Lain on my back, I stared across the room at the poster of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The high pitched sounds of pre-teen girls singing along to a karaoke version of Let It Go was audible from upstairs, and I got up. Increasing the volume on the docking station, which was combating the noise below with a song by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs that Taylor had emailed me a youtube link for.

Glancing down at my phone, I brought up the emails and scanned through the most recent message from Taylor.

In preparation of getting out of the party, and home, successfully, I got out all the things that I'd be taking with me to Taylor's First was a Sainsbury's bag for life that contained Taylor's costume, courtesy of Jadwiga, and second was a toiletry bag that I shoved some make up into.

Sat back down on my bed, phone in hand, I called Amy. As the dial tone rang out, I gave a few hacking coughs.

"Oh my god Lily are you choking?"

"What-no," I croaked, slightly flustered by Amy answering sooner than I'd anticipated. "I...woke up this morning with this sore throat and a cough. I don't think I'm gonna be able to-" A genuine coughing fit overcame me, speaking proving too aggravating on my now coarse throat.

"-Come to the party," Amy finished for me, voice drenched in sympathy, "Aw Lil that's such a shame!"

"I'd love to go, but I think it's best if I miss this year's party, don't wanna give you guys anything..."

"Yeah of course, you rest. Have you got any throat sweet things?"

A twinge of guilt surfaced at Amy's concern, and I knew I had to get off the phone before I confessed to really being fine. "Yeah, good idea, I'll go have one. Tell the girls I hope they have fun. Yeah, see you."

The phone disconnected, and I heaved a relieved sigh. For all my pretend smiles, I sucked at lying. I had no idea what I would say if Mum started asking questions when I left.

Making my way down the landing, I pushed open the door to Mum's study with one foot.

She was sat at her laptop, mobile cradled to her ear.

"Mum?"

The chair swept around, phone lowered to her shoulder with a murmur of 'one moment'

Mum took one look at me and hissed, "That's what you're wearing?

My heart began to hammer in my chest as my mind rattled off thoughts. 'God, what if she has this maternal psychic power and knows I'm not really going Amy's, perhaps she came back early one day and saw Jadwiga making the costumes-Mum'll never let me spend Halloween with a friend who is a guy but not my boyfriend, rather than getting drunk and making out with my actual boyfriend-'

"Yeah: I'm a ghost..." I replied, though Mum only looked even more haughty, with her hair still scraped back into a pristine bun.

"A ghost?" She sighed, all of her disapproval that my outfit evident before adding dryly, "Well, if that's what you want to wear..."

"Look, I'll be back by eleven-ish. Bye then."

The phone was already back at her ear, so I wasn't sure how much Mum had actually heard. At least she was too distracted to go into full on questioning, not having time to ask about the bag that I held.

Hurrying downstairs, the sound of voices from the TV forced me to glance into the lounge; Bridget Jones' Diary had started playing. With a roll of my eyes, I grabbed my coat and shoes. Sending an email to Taylor telling him that I was on my way, I opened the front door and stepped out into the night.

*
The bus ride across town was a relatively quiet one, and I listened some more to the playlist I'd compiled of Taylor's music recommendations so far. After three and a half-songs, I had to swap the stuffy, but comforting, warmth of the bus for the late October breeze.

There were more Halloween festivities going on around here, with several windows illuminated by the candle glow from carved pumpkins. The street lamps cast orangey circles onto the pavement, and the occasional passerby out trick or treating usually had some kind of torch with them.

Even so, the edges of the road were swept up in darkness, and I hurried around the corner, the wintry breeze making me regret having bare legs.

At the end of a street two blocks from the bus stop was Taylor's house, also decorated with pumpkins in the window. As I slipped past his Dad's car, I noticed that there were fake cobwebs on the glass too, and what looked like a toy Frankenstein monster alongside the pumpkin.

Tugging off my furry hood as I stepped up onto the porch, I leant up and grasped the wooden wind-chime. It's whimsical tune rang out, but I wasn't sure it would be audible to anyone inside over what sounded rather like the soundtrack of Nightmare before Christmas. After another ring of the wind-chime, I rapped my cold knuckles on the door.

The music suddenly stopped, followed in quick succession by charging footsteps upon stairs, something hitting into a wall, then yells and hisses, until the door was flung open. Before I had chance to adjust to the light that streamed onto my face, a blur of red smacked into me, and I grabbed onto the doorframe with my free hand to stop myself stumbling as the air inside of me spluttered out.

MisgenderedRead this story for FREE!