Thursday, October 15, 2015

Nightmare Fuel, Day the Fifteenth - Girls' Armor.

We've reached the midpoint! Don your armor - boys' or girls' - and read on.

"Girls' Armor"

Girls's armor is different from boys' armor.

I  learned that at a very young age from the covers of the books Dad leaves on the coffee table, but also from the clothes Mom buys us. It's why parents with a boy/girl set of identical twins don't do the matchy-matchy game; boys have to learn to wear boy armor, girls to wear girl armor.

He got little miniature Timberland knock-offs. I got mary janes and white socks. Always the black Mary Janes, except the times they were purple. We don't talk about the white ones.

It was the black ones I wore the year of the fairy infestation.  My eyes were still young enough and innocent enough to see them, but still I towered over them; the fey are cruel and, in their way, powerful, but small. They hid under the forscythia bush, they hid in the wildtallgrass against the back fence, they hid in the privacy hedge between our yard and the neighbors' (old man Hiller and family, always the first to bring their trash cans to the curb, and always trimming those hedges with near-military precision. Still, there were always hiding spots beneath).

We couldn't always see them, but they'd whip us with brambles as we ran through the ragged weeds into the grassy area beneath the powerlines, they'd throw clouds of dirt and mud at us, pelt us with tiny rocks. And we'd run and brandish sticks and laugh, and our laughter would drive them off, back to whence they came.

And I fought wearing my girls' armor, he in his boys' armor.

Sometimes at the end of the day I'd roll my sock down just a bit, revealing the softwhite skin creased from the pressure of wearing socks all day, but unmarred by the dust and dirt and debris. That little ring of skin beneath the armor, unscratched and unharmed. He in his boys' armor never had that layer of dust and brambles and scratches go so far along his skin; the hardened faux-leather and tall athletic socks keeping his legs clean and pure. He wore boys armor, and it protected him, coddled him.

We beat the infestation, because kids always win. It's a rule. We didn't eliminate all the fairies, because battles never truly end. That's also a rule. 

When summer came, I swam in a belly-baring two piece suit, the bottom part of which covered little more than underwear. Girls' armor.

He wore mid-calf shorts and a swim-shirt. Boys' armor.

It was as if Thetis had chosen to swaddle her son first, before anointing him in that faithful river, and annointed her daughter completely nude, tossing the tiny body freely into the flowing rapids before snatching it out.

Because we love our boys more, they never grow a hardened skin.

Boys learn to wear boys armor, and grow up fragile and weak. They can't see the fey anymore, but we all know that they still linger, still throw barbs and darts from hidden corners. Those of us who'd worn boys' armor all our lives will feel the pricks on delicate pale skin, the prickles drawing them slowly to anger.

It's why men are so quick to rage. Now that we can't see the fey we can't really fight them anymore. So I put on my woman's armor, knowing that my bare ankles have been toughened by a lifetime as a girl.

An d someday, when my children grow to challenge the monsters I'd not slayed, I shall array them both in girls' armor.

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