Jerakah Greene

It all begins with an idea.

The Binder

She is stretched out in the sun. I have always said that the sun was made for her. Right now I think it was made for the slope of her back, the bit of skin I can see where her tank top has ridden up. She glows for real. Not orange or yellow but that golden in-between, the color at the edge of Indian Blanket (her favorite flower, the one in ink on her shoulder) where the red bleeds into orange like a watercolor. 

I’m lying next to her. It’s early, only seven or so, and for some reason I’m wide awake. Blue morning light pours into our bedroom in shafts, makes her all that more golden. I sit up, swing my legs off the edge of the bed. I don’t know what I am going to do now that I am awake. Maybe I will try to piss. Maybe I will make her breakfast in bed. Maybe I will steal one of her cigarettes and sit on the front steps, and maybe this is the day I start smoking. 

I wiggle my toes where they dangle above the floor and pause. Put my plans on hold. No smoking today, I decide as my toes brush fabric.

Her binder. I reach down, careful not to jostle her on the mattress, and gather it in my fingers. I remember the first time she let me take it off of her. How the spandex felt like a swimsuit under my thumbs, how it left space for her shoulder blades to jut out like tectonic plates when she lifted her arms for me to wrestle it over her head. It wasn’t graceful, but it was sexy. I clutched it in my fist, balled it up behind her back while we kissed, ’til I finally had to drop it so she could slip my sweater off. 

I stand slowly, easing my grandmother’s wide, woman hips off the bed as gently as I can so as not to wake my girl. I pad over to the smudgy full-length mirror I’ve lugged from apartment to apartment since my freshman year of college and look at myself. 

When I was younger, I used to sneak into my dad’s closet after he’d gone to work and try on his shirts. They were huge and hung off my skinny girl-body like circus tents. I am bigger now. The shirt I am wearing now—the one I stole when I moved out of his house—doesn’t look as cartoonish anymore. I don’t look as much like a boy as I used to now that I’ve grown into my grandmother’s curves. Of course, I don’t blame my Nena for my body. In fact, sometimes I wish I could thank her. My girl loves my hips, likes to run her hands over them when we’re slow dancing to Dolly in the kitchen. That might be the issue though. Everybody else loves my body. Everybody else likes to touch my waist, to finger the curves that follow. Everybody else, everybody else. 

I slip out of my dad’s old shirt, binder still clenched in my fist. 

It’s harder to wiggle into than I thought it would be. I guess it is supposed to be stiff, otherwise it wouldn’t serve its purpose. To flatten, to constrict, to make whole by making less. I struggle into my girl’s binder one arm at a time, shove it over my tits ’til its snug around my chest. I let my arms fall. 

In the early morning quiet, I can hear her breathing behind me. I breathe in on her out breath and out on her in breath, my eyes closed like I’m still sleeping beside her. But I’m not asleep. I’m wide awake, and not a pussy, and I figure I better act like it, so I open my eyes and take myself in. 

Sometimes when she touches me, I can’t breathe. It has everything to do with her guitar-calloused fingers on my squishy belly, where my hair is light and soft no matter how long I go without shaving around my belly button. It has everything to do with how much she loves my tits, and how much she knows I hate them. But it also has to do with her hands in my hair and her mouth over my heart, and how I never thought I’d let anyone make me feel this good; so she touches me and I can’t breathe and she has to remind me every time, she says breathe, baby, breathe until she feels my chest swell again. 

This feels a little like that.

I look good. I look Ken doll good, flat chested and angular, twisting at the waist to see myself from all sides. And when I turn just right—call it 180 degrees—they’re gone. My tits are gone. It’s what I wanted, and it’s what I knew would happen, but I almost can’t believe it. 

I know I’m not a boy. That’s not what this is. But goddamn does it feel good to look like one. I run my palms over my chest, up and down 80% nylon, 20% spandex. The slightest curve, the slightest rise. I am not woman, not here, not now. Not man, not with these hips. I am that space in the middle, that sweet spot in the center. 

My girl rolls over in her sleep, right into a patch of sunrise. The blue morning light is warming. Through the mirror, I watch it wash over her, pooling around her sleep-loose body in our bed. I am struck dumb by how beautiful she is, how huge my heart feels.

I crawl in next to her, pull her tight against my stomach, and fall asleep with our binder still on. 


Jerakah Greene is a genderqueer lesbian from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they are currently riding out the pandemic. They graduated from Columbia College Chicago in May 2020 with a degree in Creative Writing, and a double minor in Literature, and Gender Studies. Their work has been featured in Crabfat MagazineImpossible Archetype Issue 6, and the F(r)iction Log, and in the summer of 2019 they acted as an intern and junior editor at F(r)iction.