit where gender is a spectrum, and it's okay that I don't really have a gender. I'm still far more of a man than a woman though. I hate my stupid body! I guess that another formative moment have to be when I met Jasbir Singh. He first taught me what it is to be Sikh, and for the first time in my life I had faith
- Do you have any phobias
- Cramped spaces, and heights
- What are some of your bad habits
- I have a bad temper, but I'm working on it
- Do you have a moral code? To what extent are your actions dictated by this code
- Doesn't everyone? I do my best to treat everyone with respect
Waves crash against the cliffs outside, a roaring barrier between me and a world that has forsaken me. I clutch the cold edges of the sink. Iron and bile flood my mouth. Tears streak my cheeks, and sweat sticks tufts of blond hair stick to my forehead. Another restless night; is there an end? I don’t know.
My hands grip the porcelain until they are as white as it is. The mirror is covered with a black towel; I don’t want to risk meeting the eyes. Of the stranger that is wearing my face.
"You are a freak." Henrik’s voice drips with contempt, appearing behind me. Maybe by the door?
My every breath is shallow. Short. Searing. I fight the traitor in me and reach for the white box and the sheet within. When I punch out a white pill, my trembling fingers drop it on the floor. It bounce, bounce, bounces behind the cabinet. My stomach contracts as I sink down on my knees. A vein on my temple pulsates painfully.
“Can’t I just have one day?” I whisper into the silence. “Just one good day, without nightmares and without—”
"No. You know what you did." He seems closer, his voice growing stronger.
I swallow the pill and close my eyes. “It wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t …”
"Of course you couldn’t." His voice looms over me, and I wrap my arms around my body. "You never could. Or did."
Dim sun-rays flicker through the bathroom window. Exhaustion floods my senses.
“Leave me alone.” I grip the sink and pull myself back up. “Please, leave me alone.” Staring away from the mirror I grab the binder and tighten it around my chest. I want the lumps to go away, and the hips to slim into nothingness. With the tank-top and loose cotton shorts I can breathe again. The feminine stranger has transformed into me.
"You can’t ignore me." Henrik’s voice grows weaker as my beating heart slows. I pad outside on bare feet.
With each breath, my lungs fill with salty air. The September chill caresses me, and the chilly bedrock bites into my soles despite patches of wilting grass. I sink down and rest my head back against the greying logs of my cottage. Goosebumps spread along my bare skin. Numbing my body numbs my mind.
The mist hangs low, with the sun reflecting in morning dew. A sudden wind tears through the leaves, and I choke on the stench of death. Every hair on my arms stand on end, and malevolence drowns my skin. It feels like someone, or something, is watching me. Seagulls cry and laugh in the distance.
I rush inside to get away, but the oily sense of evil clings to me.
My phone blinks on the counter, with a new message, but instead of dealing with that, I move to the mat in front of the hearth.
With feet tucked underneath me, I close my eyes and force deep breaths. In through the nose, hold, out through the mouth slowly. After five breaths I open my eyes again and stare at the fireplace’s scorched bricks.
My mouth chants Waheguru—Wonderful Teacher, creator of all—but my mind roils with memories of the crying of children and the laughter of a crone.
Protect the innocent? How can I, when I couldn’t even carry a child to term?
Serenity slips out of my grip.