* Warning: mentions of transphobic slurs *

There's something I need to tell you."

My eyes shifted from Taylor's lips up to meet his tense gaze that stared straight back at me. I waited for him to speak, feeling my chest tighten as his heavy heartbeat hit against mine.

A pregnant pause fell upon us. Still his lips remained motionless yet the eyes were fixated.

"You deserve to know, that I'm not who-what you think I am."

'Wait, what?' The muscles in my face moved subconsciously in confusion, his choice of words echoing over and over inside of my head. Something inside of my stomach grew heavier, some nervous energy filling me, as though my body had sensed something before my mind could work out what. I could feel my hands slacking, a sudden exhale streaming out into the air between us.

"I don't understand," I murmured, my mind desperately trying to grasp at whatever realisation was taunting me.

"I...I'm not a guy. That's why I was bullied so much."

The slowly interweaving strands of thought collided with a forceful understanding. I stole a glance at his-her-face: noticing the plump curve of cheeks, those long eyelashes, the distinct lack of an Adam's apple, the baggy clothing...

"Oh my-so you're...trans?" I whispered the final word. It felt foreign, as alien as the body beneath me.

"Kinda. I'm not female to male, more like neither gender."

I didn't reply. I couldn't reply; my lips were frozen now. There were too many thoughts all at once. The confusion had given way to shock, and that had given way to...I didn't know what. Some feeling, a lightness, this tender ache that wrenched inside of me.

The sound of Taylor's voice drifted in, the words tangling in with my thoughts-
"deserved to know, in case you thought-just so you knew you weren't about to kiss someone like Dan-"

The high, panicked tone to Taylor's voice only worsened the lightheadedness, my heart beat quickening to a butterfly flutter. Flight or fight mode had most definitely been activated, yet the fear made no sense. The fact had settled: I hadn't fallen for a guy, yet it was as if I'd somehow always known. But I hadn't fallen for a girl either, not exactly, but that hadn't changed what I felt.

"Taylor," I barely recognised the strangled sound that cracked through my tightened throat. Something cold was trickling down my face. A blurred kaleidoscope of Taylor lay there in the snow formed behind the tears, the rush of fight or flight adrenaline pushing me upright.

My mind barely had time to register the jolt upwards, my lips making up for their slowness with a flurry of words, "I'm sorry, Taylor, I just, I need to go-"

I couldn't even look at Taylor anymore, the park around us vaguely coming into a blurry focus. Every limb was trembling, snatches of icy air tearing down my throat and chest.
"It's not you..." My gloves flew to my lips to muffle the gasp that threatened to escape, my cheeks branded by icy marks that slipped down faster and faster.

Somehow my legs were still able to stagger through the snow, the impulse of needing to get out overriding everything else.

"You don't have to deny it," the snarl sent a jolt through me, my feet slowed. Recovering from the initial surprise, I stumbled back faster now, yet every yelled word reached my ears. "I know you don't want to spend time with me now. It's fine, just go, back to your normal, perfect life and your dick of a boyfriend!"

I stopped dead at that.

Deep inside of me something crumbled at the words: the lie that everyone else believed, the facade of perfection that was so false, belonging to the girl they all saw, the girl that I hide behind. I thought Taylor had seen past that.

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