Tapping my fingers against the desk, I tilted my head slightly to see through the gap between two of the bitches sat on the next table. It wasn't like I didn't see enough of Lily, but I had to figure out what it was about her that seemed to be different. Under the incandescent lighting and within her bubble of perfume and high-pitched giggles, I couldn't lose the impression of a doll. So perfect and naïve that she couldn't be a real person.
Yet last Friday evening, she had exposed a different self, with a friendliness that went beyond politeness, and knowledge that would be considered geeky by her friends. It was a side to her that contradicted all my prior experience with girls like her.
'Damn it, I kinda want to see more of that side...'
"Can you stop tapping? It's a bit off-putting."
Sliding my fingers onto my lap, my head jolted to look across at Doug. He'd stopped sketching and was looking ahead where I had been staring.
"Is Lily bothering you?" He said with a sly smile.
"What? No, not like that!" I sighed, figuring I could confide in Doug, who had known Lily longer than me. As I spoke, my gaze drifted back over to her. "It's just I can't get my head around her. I know she only acts a certain way because that's how popular people have to act to keep their title. But when she came over the other day she was just so...she's practically a Whovian!I mean, how can someone so different have such similar interests?"
"It's like you said, popularity is a game and the only way to win is to be someone you're not," came Doug's muffled, but still insightful reply.
A book was set down on the desk, a manga, judging by the drawings on the cover and the fact that it opened the other way around to most books. Quickly glancing over the title and the two guys in the foreground, I looked back at Doug and smirked. "Ouran High School Host club. I didn't know you were into yaoi."
Now it was Doug's turn to smirk, and he pointed to the character in a salmon suit, "It's not actually two guys, 'cause Haruhi is a girl."
'Wait-has he figured that I'm...' If he'd figured it out, there was little point trying to hide it.
"Like me, yeah," I said, watching his reaction. There was no surprise. So he had known. But there was no malice or horror either. He didn't seem like the kind to go telling everyone. Still, my poor judge of Lily proved how little I knew about people.
"Don't worry, I'm not gonna tell anyone about the sex you were assigned at birth. I'm guessing that's what caused all the problems at your last school?"
I nodded, deliberating over how much more to tell him. The last time I had told anyone this information, it hadn't gone down well, though that was with an old crone of a teacher who insisted on calling me 'she'. With a sigh, I lowered my voice so that it was definitely only Doug who could hear. "I know I look like what is considered masculine, but I don't identify as male. Or female, for that matter. I suppose my identity best fits as genderqueer."
"Okay...If you don't mind me asking, why do you use male pronouns then?"
"It's just less hassle. I use 'they' at home, but if I used that pronoun in school then I'd be unlike everyone else. People would probably see me as being some kind of freak. Anyway, seeing as though I prefer to present as typically masculine, it's easier to let people assume I'm a 'he'."
"Fair enough," Doug said. I sensed there were more questions to come, but the bell for first lesson rang before he could ask anything else.
"It is a good series, Host Club," He gave the book a tap before tucking it into his bag and getting up. "See you around."
"See you," I got up and moved across the class to the table shared by Lily and I. As the rest of the form departed, Lily had begun to put copies of Animal Farm on each table. Dumping my bag, I went to the shelf and gathered the rest, putting them on the tables that Lily hadn't reached yet.
"Thanks you two," Mr Stafford called as he finished wiping the board and went to open the door. A tumult of noise filled the classroom, as ever at start and end of each lesson.
Lily sat silently beside me and I noticed that she folded the upper corner of her exercise book between her fingers, a habit of hers. Usually she'd be talking to me by now.
"Um so, did you manage to do the physics?"
"Hm? Oh yes, thanks, I've got the graph now and everything," Lily's voice was chirpy enough, but slightly rigid, as though she was repressing the desire to mention anything else from last Friday. Considering our polar opposites in the social standings of the school year, I understood why. There was no way Lily could allow anyone to overhear that she had been to my house.
Still, there was plenty of movement and other discussions that clouded out our words. Perhaps that was what gave Lily the courage to add, "I got the list you gave me, and listened to the songs on YouTube."
"What did you think?"
"I liked most of them, yeah. Too many friends was good, and there was this other song. I recognised the start of it from somewhere, it think it was used as the theme song for...House, maybe?"
"Oh, yeah, Teardrop by Massive Attack. So you watch House?"
An elbow playfully nudged into my arm, "What, you think my Netflix list is just Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl?"
"Well, yeah. Just with Doctor Who lurking in the midst of teen girl shows."
She gave a slight laugh, though her features grew serious. "Look, I don't mean to ignore you in form and stuff. It's just, well, my friends and your friends, we run in different circles."
"It's fine. It's not like we don't spend much time together anyway. Otherwise you'd have grown sick of me by now."
The slow hushing of conversation that preceded lessons swept across the room, and as Lily opened up her copy of Animal Farm, she leant over slightly.
Her voice was no more than a whisper, "I don't think I could get sick of talking to you Taylor."
YOU ARE READING
"If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then it is a duck." Taylor Adams and Lily Baker: complete opposites in almost every sense. Taylor Adams: completely themselves when appearing and acting as androgynously as their name suggests, even if i...