Dani, from Seams, by Ray Kathryn Morgen

DANI. (non-binary, seam-ripping a thrifted dress shirt.) I buy these old clothes from thrift stores. Sometimes I dive them from dumpsters. I don’t know how I choose them. It’s more like they choose me. They have a certain sparkle, seem to vibrate with a secret energy that others don’t.

They show me what they want to become, usually we discover it together: a cocktail dress, a blazer—usually something formal, sometimes something to relax in, a mumu, or party in.

Dani examines the garment, exploring their options for creating something new out of something old.

Some garments speak to me and tell me “I’ve always wanted to twirl on the dance floor on the body of a ballroom dancer.” Others are more introverted and ask me to discover their identities. I’ve learned—over and over—things are rarely as they seem. There’s a greater purpose than the eye can perceive, they are greater than what they are seen as.

Dani clicks the fabric into the machine which after just a few inches catches, knotting up the fabric, Dani pulls out the mess of thread and begins again with the seam-ripper, confident, calm.

I grew up sensing that in myself, came to know it in myself and later in fabric and thread. I’ve learned to sense it in other people, too… but not you. I never could. I still can’t.

Struggling with the seam, the seam-ripper slips and jabs Dani in the finger, they curse, it’s painful but they are used to it, Dani sucks their finger, puts the garment in their lap, lights a cigarette. [The ghost of?] their mother sits behind them at the kitchen table smoking a cigarette, watching.

Dani clicks the garment into place on the sewing machine, taking a drag from her cigarette.

Dani lays the cigarette in the ashtray and begins to sew. The sewing machine chomps at the fabric, this time with no hiccups, the sewing machine glides at the whim of Dani’s fingertips, obeying, for the time being.

I remember when I was five or six, watching you get ready to go out. You were a stunning, radiant woman. I remember the way your pearls sparkled with a magic iridescence that matched a gleam in your eye—like shoes to the perfect purse, or scarf. You had a secret energy about you. I wanted to be like you.

I don’t want to be like you anymore. I just want to know you, who you are, who you were, who you wanted to be.

I realized later that gleam was a deflection you used to distract people from what was inside of you—a hard, empty world you lived in. You didn’t want the light to get in, you didn’t want to be seen. You wanted to be invisible. You wanted disappear. And now it seems you have.

Dani finishes a stitch, gets up from the sewing machine and goes to the fridge without looking at their mother.

They retrieve two beers, put one down in front of their mother and crack it open. Dani sits across from their mother at the table, cracks open their beer and sips.


Setting: An apartment building of mostly long-term residents with one or two high-turnover apartments, studios to two-bedrooms.

Dani’s Studio.

Decoration: thrifted elegance with a touch of kitsch, outdated appliances, bare essential furniture, a sewing machine/station against the wall opposite the refrigerator and kitchenette, between the two, a retro kitchen table with four chairs.

Dani has just received word their mother is dead and goes to their sewing machine to continue creating/mending/refurbishing a garment.

More information: http://www.klmxyz.com/

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