She had saved for months to afford it.
Origamied inside her Vuitton bag—bought at the Marché aux Puces—for the time being. A Legend doesn’t walk a rollcall in the showpiece of the night.
Especially not at the Olympus Ball.
It’s the biggest event of the year.
The moment everyone’s been waiting for. Prepared and spent for.
So worth it.
For a glimpse into another life. One where heartache isn’t.
For a bleep of an instant.
Who you are, where you are, what is or isn’t.
Circumstances disappear and make way for the dream to live, for being.
And she walks the runway.
Serves on the runway.
Brings it to the runway.
Just poses. Poses. Poses…
For them. But mostly for her.
It’s all about attitude. Resilience. Spitting in the face of adversity and all the bullies.
While strutting in six-inch heels.
All eyes on her.
Hoping to get tens across the board. Anything but getting read for filth by the judges, and that only happens if the category isn’t met. It’s not a beauty contest…except for Face; that category is all about cheekbones and finding your light.
Legends like her rarely get read though.
Comes with the territory.
All the great Houses are attending tonight: Ebony, Mizrahi-Mugler, La Durée, and the Legendary House of Mermaid, her clan, to name a few.
Paris is literally burning tonight, lit with glamour.
Too much is just right.
Especially at the Olympus Ball.
A-game is the only game to bring at this kiki.
Eva flips her hair back and forth as she twirls one last time for the crowd. Beyoncé wishes.
Having 32” extensions is one thing; knowing how to work them is entirely another. Her cousin does the best weaves, and Eva is the Queen of hair-ography. Fan, or not.
She runs backstage.
Mother Mermaid is holding court in the dressing room when she sees her:
“Bonsoir Eva! Come here, baby!”
Her signature scent embraces before her motherly hug does.
Opium by Yves St-Laurent.
Most people do one, but she does three: sprays…then, the traditional delay and walk-away.
Mother assembles her favorite butch queens to get Eva runway ready.
A steamer is rolled in to get the dress back to perfection.
Cassandra, the Mermaid’s make-up artist, beats her face for the Gods. Eva’s high cheekbones blended for days. Visage contoured. 301 lashes on.
Her Vitiligo proudly showcased in the make-up creation.
Red Velvet lipstick coats her voluptuous lips.
She strips-down to her nude colored G-string, then Randy – the newest starlet of the clan – applies matching pasties to her nipples.
The gold marvel is being brought to her by one of the butch queens.
Un-origamied into its spectacular self.
Eva sowed it herself with the help of her real-life mom. She’s so supportive, and for all of Eva’s endeavors.
Silk caresses her skin as the dress is slipped on.
Randy zips her up:
“Gurl, you look hot as hell!”
Eva spins. Randy chirps:
“Werk bitch!! Weeeerk!!!”
Finger snaps. Tongue pop.
The vaporous sheer silk shimmers, anxiously awaiting the stage’s spotlight to shine gloriously.
Her roommate and best friend, Nadine, lent her a pair of scintillating thigh-high boots to complete her look. They are like liquid gold.
Mother Mermaid acquiesces silently by batting her lashes thrice. She dry-cries because of the Botox, but you can hear it in her tone:
“Magnifique! Look at the proud woman you’re becoming. I have seen you go from caterpillar to this beautiful butterfly. Now, go spread your wings and fly, baby, fly!”
Eva can feel electricity in her spine as she approaches the stairs to the runway. She’s accompanied by Cassandra and Randy for finale touches, as the rest of the Mermaid clan invades the crowd to cheer her on.
She feels alive.
Goose-bumped from head-to-toe.
The deep bassline hits her right in the hips.
DJ White Boyie is lit AF tonight
.– spinning songs together like the very fabric of life, weaving them together as if they had always been meant to, and bringing pure joy to everyone within reach of his dirty beat.
MC High Top is announcing the winner of the Butch Queen category:
“6 versus 3 judges foooor….Ritchie Revlon! Congratulations, honey!! Now, twirl!!! Twirl…”
“Merde!” Randy lets out.
Ritchie is their biggest rival, and Randy gave up competing tonight to get Eva ready. She knows how they feel, so she whispers in their ear:
“You’re fiercer than him any day of the week! And, thank you for being here for me…”
She kisses their cheek, leaving a Red Velvet signature on it.
They reciprocate, leaving a trace of tinted lip balm…which Cassandra brushes off with a loud:
DJ White Boyie slows the beat down and transitions to runway music.
MC High Top:
“A’ right, a’ right, a’ right!”
Chopping the words down to match the rhythm.
“Get ready for the Runway Divas. Run-way. Divas. Run-way, DIVAS… DJ!! Drop the beat.”
Eva is ecstatic, she can’t help but sway her hips. Sound is the only thing picked up by more than one of the five senses. The groove is something felt as much as it is heard.
And tonight, it is everything.
She lets the other Houses go first; no one would want to walk the runway after her. Not with what she’s got “up her sleeve” on her back.
It had taken a lot of ingenuity to make it work. But Eva and her mom had made it: work.
Sparks of adrenaline electrify her body.
She abandons herself to the groove, haloed by black 32” extensions, when she suddenly stops mid-dance:
Randy turns, sounding worried:
“What is it, gurl?”
“My ball came un-tucked!” Her voice is a hush.
She can’t have a mooseknuckle showing through the sheer gold fabric of her dress. Randy pulls, she pushes…and the misbehaving ball pops back-up in place.
“Thank you,” she sighs, “one more week before I’m complete. Mom is taking me to Dr. Aubry’s next Thursday…”
Her voice breaks.
Randy looks at her teary eyed.
She can’t think of that. Not now, it would ruin Cassandra’s beautiful make-up.
One last runway as a Trans person. The next one, she will walk as a fully realized woman. She will have reverted to her original self, to who should have been from the start.
It’s her turn to finally be.
It’s also her time to walk, now. And serve. And pose. And Vogue.
To teach the children how to hold their heads up high. To not bow to bullies. To spit in the face of adversity, of the nay-sayers, of the haters…of those who should walk in them stilettos before judging.
Eva is ready. Cinched, pulled, and tucked.
Cassandra applies one last touch-up of Red Velvet.
DJ White Boyie switches to her favorite song. They’ve been dating for the past few months. They empower each other. He looks at her with such passion, especially now.
His cheerful gaze helps her focus. He winks.
She smiles at him before climbing the four steps leading to the runway.
“Run-Way. Diva!! Y’all make some noise for the Legendary Ms. Eva Mermaid!!” MC High Top is screaming in the mic from excitement so much that it reverbs.
DJ White Boyie scratches the vinyl record and drops the fat beat.
Eva stomps to the middle of the runway. Naomi could never…
Strikes a pose.
The crowd cheers.
She can hear her clan chanting:
“MER-MAID, YOU HEAR US, PREY? MER-MAID, JUST WATCH US SLAY!”
They are stomping each word as though wanting to shake the earth to its core.
She murders the runway, firmly planting her stiletto in its spine with every step. Asserting herself. Strutting all over the leprotic glances she usually gets from people.
And poses and serves.
Working every inch of the vaporous fabric.
Presenting with pride.
And then, she reaches the end of the runway.
Pulling two strings, in the lower part of the corset, deploys the cape into wings attached to her shoulders.
Lustrous gold, looking ready to take flight.
And the crowd goes wild at the sight of her majesty:
“OVAH, YOU ARE OVAH!!”
Eva flips her head back and poses. Her hair moving in slow-motion almost, suspended just as time seems to have stopped.
For an instant of pure glory.
Her spirit soaring high above the crowd.
Adulation and bliss.
Galvanised, she spins one last time to the roars of the children and her family.
How she wishes this flash of a moment could last forever.
Later that night, after winning the Runway category by a landslide, after all the children and Mother Mermaid had left, Eva applies her everyday mask, the one to blend in, to not get killed in.
A darkening foundation to camouflage her Vitiligo, for starters.
Her long hair gathered in a ponytail and hidden under an oversized hoodie.
She grabs DJ White Boyie’s hand and they walk out of the community center into the Parisian night.
And so begins life’s everyday ball…
Some turn looks, but drag performer FERRAL LILITH K. chose to write books. Non-binary creature, they write stories exploring the great in-between of female and male energies.