Dani’s fork cut through her omelet, clanking against the plate underneath. She scooped up the slice of egg and spinach, and shakily brought it to her mouth. God, how am I already this jittery? We haven’t even spoken about anything important, yet!
The entire ride to the diner, and the whole meal up to that point, had been light-hearted. Her and Simon joked a bit, talked about a couple new movies they were excited for, and just overall avoided talking about Dani’s “secret.” Now, however, she was visibly nervous, and knew Simon would say something if he noticed.
Which he did.
“Are you, like...cold?” Simon asked. He was sitting across from her and already halfway through a mutilated stack of pancakes.
“No! No, no” Dani shook her head as she focused on swallowing her meal. “I just think...um...that talk we had the other day.”
“Right. Well, we’re gonna talk about it at the end of the day, right? Isn’t that the plan?”
“Yeah. I mean, it was. But I think…” Dani paused, and breathed in deep. Am I doing it? Am I seriously gonna do it? She breathed out. “I think I need to tell you now. While I have the confidence. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to later, so please just let me talk about it, now.” Her gaze was intense.
Simon nodded, and set down his fork. “Okay. If you need to, then yeah. Do it.” He smiled, giving Dani the extra assurance she needed.
“Alright,” Dani started, “um...yeah, here we go.” She grabbed at the napkin she set in her lap earlier, and started to wring it in her hands.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Dani trailed off. Wait, where am I even going with this? Awesome. Great start.
Simon answered the pause. “Right.”
His response gave Dani another push forward. “And, like, we’ve told each other a lot of stuff. Secrets and stuff.” She watched his eyes for any reaction. Nothing, yet. “So, I really don’t want to keep this from you anymore. In fact, I feel bad that I’ve waited this long to say anything.” There it was. A slight nod. She barely picked up on it, but it was definitely there. What does that mean? How is he this nonchalant about everything? The napkin began to tear.
“I guess I’ll just spit it out already,” she said with a nervous giggle tacked on. She looked around to see if any strangers were in earshot, but luckily the nearby booths were empty, and the waiter was nowhere in sight. Okay, I know what to say. I’ll just shut my brain off and let the script do the work. One last deep breath.
“I’m...on hormones. I’m transitioning. Like, I’m trans. I want to be a girl-well, I am a girl.” Okay the script was messier than I thought. But it’s out there. Her hands were clenched at her sides, half of the napkin in each fist.
Dani studied Simon’s face, but couldn't detect a single muscle shift after she told him. Eventually, his eyebrows rose a bit, and he spoke. “Wow. Yeah, uh. That’s pretty big.” He was stirring his ice water with his straw as he stammered. “Well, first thing’s first. I support your transition, of course. And I’m sorry if I ever did or said anything that made you feel like you couldn’t tell me sooner.”
“No! Not at all!” Dani said. “Seriously, I wish I told you sooner. I really can’t figure out why I was so nervous.” She chuckled and set her napkin bits on the table.
“So that’s what the medication was, “ Simon said.
“Danny, I-Wait, do you still want to be called Danny?”
“Well, I’m gonna be Danielle, now, but still Dani for short. Oh, but spelled D-A-N-I.”
Simon chuckled. “I like it! Makes it easy on me, too.” His smile quickly faded. “Dani,” he emphasized her name, making sure she knew it was her new spelling, “is this why you had to move out in such a rush?”
Dani had tried to go back to eating her omelet, but her hands were even shakier than before. She gave up and set her fork down. “Um. Yeah. Thanks again for your help with that.”
“Oh, definitely. Don’t worry at all, like I said, our lease was up.” Simon returned to shredding through his flapjacks. “And now that I know what was up,” he said while he doused his plate in syrup, “I would have let you stay with us, anyway. I know how your mom can get with...you know.” He shivered.
Simon had witnessed dozens of Dani’s arguments with her parents over the years, and was her go-to for venting about them. At least until her awful experience coming out. After that, she hadn’t talked about them in front of anyone.
“God, tell me about it!” Dani said. She realized she had half-yelled that, and looked around the diner again. Still, no one looked toward her. “And wait until I tell you what happened this week!” She kept her volume in check, this time.
Simon perked up. “Yeah?” he said through a mouthful of pancake mush.
Dani filled Simon in on the text she got from her mom earlier in the week, and the traumatizing trip that followed it. As she told her story, she couldn’t help but realize how expressive and bubbly she was being. Even as she explained her breakdown, she remained calm. She couldn’t wait to talk some more with her friend.
Wow, I’ve really missed this, she thought. It’s like my personality is...back? But even stronger than before. I can’t believe I waited this long to actually talk to my best friend about this. She had been relying on her internet friends recently, which she truly did cherish, but being able to sit here and talk with someone she had been close with since childhood was a treasure, and she now understood that she had been taking it for granted all the years prior.
Soon, her story wrapped up, and they finished their breakfast.
On their way out the door, Simon spoke up. “So obviously the plan was to catch a movie, but honestly, I kinda want to keep talking.”
“Me, too, actually.” Dani said.
Simon pointed across the street. “The park is just a block that way, you know. We could walk around and just catch up? I’m sure there’s some more stuff you could tell me, now.”
“Sure! I could use some fresh air after I hid inside all summer.” Dani said as they headed toward the nearest crosswalk.