thanks to Kelly Blake for the artwork
I could see you ten or twelve times a day
I think it's best we do it your therapist's way
I grow my hair long and wear big coats, yeah
I get so lovesick my sad thoughts float
Carteret, New Jersey…
Zach laid his guitar on the bed and walked over to the dresser by his closet door. He stopped long enough to look at his image in the door mirror before blowing out a frustrated breath. He looked much younger than his seventeen years and still looked nothing like he wished.
“Honey? Abigail called…she’ll meet you at the library at two, okay?” Grace called from down the hall. The boy turned and looked at the doorway, imagining his mother’s smile before returning his attention to the mirror. Another sigh was followed quickly by a gasp of disgust as he used the sleeve of his hoodie to rub the offending ‘artwork’ from his face. He bit his lip and shook his head, feeling unsafe, insecure, and completely foolish. And utterly alone.
“Listen…I think what you wrote is every bit as good as what they play…maybe better,” Abigail said, rubbing the boy’s arm with her hand. He smiled lamely.
“You know you’re just saying that. The song is okay, I guess, but I’m not nearly as creative as they are, and I just don’t feel like….” His voice trailed off and he looked away.
“Oh…you know what I mean, Zach. And that doesn’t mean that you’re not a good songwriter. We can mix in a lot of your stuff with theirs, okay?” She understood most of what the boy was all about, and what she didn’t understand he hoped she would at least try. He took a chance.
“It’s not just the music, Abs…. It’s a lot more than music but it’s almost exactly that…” He put his head down. She grabbed his wrist and squeezed gently.
“Tell me, honey.”
The girl used the same endearment as his mother; leaving him feeling awkward and ashamed instead of assured. She squeezed his wrist again and smiled. He felt the gesture, even if he missed the expression; at least visually. She lifted his face; a very tender if entirely parent-like moment which still felt right, even for a fifteen year old girl.
“Zach? I think I know.” He went to speak and she put her finger against her lips to shush him. A nice amalgam of a guessing game and need to encourage.
“I like you just the way you are,” she said with a half-frown, sending him the wrong message entirely. He blew out a frustrated breath and stood up.
“Fine. I don’t care anymore,” he snapped loudly. The librarian shot him an angry glare, and he grabbed his notebook off the table. He would have walked out then and there but for the hand that firmly grasped his sweatshirt.
“No…not how everyone thinks you are….how YOU are, silly.” Even the name tacked on at the end of her words upset him. He sat back down and cradled his head in his hands.
“I don’t think anyone really knows, Zach, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one you’ve told.” She squeezed his arm.
“I don’t know what to think, Abs…” He placed his arms on the table and rested his head, looking away.
“It’s not just that, is it?” She rubbed his back and the librarian shot her an uglier angry glare. She ignored the guy and went back to attending to her best friend.
“Let’s start off slow, okay? My Dad is pretty cool. Let’s tell him. Better yet, let’s show him.” She giggled in an ever so not subtle conspiratorial tone.
Abigail’s house…later that afternoon…
“Hold still; you don’t want to look like…well you don’t want to look like a belieber.” He flinched just enough to send her hand sideways as the eyeliner traced a nice inky scar across his face.
“Jeez…don’t be such a baby!”
She regretted the words as soon as she said them; the only redeeming aspect of the moment was that she had just started, since his tears had done a fairly good job of removing the last three tries. She kissed him on the forehead like the big sister she wasn’t; he didn’t like that she treated him like a kid sometimes, and he certainly didn’t want to be treated like her sister, even if he had never said a word to her. But he really didn’t need to; or at least he would find that out.
A short while later…
“Dad?” Abigail tapped her father on the shoulder, drawing his attention away from the music coming from his laptop. He paused the video and turned to face two figures; both of which seemed vaguely familiar and oddly foreign at the same time.
“You two look just like the indie sister group….you know?” He said it without skipping a beat, considering the two figures before him.
“I know, Dad…that’s the whole point. What do you think?” She used her hand gesture back and forth between them in emphasis.
“Well, Megan’s your middle name and Megan and Tegan are similar; I’ll give you that. But doesn’t a sister act usually involve at least two sisters? I mean; friends are all right, but you don’t really get much attention as a ‘friends’ act?” He laughed softly until the girl standing next to Abigail shook her head and turned away even as her face grew red.
“Oh crap….” Carlo put his arm on the girl’s shoulder and squeezed gently.
“It’s okay, Zach. I already know.” The girl turned around and stared at Abigail’s dad; eyes wide from shame and sadness and fear and surprise all mixed together.
“Your mother told me and Greta that you were going through a lot of stuff, and she wondered if we could keep an eye on you.” He looked Zach up and down; not in scrutiny, but almost a visual inventory to see if the boy was okay. Zach shook his head no; no for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the overwhelming feeling that he didn’t feel okay at all. Abigail drew him into a sideways hug and squeezed his other shoulder.
“My mother told me once that as clever as I was…and Abigail will tell you I’m quite clever indeed…. Anyway she told me that I could never ever put one over on her since Moms always know. Your mom sort of has an idea about this, Zach, okay?” The boy nodded as tears began to spill off his face. All of Abigail. handiwork would have seemed to have gone for naught but for the innocent, almost fragile girl that emerged from behind the running makeup.
“We had a kid in my class in Middle school. Hell, we had a few kids like you in High School. But this kid I knew lived down the street from me, and there were always other kids who said some really nasty stuff. I was one of them until my mother grabbed me…literally grabbed me by the pocket enough to rip my shirt. ‘Don’t ever let me hear you being cruel to another child ever again!’ She was livid. That poor kid never had many friends until that day. Ginnie was my best friend from that moment on; she’s still pretty much my best friend apart from Abigail’s mom, you know? So I know.”
Abigail had always been proud of her father, but never so much as in that moment. She squeezed Zach’s shoulder again as if to say, ‘see, I told you it would be okay.’ The boy couldn’t believe his ears…maybe ‘her’ ears would have been more appropriate, but everyone from that moment on would stumble on words and pronouns and adjectives because transgendered children are free for the taking, so to speak, for anyone who wants to love and care and cherish. But they don’t come with a rule book or set of instructions.
A few years later…The Izod Arena, The Meadowlands, New Jersey…
Two girls stood just off stage. Both clutched their guitars nervously with one hand each while holding on with the other. They looked almost enough alike to be sisters, which was true in a sense since one of them had been a charter member and the other had only just recently completed her transfer from fraternal to sororal. A loud voice boomed through speakers to their right.
“They've have just returned from the Indie Band Europe Festival in Berlin, where they wowed the crowds.”
The words were nearly drowned out by a loud mixture of whistles, applause and shouts. The two turned to each other and kissed; a reverse Luke and Leia moment that was anything but sibling-to-sibling. A guy just to their left waved at them and pointed to center stage. Another quick kiss; this time indeed 'for luck' as they walked out into the spotlight as the announcer said finally,
“Please welcome Abie and Sarah!”
The time you've got me running
News broke today so we're not talking
I think it's best we do a little bit of stopping
I want a house on a beach and you in my dreams
Written by Tegan Quin
As performed by
Tegan and Sara
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