Friday, 14 July 2017

Growing Up a Girl

[Media prompt] Two parents holding signs: “I love my gender creative son!” and “My son wears dresses & makeup … get over it!” To which James Woods tweets: “This is sweet. Wait until this poor kid grows up, realizes what you've done, and stuffs both of you dismembered into a freezer in the garage.”
Growing Up a Girl

“Hello, love,” the man said, “fancy a drink?”

He was about fifty, hair greying, his paunch sliding over a belt cinched too tight, and wearing a cheap polyester suit that looked as if he’d been sleeping in it.

“Oh, shit,” he said, stumbling backwards as it dawned on him. “You’re a fucking bloke.”

Millie tucked her clutch purse under her arm, looked askance at the man, but held her tongue. Creeps had been standing outside the women’s restroom for as long as she had been going to bars. Over the heads of some girls on a night out, she could see Mikey. If she could make it that far, then everything would be okay.

“What happened?” asked Mikey when she sank onto the barstool beside him. He put his drink down and fussed around her. “Did someone do something to you?”

“It’s nothing,” said Millie, gulping down the remains of Mikey’s drink.

Mikey looked around the bar. He was wearing a pair of shorts with long socks, a singlet that said “SPIT ON ME IF YOU’RE HANDSOME”, and a pink baseball cap. If he confronted anyone, the best he could hope for was laughter.

“Look, I’ve had enough,” Millie said, pulling a pack of cigarettes out of her purse. She glanced towards the restrooms, but the man had gone. Otherwise, it was a familiar scene. People standing in small groups, mostly drunk, talking too loudly, and saying nothing worth listening to.

“Come on,” she said. “I want a smoke.”

Outside, she felt the cold air prickle her cheeks and arms. Mikey lit her cigarette.

“Someone said something, didn’t they?” He seemed more eager to hear what it was than comfort her.

She watched a girl squat in the street and urinate, a thin stream trickling from between her legs towards the gutter. Two blacks stopped and watched her, like you’d watch a mime performing to a crowd.

“Forget it,” she said to Mikey. “It’s an old story.”

The boy pouted, took a long draw on his cigarette, dropped it on the ground and stamped it out. His skin was goose pimpling in the cold. Millie could tell he wanted to go back inside.

“Look, honey,” she said. “I’m going home. You go and do your thing.”

He protested, weakly, but she took no heed, pushing him back into the heat and noise. She watched him walk back to the bar through the window, then flagged down a cab.

“Woodside Apartments on Hamilton,” she told the driver. “Near Hudson Park,” she added, seeing the vacant look in his eyes.

They drove past the campus, taking the parkway to the bridge. Crossing it, she watched the steel struts flicker past her window, and looked into the shimmering water below. When they arrived on the other side, she said to the driver, “No, not Hamilton. Take me to Lincoln Street instead, over near the Memorial Cemetery.” She was trembling. "My parent's place," she added. 

The driver shrugged, slowing to make a turn at the next right so he could loop around to the bridge again.

Afterwards, Millie remembered the way the light on the water flashed between the girders as they drove back the way they had come. There had been hardly any traffic, and for a moment she imagined everything would turn out fine. But it never would. Her smug parents had made sure of that when they showed off their little boy dressing as a girl. When the police found their dismembered bodies in a freezer in the garage, she told them they deserved it. 

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