At the Catholic School I Pretend I Never Attended
The sun is so bright when we pull up; cars and cars in the parking circle out front curve around like a woman’s side. It is beautiful and dangerous in there; I can tell. The windows shine too hard. The light bends everything. Inside the cinderblock walls, there are hallways bursting full, hundreds, a gorgeous and terrifying swarm. They think I’m one of them.
How did I get here? We walk the halls together with our backpacks and our binders full of loose-leaf. Loose-leaf: clean and white and thin. I walk too close. Nobody asks me why – Why are you here? – but I hold it tucked under my tongue anyway: My parents said it’d be good for me. When we go around in math class to introduce ourselves when it’s my turn I say, Wouldn’t you like to know? And everyone laughs because I am charming and mysterious. Handsome, some might say, years later, maybe even days.
I am sent to the principal’s office for forgetting to wear my knee socks again. I sit in front of the mahogany desk and look at the crucifix hanging on the wall, rubbing bare calf against bare shin. My hands grease the polished desktop and I look up and up and up; I look up and I never look down. I stare him down. I stare her down. She says I do not respect the rules; I say nothing. And I laugh because I know how to. People like me know how to laugh, too. School is a group of persons under similar influence.
The floors here are waxed and waxed and waxed and I smile at the shine and what I see in it. I walk too close. Our skirts brush. We knock knees and I say Sorry, but I don’t mean it; what I mean when I say Sorry is Sorry we are here in this girls’ school and not anywhere else. My skirt is too short and yes, I know the rules but here I am. My legs are legs too and they will be worth something someday, how they are, thick and hairy and hot. Strong. Wanted.
You ask me if I want to come to a dance at the boys’ school later and what I want to say is What you don’t know is that this is a boys’ school, too but what I do say is Those dances suck. We should watch a movie instead. On my parents’ beaten basement couch I feel everything radiating in the space between our thighs: sun and laughter and heat. I do nothing; I sit and enjoy the pleasure and pain. But I don’t feel embarrassed; I feel the lightheadedness of victory. You say you’re headed to the dance after all but as your long feet curl into my basement carpet on the way out I know that once you leave you’ll be thinking only of back here until you see me tomorrow in the hall again.
Krys Malcolm Belc is a transgender writer, teacher, and parent. His flash essay collection IN TRANSIT is forthcoming from The Cupboard Pamphlet. He is a 2017 recipient of a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award and has work in Brevity, The Adroit Journal, Redivider, and elsewhere.