I slowed down my car to a stop in front of Roger’s house and put it into park. It was Saturday afternoon: me and my sister had agreed to pick him up to go to the movies, since we lived relatively close, and we would meet Molly at the theatre.
“I’ll go get him, I’ll be just a sec,” I told Lena. She nodded, and I got out of the car, walked to the front door and rang the bell; after half a minute or so, the door opened to reveal Roger’s brother Nathaniel.
Nat was five years older than me and Roger; I knew him quite well, since I’d spent many a day in my childhood at their house, playing video games or doing homework or just generally hanging out. He was a fun, happy-go-luck guy; Roger had told me he’d explained everything regarding my being trans to Nat and their parents – not that they hadn’t guessed, seeing as they were present when I’d been accidentally outed to Roger – and that they’d taken it in stride. Still, this was the first time he’d seen me dressed up, except at the restaurant.
“Hello Nat,” I said, with a small smile.
“Oh, hey Lexi!” he replied. “Roger’s ready, he should be here soon.” He turned and shouted into the house: “Bro! Your girlfriend’s here! Don’t keep her waiting!”
“Nat, what the fuck!” I heard Roger shout from inside the house; in a few moments, he’d come to the door – at a full sprint, by the looks of it. “I told you, she’s not my girlfriend! She’s just a good friend!”
At hearing Roger’s words I reflexively started; but then I caught myself, and I wondered where that pang I felt had come from.
“You sure?” Nat asked. “She’s so cute, and you two aren’t dating yet? It’s a waste, honestly.”
“We’re not,” I said. “We’re just friends, really.”
Roger turned to look at me.
“Is that so?” his brother said. “Then, if I may be so bold…”
He grabbed my hand and theatrically dropped to his knee. “O fair maiden, may I kindly ask you for a date?”
“Oh, cut it out,” I replied with a laugh, snatching my hand back.
“Let’s go, Lexi,” Roger said, glaring at Nathaniel; he grabbed me by the shoulders and spun me around, pushing me gently down the driveway towards my car.
“You guys have fun!” I heard Nat call from behind us. “Remember to use protection!”
Roger and I got into the car; as soon as we closed the doors, he let out an exasperated sigh. “GOD, he drives me insane,” he said.
“Is Nat giving you a hard time again?” Lena asked, smiling.
“He’s been teasing me mercilessly ever since we ran into Lexi at the restaurant,” Roger replied. “It’s about time my brother started hanging around girls were his words.” He scoffed. “As if. I’m not hanging around girls, I’m hanging out with my best friend.” He paused, then smiled at me and said, “But thinking about it, I’ve been hanging out with a girl the whole time, only neither of us knew it, right?”
“Right,” I smiled back. “Shall we go?”
Roger nodded, and I CLUNK-ed my car into drive and drove off.
In short order we were at the theatre; Molly was waiting for us in front of the door when we arrived.
“Hi Lexi!” she said, stepping forward and hugging me; it was pleasant, but it didn’t compare to Roger’s hugs. When we broke the embrace I noticed Roger giving us a look.
“So, what should we watch?” Lena asked.
“Let’s see,” Molly replied. “I looked up what’s on while I was waiting for you, and I’ve narrowed the choice down to these.”
She pulled out her phone, tapped the screen a few times, and turned it so we could all see the screen.
“Okay, so we have to pick between the thrilling conclusion to a nine-movie sci-fi saga,” Roger said, reading from the screen, “Or a romance movie… With gorillas? What’s up with that?”
Molly shrugged. “Dunno. Maybe they just thought gorillas were cool?”
“Huh,” I said. “Okay. First off: did anyone actually watch the first eight movies the sci-fi flick is supposedly the conclusion to?”
There was a shaking of heads all around.
“So I think we can write that off. And I’m not really in the mood for a romance movie.”
“So what do we watch?” Lena asked again.
“We-ell…” Molly said. “There is a third movie, but I didn’t think you would enjoy it, so I left it out.”
She tapped the screen of her phone again and showed it to us. The other movie was apparently about… Dogs? Dancing anthropomorphic dogs? Doing… Stuff?
I looked up at Roger. “This movie looks cursed,” I told him.
He nodded. “This movie looks extremely cursed,” he agreed.
“We’re watching this one.”
“Yeah, we’re definitely watching this one.”
Roger and I shared a love for terrible movies, so when we saw the trailer for that specific flick, the decision was made.
We both looked up at Molly and Lena; Molly was frowning, while Lena had a knowing smirk on her face. “Give it up, Molly,” she chuckled. “I’ve seen it many times before, when these two get like this there’s no reasoning with them.”
“I’ll go get the tickets,” Roger said. “You girls wait here.”
“I’m coming with you, I’m going to hit the concession stands,” Lena replied.
“Oh, can you get me a large soda?” I asked.
My sister nodded, and she and Roger walked off, leaving me alone with Molly, who was looking at me intently.
“So…” she said, after a few moments. “About you and Roger…”
“How did you two meet?”
I shrugged. “I don’t even remember. In pre-school, maybe? It’s like he’s always been there, even in my earliest memories.”
“Mmhmm,” Molly replied. “I can see why you’re so close.”
“Yeah, we basically grew up together, almost like siblings. And I’m really grateful to him for all the support he’s given me since he found out I’m trans.” Roger being hostile to my transition would’ve probably broken me. Not that I was ever going to say that out loud. “Oh, and I’m also really grateful to you, of course,” I quickly added. “Your make-up advice was invaluable.”
“Well, it is my job,” Molly said, smiling. “Or it will be, as soon as I’m done with school.”
“How long do you have left?”
“Only about a month, graduation is just around the corner,” she said. “It’s a two-year course, I started it fresh out of high school. I’m lucky beautician school isn’t that expensive in our state, I’m even managing to save something up while paying for tuition with my restaurant wages.”
“Oh, that’s great! Do tell me when graduation is,” I replied. “I’ll come cheer.”
Molly smiled. “Of course. Oh, look, here they come.” She pointed at Roger and Lena, who were making their way towards us through the crowd.
“Here are the tickets,” Roger said when they reached us. “I just barely managed to get four seats in the same row, surprisingly the theatre is almost full.”
“And here’s your soda,” my sister told me, handing me a huge paper cup full of liquid – it must have been almost a litre. I raised my eyebrow at her, and she said, “You did ask for a large one. Their sizes are probably different than what you were thinking.”
“Ah well,” I replied.
When we reached the theatre itself, we had some doubts on where exactly to seat: who was going to sit next to whom was apparently a big issue, which we hadn’t thought to discuss beforehand – of course Molly wanted to sit next to me, but also Roger apparently? As for me, I wanted to sit next to Roger, so we could laugh and make fun of the movie while watching it, if it really turned out to be terrible. In the end, Molly sat at the far left of the four seats, I sat next to her, Roger next to me, and Lena at the far right. We’d just taken our seats, when the lights dimmed and the movie started.
“Well, that sucked,” I said about two hours later, while getting up from my seat.
Roger nodded. “Yeah, that was terrible. Not even terrible in an entertaining way, just terrible.” He turned to the other two girls, and said, “I’m really sorry for dragging you to see this thing.”
“Ah, it’s not a problem,” Lena replied, waving her hand. “You can’t really predict how a movie will turn out before hand, can you?”
We kept chatting as we left the theatre and walked through the lobby towards the exit.
“Think we can ask for our money back?” Molly asked.
“Not after watching the whole movie, no,” Roger said. Then he looked at me and asked, “Lexi, are you okay?”
I wasn’t okay. Like an idiot, I’d drank the whole cup of soda Lena had bought for me, and all that liquid had had time to pass through my body in the two hours we’d spent sitting down watching the movie. Which meant my bladder was very full at that moment; there was no way I could wait until returning home to empty it.
“Uh… I kinda have to go to the toilet,” I said.
Roger shrugged. “Okay, go on then. We’ll wait here.” When I didn’t move he asked, “What’s the matter?”
Lena looked at him. “You don’t get it? She has to go to the toilet.”
“Which bathroom is she going to use?”
Roger looked puzzled. “Well, of course she…” His eyes widened as he realised. “Oh.”
Molly nodded. “Yep.” Then she turned to me. “Lexi? It’s okay. We’ll go with you.”
“Thank you,” I replied, with a small, unsure smile. It would be the first time I went into a public toilet as myself, so I was understandably nervous.
We left Roger on his own in the lobby, and made our way to the toilets; Molly and Lena waited outside, telling me they would be there if I needed their help. I hesitated a bit before entering, but this was yet another bridge I had to cross; I took a deep breath, and pushed the door open.
There was just another girl in the room, and she barely looked up at me as I entered. In the end, everything was a non-event: I did my business, and then washed my hands. As I was about to leave the toilet and rejoin Lena and Molly, my phone ping-ed; I pulled it out from my purse, and saw that I had a text from Roger, saying just “Don’t come back to the lobby, meet me by the car”. I was puzzled, but I complied; I told the other two about the text, and we left the theatre.
We waited in the parking lot for a while before Roger joined us. “What happened, Rog?” I asked.
“I ran into Simon,” he answered; I felt a chill run down my spine.
“Who’s Simon?” Molly queried.
“A friend of ours from the triathlon team,” Roger said. “He was here with his girlfriend and he spotted me, so he came over to say hi; I shot you a quick text because… Yeah.”
“Good thinking,” I replied. “No one in the team knows… Well, about me,” I explained to Lena and Molly. “Simon, at least, would probably be okay with it, he mentioned he had a non-binary cousin, didn’t he?” Roger nodded, and I continued. “But still… Yeah, it was good he spotted you while I wasn’t with you. Thanks, Rog.”
“Don’t even mention it,” he said with a smile. “Anything for my best friend.”
I felt myself blushing slightly.
“So, what do you say we head on to dinner?” Lena asked. “It’s not even eight yet, it’d be a shame to go home this early on a Saturday; we can take one car and go to a pizza place or something.”
“Alright, let’s take mine,” I said. “Since we’re already here…”
We got in the car, with Molly calling shotgun; she looked up a relatively cheap eatery nearby on her phone, and off we went.
During the drive my friends kept chatting, but I was really quiet. I kept thinking about all the near-misses I had over the past weeks and months, and how it would be difficult to keep my being trans under wraps for long; especially now, that I’d begun going out as myself on evenings and weekends, and also working at Silvia’s restaurant’s, it was only a matter of time until someone spotted me – it had happened with Roger, and he’d taken it in stride, but it could definitely happen again.
Molly and Roger seemed to notice I was lost in thought, since I saw them stealing some glances at me during the drive.
When we arrived at the restaurant I’d come to a decision; after we’d ordered our food, I took a deep breath, and started talking.
“I think I need to come out.”
Those words were surprisingly easy to speak, I didn’t have to force them out at all. I was actually surprised; just a few weeks prior, I’d have been to terrified to even think about saying them.
The conversation at the table died down, as Roger, Lena and Molly looked at me.
“To whom?” Lena asked.
“To everyone. To the world,” I replied. “I mean, I can’t well keep it hidden forever, can I?”
“That you can’t,” Roger agreed. “But you don’t need to do it right away. Haven’t we discussed this before?”
“We did, but I’ve been doing some thinking since then and…” I paused, and sighed. “I’m honestly tired. Tired of living a double life, tired of always looking over my shoulder, tired of being afraid of making a misstep that could give me away. You get what I mean, right?”
“We do,” Lena said; the other two nodded in agreement. “So, what do you want to do?”
“Well… The triathlon team’s end-of-year party is coming up next month--”
“Absolutely not,” Roger interrupted me. “Charlie will be there. It could be dangerous.”
“I know, but…” I began. Roger shook his head, and opened his mouth to say something else. “But,” I repeated, a bit more forcefully, “It will be a relatively safe space. The coach will be there, to make sure we behave. And I’m willing to bet most of our teammates will be okay with it. Think about Simon.”
Roger cocked his head to the side and nodded, conceding the point.
“And also, while it’s only open to team members, everyone can bring a date,” I continued. “So between the two of us, we can have two more people there as back-up. Someone we know is on my side for sure.”
“Okay,” Roger said carefully. “Did you already have someone in mind?”
I nodded and smirked, and turned my head to look at Lena and Molly.