Wearing a Woman’s Shirt to a West Virginia Wal-Mart

[Author’s Note: This is Dawn. Nic and I took a two month break from updating this blog. I had a myriad of mental and physical health issues in addition to some family drama that crashed together all at once. The last chapter of this had been half-written for two months, and I was just not well enough to finish the other thousand or so words I had left to write. I hope this personal, non-fiction essay can help shed some light on the personal issues that Nic and I are trying to explore with this series. There is a lot of supernatural silliness at the edges of Orchid, but it’s a fundamentally trans Appalachian narrative from two committed leftist storytellers. This is a look into our actual lives.

Also, I wanted to credit the above image to the wonderfully talented FawxDraws. Nic and I had been looking for an icon for this site before it went live. Nic knows a lot of really talented artists through their various Tumblr fandoms, and I knew that I wanted Fawx to draw our titular Orchid as soon as Nic showed me one of their pieces for the first time. Nic and I are hoping to commission more art for the site in the future but for financial reasons, that’s a more long-term plan. We both hope everyone has been enjoying our story.]

Continue reading “Wearing a Woman’s Shirt to a West Virginia Wal-Mart”

January 10th, 2018

Melika hadn’t used Dr. Zhi’s couch since her first session.

It was a comfortable couch. Melika had no complaints about the couch’s aesthetics. It was a textured, floral cotton print. Cream. Dr. Zhi said it had been her mother’s. Melika would have loved to have had a couch just like that in her apartment with Sabine, but that couch had carried the psychic weight of the spiritual trauma of so many for so long. Melika was a lightning rod for all of that psychic energy.

Melika and Dr. Zhi had settled on an alternative to the couch. Dr. Zhi bought an inflatable mattress and pillows. Melika supplied sheets and a throw blanket for when it was cold. Melika stared up at Dr. Zhi’s plaster ceiling as her head rested on three firm pillows. Dr. Zhi didn’t usually administer her treatment with such a Freudian visual framing, but Melika wasn’t one for eye contact to begin with so they made their system work.

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Chapter 4: Twenty Minutes Later

Sabine had gone to the restroom after Tracy’s lecture. They didn’t go in there to cry. Sabine was almost 30. They could handle criticism although Sabine knew that Tracy and Severin were the lifelines by which their career as an artist was able to stay afloat. They couldn’t afford for Tracy and Severin to get bored with their work.

Sabine had gone to the bathroom because they just needed a couple minutes to themselves. They didn’t want Tracy to know that her words had cut so deep. Sabine had only painted Home in the first place because they had to get a piece placed in the Art Crawl. Sabine knew that Severin operated on far more patriotic nostalgia than they would ever let on. Home was guaranteed money, and Sabine had helped make a sale with Tracy’s help.

Sabine had resented the implication that they didn’t care about Home. The piece had ceased to be just a business ploy the moment they placed the first brushstrokes on their canvas.

Sabine hadn’t been back to the home their painting captured since they were in high school. Home wasn’t a surrealist commentary on the bewildering, incomprehensible beauty of nature. Sabine hadn’t painted a landscape as literal as this since their art school days. Home was Fae. Sabine knew that was why Severin had wiped away their tears when they’d seen the painting. Sabine knew it had been so much longer since Severin had seen their home, and Sabine knew that it was likely that Severin would never get to go home again. They were Divise. They were exiles. Home was Sabine’s ode to the land of their zaza and the rest of the Divise stuck here on Earth.

Continue reading “Chapter 4: Twenty Minutes Later”

Chapter 3: How It Will Always Be

Melika was on Tumblr.

She hadn’t been dragged out to Terre. Melika was happy to be at the gallery. She was celebrating Sabine’s big night. Melika wanted to be present for Sabine, and she was… sort of.

Melika had been fine when Sabine was with her. A close friend was the only emotional support system Melika still needed to function in crowded, public spaces. She’d come so far since college. Her days of intense, total seclusion were mostly behind her.

Melika had been fine when Severin had stopped by and asked how she was doing. They always took a special interest in Melika when she came in to Terre with Sabine. Severin did have a habit of studying Melika intently and not apologizing for the stares. She could handle Severin’s looks though. Melika knew why they stared. Unlike most folks in the ‘Burgh, Severin couldn’t have cared less about Melika’s visible Adam’s apple. Her visions were of far more interest.

Yet, Melika still felt like she would rather cease to now be or have ever been than be left by herself at shows like this.

This is how it will always be.

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October 11th, 2008 – 1:00 AM

A couple of Todd’s coworkers were manning the late shift in Thibodeaux #3’s cramped lobby, checking student IDs and processing off-campus guest sign-ins. A tiny freshman girl was vomiting in a trashcan, near the line for the elevators. A friend held her hair back. The RAs working the desk all wore the same gold uniform and had the same “I’d rather be asleep or studying or out drinking or literally anywhere besides babysitting all these drunk assholes” look plastered on their faces.

The red-headed sophomore with the Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Policing textbooks open in front of her was in charge of the ID swiping station. She did not smile when Todd approached.

“Enjoying your night off? Must be nice.”

She took Todd’s student ID and swiped it.

“It’s been wonderful.”

Todd flashed his most charming smile, but his peer still didn’t react. Todd’s face flushed with frustration. He hid the anger quickly, but Todd wasn’t fast enough to keep Melika from noticing his facade starting to crack. It was the first time she saw anything other than exactly what Todd wanted. It would not be the last.

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October 10th, 2008

Melika had her first undeniable prophecy the fall semester of her sophomore year at Hodges.

She had just started telling her closest friends that she was a woman. Melika was wearing makeup to queer bars. She was finding dresses and women’s formal wear that she felt comfortable in. Melika didn’t know if she’d ever be able to afford hormones or surgery, but she was going to exist as a woman and do so outside of the confines of her own head.

Melika had gone to Jardin earlier in the evening. She had heard the rumors about the club, and Melika wanted to explore those lustful impulses for herself. She craved that physical vulnerability and passion. As Melika prowled the dance floor, she received invitations to the multitudes of sexual congress. Queer women and femme-leaning genderqueers waved beckoning fingers and stole hungry glances, but, after an hour, Melika was sitting at the Rosebud, sipping a screwdriver, and trying not to cry.

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Chapter 2: Homes and Self-Portraits

Sabine hated the glad-handing of big gallery shows. They hadn’t sold a piece in over a month, and their rent was due in two weeks. Sabine was happy to have one of their works at Terre for the 2018 Pittsburgh Art Crawl. They had begged and pleaded with Severin for a spot. They were not, under any circumstances, asking their mother to help cover the rent… again. Sabine was a grown ass adult. They were a working artist. Their work could pay the bills.

Or, at least, that’s what Sabine told themself each day as they pushed aside the rational impulse to find a job with benefits and a salary.

Continue reading “Chapter 2: Homes and Self-Portraits”