10th January 2021
My name is Trinity Taylor and for those who have not heard of me, though I cannot believe there can be many, I was born with a tail.
The midwives had recoiled in dismay at my delivery and the doctors had assured my mother that the defect could be surgically resolved. But, my mother, being my mother, would have none of it. If her daughter had been blessed with a tail, then there was some reason behind it, even if we could not yet comprehend it. She had promptly me christened Trinity after the heroine in the Matrix films. She and my father had shared a love of those films, though had little else in common. Trinity, she told me later, had not understood her role in mankind’s salvation but it was, in the end, fundamental. She had accepted her fate and lived it out without regret. Sadly, her reasoning would remain a bone of contention between us for many years. I would point out that Trinity hardly met a happy end, whenever the subject arose, and she would berate me for having entirely missed the point. At such times, my father, who otherwise tended to keep out of our mother-daughter altercations, would observe that the pair of us were as daft as brushes.
It might therefore come as no surprise that my mother was determined that I should flourish in the world, without disguise of constrain. She refused any advice to conceal my appendage and whilst not making a show of it, adapted my diapers and romper suit to give it free rein. That is, she did so until the afternoon when she took me along for her our first mother and baby playgroup and the other mothers seized their offspring and ran shrieking with fear from the building. To be fair, it did, if anything, resemble a rat’s tail and many women dissolve into screaming habdabs at the sight of a mere mouse. My mother learnt a painful lesson that day and thereafter took pains to tuck my tail into my tights or trews. At home, of course, it suffered no such restrictions and day by day I loved it more. Gradually I learned to control it, in much the same way that I learned to control my wobbly legs and arms. By the time I could walk, I could pick up simple objects and thrash it about in annoyance. I could tickle my mother’s ribs and soothe myself, by stroking my face whenever I felt upset or unwell.
Speaking of rodents, my father turned up one day after work, with a pet rat for me. My mother was far from amused and ordered him to return it to the pet shop. Bit, it was too late. I hung onto his leg, begging him to let it stay, so stay it did. I adored little Ratty, at least at first. He was cute and dead intelligent and he had a tail like mine. However, I soon discovered that his tail lacked anything like the dexterity of mine and grew rather bored with his company. He sort of fell from the lounge window, one afternoon when we were playing bungy jumping. It was a pity, but I am pretty sure he had a more interesting life scampering around the fields and woods that backed onto our garden. After that, my mother was adamant, no more pets for me.
And so it continued throughout my primary school. During the day, I would sit in class my tail coiled up beneath me, or wrapped around my thigh, beneath my pleated skirt. Yet, once school was over, I was using it to climb trees, balance on top of the garden wall and swat away annoying midges. There was always, however, a minor downside. Now and then, if I was tired or off my game, I would forget my tail and it would get caught in a deckchair or shut in the door. I don’t need to tell anyone how painful it is to do this to a finger, let me tell you now, a tail is a whole new world of pain. I even singed it on the electric fire once and just remembering that makes my eyes water. By the time I was eleven, it had developed a couple of kinks. Not the end of the world, but it did not exactly add to its appeal.
At junior school, however, things changed completely. Brought up on a diet of X-Men films, it was clear that my peers could only be fascinated by such an anomaly. I quickly became the coolest kid in school. I would demonstrate supreme balance during gym sessions and amuse my classmate by jabbing some swat in the ribs with the end of my tail when they put heir hand up once too often. I even terrorised a couple of fledging flashers from the neighbouring school, by placing my tail between my legs and pretending it was a penis. No matter how big they boasted their members were, they were no match for me. And if I had to, I could use mine to pick my nose.
My mother did not view such high jinks with much appreciation. I had my future to think of. It was time to be serious and stop clowning around. But short of joining a circus or freak show, I had not the silent inkling, what I could do. My performance at school was never poor that fair to middling, despite my mother’s insistence that I was capable of better things. I began to suspect that my sole destiny in life was to cause her vexation and disappointment.
I should mention at this point, that given the uniqueness of my condition or birth defect, as some unimaginative medical types labelled it, I was initially of interest to those boffins who concerned themselves with DNA and cellular development. For the first three years, my mother dutifully carted me to a series of regular appointments, where specimens of my blood and tissue were taken for analysis. By the fourth year, when nothing ground-breaking had been learned and precisely diddly-squat had been achieved, the enthusiasm seemed to have rubbed off. I was given an annual check-up. Mt tail was measured and weighed and asked to perform a series of perfunctory movements with it, and that seemed to that. By the age of eight, the scientific community decided to leave us to our own devices with an indifferent shrug of its shoulders. It was what it was. My mother had been crestfallen. She had been so sure my amazing tail could not have been for nothing. I was glad to be left alone.
Then, one day, when I was just sixteen years old, I was spotted by a talent scout from a high-end modelling agency. I had been sauntering around Coven Garden with my mates, tail swaying lithely behind me. Most of the locals we passed were used to the sight by that time and if the tourists gaped and tried to take photos, I would just flash them a smile. My tail, which by now resembled that of a hairless Sphynx cat, was a magnet to the lads but even though my friends seemed obsessed with boys and seemed in a rush to hook up with the first pimple-covered youth that looked their way, I was in no such hurry. “Mark my words,” my father had told me in a rare moment of parental intervention, “they will want you in their bed soon enough, but not to mother their children.” I knew he had a point. There is little an adolescent boy will not stoop to, to outdo his friends in sexual boasts. Fathers, a word of advice. Tell your teenage daughters exactly what was going through your mind at their age. I guarantee you it will prove more effective than any contraceptive!
Anyway, back to the talent scout. I was skinny and tall for my age and, though only averagely pretty, had a posture to die for, what with the tail and all. The agency agreed that I had what they called “the it factor.” I think we all know what the “it” was. The rest is history. I modelled for Channel and Gucci, Versace and Yves Saint Lauren. I travelled to Paris, Rome, New and York Milan, and when I sashayed down that cat-walk I made the other models look like moggies. Whosever show I was in became an instant success. I was the new Kate Moss, a white Naomi Campbell. The camera’s loved me. The designers loved me. The other models, needless to say, did not. Most of them would not even talk to me and those that did were cold and dismissive. I was a gimmick, a flash in the pan. The public would soon tire of my one horse act. (You had to wonder how many horses, they thought they had). I didn’t care. I appeared on the cover of Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Cosmopolitan. And sometimes, when we were all in hair and make-up, I would reach around their backs and tap them one of them on the shoulders with my tail, a trick which never failed to reduce them to hysterics, but for which I earned no favours.
My mother, of course, remained unimpressed by my success and was horrified by the amount of weight I had been obliged to lose, in order to squeeze into the size 0 fashions. I was not particularly happy myself. I had made a pile of money but had resorted to snorting cocaine to suppress my appetite and was, if the truth be told, perfectly miserable. Halfway through Paris fashion week I packed my bags and flew home, my eyes shielded by dark glasses and my tail tucked firmly between my legs.
Mum and Dad were great. There were other things I could, go to college, get a job. What I needed now was rest and good old fashioned home cooking. My mother fussed around putting my clothes away for me around as I kicked off my clothes for a shower. I could have chased her out of my room, but I think she just wanted to be with me. All of sudden she exclaimed in a shocked tone. There was a strange purple mark on my tail. Had I not seen it. I craned my neck around. It was near the base of the tail close to where it grew out of my spine and I could not see it myself. “It is probably just a bruise, you know what airline seats ate like…,” I joked. But it clearly wasn’t and she had me down at the doctors’ surgery the next morning. My G.P shook his head. He was no expect on tails but he did not like the look of this. He made an urgent referral to a specialist who hummed and hawed and took a biopsy.
It was not good news. In fact, that is the understatement of the year, it was dreadful news. The biopsy had revealed an unusual but unmistakably malignant carcinoma. It could have been caused by an old trauma, exacerbated by malnutrition and exhaustion, but one never knew. I was lucky, it had not metastasized but soon would. There was only one treatment option. Amputation. I numbly wondered in what way I could be described as lucky. Did he not understand what he was suggesting?
My mother, as always, took firm change. It was all very well, bemoaning the loss of a tail but it was better than the loss of my life, whatever I might think now. I submitted, leaving myself in her hands, as I had always done. But I don’t mind telling you it was the darkest time of my life. I could not imagine either myself of my life, without a tail.
The surgery was booked in for the following day, there was, it seemed no time to be wasted.
I awoke with a pad on my back where my tail had been and a sense of unspeakable loss. Over the following weeks of recuperation, I had to relearn to walk as I had lost my balance and I would experience sensations where the tail had been. Phantom tail pain, apparently. Life seemed to have lost its flavour.
Then, about a month late, I felt a bump, under the scar. I waited a day or two, telling myself it was just my imagination, but the next time I checked, it was still there, only it was bigger, now.
I told Mum who took a look. Had the carcinoma come back? My specialist checked it out a couple of days later and took some cells, but was pretty sure it was nothing to worry about.
What can I tell you? Over the never six months the bump on my spine became bigger and bigger, growing longer and longer until my tail had pretty well regrown itself completely. This time the DNA chaps were wild with excitement. Did I understand what this meant? The cells in my tail held the key to cellular regeneration. Up until now, scientists had had only Lizard DNA to work with. This could be the greatest revolution in the history of medicine. Did I have any idea of my importance?
My mother had shrugged happily and given me of those ‘I-told-you-so’ smirks. As for me, well, I can’t altogether get the hang of this new tail. Sometimes it does what I ask and others not so much but I have a growing apprehension that I hardly dare put into words. The truth is, and as strange as it sounds, I don’t altogether trust it!