• Fearsome Critters

Without Context — Sarah Johnson

And how are you meant to explain this? You’ve already come too far not to, told Emily you had a secret you’d only ever told Annalee, that you knew you would never tell your parents, something different from your sexuality, but intricately connected. You could tell her about your time with Hannah, who whisper-asked if you didn’t want to take your shirt off because of something to do with your gender, or in JC Penny’s with Katy as she stood in a button-down and could pass so easily. You don’t want to look like a dyke—you mean no offense. You don’t say this. Shakily, you tell Emily them is like the comfortable sweater you need to throw out but haven’t yet, and she doesn’t really understand, you know. How could she? She doesn’t ask for an explanation, but you feel one bubbling out of your throat, somewhere deep within a truth cauldron that’s been brewing ever since you first thought sometimes I wish I were a man. You don’t want to be a man. You tell her you cannot fit in a binary. After you broke up with Hannah, she called you gender neutral and it struck you hard, stirred that cauldron until you laid in bed and stared at the ceiling like it’d answer questions you couldn’t even bring yourself to ask, and you texted her thank you, but she also didn’t understand, and you still didn’t want to explain. She’d only meant in the way you dressed, but it’d slipped over your pliable form like a new, slinky dress. This is so much more than just that. Emily doesn’t realize, you don’t think, but that’s okay because after three glasses of wine you’ve found the words, and inside your rolling boil, you pull yourself off the burner. It’s time to rest.