First Impressions

Mac was—well, “obsessed” would be to put it unkindly—interested in a rather particular art: the vocal impression. Since he was eleven he had been practicing voices: cartoon characters, celebrities, even his parents. But there was one wall he always ran up against: he couldn’t do female voices. It didn’t help that his voice had changed at a relatively young age. But it wasn’t just that: he also just felt too embarrassed. It felt like he was doing something… wrong.

During his post-college gap year, he decided to finally sit down and devote some real time to perfecting his hobby. He listened to interviews of female celebrities, looked at diagrams of anatomy, even read resources intended for trans women.

Finally, after weeks of work with little to show, he was just about ready to give up. Then suddenly, one day, it just… clicked.

“Oh my god,” Mac said, hearing the new voice issuing from my mouth. “I sound like my sister or something. Except girlier.”

He looked in the mirror. Same mop of hair and lanky build as ever. He rubbed at his moustache that refused to grow. “Hi, I’m Mac.” In that voice it sounded like it was short for “Mackenzie.”

He practiced for a few hours reading passages and expressing different emotions in the new voice. Finally satisfied, he headed downstairs to grab a snack.

“Hey, Mom,” he said, heading for the refrigerator.

“Hey, Kyra,” she said without turning around from the stove. “If you were going to eat, dinner is in an hour.”

Mac felt suddenly intensely embarrassed. He had forgotten to stop doing the voice.

“Mom, it’s Mac,” he said in his normal voice. Or tried to. His mom turned around.

“Oh, sorry Mac,” she said. “If you were trying to fool me, good job. You sounded just like your sister.”

“I’m heading out,” Mac mumbled. His voice still wasn’t quite back to normal.

***

Mac headed for his favorite coffee place. He loved that it was within walking distance. The cute barista didn’t hurt either.

“And what would you like, sir?” a barista—Kelly must be off—asked as he approached the counter.

“One decaf latte.” Mac winced. Once again his voice had come out a bit weird.

“Oh, I’m so sorry ma’am,” the barista said, flustered. “It’s just—that haircut—I’ll just get your drink.”

Whatever. He didn’t want to deal with correcting her right now.

***

Mac headed over to his friend John’s place. They had prior plans to hang.

He groaned when he arrived and found the outside door locked. John better not have forgotten again.

He whipped out his phone.

“Hello?” John answered dopily.

“Hey, douchebag, let me in.”

“I—I’m sorry, who is this?” John asked, suddenly sounding much more awake.

“It’s Mac, shit-for-brains. Who did you think?”

“Wait, what, really? Damn, man, you really fooled me with that one.” John laughed. “Sorry, man, I was taking a nap. Let me come down and get you.”

Once they were up in John’s apartment, they both collapsed onto John’s ancient couch, PlayMaster controllers in hand.

“Die, robot zombie motherfuckers!” Mac shouted. It sounded a bit strange in his new voice. If it had been someone else talking he probably would’ve thought it was cute.

“Hey, can you stop doing that voice now, man?” John complained. “It’s just really offputting, man. It’s like hearing Tinkerbell’s voice come out of Shrek’s mouth or something.”

“Can’t I at least be Fiona?” Mac teased. He paused for a moment. He hadn’t really thought before he spoke. It was just what sounded right for that voice to say.

John paused the game and turned to Mac. “Seriously, man, is something up with you? You usually freak when someone calls you a girl or shit.”

He looked serious for a moment. “If you’re like, gay or transgendered or something, you can tell me, man. Er… buddy.”

Mac giggled. That’s right. He goddamn, downright giggled. “Why would you think that, silly?”

John shook his head. “Just remember, if you ever wanna talk…”

***

Mac yawned as he slumped behind the checkout counter. He and John had stayed up till five murdering the hell out of some zomborgs.

“Hey, man, do you know—wait, did we go to high school together?” asked a guy who you just instantly knew was a douchebag just from looking at him. Mac groaned. It was Brody, flanked by two of his equally douchey friends.

Brody suddenly perked up. “Hey, wait, I know you. It’s girly-boy.” He pointed. “Hey guys, it’s girly-boy.” His two henchmen snickered on cue.

“Go AWAY, Brody,” Mac snapped in his high soprano. Brody froze.

“Hey, guys, you hear that?” Brody leaned in over the counter. “Shit, I remember when you used to do all those dumb voices in high school, but I never realized you were ACTUALLY a boy-y girl.” He laughed at his own wit.

“Y’know, I’d do ‘er,” he said, turning to his friends.

“SERIOUSLY, go AWAY, BRODY,” Mac repeated. “You’re so not my type anyway.”

“Ooh, I’m not her type,” Brody mocked. “Obviously, lesbo.” He drew back his fist and punched Mac in the gut. “Let’s get out of here, guys.”

Mac collapsed to the ground, winded. The old lady who had been next in line rushed to his side.

“Are you okay, dear? Do you need me to call the police? An ambulance? A lawyer?”

“I’ll… be… fine…” he managed to groan, recognizing the old lady as his neighbor Mrs. Futerman. The old lady’s expression changed to one of horror.

“I can’t believe he’d do that to a girl!” Mrs. Futerman knelt down. “Was that your boyfriend, honey? Because I WILL report him. You need to get out of that situation.”

“No, it’s okay,” Mac struggled. “I barely know that guy. Just let it go.”

Mrs. Futerman’s face bloomed with sudden recognition. “Kyra? What DID you do to your hair? You look just like your brother.”

“I AM Mac.”

“Oh, I’m sorry dear,” Mrs. Futerman said, consternated. She whispered, “To be honest, I always thought you were a boy.” She patted Mac’s head. “But I understand. I have a niece who’s a lesbian.”

Mac finally passed out from the trauma.

***

He woke up to find himself in bed, with John hovering above him. “Oh, hey, buddy, you’re finally awake! That’s great!”

“I rushed over here as soon as I heard what that asshole Brody did to you. I can’t believe we’re this far out of high school and he’s still getting away with this shit.”

“Well, it’s nice to see someone’s worried about me,” Mac teased. If he had heard anyone else say that he would’ve thought it was flirting.

“Well, yeah, man,” John said, rubbing the back of his neck. “You’re like my closest friend.”

“I was kidding. I think it’s sweet,” Mac said.

John looked confused but didn’t say anything.

***

After a day off Mac was back at work. He sighed. At least he didn’t have to work the register today.

He was restocking cans when he heard a soft voice behind him. “Sorry, do you work here? Do you know where the party supplies would be?”

He snapped around to see a pretty girl with short hair standing there. “Um, yeah, they should be on, uh, Aisle 13—it’s by the back of the store near the far corner.”

“Oh, okay.” The girl turned to leave before turning back. “Um, actually, would you want to come?” Mac looked confused.

“Uh, I’m Jean if you… didn’t remember,” she said in a small voice.

Mac could’ve sworn he had never met this chick before. On the other hand, he didn’t have the best memory for faces and he was drunk for most of college anyway.

“Um, okay, sure!” He cursed his high, perky voice. At this rate he was gonna make Jean think he wasn’t into girls.

“Okay, awesome! Let me just get your number if it’s changed, and I’ll text you the info.”

As Jean walked off, neither of them could stop beaming.

***

As Mac walked up the steps to the party, his heart beat quickly in his chest. He had dressed up a little—just a button up shirt and slacks, really. He wanted to make a good—second? third?—impression on Jean.

“Oh, awesome, you made it!” Jean yelled as she opened the door. The music inside was already pumping. Scattered groups of people mingled in the living room and hung out in the kitchen.

After getting him a beer, Jean led Mac upstairs to a bedroom. “It’s a little loud down there for me, honestly,” she confided to him as they both sat on her bed. “You’re cool with just being up here, right?”

Mac nodded a little bit too quickly. Was she actually into him? Like actually, legitimately? Girls never hit on him. He almost looked around for the hidden cameras.

“We can watch Netflix or something,” Jean continued. “Or whatever you want to do. Basically anything is fine.”

Mac decided to press his luck. To make his move. He leaned forward and seductively purred. “Anything?”

Jean nodded silently. The two of them leaned in closer and closer until their lips finally touched.

“Oh god, I’ve wanted to do this with you for so long,” Jean moaned as they twisted sideways, collapsing onto the bed. “But I was never sure how to read the signals you were giving off in college.”

“Okayy?” Mac responded, confused. He felt terrible, but he still didn’t remember this girl.

“But when I saw your new haircut, I knew. It was so clear.”

“I’ve waited so long for this, Kyra.”

***


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