“Ha, five-hundred dollars! Cough it up, bitch!”
Rain beat heavily against the window on the far wall, nearly drowning out the ceiling fan spinning above the dining table. A few half-empty Miller Lite bottles stood sentry around the game board. Kaylee looked down at her dwindling reserves. She had a handful of colorful bills to her name, and none of them of particularly high value. She glanced up again. Risha’s head bobbed slowly with an heir of smugness. With her left hand, she tauntingly waved the deed to Boardwalk like a dime bag in front of a crack addict.
“I guess that’s it for me,” Kaylee said with acted heartbreak. Truthfully, she hadn’t wanted to play Monopoly tonight. She wouldn’t have minded skipping game night altogether. Her mind was just elsewhere.
“What you mean, ‘that’s it’?” Risha asked. “You got all kinds a shit you can mortgage there.”
Kaylee laughed and shook her head. “Why prolong the inevitable?”
Risha slumped back in her chair. “Whatever. Yo head was never actually in the game anyway.”
A flurry of hand movements to Kaylee’s left caught her eye. The signs were directed at Risha and she was going kind of fast, but Kaylee had been around Lauren enough now to learn a bit of sign language. There was the sign for ‘what’ followed by a point to herself, so she figured Lauren was asking what she was doing.
“She punkin’ out on us like a little bitch,” Risha said back as she signed. Years of training and social work at taught her how to sign, but it wasn’t until she and Lauren were dating that Risha started using it a lot around the apartment. That’s when Kaylee started picking some of it up.
“I’m not ‘punking out’. I just have a lot on my mind.”
“Work stuff?” Risha asked as she started cleaning up the game pieces.
“Not exactly,” Kaylee replied. Lauren tapped her shoulder to get her attention. She signed something, but went too fast for her to comprehend it. Taking a moment to think, Kaylee circled her fist in front of her stomach and then dragged her fingers up her forearm. “Please; slow,” she clumsily said.
Lauren nodded and started over, signing each word one at a time. “What; on; your; mind?”
“Oh, um…” Kaylee responded. Her hands stood in limbo for a moment as she tried to figure out how to respond.
Risha laughed. “Girl, just start talking, I’ll sign.”
“Thank you,” Kaylee said with a sigh of relief.
“Don’t thank me. I’ve been wondering the same damn thing.”
“Pizza’s ready!” another voice shouted from the kitchen. “Who’s turn is it?”
“We quit playing, Roxy,” Risha replied. “I own the world and all ya’ll asses. Now we trying to get Kaylee to quit being so secretive.”
A skinny, pale woman emerged from the kitchen. She had rigid facial features and a long mop of straight, blond hair. She wore a white tank-top and little blue shorts. “Yea, what’s with you tonight, girl?”
Kaylee knew she was blushing again. “Well…I kind of…maybe…had a guy flirting with me today.”
Risha grinned and slapped her palms against the table. “That’s my girl! That’s my girl!”
As Risha filled Lauren in, Roxy sat at the end of the table. Her legs crossed and she took a sip of her beer. “So, are we talking like a cis guy?”
“And he couldn’t tell?”
“He didn’t seem to.”
There was a boom of thunder and the power flickered. Lauren let out a startled yelp, the first sound she’d made all night.
“You okay, honey?” Risha signed and said.
Lauren nodded. Her hand was on her chest and her breaths were deep.
“I…never…hear…you…make…noise,” Kaylee said while slowly signing along. Lauren lowered her head and made the motion for ‘sorry’.
Risha rolled her eyes and tapped Lauren’s shoulder, getting her to look back up. “Girl, nothing to be sorry for,” she said and signed. “I think you perfect as you are.”
Lauren blushed. Her flat hand rose to her chin then moved away to say, ‘thank you’.
Risha leaned over the table. Her large breasts flattened out against the wooden surface. “Of course, she sing like an angel when I do this one thing with my tongue where…”
“Risha!” Kaylee yelled.
Lauren frantically demanded to be filled in, and after Risha repeated the sentiment with her hands, she leaned across the table and slapped her shoulder.
“Hey, you bitches all love eating chocolate, but it’s even better when chocolate eats you back.”
“As hot as this conversation is, it’s distracting us from Kaylee’s cis-perience,” Roxy said. She took another sip of her beer and set it down in the condensation ring it had already formed.
“Her what?” Risha asked.
“Cis-perience,” Roxy repeated. “It’s when no one can tell you’re trans so you get to just do shit like a cis person does: go to the bathroom, go dress shopping, get hit on by straight guys.”
“You made that up,” Risha scoffed.
“I coined it,” Roxy smugly corrected. “There’s a difference. It will be a thing someday, and you’ll all know where it started.”
“Besides, ain’t nobody clocked Kaylee the supermodel over here in months. Skinny bitch look ready to pose for Playboy or some shit as it is.”
“Oh please,” Kaylee replied. Thunder rumbled again, but softer this time. The rain was still pouring, but wasn’t as loud against the window. The storm was finally letting up. “I don’t always pass for cis.”
Roxy leaned over and tapped Kaylee on the wrist. “Honey, the only second look I see anyone give you these days says, ‘I wanna get under that skirt’; not, ‘that’s a tranny’.”
Kaylee squinted and shook her head. “I hate that word.”
“You hate it because it gets used against you,” Roxy said. “Own it and it can’t hurt you.”
“I’d just really prefer you not use it.”
“Words are only weapons if you let them be,” Roxy retorted. “I mean, black people get to take back the word…”
“Finish that sentence and I’ll smash this bottle upside your head,” Risha said. She’d left the conversation to act as interpreter for Lauren.
Roxy raised her hands in a gesture of surrender.
“And, for the record,” Risha continued, “there’s a big difference between a porn word and a slave word.”
“Well, since I’m a porn star I guess it doesn’t bother me as much.”
Risha laughed. “Bitch, you a cam girl. Don’t flatter yourself.”
“Hey, this cam girl has over five hundred followers!” Roxy fired back.
“You two can hash this out while I get the pizza,” Kaylee said with a roll of her eyes. She waved at Lauren to get her attention. “I…go…get…food…make…sure…they…don’t…kill…each…other.”
Lauren laughed and nodded.
Risha and Roxy playfully bickered as Kaylee slipped into the kitchen. The pizza was already cut and ready to be served, but Kaylee wanted to take an extra moment to herself. She always felt a little bad when her pass-ability was brought up. Even though she was tall, she’d never had a particularly masculine looking figure. In fact, she’d started getting “ma’amed” as soon as her hair got long, and that was before she took a single round of hormones. She still saw her masculine features when she looked in the mirror, but hardly anyone she met day to day seemed to notice them.
This wasn’t the first time she’d heard Roxy use her “cis-perience” phrase. She was often accused of living her whole life like a cis woman at this point. And, truthfully, that was pretty much the case. Aside from little moments here and there, her trans status rarely interfered with her life. She went to work, went shopping, went to dinner out, and did everything else with a wonderful sense of mundanity.
Of course, there were still some things she’d never experienced before, and having a straight, cis boy flirt with her was definitely one of them. It was something she not only dreamed of, but always assumed would just never happen. She’d never had a boyfriend; just a couple of girlfriends during her “boy” years. It was a wonderful moment, and she was glad it had happened.
“Kaylee, your phone’s going off,” Roxy shouted from the living room.
She darted back to the table. Kaylee was usually glued to her phone. Clients would call or text all the time and she liked to always respond promptly. NEW MESSAGE was displayed across the screen when she unlocked the phone. There was a number, but no name, so it wasn’t someone in her contacts.
That’s all it said. Kaylee gave her screen a perplexed look.
“Something wrong?” Roxy asked.
She didn’t answer, instead tapping out ‘who is this?’ on her keypad.
Your favorite disk golf player. 🙂
“It’s him!” Kaylee exclaimed.
Risha and Roxy jumped to their feet. “Straight boy be texting you already?!” She filled Lauren in on the new development when her girlfriend shot her a confused glance.
“You gave him your number?” Roxy asked.
“I gave him my card, yea,” she said. “I didn’t expect him to actually contact me or anything.”
“And the same day, too,” Roxy said with a smile.
“Honey, he want dat ass,” Risha said with a big smile.
Kaylee’s heart was racing as she went back to typing. Her thumbs were shaking, causing her to make a few errors where even auto-fill couldn’t tell what she was trying to say. ‘Didn’t think I’d hear back from you. What’s up?’
An ellipsis danced under her response. He was already typing something back. Our meet got rained out. What are you doing for dinner?
“He…he’s asking me out!” Kaylee said. She could barely form the words.
Risha screamed and shook her fists by her shoulders. “Oh yes, lord! My straight roommate finally gonna have a man in her life!”
“Calm down,” Kaylee insisted.
“Da fuck I will!” Risha responded. “This is big for you!”
“And you’re positive he couldn’t tell you’re trans?” Roxy asked. Her happiness was much more reserved, seemingly even more than Kaylee’s.
“I…I don’t think so. It didn’t feel like he could.” She blushed. “I was honestly just enjoying the attention.”
“Say something back! Say something back!” Risha begged. Lauren moved into the circle of women all huddled over the phone.
“What do I say?” Kaylee begged. She was very much so in uncharted territory.
“What do you say?!” Risha replied in bewilderment. “You say your ass is free for dinner and ask when he’s picking you up!”
“She doesn’t need to rush this,” Roxy retorted. “Where is he even from?”
“I actually never asked,” Kaylee replied. She felt foolish for not realizing that until now. “I just know he was in town for a disk golf tournament.”
“A what?” Risha asked.
Kaylee shook her head. “Never mind.”
“At least tell him you free,” Risha insisted.
Kaylee went back to typing. ‘I have no plans.’
Where do you like to eat around here?
Risha hopped up and down. “Yes! My girl be on tonight!”
Roxy put her hand on Kaylee’s shoulder. “Honey, you look nervous,” she said. “You know you don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with.”
“No, I’m not uncomfortable,” Kaylee answered. “I really want to go out with him. It’s just…kind of surreal. No guy has ever genuinely asked me out before.”
“Would you quit being such a downer, Roxy?” Risha snapped. “Be happy for the girl!”
Roxy sighed. “Cis women don’t understand. If this guy doesn’t know she’s trans and they go out on an actual date, him finding out could get really ugly really fast.”
Kaylee cringed. Roxy had put into words what she was feeling but couldn’t express. The phone buzzed again.
You still there? Am I coming on too strong?
Kaylee took a deep breath and went back to typing. ‘Sorry. I’d love to get dinner. You like Mexican food?’
‘There’s a great place on Tryon,” Kaylee typed. ‘I’ll text you the address’.
See you there at 7?
Kaylee’s hands trembled as the ellipses bounced on the screen. It’s a date, was the reply.
“It’s a date!” Risha exclaimed with her fists in the air.
Lauren waved to get Kaylee’s attention. She signed something, but Kaylee only recognized the signs for “what” and “you”. In turn, she just stood there dumbfounded.
Risha laughed. “Miss fashion diva over here wants to know what you’re going to wear.”
“Oh!” Kaylee said. “Um, I have no idea. I’m not even entirely certain I’m going to go.”
“They hell you mean not going to go?!” Risha asked after pausing her translation for Lauren. “Not going is not an option on the table.”
“It most certainly is an option,” Roxy said. She had a habit of gesturing with her hands but keeping her elbows in tight when she argued.
“She already told him she was going,” Risha insisted.
“Doesn’t mean she can’t text again saying nevermind.”
Kaylee just stood there staring at the living room wall. She didn’t want to be making eye contact with any of them as she pondered the decision.
Roxy took a deep breath. “At the same time though, dating a cis guy is a cis-perience hardly any of us get to have. If he was as sweet as you say, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot.”
“And we’ll stay by our phones in case you need help,” Risha assured in her most docile tone of the night. Now that Roxy was on her side, she didn’t mind switching to the cautious mama roll. “Tryon’s not far from here, so we’ll be here if you need us.”
“Really?” Kaylee said.
Roxy took hold of Kaylee’s hand and smiled. “If you send up the bat signal, we’ll come running.”
“Thank you,” Kaylee replied warmly. She was nervous, sure, but also filled with excitement. Brandon was practically begging her to go out with him. It was the kind of attention she’d never been given, though she’d been friends with plenty of girls over the years that she’d seen being doted on. It always made her jealous, especially before she transitioned. Now it was her turn. Besides, Brandon was from out of town. It’s not like she’d ever see him again after this. There was no reason to even let him know she was trans. She wondered how long she could keep it from him, how long she could enjoy being on a date like a cis woman.
Off to Kaylee’s right, Lauren hopped up and down while signing something far too fast for her to understand. Kaylee didn’t bother, instead just looking over to Risha who was already smiling.
Risha laughed. “She really wants to help you pick your outfit.”
Kaylee smiled and worked her fist up and down for ‘yes’. As soon as her fingers were open, Lauren grabbed her hand and tugged her towards the bedroom with great excitement.