Kamali woke and showered. The heat irritated the puckered lines across her chest and she instinctively blocked the water with one arm as she had done every morning for the last three months. As she stood, dripping absently before the mirror beaded with fog, one hand lifted to trace the dark corona of her lower eyelid. She resembled an Amazon, straight-backed and fiercely magnificent in the steam. The scar tissue across her chest might have been the proof of a jungle cat's fury or the tribal markings of a Queen. The figure Kamali saw, she thought, looked like a boy.
It had been nine months since Kamali was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nine months since she had been informed of her body's betrayal in that hot little office by that sharp little man. She remembered the way Makenna's hand, oddly, had slackened in Kamali's grip when they had heard.
There had been months of second opinions, of diligent self research. Kamali had thrown her tainted body at drug trials in the United States, hounded doctors in London, Berlin and Helsinki. At last, filled with radioactive sludge and prismed through with experimental rays, they had all acknowledged defeat and recommended late-stage surgical removal of the problem areas.
It was weakness, Kamali believed, that had caused her cancer. She demanded a militaristic perfection from her mind, ruthlessly devouring her schooling and her later competition in the field. Each structure she designed was constructed with unflinching bluntness, flaunting its strength and the moral character of its steel heart. There was no room for weaknesses. Critics said her work lacked humanity, lacked that humbling effect of connection with its inhabitants. Kamali didn't care. She designed the headquarters of global conglomerates who believed they would survive Armageddon. She did not design for the weak little people inside.
Kamali was disgusted that her body could allow this weakness to inhabit it. It was weakness of the flesh, the weakness of idle tissues given over to the disease coiling within her like a snake. It was this inner vulnerability that was the reason Makenna left, Kamali knew.
She dressed, buttoning up with mechanized fingers, and itemized herself in the lit vanity. The dark smoothness of her skin glowed but her eyes appeared hard and bitter, the color of naked coffee beans.
She picked up her mail from the box downstairs and returned with one letter pinched in her hand, which she tossed into the basket on the kitchen island. Later she would open it, taking in only the first line and the fact that there was a list below that. She would sigh and commit the letter to the trash bin, writing it off as a blatant ploy to get her excited for a corporate meet and greet which she would forget to mention to her supervisor later that afternoon. Kamali Ncube readied herself for another futile day.
Note: This post is now part of the series "Ten" at http://protagonize.com/story/ten. To continue reading and to catch up with the rest of the "Ten", I suggest you take a peek :)