How It Will Always Be

Melika was on Tumblr.

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

Melika had been fine when Severin had stopped by and asked how she was doing. Severin did have a habit of studying Melika intently and not apologizing for the stares. Melika could handle Severin’s looks though. She knew why they stared.

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

This is how it will always be.

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October 11th, 2008

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.

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October 10th, 2008

Melika had just started telling her closest friends that she was a woman. She 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 the confines of her own head.

Melika had heard the rumors about Jardin and wanted to explore those lustful impulses for herself. 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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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. They could pay their 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.

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Not Quite Midnight in the Jardin of Arsene and Virgil

Stuttering percussion and icy synths reverberated across the surging dance floor, and Jardin‘s swelling patronage was being swept up in the triphop’s intoxicating physicality. The shuffling, arrhythmic beats pulsing through the bar sent waves of color that folded in on themselves and back out, unfurling and blooming, each permutation an aftershock of the endless reflections.

From her high bar stool, just off the disco’s center, on a little diamond of the labyrinthine, elevated walkway, Virgil scanned the club for familiar faces.

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