Stares

Passers-by glance at, then glance away. She notices out of the corner of her eyes, every stare seeping into her skin, her clothes. Her eyes look steadfastly ahead through it all — out of an impassive mask perfected over years of practice. When she raises her eyes to meet the strangers’ she either finds no one staring back, or the same probing, empty eyes looking back at her out of a common face. Moving among them, she feels their gazes as they pass, and unbidden, visualizes what they saw, what the judgement was, what she looked like to them. What they thought.
Back home, queen once again within her own walls, she steps into her own skin, begins the process of shedding those layers of judgement, remembers who she is again. And she recognizes herself, regains her footing, until the next hooded glance passing over her tears down the security that never existed.

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