Photo by Brenna Connell/OutWrite
Sometimes I look in the mirror when the angle is just right and fall in love with the sight of my chest, flat and unburdened. Like the rolling desert that I like to call home, just miles and miles of unbroken land. At this moment, no one has ever touched me there except to lay a hand flat, feel the press of my sternum against their palm, and nothing else.
In another universe, I take the trash out. Keys in hand, I walk down the hallway wearing nothing but a pair of boxers, navy plaid pajama pants, and sandals. My hair is messy and slightly damp. The girl from three doors down walks past, and I avert my gaze because I don’t want her to shift under the weight of it — she gives me a cursory glance but doesn’t bat an eye. My girlfriend welcomes me back into bed and doesn’t hesitate to croon, “Good boy.” I don’t flinch when I arch my back into her touch.
But here, in this universe, my girlfriend lays a hand in the middle of my chest, the place where there is only the press of my breastbone and not flesh. She asks me what I want to be called, and I get to live with the knowledge that someone loves me deliberately, that people care enough to pronounce my name and tack on the right pronouns with intent, not just habit.
This evening, this sacred night, I walk around my empty apartment with my chest bared to the world, and it carries a sense of novelty: the proud satisfaction of wearing a skin that fits properly now.
In this world, the girl that I was gets to find out that her broad shoulders and eye bags and round face and rectangular figure weren’t wrong, just misplaced. I get to tell her that we figured out the puzzle pieces of clothing and hair that fit around her body. Years down the line, they’ll make her catch the sight of her reflection in the mirrored window of a shop and smile.
Author: Emma Blakely (They/She/He)
Artist: Brenna Connell (She/They)
Copy Editors: Ariana Castro (She/Her), Bella (She/Her)