Excerpt from my novel in progress, Guys Like Us
A couple of mornings later, I pulled on the boots I’d gotten at the thrift store, along with a button down shirt that my brother had left behind and the Carhart jacket and went to school. On my left wrist I wore an old watch of my Dad’s. It didn’t work anymore, I’d fished it out of the garbage. It was big and chunky and I loved the weight of it on my wrist. I’d also found a thick leather belt in a box of my brother’s things and pulled it through the belt loops of my Levis.
I left a little earlier than usual, walking down the sidewalk in ever longer strides. It reminded me of when I was younger, when I’d been confident of my abilities. When I’d been a boy among boys, and able to woop any of them if I chose to. I’d been thinking about what Jared said about confidence and faking it if I had to. I’d been thinking back to when I’d last felt completely good and solid and in charge of my destiny. I’d decided I needed to channel some of Past Me, some of that cockiness I’d had once, the assuredness. OK, I thought to myself, they call me lezzy. That’s what I am. I’m a girl who likes girls. My mental lip curled a little at calling myself a ‘girl’ but I pushed that objection aside. There were bigger fish to fry. I was going to meet the jeers head on. If I owned the lesbian label, if I said ‘yeah, I like girls, what about it?’ wouldn’t that take some of the sting out of it? Maybe they’d get bored with it all. This had already gone on for a couple of months, it was time for them all to move on to the next victim, the next rumor starting drama.
I held my head high and thrust my hands into my pockets. My boots made a satisfying clumping sound as I strode along. I thought about Jaime calling me butch and dyke. That’s who I was, I thought. I just needed to accept that, embrace the masculine in me. If I was harder and cared less, I could coast through this bullshit until I graduated leave this two traffic light podunk town behind.
I came around a corner and there was the front door, clumps of people gathered briefly before heading through the doors. There was Tommy, with his gang of jocks in their letter jackets. I chuckled to myself as I remembered the vision I’d had while smoking pot with Jared in the van across from the diner. They were like any pack of male animals, desperate to show their colored plumage and impress the females. Alright, Tommy, you dumb fuck, I thought, meet Buddy the butch. Fuck you, very much.
Tommy stepped in front of me as I stepped toward one of the doors, snickering, his cronies edging forward eagerly.
“Well, good morning Barbara.” He said brightly. “How’s our resident bush licker doing this morning?”
“Good morning, Tommy.” I answered just as brightly. He looked taken aback. “I’m doing just fine thank you. So you don’t lick bush, Tommy? You should really try it sometime, you know, when you get a girlfriend of your own.”
Tommy was looking positively dumbfounded, mouth open and jaw dropped. I stepped past him and through the doors before he could come up with a response.
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