“Resonance” by Nataki Bhatti. Gouache on paper.

Her name is Resonance. And this is her beginning.

Some arrive baring gifts motivated by the sole joy of giving. She was that kind of child. She found glee in her environment, fulfilled by simple things: cowboy boots with red embroidery, walking barefoot on rough concrete, watching the sun glow orange as it set to the west, waiting for dandelions to bloom so she could pick them, looking for bugs under rocks, dancing by parading in a circle, talking out loud to herself, or so people thought, she knew who she was talking to. When she saw another of her kind, she greeted them with happy hugs and gifted them with her favorite rocks and sand in matchboxes. She had that attitude of a lively free child and she shared it, until she was removed from her beach town home and placed in the heart of subterranea.

Her lit eyes and bountiful smile were met with “what are you looking at”. Her deeply tanned skin against sun streaked blonde highlights instigated, “are you mixed” questions. Her sacred dance, a circular stomp to the bird songs of Roberta Flack were criticized as “you don’t have rhythm. She stopped dancing. And as it wasn’t safe to venture outside without shoes, so she retreated. She stepped back, marking her first conscious decision to take her love back. She began to build her fortress.

She grew up learning the ways of the survivalists of subterranea. Her smile became a grimace. As she walked, she looked down, instead of towards the sun. She avoided contact. She mastered the navigation of the back alleys and railroad tracks to find secret spaces where she could be herself. Her love became a secret.

And life imposed on her. And she took it well. With each hardship, she had more armor to add to her castle fortress. She stood wearing a breastplate of righteousness her mother made for her. She was strong. She was independent. She was the warrior standing in position waiting for the drum call to war. Fierce. She became an authority of the stance. Trained by her conditioning, she was the master projectionist. Her face stoic, without expression, she stood perfectly silently still. Silent impenetrable steel.

Just as nothing could get to her, nothing could get out.

In her world, she coexisted with others. Her idiosyncrasies were tolerated because she strictly followed the code. Her skill in thoughts and actions supporting the great blanket idea was well respected in her community. She dare not ever reveal her honest emotions, emotional bodies signal weakness. She could loose her place and right to exist.

Yet with each breath of denial, her emotional bodies retreated deeper within her until they found comfort in her heart, where her love was housed. The bodies, magnetized by the metal fortress and the heart’s current, began to move quickly, always shifting, never remaining the same. And so did her fortress, walls and bricks could sway and move in any direction. At first, the fortress was meant to protect her from intruders. Lastly, the malleable fortress with shifting responsive walls, reinvented its purpose to keep the bodies in. Heart castle knew the heart didn’t want to be alone. Emotional bodies made the heart feel under the cover of steel. There was no rest. The coded stance remained still. The internal was constantly moving, growing and shifting dancing with emotional bodies that could never escape.

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