my secret is I’m now wearing Secret, while watching Men I consider how much longer I’ll present as one, and other trans thoughts
Okay so I know it’s just deodorant and a long way from full en femme all the time, but baby steps is what I’m thinking, and every time I catch a whiff of lavender instead of whatever cool rush is supposed to smell like, I feel like the change is tactile now, beyond mental, and about a year ago my egg cracked, nearly completely, but enough of the shell was left, I guess, that I went back to boymode after a work from home gig fell apart and I got a marketing job in a law firm, with a 401k and a dress code, and I remember taking that selfie in the dressing room of Target, my hair cut back short, no skirts in sight, no makeup, just a tasteful pullover, collared dress shirt, smart khakis, and I tried to smile but it was all twisted up and didn’t show right no matter how many times I retook the shot, and I put my beard back on, grew my facial hair too, put away Hedwig fantasies, Velvet Goldmine reveries and singalongs, took the train downtown for a view overlooking city hall from seven floors up, the same line I used to take before even the faintest of hairline cracks had appeared on the eggshell, when I thought that looking in the mirror and feeling the way I felt was normal, that I’d just put in my 45 or 50 or whatever it’d be and be done with it, imagine reincarnation, coming back as a woman, or at least not this, and that was back before I was sober, so I drank too much too often, vacillated between wanting to be my authentic self and wanting not to be here at all, sometimes both, but it’s been three years of sobriety now, and sometimes I wonder how it even is that I’m still here, or is it even me anymore, the same me at the bottom of the well that was those years, who could really say, but I left that law firm without a word of notice or a second thought, let my hair grow back out, shaved my face nice and clean, kicked a couple more pieces of eggshell before they could petrify completely, and last week I went to see Men, and I went with my nails painted and wings that could kill a man, and I knew going in that it’d be no big deal, and it wasn’t, but the tape in your head can sometimes be so loud and so old that you forget who originally recorded it, forget that you can press stop at any point, eject, yank at the Coca-Cola-colored ribbons till they’re a tangled mess of lost, inert audio, toss the whole thing out and let it burn in the sun, so that’s what I did, what I’m doing, and I can feel the last bits of eggshell coming loose now, ready to fall away, and this time they’ll be gone for good, and this me will be too, and I’m remembering now that a wave of the hand can be a goodbye or a hello, depending on perspective.
Liza Olson is the author of the novels Here’s Waldo, The Brother We Share, and Afterglow. A Best of the Net nominee, Best Small Fictions nominee, finalist for Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award, and 2021 Wigleaf longlister in and from Chicagoland, she’s been published in SmokeLong Quarterly, Cleaver, Pithead Chapel, and other fine places. One of her proudest achievements was getting to run (mac)ro(mic) for four incredible years. Find her online at lizaolsonbooks.com or on social @lizaolsonbooks.