St. Patrick's Day
I walk up to the bar wearing skin-tight jeans and black converse. There’s a gray loop scarf draped around my front, hiding my neck. My face is rough, dotted red with razor cuts and flakes of stubble. My scarf feels heavy as the bus pulls away from the stop.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day. I’m meeting with a friend I haven’t seen in a couple months. The last time I saw her, I wasn’t wearing female clothes. I wasn’t even on estrogen. But today I want to surprise her. Look how far I’ve come. Look how far I’m going.
Look how far I’ve come. Look how far I’m going.
So I go inside. And the noise of chatting strangers hits me at once.
I forgot, St. Patrick’s Day is a drinking day. It’s obviously going to be the most crowded night in the year. The bar is already packed in the front, with couples ordering mixed drink after mixed drink from the bartender. Some in their 30s and 40s, others younger still, but barely a single person is alone.
I look around and see a girl that looks like my friend from behind, reading a stack of library books at the bar. She’s leaning so close to the counter, I can only see her back, and I can’t quite tell if it’s her. What if it isn’t her? What if it is?
“Hi, Sammy,” I say.
She doesn’t turn around.
“Sammy, hi,” I say a little louder. No response.
Panic sets in. Where’s my friend? Did she leave early? Did I come too late? My brain is on fire. A tranny alone at a bar on a drinking holiday is not a good thing. I walk back and forth around the front, nervously looking for her. Sammy loves to read—she’s a grad student for Christ’s sake. No one else here could be her. The only chance I have is to ask this girl again.
Panic sets in. Where’s my friend? Did she leave early? Did I come too late? My brain is on fire. A tranny alone at a bar on a drinking holiday is not a good thing.
“Sammy?” I say.
She doesn’t turn around.
A couple to the right glances over at me.
People are staring at me. They look at me with piercing eyes, and I know they know what I am. I know they know that underneath my pinned-up hair and loop scarf is a deep voice. A bass’s voice. A man’s voice. A tranny’s voice.
I say her name again, hurriedly.
She doesn’t turn around. Hot glances make sweat drip down my back. An older man and his wife are staring at me with wonder. A girl to my left turns away from her boyfriend and gawks. I push the sleeves of my cardigan up my arms and the fabric clams up against my sweaty hands. My bobby pins slide down the side of my head like sweat beads, with strands of hair sticking to my forehead. Not very feminine. Very masculine.
Hot glances make sweat drip down my back.
I am about to give up, go home, change back into my pajamas, fall asleep, and forget. So I try one more time. I tap her arm lightly.
This time, she turns around and smiles. A bright smile. The kind where her whole body is leaned forward, carefree.
“Isabelle!” she cries. “Oh my goodness, how are you? You look gorgeous!”
She pulls me into a tight hug and offers to buy me a drink. And it’s only once I sit down, when I’m stripping off my sweat-soaked cardigan, that I realize she was wearing earbuds.
Anastasia Valens is a freelance journalist and trans writer. Her work has appeared on such sites as The Toast, Bitch Media, and Kill Screen. She spends her free time creating interactive fiction, and writing about the video game industry.
Illustrated by Allegra Lockstadt