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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Previous story – The price of love

Short Story: The price of love

Love is stupid. Yeah, I said it. Maybe love makes people stupid, or at least makes sane people do stupid things. Maybe it’s part of it, or all of it, or maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. I used to know, just like everyone’s an expert until you’re mired in something and you realize just how little you know. I just don’t know.

Right now she’s clinging to life on the barest of threads. The doctors say she’ll go at any moment, but they’ve been saying that for almost a week. Experts my ass! It hurts to see her like this, a woman in the prime of her life. She should be living her life, but the irony is that if she were, she wouldn’t be here with me. Like I said, love makes people stupid, me included.

I was never the kind of guy girls noticed. Sure they were nice to me, smiled at me, became my friend. I was, as I later learned, non-threatening. I was safe, the kind of guy they could trust, the guy they could talk to because I was understanding, and kind. I was the kind of nice they all claimed they wanted, but in reality didn’t. I soon came to believe that nice was code for loser.

Then I met Carly. Carly was like the rest of them, except she gave me something no one had ever given me: a chance. We started dating my sophomore year of college. She had broken up with her boyfriend, a star on the basketball team. He was the typical douche athlete, and all the women wanted him, and he obliged, never mind that he had a girlfriend.

So she dumped him and soon started dating me. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I was just a rebound, worse still that she used me to make him jealous. Losing out to a guy like me made him crazy jealous, and I was too blind to see it. She soon dumped me and took him back. I was devastated.

Carly, just so you know, was, in those days, a beauty. The years and her illness have ravaged her, but beneath her withered and pained expression lingers the ghost of her former glory. She was blond, with hazel eyes, pale skin, and the cutest freckles on her nose. She had a magnetic personality, and she could make friends with anyone, even a recluse like me. She drew people to her, a flame pulling in another moth to become her next victim.

She was my first girlfriend, my first grown-up girlfriend, I should say. I had a few summer flings in camp growing up. Hold hands, an awkward peck on the lips, that sort of thing. I lost my virginity with her, fell madly in love with her, and it tore me to shreds being dumped the way she did me. I was just a cog in her plan to win back her dream boy.

I fell to pieces. No one knew it by seeing me. I was so straitlaced that no one would ever have seen my inner turmoil, not that anyone was close enough to have known. I was for all intents and purposes, friendless. I suffered alone. I just turned my attention to my studies to cope.

But I had become obsessed with her, but I just accepted it. What could I do? Even I, for all my naivette, understood that I had no chance to win her back. I could admit defeat and walk away with some vestiges of dignity, or I could pine for some woman who had made a fool of me.

Funny thing is that dating her had made me seem more interesting to some other woman. I began to date. I found a serious girlfriend my junior year, and we dated for almost two years, up until a week before graduation. I found myself as I broadened my horizons, and I found some confidence as I came into my own. I had become a man.

But I never got over Carly.

She would come around every so often, this damned woman. Every time she dumped a guy, or they dumped her, she would come by. I broke off a few relationships because of her, including that serious girlfriend, someone with whom I could have married. I know because she had been hinting at it for months. I loved her in a way, but she wasn’t Carly. She couldn’t compete with her, and she never knew she was competing with her. I did her wrong. I did to her what Carly had done to me, and I regret it.

Carly knew that I was obsessed with her, and she took advantage of it. She used me to boost her ego when she was feeling down. She used me to get over her failed relationships. I was nothing more than a plaything to occupy her time until some more suitable asshole stole her attention.

It went on like this for a couple of years, until the year we became 27. Almost everyone we knew was getting married, having children, settling down. Carly decided it was time to grow up and get with the agenda and get married, so she did, to a guy named Kurt. Just like that, I was cast aside for the last time.

By then I had grown used to it. I was tired of it and it came as a relief. Yes it hurt, and yes I cried, but I was also glad that I could gleam some measure of closure. This cruel game had come to an end, and I could finally move on.

I met a girl, dated, and we became engaged. Everything was going great, until Carly came into the picture to ruin my life one last time. My engagement fell apart, mainly because of Carly, but also because my fiancee was cheating on me with one of my friends, something Carly was all too happy to point out.

Carly’s marriage had fallen apart because her husband wanted a family, and she couldn’t conceive. It was impossible. Uterean cancer had taken her chance of having a family, and with it her hope for the life she had wanted.

The cancer was in remission, she told me, but I think she knew something that she didn’t let on, that the cancer would return, which it did a couple of years later. In the meantime, we rekindled our relationship, and this time it stuck. Carly had become domesticated. Gone was the wild girl I had fallen in love with. Her love was subdued, tamed, and I think it was because she knew she was dying soon.

We got married as soon as the ink from her divorce had dried. At thirty-one I had my dream woman, but I could sense that it was not going to last. Her fire had been extinguished, and she no longer felt the need to lead me on. I knew she was using me again, and because I was so in love with her, I let her, and I let her to this day.

She came back not because she loved me, but because I loved her. She knew no one would take her. Carly was damaged goods. Those are her words, by the way, not mine. She didn’t want to die, and though the doctors had told her that her cancer was gone, she felt that they were wrong.

After four years of marriage, the cancer came back. This time there was nothing to be done. It had spread to her lungs, her kidneys, her brain. It was attacking her, killing her slowly, and no chemotherapy, no radiation, could save her.

Now, a week before our fifth anniversary, she lays in our bed, a hospice worker coming in daily to check up on her, and a nurse does as well. She didn’t want to die alone and she knew I would take her back.

I hate myself for letting her do this to me, but I am powerless. I’ve come to believe that I don’t really love her. I think I’m obsessed with her as the woman I couldn’t hold on to, Now that I have her, I’ve come to see that I don’t love her like I thought I did. Even so, I never walked away. I’m a nice guy after all. I ended up with the girl, though not in the way I might have wanted, but I have her. Til death do us part. I just wish I hadn’t had to find a way to give her cancer to make her come back to me. I wish I didn’t need to kill her to keep her from leaving me again.

She’ll never know that my work with cancer was never to find a cure, but to learn to manipulate it, to weaponize it. She’ll never know, and soon, she’ll never know anything again.

Love is stupid? Maybe, but love turned me into a monster, and I’ll never be nice again.

 


Short Stories

Next story – Secrets
Previous story – Porcelain

 

Read, delete, rewrite, repeat

I completely deleted the ending chapters of Jasmine. Gone. I’m left with a blank page on which to work on. I’ve been fighting with the ending for years. I’ve been trying to make it work, trying and failing, then giving up, only to start again and to meet the same frustrations. This time it’s over. The ending cannot be salvaged. It had to go.

I’m now working on the third scene of chapter twenty, and the pieces are starting to fall together. The ending I’ve been working towards is now closing in, but there’s still some drama to create, a climax to achieve, and hopefully resolution to find. I’m still not overly thrilled with the opening chapter, but I’ll let my beta reader tell me more about it, if it works or not. I may be overthinking it. No, I know I am.

I’m a little antsy to get this over with. I want this to be done. I want to move on to the next phase and get this edited. I had someone email me about hiring her, and the rate she quoted me was at once reasonable and expensive, if that makes any sense. In the end, however, I know that I can kill an otherwise good story if I don’t get someone to proofread it. I’ve started reading few book only to set them down due to poor grammar or spelling. Don’t want that for my book. Hell, I need an editor for my blogs!

Another friend gave me a suggestion on getting a book cover, which I need to follow up on. I want to make a good impression with my first book, but I also know that I can’t over do it and get too much into debt. I could consider trying to find an agent and a publisher. That’s something else I could consider. That would alleviate the technical headaches, but it could be years if ever before I find someone willing to give me a chance. Am I willing to wait that long for that chance?

For now, I have a few more days before I can say I’m done. I would like to be done with it before my vacation, hand it over to my friend to read it. I hope she can give me a critique of what I have, what I might need to look at, and what I might need to delete.

Still at it

I’m nearing the end of Jasmine, and it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. I have had to delete a whole chapter, and a few scenes were eliminated or rewritten entirely, but on the whole, it’s been a fairly quick rewrite.

I have asked a friend of mine to read it for me and give me her input. I have to know if the story works, and if there’s anything that needs to be tweaked, rewritten, or deleted. I want to know if the characters are believable. I need to know if it’s a good book or not. I don’t want to waste time on a dud.

If I hear good news, I’ll move on to looking for someone to proofread the book. My real issue will be cost. I’m just a poor boy, after all, but I don’t want someone cheap who doesn’t do a good job. I need someone with reasonable rates, preferably with some experience and recommendations.

Then I’ll need someone to do the covers for me. I have absolutely no experience in making covers. What’s more, I have no artistic abilities. I’ll have to find someone at some point. I guess I can ask around. I’m sure someone can point me in the right direction.

Until then, however, I’ll tinker with Jasmine, maybe eventually settle on a permanent name for it. It was Unseen Obsession at one point, but I hated that name. Maybe someone can help me with that, too.

Dusting off the pages

d14d88e637f0d811563873bce2a41d1fI pulled out my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel this evening and began to work on it. It’s one of the novels that I’m most passionate about because I think there’s something there, a story I want to tell. It’s probably also one of the most personal for me because it deals with a hard break up of the inability to move on from a betrayal.

I work that way when I write. I write about me, what I feel, my pain and sorrows, my joy and elations. Sure, I tend to stretch and distort what I went through, making the story its own entity, but I ground it with my own emotions, telling a story that I think we all can relate to because we’ve all lived it in a fashion.

What’s kept me from even trying to publish this novel, though I’ve wanted to for years, is the opening scene. I’ve never liked it. It felt jarring and forced, as though I was trying too hard to write something impactful that it became off-putting. It didn’t work, and the more I worked on it, the worse it got. In exasperation, I cast it aside, working on other projects, consigning it to be forgotten.

But it wouldn’t let itself be forgotten. I had to tell the story, and I finally pulled it up out of the depths of oblivion, or rather I opened the file on my computer, if you want to be pedantic, and I stared at the opening scene until it dawned on me that I would have to write a whole new scene. Took me a few years to finally accept it. The first scene had to go.

In actuality, all that scene needed was to be rewritten and used as the first scene of the second chapter. I decided to start the story with the situation that sets the whole narrative into motion, pulling it from the middle of the novel to the beginning. That means I have to do a little more work to erase that scene from a middle chapter, but I think it makes more sense this way.

I have a long way to go, but I like the way it flows now. It feels better, the timing works for me. I may have to tweak it a little, but I could probably do that from now until eternity. I’ll soon let it go. For now, I think I’ll get back to it. I can’t wait to be done with it and have you read it!