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Sally & The Rose

by Joseph Dudnik 2 months ago in Identity
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When all there was to do was hide the pain...

There exists a place in my soul, a place in my life that I’ve almost blocked out, and hardly speak of anymore, “Sally & The Rose.”

Sally Pickles was the best friend I’d ever had. She was a half Chihuahua, half Beagle mix who’d come into my life a few months after my father had been murdered back in 2013. The idea was that she would distract me from the new habit I’d developed, shooting up Crystal Meth, something I loved doing. Rose, The Rose, was me, a lost soul who came into the picture 4 years after Sally Pickles burst on the scene.

She was the answer to a life that had been systematically taught to hate himself, simply because he was different.

Together, even if it were only for a briefest of times, Sally Pickles and I tricked all of Manhattan into giving us more attention than they were ever willing to give us.

Being totally upfront about the entirety of the spectacle of the illusion of The Rose, the goal was never to be a woman, but rather an old man playing the part of a young man who was failing miserably in his attempts to imitate a glamorous trans-woman who was past her prime, doing anything it took to be the focus of attention. Or, to make it clearer, the aim was to be nothing more than a bad tranny who willingly gave everyone an actual reason to laugh. It was my being able to stand in the middle of the New York City scene and hide behind who I really wasn’t.

You see, I never intended to actually become a woman, or even a trans-woman.

Because I was born with a lack of oxygen, I’ve always been a little spastic, or ataxic, if you’re even half educated. But most people aren’t, so they choose to laugh at me and call me names. Thus, the intention was to have the world laugh with me, at me, or as it would turn out, cheer me on for having the courage to be the most stylish freak I could be every time I put a new outfit together. And put outfits together I did.

In short, what I experienced was nothing short of the type of divine that people don’t dare to let themselves dream about. The Rose was the type of bloom that almost no one who isn’t famous gets to experience. And I wouldn’t be exaggerating, or even stretching the truth if I tell you, The Rose, while leading me down the most twisted of roads, literally saved my soul.

Early in my addiction, before The Rose ever appeared, everyone hated me. People would scowl at me with loathing eyes when I entered the room. So I had to find a way out, a way to preserve what little love of life I had left in my soul. So basically on a whim, on a cold and rainy Friday night, I became who I became; enter The Rose. But nothing in life comes easy. And this was the furthest thing from the exception

The fear alone of being laughed at made it almost impossible for me to go pick out that first outfit. But with the help of someone from that former life, I saw it through, putting together an outfit which consisted of my first purse, a bitching hat, some pussycat sunglasses, a pair of coollots, and a blouse. But that was nothing.

It was even harder to walk out the door in full costume for the first time. But I got through it without so much as a blemish on my plan. And from that point on, I was off to the races, scouring every thrift store in Manhattan for bargains, and attending a couple of transgender support groups to learn how to put on makeup. And with Sally Pickles as an audience as Bennie and The Jets blasted out the stereo, I got pretty good at it.

I also got good at being The Rose.

As a shield from ridicule, like a dynamo in her own right, The Rose kept me safe. Raising the bar on what I expected out of myself, she definitely served more than her purpose. But I have to admit. Sally Pickles always stole the spotlight, which took a lot of the overdrawn attention away from me.

I mean like, The Rose was the show. But Sally Pickles was most definitely the showstopper, and she knew it, which was more than fine with me. But nothing lasts forever.

Being new to even myself, I met a man named Ivan who desperately wanted to become The Rose, or something along those lines.

Under the false pretenses of suddenly falling in love with me, he’d asked me to marry him. But it was nothing more than an elaborate ruse to steal the concept of what exactly it was that was The Rose. And I, not even knowing what exactly it was that I’d become immediately agreed to the whole thing. But little did I realize, like the late autumn cold, Ivan was the beginning of The Rose’s end.

Like a winter storm of deceit and greed, he killed what I had become.

In every sense of the word, he abused me, becoming more than violent at times. He made sure to steal my clothing, my identity, my freedom, my home, and finally my life. Beyond that, he went as far as to murder my baby, Sally Pickles. So, neither The Rose nor Sally Pickles exist anymore. She and her baby were slain by the person she’d vowed to love for all eternity. But are they really gone?

I sometimes feel as though both her and even Sally Pickles still exist somewhere deep inside of me. I don’t know.

Was it a sin for me to have become The Rose?

The Rose was simply a face I wore to hide the identity of the suffering Crystal Meth addict I’d become. She was my redemption before the redemption that was sobriety, what is known as The 12 Steps. She was the almost A Clockwork Orange dreams of my repressed childhood, the answer to the violence that I’d experienced as a boy. Only, the world was not ready for him. It couldn’t see that The Rose was but a mask to hide my pain.

People often ask me where she went, and if she’ll ever resurface again?

I’d like to believe so. I’d like to believe that she will, on some warm summer day, bloom again.

Like the song says, “Deep beneath the winter snow, lies the seed that, with the Sun’s love, in the Spring be The Rose.”


About the author

Joseph Dudnik

Where to begin, I've not a clue.

Like the rose, whose blooms begin, end, and begin anew, I'm enjoying a new cycle in life.

Active addiction has been tilled under.

Wisdom born of its pain has created a more permanent internal peace and beauty.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (4)

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  • AJ Birt18 days ago

    This is truly a heartbreaking tale but so beautifully written. I love the mix between reality, identity and metaphor when you write of The Rose. Wonderful :)

  • Carol Townend2 months ago

    Your o had me in tears. I have put up with some heavy abuse and trauma in my past. I want to say, always be yourself, because that is the most colourful and truest rose you can ever grow into. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Dr R. Evans2 months ago

    My tears are still falling after such a raw and tragic account. I am despondent and disgusted by humanity’s capacity for such malice and violence. I cannot begin to imagine the pain you have endured. You are truly a gifted writer. Please continue to nourish your talent. I am sorry that you lost your best friend and baby in such a heinous manner. Even as you and Manhattan became swept away by “The Rose”, it seemed as though it was really Sally Pickles who embodied all of your best qualities. As a fierce dog lover, I hope Ivan is locked away for a long time and suffers as much as you and Sally Pickles have. One more thing I want you to know. It sounds like you were never loved in the way you deserved to be most of your life and you may get down on yourself at times for poor decisions or mistakes you have made. No matter what, please remember that you did at least one thing right: you loved and cherished Ms Pickles the way she deserved and gave her the best life you possibly could. She is now your guardian angel.

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