It all started with a kiss.
There were the four of us together that day, as was often the case. There was my sister Anne, her best friend Jill, my best friend John, and me - Mike Marshal, a sixteen year old kid who was the runt of the litter.
We were in Jill’s parent’s basement, like always, as it had a ping-pong/pool table we could play with, as well as a tv set and a couch so we could watch programs if we wanted to.
Jill’s folks much like mine - a pair of academics who worked at the town college, and they trusted her to look after the place and keep us out of trouble totally, and she had never let them down.
I honestly dont remember what we were watching, but it ended with two girls kissing which is when the argument started.
“I dont get it. Why do guys want to see two girls kiss?” my sister asked, “I mean, they’re supposedly both straight, but they kiss, and all the guys are probably creaming their jeans.”
I blushed a little at her language, and said nothing.
John said, “Its hot, man. You see two beautiful straight ladies sharing a kiss, and you want to join in. And because they’re straight, you know you’d be welcome.”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t seem fair. I mean, Jill, would you get hot over two guys kissing?” my sister said.
“Maybe. Would depend on the guys.” Jill grinned.
Jill nodded. “Like you two there. If you were to kiss, It would be hot.”
She nodded, and then whispered something to my sister that got her giggling.
“But we’re straight!” John objected.
“That’s kinda the point. Like you said, we’d want to join in, and because you’re straight, we’d be welcome.”
“What would you give us?” John asked. “What would you give to watch us kiss?”
“John! You serious?” I stammered.
My sister smiled at him, and said, “How about us? You kiss each other, and you’ll get a makeout session with us, deal?”
“I’d be up for that.” John grinned.
“Its just one kiss, dude. And I know you’ve wanted to snuggle with Jill there.”
I blushed and gave him a swat on the arm. “I told you that in confidence!”
“Its okay.” Jill said.
“Its up to you.” Anne said. “Nobody will force you, and nobody will say anything to anybody outside of this room.”
So I found myself standing in front of John, licking my lips and trying to calm my nerves.
“Close your eyes, if it helps.” Jill said, and so I did, and the next thing I felt was a pair of lips touching mine.
Like the old saying, I was sixteen and had never been kissed, but almost the second the kiss started it felt like I was on fire, as a glow worked its way from my stomach and spread in all directions till I felt like a living flame.
When he stopped I shook, and then without saying anything to anybody I ran upstairs, out of Jill’s house, and ran home.
I ran all the way into my bedroom, and sobbed into a pillow.
What had happened to me? What was wrong with me. To kiss him as a game, sure, but to like it? Was I gay?
I finally did something I had never done before, I began to examine my own mind, gently and carefully poking around the edges.
Who was I?
Was I gay? I wasnt sure, but somehow, that didnt seem to fit.
I started looking back at my life up until that point, and realized that John was pretty much the only guy I spent any time with at all, and whenever I could I preferred the company of girls, especially Anne and Jill. When it was just the three of us, I felt ... relaxed. I had told John I wanted to snuggle with Jill, but now looking at that feeling, I realized I hadnt been totally honest.
That what I had felt for Jill wasnt desire, but envy.
I wanted to be like her. Like my sister Anne.
No. That wasn’t quite right either.
I didnt want to be like them. I wanted to be seen as like them.
Because I already was like them, on the inside.
I .... I was a girl.
I dont know what I would have done if Anne and Jill and John hadn’t came bursting into my room at that point, and John asked “You okay, dude?”
“No. I’m not. I’m not okay. Cause I’m not a dude. I’m a freaking girl!”
There was a shocked silence for a moment, and then he said, “Yeah. I .. I think you are.”
“It ... makes sense.” Jill said.
Anne sat on my bed, and hugged me. “It will be okay. I always wanted a baby sister.”
And so the longest, and strangest journey began for me.
John was with me for some of it, but when the girl stuff got too intense for him, he left it to my sister and Jill, who gently and lovingly helped me gain more and more confidence in my presentation and appearance. They stood by me as I told my folks, told councilors, and eventually Michelle was who the world saw on a full time basis.
Then one cold February day, the girls decided what I needed was a date, and John graciously offered to be my escort for the evening, and I found myself in the prettiest dress I had yet worn waiting anxiously for my gentleman caller to ring the doorbell.
When he did, he presented me with a heart-shaped box filled with those little candy hearts with cute sayings on them, dug through the candy for a bit, and pulled out the one he said represented me best.
“It said “Pretty girl.”
I gave him a kiss for that, and we went out, and had a wonderful time, and I felt as full and complete as I could pre-surgery, and it was a Valentine’s day I’ll always treasure.
Now, if this was a story, I’d finish by telling you that John and I got married and lived happily ever after, but life doesnt always go the way of fairy tales.
We dated for a while, but not seriously, and eventually parted ways while remaining friends. But thanks to him, I met Alex, and we clicked, and here we are on my wedding day, and John is the best man, and Anne and Jill are my bridesmaids, and my life is pretty good.
Just goes to show you never know what’s waiting for you if you’re brave enough to look for it.
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