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A study of Succession's Shiv Roy

By AlexaPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
Image courtesy of HBO

Shiv doesn’t wear shoes that hurt. She’d learnt long ago that any such spectacle as designer shoes would be wasted on dull, indifferent eyes at Waystar; the all-seeing eyes of her father and Frank and Gerri blinded for once in her life. For Shiv, comfort and just the right price tag to match her generous tax bracket are enough. Better to walk sure-footed and unheard through those lofty halls. If she wants to make herself heard, she sure as hell won’t deign to have her footwear doing the job for her. She knows her father too well for that.

Shiv doesn’t wear shoes that hurt, but oftentimes it still feels like she’s walking around with a needle in her sole. Or perhaps a scalpel, the pain too precise to be unwitting. It digs insistently, impossibly deeper into her flesh with every step. It forces her to walk light and right, spine straight and footsteps soft. Anything to prevent further ache. This isn’t the worst of it. There is a catch. No one must ever know of the nagging little bugger right under their noses and her heel, no matter how white-hot the metal burns or how transparent the pain should be. The thought of anyone ever seeing such discomfort etched into her features scalds Shiv like boiling water, far worse than any pin-prick.

Shiv doesn’t wear anything low-cut, for the most part. The blazers she’s taken to wearing lately don’t feel right, starchy stiffness hanging awkwardly on her shoulders. Not enough for anyone else to notice, but just enough to drive her crazy. Shiv hates being aware of the cracks in her own façade. She prefers the black turtlenecks she can pass off to herself- and everyone else- as merely stylish. As if the sole Roy daughter has ever been afforded the luxury of doing anything just for its sake. The absurdity of the thought makes her chuckle, but the importance of the gesture outweighs it. The first thing an animal learns in the wild is never to leave its throat exposed, after all.

Shiv doesn’t wear anything that exposes too much skin; that awful nickname “Pinky” morphing into less of an endearment and more of an insult the older she gets. Sometimes when they all look at her, her armor isn’t thick enough to stop their beady eyes from searing right through her, an ant under her father’s microscope. Her skin crawls, and that spot behind her breastbone thrums furiously; a warning bell wrought into her flesh.

She gave up lipstick- it’s been so long that she can’t even recall. She doesn’t want to give anyone any more excuse to focus on that particular appendage; the one that tremors and quirks more often than she’d like, and pouts and flirts less often than they would. Shiv always hated the tacky descriptions slapped onto the bottom of the tubes, “Blush Crush” and “Hot Lips” screaming at her with an all too forced sense of fun and… femininity. Shiv had never really felt like a woman anyway, much less a girl. Playing with makeup made her feel like an actor trying desperately to fit into a role that the audience already knew wasn’t right for her- but then again, so did puffing out her chest and talking tough with the boy’s club at Waystar. If she has to, she’ll grind down her edges and make herself fit at her own expense, cost be damned. She wishes Tom had the strength to do it for her. She wishes she had the strength to ask him to.

Shiv doesn’t even choose her clothes, really. She takes the bitterness of knowing she’s a grown woman reying on someone else to curate her wardrobe with the syrup-slick of This is just what’s done. People like us are too important to waste our own time on things like this. Leave that for the poor fools grasping at the thread counts of their Italian suits to become one of us. Sometimes the words go down smooth, like the illicit taste of teenage victory and her father’s best Scotch in the dead of night. Sometimes they coat her throat, suffocating and sticky in the cracks between her teeth.

Shiv wishes she could blame the clothes she wears like a costume for the way she feels. She wishes she didn’t know that no matter what she wears or says or feels or doesn’t feel, the reality will be the same. She will be the womanchild in the bathroom mirror, scrubbing at stains that will never come out. Like the corner of her carpet after her beloved new dog first made a mess, and she hated herself a little for the flash of anger she never thought she’d feel towards a thing that didn’t know it’d done wrong. Like the first time she remembers seeing that look on her father’s face that told her You are wrong. You are not what I wanted.

She knows she can never cover it up, but she strides into that office everyday and stitches on a smile all the same. She can only hope they can’t see her grimace when the threads are pulled too taut.

Fan FictionSeriesScriptLovefamily

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