Chapter 32

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Every day since I started staying at Josh's house Kelly comes over to visit me. And Mandy, if she's there. Mandy claims that Josh is driving her insane, and needs to occupy her time away from him for at least 6 hours a day, which is how long she has to be at her new job now. I haven't seen her complain about it so far; either she loves it or it pays good money.

"Kelly!" I warn, just as the nail polish brush hits the skin by my fingernail. I groan. "I thought you were a wizard at this." I reach over for a small pile of napkins nearby. I carefully wipe off the lime green goo.

"You were wiggling around," Kelly defends. "It wasn't my fault." She grabs my hand again and tries to apply the polish again, this time with more concentration than I've ever seen.

My sister finishes one of the fingers and moves on to the next. "So, how was your day?" she asks, ever so casual. From the corner of my eye, Josh is struggling with homework at the kitchen table. He tap that pencil of his any harder, the tip will break off.

"It was eh," I answer.

"Why?" Kelly sets the finished hand on the table and takes the other one. She turns it so she can start on my thumb.

"Why not?" I say. "Not every day is a good day. You should know that by now."

Kelly huffs. "Yeah, but I'm me. And you're you." She stops painting my nails to think about something. "Did you ever turn that English assignment in?"

"What Eng--" Oh.

Josh stops his tapping. "That was why hi--sorry, her day was eh. Miss Young was asking about the assignment." Despite trying his best to describe me as female, I'm annoyed by his tattling.

"Ohhhh! Miya, you need to get that done."

I roll my eyes. "Miss Young said I could turn it in any time," I say. I pause. "Damn it. I should've gotten that in writing."

"You screw up, you learn," Josh grumps.

Using my fingers, I make a walking gesture towards his papers. As soon as I get close enough, I snatch it away from him. "Do you need help on this one?" I ask, skimming through the assignment.

"Give it back!" Josh says.

I hold up a finger. "I'm not done reading," I respond. I get to the bottom, and then hand it back to Josh. "Do you need help on that?" I repeat.

"Hell no. I got this shit." To prove me wrong, Josh picks up his pencil and stares intensely at the question he's stuck on. I wait for him with an amused smirk to start writing. A long second passes, and Josh makes a noise before dropping his pencil again.

"I knew it!" I call out, attempting to do a fist in the air. Since the paint hasn't dried yet, I turn my hand into claws instead. Kelly laughs at me, almost tipping the bottle over.

While Josh makes threats towards me under his breath, I tune him out as the doorbell rings. Quickly blowing on my fingernails, I stand up so I can answer the door. Kelly follows me, saying that because she's the one without the work, she should answer the door. Josh then tells her it's not her house, so he should answer it instead.

I shake my head at the both of them as I struggle to get the door to open. With slow succession (and a clever use of my foot), I manage to get the door open. Mandy's on the mat, and I smile at her. My smile fades when I see her guilty look. I can see someone behind her.

The 'someone' speaks up. "Matthew, we need to talk," Dad says.

________

Within the time frame between the declaration and Dad settling in on the living room couch, I've suffered two panic attacks, and I'm pretty sure my heart is going to stop soon. He makes a weird groaning noise as he relaxes. Mandy still looks guilty as hell, but I'm not too worried about her. Kelly, on the other hand, looks like she's the one in trouble.

And Josh is. . . "Where is he?" I ask Mandy. She looks around and shrugs. I knit my eyebrows in annoyance. And my friend decided to be a magician at the last minute. Would've been nice to know.

"So," Dad starts. "I heard you were being difficult with your mother."

I glare at him. "Is that what you're calling it these days?" I ask. "'Being difficult' translates to 'being myself?'"

"Well, no. But you didn't have to be rude about it."

Kelly jumps in before I get a chance to tell Dad my side of the story. "For your information, Mom stole her heels without permission. Miya was asking for them back, and Mom totally flipped her shit."

As if his appearance and accusation aren't enough to spark some anger, Dad chuckles. "Miya. Is that what you call yourself now, Matthew?" he asks.

"Yeah. Is there a problem with that?" I respond.

He shakes his head. "No. I don't think it's a good idea to walk around dressed like a girl and introduce yourself as a girl here."

"Why not? Afraid people you know will find out?" I wait for Dad to respond to that. When he doesn't I continue. "It's the 21st century, Dad. People of the LGBT community are more welcome to the rest of the world than they were in the past. You can't tell me how I should act just because I don't look the part."

"You may be right about that, but there are more people who aren't warming up to the idea of being around more out people."

"So, you and Mom?"

"You know what I mean, Matt--"

"Miya."

Dad continues as if I haven't spoken. "You were born a boy, and you should've grown up as a normal boy," he says calmly. "Obviously, your mother and I have done something wrong to have you think you're a girl."

My voice gets icy. "How you raised me had nothing to do with my identity," I say. "I'm sorry you don't think that, but this is who I am. I'm Miya, not Matthew."

I know my sister and Mandy are in the same room as Dad and me, but it's as if they're the audience watching a suspense movie. I pay no attention to them. "I should've been out as Miya a long time ago," I state.

Dad clenches his jaw. "Very well," he says. "Your mother will be disappointed to hear what you've just told me." He stands up to leave.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Kelly exclaims. "What, you're on Mom's side on this? I thought you hate her."

In place, Dad turns to face her. "What gave you that idea?" he asks. "I don't hate her."

"But you don't love her. If you did, you wouldn't have cheated on her."

He stands up straighter, clearly pissed. "It's none of your business, Kelly," he says. Dad turns towards the front door. He opens it, pauses, and walks out. The door closed firmly, and I let out a breath I haven't realized I was holding.

"That was . . . intense," Mandy says.

I nod. "Something like that."

Beside me I hear a creak. "Is it safe to come out now?" Josh asks, coming down the stairs.

Mandy growls. "You're a cowardly idiot, Josh," she says.

"Hey! I'm manly! Miya, back me up on this."

I shake my head no. "You were hiding from the scene! No 'manly' man does that."

"They do if they know what's best for them."

Kelly puts her hand on her hip and stares at Josh. "I have a list of reasons why I think that's bullshit," she says.

"Oh really? I bet you can't name them all," Josh mocks. He immediately runs up the stairs when Kelly decides the best way to prove him wrong is to chase him. I put my head in my hands as my sister and best friend shout insults at each other.

"Well," Mandy suddenly says. "At least the atmosphere's back to normal."

"Yeah," I agree. "Too normal."







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