And so, here I am. Sitting in my car parked in front of the house.
I have no idea why I’m just sitting here. I just… I don’t want to go in the house yet, see my folks. I’m still too shaken by that panic attack. I don’t need them screaming at me for breaking down again.
So instead I sing along to a few songs off the radio, really scream them out, get my voice nice and hoarse. I need to get this excess energy out of my body. After about three songs I’m starting to feel less jittery, so when the battery finally goes off I think it’s about as good a time as ever to finally pop the garage door and walk on in.
“Jesus Liam, hell took you so long? I was starting to get worried!” Welp, Ma certainly knew how to greet’cha. Looks like she was already starting dinner… jesus actually, scratch that. It’s almost five already - was I really out that late?
“Hey, sorry Ma. I was just, ya’know… I was studying with a friend of mine. I guess we lost track of time?”
“Don’t lie to me boy, you know how much I fucking hate that. You and Joey were just galavanting around like usual. I don’t know why you couldn’t make better friends than that kid. Maybe someone normal?” Jesus christ, and here we go with this again.
“First off, Joey is a great kid and you know that. And second, and I’m sure this’ll make you happy, it was a girl. There was a new kid in school today, I was helping her get acclimated.” And just like that, the air cooled back down and the tension seemed to have gone out - just like I expected.
“Oh, a girl then? Does this ‘girl’ have a name? Come on come on, tell me about her!” Yep, it really always comes down to this. Well, it comes to any little thing she can use to tear me down, but that thing with Joey is always her favorite to go to…
“Well, her name’s Sarah. Somehow managed to sneak into classes a couple weeks late?” I pause, Ma just rolls her hands in a ‘go on’ motion. “Uuuuh, she’s, uh, fun to talk to? We, like, chatted for a long while at lunch and after school. She’s, like, uh. Pretty?” God above, why am I so terrible at this.
“God above you’ve got it bad, don’t you? Barely can talk about it, Mr. Matcho! About time you actually found a woman to chase. I swear, if you would have just gone out for sports like I kept suggesting you would have had to beat the ladies off you with a stick, with how you’re built!” I just sigh at… all that. She’s really laying it on thick today! I really don’t have the energy to keep this conversation up…
“Hey Ma? I’m going to sneak off to my room. Just, call me down when dinner’s ready, ok?” I make sure to peel off before she can even respond, hiking my backpack back up my shoulders and trucking past the room where my dad was sleeping up to my little sanctuary.
“Well shit man, she sounds like she’s right up your alley. Good for you! And at least that’ll get the Harpy and the Ogre off your back, right?”
Joey was on the horn before I even got the door shut. Hell, I’m still wearing my backpack for god’s sake. The fact that I even needed to vent this badly from such a benign conversation shows just how shaken I am today, but god above do I need it.
“That’s the thing though, you would think right? And yeah, Ma seemed excited about it, cha. But, you know. Not enough to actually stop digging at me over it…”
“Oh, come off it already! It wasn’t like I had you split open up to the elbow or anything. Bitch acts like she walked into fuckin’ Gohmorra. It was a fuckin’ kiss, shit wouldn’t even be censored on the disney channel.”
“God above, why did I have to do that in my room of all places? I just knew that shit would happen. If we were at a park or something…” It had to have been a good seven months ago my parents caught us, and the two of them only just finally started easing up on me over it. And even if I’ve finally managed to convince them it was just a one time thing, I don’t think they were ever going to trust Joey again - if they ever did in the first place. Once I went and brought it into their home, and especially after Joey took the rap as the instigator, suddenly the quiet part got really, really loud. We were nothing but hellspawn.
“How in the hell were you supposed to know it would happen? She hadn’t gone up those stairs in 10 years, and suddenly she wants to come check on us in person? Christ, I’m shocked she even managed to get up them in the first place!”
“You ever think what would happen if she didn’t? I mean… would we?”
“No, don’t go down that road. What, would you be sneaking me in and out in the dead of night? Besides dude, you kiss like a dead fish. Worse than Linsay, and you know how she would chew on my lip like it was goddamned bubblegum! If I wanted holes punched through my mouth I’d have actually gotten those snakebites.” That at least got me to giggle. He’s right - he’s way too important of a friend to chance on a dumb fling like that. I don’t even think we would ever be each other’s type honestly - he was just close, and convenient, and safe to practice with. Who better than your bi best friend to show you the ropes and try boys on with?
And while (I think) that might be a yes on boys as a whole, I don’t know. Something still didn’t feel right about the whole thing. I just, I couldn’t feel anything past the same exact shame as when I dated Carla for a hot minute. The math adds up - and you don’t need to be a math whiz to see that the common denominator was me. Again, I couldn’t help but think...
“Hey Joey? Have you heard of… do you know…”
“Liam buddy, we’ve talked about this. You gotta lead one thought to the next, I can’t read your mind.”
“Right, uh, I agree with you first off. And I was thinking about, just, something I found out about tod…”
And my mom cuts me right off. “Liam! Come on down and eat!” Great fucking timing, as usual Ma.
“Sorry Joe, I gotta go. I’ll just, uh. I’ll google it.”
“Ok buddy. You know I’m always here to talk.”
Of course I had to put it right back into my mind right before I had to interact with mom and dad, again. Dad wanted to hear all about Sarah of course - because he worked graveyard the only time we got to talk on weekdays was during dinner, and Ma must have bragged when waking him up for it. Unfortunately it was all just, putting more knots in my gut - I only got as far as what I told Ma this afternoon before I just needed to escape.
I just claimed to be queasy and that I needed to go lay down before I sicked my stroganoff back onto the table, and I got out. Now I’m back on my bed and back on my phone and back on my bullshit.
“It… can’t be that easy, can it?” Google had led me to a few… interesting places. One was a website that looked like it crawled out of the 90’s and died there. One was some quiz called the COGIERA - but after about fifty questions of “do you know math” and “do you know makeup” I felt like it might not have been the most... nuanced resource. Embarrassingly, it also brought up a webcomic I read as a child before I developed what connoisseurs called “taste”. Amateurish art of two boys and their secretly witch friend, who somehow always managed to turn into three girls. And also horses sometimes. And trees. Girl trees. Girl trees who used to be boy… well boy humans. Humanoids. Why did no one mention this stuff on this site? “It’s just family friendly fun!”
Actually, I read a lot of comics like that as a kid. Boy enters a ‘haunted house’ with his friend and they get scienced into girls. Barbarian adventurer gets zapped by a lych and turned into an amazon. Boy gets chosen to be a Sailor Moon and becomes a girl when he does the transformation sequence. Boy builds a laser rifle in his basement that turns everyone into girls, and also magic and aliens. Boy gets turned into a girl by a dipshit angel and also the author really wants to fuck his ford.
I guess… I guess this is why they all did this, huh? Why didn’t any of them talk about it? Or mention why this was going on? A billion different projects all skirting around the issue and half winking at the audience and I just… what, think it’s “family friendly fun”? This must have been… people like Sarah must have been reading… Well. I mean, I did always wish I could have been a Sailor Moon too. Or a witch. But that was a power fantasy thing, right? Every kid grew up to want to have magic powers, or to be super strong, or to have everyone love them despite being so obviously broken.
There was one more result though. A little form, with a little chatroom underneath it. I didn’t even know anyone in this world was still using IRC, but here was a little haven of it still floating around there. “Transgender Support Page”. Probably the most generic title available to them. And right at the top, saved above the first form, right underneath welcome, was a little quote. “Wanting to be a girl is the first symptom of being a girl. Congratulations, you are one.”
I need to talk to Sarah.