By Emma/George Vosicky
She laughs. No, I swear, she cackles, with an acidic astringency that corrodes my shallow reserves of hope.
Sensing our waning opportunities, I repeat 'Kiss me?', whining like a seven-year old scuffing the floor with his sneakers.
Amusement drains from her face. 'No.' in tones mirroring the flatness of the Plains where she was born. 'Not like that.'
'With lipstick!' She could not have spat the words out harder if she had said, 'With leprosy!'
'But I'm your husband.'
'Not now. You don't even know who you are like this.'
'I thought I finally did.'
'Not any longer.'
'You are wearing a skirt, and you can't tell me since when?'
'Don't do this to me. I'm dying out here, trying to find a way to help us understand.'
'Well, don't look to me to make this easier.'
'Claire, I can't hold on much more. I keep losing myself to you.'
'Whose fault is that?'
Off balance, she hesitates. I've never before spread the blame to include me. Whirring wheels audibly click inside her head as she debates travelling known paths or exploring the new route exposed by my admission. She scans me from earrings to heels.
The worn path beckons, both of us.
'You're not my husband – you're a man in a dress.'
'That's not true!' I claw for a handhold while sliding further into the depths.
'Have you passed a mirror lately?'
My flesh burns, bubbling into opaquely-domed blisters that pop and liquefy. I thrash about while struggling to explain, 'There's something about me that's not visible on the surface.'
'You'd better hope so.'
The flesh peels off of me. I want to strike back, hurt her. 'You're jealous!'
'You're kidding! Don't insult me.'
Score! I can hear it in her denial – the squishy sound of having lanced the soft underbelly of her insecurity.
Cruelty is our shared vision.
Theatrically, she whispers, 'You'd think I could have found someone with a normal hobby.'
'It's not a hobby; it's who I am.'
'How can you even say that! On dress-up days you cease to exist!'
I should stand up, pound a table, declare my love for her from my mix-gendered soul. I should scream that these are my lips regardless of color, my eyes regardless of shadow, my heart regardless of apparel. But I would need to silence my own internal cackling, repeatedly denouncing me as a freak.
Surrender longingly stretches its bitter arms towards me.
Gleefully, we drown together in our hatred of what we cannot see.
George/Emma Vosicky is an author/husband/father/attorney who is presently writing a book of short stories that explore the experience of gender fluidity. He/she can be contacted at email@example.com .