“Ashlynne! Get up! You’re gonna be late for school!”
“Oh god. Just hearing that name makes me want to get out of bed even less,” Ash thinks as they lazily slip out of bed. They go through their morning routine, putting on their makeshift binder, getting dressed, and brushing their teeth. As Ash walks down the stairs, their dad turns toward them.
“You’re wearing ‘that’ on the first day of school? You look like a boy! You could probably pass as one if you didn't put on that eye makeup,” their dad said, then turning back to the television. Ash silently slips by the kitchen, grabbing the black bookbag and exiting the house through the side door. They begin walking down the sidewalk, ignoring the unapproving looks from the elderly neighbors.
“Hey, Ash!” shouted a familiar voice. Ash turns to see their friend Emery running in the same direction.
“So, how’d it go?” Emery excitedly asks.
“I… kinda… didn’t say anything…” Ash quietly responds.
“Oh, okay,” Emery replies, now calming down. “So when are you going to tell them? Are you still nervous? I told my family, and they were perfectly fine with it!” exclaimed Emery, trying to lighten the mood
“Listen, your parents aren’t right-wing extremists like mine. Your parents are rad. My parents… mine are just lame.” Ash says, kicking a rock off of the sidewalk and into the road.
“I’m not trying to pressure you into telling them or anything, I’m just telling you that you need a plan. Being gay or trans is one thing, but being genderqueer is a whole other animal,” Emery quietly says, the cheerfulness slowly leaving their voice. Ash drops their bag and falls to their knees, beginning to cry. Small tears slowly hit the sidewalk, each showing a small reflection of the pain that Ash was feeling. Ash collects themself, picks up their bag, and stands up.
“You gonna be okay?” Emery asks as they help Ash off of the ground.
“Yeah,” Ash says as they continue walking to school.