noun: transfiguration; plural noun: transfigurations

1 a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.

I become. I became. I was. I am. 

She. You. Me. Her. Us. 

I am born of a storm. 

Thunder is raised in the sky to couple with the flash of lightning across the darkness of it, providing the momentary illumination that frightens the demons in the obscurity of onyx twilight. 

Breaths come in ragged inhales and exhales and I can hear the death rattle in a throat that isn’t mine, the warning of impending expiration. The only one to give weight to the vermillion thickness of sanguine sorrow dripping in thick droplets. 


It’s a name whispered, but I’m not sure it’s mine. And I think maybe I’m crying, but it’s difficult to see the fog. Difficult to comprehend anything except that this is the end of something while all the while taking shape as the beginning. 

And I realise in the span of a breath that’s inhaled and exhaled into the air while the breath of the other—the body—stops. . . 

I realise. . . 

I have a problem with identity. 

It isn’t one that can be blamed on mental defect, or selective dissolution. I didn’t have a terrible or wretched childhood that scarred me, never bore a trauma, never knew what it was to be unloved so I didn’t disassociate myself from pain in an effort to assemble some brighter future than there had ever been a past. 

My mother was a woman that sang lullabies, twirled around the room when she was happy and played classical when she was sad because she said music could enliven even the most dissonant of souls. It fed the heart when it starved for beauty that the world so often lacked. Music was to the body as sanity was to the mind—the very balance of everything. Once upon a time she might have been an opera singer, or a pianist. 

Father was a quiet man, one who loved in the way the forest grew. Strong, dependable, unmoving unless cut down, unless unwanted, and even then when it was destroyed [and God is my witness I gave it every reason to never rise again] just like the aged trees with roots buried so deeply that there was little one could do to completely erase it—his love rose again and shaded me from the world. The harsh rays of speculation when I turned out not to be like the other kids. 

Mother was music and father was the forest—

And both surround me on that night—but it doesn’t stop—it [didn’t] stop me from forgetting who I was. 

The other me—she didn’t have a family. Didn’t have love. Her parents were dead but they’d left her a sizable income in the form of an inheritance in the hundreds of thousands. That was how she was able to pursue the law degree. 

The other me brags about it in the parts that my memory can recall. That they’d sucked but at least they’d left her the money to do some good. 

The other me, that is me, and I knew could be me then—she liked that I didn’t have much of a voice. That I was mousy and shy. She liked that my eyes never met hers—they were blue. So very blue. But sometimes they could be green like mine when the light hit them a certain way. 

She liked to dress me because she said I had no fashion sense while she was born with it. The other me had a love of pencil skirts and elegance that seemed to intimidate my love of holey jeans and “lesbian lumberjack” tees. As if she knew that I needed to understand how to be the new me because who I am—who I was—who I might be wasn’t enough. 

Isn’t enough. 

People look through the me that I am—or was. They can’t see anything except a frumpy woman who didn’t know how to be bold. But when you’re a blank slate without any idea of who you could be or who you want to—who you might be— 

You can be anyone. 

And I wanted to be the other me. 

I wanted to be Madison Rose.

We didn’t look that different at a glance. The same height, though her hair was raven blue black and mine was a dull brown. Easily fixed. The eyes could pass, with delicate application of coal to heighten their intensity, frumpy sizes could be turned into curves with clothing and a strict regimen of diet and even her voice was easy to imitate. She was from Queens but had somehow inherited an Irish lilt in her travels. Barely noticeable and she always laughed and said it never knew what it wanted to be. 

But for the first time I knew. 

My identity wasn’t born. It was chosen. Placed where it truly belongs. 

It was storming. It is storming. My memory can recall it in bits and pieces when I was born. When I became [her], and she became me. 

She never saw it coming. 


There wasn’t even time for a fight. No time to struggle. I had no interest in making her suffer. Not really. It was just time for her to die so that I could live. 

“Madison—you’re not real. You’re a fraud. A [delusion]. You can’t ever be me!”

I’m startled out of my thoughts by the sound of her voice, but it’s not her. Not me. It’s no one, even though I feel her shadow lurking, the whisper of my former self—of her over my shoulder. The little bit that remains from the transfiguration. But the I ignore it and lift my hand to my mouth, swallow the little white pill with a drink of water. 

Ignore the apparition in the background of my thoughts. Forget again. Release a breath. Gather my things and with the roll of my shoulders leave my office, files in hand, heels clicking against the floor as I take the stairs because I can’t stand the slowness of the elevator that leads to the judicial courts. 

When I push through the double doors, the ghost is no longer there as I set my things down. 

I am Madison Rose, defense attorney, alive, well, and whole. 

Sometimes I forget. 

But I was born in a storm. 

It’s just that sometimes, my own conscience still comes back to haunt me. 

 Kate Austen

Kate Austen is an author hailing from the bayous of Louisiana where she loves to sit on the piers and fish, watching the sun rise with a wonderfully scalding cup of coffee.  She has an indubitably dull 9-5 by day and wars with demons and faeries by night in the fun worlds she creates through her writing. What inspires Kate to write? A little of everything. From dreams and music to the everyday interactions of pedestrians in the streets that she can usually spin into some kind of fanciful plot.

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