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  • Writer's pictureZoë Atkinson Fiennes

Win, a Losing Game


I feel I have been kept down my whole life. That nothing has been expected of me except to stay in line and keep everyone else happy; to aspire to be a pretty face on a pretty, empty head. To spend so much time worrying that I am not enough that I would have no time to conquer dreams, foreign lands, or adventure in the big wide open.


I see their looks change when a tall man enters the room, and it makes me coil inside. I feel less than a man, less worthy than a man, in their eyes. They stare at my breasts whether they’re veiled or not. It doesn’t matter. To them, I don’t have eyes to see their indecency.


I am a mannequin, trussed for their pleasure; I don’t have desires of my own, or at least, any that matter.


When will my time come? Why at every point, every crux point in my life, have I been persuaded to give up? To expect nothing more than I am handed. To accept the crumbs that this patriarchal society deigns to flick at me as I remain outside of closed, hallowed doors.

Why do I feel so often that I am on the edge of life when I know that I am a bringer of it?


I have so much to give, I have been gifted with so much talent, love, and potential, and at every step I have been told that I am not enough. That it is my job to smile and watch while others rise and I aim at mid-way ceilings: content to do “just, well enough”.


I’m tired of this circus, of painting my face, on this “merry”-go-round that I could never get off. I gave up on myself, early: I put my pencil down, and my heart sank into the floor as I contemplated my inherent and confirmed inadequacy.

You know what I wanted? I wanted to be an artist, because it was what I was born to do.


Art is what animates the breath of my life! It’s the wings that lift my soul off the ground in the breeze of existence. And I have been so far from my truth for so long, that I don’t know if it’s too late.


Is it too late?



I can’t go back, I know that. I can only go forward. But I can take her with me now, the girl who stood motionless in the school corridor as she let them win. She has me to protect her now, a hand to hold, a listening ear, an ever-present embrace to come home to.


What if, together, we can gather the fragments of that dream, and of this, and make with them a mosaic of dreams that is so vast it defies rationality, it defies reasonableness, and the realistic!

What if with that dream, we could win together, what up until now has only been a losing game.



Written & Illustrated by Zoë Atkinson Fiennes


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