I shook my head and mouthed “no” and breathed hard. He knew that he could have more if he wanted. I put my palm on his chest. “I’ll call you tonight, but our phone is in the kitchen and it’s not private.”
“We’ll work around that,” he said. I nodded. “I’ve got to get on the school bus. I’ll help you find your bus.”
He helped me pick up my stuff and we left the school.
Back at home after the bus dropped us off, me, Bart, and Deandra – the middle school kids – went in to our rooms and stowed our books. I got a visitor in my little room. It was Deandra. We had a good talk. She told my room used to be the kids’ time-out room. It Penny put her up to coming down and finding out about my sex. I asked her what did I look like and she said “a girl” and I told her that was what I was. It also turned out she knew about Billy. She confided in me that his last name was Carnes and Billy Carnes was bisexual and has gone with boys. Penny said he was a player. She also let me in on a secret about Penny and her man, Angel. He is not that into her. Deandra saw him riding other girls on his motorcycle.
I asked her if it was possible that he was giving fun rides, you know, without seriousness.
“Maybe. But, not around here. It never works that way,” she said.
“You’re saying that where there is smoke, there is fire.”
Deandra nodded. “You are probably right, though. I don’t know Angel well enough to pass judgment. But in this part of the city, you grow up fast. You see things and learn things. I’ve seen this before with my own family. Lies and deceit tear families apart. I know!” she said and started to cry. I sat on the bed beside her and put my arm around her.
“This shit got my father killed and my mother in prison,” she said between sobs. I didn’t say anything, just comforted her. She slowed some and turned toward me. “You comfort like a girl, too,” she said and smiled. I hugged her hard with my head against her head.
That night after dinner I was washing dishes with Andre again. Mama had told everyone at dinner they were to talk about me in the feminine pronoun her and she, and they were to refer to me to outsiders as your sister and a girl. Penny laughed, Mother slapped the table. Mother told them I have a medical condition that has disfigured me, and it was not my fault. They hushed after that.
I stood at the sink and looked over my shoulder at the clock on the opposite wall from the sink. It was one of those big round, black and white, electric clocks with a cord that dangled down and plugged into the wall. It contrasted with the yellow paint. They painted over wallpaper because you could see the blue print paper through the paint, faintly, in places.
“You’ve looked at that clock six times since we started,” he said. I looked up at him and smiled. “I thought you were a girl the first time I saw you,” he said referring back to the dinner conversation.
“It’s been hard to live as a boy,” I said handing him a plate. “It embarrassed me to tell someone that I’m a boy and have them ogle my tits.”
He laughed. “I could imagine. I was wondering if there are many more like you out there.”
“My doctor said my particular condition effects one in every one hundred and thirty thousand births. If you divide that out, there are about four of us in this city. There are other conditions like mine, sexual ambiguity, androgyny, that effect many more. There are many men that look feminine and many women that look masculine, but they are not like me.”
I looked at the clock again. I was at once self-conscious and looked at Andre and he grinned. My face was red. “I have to make a call at seven.”