Shimmer #10 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 10)


You can probably imagine I was starting to freak. What else are you supposed to do when the universe turns you into a laser light show? The worst part was there being nobody I could talk to, except for Tanya.

Well, maybe one other person.

Putting the name “Randall Drew” into a search engine pulled up over ten million results, but only one of them lived on my side of Milestone City. Learning that my science teacher was a founding member of the Milestone Astronomical Society wasn’t a surprise, but finding out that he’d played Polonius in three community productions of Hamlet was something I had to see to believe.

The next thing I knew I was walking the street leading to his house. It seemed weird to think that he lived like other people; you know, in the suburbs and not in a broom closet where they’d lock him up until second period. Not that it was anything special; Mr. Drew’s place had a single level, a small yard, and panels with white flakes peeling off from exposure. Two cars sat in the driveway; one probably belonged to a girlfriend, or maybe a boyfriend. Who knows?

I knocked on the door, swallowed the lump in my throat and prayed to the gods it wouldn’t be weird. Last he’d seen me I was lifting my skirt and running for my life; my choice of t-shirt and slacks was purely in the hopes that he’d forget about it and talk about the other stuff.

A woman answered; girlfriend? Assuming I had the right house. She smiled and asked “can I help you?”

Continue reading

Shimmer #09 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 9)


There’s a place on the edge of town where people go to not be found; mostly kids skipping school and smoking weed, but you get all types. You can find it under the Franklin Bridge; you just have to know the way.

First you sneak through the hole in the chain-link fence (by the third post after the housing estate), then you drop into the embankment and follow it to the end. Once you’ve made it that far you’ll come to a gravel path that leads right under the bridge. Nobody goes there who wants to be bothered, especially at night.

Maybe that’s why Tanya was so weirded out when I asked her to meet me there. It was at least an hour after sunset, and the place didn’t come with its own lights.

She pointed a flashlight into the darkness; it didn’t cover half the six lanes of road sitting above. “Hello?” she called, like she was calling to a pack of wolves.

“Hey, I’m in here!” I pointed my own flashlight back to her and waved that it was safe; well, safe as you could be.

Continue reading

Shimmer #08 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 8)


Mom drove me home the next morning. The staffer had told her how I was dressed, so she brought a change of clothes; you know, guy clothes. Putting them on felt sick, but I was too tired to refuse them.

I wanted to explain why they found me in a skirt, but she was quick to excuse it away. “You’ve always been flamboyant, and that’s okay,” she’d said, smiling, as though I were a drag queen in the making. Was that really what she thought? Had she not been paying attention at all?

In the days that followed any time I tried to bring up the subject she’d rant about Adrian instead; about how the school was letting our family down and how thugs like that deserved more than suspension, but prison to boot. Even if I agreed with her I couldn’t bring myself to care; there were more important things than anger.

“I guess nothing’s changed at all,” I sighed, and took a bite of the most depressing egg salad sandwich I’d ever tasted (although it may not have been the sandwich that was depressed.)

As it turns out I was relieved to get back to school; recovery was boring, and knowing that Adrian was on suspension made the next ten days seem brighter. It didn’t matter that I was the subject of gossip, or that every second person had taken to calling me ‘princess’; there was nobody threatening to kick the crap out of me, and that was a step up.

Continue reading

Shimmer #07 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 7)


I was laying in the void and letting myself be consumed. Even if I wanted to resist, how would I? There was nothing to see, not even the dark; darkness is the absence of light and somehow this was less than that. Even the numb of my body seemed insubstantial, like a memory wanting to take hold in the present.

Even though I couldn’t see and I couldn’t feel I knew that I was naked, and far more vulnerable than the mere removal of clothes could ever make me. It made me afraid at first, but somehow I was able to place the fear to one side like a mechanism piece on a shelf. I could reclaim it again when this, whatever it was, was done.

What was happening to me? Maybe it was a dream, or maybe I was high on some sort of drug; neither seemed to matter very much. Neither explained the force that was drawing me from myself like water clinging upward to the inside of a glass.

Continue reading

Shimmer #06 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 6)


They say it’s a dog eat dog world out there, but they’re wrong; dogs don’t turn on each other the way that people do. They don’t hunt their own for the basest of reasons, like being small, like being different, like being a girl. The boys on my tail were chasing me like dogs, but they were so much worse.

I sprinted a block in the direction of the park and scaled the iron fence, throwing myself over the spikes and landing in the bush. Somewhere before that point I’d lost my shoes; a fact that only seemed to matter when twigs and prickles cut into the bottom of my feet.

From the darkness I could hear them laughing; laughing, like it was some kind of game. What kind of monster made other people afraid for fun? It wasn’t a point I could dwell on; they were closing in and fast. One of them was already searching for a way in.

There was no light where I was, and there were enough ditches and slopes I knew from the daylight hours to make fleeing dangerous, but what other choice did I have? Between falling down and whatever alternative Adrian and his friends had for me I’d rather take the trip.

Continue reading

Shimmer #05 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 5)


She kept asking if I was okay; first while doing my make-up, twice again as we came downstairs, again between the front door and the car, another five times on the way, and finally when stood at the glass lined entrance. Every time I told her “yes,” but as we stepped inside I wasn’t so sure.

It wasn’t our first time at the Lovin’ Spoonful; Tanya had dragged me there every other day for the past year. Between what had probably been designed to look like crumbling plaster and old brick we could pretend that we weren’t still trapped in high school, like we were already college hipsters who knew it all.

The staff knew us by name. Gloria, the self-proclaimed Norse goddess of the bean, had exercised her power on us and guessed our orders the first time we met; an orange frappucino for Tanya, and a vanilla chai latte for me. With service like that it was easy to feel at home.

That night, however, was different.

I held the flyer in my hand, every so often unfolding it just to make sure. The message read the same as it had earlier; ‘Inside Out – a discussion and support group for Trans* Youth and Allies.’ The date and time were right, but the crowd wasn’t what I expected. (Honestly, I had no idea what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it.)

Continue reading

Shimmer #04 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 4)


It was good to get away from school, and even better to be somewhere safe. Tanya’s home was one of those places. Her room was a haven through which no bigotry could bleed its way in lest it incur her wrath. In that space her will was absolute; not even her Mom was guaranteed safety if she crossed her there.

She knocked on the bathroom door. (Gods, she had her own bathroom.) “You going to be in there all day or what?” she pressed. “Some of us have… you know, personal business, to attend to.”

I looked down, lost in the void between my chest and the cup of my bra. Was I just going to keep staring? Shaking myself back to reason I took the loosely packed stocking from the counter and slid it down. The idea of stuffing my bra with packs of bird seed seemed crazy, but the internet recommended it and gods help me, it did bring out a nice shape.

“Don’t worry, I’m almost done,” I told her, though I really didn’t know if that was true.

My fingers pulled the tie from my hair and let it fall. I brushed it to one side and swept a fringe across my face. It seemed amazing how in a few strokes I couldn’t see myself the ‘boy’ in me anymore; I saw a human being, I saw myself, and I was smiling.

Continue reading

Shimmer #03 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 3)


The bell for last period tolled like a death chime. Tanya ran a hand over my shoulder and didn’t part until the hall split our paths.

“See you after class,” she said.

“Assuming Adrian doesn’t get me first.”

“He won’t,” she added, “and if he does…” Her fist met her palm and cracked in her grip. The imagery brought a smile to her face.

I forced a grin, waved, and pulled myself away from her as easily as you’d pull a band aid. The idea of class without Tanya wound tight in my shoulders and pulled my jaw clenched. Even if the way she fought for my honor scared the crap out of me it was always better that she was there, just in case.

My eyes closed; most of the walk was automatic anyway, so I didn’t need to see. We’d taken our time and cut close to the second bell. We avoided a lot of trouble that way, even if it did mean risking a warning for being tardy.

The words of my therapist rolled through my mind; deep breaths, inhale and exhale to a slow five count, keeping my thoughts rooted in the present. The tile was hard beneath my feet, and I was safe, alone in an empty hall; or so I thought.

Continue reading

Shimmer #02 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 2)



“How many times have I got to tell you to quit staring at me?” he roared, or at least that’s what I thought he’d said. It was hard to hear with the ringing in my ears.

Pressed against the locker I could feel the steam burning into my skin. With one hand pressed against the metal the other tried to pull away the arm stretched across my neck.

I opened one eye to the face of Adrian Dempsey, my lifetime tormentor and all around idiot grinding his teeth. Why he hated me in the first place was a mystery; all I knew was that I’d become the scapegoat for every evil that had been inflicted upon him. In the living hell that was high school he was my devil, and I had no sympathy for him.

“You were staring first,” I choked with a wink. I wasn’t scared of him; not anymore, and hadn’t been for years.

The crowd that was gathering began to make Adrian nervous. He let go and stepped away; he probably wanted to intimidate me and nothing more. There was no way he’d do anything extra stupid while there were witnesses around; he had a basketball career to think of.

I could still feel his disgust as he pulled away, dripping like saliva from the jowls of a dog. Even though I was teasing him I could see the cogs turning in his head as he wondered, does this little queer really want me? A thousand sick thoughts were probably flashing behind his eyes, but he didn’t even seem to consider how much I hated him back.

Continue reading

Shimmer #01 – “Starlight, Star Bright…” (Part 1)


It was 7:08 before I pried my eyes open, leaving less than an hour to jump out of bed, change and be at school.

I stopped, caught my reflection in the mirror and hated it before continuing the hurried routine. I tied my hair back, threw on some cargos and a t-shirt, filed my unfinished homework and textbooks into my backpack and ran down the stairs without greeting the parents.

Such was the life I lead wearing a daily disguise, trying to pass myself as the boy I wasn’t. It almost felt like it belonged to someone else. Then again maybe it did.

Nobody would have ever guessed that Justin Cade and the mysterious Miss Kaira were two sides of the same coin. How could they? Kaira was bold and outgoing; Justin was shy and reserved. Where one wanted to stand out in the world the other wanted nothing more than to fade into the background. One was a (sort of) wild, amazing woman and the other… he just wished he was.

Continue reading