Short Story: First step

“Look at that fat fuck,” my employee Deborah said with a laugh.

I turned towards the front of the gym I owned, and at the counter sat one of the fattest women I have ever seen. I had, of course, seen her around town and was disgusted by her. She was infamous at the local fast food joints, places I rarely ventured into, but when I did I usually saw her sitting alone at a booth, devouring several large burgers and fries, washed down by several large sodas.

I marveled for a moment, wondering why she had wandered into my gym. Maybe she was lost. I doubted she had come in to join. She was not just fat, she was morbidly obese. The kind of woman you saw at the store riding one of the electric carts, the motor straining to move her enormous mass. She had a greasy, unkempt look to her, and I involuntarily crinkled my nose as if I could smell her from across the room.

“Shit, this is going to be a cluster fuck,” one of my trainers, Todd, guffawed as he joined us. “What the hell does she think she’s doing here?”

“Looks like she’s signing up,” I say quietly, unable to process the sight before me.

“I bet she doesn’t last a week,” Todd laughed.

“We won’t see her after today,” Deborah insisted.

“Twenty bucks?”

“Deal,” Deborah agreed.

“That’s enough,” I said. “If she’s a member, treat her as such. I don’t care how large she is.”

“She’s not going to fit in any of the equipment,” quipped Todd.

“Not another word,” I said with a finality I rarely invoked.

“Whatever you say, boss,” he smirked before walking away.

Deborah left soon after, having a class to teach in one of the side rooms. I stayed and watched as the woman heaved her bulk out of the chair, wheezing as she did so, and labored to follow one of the receptionists as she took our newest member on a tour of the gym.

It would take at least twice as long to show her everything we had to offer, so I took the opportunity to walk to the counter to see who the client was. I looked at the paperwork and read her name, Melba Gomez. The name seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I was taken aback at the fact that she signed up for our top package, though she declined signing up for a personal trainer. Most did. Trainers weren’t cheap.

I kept track of Melba as she struggled to keep up, and I have to hand it to my receptionist, she was patient and kind, merrily waving away every apology Melba uttered. The more she walked, the more she was aware of the stares she was attracting. Everyone was focused on her, some openly mocking the fat chick who was obviously out of place. It was one of the saddest sights I had ever seen, but she tried to ignore the hostility thrown her way. In spite of myself, I was left amazed at her tenacity.

After over an hour, my receptionist left Melba at the exercise bikes, who then struggled to get on a bike, and somehow managed to get one. How she did it, I don’t know, but she did. By this point she was already in some distress, the stress of walking the gym must have gotten to her. I had never seen her off her motorized scooter before, but she was making every effort to walk, even if she had to stop often, but yet she was determined to get on a bike and exercise. I was afraid she would have a heart attack and die of the spot.

She lasted less than three minutes on the bike. She was sweating profusely and her breathing was labored. Melba looked faint, and I think the attention she had attracted was starting to get to her. Some of my own employees looked as though they were openly joking with some of my other clients after her.

Defeated, Melba got off the exercise bike, stumbled a bit, but somehow managed to stay upright. Then, with great difficulty, she walked towards the front door, and I caught a glimpse of tears in her eyes. She got back on her scooter, which she had left by the door, and she left my gym.

As soon as the door had closed, I heard a massive roar of laughter from several of people in the gym. It seemed everyone had found the sight amusing, all except for the receptionist who had shown her around, She look distressed about the situation and looked at me with tears in her own eyes.

“I know,” I told her. “I know. Keep an eye on things, okay?”

“Sure,” she croaked.

I hurried after Melba, who was sitting on the curb, probably waiting for the bus.

“Hey,” I said, “thanks for stopping by.”

“Don’t worry,” she said, “I won’t be back.”

“I don’t understand,” I replied, confused. “Didn’t you signed up for a full year?”

“I have a month to cancel, at least that’s what the receptionist told me.”

“That’s true, but why quit now?”

“Are you kidding me?” She said, her voice hollow, “I’m a laughingstock. I heard them all muttering under their breath. I heard the place bust out in laughter the moment the door closed behind me. I mean, the neighborhood fatty out of her element. Who am I kidding? I don’t belong.”

“Don’t say that,” I pleaded earnestly, wondering why I even cared. I usually didn’t. People came and went all the time. Not everyone was meant to be physically fit. Most didn’t have the determination to be in shape, and that was fine by me. “You came in, you signed up. That means you are a member, Melba. That is your name, right? That’s what you put on the application.”

“Oh my God, you don’t remember me, do you?” She asked before turning away and mumbling to herself, “why would you remember me?”

“Do I know you?”

“I guess not, but we went to school together. Sat in front of you for a full year in English class, and you used to torment me, the class fatty, you called me. You made my life a living hell.”

“Chicken wing?” I gasped as the memories came flooding back. “Is that you?”

“Please don’t call me that,” she said as her eyes glistened with renewed tears, “but yes.”

“I’m so sorry about that,” I apologized lamely. “I was a total bitch. I shouldn’t have, I mean I – I was a very unhappy, I – I’m sorry.”

“Unhappy? You were the most popular girl in school! You were beautiful and funny, and smart. All the guys loved you. You were athletic and a cheerleader. All I was was a punching bag for you to make fun of. You and everyone else.”

“I can’t take it back,” I said, looking at myself for the first time through one of my victim’s eyes. I was a bully, and I tormented her. Was I responsible for her present state? Maybe not completely, as I never discount a person’s own responsibility, but maybe I played a part in her misery. Maybe I had helped push her to the years of self-abuse.

“No, you can’t.”

“No, but I’m not the same person I was twenty years ago. I changed.”

“So have I.”

“I can see that.”

“Why? Because I’m such a slob now, even more so than I was in school? Don’t you think I already know that? Lord, I can’t even look at myself anymore without being disgusted at what I’ve become, what I let myself turn into. I always knew I was fat, but why this?”

“Please, stop crying. You’re not doing yourself any favors by feeling bad about yourself. I did and became an alcoholic and took did some risky things. I know it’s not the same, but I opened up my eyes and realized I was going down the wrong path, just like you have. You came in to my gym for a reason. Why did you come in? You don’t owe me that, but I still want to know.”

She broke down in front of me. It was a noise beyond despair. It was inhumane, like the sound of a mortally wounded animal, but it came from the woman in front of me, a woman struggling to talk to me, the energy she spent just walking around the gym had completely drained her.

Finally after several minutes, she wiped her nose and dabbed her eyes, looking away from me, she answered. “My mom died last month. Her heart gave out. My dad died the week after I graduated high school from a massive heart attack. I’m almost the same age he was when he died. Both my parent’s are gone, both due to being so over weight that the stress on their heart was too much.”

“Oh my God,” I croaked, “I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”

“I – I’m scared,” she intoned pleadingly, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to live either, but I don’t want to die like that. I don’t want to die alone. I have no brothers or sisters. My family is gone. I have a couple of cousins, but they’re disgusted by me. Haven’t seen them in years, so I’m it. No family, no friends, just pathetic old Melba, just like I was in school.”

“Don’t say that. You took a chance and made your first step. Don’t quit now. I won’t let you.”

“I can quit at any time. Says so in the contract, and I’m not paying.”

“I’m not asking you to,” I argued angrily, not caring that I was offering membership for free.

“What? You feeling guilty? This isn’t your fault. You’re not responsible for me.”

“I don’t care. You came in and damn it, you want to make a change, so for fuck sake make it.”

“Come on, everyone was laughing at me.”

“Let them laugh. Come back and we’ll be the one’s laughing at them. What do you say?”

“I’m scared,” she said with an apologetic laugh. “I can barely walk around the place, and everything’s so hard.”

“It’ll be tough, I’m not going to lie. It’s hard for me and I’ve been lucky genetically, and I’m already in shape. For you, it’s going to be some of the most demanding and strenuous months of your life, but if you see it through, it’ll get better and easier, and you will start to feel better, I promise you.

“You think so?”

“I believe it, and you should too. What do you say?”

“Okay, I’ll try, but why do you care?”

“Because, I saw a woman with more courage and determination today come in to my gym and worked so hard just to take the tour of the facility. I saw you struggle quietly to get on the bike, and then manage to walk back unassisted to your scooter.”

“But I was only on there for a couple of minutes,” Melba hung her head in shame.

“But you did it. Every other person takes that kind of mobility for granted, but not you. You worked for it. If you put in that kind of effort regularly, you’ll be amazed how much easier it’ll get for you. One thing, though, I want to know when you’re coming in so we can be ready for your sessions.”

“I’ll pay for my membership, but I can’t afford a trainer,” Melba protested.

“But I’m giving you one,” I offer. “I’ll be the one training you. I own the place, after all. I can spare an hour three times a week.”

“You don’t have to, you know.”

“I won’t be doing anything but guiding you. You’ll be doing all the work. I would suggest you get with a doctor before starting.”

“I already did last week,” she looked away again. Her voice was beyond despair. It broke my heart. “Said I was eating myself to death anyway, so exercise wouldn’t matter at this point.”

“Bastard,” I sneered. “We’re show him as well. I’m glad you came in. I promise you, we’ll be unstoppable.”

“Do you really think I can do it?”

I looked into her eyes, this woman I tormented decades before, a woman who saw her parents die due to their own unhealthy habits. I caught a glimpse in her eyes, a glimmer of hope beneath the tears and the despair, and I knew I could not let her down. This was literally a matter of life or death. “Alone, no, but you won’t be alone. I’ll be there, and so will my team. Every look, every laugh, every name you’ve ever been called will be your motivation. By this time next year, I promise you won’t recognize yourself.”

“Thank you,” she sniffed.

“No, thank you for letting me help.”

The bus arrived, and I stood there as the driver used the lift to load her onto the bus. She was embarrassed by it, but she hardened herself and smiled at me resolutely. Within two months she no longer used the scooter, six months she walked to and from the gym. After a year I recognized the girl I bullied in school.

She’ll never be thin like I am, but she didn’t need to be. She was beautiful and full of life. I caught a glimpse of the woman she was on the inside, beneath the layers of clothing, skin, and fat. I met the dreamer, the artist, the soul.

I met the woman I feel in love with. I met my joy.


Short Stories

Next story –
Previous story – The Confession

Almost that time of year

NaNoWriMo 2017 is fast approaching and I’m still undecided whether or not I’m going to participate. I probably will, just not 100%. My writing has come to a stop this past year, having started to spend most of my time painting instead. It’s a different creative outlet for me, one that I never thought I could do, but one I enjoy immensely.

But in my heart, I am still a writer. I still create stories in my mind, even if I don’t always write them down. I’ve been a little lazy about taking out my laptop, mostly because I don’t have wifi at my place. I know that’s a stupid excuse, but it’s true.

Wifi or not, I will probably write again this November. I’ve done it every year since 2011. It was one of the things that helped me after a very painful divorce. It helped me focus my energies on something other than my pain. It was my outlet. It was my catharsis.

I don’t need it in the same way as I did, but I do need to write. I’m not always a great speaker. Okay, I’m never a good talker. I tend to say what I need to say within the confines of the written word. I’m better at expressing myself that way. I wish I was better at talking. Makes my life a living hell at times. No one takes you seriously when you’re unable to talk and argue effectively.

But that’s another issue altogether. November brings a sudden rush of motivation. There’s something to be said about external accountability to keep one on track. It’s also a bit of a rush to be able to say that I’ve written 50,000 words in thirty days. Most people will never be able to say that. I’ve accomplished that every year since 2011. That’s over 300,000 words!

I need to get back to writing. I keep saying that my goal is publish, and I’ve gotten of track. I need to refocus on that goal, but who knows. Maybe  I will, maybe I won’t. Ultimately, it’ll depend on me, and I know that. I think what gets me is that money is tight, and trying to find someone to proofread and edit my work, paying for artwork for the cover, is more than I can afford. Then again, if I really wanted it, I would find a way.

Me and my silly life, huh?

So I’ll see where I am a month from now. I don’t have any ideas as to what I want to write, but I have time to decide. I do have a couple of ideas for short stories, and I’ll write them and post them soon.

Short story: Madness

She wore her madness as lightly as the pale beams of the autumnal moon. What chance did I have? I had no defenses against her. I was a lowly mortal and she some heavenly creature, or forsaken demon from some unfathomable hell. All I knew was she was an otherworldly being, and I was besotted, feeding off her madness, sating some unquenchable thirst, some unknown longing in my soul.

I had lived a life devoid of passion, a life not worth living. I married an unimaginative woman whose only goal was to push out children with assembly line efficiency. One child, a second, and then a third. We started working on our fourth, our sex life as monotonous as our lives. No euphoric release, no joyous climax, only a feeble thrust, a perfunctory kiss, and an almost impotent issue. How we managed even one child, I’ll never know.

This was my life, and I lived it without complaint. I didn’t know better. I didn’t know about the thrill of schoolboy crushes, of the devastation of an unrequited love. I didn’t know that there was more to the human condition than blindly accepting your fate. I didn’t know I had had a choice. I spurned risk for the safety of a certain, easy life.

I wouldn’t know anything until I came home and found her in our bed with another man. Theirs was no feeble attempt of lovemaking. It was raw, it was passionate, it was intense. I could hear her scream as I stepped out from the car. I could smell them as I opened the door, my children listening in. Then again, maybe they were his.

I crossed the threshold into our room, and he looked frightened, but my bride looked back unabashed at being discovered. I sensed she relished making me into a cuckold, impotent and ineffectual, emasculating me so utterly. I confess I didn’t care too much. I didn’t love her. I never did. I left slightly aroused at the sight of such wild and carefree passion. That it was my wife made it even more exciting.

That was my first taste of madness. I left my house almost immediately, listening to the strains of the headboard hitting the wall percussively, listening to my wife moan excitedly, wondering what bastard her brood belonged to. I knew they couldn’t be mine. I was relieved. They didn’t care that I left.

I drove to the nearest bar, a strip club a few miles from the double-wide I had recently called home. I’d return later for my belongings. At the moment I needed to clear my head. I needed something for something had been roused in me, some latent potency that yearned for release. I had considered going back and forcing myself on my wife, maybe trying to join in, I didn’t know. I had no experience in the matter. I needed to sit and consider my options.

I walked into the bar, and it was still early. The afternoon shift was still there, the B and C squad. They were overweight, with visible stretch marks and cesarean scars. Their breasts drooped too much, or a few were too large and too perfect maybe for so ragged a troop of dancers.

Then I saw Diamond walk onto stage, and this beast in my chest roared with approval. Like the others, she was past her prime, pushing forty if not older, but she was feral on stage. A few men paid for her attention, but not enough. I could tell she demanded more in her younger days. Why she hadn’t quit yet, I didn’t know, but I was grateful.

She saw me and winked, but I sat rigid, not knowing what to do. I had never been to a regular bar, much less a strip club. A few of the house regulars laughed at me, a few yelling taunts at me and one gloated happily, but Diamond could sense my desire. She knew I needed her, perhaps before I knew it myself.

She walked off stage and a few minutes later returned and sat beside me, wearing a thin negligee. “I’ll have a drink, if you’re buying,” she winked. I nodded to the bartender who poured her a shot of something and handed it to her. “Salud,” she grinned.

“Cheers,” I stammered, holding up the bottle of beer I was nursing.

“Never seen you here before, Jacob, is that right?”

“How do you know my name?” I asked, shocked that she could possibly know me.

“Did you finally walk in on your wife?” She cocked her head, a sad smile on her aging face.

“You – you know about that?”

“Sugar, we all know. Your wife’s been fucking anyone and everyone for years. Hell, we all been placing bets as to when you would find out. Shit head over there,” she pointed to the guy with the gloating look about him, “just won the bet. Pity. You’re a good looking guy. What’s wrong? Does the plumbing not work?”

“Excuse me?” I stammered again, shocked as she racked her nails down my neck. I gasped as I had never felt such a thing. My nerves screamed and I tensed, not out of fear but out of desire. “Look at you,” she smiled approvingly as she glanced to my crotch. I covered myself clumsily, not wanting her to see my arousal, but ran her nails under my chin and forced me to look at her. “Sugar, it’s okay. You’ve never been properly introduced to a woman, have you?”

“I’ve been with my wife,” I said lamely.

“That bitch ain’t anything but an easy lay,” she laughed, then looked apologetically at my wounded pride. “No offense, but everyone in here has had a go. Even a couple of us girls, but not me. My baby sister went to school with her, and she was just as trashy then. You were just the poor sap she chose to take care of her while she fooled around behind your back.”

“Am I a joke?” I cried, ashamed as my eyes watered.

“Depends,” Diamond replied.

“On what?”

“On what you do now. Do you accept defeat or do you pay her back.”

“Pay her back? How?”

She took my hand and led me to a room in the back. She closed the door and pushed me roughly into the chair. Without warning she pulled off her top and took off her panties and then she danced for me. I shook with fear, but more with anticipation. It was not a sensation I had ever felt, and she knew it.

“Relax, Sugar,” she smiled. “This one’s on the house. You’re a good guy, a hard working guy. She didn’t deserve a man like you. You didn’t deserve a bitch like her.” She leaned in, her breasts pressed against my chest, she whispered into my ear, “Let me help you. I’ll show you what a real woman can do.”

“Uh – okay?”

And she danced for me, and the sight was more erotic and intoxicating than I could ever have imagined. It was sensual in a way that my wife never could have managed. My wife, not yet thirty, never looked as desirable as Diamond. There was something animalistic in the way she moved, a predator toying with her prey before the kill, and I longed to be devoured.

Before anything could happen a sudden knock on the door stopped everything cold. “That’s it for this now. If you want another, you’ll have to pay, but I’ll cut you a break, Sugar. Oh, and by the way, I get off in thirty minutes. I never tell clients when I’m getting off. Meet me at the diner off of 127 if you want to continue this.”

She didn’t say another word but strode out the door. Some guy held the door open for me as I walked out. He gave me an almost imperceptible nod and a wink and I paid for our drinks and left. Thirty minutes later, I waited at the diner Diamond had told me and sipped a cup of weak coffee. She walked in, looking remarkably normal. The cheap makeup was gone, as was the negligee. She looked like a suburban soccer mom wearing capris and a tank top. Only the feral look in her eyes remained.

“I’m glad you’re here. I hope that means you’re ready to embrace the madness.”

“The madness?”

“Sugar, there’s more in you than what you’ve been led to believe. Come on. Let’s go to my place, and I’ll show you wonders your wife never could have imagined. We’ll dance on the grave of your marriage, resurrect your tattered manhood, and I’ll make you a proper man. That’s if you think you can handle me. What do you say?”

I felt as though I were making a pact with the devil. Then again, maybe she was my guardian angel sent to save me from despair. I didn’t know, but I took her proffered hand and she led me out. The next hours of my life were spent in a tangle of limbs, of sensations I had never felt, and a passion that had eclipsed everything I had ever felt.

And her madness fueled the newly kindled fire in my soul, and I became her devoted and willing slave. And when my wife’s eyes came to fall upon me again, she realized her folly. I was everything she had ever wanted, but she had squandered it on a series of cheap flings. Diamond had made me into a proper man. I could never go back to being in an unfeeling life, devoid of everything that made things worthwhile. I had embraced her madness, bathed in her light, and shunned the darkness in which I dwelt for a lifetime.

But nevermore.


Short Stories

Next story – The Confession
Previous story – The raging storm

Short story: The raging storm

He sat stoically as he read her text. He couldn’t fall to pieces in public. He had clients to deal with, coworkers to work with. No, his private hell would have to wait. He’d have plenty of time to fall apart when he got home. All the time in the world. Maybe all of eternity to piece himself together.

She had been his saving grace, his last hope at finding love. While he seemed uncaring, he was in fact an unrepentant romantic. He was the type to cry at the movies, to be moved whenever he saw a beautiful sunset. He appreciated art, and music, and he felt keen and deeply. He was a passionate man, a man of strong emotions. Often those emotions were like a tide, drowning the weak with it, leaving him alone on the banks of the shore.

But Toni was not like other women. She matched his passion. Their love was a tempest at sea, waves crashing upon the other, winds howling, the fury of the rain destroying everything in its path, but always they remained at the end, their lovemaking the more satisfying. No one doubted that they belonged together.

They had lived together for several years, planned on getting married some fine day, though neither was eager to disrupt the status quo. Nothing was amiss that morning when he went to work, nothing until he read the text.

“I’ll be gone by the time you get home.”

No explanation, no warning, it was just over. He tried several time in vain to text her, to call her, but her phone had been shut off. Calls to her mother we also ignored. All her friends claimed that they had no idea what was going on. He had been cut off, left in the dark. The storm had been replaced with a dangerous calm. He feared what the silence portended.

He went through the motions, and no one knew that something was amiss, except for a few that actually knew him. He went through the day, dealt with his clients expertly and professionally. He knew how to control the raging storm within. It would consume him at nightfall, but for now he had work to do.

Somehow he managed to survive the day. Already he could feel the veneer peeling back. He needed to be strong just a little longer. His goodbye to his coworkers was a little more curt than usual, his smile seemingly forced, but they were all professionals. They gave him his space. They knew he would come back in the morning, and whatever issue was bothering him would be dealt with.

But he had no plans on returning. Not tomorrow, not ever again. He drove to the nearest liquor store, bought a bottle of their most expensive whiskey, and drove home. He opened the bottle as soon as he shut off the car and downed as much as he could handle. Already the tears began falling, the first signs that presaged the impending storm.

He took a few more swigs, and stumbled out of the car. He could not handle his liquor, which was why he rarely drank. He was all about controlling his emotions, but he intended to lose control. He had no need of restraint. The full force of his fury would be unleashed.

He walked to their bedroom, ignoring everything else. In the room, her clothes were strewn about, as though she wanted to make a hasty exit and couldn’t decide what to take. That more than anything, even more than the one solitary line defeated him. She was obsessive about keeping her spaces clean. She had no intention of returning, of that he was certain.

He stumbled down the hall to his office and fell onto the sofa and continued to drink. Already a quarter of the amber liquid was gone. He drank some more and broke down, racked in rolling waves of sobs that seemed unyielding, so utterly despondent that he didn’t hear the alert notifying him that Toni was messaging him.

He drank until he could feel nothing, or maybe until he felt so much that he became numb to it all. He tried to stand, stumbled a bit and fell face first, grazing the side of the end table with the side of his face. He briefly registered the throbbing pain, but he pulled himself up, crawled to the safe, and managed to enter the combination on his forth attempt.

Once inside, he opened a small locker, the one where he kept his gun, and pulled it out. He laughed because he had always kept the gun loaded in spite of Toni’s protestations. Had he had needed to load it, it would have defeated him in his present state, but all he had to do was to release the safety, put the gun into his mouth, and press the trigger….

 

When Toni returned the next morning, worried as to why he hadn’t called her after her last text, she raced into the house. Her father was doing okay after his heart attack. Fortunately it was a minor thing, not requiring open heart surgery. He’d have to undergo a procedure soon to open up a couple of blockages, but he would be okay.

She walked into the office to drop off a couple of packages that were left on the front door when she saw his legs from behind the desk, and the walls behind him splattered with his blood and Toni screamed.

It took the investigators only minutes to deduce what had happened. He had only gotten the last line of Toni’s message, the one telling him of her father’s emergency, and that she needed to race the three hours to where he lived, that she we would be back as soon as she could, but that she would be gone by the time he got home.

And he never read her last message, telling him that her father was okay, and that the worst was over. “I love you,” she wrote him the last message, the one he would never see, “and I’ll see you in the morning.”


Short Stories

Next story – Madness
Previous story – Secrets

Short story: Secrets

Molly sat stunned by the revelation. She had known there was something not quite right between her and the man she had planned on marrying. Was she still planning on marrying him, or would she call it off and take the chance on finding someone new?

Across from her sat Steven, his hands clasped together, his elbows resting on his knees as he leaned forward, more to support himself than to be nearer to her. His hands shook slightly, but the worst was over for him. He had purged his greatest secret. All he could do now was wait.

Was he a he? Molly glanced at Steven. A she? An it? It was all too confusing. What was it that was creating this gender confusion? Was it something in the air? In the water? In the food? Was it the chemicals that industry and government was purported to be pumping into the populace? Or was it simply a matter of time, of the community believing it was time to stop living in the shadows.

She didn’t know. She didn’t care. Molly never thought of herself as a homophobe. She had many gay and lesbian friends. Her own brother was bi, though he wasn’t exactly out to everyone. Even she had dabbled with women a couple of times in college. She didn’t see anything wrong with it. It was a simple matter of wanting an experience, one she was happy to have had the opportunity to take advantage of.

This, however, was something completely different. She had been to the drag shows. She had been friendly, if not really friends, with a few drag queens. They were different, a group of men mimicking women for the entertainment of an audience.

Was that what Steven was? She didn’t know. Steven claimed it wasn’t. It wasn’t a fetish or some other cheap sexual thrill. “I’m supposed to be a woman,” he said unsteadily, terrified of sharing his secret. “I can’t in good conscience allow us to get married with this hanging over us. I won’t do that to you. To us.”

“Does that mean you’re planning on having a sex change?” Molly asked, not wanting to know the answer, but needing to know it as well.

“I don’t really know,” Steven shrugged. “I mean I haven’t dressed up in ages. I don’t want to be some creepy guy in a dress,” he tried in vain to joke. He cleared his throat. “I just know that I’m miserable and depressed, and my therapist believes it’s related to me being transgender. Whether or not I transition is still kind of in the air, but….”

“But you’re preparing me for it, just in case?”

Steven nodded.

Molly stood up and walked away, stopping short of leaving the room. She didn’t know what to do. Should she stay? Should she cut her losses and walk away? Though they have been dating for almost two years, their engagement is only a few weeks old. They hadn’t even begun planning for the wedding. Now she knew the wedding would have to be put on hold for now, at least until she knew what she was dealing with.

“I never wanted this,” Steven said quietly. “I never did. “That’s why I never dated anyone. I didn’t want to be put in this position. I didn’t want to put anyone through it.”

“So why did you ask me out?” Molly cried. “Why me?”

“You asked me, if you remember,” Steven smiled. “I resisted for months.”

“And I refused to take no for an answer,” she chuckled darkly. “I never knew enough to just let things go. Where does this leave us?”

“It leaves us with a decision, I guess,” Steven smiled sadly. “Either we stay together, or we break up. Either we accept that I may become a woman, or rather that I accept that I am a woman, or refuse and watch me become more and more depressed. I mean, I’ve been close to just ending things several times.”

“Do you mean breaking up with me or…?”

“I mean killing myself. It’s exhausting to live a lie, and my life has been a lie since I was old enough to learn to act my part. I’m kind of done pretending. I’m done playing the part of Steve.”

“Does she – do you have a name?”

“I’ve always been partial to Victoria,” Steven admitted.

“I would have thought you would have choses Stephanie,” Molly teased.

“I never liked the name,” Steven confessed. “I want a clean break from this identity, a new start.”

“It sounds like you have already made up your mind.”

“No, but I guess I’m leaning towards a decision.”

“And that’s why we’re here.”

“Yeah.”

“I can’t make any promises,” Molly sighed. “I wanted a family. How does that affect your, well, your swimmers?”

“Already ahead of you. I have an appointment at the sperm bank next week, just in case.”

“You’re doing this, aren’t you.”

“Probably, but I’m not a hundred percent. Not yet.”

“I’m with you,” Molly walked back and fell onto the couch next to Steven. “I’m here, and I’ll support you regardless. I can’t promise I’ll want to get married, but, I’ll be here.”

“Thank you.” Steven relaxed. “That’s more than I expected.

“It’s the least I can do,” Molly shrugged.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean you stood with me when I had my health scare last year.”

“I don’t think it’s the same thing.”

“Maybe not, but we’ll just have to see where this goes.”


Short Stories

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