I used to date guys who would act different around their friends and try to act tough like having a girl friend didn’t change him.
So to be with a guy who enjoys showing me off to his friends and kissing my forehead and holding my hand and if they have an inside joke explaining it to me too so I can laugh and making sure I’m good…..
It’s like night and day

So is everyone just in a silent agreement that Dustin from Stranger Things would make a fantastic dreamcast for a young Peter Pettigrew but we will never actually use him because it’s immoral to associate such a pure cinnamon roll too good for this world with a backstabbing rat too putrid for this world?

It’s dark. He’s curled up in a pile of siblings, in a locked room because last night was loud, screaming screaming screaming. It’s not time to be awake, but Mickey sits up, careful not to move little Mandy, she’s so little and her little chest rises and falls with every breath. His eyes track around the room. Too much stuff. Dusty, broken stuff. It’s quiet now. No more screaming.

Colin coughs in his sleep. It sounds like his throat is clogged with sand and Mickey knows that means he needs that red stuff that’s supposed to taste good but never does. Both Colin and Iggy are framing Mickey and Mandy in the little bed. Iggy talks in his sleep, but it’s all mushed together, and no one understands what he’s saying.

Mickey slides off the bed. Careful. Slow. Holding his breath until his feet touch the floor.

Mickey knows he’s little, but he’s bigger than Mandy. Mandy is little little with little hands and little legs. He’s little, but mama tells him he’s grown up on the inside; Mickey doesn’t understand what that means. Mama says weird stuff sometimes, sometimes falls asleep when she’s feeding Mandy. She’s tired all the time. Sometimes she lets Mickey take a nap with her. Sometimes.

He goes to the window, looking outside into the dark; his breath makes the glass all foggy, and Mickey raises his finger to draw in it (mama showed him how to draw a heart), but quickly puts it back down. Girls draw (his dad called him a name for drawing a heart like mama… he doesn’t remember the name, but it sounded sharp). 

The sun isn’t even awake yet. All he can see is the side of the neighbors house, but if he turns his head he can see the street. A little bit at least. A couple men are walking by, smoking, talking to each other. Once they’re out of sight, Mickey gives up on the window; he’s gotta pee real bad.

He should probably wait until Colin is up, but he doesn’t, he can’t. Mickey, quiet as he can, unlocks the bedroom door. He slips out, super spy like that karate man with the ponytail.

The floor is cold, little bits of gritty dirt under his feet. Mickey steps careful, steps quiet like a mouse. Mickey Mouse. Iggy calls him that and laughs, Colin does too. Mickey laughs sometimes, but not all the time.

He can hear the TV in the living room. It’s quiet, and he can’t make out what it’s saying, but it sounds like one of those shows his mom watches, with the pretty jewelry, or pretty clothes. His mom looks at the jewelry like Mandy looks at dolls. Mandy’s dolls have dirty hair and clothes like the rest of them, they don’t have clothes like on TV. Mickey thinks that they’re supposed to, but he doesn’t know a lot about dolls. Girls play with dolls.

Quiet like a mouse. Mickey Mouse. He tip toes down the hall, towards the bathroom, away from the sound of the jewelry show, tip toes around the broken beer bottles and dishes. Mickey Mouse. Quiet quiet quiet. His big toe catches the corner of a broken plate from last night, scrapes him. Mickey feels his face go tight, feels his brows pull down. Stupid plate. It hurt, but he’s okay. He balances on one of his feet to look –no blood, just dirt.

The bathroom smells weird. Doesn’t smell like poop, but something else. Smells old, smells wet. Smells like it always smells. He drags the stack of magazines in front of the toilet so he can stand on them. Not much taller, but tall enough.

The toilet doesn’t flush all the way. Never does. Mickey takes a deep breath, drags the stack of magazines back to the side of the toilet, looks down into the bowl. That’s dirty too. Stains all over the place.

He’s Mickey Mouse, and Peg Leg Pete is in the hallway when he comes out of the bathroom. Mickey feels his whole body twist on the inside, feels his cheeks go hot hot hot because it’s too early for him to be out of bed.

“The fuck you doin’ up?” His dad asks him. He’s so tall, looking down at Mickey.

Mickey just points to the bathroom; his mouth won’t open. He doesn’t really want it to open though. Sometimes when he answers questions, his dad gets mad, face gets all red while he reaches over and knocks the back of Mickey’s head. Sometimes he does it too hard and Mickey cries. He knows better, but it’s hard. He doesn’t mean to cry. Boys shouldn’t cry. Girls cry. He’s not a girl.

His dad makes a noise, walks past him, “Get your ass back in bed,” he tells him. Mickey nods. He’s not tired, but maybe if he tries real hard he can go back to sleep.  "Watch where the fuck you’re walking,“ he hears his dad say. Then his bedroom door shuts hard. Then it’s quiet again.

Mickey nods again, even though his dad isn’t there anymore. He tip toes around the sharp edges again. He gets to the end of the hall and stops. The TV isn’t talking anymore, but his belly is. He never got to eat last night. Mama and his dad started screaming screaming screaming, and no one got dinner.

Maybe if he’s really fast. Mickey Mouse. Mighty Mouse. Mighty Mouse is fast, he could be like him. But sometimes the cabinets creak real loud, and if his dad catches him in the kitchen instead of in bed, he’d get a whooping.

Mickey chews on his lip. He’s hungry. He’s real hungry. Mama made spaghetti, but no one got to eat, and it wasn’t fair. His eyes feel stingy and wet. It’s not fair! He’s hungry. No crying. Mickey pushes his little hands into his eyes, gotta push the tears back in, make them stop. Boys don’t cry. Boys don’t cry. Boys don’t cry. His little toes curl against the hard, dirty floor under his feet. Boys don’t cry. He takes a deep breath, takes his hands down.

Be a big boy. But Mickey wants to scream. Mickey wants to scream until the whole house blows up. Wants to scream until the ground cracks open and lava bubbles up. He’s hungry.

He wraps his little hand around the bedroom doorknob, slipping back inside, closing it quietly behind him. Like a Mouse. Mickey Mouse. Don’t wake up Iggy or Colin, they’ll hit him. Don’t wake up Mandy, she’ll cry.

He climbs up into the bed. His stomach is still talking. He curls up next to Mandy. She’s sucking on her thumb. He’s not allowed to do that anymore. Boys don’t do that, especially big boys. Mickey’s gotta be a big boy, even though he’s little still. One day he’ll be big big big. One day he’ll be big enough to do what he wants, like his dad. No one tells his dad what to do.

He’s not tired, but he closes his eyes. Gotta go back to sleep. 

Mickey Milkovich, age 4