Author’s Note: The following stories were originally published in the “TG Mixed Tape” flash fiction anthologies. As readers of those collections know, many of my contributions detail incidents in the life of Nina, a young trans woman. If you haven’t read these stories, enjoy. If you have, I hope that you take the time to revisit and find re-reading them back-to-back a different, richer experience.
Table of Contents
A Post-Apocalyptic Story
First Twenty-fifth Unbirthday
In 1995 my family owned four pairs of scissors. There were the pink Piglet safety scissors, chunky and phallic; the small silver pair with the curved and blunted tips for cutting the dog’s fur; and the pair with the grey handles that my mum called “the grown up scissors” even when she thought that I wasn’t listening, and my dad called “the shears,” and which were cumbersome and rarely used. Then there were the kitchen scissors, which got used for just about everything. Scoring potatoes for roasting, opening packaging when digging in with nails and fingertips didn’t work, trimming the knots off Hoofer. My mum, before she’d had me, was a hairdresser and’d taken them home with her on her last day, and when my hair got long enough to need cutting they were used once more for their original purpose. Their handles were plastic and ivory white. The finger ring had a tang, which was something that none of the others had, and this made it look a bit like a Q or, to a child’s imagination, a magnifying glass. I liked to hold this up to my eye and pretend to be a detective.
Once, after I did this, I hid them. That night my parents stayed up late. And I stayed up too, in secret, lying in my bed in the dark, listening to the TV sounds and watching the TV light flicker beneath my bedroom door. My jaw was stiff from yawning when it went out. I counted as high as I could – seven tens and three – eight times to be sure that my parents were asleep, reached beneath my pillow and retrieved. I placed my penis by feel. The blades were cool against it as they pinched.
The next day I, the Great Inspector in his Batman cowl and his father’s akubra, solved the case of the missing scissors. The culprit was Pooh-bear. He’d hidden them behind a couch cushion. Pooh spent the afternoon in a cardboard box with the word "Jail" written on it. I’d done the writing myself, using stencils, though my mother had had to order the letters. My dad filmed it all with his new video camera. Christine crawled around dripping poo from her nappy. For this, I wanted to lock her away too. But mum said something about bail and when I asked her what that meant, my mother laughed, and so did dad, and I huffed off to my room. And when people ask me, “Nina, what’s your earliest memory,” or some such, at reunions, or in fancy restaurants or bedrooms as a way of establishing intimacy, this is what I will describe, even though it is only what I have seen on a screen after the fact. In truth I do not remember much of my childhood. The second, third, fourth-hand impression is that it was an exceptionally happy one. But the moments that have stayed with me are not.
Hugh tickled the dog’s stomach as he waited for Nino (Correction, Nina. It was Nina now). Cousin was Nina’s pooch. But Weston House, her digs, was No Pets. And the family home was, for the moment, a no go zone.
They (Hugh, Cousin) were on the floor, Hugh with his back to the couch. As a toddler he’d liked to press his face between the cushions. As a teen he and Nina’d slouched and gamed. And fumbled. Occasionally fucked. A pedestal fan also donated by his folks faced a wire clothes horse. Shorts and boxers swayed in its breeze, as did the Simon and Marcy graphic tee that he and Nina shared (he’d had it for the last two weeks). A canister of Estradiol that Nina had left behind last time she’d been around sat on top of the coffee table, to remind him, and to remind her that she had to take it with her along with the shirt.
A toilet flushed. A shower pitter-pattered on.
“You know piss is sterile, right?” Hugh called out.
“Ewww,” Nina called back, “Eww, Eww, Eww, Ick and gross.” She laughed.
“Do you want me to come in with you?”
“No. I’ll be quick.”
When she emerged from the bathroom her skin was flushed and her hair was sticking together and glossy. She was warm to touch. She wore black underpants and was topless. Her breasts were small, a little on the mooby side, but a little less than they had been.
Hugh stopped patting Cousin which caused the dog to get stroppy. As he and Nina cuddle-walked to the bedroom he head-butted their legs and weaved with intent to trip.
She kept her undies on. Hugh played with her genitals through them. Stroking, and with his fingertips. He traced the outline of her penis, the underbuldge of her balls. Her teeth let go of his lower lip. Her face withdrew. She took his hand and showed him what she wanted.
He felt the tip of her nose against his skin, her tongue with his. A hand on his cheek, guiding his face away and to a nipple. A finger in his mouth, coaxing it open, slipping out, slipping something in. He felt another hand massaging his wrist, tightening when she began to grow hard (stop!), slackening when she did (keep going!), so that when she came, she came flaccid.
She was just starting his handjob when there was a series of hacking croak-coughs from the lounge. His limp dick flopped from her hand as he leapt out of bed. Her feet hit the floor seconds after his.
The pill canister was on the floor, lidless, lying in a puddle of vomit; all watery ooze and sogged kibble.
Nina drove them to the vet. Hugh sat in the passenger seat with Cousin on his lap, scratching the dog’s belly. As his fingers brushed over the emptiness where Cousin’s testicles used to be he began to laugh.
A Post-Apocalyptic Story
“I really liked the one you were co-authoring,” she said. “Is that ever going to be finished?”
During the pause I arranged a coaster and the three remaining slices of Meatlovers/Hawaiian half-n’-half into a facsimile of the radioactive symbol. Christine sipped her third vodka and coke.
“I don’t know.” I replied. “Kitty’s sort of dropped off the interwebs.”
“Oh.” My sister bit her lip. “Was she like you?”
My younger sibling has always seen me as representative – first of all boys, then of all gay people, now of all trans women. “Was she like you?” meant, “She was, wasn’t she, and she failed at dealing with the same things you did.”
To which the answer was, “No,” followed by an, “at least, I don’t think so.”
Though, like Christine, I too imagined that there was some serious Not Good going down in Kate’s life. I hoped that she was OK. Us transfolk don’t have a monopoly on soul crushing psychic shit. We’re not the only people who write silly body swap stories.
I took the last slice of Meatlovers.
My sister’s phone chimed. She checked it.
“It’s Jan,” she said to me, “we’re picking her up from Abram’s.”
I asked if I’d be taking Jan’s boyfriend in too.
“No, just us girls. Remind me to grab the Game of Thrones box set as we head out, I said I’d loan it to him. Maybe you two could make an evening of it while you wait for the pick up call.”
Abram had been super supportive early on, and lately. Between times, a few years back, we were at a Hottest 100 bash, all deep in our cups. Abram called me ladyboy and Christine laughed. I left early with Hugh, my boyfriend at the time, and the two of us counted down the top 10 together in his new apartment. He danced to Get Lucky with moves that I’ve been trying to pull off ever since, and stripteased to Lorde. I won’t say what we did to Vance Joy. Later that night Christine called from Ab’s phone and gave me an earful. I retaliated with some indiscriminate Fuck You (and you and you and you too) texting.
“Maybe,” I said through a mouthful.
“You know Nina,” Christine raised her glass at me, “we should go out some time, me and you, as sisters.”
I said nothing.
“C’mon. It’d be fun. Or we could stay in and just have a few drinks. Like old times. Colab on a story, like that Animorphs fic we did when we were teeny-boppers.”
I poured myself a Coke. “I’d like that.”
“Great!” she said and checked the time on her phone. “Well, looks like I’d better start making a move on.”
Her chair scraped on the floor and she stood up. I looked at the two slices of pizza remaining. As I waited for her to call me to help zip her up, or to ask what I thought of her outfit, I rearranged them.
Sashimi Queen closes at four, but half an hour before that the end of the day specials begin. Back when we were students, Lucile and Nina and the rest of Weston House’s Primary and Early Childhood majors, when they could make the ten minute window before all the Chicken Teriyakis, Tuna Salads and Salmon and Avos sold out, had practically lived on their five rolls for five dollars deal.
I should’ve gone there first. Instead I’m in Woolies, grabbing a pack of marked down Tim Tams, and dropping them into my basket next to a box of Weat-bix, a jar of instant coffee, an iceberg, a punnet of cherry-T’s, a block of feta, a red onion, a jar of olives and two lemons. All of that so I can feel OK about the next purchase.
I’d be going through the same rigmarole even if I were buying condoms.
Exit snacks. Shiver past the cheeses, yogurts and milk. Take a turn by leaning tower of dunny roll. Transfer handles of basket into crook of my arm.
Then, newly freed hand into pocket. A tight fit. My keys scrape my knuckles. Retrieve phone and punch in password – my date of birth backwards.
If I’m getting the references in Lucile’s twitter feed right, they’re on the last or second last episode of season 3. It’s going to be close. I might be able to make it, traffic willing, and depending on how long I have to spend digging around in our collection when I drop by the apartment. (Luce’s brother’s tyke put all the discs in the wrong cases to amuse herself when we were looking after her this weekend just past). Honestly, I can take or leave the trials and tribs of Lorelai and Rory. But The Binge is a sacred rite and must not be profaned by interruption (unless it’s of the bathroom break variety).
Down the aisle. Pinks, sky blues, forest greens, warm oranges, fluffy lamb white, the occasional defiant hard-core black.
The way the girls have been talking this up, it’s the menses to end all menses. Biblical proportions. It’ll flow for forty days and forty nights. Period-fucking-zilla. So I scan for something long lasting, with lots to a pack. I see a purple that, I think, I’m pretty sure, I’ve glimpsed ‘round at Nina’s and take it.
Needless to say I self-service checkout.
I arrive at Sashimi Queen too late. All that remains are a few Pickled Horse Radish, Super Spicy Super Combo, and Deep Fried rolls (and if any of those hit the spot for you, have at ‘em). Elsewhere in the food court, the staff at the Chinese place are take-away-containering what’s left in its bain-maries and the woman behind the counter of the bakery is bagging the cheese and bacon buns, croissants, and pastries that didn’t sell. My cheap meals of choice in those halcyon Uni days. Lucile’d told us about the court while she guided us around during O-week. Nina was Nino then.
First Twenty-fifth Unbirthday
“Those jeans look really great on you,” Anika said.
I leaned back on my heels and slid my thumbs behind the waistband. The jeans had been my birthday present to myself. I’d sewn a campfire and tendrils of multi-coloured smoke on the left side pocket, and a Very Hungry Caterpillar wearing a Cat in the Hat hat on its opposite. Then I’d wrapped them up in orange crepe paper and set the package aside, to be opened in the evening when Lucile and Jay came over. “You think?”
Anika put away another glass. There was an unused dishcloth slung over her shoulder. As usual, we’d left everything to dry overnight. “OK,” she said, “now you’re just fishing.” She began to rummage around in the sink we’d used once the rack had filled up. “But yeah, they look nice, and you look scrumptious in them.”
I smiled back. “Alright, move over,” I said, “Gotta do my bit.” I nudged Anika with my elbow. My wrist rubbed against hers.
The drying rack was empty except for a coffee mug and two teaspoons.
“So considerate,” Anika said, “however would I cope without you?”
We both laughed.
Anika tilted her head down towards the (hardly there) gap between us. “Is this enough room?”
I craned my neck, twisted, looked where she was looking, untwisted, uncraned. Then I looked at her.
She was wearing a tie dye shirt with Wirrenglen State Primary, Class of ’14 emblazoned on the back, and below that, blockier, less ornate, Christopher Hill. For whatever reason Chris hadn’t taken the shirt home with him. At her urging (Anika’s always brimming with opinions after I tell her about my day) I’d dibsed it, and the others, and’d set to most of them with a pair of scissors. The scraps filled a small esky that lived in our supplies cupboard next to a red lunchbox containing paddle pop sticks, a blue lunchbox filled with pipe cleaners and the ziplock bags containing spangles and stick-on googly eyes. The shirt was short and baggy. My eyes came to rest on her leggings and the slight plumpness of Little Bowie. (She’d been dressed as Jareth when we’d met at a singles mixer held by the Greater Wirren LGBT Alliance.) Anika doesn’t believe in tucking.
I placed my hand over hers. I felt her knuckles and her nails with my fingertips, I felt her feel my stomach. Our fingers meshed. I took her hand and placed it under my left breast (the smaller one). She tugged at my lower lip with her teeth. We bumped and ground, I backed. Her other hand was on my arse. My legs rubbed a finger. My right breast bobbled.
We fell, quite a long way it seemed, and sprawled on our mattress (we didn’t yet have a frame). Anika unbuttoned my jeans and began to unzip. I was born at 11:47 in the evening. My first sex as a quarter centurion was, if I say so myself, pretty good.
Nina looked down at the smiley face in her cup. One eye was larger than the other. The smile was wonky. The trainee Latte Artist behind the counter wouldn’t be taking off her little yellow with a black L in the centre tag any time soon. But, as the cliché went, it was the thought, and just the pick-me-up Nina hadn’t known she’d needed.
She sipped through a spoon straw, spoon end in her mouth. Its plastic wrapper lay next to a tribal patterned cardboard cup filled with plastic knives, sporks and other spoon straws. The coffee was bitter – she’d not wanted to break up the face by adding sugar – and refreshing.
Nina’s phone vibrated half a centimetre towards the other side of the table and began its fairy chatter chime.
It was the mechanic. Her car would be ready to pick up at four.
To kill time Nina loaded up a fic. The screen of her phone couldn’t display more than a few sentences at a time. She wished she’d brought her laptop. Having to tap to continue, then tap to continue, then tap to continue, always tap, tap, tapping to continue, was frustrating. She wanted enough words in front of her to sink into. To get lost in. So much to lose herself. And then she did.
She had to stop and take a deep breath when she saw that Reese – it was strange to think of him by than name; she’d know him for such a long time, and of him even longer, by his pseudo – had written her in as a character. It was only two lines of dialog in a minor scene, and she’d been expecting it, but it was all she could do to stop herself from having a total Mike Wazowski moment.
It took her out of the story though. She reread the line before her stopping point – the polyjuice potion glooped and glopped in its cauldron in a way that gave Neville the serious heebie jeebies – then checked the time. It was “Three Fifteeeeen on the Rock-ket Clock,” as her preppies would say.
On her way out she looked for the girl who’d served her. She wasn’t behind the counter or picking up dishes from the tables. Nina thought she saw her ponytail through the circular window in the kitchen door. But when she looked again she could only see a man in a white apron bustling back and forth.
It wasn’t a long walk to where she needed to go but she dawdled. Ballard the Mechanic was polite but his discomfort showed and that made Nina uncomfortable.
The waiting room was spartan. There was no one behind the desk. Nina did not ring the little bell. She sat down and looked at the receipts stuck in a neat row on a cork board. There was a picture stuck to the board too. Claire, Ballard’s daughter, had drawn it during arts and craft time.
It’s a butterfly person. And that’s its chrysanthemalis. It’s you.
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