Pretty boy, lovely boy, with his flaxen curls framing a
sweet face and big blue eyes with big black lashes. My mother, when she was in
our run-down trailer and not at the bar, would say such looks were wasted on a
boy and that she wished I was born a girl. I’m certain she wished I had never
been born at all.
School was hellish from the start. Girls viewed me as a
living doll to play dress-up with, and boys hated me because I made them
confused. My third grade teacher once made a comment about my cherry red mouth,
the gym coach complimented my porcelain skin. The computer teacher got fired
after cornering me alone. I did not understand it – I wore run down charity
store clothes, spent most of my time with my nose buried in a book, and barely
brushed my hair. And yet, here was the whole school bearing down on me.
Puberty made it worse. All my classmates grew and stretched,
flushed with hormones and lust. I grew some, yet no straggly hairs or bright
red pimples popped on my china doll face. Instead, the star quarterback would
torment me so he could grope at my long legs and graceful hips. My teachers
would compliment my academic achievements and then mention that someone like me
being so aloof was a shame. The theater teacher asked if I was “interested
in boys” in hushed, hopeful whispers.
I was not gay or straight. I was Uninterested. Why would I
waste time chasing after shallow and petty girls who were jealous of my
appearance? Why would I let one of those testosterone-hopped jocks paw at my
body and call me a faggot afterwards? Why would I want my fat, balding English
teacher to bend me over for an easy A? They called me frigid, uptight, bitchy,
rude, prudish. I wore it with pride all the way to the top of my class.
I left my little Midwest town for a college in the big city.
I thought it would be easier there, full of beautiful people to blend into.
Towards the end of November, my roommate tried to roofie my water bottle, and
the double room became a single room very quickly. For sophomore year, I got a
studio apartment on my own.
That fall quarter was beautiful, the trees like brilliant
fire throughout campus, and I took a communications class required for my
major. It was about giving presentations and speeches, and the school website
said Professor O'Malley was to teach it – classmates had described him as a
jolly old man, a little longwinded but excellent at teaching discourse and
I sat towards the front, my empty notebook neatly dated, and
my classmates chattered all around me. I paid them no heed, eyes casted
downwards, but I looked up when the door to the lecture hall opened right
before class was to begin. The man who strode in was not Professor O'Malley.
He burnt white hot, reality dimming around his gravity.
Everyone seemed so tarnished compared to him, dark-haired bronze-skinned Adonis
among the gray and listless dead. Square-jawed and towering, his presence was
so thick it was sweltering, smothering, suffocating. My classmates all gasped
as his eyes swept across the class.