Crying Shoulder (partial...sorry)
I thought I had lost my chance to really get with him--there were so many times while we were driving home or going to school that I wanted to tell him how I felt when I'd see him glance at me. He was with Karen Anne still but I wanted to think that we had something that was on the cusp of breaking through but like a junior high school dance--we stood on opposite sides and made small talk but no one ever took the first step. Maybe Michael didn't know what to say...I just didn't want to be seen as an even larger basket case than he probably already I was.
I wanted to believe that he wanted me as much I wanted him. Everything was calm when he was around and I felt normal. He didn't care if I said something crazy or started singing show tunes--my favorite being "Man of La Mancha" when we drove to school in the morning. I could've dropped a hint; I probably could have hit him over the head with a sledgehammer and he still probably would not have responded. I wanted to tell him how much I loved him but saying something like that would cause the Earth to stop spinning. I'd still do it; if it meant I could spend eternity with him--well, I would pull the brake.
I had spent that Friday in a shell while at school. I'd say "hi" when someone said it to me but otherwise I shied away from conversation and lied when asked if everything was okay. No, everything was not okay. I had so much emotion in me and boys were stupid--counting myself among them--at that time.
"Karen Anne wants to invite me to come down to the coast with her during the summer."
"Sounds great," I replied as I looked out the window.
"Just wondering about things."
"It's nothing," I replied as I leaned back into the seat.
Mike drove into the driveway and I got out of the truck before the engine was off.
I didn't want to stop walking but--
Mike got out of the truck and stood next to it like he was on the cover of a Garth Brooks album.
"You seem a little, kind of, distant."
"I'm just being the third wheel, you know?"
"I'm in the way of you two."
"Me and Karen Anne?"
"Nah...I just let her lead the conversation," he replied as he walked over to me.
I kept my eyes on his face as I unlocked the door.
"What about the trip to the coast?"
We walked into the house.
"I was going to ask you about that. I don't think-"
One of my parents were usually home--but sometimes they were in the back of the house.
We walked up the stairs to my room.
"I think she has something big planned."
"That's an understatement."
I threw my backpack on my bed and tried to avoid looking at my reflection in the mirror. My hair was greasy and there were pock marks on face--a game of connect-the-zits would be ready in a manner of hours.
"I mean I enjoy talking to her. She smells nice too."
I nodded as I walked over to the dresser.
"Did you ever tell her you loved her?"
I shook my head.
"Do you?" I asked him as we looked at each other through the mirror.
"I loved being around her...but--"
"Not who you were looking for?"
"No," I replied.
Mike slowly walked next to me but didn't look at me directly. "You still think there's a special girl out there for me?"
"Yeah, yeah...she just may be a bit scared to tell you. I mean, when you walk into school on Monday maybe she'll stand there in a blue dress and want to tell you how she feels."
"What do I tell her?"
"Tell her she doesn't have to be afraid and she can be herself...as crazy as that sounds."
I looked up to his face and our eyes met up in a way they never had before.
"Be yourself, Kristi." He reached out and took my hands.
"You see what I look like, right?"
"You've always looked great to me."
"I think I found the girl for me," Micheal said as he pulled me closer. "And she was here all along."
* * *
Mrs. Peterson's released her grip but the damage was done.
Her eyes showed no emotion but I'm sure mine flashed eighteen years of fear and sadness. I went to a private school but that didn't change how people were on the inside. We were all meant to look the same with our pressed dress pants and and school uniforms but the inner ugliness of some people were always there. A throwaway comment here and there; a snickering joke at my expense, up until I was with Karen Anne and then it segued to how we could be the perfect lesbian couple if I actually had a vagina.
If they only knew.
I slowly moved away, hoisted my satchel onto my shoulder, and ran out of the lecture hall with looking back at Mrs. Peterson. I didn't want to think what I would have done if I was braver or felt that I would be in the right, which I would have been except in the court of public opinion. No, then I would be seen as some freak kid. A boy who hasn't been on his meds and who thinks he's a chick.
There was more pain in my heart than in my arm. Hot flashes of anger mixed with fear ran through my head as the verbal assault hurt more than anything else. I instinctively ran to the theatre auditorium but stopped before going in.
I didn't feel like me anymore. It sucked that it only took one teacher's attitude to knock me back in time nearly three years; to the days of looking at my wrists and making small cuts with an x-acto knife. I stopped carrying one with me a long time ago but at that moment, I wanted it back. To see the red lines, the blood, but also knowing that my arms were going to hurt like Hell for the next several days. Still, it was a way to kill the pain in my head, to stop the voices telling me that I didn't fit in with anyone--not even in with drama geeks as they would show their true selves if they ever knew.
I didn't want to go into the theatre. I wanted to go home. A home, a home that was alway from anyone else except for Micheal; where we would have farm animals and I would burn the the ramen and force us both to eat cold sandwiches for the rest of our lives. But, by God, it would be just us and not my parents. Not annoying dorm room monitors. Not bitchy college co-eds or teachers who thought they knew everything about me.
But no, I was at college--in the real world and I was the real me: Kristina Allie Fricking Novoselic who should have stood up to my dad a long time. Who should have told a few doctors to go to Hell and who should have snatched her life out of the jaws of gender identity a long time ago.
"When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state.
And trouble deal heaven with my bootless cries And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope, With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings that then I scorn to change my state with kings!"
And with that, I opened the door and walked in.
The theatre was dark except for the action onstage.
I was late and the second scene of the first act was in progress.
I ran to the side door and into the wings.
"I had to stay behind in my last class, Mr. Montresi."
He turned around, adjusted his glasses and grinned slightly. "Not a problem, Kristi."
"Thank you, sir."
"We need to work on the timing of this scene."
We both looked out at Brendon and Marcus who were, despite having a good three months, stumbling over their lines and acting lime they had no sense of rhythm or conversation.
“Hang on guys!” Mr Montesi walked onto the stage and stood between the two of them. “The repertoire is not there. The two of you have been friends since birth. Almost blood brothers and I’m sure if Shakespeare thought of it, he would have mentioned that the two of you probably got into more trouble on a Friday night at a bar than anyone else except for Julius Caesar and that killer kegger at the Senate.”
I kept a straight face as the rest of the troupe volleyed their attention at Mr. Montesi and then at me.
“The two of you should almost be able to finish each other sentences as both Anthipholus and Domino—and as Brendon and Marcus. Now, if you prefer I can require you to say your lines like a drunken sailor.“
“Can I do this scene Keith Richards style?” Brendon asked.
“I can do a decent John Lennon,” Marcus chimed in.
I rolled my eyes.
Mr. Montesi clapped his hands. “If only this was New York and the Ed Sullivan Show but it’s Knoxville so instead you’ll have to work more like Elvis Presley and Garth Brooks.”
I was reminded of Mike for a moment.
“Where’s our courtesan?” Mr. Montesi asked as he looked at the other actors.
“Heathre said she couldn't make it—“
“Oh yes, that’s right…personal thing. Okay. Well, Miss Novoselic, will you please take your mark as her understudy for today?”
“Yes sir, I replied as I walked into the wings and laid my bag next to the podium where I would normally stand behind. The I walked past the other actors—not wanting to make eye contact or explain anything to them, but here I was, about to come out to everyone.
“Well, sir, there rest in your foolery. Is there any”
“Why, sir, I brought you word an hour since that the bark expedition put forth to-night; and then were you hindered by the sergeant, to tarry for the hoy delay. Here are the angels that you sent for to deliver you.”
“The fellow is distract, and so am I; And here we wander in illusions: Some blessed power deliver us from hence!”
I opened the door and stepped into the stage light. I tried to not look at Brendon or Marcus, but I had to for the scene to work.
“Well met, well met, Master Antipholus. I see, sir, you have found the goldsmith now: Is that the chain you promised me to-day?”
Brendon moved his hand to his chest to cover up the chain. “Satan, avoid! I charge thee, tempt me not.”
“Master, is this Mistress Satan?” Marcus screamed his line out as he pointed at me.
“It is the devil.”
“Nay, she is worse, she is the devil's dam; and here she comes in the habit of a light wench: and thereof—“ Marcus was the guy in the group who cared only about his craft and thought that I was his “go-boy”. I let him know on the first week that I was not his servant, butler, costumer or intern. I was cordial and he took it okay but he always had a sneer for me. We kept everything on a professional level, for the good of the production; but I could feel the tension. “Come not near him!”
“Your man and you are marvelous merry, sir. Will you go with me? We'll mend our dinner here?”
“Master, if you do, expect spoon-meat; or bespeak a long spoon.” Marcus deliberately misspoke the line.
I looked past it, again, for the sake of the production.
“Are we performing “Twelfth Night?”
“Hold it! Mr, Montesi yelled from the side of the stage.
“I mean, it’s just weird, Mr. Montesi”
“I do hope you’re using that pronoun to discuss the situation and not to the performer before you.”
“What's with the dress?
“Mr. Howard. Another Shakespearean lesson is in order: In the original Globe Theatre, all parts were performed by men and younger teens; including Romeo and Juliet and all female parts.”
“Okay, if he was in costume.”
“I’ve worn a costume for a long time,” I replied. “I’ve played the part of depressed little boy and I grew tired of it.”
“But do you have to be near me to do it?”
I put my hands behind my back and bent my back a little towards him. “Yep.”
“Lets’ crank it back a few lines, when the Courtesan enters.” Mr Montesi commanded as put his hands in the air.
For the first time since I knew him, Brendon was speechless.
Practice continued and I jumped back and forth between my stage manager position and my quasi-understudy role until the final line was said and we all froze as the lights went out.
“Excellent! Bravissimo! Now, can let’s do that again tomorrow and then at the dress rehearsal.”
The troupe nodded and clapped as the actors went backstage. I grabbed at the loose properties left behind.
“You did really good.”
I turned and squinted—the spot lights were still on—but was able to see Amanda walk to the front of the stage.
“Thank you. How long have you been watching?”
“A little bit, I—Are you free to talk?”
“Umm, yeah, I, I need to take these to the back and—I’ll be right back.“
“Okay,” she replied.
I turned around and felt this immense knot in my chest. What did she want with me? I mean Amanda was kind of like Karen Anne but I would have hoped that maybe she’d care that I was spoken for and I hoped that she wasn’t trying to come onto me. I admit she was good-looking but relationships are not built on good looks.
We left the theatre together in a slight silence.
“Thanks for walking with me.”
“Can you help me?”
"It's my boyfriend, Jacob." Her tone was not energetic or happy. This obviously was not going to be about how great he was or what I might know about guys (which was very little, even though—). No, her voice had a lilt of sadness and fear. I couldn't see any external bruises but I felt the emotional ones with every nervous tic of her eyes and face.
"What's wrong with him?"
"What is he like?" I asked as Amanda tried to avoid looking at me.
"What attracted you to him?"
"Well, we-we met during the summer and he was so sweet and adorable and treated me like a princess. Telling me how I was this perfect girl and-"
"Sounds like a nice guy...but?"
"He's still sweet and adorable, but--" She finally looked at me but then lowered her head. "I'm afraid of him and he won't take no for an answer."
"No to what?"
"Everything, I- I thought that maybe I could tell him to leave me alone, I--But he won't. I've tried to get the nerve to cut him out of my life but--"
"You just got to do it. You have to cut the people who hurt you out of your life. Has he ever hit you?"
She turned her head away and then lowered it down and she sniffled.
"I'll take that as a yes."
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