For all our ladies
But for everybody really
The Works of Seanan McGuire
Live Action Version
by Seanan McGuire.
From Her Twitter account:
(I can’t speak to any queer experience aside from my own (white-passing, femme, bisexual).)
All Velveteen stories
The costume made for Velveteen by the Princess’s mice was going to have to do until she got her first paycheck and could start requesting the specialty gear, like the flame-retardant leotards and the anti-frostbite tights.
Fortunately, she had a few months before weather was going to become a real issue, and those mice could sew.
Velveteen studied herself in the mirror, unaware that she’d switched back into the hyper-critical mode that her handlers from Marketing had always worked so hard to drill into her.
She was about to face the public. She needed to know what the public was about to see.
The V-neck on her leotard was a bit more ambitious than she necessarily liked, although she had to admit that the fact that it formed a literal “V” was a nice touch; the main body of the leotard was chocolate brown, and all the burgundy accenting made it seem both very warm and very heroic.
How the mice had done that, she really had no idea. Her burgundy gloves and boots were faux-velvet, matching the domino mask that covered her face and pretended to conceal her identity.
She could have done without the rabbit ears, but she had to sadly admit that they were necessary, both to maintain a recognizable silhouette utterly essential when one wanted to strike fear into the hearts of evil-doers and to make her “secret identity” a little more secret.
Why do so many heroines wear push-up bodices and stupid headdresses?
Because it means that no one’s looking at their faces.
The mice hadn’t been able to make her a new utility belt.
That was okay. She’d never been able to bring herself to get rid of the old one, a gift from Santa Claus on her thirteenth birthday. It still fit.
Of course it still fit Santa’s gifts were made to last, which was a good thing, because the fat man didn’t give receipts and it hugged her hips like she’d been a grown woman, and not a gawky teen, when it was made for her.
She ran automatically through the check of the pockets. More than half of them were empty, having lost their stash of concealed toys during the intervening years. Velveteen’s hands faltered as they checked a clasp, and for a moment, she stopped, simply staring at her reflection.
Who is that woman? she wondered.
Who is that woman in the bunny ears and the skin-tight spandex, with the mask that everybody knows doesn’t hide her face worth a damn, getting ready to go out there and do it all over again?
Who is that woman who didn’t learn her lesson the first time she almost died, or any of the times that came after? She felt very exposed, almost naked in her costume, and very, very Velma.
The girl who got out.
Something tugged at the fabric behind her knee. Vel looked down, and saw the battered plush bunny from the Isley Crayfish Festival looking up at her.
For a moment, she thought she even saw concern in its dirty plush face and glossy glass eyes.
“I guess if you’re going to go crazy, you may as well do it with a place to sleep and major medical insurance,” she said, and bent to scoop the bunny into her arms.
It went instantly limp, the animation leaving it as she stuffed it into the appropriate pocket of her utility belt. It wouldn’t carry anything but toys.
It would let her carry enough of those to have a fighting chance.
“Well, I guess first, we go shopping.”
If the staff of the Downtown Portland Goodwill thought it was strange when the state’s newest superhero walked into the store, offered them a polite nod, and made her way straight back to the children’s section, they didn’t say anything about it.
They just stared after her, frozen in the act of ringing up customers or folding donated sweaters.
Then, as if a bell had been rung that only people with a sense of self-preservation could hear, they began quietly evacuating the store.
The safest place to be around a superhero in uniform was nowhere near the superhero.
Velveteen didn’t notice. She was preoccupied with carrying on a one-sided conversation with the stuffed animal rack, waving her hands in punctuation as she explained the score to the discarded bears and unloved plush dinosaurs of the world.
“You’ve been thrown aside once, and that’s terrible,” she said. “I won’t throw you away, but you won’t get a good retirement package if you come with me. I’m the last stop. I’ll take care of you for as long as I can, but I won’t lie to you; toys that come with me don’t live forever.”
The plush was starting to stir as portions of the pile
A bear here, a one-eyed turtle there
Sat up and paid attention.
“You’ll do good things. You’ll take care of children like the ones who loved you. I’ll love you. And you’ll die heroes.”
More stirring, spreading to the action figure bins and the racks of Barbies with bad haircuts and missing shoes.
Velveteen kept talking; the toys kept moving, the animation working its way through them like dye spreading through white cotton.
She’d never been able to explain why she felt it was necessary to call them this way, although Marketing had managed to get some lovely news footage the first few times she’d done it;
She just knew that it felt right to give the toys a choice before she took them out and threw them to their deaths.
In the end, more than thirty toys climbed down from their racks and out of their bins, "choosing"if toys can choose to give up the chance at a second owner in favor of following Velveteen into battle.
She led them to the break room where the staff had gone to hide, sticking her head in past the curtain, and asked,
“Can you send a bill to the city?”
One of the cashiers gave a little shriek, following it with a louder shriek as she saw the army of plush standing around Velveteen’s ankles.
“That would be…fine,” said the manager tightly.
The city would never see that bill.
Better to put this incident aside as quickly as possible, before some fool supervillain decided to regard the place as some sort of perverse arms dealership and level it, just to be sure.
“Great, thanks,” said Velveteen, and withdrew.
Mercifully, the toys followed her.
Even so, no one dared to breathe until they heard the bell over the door jingle to signify her exit.