I am worth little more than a handful of coins and a panopticon of memories best left buried. Work finds me in the isolated places of the world, where the cold is crisp, the morning air thick and nights are unbroken by pale, artificial light. This life, this work, is me and I am it.
I count myself among the beads of sweat dancing down the muscles of my back and the sores on my fingers. Perhaps I am no more than a mountain. Quiet, studious, unmovable. When the axe falls, I am as sharp and strong as the countless before me. For this house is not mine, it is the house of those who formed the river that carved the riverbed that will be my path.
And yet, I am also sweet as the thickest honey. Maybe it sticks to your fingers, impossible to lick away. Maybe it warms you from the centre, emerging like the rapid birth of an unfurling flower. It is the work of flour, sweets and remembering every word you last spoke.
This sweetness is gentle, naïve but a presence that was stuffed and locked away. The honey sweetness was stifled so as to not contradict what others assumed I was. I was a mountain, unbroken and unbothered. How could I be expected to be both?
Now grown, I know that I am granite, as much as I am magnolia.
Sweet, but sharp as an axe.
Carved from a mountain.
Gentle as a flower.
About the author
Isabelle Quilty (they/them) writes LGBTQ fiction, fantasy and short stories inspired by their Indian heritage. They write for feminist magazine ENID Network and OPUS, The University of Newcastle’s magazine. They cite coffee and coconut yogurt as their main source of writing fuel.