Aurora and Aurelia

Aurora and Aurelia
by Amalia Solara

Aurora is an intellectually precocious, depressed high-school senior at an existential crossroads, with a wounded heart and an intense inner conflict that leads to alienation, repression, sexual frustration and self-loathing. Aurelia is a nurturing, empathetic, emotionally sensitive, congenitally blind classmate who fast becomes her closest confidant. Together, these two special girls take solace in each other, cope with their respective challenges and ultimately find intimacy and fulfillment.

You are Aurora. You’re newly 18, sort of a senior in high school, and profoundly sensitive. You’ve loved spiders from a very early age, when you begged everyone not to kill them, and have a pet tarantula. You were diagnosed with early-onset cyclothymia which seems of late to have morphed into full-fledged clinical depression. You wear long turquoise coats even indoors, usually paint your fingernails green, midnight blue or black, and currently spend much of your time daydreaming the hours away and gazing at your shoes in the old linoleum hallways, drifting almost wraithlike through a reality you intently forestall inhabiting. You’re passionate about photography, sculpture, and watercolor painting.

You began speaking in full sentences remarkably young, you could count and had a grasp of basic arithmetic by the time you could walk, and you wrote and understood both short poetry and simple programs in three different languages by first grade. With a voracious curiosity, you blazed through years of curriculum in a fraction of the time it would ordinarily take most kids, wowing teachers who were mostly unsure what to do with you. You have a specifically prodigious talent for the natural sciences and molecular biology in particular, though you seem to lack the zeal for it that everyone expects you to have. You technically started attending college classes in that subject when you were 14, but recently you’ve been considering going to art school when you graduate with your class, much to your professors’ consternation and your parents’ displeasure. Your depression symptoms have sadly taken a significant toll on both your motivation and cognitive abilities, to the point where you’re now taking a break from university-level coursework and STEM subjects altogether.

You opted to be mainstreamed into the standard public education system in the first place because you wanted the opportunity to be able to develop normal socialization with your age-peers, instead of being accelerated years ahead with all of the interpersonal challenges that would entail. Your parents supported your choice wholeheartedly, not wanting you to be any more estranged from other kids your age than your many differences would inherently render you. As difficult and controversial a decision as it was, this paid off. You’re very fortunate to be woven like a vine into a tight-knit, eclectic, wonderful group of friends. It seems almost unreal sometimes, like one of those cliques in feel-good made-for-TV teen movies.

You are also a non-operative transsexual woman. This is not a subject or aspect of your identity that you like to speak of often. Primarily because, even now (maybe even especially now) nobody really gets it and the increasingly charged nature of the whole zeitgeist around such matters is such that it always invites a slimy slew of uncomfortable questions. You are 100% a woman, a very feminine (if darkly so) one at that, and you despise being lumped in with the “nonbinary” or the “genderqueer”, or having anyone put asterisks on your sex in any other fashion. What you despise even more vehemently is explaining why this is the case, why it’s so important to you, and alienating everyone in the room. You just happen to have…well, you’ve devised a quirky plethora of terms and ways to conceptualize it over the years, but…a penis (along with all the other organs that typically accompany it), that you’re fine with keeping intact in its present state indefinitely.

When you were very little your parents almost missed the reality of your actual gender because of this. As in so many other arenas, you manifested it early, and violently insisted on only wearing the right clothes, pleading, throwing tantrums in the store and raising a thousand red flags. They did a lot of research, but, at the time, the prevailing view of your condition, especially in children, was largely focused on genitalia. For you, it goes without saying, this was problematic. They asked you, albeit in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner, how you felt about what you had down there. You responded honestly and this perplexed them, and the therapists, and the pediatrician. The researchers, whose radar you were already on by virtue of apparently being what they termed ‘highly to exceptionally and globally gifted’ found this all quite interesting, and those very intellectual ‘gifts’ served you well here as they made it easier for you to assert yourself to adults and be taken seriously. Drawing upon this as much as your tiny self possibly could, you were able to convince the ones who mattered of your legitimacy. Thank god.

You absolutely knew you were a girl, simple as that, but it was always part of your body map in an abnormally normal way, and you never saw it as undermining your femaleness. Just there. Just fine. The only problem it posed, in that pure, innocent stage, was any implication that it had any implications for the rest of you.

Further complicating all of this is one undeniable, inconvenient, shimmering, terrifying fact: you are a lesbian. You tried from puberty (which, fortunately, you were allowed to go through in the right direction the first time around) to deny it, your burgeoning same-sex attraction, and especially how it made your body respond, because naturally, you were utterly horrified to think for even an millisecond that you had anything in common with boys. All of a sudden you began to wonder if it would be a problem and if it did call into question what you’d forever known at the core of your soul. The very thought was humiliating, and so it was when anything began to happen between your legs. Since you were on hormone therapy, such things, unspeakable things, only occurred under…exceptional…circumstances in a certain new mental and emotional space, and couldn’t be explained away as random and meaningless in the natural course of pubertal development, the way they could for your male counterparts.

Online research over the years turned up extraordinarily dreadful historical context that impaled your self-confidence even further, like a dagger through your heart, hammered in with thick cinder blocks of some of the ugliest concepts and least accurate terminology imaginable: autogynephile. Heterosexual transvestite. The Man Who Would Be Queen. Then the self-proclaimed ‘radical feminists’, declaring every woman with the misfortune of being born the way you were ‘male’ and ‘rapists’ for ‘appropriating’ womanhood, with extra outrage reserved for those who dared to call themselves ‘lesbian’. Conservative pundits taking it a step further by trying to stoke fear about the imaginary phenomenon of “predatory men” “crossdressing” in order to have access to “vulnerable young girls” in public restrooms. Holier-than-thou trans bloggers, ranging from slightly older than you to middle age, openly questioning and throwing other women under the bus behind the veil of quasi-anonymity their keyboards provided, with a large portion of them disavowing anyone who would choose not to have genital surgery, and quite a few disparaging their female-attracted compatriots as well.

On top of all of this vitriol were pages upon pages of discussion threads with lesbians angrily ranting at great length about how they shouldn’t have to feel pressured to date or sleep with trans women and how it should just be obvious that they wouldn’t be attracted to that. Some swore up and down that this had nothing to do with being ‘transphobic’, yet talk of ‘different socialization’ and ‘male entitlement’ never went seriously challenged. The concept that certain body parts could ever be feminine, the only concept that gave you a modicum of peace with your body in a culture that told you it was mismatched, was relentlessly mocked just about everywhere. Finally, the only portrayal even approaching your sexual proclivities that you ever encountered came in the form of nauseating, demeaning and unrealistic pornography that appeared to include and promulgate the gamut of false tropes about bodies like yours, catering to fetishists and conveying blaring messages that women like you are halfway-between, possessing only partial, incomplete, faux womanhood at most, that they’re alien, a raunchy novelty, a titillating taboo only appealing for the contradiction that you have never truly perceived in yourself.

You knew that none of the two-bit theories that attempted to explain your condition were even remotely true, and you didn’t understand why this was so difficult for everyone to comprehend, but the damage was done. It seemed that whenever anyone raised the possibility of someone like you even existing, it was always firmly bound up in loud, contentious political rhetoric, the vast majority of it barbed, noxious and hateful. While it had been gestating in the radio silence as soon as you became aware of the gulf between your experiences and the expected, this was how the black hole was born. You came away with the unshakable sense that you would forever be an untouchable pariah in this domain, your sexuality inherently a rapey imposition, your desires intrinsically violent and ‘male’ in some bizarre fashion (which makes no sense to you whatsoever), your gender undercut and tacitly tolerated only insofar as you didn’t actually try to assert it when deconstructed to death, your feelings about all of it invalid, and most importantly, that your body and your narrative would be anathema to anyone you’d ever be interested in and feel comfortable sharing them with.

You can’t bring yourself to fully believe any of this, as it’s so far from how you really feel, but the consensus, as devoid as it is of any real understanding, is clear in its derision. In many moments of desperation you’ve fleetingly considered just pursuing vaginoplasty anyway as soon as you’re able to, so that you can just be normal. You wouldn’t mind having different parts, per se, but that wouldn’t be authentic to your body image, and societal pressures alone wouldn’t be an appropriate motive for undergoing such a major surgical procedure. So you’re stuck, and the black hole has pulled at something inside you ever since. It’s usually in the background, and sometimes tolerable, but it’s always there.

Nearly everyone who had been observing you since your formative emergence seemed to take for granted that you’d be straight, into guys, if they even bothered to consider your sexuality at all. Being perceived as a child prodigy was also advantageous here, as there was a general presumption that your mind would be elsewhere, that you wouldn’t be concerned with such mundane things. Your whole deal with respect to that other little issue was weird enough, and you desperately wanted to blend in with the other girls as much as possible, so you kept very quiet about your Sapphic inclinations. The potential consequences were far too scary and overwhelming. Although you were allowed to be yourself and live as such with the necessary medical interventions to ensure that your body would develop properly, heaven forbid, if they knew this, everyone might start doubting the validity of your gender. Other girls might be uncomfortable around you. You could be ostracized.

Sex ed in middle school was exceedingly awkward from the first day, and you used the loophole that the district had to let parents opt out (though usually for religious or cultural reasons) to bail on it. Though this went unspoken, yours understood why, and used the excuse that you already knew all the basics there, since you’d been reading at least high school-level biology textbooks since you were nine. They simply told you to feel free to approach them if you ever had any questions, and that was that.

You started dating boys who expressed interest in you as a freshman, here and there, nothing serious of course, and nothing physical, just going out. You eventually stopped with that, and told your mom it was because you needed to focus on your studies; otherwise, none of this has really changed that much to this day. You probably wouldn’t overtly deny it anymore if pressed (more out of resigned apathy than genuine self-acceptance), but you still hide. You feel, disquietingly, like a disgusting, impossible, impostor freak some days, and you still bury these feelings so far into your subterranean subconscious that you don’t even allow yourself to experience them most of the time.

Nonetheless, it’s starkly the deep-down truth: you’re attracted to other girls, wholly, passionately, exclusively. And not just any girls, either. Only other feminine, gender-conforming ones, like yourself. Masculinity in any form simply holds no real appeal for you, aside from a hollow complementary validation of your own gender role in social situations and contexts. This would be beyond challenging to explain even to avowed ‘allies’, most of whom are still struggling to grasp the other glaring, idiosyncratic nuance of your identity. So you don’t even think about being in a situation where you’d ever have to try. You keep it to yourself and cry at night and occasionally even etch thin crimson lines into your arm with a razor after fantasies of softness on softness. A few times a week there are the dreams, your breasts, hips and lips pressed into equally shapely, spongy counterparts, your thick, waist-length dark curls intertwined sensuously with your unidentified lover’s silky strands. You wake up hot, cold and flushed all over, trembling and mortified, curled reflexively into a defensive ball of self-consciousness and clutching the tangled covers on the verge of tears and abject horror.

~o~O~o~

On a better note, a much better note, there has been a shiningly positive development in your life recently. Her name is Aurelia. It can also be spelled with an accent on the second syllable, Aurélia, and occasionally when feeling whimsically elegant she does sign it that way. You think it looks all the more beautiful with that accent.

Aurelia is a beautiful girl. She projects an image of serenity and brightness in whirlpools of motion. Her physical appearance continually reinforces this. Her long, mostly goldenrod hair with natural auburn and dyed mahogany streaks, slight starry smile with the slightest intimation of mystery, and perfect pastel complexion all radiate something indefinably warm and vivifying and immaculate. But it’s her empathy you notice most. Her personality is a tender membrane that morphs with seemingly effortless ease around the dispositions of others, honing in on and somehow shielding their inner selves from the sharp shrill secretions of their insecurity. Amazingly, this quality comes across even in minute interactions witnessed from a distance.

Aurelia also happens to have been blind from birth. You were the first of your circle to meet her, about a year ago, when she collided with you in the east hallway as you were rushing to a home economics class on the other side of the building. Quite adept at navigating the school with her sweeping white cane, you were the only person she’d ever bumped into during all four years there. It was her free period, and since you had more-or-less completed your sewing project early, you decided to just skip it and chat in the atrium. That was the beginning. As it turned out, she had classes with a few other members of your group, and over the next year they also got to know her, though nowhere near as well.

With her compassionate listening skills and your quietly frantic need for a supportive ear, what with your fast-approaching existential crises, you swiftly become close. Since it’s senior year, you already have over a dozen college credits and don’t actually need to be there, and since she knocked out almost all of her graduation requirements by taking grueling courseloads, there is plenty of time for protracted mutual convalescence in the eye of this storm of impending decisions, pressures and responsibilities. Your school operates on a block schedule, and certain days out of the week you barely have any classes at all. Both of your mothers are proud that you’ve made it as far as you have, and anxiously expectant for the future but preoccupied, so you’re permitted plenty of time to breathe, slack academically and gather yourselves in these languid months.

After school in luminous slivers between afternoon and evening, and even sometimes in the middle of the day, tucked into disused corners of the library or at one of your homes, you confide in each other in undulating murmurs of striking sincerity. You confide in her about the built-in pressure incessantly paired with your academic aptitudes, and your nascent doubts about pursuing them. You mention how you’re feeling burnt-out, almost like an impostor, and how you’re a bit uncomfortable with the idea that you must dedicate your life to something you just happened to be good at so early. You tell her that you’re happy just doing art, discovering the unexpected joy in engrossing yourself in something so subjective, and about how fulfilling it is to have an endeavor that you always have to work at, from the beginning, a staircase of skill that you can gradually ascend in your own time and on your own terms. She understands and goes so far as to tell you that she admires you, both for your talents and your courage in taking your own, new paths, which makes you light up with a pride and pleasure you’d forgotten.

She opens up to you in halting tones about submerged, masked anxiety, generalized and social, and the paradoxical challenge of being the girl everyone goes to for advice while faltering and so uncertain of how to navigate the tapestry of rapidly shifting realities herself. She also elected to be mainstreamed early on for very similar reasons, which even with technological advancements and substantial accommodations has not been easy, and the near-universal rapport she has with the other students that know her is one of her proudest achievements. You commiserate, referring to your own issues with anxiety, and give her tips about techniques for managing it that you’ve found helpful.

Expectations are a recurrent red thread linking your confessions. Positive, negative, expectations others can’t even perceive or realize that they project onto your atypical states of being. Over several yawning days, she unravels something more personal, cautiously yet with unvarnished honesty. She discusses how she sometimes feels like everyone’s perceptions of her are distorted, and shoehorned into one category or another, without her ever having a say in any of it. Oftentimes unintentionally insensitive people expect less from her off the bat—patronizing, acting amazed that she can do even the most fundamental things for herself, all the while barely masking their clumsy preconceptions under something saccharine, but obviously stilted and artificial. By contrast, those closest—her parents, instructors, mentors and so on—seem to consistently expect more, as if by giving her the tools to circumvent her limitations throughout her life, they’ve equipped her with superpowers, capabilities that must be actualized constantly lest they start to fade or go to waste. She admits this is exhausting and exasperating sometimes.

You have this in common, high standards to live up to in an inundating maelstrom of adolescent searching, as you reach for authenticity and some semblance of your own hopes, dreams and visions for yourselves going forward. This establishes the basis for a rich and rewarding friendship, as you become confidants serenading each other in a symphony of sympathy, both finding something in each other’s company you were missing in between your relative social acceptance and yet inescapable status as outsiders nevertheless. Something about her just makes you feel so natural, and comfortable in your own skin, revealing tense defenses you hadn’t even realized that you were putting up with everyone else before.

As your relationship briskly outpaces the sluggish crawl of time (‘senioritis’ is real, and you’ve both caught a bad case of it), you both share even more private and delicate things. You divulge that you’re having mounting difficulties keeping all the plates in the air as your depression symptoms become more prominent, balancing your social life and secondary avocations with even the minimum of schoolwork and planning for college. You admit that you feel like you’ve failed miserably somehow, that you can’t shake the notion that you should’ve been much farther along by now with the proficiencies you displayed so young. She listens and consoles you, patiently you think, but never making it out to be a burden on her.

She discloses some of the nuisances that come with her disability, confessing that while she feels like she has to play ambassador, receive them nicely and gently correct them when necessary, her patience is diminishing for strangers’ probing questions and misconceptions, which she secretly regards as tiresome and terribly annoying. A lot of the time she mischievously makes a point of discussing this, a little loudly, while you’re on the city bus back home or to go out for lunch together in the early afternoon, sitting close with her cane neatly resting in front of her or between you, since it’s in transit that she most commonly encounters people who decide that their prying curiosity overrides basic respect and politeness. This makes you smile, and despite your usual preference to just blend seamlessly into the crowd, it’s far from embarrassing. You even encourage her little tirades, delighted to participate in her finding her voice that way. “Oh, how inspiring!” She’s tired of being ‘inspiring’, and in your own ways, so are you.

It’s through this very topic that you eventually learn she’s lesbian. Despite the depth of your amity, the intensity of your closeness, the subject doesn’t come up, though you know she’s single and (to your relief) never says anything about guys. You don’t really give it much thought, but somewhere in the back of your mind you vaguely wonder if maybe she’s just ace, when out of the blue one day she says something sandwiched between snarky cathartic laughter to the effect of …and you know what’s really irritating? She elaborates that one of the questions she often gets asked is how she could possibly know or have figured out her sexual orientation, by people bewildered by the concept and lacking an essential understanding of how that works.

You immediately get how ridiculous the premises of that question are and laugh with her, but she still drives it home, going on about how vastly different men and women are in ample ways aside from the visual, and concludes by saying that she never even struggled with it, always being drawn to how lovely and melodious women’s voices sound and the softness of their bodies. I know what I like. You recede and get very quiet when she says that, blushing fiercely and not knowing what to say, but after a few moments you admit that you’re lesbian too, before gracefully but quickly changing the subject.

~o~O~o~

A short while later, you muster all of the courage you didn’t know you had to disclose the other thing. After all this time, you’re hardly inclined to believe that she’d reject you as a companion or otherwise be ignorant of or awful about it, but on the other hand, the amount of time you’ve known her and how intensely invested you are in the friendship makes it all the more petrifying. You’ve been wrong, very wrong about people’s reactions before, and you can’t even fathom how much it would hurt and how empty you would feel if you’re wrong about Aurelia’s.

It’s so odd, you haven’t even mentioned it to her, while everyone else in your circle knows full well, even though you’ve left them to draw their own conclusions about which gender you’re into in that sense. This almost feels backwards somehow, but it shouldn’t…should it? You know that your other friends do their best to shield you from any prejudicial bile, prurient gossip and unseemly rumors that have ever arisen about your trans status, kind of protectively vetting people for you. You wonder what they think of her, and whether they’ve had the chance to scrutinize her in that light at all.

The night before you plan to do it, you agonize. As much as coming out to each other beforehand should, theoretically, make it easier, part of you has been even more reluctant since then. You wonder why. Could it be that she wouldn’t see you in that way, as a potential…girlfriend? No. Oh, no, no, of course not, no, that’s just…well, okay, it’s not that you’ve never…this is an uncharted friendship unlike any other you’ve ever had, but it’s not like that, you’re not…although it would be invalidating to be disqualified solely on that basis regardless, another stinging little slap from the world in which nobody understands or shares your paradigm, another reminder of your one guaranteed piece of inexorable solitude.

Knowing her, though, you’d never know for certain, and that would probably be the worst of it. For that matter—oh no—never knowing exactly how she feels, about your narrative, your impossible identity—no, your double deviancy—could prove poisonous to what you’re building together in itself. You’ve never expected anyone to accept this part of you on your own terms, which is why you’ve kept it so closely guarded. She didn’t say anything about…genitals, though, that wasn’t how she framed… I know what I like. Hm, yeah. Anyway, that’s moot.

You actually slap yourself hard on the left side of your face as these eddying ruminations encase your head, partially to punish yourself for letting your thoughts descend into such territory and partially to bring yourself back to the reality of what needs to be done. You’ve struggled with neurotic, obsessive thought patterns like this for a long time, and you take a deep breath while remembering what your mom told you: Pause. Take a step back. Wipe the slate clean and simplify. That leaves you with the simple, mature realization that you must go through with it. In fact, it’s now or never. As afraid as you are now, logic dictates that if you don’t, become even closer to her and then it does happen to be an issue in one way or another, it will be all the more earth-shattering.

What little sleep you get, in between waking up in a cold sweat every few hours, is wracked with nightmares: Aurelia abandoning you in her tactful, courteous way, just drifting apart and leaving you for other friends, you walking through a bleak, misty landscape of barren trees alone, you hugging her shadow while something hard and painful is pushed into your chest.

When you arrive and greet her in the morning before your only two classes of the day, you nervously mention that you have to tell her something important later. She acts a tad confused initially that you would have to announce that beforehand (since you’ll be spending most of the rest of the day together anyway), playfully tries to tease out what it might be, but nods (for your benefit, as it isn’t something she does automatically) and says okay when she realizes how serious you’re being. You’re really committed to this, now.

Later that afternoon, you’re sitting across from her in the finished basement that has turned into sort of a secondary living space for you. You stiffly stare at the floor and your hands are shaking as you explain it—poorly, you’re sure, and all out of order. She listens even more intently than usual with her characteristically magnanimous expression, making little sounds of affirmation whenever you pause. Though so much of what you’ve shared with each other likely falls into this category by default, you impress upon her how confidential it is and must remain. You know her well enough now to be able to read her subtler reactions, and she seems almost surprised, maybe even a little…disappointed? You could drown in the silence. Oh, no, no, please. You can feel yourself sinking into your chair as you want to just disappear, vanishing permanently from this world and living memory.

You don’t hear yourself say anything, but you must, because she snaps out of whatever limbo she’s in and promptly reassures you, saying that she completely understands, is well aware of the condition (even though you’re the first trans girl she’s ever met in person, as far as she knows), and that she doesn’t think of you any differently in the least. You’re fairly positive it’s all sincere. Still, something seems…off. She feels far away, seemingly distracted, almost as if this wasn’t what she was expecting, as if she was anticipating something else when you built it up that didn’t come to pass. There’s a nebulous undertone of confusion in the air that contradicts her assurances.

She asks you: since you’ve been living as completely as yourself for so long, think of yourself as just another woman and hate being differentiated due to your background, then why did you decide to tell her all of this, and why was it so important for you to tell her today? For a minute you fear that she’s annoyed to be the newest recipient of your most intimate secret, the way that she phrases this, but there’s nothing hostile or acrid in her tone. You clarify that you needed to know how she felt about it in general in case it changed anything, and that it’s yet another way in which you were dealt a strange hand that weighs on your mind.

You mumble almost to yourself in thought that being able to transition and be yourself at an early age was a double-edged sword; you were spared the indignity of having to grow up into a body that wasn’t yours under a gross male mask, but it also means that no one knows unless you tell them, and that can sometimes feel like tiptoeing through a minefield given how opinionated everyone seems to be about it these days. You find yourself bitterly saying that it wouldn’t be an issue at all if you just had surgery, for then you’d never have to think about any of it again. This isn’t even true, but for whatever reason it’s what slips out.

She reaches out and lightly squeezes your knee before placing her hand over yours. It’s kind, but she seems to be mulling something over and questioning herself, which is decidedly out of place and unlike her. It’s giving you a ton of anxiety—it’s all a lot to take in, granted, but you can’t decipher her very well right now and you’re floundering. Is she just telling you what she thinks you want to hear, or responding this way out of pity, only to make her true disdain known later? Were you wrong about how close you were getting, was this an inappropriate admission at the wrong time that she doesn’t know what to do with?

She gingerly asks if you ever plan to have any surgeries. You’re taken aback—where did that question come from? Oh, right, probably because you just ran your mouth about that when you shouldn’t have. You’re staring right into the vortex of the black hole as you say this, but you honestly answer no, never. She smiles enigmatically and sits back, pursing her lips in thought. Great.. You might panic. You ask her if that changes anything, if that was the wrong answer or if she thinks you’re aberrant and freakish for that. You feel like you’re about to cry, thrashing around in deep water for lack of a lifeline. No, not at all. I’m sorry; I was just wondering. Did I upset you? You abruptly take a deep, quavering breath and sigh, not knowing how to answer that. Are you upset? Not really, not yet anyway, but you’re…a minuscule spider dangling from a fine silk thread, exposed and at the mercy of anyone who might pass by and send you flying in any direction.

You both rise from your seats and she looks like she might hug you, and you could really use a hug, but then…doesn’t, as if conflicted, performing a short calculus to herself and changing her mind. You lead her back up the stairs and she heads home to do some homework, leaving you somewhat rattled. It could’ve gone worse, and it’s weird because she reassured you and was understanding about it all things considered, but it could’ve gone better. Just…in all the years you’ve divulged it to select people and with the spectrum of responses it’s garnered, no one has ever reacted that way before. She wasn’t confused about what you were telling her, so much, and she didn’t seem put off by it, but something was still awry in a way that you can’t pin down.

She calls you later that night—in lieu of a text—to tell you how brave it was to share that with her and how privileged she feels that you trusted her, which helps calm you down and puts your mind more at ease. She apologizes of her own accord and without any prompting for the way she reacted, which surprises you as you didn’t think it needed any apologies, imploring you to please not take it the wrong way or think she doesn’t understand, accept you as you are, sympathize or care. It takes you off guard how fraught she sounds. She says that she was off-kilter because she had and still has something unrelated to tell you of equal importance, though she never specifies precisely what this is, and nothing comes of it.

~o~O~o~

Aurelia’s main interest is in psychology, and she’s fascinated with early childhood development. She reads classic books on the subject by Piaget that you sporadically discuss with her in between classes and over lattes during an overlapping free period in the late morning, whenever you don’t use it to sleep in. Unsurprisingly, she volunteers often and enjoys working with children, and she touches on how sad and constrained it makes her feel that she’s never considered a viable babysitter (though her parents’ friends have occasionally indulged her by letting her ‘watch’ their older children, who she knows they lecture extensively beforehand, such that it ends up feeling like it’s the other way around), as well as how discouraging and embittering it was to be brusquely turned down for a summer job as a camp counsellor. As upsetting as it is to be discriminated against like that, she feels like she can’t exactly argue the point, since even concentrating with all of her other senses operating at full capacity she wouldn’t be able to perfectly tell what’s going on at any given moment, and that could lead to unsafe situations for little ones in her care.

Something exciting that this leads into, though, is the sphere of your ‘little’ activities and games. Just as everyone had always assumed you were somehow ‘above’ or…outside of ordinary romantic and sexual feelings as you matured, your intellectual precociousness as well as all the focus on your gender identity led to having a childhood that was muted in any conventional sense of the word, another of the many near-paradoxes of your peculiar life. Though you were able to be a little girl and enjoy the associated accoutrements and activities to a degree, the emphasis was always more on ‘girl’, not ‘little’, and adults (mis)interpreted your cognitive maturity as indicative of emotional maturity and a desire to act grown-up that you never had to nearly the same extent. They meant well, and you enjoyed the special feeling of extra respect from grown-ups, but it left you somewhat bereft of and unconsciously yearning for the age-specific facets of your girlhood.

From what you gather, Aurelia’s childhood was maybe even more comprehensively focused on skills-building and learning adaptations for independence than most visually-impaired kids, also because of her intelligence. It was clear to all of her caregivers that the girl possessed an acute intellect, a thirst for knowledge and keen insight, and so she was subjected to a highly rigorous regimen intended to ensure that her sensory limits wouldn’t hold her back.

Neither of you really regret how everything played out, and you’re both grateful for the competencies that the ways you were raised endowed you with, but you still miss what you missed out on. At the threshold of adulthood, you’re powerfully feeling this wistful emotion without a name, a void of lost nostalgia for things that never were. So you roleplay together.

Usually she’s the mommy, reminding you to do your homework on time, giving you little stickers as a reward, fixing you healthy snacks and teaching you pretend games, and sometimes you’re the mommy, guiding your little blind girl around, brushing her hair, helping her explore the world with her sense of touch and reading bedtime stories to her over the phone. Sometimes you’re playmates, having tea parties and playing with your dolls and stuffed animals. Her favorite is a stuffed unicorn named Mari that she’s had since she was (chronologically) little. She still sleeps with Mari, and she rubs her horn when she’s feeling upset or anxious, imagining that it has magical powers to soothe her and point the way through dilemmas. You have a mini-me doll who even wears a tiny replica of your square, purple, horn-rimmed glasses, and you make up stories about their adventures together through fantastic realms, replete with inside jokes and allegorical elements of things that bother your ‘big’, near-adult selves. It feels so right to let yourself be nurtured by her, and she’s so cute when in the little role—the persona only a slight emphasis of traits in her day-to-day personality, it seems—that it makes your heart ache, in a good way.

It becomes a game in itself to see how much you can get away with while being little together in public, without anyone noticing or thinking anything’s amiss. When you’re out shopping one day, browsing around at the local discount store that has a bunch of knockoff back-to-school supplies on sale out of season, you buy a small plastic backpack that reminds you of Aurelia. It’s designed for an elementary schooler, with a glossy picture of a white unicorn against a colorful tie-dye background. When you give it to her you dare her to wear it for an entire school day. It’s a dicey proposition because she’s visible and patronized enough as it is, and people could assume either that she’s intellectually disabled too, a special-ed student, or that she obliviously grabbed the wrong one because of her lack of sight. You both know this, and seizing the opportunity to outwardly embrace her inner child, be herself and make a tongue-in-cheek statement of sorts against these condescending attitudes, she accepts your challenge, showing up to school the next day with the unicorn portrait riding comically high up on her shoulders and grinning impishly. Seniors do silly things all the time anyway, but to both of your surprise, it goes over perfectly, with even the most popular girls making genuine comments like “Hey Aurelia, cool backpack. Really brings back memories. Those were the days, eh?” before dashing off to their Advanced Placement classes and extracurriculars to cram into their college applications.

~o~O~o~

Around this point in time, the other girls, both your in-group and her various acquaintances, definitely start to notice how inseparable and how different you both are in each other’s presences. It would be hard not to take notice of how much you’ve been acting as a sighted guide for her recently, walking her to her classes and around the building, with her hand clutching your arm just above the elbow. She’s always been extremely independent with cane travel, rarely letting fellow students guide her if at all, so this is conspicuous. They also notice the way you look at her, the dreamy amethyst glint in your eyes as you gaze across the cafeteria or approach her. They can’t help but observe how closely she stands to you, the girl who keeps her coat on inside to extend her bubble of personal space and who preemptively shuffles out of everyone’s way long before they pass, as well as the curious way her frame relaxes and perks up at the same time before you even announce yourself.

A few whispers and smirks circulate—nothing malicious—and a couple members of your coterie even tease you a bit, but for the most part, you’re an invisibly visible pair. If one of you were a guy or even slightly more masculine, it would probably be obvious to the entire school that you’re an item, but her disability in conjunction with your skillful translucent blending and vestiges of reputation as the removed intellectual, in addition to the fact that you both present femininely, all make it practically impossible for most to recognize you as anything other than platonic friends.

Even between you it’s never explicitly verbalized that you’re a couple, that conversation doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t matter—you instinctively and ingenuously slide into that dynamic anyway. The magnitude and type of concern for each other’s well-being reaches far beyond what would occur between all but the best of friends, and your porous boundaries with each other are another dead giveaway, not to mention the adoring little gestures. You exchange flowers you’ve picked from time to time and wear them in your hair until they wilt at the end of the day. Every so often you do her nails for her and she jokes about trying to paint yours. You even learn how to use a brailler to write her notes and letters—love letters, essentially—bound with ribbons she enjoys the texture of.

Physical affection comes to be embedded in your interaction so naturally that it feels like it’s always been there, and you can’t remember exactly when it started. You hold hands on the bus and while leaving school whenever you’re not being a sighted guide, and tenderly caressing and tracing little patterns onto your arms seems to be one of her favorite things to do with her hands while deep in conversation. Your perma-slouching, hunched posture is abysmal, and she mock-sternly reminds you to sit up straight while pressing on your lower back. You play with each other’s hair even when you’re not roleplaying as mommy and little girl, and while the school officially has a strict policy against PDA, it’s irregularly enforced, and you sneak quick kisses on each other’s cheeks all the time.

~o~O~o~

One night the darkness is all too much. Not only have you abandoned the fields you did have decent ability for, your art isn’t even that good, and you’re still in high school at 18 years old. You should’ve been a professor by now. You’re not even tutoring, volunteering anywhere or contributing in any way. You’re just lazy, undisciplined, and self-indulgent, that’s what the problem is, must be. And to top it all off you just have to be wondering what Aurelia tastes like and if it’s as anything like her smell, a fantasy that gallops away with itself and causes your nether regions to stir. You’re revolting, you know that? Get ahold of yourself. Okay, you think, I will. You grab a razor blade from under the clock on your nightstand and carve more than slice. When the adrenaline wears off you’re almost shocked at how deep you went, and when the tears finally come you let them drip over it to sting even further, salt in the wound, exactly what you deserve.

It’s too hot to wear long sleeves the next day, and you get looks, predictably, and a few cloying questions. You give halfhearted explanations just to satisfy them, though everyone probably suspects the truth. You’re so numb and out of it that you give different excuses to different people—an accident on your bike, a run-in with a cat, a fluke mishap while helping your dad with home repairs—and by the end of the school-day you can’t even remember who you told what to. Whatever.

When you’re reclining on the couch with Aurelia in her living room and listening to the next chapter in this neo-noir murder mystery audio play you’ve both been captivated by, she sidles up next to you and goes to rub your arm, stroking her fingers right over the injured area. Instantly she stops, sits bolt-upright, frantically feels over it again, takes your arm in both hands and raises it to her face. She plants a flurry of little kisses around it, adorably, but clearly alarmed and concerned for you. She doesn’t say anything, doesn’t ask, just holds you so tightly you can scarcely breathe. You sit together like that in huddled stillness for an indeterminably long stretch until the sun illuminates the windows with its last, vivid, blinding flashes of light.

~o~O~o~

Despite her nonexistent vision and inability to directly behold them, Aurelia encourages you in your artistic endeavors, which needless to say you greatly appreciate. She hangs the watercolor attempts you give her up in her locker—sometimes overlapping this with your age-regression roleplay, receiving them as a mother whose little daughter painted pretty pictures for her. She wanders around with you as you take photos with the expensive film camera you’re renting, and eagerly agrees to be a subject when you ask if you can take her picture. One day she poses in front of the huge plexiglass windows that look out over the field that the sports teams and marching band practice on, wearing a pretty floral-print top with fitted jeans, her cane extended, beaming with such understated splendor it leaves you breathless. Reciprocally, you read articles in Scientific American Mind and chapters in textbooks about pedagogy to discuss with her, and wear the little bead bracelets she makes for you. You even write an English paper for her that she put off until the last minute, and it’s a fun, naughty little exercise to study and try to emulate her style as much as you’re able so as not to raise any suspicions.

The black hole at the center of your galaxy grows. For some reason, in spite of how much better you’ve been feeling about things overall (offhand episodes with sharp metal objects notwithstanding), in spite of everything fun and nurturing and resplendent you’re orbiting through and nesting in this year, you can feel it at your back more and more, sucking in all the dust from the disks and clouds of emotion you’re ignoring and threatening to turn you into human spaghetti should you cross its imperceptible event horizon. Something very old and very toxic is giving you chemical burns, and there’s this feeling of hitting a brick wall—not in your studies, not in your hobbies, not even, really, in your depression, though certainly there’s that too.

In truth, you know what it is on a level you’re just not permitting yourself to dwell in, though you can’t articulate it even in your internal monologue. Your thoughts keep circling back to Aurelia. She has lifted you up more than you ever could have imagined in the throes of your decay, and yet this sharp, nasty shard of emotion is not only enduring in the corridors connecting your heart, mind, body and self-image, but seems to be worsening. Disconcertingly enough, you feel more isolated than ever with it, mired in alienation that really should’ve expired by now. You almost trip in a pothole as you walk across the rain-drenched parking lot in your clunky teal galoshes while pondering this. When you get home, your spider is lying on its back, molting. You chuckle sardonically, whisper I’m with you there! under your breath, and take a snapshot.

~o~O~o~

It’s Friday evening and you’re finishing up with some prints in the darkroom. This little alcove, hidden in the back of the art room in one of the older, yet to be renovated sections of the school, is one of your favorite quiet places of refuge, as an introvert who needs to periodically recharge. Particularly at this time of day, it’s deserted, and you can take as much time as you need, losing yourself in the placid tedium of developing and tweaking your photos. You’re one of the last students still here, the sun is low in the sky, and the custodians are vacuuming the halls. You stretch and check your watch. You lost track of the time and you’re not even sure if you’re allowed to be here at this hour, so it’s definitely time to go.

You head out one of the side doors, which locks behind you, and feel around in one of the inside pockets of your A-line jacket. You lean against the building and take out the embellished silver cigarette case you found in an antique shop, removing one of the 120 mm, slender white cylinders and lighting it unsteadily. This is one remaining secret that you have all to yourself, unbeknownst to your friends, to your parents, to Aurelia. It’s something you took up a while ago to unhealthily cope with the stress of it all, and the focus and mental clarity the nicotine provides is a bonus. You feebly try to justify it to yourself, pointing to the irregularity with which you indulge and the fact that you’re not addicted, but subconsciously, its harmful effects are part of why you even do it at all.

This is risky, as you’re still on school grounds and far from the unofficially designated, tolerated smoker’s pit, but to hell with it—it’s late, nobody’s around, you’re of legal age, and the administration here is pretty lax. You take several long, slow drags, holding it in just long enough for it to really start to burn in pins and needles at the bottom of your lungs, and exhale in controlled but aggravated streams toward the sky, whose magenta beauty you aren’t noticing and which you might even want to deliberately poison if you were. As you let it fall from your fingers and grind the remaining glow into the pavement with your boot, your mind drifts back to the projects you did in elementary school about the dangers of smoking. How ironic. How tragic. How commonplace. Oh well.

~o~O~o~

Weekends are mostly spent with your friend group, who are swamped with full schedules of college-prep classes and who don’t have the luxury of all the spare time during the school week, though Aurelia still texts you frequently, vibrating your phone, which you go scrambling for to their amusement. You feel a twinge of guilt at having drifted apart from them this year, but they’ve been so busy that you’re pretty sure they don’t hold it against you. Still, in the first place, you decided to stick around for senior year instead of buckling down and graduating early mainly for them, and since you’ll all geographically disperse soon after graduation, you try to reconnect as much as you can as the semester comes to a close.

You’re in ‘little mode’ one day when an exciting idea for this occurs to you. You could throw a get-together…perhaps…a slumber party? You had group sleepovers a few times with some of them in years past that were super entertaining, and they’re easygoing and goofy enough that they’d probably be cool with it as a final send-off to reminisce about old times and say goodbye to high school. You could have it downstairs on the last day of school after everyone’s done with finals, make some hors d’oeuvres and…hmm, yeah, that just might work. You can show that you still care about them, and they deserve and would most likely appreciate a way to decompress after the taxing year they’ve had. Of course you’ll invite Aurelia—actually, you could even sort of co-host it together if she’s alright with that, and that way they could spend time with her in a cozier setting and have the opportunity to see how you both interact together outside of school, as a…couple? Yeah, that.

You’re walking around a strip mall headed towards a new café that’s supposed to be good when you pitch it to them, as a fun trip down memory lane, a way to celebrate the end of the year and mark the end of an era. You’re a little afraid that they’ll laugh in your face, but after a few enthusiastic “Oh, we should!” and “We totally should!”s later and comparing exam schedules back and forth, it’s set.

~o~O~o~

Unlike at the “sleepovers” you all had when you were younger, the other girls now seem to be actually sound asleep, arranged in a matrix of futons, sleeping bags and makeshift blanket-nests on the floor. Since you’re hosting, you have the luxury of a mattress, an extra-wide memory foam twin that your parents helped you drag down there. The faint glow of the TV screen in standby mode casts a calming shadow over the mess of popcorn bags, plush toys, board game cards, controllers and video game cases on the carpet, forming a comforting, silly picture that makes you smile. It had been so much fun, gone so well, and indulging in your nostalgia like this had enabled you to feel totally free and contented for the first time in months, possibly all year. Just as intended.

But, unfortunately, your mind is now restless, and sleep seems a distant possibility, at best. Part of it is the spun-up energy you still have lingering remnants of from the whirlwind of frenetic festivities earlier in the evening. Also, though, now alone in the dead of night, those persistent worries, anxieties, insecurities and apprehensions about yourself, your plans, the future and everything else are beginning to come creeping back in, swirling around in a wired blitz. You want to be able to get up tomorrow, have brunch, hang out and send everybody off, so you take your sleep medication. It’s prescribed as-needed only when absolutely necessary, but it always makes you feel much much better, quieting the storm and giving you a little slice of euphoria in repose before fulfilling its actual purpose and inducing sleep.

As you stare up at the ceiling and wait for it to kick in—it never takes very long—you hear a slight shuffling sound out of the complete, humming silence, which startles you for a split second before you realize that someone’s probably just getting up to go to the bathroom. And then Aurelia is standing over you. Strange, you thought she was asleep, as she’d been lying down quietly for the last couple hours, but you suddenly realize that you’d sort of lost track of her towards the end, which is puzzling in retrospect since she’d been clinging to you even more than normal all night. She hadn’t even said good night, which was unusual, especially considering how she’d been texting you that with *hugs* and little hearts on a nightly basis. She must be coming to do that. Or maybe she’s having a hard time finding her way around without waking anybody and just wants some water or something.

You sit up, perhaps too fast, and feel a warm, electric rush. Your medication must be starting to work. She’s clad in burgundy satin pajamas that manage to look gorgeous on her regardless of their older, slightly anachronistic style, and in the amber glow of the little night-light you still have plugged in she looks absolutely…angelic. There’s no other way to put it. You gaze at her in awe for a second, and all you can think of is how magnificently stunning she is in this moment, how otherworldly-wonderful she is and has been to you in every way, and how much you feel for her. Meds or not, all you want to do is seize her in your arms and tell her all of this until your voice is sore. It doesn’t even cross your mind how she could’ve gotten over to you safely from the other side of the room, as she doesn’t have her cane and instead just has her arms out, feeling around to get her bearings in the way that—you finally have to admit—you find incredibly sexy and alluring in itself.

She finds the edge of the bed, steadies herself with a hand on your shoulder, and sits down next to you, so close she’s practically in your lap. She asks you how you’re feeling in the kindest tone, attentive as ever, while brushing her hand gently across where your hair meets your face. Your throat goes dry. Maybe you’re the one who needs a glass of water. She tells you how great it was to see you so unreservedly happy tonight, and how pretty your laugh sounds—which astonishes you and makes you blush as you’ve always thought it weird, too nasal, and hers is the trillingly mellifluous one. You giggle together, as soundlessly as possible while shushing each other, recalling highlights. That distinct, unmistakable warmth in your core is expanding to permeate your entire body. She squeezes your hand and you feel like you could be transported to another universe.

When you tell her you’re having trouble sleeping, she enfolds you into her arms and starts moving back and forth in a motion that confuses you at first. She’s rocking you to sleep. This is exactly what you need and so sweet that a tear comes to your eye, and you relax into it. You wonder if and hope that she’ll get into bed with you and snuggle as you both slumber through the remaining hours of the night and, at this point, most likely well into the morning.

Amid all these delightfully comfy feelings, though, snaking through your nerves so organically you barely notice, is something else, something more. She smells wonderful, like clean linens fresh from the dryer, but slightly different than usual tonight. There’s a hint of a tantalizingly acidic, musky, almost floral fragrance, but you can’t tell if it’s actually emanating from her or merely an amalgamation of various scents in the room and your own imagination. Her figure is so, so soft, her curves maturely molded into supple flesh that is cushioned in all the right places. It isn’t that you’ve never noticed, it’s just that you’ve never let yourself soak it all in like this, basking in the brilliance of her rays. Your body feels like clay being blissfully kneaded by the most heavenly hands on a lightly swaying manually-operated potter’s wheel. At the same time, however, you can hear your racing heartbeat in the back of your skull. Come to think of it, her breath, the other rhythm ebbing back and forth around you, is getting shallower. You’re ultra-relaxed, immersed now in gelatinous tranquility, yet you still don’t feel ready to fall asleep.

She stops rocking you and repositions, clutching your shoulders and swiveling to face you, so that your noses are almost touching. The light is dim but you can see into her eyes. There’s a spark of uniqueness, still a resounding echo of her in these eyes that can’t see, their milkiness somehow all the prettier and more enticing. You’ve always wanted to tell her how special and attractive they are, just like how mesmerizing it is the way she gets around with her cane, and how all of this ignites a scorching, simmering something within you that feels very deep-seated even though you’re only now discovering it. But you’ve always felt so ashamed of these impressions, worried that you’d be ‘fetishizing’ her and guilty of the same blundering transgressions she complains about. You’re vigilant, perhaps too vigilant about this because, undoubtedly, you know what it’s like to be fetishized for your physical differences.

In this surging instant you feel more vulnerable than you ever have in your life. She kisses your forehead and your heart melts to match your body. She repeats the adorable little flurry of kisses she sprinkled over your scars cautiously over your face, knowing exactly the map of your features. And then, before you even know what’s happening, your lips are fused together in a white-hot flare of passionate radiation, and she is tentatively urging your tongue into her mouth with gentle but definite suction.

After a balmy eternity you separate with a jolt like magnets suddenly pulled apart, and she deftly slips out of her pajamas while lying down by your side. You don’t register exactly what she asks—something like Are you okay? or Is this okay? or both, but you manage to whisper-croak out a timorous quivering yes. She finds the hem of your long aquamarine nightdress after groping too high around your thighs, gathers it in her hands and pushes it up. She begins to explore you, patting the deep hourglass curve of your waist, gliding her palms over your breasts, still under cloth, and sliding her fingertips gently down over your exposed torso to reach and trace your waistband.

And then you fall off the ledge. Without warning you suddenly become conscious of the tight sensation of swollen, bulging fullness just below where her index finger is drawing a border, and you remember that, at least in this context right here right now, you’re defective. Probably even repulsive. The colossal stone words and phrases you read on the internet come crashing down on you, crushing your arousal with the devastating weight of others’ hangups, misconstructions and biases. Your whole being goes as cold as dry ice with a bolt of pain through your ribcage, and a halting sob immediately follows a single stream of tears down your cheek like thunder after lightning. No later than you can inhale sharply for the next one, she catches you, swiftly bringing her hand up to cup your face, so hastily she almost stabs you in the eye, while tunneling her other arm under your back to hold you.

You silently scream at yourself from the inside out, saturated in roiling, throbbing anguish. Why can’t you just be…pure? Why must these desires course through this body, polluting both, everything? Wherever this is going, you want this with every fiber of your being, but you want it, want her, as yourself. You don’t want to be any of those appalling monstrosities that invoke the ire and inimical exclusion that is seared into your awareness whenever you’ve felt what you’re feeling right now.

Aurelia makes a sympathetic little hum of concern and nuzzles her head into your side. She grasps your hand, which is quaking in fear and shame, and asks, her breath hot on your earlobe, whether she crossed a line and whether you’d like her to stop. No, you reply, not at all and that’s the problem. You sniffle and someone in the room turns over and sighs, but doesn’t awaken. A tide of tacit realization washes over your parallel frames, and Aurelia shifts to kiss the moist film of tears now covering your face. To your amazement she whispers that you’re safe, that it’s okay, and in a brief acknowledgement of your scared, bruised little side, that you’re still a good girl, always, inducing another deluge of tears, but very different ones. She hesitates, wanting to respect your boundaries and trying to gauge your feelings. She tugs at your nightgown and you pull it over your head, removing it completely this time.

The electric luminosity returns to your body with a vengeance as she runs her fingers carefully through your hair, breathily tells you how beautiful you are, and cups your breasts in both hands. So much pressure builds everywhere when she circles her fingertips around the little bumps on your areolae that you arch your back and stifle a moan. You have to clasp your palm over your mouth as she flicks her tongue over your nipples and engulfs as much of one breast as she can fit into her mouth, suckling soothingly as if trying to breastfeed. She rubs and massages you through the fabric of your panties, and you almost groan in kneejerk protest, but it feels too incredible to resist. Shhhhh. It’s okay. Just let yourself feel. As she squiggles around and readjusts, trying not to fall off of the bed or make too much noise, she tightly squeezes your leg between hers and you can feel that the layer of white cotton clinging to her labia is soaked through. You slowly pull her up into a secure embrace and press your thigh into her, eliciting an inaudible whimper as she rolls her head back and lets her mouth fall open.

At some point she positions herself under you, wrapped around such that you still feel like you’re being held, and it’s your turn to explore and fondle her. Her hair is especially shiny and satiny tonight. You graze your lips, cheeks, fingers and the back of your hand over this pale, smooth skin you’ve dreamed of caressing for what seems like a lifetime. Waves of goosebumps break out across the areas you drape in your touch. You reach the petite V between her legs and rub her folds through the damp material, striving to stimulate her clit indirectly. You must be doing something right, because she lifts her hips off of the mattress and is using one of your pillows to muffle her sounds of pleasure.

Your sleep medication is now definitely working, and you’re aloft in a holographic slipstream of images, textures, and dulcet sounds. You’re both completely nude, now, panties removed and entangled somewhere in the sheets. By this point, you would think that nothing could surprise you, but the next words, uttered almost noiselessly, do just that. May I absorb you? At first you’re not entirely sure what she’s asking, sit up on your knees after a few dumbfounded seconds and move your fingers towards that precious valley, but she shakes her head once exaggeratedly and grabs your wrist to stop you. Mm, did you change your mind? That’s ok… No. May I absorb you a different way? And then it hits you. Are you sure? She pulls you in close to whisper in your ear, like a little girl telling her best friend her secrets. Mmhm. Please? But I don’t want to pressure you if you’re not comfortable…

May I absorb you. What a perfect way to ask, a simple question that speaks volumes, telling you that she, that someone finally, understands you completely in how you engage with this. Those words are a key to unlocking so much that you’ve kept concealed, sequestered away for so long you feel like you’re going to burst. Your long eyelashes moisten yet again, and you would swear that she can tell how lovingly you’re gazing at her, in an almost telepathic intuition.

You chew on your bottom lip, still hesitant, not wanting to hurt her or compromise your integrity as the woman you are, but looking down at her darling form writhing in desire, into the slightly crossed, beautifully clouded eyes of this incredible girl you adore who sees you so lucidly despite her inability to literally see the physical world, the only person you’ve ever trusted this much, whose affection and acumen is as crucial to you as one of your sensory organs, you feel like you can’t say no, wouldn’t want to. The acidic caterwauling of those shrill voices in the back of your mind—telling you you’re disgusting, deviant, worthless, male, invalid—grow ever fainter. Okay, sweetie. Okay. You kiss the tip of her nose just before and both gasp sharply in unison as you enter her and she absorbs you.

The moment that happens, your benevolent countenance shifts again into a place of tremendous vulnerability, even helplessness. You feel like you’re diving headfirst into very deep waters. A mollifying caress down your spine remedies your residual fears. Hmmmmm. I’ve got you. Shhhh. Good girl. She holds you from underneath, and starts the rocking motion she used to lull you—at the time, it seemed—towards sleep. Just like in the dreams that so tormented you before, your breasts are squished together in a pillowy union, your curves are perfectly connected like puzzle pieces, and your tresses are entwined in a haphazard web. The velvety walls of her womanhood feel exquisite enclosed around you, like a microcosm of the way it feels to be cuddled in her arms, warm silk. Though part of you still can’t believe you’re doing this, you feel so…at home, and never more comfortable with yours.

As fluid and graceful as everything about her normally is, her stifled moans are staccato as she approaches climax. As you notice it’s immanent, the script flips again and you feel extremely maternal, coming out of yourself and the sensations flooding every centimeter of you to help her experience this. The temperature seems to rise in a desperate crescendo as she pulsates rhythmically, involuntarily around you, and you cup the side of her face like a doting mother during her orgasm. Feeling wholly satisfied with this, you go to withdraw from her, but she forcefully yet playfully pulls your hips back into her, hugs you tightly, and traces the swirling, delicate, deliciously aimless patterns onto your back with her index finger, which sends you over the edge. You can’t hold it any longer and you’re in free-fall, but for once, not alone, and not into the abyss. Torrents of indescribable sensation cascade through your whole, complete, unquestionably female body, and your quivering pulses induce another peak for her, though the invisible, iron shelter of her protective embrace never wavers.

~o~O~o~

Securely fastened around you as the big spoon, she sleepily mutters that she loves you. It’s the first time it’s ever been said outright, and the loveliest thing about it is how it’s clearly a supremely redundant afterthought.

You are now Aurora and Aurelia, the moon and the sun, snug amidst your mutual friends, the stars, and this realization floods your heart with an incalculable happiness. Awash in an authenticity you’ve never before known and profound fulfillment, your spiraling mind flashes forward with divine apparitions of the future: vigorous applause at each other’s college graduations, taking your vows before a gorgeously traditional altar in a breathtaking ceremony, repeating “in sickness and in health”, quavering with love. All the friends in your group beaming at the reception. Aurelia becoming a school psychologist and counselling at your old high school. You getting hired on as the art teacher in between research grants.

And the very best part is, because the Goddess has apparently taken mercy on you, all of it comes true. All of it.

~o~O~o~

Author's Note: The central theme of this story is something that I imagine will resonate with very few--though for those who it does resonate with, it is my hope that it will give a voice of sorts to something profoundly felt and yet so rarely expressed. The impetus for this story was relatively simple: I wanted to write what I desperately wanted to read and couldn't find. In any case, I hope you enjoy regardless.



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