14 ~ Some Red-Handed Sleight of Hand
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Cerise needed to know the truth. I knew what I had to do, and I knew that I had to do it now. And sure, maybe I wasn’t in the exact right headspace for this conversation, but maybe this was the only way I would be able to say what I really should. If I thought about it for too much longer, I would lose my nerve. 

As I opened the trojan program, I barely registered what she was doing -- looking at some news article or something. I just clicked over to seize control, and opened up our text window.

To my credit, I only hesitated a moment before starting, letting all my words spill out at once.

This is going to be long, but please hear me out
I’ve been thinking a lot since the last time we talked
And you’re right
What even is this?
It’s not fair for you to share all your feelings
and for me to give nothing in return
I’ve known that all along

I paused. My guilt felt suddenly overpowering. I...

I’m just scared to talk about myself because I hate myself
And if you knew me, you would too
I don’t want that
I really really don’t want that
But you deserve to know everything
Even if you’ll no longer want to talk to me

So how do I actually say it? Where do I start? What did I want?

I wanted to be honest. But I didn’t want to burden her with my own insecurities. I didn’t want to push her into a place where she felt like she had to pity me, to reassure me. I wanted her to see me for who I was, in all of that ugliness, and then to have the freedom to reject me like she should. So how should I say that?

While I was still wrestling with the decision, Cerise started typing on her own.

who is this

Oh. Right. Jeez. I had just opened up and started unloading on her, huh? I was behaving so super weirdly that she thought I was a different person entirely. Just one more opportunity to make everything awkward.

Well, I’d just said she needed to see the real me. And here it is, stumbling over myself to make things worse, to make it all about me. Here we go.

This is

I let out a sigh. Right.

That’s the problem, isn’t it
I’ve been calling myself Nocturnia
Because I don’t want to tell you my real name because I hate it
Which sounds like an excuse
...Because it kind of is
But it’s also true

She should get that, right? Even if she has legitimate reasons for probably disliking her birth name. She’s actually trans. She’s not pretending, like me. 

I balled my hands into fists, pressing the heels of my palms into my eyes as I steeled myself for what I had to write next.


You want to know who I am?
I’m not a witch or someone with any kind of magic
I’m a shitty person who originally was having a joke at your expense
But when I found out who you are and what you wanted
I honestly, genuinely wanted to help
I promise
But unlike you, I’m not trans
Not for real
I just

Was I actually going to say it? Could I? Could I afford not to?

I just desperately wish that I could be

And that was it, wasn’t it? The truth. No matter how much I wanted to deny it or hide it. I was deeply, intensely jealous of Cerise for getting to be who she was. For having that option. I was so happy for her, positively ecstatic, but like the self-absorbed asshole that I was, I couldn’t just be content with that. I wanted it all for myself.

I think I was more jealous of her than even, say, Jenn. Who I also realized I envied. On some level, I kind of wished I could be her, too. I really was twisted.

But there was something even more heartbreaking about knowing that Cerise could be assigned male at birth, could have everyone think she was a guy for so long, and then make the decision to seize her true identity.

It was really fucking beautiful. 

I wished that could be me too. I wished I could actually be trans, rather than just pretending to be.

So now that you know, I need you to tell me to fuck off
Tell me that I’m terrible for taking advantage of your situation
Tell me to stop feeling this way, to stop appropriating your struggles

I waited, watching the cursor blink.

I meant it too. I needed that confirmation, and so I braced myself for the dagger of what was to come. If I just kept going, if I let this fester within me, I don’t know what I would think or do next. I needed her to cut it out, cleanly, to tell me what I needed to hear, so I could return to the miserable existence that I deserved.

Because even now, I felt like I was too far gone. 

Even as I waited in tense anticipation, I couldn’t help but feel some degree of hope welling up inside me too. Because maybe she would say it was okay. Maybe, despite having every reason to despise me, she’d find some way to forgive me for what I had done to her. Even to accept me for who I was. Or… who I wanted to be?

It felt like something big was just out of my reach, so close but impossibly far away. I wanted it more than anything.

And the conflicting feelings in my heart about that felt like they were tearing me apart.

One way or another, I had to know. I had to have an answer. 

I needed Cerise. I had to trust in her to do what was right. To do what I needed.

And so I waited, barely breathing.

Until the cursor started moving, and she started typing.  


who are you and what have you been telling my son