Sasha Fisher is an actress, educator, poet and writer living in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Having trained at RADA in her native London, her work on stage and screen spans everything from Shakespeare to the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to BBC TV drama and Thames Television series, she has worked extensively in British theatre including London’s West End and fringe theatres. Sasha teaches theatre and leads workshops in myth, Shakespeare, gender and archetype.

When Death’s cousin, Cancer, took me by the back of the head, pushing my face into the pavement and screaming like a banshee “You want it? You want it now?” I could barely catch my breath enough to squeeze out a tiny thin resistance. No. “No”, I said, and then a little louder. I said no to Death, I refused him with his rotting teeth and his rolling shark eyes. It made Death so angry that he reached into my shirt and ripped both breasts from my body. “There” he said, and clearly he meant this as a final pronouncement, “There” he said, “Live like that. I curse you to wander the world like this, all suffering and shame. Carry my mark, I will be back”.

Rising from the pavement, wiping the blood and spit and tissue from my torn and open chest, I catch sight of my heart, see it exposed, still fluttering, still faintly echoing the song of life. Cars and cabs honk their horns, women in heels hurry along, and I’m not sure if I really exist here on this pavement.

I look down and see my fists tightened around clumps of my own hair. Death has left me here in a paper gown against the elements. But I feel no cold. Every minute my rising defiance makes me hotter than hell.

I’ll admit it, I stumble those first few steps, I’ve forgotten how to walk. I’m not sure yet about the effects of Death’s curse, but it doesn’t seem like I’m visible to others.

The walking feels good once I find my stride, I must be putting miles between here and Death’s open stinking door. The fresh air takes my breath away. The light is brighter than I ever remembered, the overhead fluorescents must have dulled my senses. I’m parched but water must wait, I am not yet healed and it will burn like fire, hotter than hell.

Months go by and I’m living in a cave, in a pile of trash, behind a dumpster. I am the creature in the alley, all wild hair and flat chest, the neighborhood kids speed up their bikes when they see me. I am gender-less, weightless, mostly invisible. But I’m on my way back, just you wait and see, Death won’t get away with this.

Sometimes I dream that he reaches out of the sky with a long bony bloodied finger and just points at me. In the dream I don’t know what’s coming, and it’s really starting to piss me off. I scream at him to go to hell. When I wake up screaming the wind is blowing through my hair and the trees are reaching their long bony branches towards me. I reach out to steady myself, and connections flash through my body like an electrical storm. Like Frankenstein, I am all stitches, sewn up and puckered, but I am here, I know now that I am here, and people can see me.

Chapters keep moving. The rising defiance now has all of life in it’s cross-hairs. I defy Death and I challenge Life, I grab it by the handful and pull it to see if it still comes lose. It doesn’t. I am walking through the world with no breasts, and I don’t care if that makes you uncertain, if you can’t gender me, if you can’t love me. I don’t care that I have no breastplate, I don’t fear the arrows of outrageous fortune.

The neighborhood kids play soccer in my front yard.

And my lover’s fingers trace the claw marks across my chest that Death left behind. She whispers to me about beating hearts, I tell her stories of dangerous women. She leans in to kiss me and she tells me that it’s true – without breasts, I am hotter than hell.