He mentioned once that his ex looks like Audrey. When she sings “Moon River,” I remember my third grade piano recital where I hit the wrong last chords. My fingers ached trying to reach all the keys. My dad filmed it, even though I had told him not to. When Mickey Rooney squawks in buck-toothed yellowface, I catch my reflection in the black pockets of the TV screen. My eyes are even narrower when I’m embarrassed. “How do I look?” Holly Golightly asks rhetorically.
“That’s when you know you’ve made it.” I don’t know this friend of a friend, and don’t want to, so I bite my tongue, sip on my melted ice cubes. I write an angry text to my white boyfriend about it. I sprinkle it with emojis to lighten my tone. I think about how white girls envy how easily I tan. I think about how when I was younger, I’d hide under the shadows of trees, beach umbrellas, pedestals. I think about bleach. I nix the emojis before sending.
A group of guys yell “nǐ hǎo” at me on the Champs-Élysées with the same venom they would save for “cunt.” My friend doesn’t know how to comfort me but that’s okay because neither do I. We find a side entrance to Le Louvre with no lineup. Once inside, all the paintings blur together: bougie garden parties, pale angels, goddesses with rosy cheeks and nipples. “Nǐ hǎo, nǐ hǎo, nǐ hǎo” rings through my head.
I made my mom help me record an audition tape even though I wasn’t British, or even an actress. But I’m Asian, and that’s what fit, for once. I sat with my mom and marked all her lines in Goblet of Fire with electric blue Post-Its. When I read them all aloud back-to-back, it only added up to seconds of dialogue. Still, I recited them over and over like a mantra.
I only let you put makeup on me because I had a crush on you. “How do I look?” I asked. You didn’t let me look at the mirror. You rubbed everything away. The thing about monolids is that you can work on them for ages, only to look up at your reflection and see zero progress. But it’s there. You couldn’t see it then, and neither could I. But I can see it now.
High angles would do nothing for the gap between my breasts. I would use the flash to wash my features out. I would open my eyes far and wide. Think doe-eyed. Think Audrey. Think Zooey. Think mine are going to fall out of their sockets. When Bambi’s mom got shot, my sister made my mom stop the VHS and put on Mulan instead. “Don’t look back. Keep running. Keep running.”
Everyone knew I slept with my highschool girlfriend but everyone still called me a virgin. “You drink if you have, not if you haven’t.” “Either you are, or you aren’t.” “Either you did, or you didn’t.” I drink extra.
I had never seen my friends naked. He said he had never seen nipples as dark as mine. Knowing his dating and porn history, I believed him.
Beauty, power, and confidence without gaze. Then, a man holds up a mirror and kills her. There is nothing mythical about that.
How come my alienation isn’t soft and beautiful?
Sennah Yee studies gendered robots in film in Toronto. She is the author of THE AQUARIUM (Dancing Girl Press, 2014) and THE GL.A.DE (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming). Her work appears in Whole Beast Rag, The Fat City Review, The Found Poetry Review, The Fuck of the Century, and Hobart. Though named after a racecar driver, she has yet to get behind the wheel. Find her at www.sennahyee.com.