You've been driving for an hour or two. You're going to a doctor. There was probably one closer, you fully admit that, but you were scared. Scared of getting someone who doesn't understand. You don't really know if you could handle that. So you picked the expert who lived hours and hours away.\n\nHiding in your bag are breastforms. They're the key to [[being you]], for the time being anyway. You didn't feel like you could wear them when you left the house, but you brought them anyway. For some reason you had to. You couldn't [[leave yourself behind]], not on this. Too big. It's too big.\n\nYou find a parking spot at the hospital. It's huge, and you're unsure where to go.\n\nYou really need to pee.
The printer is out of ink.\n\nYou need to print these papers for class, but you can't, because the printer is out of ink, and [[you can't get]] to the other printer you can use before class because it doesn't open until after class opens and there's nothing you can do, you're fucked, you need to rethink your entire lesson plan, you're fuck, [[nobody can understand]] how fucked you are because you are fucked, you are totally fucked, there's nothing that can save you and this is just yet another reason why you are useless, you're so fucking useless, you're so fucking useless, you're so fucking useless, why even try anymore\n\njust die\n\njust die\n\njesus, just die and get out of the way of people better than you, fuck, you [[worthless waste of space]], fuck!
You can't speak. You keep trying to find words, and they fail you. They always fail you. You're made of words, nothing but them, but words are so useless. So fucking useless. They disappear from your throat so easily.\n\nYour parents, assuming this means what they would feel is the worst, press you again, trying to make sure you understand that that was the wrong answer, and you can change it.\n\nYou can change, and be what they want, they plead with their repeated question, and you know that no, you can't, and no, you won't, and yes, you're screwed, right here, right now.\n\nYou want to [[run and hide]]. You want them to stop looking at you, accusing you.
No. No, you won't.\n\nYou're past this. You come back here, less often than you used to, but you come back here. But that doesn't mean you're not past this.\n\nLife can suck, and life can be wonderful. The smallest things can hurt or save a person.\n\nBut what can turn things around is yourself.\n\nPerhaps your brain is broken. Perhaps you have problems. Perhaps life did not work out how you wanted it to.\n\nBut there is such good, such good out there. You find it every day. Fuck, you MAKE it every day.\n\nYou've persevered to make every day worth living.\n\nYou're tired, but you get up, and get ready to take a shower, and start your day.\n\nA day you will make wonderful, you tell yourself.\n\nYou hope you mean it.
<<set $memories = 0>>\nThe Ceiling. It's a game. Sort of.\n\nAlexis "poetfox" Long did it.\nIt's pretty, you know... personal. Sort of.\nSort of.\nI hope you get something out of it, if you decide give it a try.\n\n[[If you'd like to, feel free.|The Ceiling]]\n\nThanks for coming, either way.\n
You're crying again. You're naked, and he's naked, and you're in bed, and you're sobbing, again. Again. Fucking again.\n\nJesus.\n\nAnd once again, he holds you as you sob into his shoulder and mumble things about how fucked up you and your body are and how he's too nice and how he shouldn't have to put up with this.\n\nAnd he just holds you, and explains, like he always does, that he loves you, the real you, the you you, and the rest is a problem, but one you'll solve with him, right there. He says everything is fine, over and over, until you [[calm down|The Ceiling]], and curl up into his arms, finally getting the shitty you're not good enough voice out of your head, if just for a moment.\n\n<<set $purpose = true>>\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>
You've been staring at the ceiling for... well, let's check... <<if $memories eq 0>>an hour<<else>> <<print $memories + 1>> hours<<endif>> or so now. <<if $memories gt 6>>Light is starting to bleed its way through the curtain on your window, letting you make out the details.<<else>>It's pretty dark, so you can't see it really well, but you know it's there.<<endif>> It's bumpy. It stares back. Who knows what it's thinking. You know what you're thinking, though. You're useless, and a freak, and that's really all there is to it.\n\nThat's what life is. So many <<if $issues>>issues<<else>>[[issues]]<<endif>>, so many <<if $motherfuckers>>motherfuckers<<else>>[[motherfuckers]]<<endif>>, so much <<if $drama>>pointless internal drama<<else>>[[pointless internal drama]]<<endif>>, with quiet pockets of <<if $respite>>respite<<else>>[[respite]]<<endif>>, of <<if $freedom>>freedom<<else>>[[freedom]]<<endif>>, of feeling correct <<if $purpose>>on purpose<<else>>[[on purpose]]<<endif>> or <<if $accident>>by accident<<else>>[[by accident]]<<endif>>. But you don't know if they make up for all the <<if $pain>>pain<<else>>[[pain]]<<endif>>.\n\nYou can't get it out of your head. It's constant banging is keeping you awake, and you're pretty sick of it.\n\n<<if $memories lt 8>>Might as well [[disappear]].<<else>>Might as well [[disappear|ending]], right?<<endif>>
You stumble into the shower. You turn the water on as hot as it can go, and you sit there in the tub as it pours on you. If only it could go hotter than mild inconvienence. You curl up into a little ball until you can't feel the heat anymore. Then you soap, rinse, shave, clothe, whatever, and stumble out the door. You drive to campus, and park.\n\nEveryone will judge you. You're the one without their paper done. You're the bad student. You're the failure.\n\nYou don't like the class anyway. They don't think like you, perhaps. They asked you for a man's opinion the other day. You freaked out and said you were a bad person to ask. They pressed the issue.\n\nYou don't want to be there.\n\nThe engine starts back up, almost on its own. Soon you're sitting in the bookstore, in a big chair, [[trying to stay calm|The Ceiling]] with a book in your hand.\n\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>\n<<set $issues = true>>
You've tried, trust me, you've tried. Fuck, you've tried.\n\nMaybe if you close your eyes, they won't reopen.\n\nWouldn't that be a pretty dream?\n\nGoodnight. Maybe tomorrow you'll survive. Your robot body will do the dumb things it has to do. Then you'll be here once more, to do it all again.
You rush back into the bedroom where you boyfriend still sleeps.\n\nThe printer is out of ink!\n\nHe sleepily tells you it's not a big deal and turns back over, trying to get back to sleep!\n\nFuck him, the printer is out of ink, and you're screwed, you're so fucking screwed! And now you've woken him up and bothered him and he'll probably leave you now and you're even more screwed than before! Fucked! Fucked! Nothing but fucked! Nothing but fucked!\n\nYou do your best [[not to punch]] a wall. You pace in circles around your office. Your teeth grind together.\n\nFuck!
Your mom says a lot of things.\n\nShe knows how the world works.\n\nShe knows this becasue she watches television news and talk shows.\n\nShe does not want to be seen in public.\n\nShe constantly thinks she is not good enough.\n\nShe constantly thinks she doesn't understand.\n\nShe knows how the world works.\n\nYou'll be killed, you'll never get a job, nobody will ever love you, you'll be alone, is it really worth all that?\n\nAre the things that make life worth living worth not having the American dream?\n\nBe a pharmacist, make lots of money, give grandchildren, you're smart, you should excel, your problems are meaningless, you're better than them, get over yourself and do better.\n\n[[Do better]].
[[Let me know what you think.]]
You leave everything in your bag. You take care of business, and you head to the doctor's office.\n\nIt's an awkward wait. Everyone is not here for the same thing. Most are diabetics. You feel like you're sticking out, way more than perhaps you are.\n\nYou're weighed. Blood is drawn. An awkward talk about letters, changes, and blood pressure ensues. He's a nice enough guy, but it's all just... so much.\n\nStill, you leave with a piece of paper. Something that will, in time, release you from where you're trapped. Something that will change everything, just the way you want it.\n\n[[Your choice|your choice]], what you always knew, real.\n\nSomeday you won't need what hides in your bag, you think as you leave. Someday soon.
Hey, this is Alexis again. Thanks for checking this out. Please, do let me know what you think. My electronic mail address is poetfox at, and my twitter is @poetfox. You can even leave a note on if you want. I'll see it eventually. Even if you hate it, I want to know why. Thanks, and again, I hope it was worthwhile.
Fuck it, right? Fuck it. Who cares? Why should you cut off a little piece of yourself just for a stupid scholarship or something, right? Who cares?\n\nYou mark female.\n\nStaring at the piece of paper in front of you, your hand trembles. A few more boxes and lines to fill out, then you're good to go. Attach an essay or something. The hard part is done.\n\nIt's like someone is going to rush in at any moment. Someone is going to rush in and call you a liar. Someone is going to tear you apart for what you know is true.\n\nYou're throwing your life away, [[your mom would say]].\n\nYou leave the room to ask for some whiteout, shivering.
It's always the little things, you know?\n\nYou sit in front of a college application. This isn't the first one, and you've got more to do (you're such an overachiever, of course) but as per usual you can't get started because of the third box on the way down the page. Either choice is a lie, really. One is [[a lie against what you've always known in your heart]], and one is [[a lie in the face of those who will likely read this form]] and have some sort of potential effect on your entire future. Most forms you just skip these boxes. A lot of times people don't even notice. Last job application, you didn't even check one, and nobody said a thing. Who knows if it affected your chances, though. Still, missing something dumb could hold you up and keep you from succeeding. Or so you've been yelled at.\n\nYou click the pen, again and again, staring.
Class is in an hour, and you are in bed. You spent last night crying, trying to explain some stupid thing to your girlfriend. It was dumb. It's always dumb. It breaks your armor, your ability to function, robotically, day to day, and do what needs to get done. It's so weak anyway. Armor is probably the wrong word. You're so off-balance, anything can topple you. Two days ago, when you should have written a paper for this class, you fell over trying to make the paper the best it could be. But it couldn't be the best. Perfect is not attainable, but is required. You tried, you really did. You tried to find the sources and put them on the page. But you got so nervous. So much riding on this. Focus was impossible. You stared at the screen and wanted to claw your eyes out. You ran away and could not look at it. It's due today, you remember.\n\nYou feel empty. There's a big, huge hole inside that's devouring. It's a hole where whatever makes a person able to move would be.\n\n[[Going out won't make things better]]. [[Staying in won't make things better]].
You're sitting in front of your parents. They're upset. You see, you wear rings, most of the time. One of them is shaped like a heart. You also keep growing out your hair. It's starting to get pretty long.\n\nWhat are you doing, they ask? What are you trying to say? Why won't you join the real world?\n\nYou want to say that you are in the real world, or that nothing is real, or that it doesn't matter. But they certainly seem to think it does.\n\nYour dad turns to you.\n\nAre you gay, son?\n\nYou freeze in fright. How are you supposed to respond to this? You barely know yourself, but you know that what's really going on is separate from that question. But your parents don't know that. They stare, wanting to hear [[the negative]], bracing themselves for [[the affirmative]]. You're stuck in the armchair.
You're much older, clearly, and you and your brother are sitting on a bus. You don't often ride busses, but this time you are. You're waiting for the sight you know is coming, which you haven't seen in many years. Before, you were shackled to your parents, but now, you're older, and they let you have your freedom, as long as your brother can come along, of course.\n\nAnd there it is. The big ball. Spaceship Earth.\n\nYour brother is pumped, why wouldn't he be, but not as much as you. He loves this place, but this is something different to you. This means something.\n\nYou walk through it, soaking in every bit of every inch. It's all so created, fabricated, to be perfect. A vision of the future. You want to build your future this perfect. Sure, some things have changed. The man with the dragon got replaced with a python for example. But it's still exactly as you remember it. It's still exactly right.\n\nLater, you will give your girlfriend a present you brought back from this place, a dragon doll, and try to [[explain what it means to you]], and why it is important. She will not understand.
The phone rings again. She wants to talk. Voicemail after voicemail fills your phone, as well as texts. She wants to talk.\n\nThe night has creeped in, and you're sitting on your couch, with your dog on your lap. He looks up at you, understanding, and trying to be there for you. He's all you can count on, it feels like. Such a good dog.\n\nThe phone rings again.\n\nYou do your best to [[ignore her]]. You do your best to move on and do what you know is right. She always asks for your advice except when she actually needs it. She always values your advice except on matters where you are a clear authority, like yourself. She always forgets you are a person, with feelings.\n\nYou're better than this, she would say, you should be able to deal with this.\n\nThe phone rings again.\n\nHours later, you're still sitting on the couch.\n\nThe phone rings again.
You shake your fist. It's stinging hard with pain. Like, really hurts. You wonder if it is broken. It's not, but maybe it is? You've never broken anything in your life.\n\nYou set up signs, and put them in sign holders. That's your job. But this sign holder in front of you, made of solid metal, is now bent. You punched it and bent it in its slot. It's leaning backwards.\n\nFuck, your hand hurts, but the pain is [[calming you down|The Ceiling]] somewhat. Maybe you can get back to work again. Maybe it's all gone for now and you can focus. Maybe.\n\nMaybe.\n\n<<set $drama = true>>\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>
You're standing on concrete bleachers. All around you there are people, but closest is your group, all on a senior trip, all wearing the same shirt, a yellow one, with a snowman warming himself near a pile of burning money.\n\nMusic pours over you. It infects you. You are jumping up and down and cheering as they play on stage. You hadn't seem them before this point, hadn't even been to a rock concert, but you know, immediately, you will see them again. You're sure, somewhere deep down, that people are looking, thinking you're ridiculous, as you sing along loudly, a writhing mass of excitement, but fuck, the music. The music. The music!\n\nThe music!\n\nA good friend beside you turns to ask if you're having a good time, and you reply in the affirmative.\n\nHe tells you he's glad to finally see you happy again.\n\nThis hits you hard. You stop moving with the music. You realize he's right. You are happy. You run back through your mind, trying to think of [[the last time]] you were really, actually happy, and not faking it. You have trouble [[coming up with an example]].
You stand in a Wal-Mart, with your Grandmother. You're off of school, and she's taking care of you, just you and her. You're looking at toys, but for some reason, she's drawn you to the girls section. You don't mind. They're wonderful too.\n\nWhat should I get for a girl? she asks, studying the racks of toys. She picks one and shows it to you. If you were a girl, would you like this? I'm only used to buying for boys. She looks at you for an answer.\n\nYour stomach drops out from under you. She's been buying gifts for you for years. Too many, really, even you can admit. But those experiences aren't in this group, like they should have been. Of course not. Why would they be? Of course not.\n\nYou tell her that [[you don't know]].
Your mother always takes care of your dog while you're away, or at least busy. She does love her granddogs. Today was no exception. You'd been working all day, and your wonderful puppy had been playing at your mom's house. You just need to pick him up.\n\nYou had called your mom, and she insisted you not come, and that she would drop him off in an hour. Why wait, you thought to yourself? You could pick him up now. You weren't doing anything.\n\nBut you stumbled upon a family party. A gathering. One she was intentionally keeping you away from. One she scheduled while you were at work, purposefully so you couldn't attend. She's upset you're there to get your dog. \n\nYou're clearly embarrassing her.\n\nYou leave in tears.\n\nLater you get a phone call. She wants to talk. She wants you to [[come back over]]. You hang up the phone and [[hug your dog tighter]].
She sits you down, and tries to get you to watch a show she likes. This is her way of making it up to you. You stay silent throughout.\n\nShe apologizes that you were hurt, but not that she hurt you. You ask for an apology for her actions. She carefully chooses her words to make it clear that she did nothing wrong, but she can't stand you being sad.\n\nYou go back out to your car. She forces herself in, and you drive around aimlessly, waiting for an apology. She feeds you excuses, reasons that it's perfectally reasonable that you should be excluded. You didn't want to be there anyway, she says. You wouldn't have liked it, she says. That's not the point, you say.\n\nShe never does apologize, and keeps throwing parties with your family, minus you. You try to [[ignore her]] actions, again and again.
She has a purse and you can't have one. She can go swimming, and you can't, you can't because your body is so messed up, so very fucking messed up, you can't show it, and you can't have the purse you want because you can't be seen with a purse because it's not proper\n\nfuck her, fuck her, fuck them all\n\nlife is so fucking unfair just trying [[not to punch]] a wall until it breaks in half and just such little things\n\nsuch little things are all you want, such little things, and you can't have them, and you will clearly never be right, never, never be right, never.
You've written a novel. Well, it's not done. And it's kind of stupid. But you keep working on it. It's over 100 pages already. It's about an alternate universe where people are part animal! You know, like werewolves? Only all sorts. The main character is an overwhelming Mary Sue, but you don't really know that term, and plus, who cares? Look at what you're writing!\n\nOn a whim, you do a search online, to see if there are other things out there like what you're making.\n\nFurry is the word, apparently.\n\nSoon you're talking to people, seeing pictures, seeing art, and finding a group that not only understand your problems, but understand you. Or so it feels like.\n\nYou never meant to make these friends, and build a second, better life. And yet here you are, with a [[smile on your face]].
It's been years. Almost ten. And you came back, and you saw it all again. Your boyfriend came with you and walked alongside as you explained to him every little thing he saw, from how the rides worked to what you did there as a kid. He's had a great time, but he's mostly glad you had a great time.\n\nIt's the last night, and you come back, and you stand in front of Spaceship Earth, and you bawl, crying embarrassing, childish tears to have to leave this place again. It's not the leaving itself, perse, that causes this. You have things to get back to, and you'd be unhappy not to get back to them.\n\nIt's the feeling, that feeling of hope, that was so rare, and still is, if you're feeling honest with yourself. You're worried that when you walk back out of that gate once more, it's going to be gone again.\n\nYour boyfriend hugs you, tells you to [[calm down|The Ceiling]], that it's not embarrassing or weird that you're crying, and that he understands.\n\nHe understands why.\n\n<<set $respite = true>>\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>
There are at least four windows open on the screen. You click between them, quickly, with fast hits of alt-tab. Every one is a conversation with a dear friend. Boyfriends, girlfriends, friend-friends, fuck-friends, real friends, you have them all. They are all right here.\n\nThey are from everywhere, anywhere. They understand you. They [[listen]]. They don't know you're you. They know you're YOU, and that is a valuable commodity. It's something that's rare. Certainly nobody you see in person knows this. Nobody at all.\n\nSome of them know your secret. Your personality problem, your quirk, your issue, and they're fine with it. Some don't, and you're fine with that. Either way, you get the right pronouns, for a few virtual minutes, anyway.\n\nThe door is locked. The world cannot get in. You gasp for air as you type. You have to get enough oxygen for your next excursion.
It's dark, and you should be in bed. You know this. It's 1 in the morning. School is tomorrow. But you're standing in your living room anyway, staring at the lights.\n\nIt's a simple glow, a rainbow of colors, twirling around the tree. All around them are artifacts of the past. This one was when you went to summer camp. This was a family trip to Yellowstone. Every success from the family is collected on these branches. It's a timeline.\n\nIt's December, and as always, you stare, and you look back, and you think of the past. You think of before, when you brain wasn't always filled with crazy, ridiculous thoughts that you're told, time and again, you shouldn't be having. You focus on when things were simpler, when you didn't worry constantly.\n\nWhen you had confidence in yourself and who you were.\n\nThe memory of that time is overwhelming, as it always is. You start crying, as you always do, and turn away, trying to [[calm down|The Ceiling]] before you get back to your bed.\n\n<<set $respite = true>>\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>
The Ceiling
It's the morning, the best morning, the Christmas morning. You drive over to your parents' house early, ready to [[repeat the traditions]] you always did when you lived there. You sit down with the family, and see the piles of gifts, and smile. It's always such a wonderful time.\n\nOne by one, gifts are passed out. Music and doodads and games and everything people wanted is exchanged with hugs and smiles. At last, your mother passes you a box you didn't originally notice.\n\nYou can return it if you want, I don't mind, she says.\n\nYou tear off the paper, bit by bit. You pull off the top of the box.\n\nIt's not your style, but inside is a pair of pajamas. Female pajamas.\n\nIn the past she had given you, in similar boxes, very masculine things. Cologne, shaving stuff, all kinds of things you immediately hid from your sight and never touched.\n\nToday, though, she gets it. [[She gets it]].
The judge thinks he's doing you a favor by skipping you until the end, when nobody else is in the courtroom. Personally, it just makes you nervous. Your brother and his wife sit next to you, doing their best to smile and cheer you on, [[keep you calm|The Ceiling]], without interrupting what's going on.\n\nOne after another, pleas are heard. Most seem to be about child custody. It doesn't really stop your nerves. You play with the umbrella in your hands.\n\nFinally, it's your turn. You get on the stand. You explain you'd like to be able to do simple things like write your name and purchase things without feeling like someone you aren't. The judge looks at you in a very calculated way. There's no emotion.\n\nHe signs the paperwork. Your support section lets out a sound of excitement. You just feel relief.\n\nYou were told you would have to wait a month for it to be final, but mere days later, there it is. Four copies.\n\nYour name, the name you chose yourself. The name that represents you.\n\n<<set $freedom = true>>\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>
It's your birthday, and everyone piles into cars and vans to go to your favorite restaurant. You can't wait to stuff yourself, and spend time with your family.\n\nTalk happens, work and life is discussed, and bad jokes are thrown. Orders are taken and fulfilled, and everyone eats way more than they had any right to, as is right.\n\nThen there are presents.\n\nYour grandparents are getting old. Your grandmother especially is too frail to do any shopping nowadays. You normally get a card with money, and this year is no exception. That's [[fine with you]]. You wouldn't want her to push herself, and you know she would. That's why you were all for this in the first place.\n\nYou break the seal on the card, and look inside.\n\nThe card is nice, and sweet, and they signed it with I Love Yous. But most importantly, for the first time ever, the word grandson does not appear on it.\n\nYou take the money, of course, but that wasn't the real gift.
She says she doesn't get it, perse, but she knows it's important. She's claimed this since the beginning. She can't wrap her mind around it. How can it be a thing? It's beyond her. You can't blame her, perse. It's strange, you have to admit, especially to someone who can't feel it. It's [[fine with you]] if she's a bit confused, you say.\n\nBut she says to you that it matters to you, and so it's okay with her.\n\nAnd she takes you clothes shopping.\n\nAnd she talks to you about things you've never been allowed to be part of before.\n\nAnd she pushes you, with teases and suggestions, to try new things you're too scared to try that you're now entitled to.\n\nAnd she asks you to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.\n\nClearly, she gets it.
You're rushing a bit through the store. You're in charge, of course, and you've got your team pulling you in about 13 different directions. You need to be everywhere at once. That's what they pay you for. You certainly try, though tonight is especially hectic, and you weren't feeling so hot to begin with.\n\nYou rush past a customer and her little boy, giving them a little wave, as you are likely to do. You hear, fading behind you, I like her shirt, from the mouth of the little boy.\n\nPronouns are so powerful. In this case, they helped turn around a rather unpleasant evening. Pronouns are everything.\n\nEvery single thing.\n\nYou breathe. You [[calm down|The Ceiling]]. You go back to the task at hand, no longer feeling a panic, but knowing, you can do this.\n\n<<set $accident = true>>\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>
You see, his wife is a bitch, and she has the kid. They're separated. But he needs to get off, quite badly. You keep returning his calls. You shouldn't. You knew from the first time that you shouldn't have, but you do anyway, again and again, and you end up here, in this house, without clothes on.\n\nHe wants to be your friend. He tries to talk video games and TV shows afterward. He wants this not to be weird.\n\nIt is weird.\n\nHe slowly tries to pry more out of you on who you are. He knows you're going to be a teacher. He knows you are going to transition someday, probably. He knows you like men. That's basically all he wants to know, that last one.\n\nIt's a shame you're going to cut this off, he says, it's fantastic.\n\nYou cannot think of a worse thing to hear.\n\nYou try so hard just to breathe, [[stay calm|The Ceiling]], and get through this, until the next stupid time you stupidly answer the phone when he calls.\n\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>\n<<set $motherfuckers = true>>
You turn on the television. You turn on the Playstation. You grab the controller, staying in bed, hiding.\n\nThey don't know your schedule. They probably won't realize you're supposed to be gone, if they even come home. They won't miss you in class. Another day won't hurt. It's the third in a row, but another day won't hurt, surely. You don't have to be there, surely.\n\nYou go through the motions. Plot runs by on the screen. You hit some buttons. Everything is just as pointless as everything else, surely, so you might as well make some progress in this RPG.\n\nYou keep your head straight ahead, at the screen, [[trying to stay calm|The Ceiling]].\n\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>\n<<set $issues = true>>
Your mother will probably look over the form anyway. She'd probably be upset about you messing up an important chance. They'd probably find out anyway, eventually, if you really did go.\n\nWhy not, right?\n\nYou mark male.\n\nYou need a break. Maybe later the rest of the boxes and lines will seem more possible. Maybe then you can focus yourself and just get things done.\n\nYou're better than this, [[your mom would say]].\n\nBetter. Sure.
You don't ride busses, but this time you are riding one. Your parents sit on one side, and your brother is on the other. You're brimming with energy, nearly overwhelmed.\n\nOut the window, you see the distinct shape, the golf ball, the wonderful sphere covered in triangles.\n\nWhat will you find there? You can't wait to find out.\n\nAttraction after attraction fill your day. You imagine, you communicate, you move, you feel the energy, you travel sea and land. Here, waterfalls flow backwards, and everywhere you go, the perfect music plays. Here, there are no problems.\n\nYou learn that, [[if you can dream it, you can do it]]. And it seems like you can. Here, it really seems like you can.\n\nYou and your brother drag your parents from place to place, in love with it.
It's rehersal, but you're not in this scene. Of course not. You're a minor role this time. Last time, you were the most masculine person possible, and you did such a great job you scared everyone, even yourself. Strange how good you are at acting. It's like you do it every day. This time, there was nobody like that to be. Even though you could do more. Would love to do more. Anything to escape your last role.\n\nBut you're not. So you wait. A fellow actor is with you. You and her are talking. You're worried about prom. You don't know how to dance. She's way more pro than you. She's done all this stuff. She knows exactly how. She'll show you, she says.\n\nShe grabs your arm, puts it on her shoulder, and takes your other hand.\n\nYou freak out, blushing wildly, as you are guided to dance, her hand on your hip. It's what you wanted, but you didn't know how she knew.\n\n[[She asks]] about the reaction afterwards. You explain to her that you were in the woman's position.\n\nOh, she says, I had no idea.
N-no, of course not. I mean, you have a girlfriend, right? You remind them of this. This seems to calm their fears, and they turn back to their normal spiel. \n\nPeople don't get hired who dress and look like you. They have terrible lives. They are hated. You're too good to be hated. You're too good for this.\n\nYou just want to [[run and hide]]. You want this to be over. You want to fuse your fingers to the keyboard and never come downstairs again to see them. You can tell them, over and over, what they want. It's not hard, not the act, but the rest of the day, the week, are covered in a horrible weight, that pushes down, and makes it hard to breathe.\n\nYou can tell them you're what they want, but you never will be.
You make [[your choice]]. You slide the forms under your shirt. They're a little cold, but they'll warm up. Their weight and chill is a relief, in any case. Courage.\n\nStill, you shiver as you get out of the car. You look around nervously at everyone who passes you. Will someone figure out? Will someone know? You try to walk with confidence, but you're not sure you have any. Is simulated enough?\n\nAnd there it is.\n\nYou open the door to the women's restroom for the first time, go in, and do your thing. As you wash your hands, another woman comes in. You nearly freeze, scared.\n\nShe pays you absolutely no mind.\n\nThere's nowhere you can't go.
The telephone has rung over and over. You finally give in and pick it up.\n\nHello?\n\nExcuse me, ma'am, are you the woman of the house? the lady on the phone says as you get a shiver up your spine.\n\nYes, you say. It's not true. It'd be your mom. But it is true. [[It's who you are]]. So.\n\nYou soon get on a long, long rant about a survey. You agree to take it because of the [[smile on your face]]. It lasts way too long, and she asks questions that you don't quite have an opinion on the majority of the time, but who cares? Who cares?\n\nYour voice sounds right, so who cares?
She asks you why you are in the kitchen. She can hear you open the drawer, you guess. You're on the phone. You're looking at a knife. Knives are how they do it, right? Fuck, you're stupid.\n\nYou always heard you were supposed to slash across, not up and down, because that's more effective.\n\nYou press the knife into your skin. It's not pleasant. Only a little blood, nothing bad or even vaguely threatening. You tell her as such. She tells you to put the fucking knife down. You force yourself [[not to punch]] the end call button, and get her voice out of your head. You force yourself to focus on the pain and her berating you for being so stupid.\n\nYou always were a coward. You always were too scared to do what you needed to do, and have it be over with. To just fucking end it already. You think about it every day, but you can't do it.\n\nFucking useless.\n\nFucking.\n\nUseless.\n\nAs you always are.
You've never done this before. You creep through the intimates section. Nervousness is plastered all over you. You had to walk past it four times before you even managed to work up the nerve. But you need underwear, don't you? You have to, don't you?\n\nYou look through racks. Everything is something you want. None of it is something you can have. But you can. You can buy it. You have money. But you can't. You can't have it, even as you select a few, quick as you can. Even as you proceed up to the counter to buy them, you can't have it.\n\nThe lady at the counter starts to ring up your purchases.\n\nYou could be buying them for your girlfriend, it's not necessarily for you, she says, reading you like a book. Her smile is sickening. It's not reassuring, it's a smile that says she knows you're a freak, and knows what you're going to do, and she is forced to accept it because of her position.\n\nYou feel like you're going to throw up. Trying to [[keep calm|The Ceiling]], you rush out of the store with your purchases.\n\n<<set $pain = true>>\n<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>
He is a panther made of goo. It was never particularly clear what kind of goo, but it was certainly goo. He moves this way and that. He transforms into such and such. Objects and people and things and all sorts of things. Most of all, he likes you.\n\nYou nearly date him, but go with someone else at the last minute. That would have been a mistake, had things not worked out so well anyway.\n\nHe's charming and overwhelming and such a comic nerd it's not even funny.\n\nHe is really kinky.\n\nHe shows you so many things, goo or no. So many ridiculous, scary, obscene things you didn't even know were options, much less what you would like. He shows you what it's like to have a great friend who is also a great lover. He shows you how infinite the space of possibilities are.\n\nYou can think of something, and [[it can happen]], and he's always game.
You walk with your girlfriend through the parking lot towards the mall. It's a relatively beautiful Ohio day, but you're going to spend it in a mall. It's a nice thing, shopping. That's something you're supposed to do. You're pretty sure of it.\n\nA man drives by in a truck and, as he passes, calls you a fag.\n\nYou have to take a moment to try to comprehend this.\n\nYou're dressed fairly masculine today (the Hello Kitty shirt was yesterday, if you recall) and you're with your girlfriend and you're gay.\n\nWell, I mean, you are. You're with your girlfriend. That, by default, would make you gay. Well, bi, really. Something like that. Either way, you're not a gay man, which is what you're being accused of.\n\nYou just kind of get lost, sitting on a bench in the mall with an oblivious, but affectionate girl beside you, trying to wrap your head around not only why someone would call you that specifically, but also just why someone would feel the need to yell out the window in general at someone to say that. What brings people to that?\n\n[[Who does that, really?]]
It's Valentine's Day, and you're in love. Granted, it is with a girl very far away from you, but it is love, surely. You've sent her flowers, and a poem, always a poem, and you can't wait to hear from her.\n\nThe doorbell rings.\n\nWalking downstairs, you head to open it. A man hands you a large, odd box, addressed to you. You find a box cutter and slit the tape.\n\nIt's a vase of flowers. She sent you flowers. You nearly cry as you set them up on the dresser in your room. For that moment, you feel like she [[truly understands]] you. In that moment, you believe her when she says someday you will sit on a back porch, both wearing sundresses and sipping lemonade.