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There it is again.
The pretty blond girl clung to Ray's arm like some sort of giant fungus. His ignorantly cheerful, grinning response left a painful hollowness in the pit of my stomach.
I'd never been the type to get sentimental. I'd never been a romantic person, not in the slightest. I'd never kept a girlfriend long enough to get attached. I had always thought of myself as a fairly masculine boy. I sneered at the more romantic holidays and felt an unmistakable nauseating feeling when subjected to my mother's gushing over the latest gossip on the View or the Lifetime channel.
But these acts of affections between my best friend and his girlfriend had to have seemed like the most painful experiences I had felt to date. I couldn't stand watching this girl fawn over Ray like this.
My eyes stung with the feelings I constantly repressed. My heart pounded against my chest and my whole body felt hot; I felt like I was suffocating, choking on my own feelings. A dizzying plethora of emotions swam throughout my entire being, so that the hair on my arms stood on end. I panicked inwardly; I could feel my face heating up and was praying that the feelings stewing under my skin didn't bubble over onto my outward expression.
I wonder if women can sense certain things. I wonder if they're intentionally cruel. It seemed that this girl, Jenah, was flaunting Ray in front of me like a piece of meat, and he was completely oblivious to my feelings.
Perhaps I should have been jealous of Ray. He had a beautiful, big-busted woman hanging over him. And yet, I felt no affection or anything resembling desire towards her. There was only one person in the world that I wanted, and they weren't remotely female.
I shouldn't have wanted him, not Ray. I shouldn't have thought of him as anything more than my classmate, my friend, my neighbor. Yet, I wanted more than that.
Quietly excusing myself from the couple's display, I sped away from their scene as fast as I felt safe – quickly enough that would get me away from them before I blurted out a love confession to Ray, but slowly enough so that I didn't cause a scene.
The bathroom was empty. I dipped my hand under the running water in the sink and wiped my face quickly. I stood still, trying to get my emotions under control, but the longer I stood, the angrier I became.
If I was just born a girl, I thought, rage beginning to overtake me and steadily turn my face a brilliant red color, this wouldn't be so weird, would it? If one stupid y or x-chromosome didn't matter so much to people, I could happily go about confessing my feelings to whoever I damn well felt like.
I wondered if Ray would love me if I had been a girl.
And then, for the first time since I became an 'adult', I felt burning hot tears spill out past my eye lashes. As soon as I realized this, I choked; my knees gave way beneath my weight and I found myself on my knees, my flushed forehead resting against the sink.
I couldn't stop now. The shame of feeling such strong feelings toward another man, the splitting pain in my skull, the rage at both Jenah and Ray for not acknowledging me, the anger at myself for my own gender, everything. Everything was wrong.
It's not even that I want to be a girl. It's not that at all. I just wonder if it would be easier when it came to times like these. I felt feminine, pathetic, and worthless. The pain seemed like far too much to bare.
Of course, my feeling like this wasn't enough to satisfy the deities. Nope. At my lowest moment in life, it wouldn't be terrible enough for me to sit there and suffer alone in a soaking wet and dirty bathroom. The bathroom door creaked open, and as soon as the door shut, I heard the newcomer stop dead in a puddle of water. Without even moving my gaze away from the floor I knew they were staring.
Shame prickled under my skin once more, which I quickly masked as rage. I whipped my head around to glare at them heatedly, “What the hell are you looking a-!?”
Of course it would have to be Ray.
He cocked his head to the side, his lips curling slightly. He smiled but it seemed to me that he could barely fight off a look of disgust.
A long moment of silence followed. Or perhaps it simply felt long. Then, he opened his mouth and muttered impatiently, “If you're done being a fag, we need to go. We're gonna miss the movie.”
Sometimes I wondered if men were just as cruel as women in the sense that they would blatantly ignore someone's feelings. Or maybe, I thought cynically, they were all just painfully ignorant. And yet, when he spoke, I instantly felt better. I'm not sure if it's normal to feel better after being talked down to and called a fagot, but the way he said it just somehow seemed refreshing. It made me realize that the stupid grin on his face was genuine. I knew he felt no disgust or hatred towards me at all, despite everything.
And, for that moment, that's all I wanted. I wanted us both to stay together. Perhaps, for now, we won't be like that. For now, I felt okay with the fact that I wasn't a woman, that Ray wasn't a woman, that we weren't together. And maybe we never would be. Still, somehow it did me some good to attempt some optimism every once in awhile.
Still, even as I thought that, I felt distinctly dissatisfied. However, with a heavy sigh, I stood up and, ignoring the dampness on the bottom half of my jeans, I walked over to Ray and punched him in the arm. For that, he grabbed me and forced me into a headlock, all while practically cackling. “Why do you always start crap like this with me? You're such a woman.”
I know, you jackass. This stunt always made Ray forget about whatever I wanted him to forget. I laughed and elbowed him in the stomach, and he let go, just as he always did. “I'll be right out, dumbass,” I said lightly, “Calm down.”
He waved his hand in a dismissive manner and walked out the door with a small smirk. I glanced down at my watch and my expression dipped. I looked in the mirror and said in a low, annoyed tone, “I am nineteen-years-old and I just spent twenty-three minutes crying my eyes out on the floor of a public restroom over a guy.”
It usually helped me to say things of that nature out loud. This time, however, my heart simply sunk back to its position at the pit of my stomach.