Blue Silk

Blue Silk

Blue Silk

by Erisian

 

This year, I hereby resolve…

 

“Seriously, Joe? Are you still working on that journal assignment?”

Cass hovered above a shoulder, or more precisely, peeked over it as they only reached a few inches above five feet even when shoved into boots.

Whereas in contrast I could hardly fit in the chair and had to lean way over to type, seeing as how my knees would never fit below the ridiculously tiny desk standard to each small and drafty dorm room.

“Yeah,” I said with a groan. “It’s just stupid!”

“Well, what is it exactly? Maybe I can help.” Floating away on bare and just-showered feet, Cass crossed to their side of the room to throw open the narrow wardrobe made of painted pressboard wedged in their corner. Long strands of blond hair scattered droplets all over ancient brown carpeting as they more danced than walked across the room.

“Nah, I’ll figure it out. The TA is making us come up with some New Year’s Resolutions for this week’s entry. Like I said, it’s stupid.” Closing the screen’s document, I turned to watch my roommate reach into the mass of clothes actually hung properly using hangers and pull out an item freshly wrapped in drycleaners plastic. A deep navy blue shimmered below the thin covering.

“That’s not dumb at all,” Cass said. “In fact, I have my own list - and tonight I’m even crossing off an item!” Spinning about like a ballerina - which they definitely were skinny enough to be - they grinned and held up the prize, even as the scruffy white towel currently wrapped around a flat chest and thin upper legs threatened to slip on down.

“Is that what I think it is?”

“You betcha! Lila’s prom dress, the one she wore when you took her last spring - she gave it to me over the break! And I’ve got the perfect heels to go with it!”

A quick glance to our door ensured it was indeed closed. As were the cheap curtains - you know the ones, where there’s a long stick you gotta pull sideways across the windows to adjust how much the coarse beige cloth actually covered. “If you’re gonna wear heels in here tonight, we should clean up the mess.” I pointed a thick finger at all the junk covering our floor: on their side were random t-shirts, underwear, socks, and books, whereas on mine lay a scattered collection of bulky hand-weights along with a tent-like football uniform completely marked green with grass stains.

Yeah, yeah. I planned to wash it after the idiotic homework was complete. Well, maybe after the gym. Eh, the season ended over a week ago anyway, so why rush?

Cass however was sticking out a tongue. “Not staying in tonight.” With another dramatic twirl while holding the wrapped dress against their torso, they gleefully announced, “I’ve got a date!”

The chair under me creaked dangerously. “A what?”

“A date! I’m going out!”

“As Cassandra?!”

“I can hardly go out wearing a dress as Cassidy, duh!” Humming, Cass dropped the towel and foraged for a pair of panties stealthily wedged in the back of a drawer. Having only been on hormones since right before winter break, there still wasn’t any difference to see.

Though they - well, she - kept hoping.

Working carefully to ‘hide the evidence’ before slipping on the women’s underwear, the sound of crinkling plastic then filled the room as she extracted blue silk from its protection. The dress was quite slender, designed to be tight-fitting and only reach to above the knees - maybe higher if the wearer’s legs were long. “Oh, hmm. I need to put on the forms first.”

“Wait, who you going out with?”

“You know Peter Miller?”

“Isn’t he on the soccer team? Stuck in the back?”

“Hey! He’s not stuck back there, he’s an awesome defender! Sheesh, don’t let your defensive line hear you disparaging their side of the game!”

“Okay, okay…but does he know? I’ve heard some not nice things about that team, especially their asshole of a captain.”

Using a bit of some kind of glue, Cass stuck these wibbly things to her already-shaved chest. Not that she ever had much to shave. Slipping legs into the silky material, she pulled the dress up and poked arms through the thin straps, the forms she’d stuck on giving the glossy cloth the kind of curves it expected. “What kind of jerk do you take me for? Of course he knows. And before you get all worried, he’s totally approving!” She began trying to zip up the back, but couldn’t reach to get it all the way.

With a grunt I stood and stepped behind her. “Here, let me.” Fingers more used to shoving other bulky guys out of the way took a couple attempts to grab hold of the tiny metal, but finally got it done. “How the heck did it happen?”

“Did what happen?”

Scooping up the towel from the floor, I scowled. “You should have dried your hair more before putting this on. C’mere.” Feeling how damp the cloth was, I tossed it to a corner and got a fresh one from my closet. “Hold still.” Applying careful pressure - because yeah, I knew how strong I was, learned that the hard way in High School by accidentally breaking a kid’s arm - I massaged and squeezed at the hair to get as much water out as possible, then used her brush to get the strands straight again. “You need a hair dryer.”

“Nuh-uh. I’ve got you!” With another grin, she spun away to pull out a mysterious plastic case from yet another overflowing drawer filled with random cruft. “And you didn’t answer the question.” Opening the small box, she produced a number of items with which she began applying all sorts of things to her cheeks while making funny faces at the wall mirror that sat in between our closets.

“How did Peter know to ask you out as Cassandra?”

“Well, uhm, you know I’ve been going to those LGBTQ meetings, right?”

“Yeah, sure. I told you to go after having to toss my robe at you to hide that nightie of yours when the fire alarm went off our first week.”

“Peter drops his cousin off. She’s cool, by the way.”

“She trans too?”

Cass giggled. “No, silly. Holly’s a lesbian. But she doesn’t have a car. You know you can go too, right? As an ally?”

“No thanks.”

“Aw c’mon. You’ve been my best supporter!! Or are you afraid for your reputation on the brute squad?”

I stepped back to sit on the bed, the springs loudly protesting as usual. “Don’t have time between practice, homework, and the gym.”

“Convenient excuses.”

Holding my tongue, I watched Cass continue the transformation. Eyeliner, lipstick, the works.

Damn, she really was starting to look the part. But not entirely.

“Isn’t this risky?”

She paused, giving me a painted side-eye. “My therapist thinks it’d be good.”

“You’ve barely started HRT, and this is a lot more than sleeping here in a nightgown with our door locked.”

“I need to live as a woman for at least a year before SRS. That means going out in public.”

“Then let’s go! Just you and me!”

Looking at the floor, she said, “I thought you were too busy.”

“I’ll figure out the time.”

“Sure.” She sighed then pulled out a pair of gold earrings each in the shape of a small owl. “You always say that.” She fixed their clasps to her dangling lobes.

“Just…I mean, you haven’t even told your mom!”

“I’m eighteen. I don’t have to! And it’s not like she…dammit, you know what she’s like. If it wasn’t for you all through school, she might have kicked me out even.”

“She wouldn’t have. She does love you.”

“Does she?” Cass flipped hair away from her face to glare. “She wishes you were her son. She kept me around just so she could pretend whenever you came over!”

“That’s not true.”

“It isn’t? She baked you cakes on your birthday and would always forget mine! Why do you think I was over at your house so much? Your mom was more my mother than she ever was!” Smoothing out the dress, she sat on her bed and opened a package of black nylon stockings.

“At least tell me where you’re going.”

“To a movie, okay? That’s it. We agreed to take things slow and see what happens - he’s as nervous as I am! But dangit, he at least wants to give it a chance.” She didn’t speak the accusation direct, but the implication was clear.

“I just don’t want you getting hurt. And everyone is going to see when you walk out of here!”

Pulling on the dark sheers over smooth calves and thighs which obviously had been shaved in the recent shower, she then slipped on the pair of dark blue heels kept hidden under the bed. The spikes weren’t all that high, but still higher than I’d have preferred. “That’s the whole point.”

“I don’t like this. It’s too sudden!”

She then produced a small matching blue purse with golden chain for its shoulder strap, and began transferring items from her wallet into it, including her phone. “I wonder, Joe. I really do.”

“Wonder what?”

Looking up, her chin trembled ever so slightly. “You’ve always supported me, fought off the jerks year after year ever since elementary. And while you’ve said all the right things, and made sure we were roommates this year, it’s like…” She paused, then turned away.

“Like what?”

“Nevermind. I’m gonna be late, Holly wants to color my nails.” She stood and took a deep breath before sparkling blue eyes complementing the dress flashed with determination. “Be back later.”

Wanting to crush something between my hands, I watched her cross to the door. “Dammit, Cassidy! This is reckless!”

She flinched, but with squared shoulders the door unlocked and she stepped into the hallway before glaring daggers back. “Fuck you, Joe! The name is Cassandra!”

The door slammed, and the sound of her heels clicking down the hall followed.

 

This year, I hereby resolve…to be less overprotective of others.

 

“Wow, dude! Isn’t that like a personal best?!”

With a loud clank, the bar fell back onto the support pins on the rack, the stacks of six forty-five pound plates on each side bouncing slightly from the flexibility of the steel holding them aloft. “I guess.”

My spotter and fellow linesman scoffed. “Five hundred eighty-five pound squat is nothing to guess about. You eat your Wheaties today? Dang!”

“Something like that. Your turn, let’s go.”

Scott shook his head, causing the black dreads to bounce about his face. “Not until I strip some weight off. No way I’m pushing that much.”

I moved to one side, and at his direction we each removed a plate. Scott at six-foot-four (and on the field seemingly equally as wide) was pretty darned strong, but yeah - I was bigger still, and today I was cranked up.

Moving behind his bulky frame, I focused to properly spot him as his massive thighs and glutes shoved nearly five-hundred pounds balanced across the shoulders up and down. With weight amounts like these, you don’t mess around. If someone goes past failure, you gotta instantly tighten arms around their chest and keep them from collapsing.

That much weight in freefall can snap a neck, even ones as thick as ours.

When his set was done we both took seats nearby to re-wrap our knees - we each needed our own bench to fit.

“So what’s goin’ on?” Scott had been my lift partner since summer training before the school year started, both of us were rookies on the team. He was a good guy and a great guard, and hadn’t let not being put in for much playing time yet get to him.

As for me, I’d taken over center for the previous dude who’d graduated and immediately got drafted for the NFL, meaning I was out there for every start. “Just worried.”

“About?”

“Cass.”

“Your roomie? Short dude, long hair, always cheerful?”

“Yeah.”

“What’s the deal?”

“Can’t talk about it.”

Scott shrugged, then wiped sweat from his dark brow with a towel. “Hey man, we’re teammates. If you need us, we got your back. Whatever it is.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re up. Next set, go-go-go! See if you can hit six-hundred - shit, I bet you could do six-twenty!”

“Think I’m tapped out.”

“One rep! C’mon, put them Wheaties to work!”

“Fuck it. Let’s do it.”

Scott went and got another teammate, an amazing running back named Oscar, to come over and spot double in case things got dicey. This placed them one on each side, their arms ready to cradle the weights at the ends if necessary. When they both were ready, I forced the bar off the cage’s pins and slowly lowered all the way down with proper movement - legs and shoulders giving just a bit of a wobble but nothing uncontrollable.

As I started to rise - grunting loudly with the effort - a phone began to ring from over by the benches. It was Oscar’s, but being a true workout bro he ignored its ringtone of “Life In The Fast Lane” until my lift was done with the bar safely racked.

“Holy shit, hombre!” Scott cheered - as did many others in the gym who’d stopped to watch.

Drenched in sweat and with legs now unsteady, I fell back on the bench and mopped my face, ignoring the shouts. For some reason all my attention was on Oscar as the athletic ballcarrier listened to the voicemail left by the caller.

Oscar’s strongly tanned face had darkened in ways that had nothing to do with the color, and when he lowered the phone he looked over to me.

“Joe,” he said in total seriousness. “Where’s your phone?”

“In my locker. I crushed one in here by accident a couple months ago, now I stash it.”

“Our team’s doc just called me.”

“So?”

“Hospital rang him, they been tryin’ to reach you.”

Everyone around us hushed.

“Why?”

“Your roomie. They got admitted and you’re the emergency contact. Somethin’ about an assault.”

The world went red. Rising with legs suddenly no longer tired, my voice roared across the gym.

“I’ll fucking kill him!!”

 

This year, I hereby resolve…to work on anger control both on and off the field.

 

Heart monitors beeped as her flat-again chest rose and fell, the blanket likely too thin to offer any real warmth considering how cold the room was. Her head was bandaged over an eye, and a nurse had obviously scrubbed clean all the mascara and other concoctions that she’d applied to her cheeks.

Which left the bruise sneaking out from under that white cloth and tape clearly visible beside her tiny nose - as was the cast on an arm, whereas the wrap for the broken ribs hid under that blanket. Though it could have been worse.

At least, I kept telling myself that.

“J…Joe?” Her non-bandaged eye slowly fluttered open and she found her hand held gently between an awkward thumb and fingers.

“Hey. It’s gonna be okay.”

“How…how long have I…” Her voice sounded weak. So very weak.

“They gave you some serious painkillers, kept you knocked out for the night. It’s morning.”

Her hand tensed and pulled free, though along the way her brightly polished nails caught at the scabs across my knuckles. Her eye widened, and she blurted, “Peter! Oh god, Joe! What did you do?!”

“It’s okay-”

“He didn’t hurt me!” She swallowed, flinching as ribs moved from the effort.

“I know.”

“But-”

I raised a bruised and hairy finger. “Hush. These aren’t from Peter. My teammates insisted on coming, they held me back. I owe ‘em for that. Gave your guy a chance to talk.”

“It was Jorge! And others…” She tried to sit up.

“Don’t! Just…just lie back, Cass. Like I said, it’s okay. And we got them. Peter gave up his captain and all the other jerks.” I tried to smile, but as usual it must not have looked all that encouraging.

“What did…what did you do?!”

“Convinced them to do the right thing.”

“I…what?”

I glanced at the clock. “Right about now those assholes are gonna be informing their coach just how much they don’t deserve to play for our school. They’re gonna confess to having followed Peter and you to the theater, intending to play a prank on him - and how when they saw you, that prank became something much worse. And then when confronted, how incredibly fucking stupid they were to take swings at me right there in front of my squad.”

“They held him down, he tried to fight them off. Is he…?”

“Peter’s fine. A bit black-n-blue around the arms, but fine.”

“He’s just not…not as strong as you.”

This time the smile was genuine. “He’s strong enough. He carried you to the ER. And when the entire offensive-line is done escorting those bastards to their coach, they’re taking them all to the police station. Peter already filed the report. When you’re ready, a detective will be in to interview you - and I’ll be right here, okay?”

“You will?”

“Yeah. You’re not going through that alone.”

“I…I’m sorry.”

“For what? I was the one being a jerk when you left.”

“You were right, this was too soon.” Her gaze fell upon the carefully folded blue fabric resting upon the counter a few feet from the bed.

“Heck no, it wasn’t.” Calloused hands in need of a bar to shove around flexed. “Cass…Cassandra. If this is truly who you are, then you gotta be it.”

She sniffed, and a tear rolled down a cheek. “Even if I’m never gonna be as pretty as…as Lila?”

“What does she have to do with it? Be yourself. Shit, you’re amazingly brave - show the world!”

“Even if you don’t like what I’m doing?”

“What?”

“I can…I can tell when you’re putting on a brave face while something bothers you. Always have.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“The more I’ve dressed, the more I’ve embraced this…the more you’ve closed up. I was hoping…dammit, Joe, I was hoping for the opposite!”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’ve crushed on you for years!!”

“Oh. That.” I looked away and shrugged, unable to meet her gaze.

“You knew?!”

“I may play football, but I ain’t that dim.”

“And you worked the administration so we’d be roommates anyway?!”

“Yeah.”

Confusion turned to pain across her face. “But…why?!”

“Because…fuck.”

“Tell me! I’m already doped to the gills, what more can anything hurt?”

I sighed. “Trying to be like Lila for me was a mistake.”

“Why?”

“We…look, she and I, we were never into each other. But she was gorgeous, and I was…well, me. With this lug at her side, no one dared even approach her. And she was sick of being hit on by every guy at school - and many more who weren’t.”

“But…wait, what?”

“She figured it out first, Cass. You should have, but she did.”

Her eye blinked. “Figured out?”

“Lila only likes girls. She’d adore the you that you’re becoming - probably why she gave you that dress.”

“You two were the hottest item at school, they crowned you Prom King and Queen!”

“We faked it. She never wanted me.”

“What the heck are you saying?!”

Meaty palms found the armrests of the chair struggling to hold me up. The metal bent. “That you’re right. I liked you as Cassidy better.”

She inhaled sharply, and a fresh tear began to drip.

Releasing the chair, I reached out to gently dry her cheek with a wide fingertip. “But not because of what you think.”

“Then what?” Her pain tried to shift to anger. “You owe me that much.”

Closing eyes, I whispered something.

“Speak up. I couldn’t hear that.”

“I said…ah fuck, Cass - I’m gay.”

Anger froze into pale-faced shock. “What?!”

“I’m not…I’m not into girls. I wish I was, but I’m just…not.”

She blinked. “Oh my god.”

“Yeah.”

“And I…”

“Yeah.”

“And you…?”

“Pretty much.”

“Oh…oh dang.”

“Yeah.”

We sat in awkward silence for a long moment, and from outside the room the silhouettes of a cop and detective shadowed the glass set in the closed door.

I stood up, leaning over to kiss her cheek. “I’m sorry.”

“So where…where does that leave us?”

Carefully I touched her shoulder. “With you as my favorite sister.”

“You don’t have any sisters.”

“I do now.”

The cops knocked politely before coming in, and I held her hand through the whole thing.

 

This year, I hereby resolve…to come out to my team and everyone - especially to my best friend and biggest inspiration, Cassandra.

 

Fin

 

 

Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed!

-Erisian

 



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