Working on getting to know my 2 new characters for rewriting Life of a Librarian. Thaddeus (Deus) is the MC and Selwyn. I’m not sure this will last long – but they say write what you know. What if you don’t know?
Tears ran as rivers down my cheeks. I crumpled into a ball on the floor, pulling my knees to my chest.
I stiffened as Selwyn’s arms wrapped around me. I know he was trying to comfort me. I understood that at the base level. I might have batted eyes at him a couple times, but people touching me was beyond my comfort zone. Well. If I was being honest, sure, having him touch me in an intimate way had flitted around my head more than once.
His arms were warm and reassuring, but his breath caught in the back of his throat. A conversational cough. He let go before I could relax. “Deus?”
The question was a knot in my stomach, a walking horror in the back of my brain. I begged he wouldn’t ask what I knew he would.
“Um, yeah. You, you going to be okay?” he asked, shifting back from me by a good foot. That was not the question I had expected. It was not the question he wanted to ask. Not by the way his fingers dragged across my back for half a second longer than necessary.
“Long day.” I shrugged, pulling myself off the kitchen floor.
“Anything I can do?” He offered his hand to help me up.
I took it, letting him pull me to his height. Why he had to be so close was beyond me. I studied the floor near his feet and shook my head. “No, I’m sorry. I just. It’s so many things all at once.”
“Deus?” His fingers tightened on mine before letting go. I waited as the clock ticked over the hour. “Are you a girl?”
There it was. The question I hated having asked. The one I hated facing. I shoved my hands in my pocket and hunched my shoulders. Stepping back, I turned to the counter. “Does it matter what I am?”
“I’m sorry. That’s probably rude.” He shuffled out of the kitchen area to place himself against the column at the end of the counter.
“Male. Female. Some weird in between. I don’t really know how to explain it. I don’t feel right most of the time. I find it easier to be a guy more days than not.” I took up the knife and went back to cutting the carrots that had been my breaking point.
“I’m not sure I understand.” He settled against the column, rubbing a hand along his opposing arm.
“Congrats. That makes two of us.” I tossed the diced veg into the skillet. The oil popped at the intrusion.
He stepped back from the column, his hands placating. “I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry. I’ll leave you alone.”
I stared at the sizzling orange cubes and listened to his footsteps. Three would put him at the front door. “I don’t know how to answer you, Wyn.” I apologized for snapping at him. The door hinge creaked. “Come back. I promised you I’d make dinner.”
“You seem to need your space, and I keep treading on toes,” he admitted. I turned from my pan to look him in the eyes. A pained expression of confusion and something else creased his brows.
“I’m not a hermaphrodite,” I elaborated, turning back to the oven and flipping the gas to low. He eased back in the foyer. The click of the door was loud in the space. I waited for him to slip into the counter stool. “You’re disgusted?” I asked after the look he had plastered to his face at the door.
“No,” he denied vehemently, waving his hands.
I raised an eyebrow at his protest. His fingers retracted, balling up loosely on the countertop. His pointer finger unfurled, to drag across the surface restlessly. “You can be whoever you want to be. I’m not going to tell you otherwise.”
I tossed in the roll of defrosted hamburger, salt, and pepper into the pan and jabbed at it with the spatula until it broke apart. “You and I, we were getting along pretty well there for a bit, weren’t we?” I asked, keeping my focus to the little spurts of grease rolling away from the frying meat.
His fingers curled and uncurled, leaving behind sporadic prints. He was sweating if he was leaving the hazes across the fake granite. “We were.” He tucked his hands together to twirl his thumbs.
“Structurally I am female.” I turned the pot of boiling water down and added in two cups of elbow noodles to it. “That’s not something you were expecting.”
“No. I thought your voice was high for a Master’s student, but you were pretty convincing otherwise.” He pulled his hands from the counter to rest his arms against the side.
“What’s the problem then?” I pressed, turning to the last of my pots. The water had darkened to a robust brown black. I lifted it from the stove and tossed a hot pad on the counter before tossing the teabags in the trashcan. The pitcher of ice was sweating near it, leaving a large puddle. I hunted down a dishtowel in one of the drawers and put the glassware on top of it to clean up the mess before pouring the tea over the ice.
“I think I’m interested in you,” Wyn admitted.
I looked up at that, my heart thumping in my chest. I set the pot on the counter before I dropped it. “That’s not where I thought this conversation was going.” I protested.
“It’s not how I wanted to have this conversation either.” He turned to study the empty bookshelves in my living room.
“Was this before or after figuring out I had boobs?” I tossed a couple tablespoons of chili powder at the browning meat.
He cleared his throat, startled at my phrasing. “Before.”
“Are you still interested?” I set the spatula down to study my guest.
“I don’t know.” Wyn pushed a hand into his hair to rest his ear on his palm. “I don’t really…”
“You liked me as a guy?” I came around to sit down in the seat next to him.
“Well, yeah.” He pressed his other arm across his stomach, his fingers burrowing into the green cashmere shirt.
“I’m not your type now.” I clarified.
“Too bad. I thought you were cute. Better luck on the next fellow.” I rose to return to the kitchen. His fingers caught mine, stalling my move to put structure between us.
“You thought I was cute?” he asked, a soft pink running across his cheeks.
“I doubt you’d find that much comfort coming from a girl,” I bit out, wanting my fingers back.
“What did you mean by you ‘donn’t really know’?” He relented, releasing me when I tugged for freedom.
I walked back into the kitchen, putting the counter between us. I swirled around the meat mixture and the noodles before setting the spatula down again. I had thought about this more than too many times. Rehearsed it in my head. The heat at my ears though was not reassuring. “I’ve called myself pangendered for several years now. Mom accepted it, and great uncle. They were pretty good with me asking if I could go by Thaddeus. Great Uncle Tad was beside himself with the fact I’d use his name.” I pulled the colander out of the bottom cabinet and set it in the sink.
“You’re trans?” Wyn asked.
“I don’t…I don’t know?” I admitted, turning the gas off and taking the pot of noodles to the sink.
“You’re wearing a binder and you’re going by a male name,” he pointed out.
“I still have moments where I like my dresses, and filling out a bra.” I poured out the noodles and shook off the water.
“I’m not sure I follow?”
“Reason why I said that makes two of us.”
“Do you want to be a guy?”
“More often than not the older I get.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m not sure I’d take the route of surgery. I’ve wondered about it. It’s been tempting. I don’t want to mess something up when everything kind of doesn’t work like it should already. As I said, some days, I’m good with my shape.”
“Do you like sex?” he asked.
Heat swept up my cheeks. What a conversation to be having at the very beginning of admitting I liked him. I dumped the noodles in with the goulash and stirred it. Silence pressed in on us as I plated up our meals and set a dish and fork in front of him. He waited patiently for me to set my plate next to him, walk around the counter, and sit down.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to answer that. It was kind of sudden.” He mumbled, picking up his fork.
I stared at the food. Usually the smell would have had me wolfing the concoction down. It wasn’t special by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a staple for me. I had lost my appetite though. The sheen across the carrots was making my stomach cramp. “You watch porn?” I asked.
He choked on the noodles. “Um, well…”
“Know what a chastity cage is?” I pushed through the topic, numbing to my embarrassment
“Belt or cage?” he forced me to clarify.
“Cage. What would work for you, but I’ve got nothing there for it to do anything to me,” I elaborated.
“Yes. I’ve seen it a couple times,” he shrugged as he joined me in forming a wall around this conversation.
“The best I can describe my problem is, it feels like I’m perpetually trapped in one. Like, as long as nothing touches me there, that I can feel the weight, the sensation of having something there. It’s disconcerting otherwise. Sex isn’t something I’ve been able to find myself in. Don’t get me wrong. I like romance novels. I can get off on my own, but I haven’t found intercourse rewarding. It doesn’t feel right. Male, female, non-binary, gay, lesbian, I can run through the gammit watching them and find myself wanting to be the giver and the receiver in every one of them, but when it comes to reality, with the few partners I’ve actually had, it’s never been that end all be all sky breaking jubilation that romance authors put in their books. It breaks the image in my head and pulls me back to feeling trapped in a skin that doesn’t fit quite right.”