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Jessica Hates The Moon

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Jessica only sleeps when it's raining outside. Snow is also sufficient: it cocoons her window softly, whispers assurances of safety. Rain patters on the roof, taps on her window. It reminds her that she's not alone, that it'll always be there to give her a hug or read her a bedtime story. The naked moon is not quite as friendly. In fact it schemes against her, tells her what she already knows but doesn't want to admit. When the moon is shining, she sees herself for what she really is: a fake.

Every morning at 5:45, Jessica rolls out of bed, stretches, and heads to the kitchen to pour herself a bowl of cereal. Today, she is starting a diet, so she restricts herself to six ounces of Special K and several glasses of water. Then, as usual, she hops onto the treadmill for fifteen minutes before taking a ten-minute shower. During the following twenty minute period, she gets dressed, picks out a pair of earrings to wear, and puts on her face. As she smears on some lipstick, she notices her eyebrows have grown rather bushy and so continues on to pluck them meticulously. On her way out the door, she admires her new suit, and adjusts her wig.

At work, everybody adores her. What a bright girl, somebody says, she is really going to go places. Maybe she'll become CEO of this company someday. I wouldn't be surprised, another one adds, Jessica is always on top of things. Somebody else pipes in and whistles, and what a looker too! Of course, Jessica smiles modestly, displaying perfect white teeth. She waves her delicate hand and tells them; really, I'm not that pretty or smart. They don't believe it: they think that her blonde tresses are real.

To her surprise, Charles approaches Jessica by the coffee machine during her lunch break. He takes her hand, and she looks into his eyes. With a racing heart, she wonders if he can see what's written on the back of her skull. Without looking away, he asks her how she likes her coffee. Dark, with two packet of Splenda, she replies. Slowly pouring two cups, he asks her if she likes the coffee at Cafe DiSeneca. I love it, she assures him, even though she's never been there. So you’ll meet me there at eight, he ventures, handing her her Styrofoam cup. Sure, she says calmly, though she can hardly keep herself from fainting with pleasure. Grinning, her tells her it's a date and returns to his cubicle. Drinking her cup of paradise, Jessica wishes it's eight already.

In her chest, though, she feels the strain of anxiety. Jessica worries what Charles would think if he knew that all he saw when he looked at her was a lie. A costume to disguise her grotesque skin, that's the only thing he sees. For all the make-up she puts on, she knows in reality that she is ugly. This is because Jessica has a man's face. In fact, every part of her is male except her soul. Nobody knows but her and the moon, the putrid moon, who always threatens to reveal who she really is. In his bare light, her skin glows and is visible for all to see, a whisper that tells her, I'm telling everyone what you are. And there's nothing you can do about it. She convinces herself that Charles will remain to only see the beautiful side of her and not the masculine cage.

However, the date at Cafe DiSeneca will not run so optimistically. In the beginning, everything will go smoothly. Jessica will arrive five minutes early to find that Charles already ordered three shots of espresso for her just the way she likes it. He'll beam as she praises his generosity, and then they'll finnd table in some cozy alcove. The lights will grow dim as they talk and swap phone numbers. He'll laugh at all her jokes, even the stupid puns. When she comments that the music is exceptional, he'll offer to dance with her. While they glide between tables (occasionally bumping into chairs), people will comment about what a handsome couple they are. Much later, they'll return to their nook where Charles will wrap his arms around her waist and pulls her in for a kiss. He'll run his hand through her hair, and that's when things will go wrong.

When he pulls his hand out of her hair, a few strands will get caught around his fingers. This'll be enough to yank the wig off of Jessica's scalp. With a squeal, she'll grab it back and put it back on her close-shaven head. Alas, these few, bald moments will be enough to show Charles her male skin. Stammering her excuses, her heart will break as he shakes his head, backing away; trying to believe it's not real. His pure lips will utter foul words like "freak," and"hideous," and "faggot." All the other customers will stare at Jessica, with her wig askew, in horror. She'll run after her love, crying, trying to make him understand that she IS a woman. But he won't listen, because he'll think he knows everything there is to know.
*************

It is a week after Jessica's date. The moon isn't distracting her from her sleep anymore. That's because she doesn't sleep. Rain and snow are strangers that give the cold shoulder instead of comfort. Every day is like a fog. Everything is automatic: get up, eat, exercise, shower, make-up, dress, work. She's not able to focus on her job. Everyone's giving her looks full of pity, disgust, and confusion. Charles is avoiding her, no matter how many apologetic phone messages or promises she gives him. Her boss is always telling her she needs to take a vacation. But she can't take a vacation: she needs money to move out of town, to create a new life so she can escape her past. She needs to run away from the gaze of the moon, because she swears that the moon is smirking and saying, I told you I would do it. I told you so.





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