Genderdream by Janice Worthen

I’m at a bar with friends. Our song comes on, and we start dancing. One friend starts pushing up against me, hands traveling, so I walk away. I get a drink at the bar, and he follows. His face looms over me, slightly red, laughing. I keep saying no, but it seems to come out as something else because he keeps asking the same questions. I look up at him from the bottom of my drink like a fish in a bowl. “Top this off for her,” he tells the bartender. “Them,” a friend corrects him, popping in and out for a shot, “Didn’t you know J is genderqueer?” Everything about him goes still. His face shivers, ripples, breaks. His flirting turns over. Like an image made with lenticular lenses, he shifts, becoming something dangerous all the way through. Or perhaps it’s I who shifts. Already, I see my reflection changing in the curve of his eye, untwisting into my true and messy form, causing him to twist into his. When his face pulls back together it’s gray, mouth pulled down, eyes like a stranger’s. I want to slip under an ice cube. Instead I slip into the bathroom and out through the window into night. Later, I’m in a dim room. I think I may be sleeping, but I also seem to be standing in the corner, tugging my hair nervously, watching. The light shining through the window is tinged red from a traffic light. The glass in the window shivers then breaks the way bones do. A shadow drops in, heavy. I keep saying stop, but it seems to come out as something else because nothing stops. My body tumbles down and down like a dancer unfolding from aerial silks, but at the bottom, it falls straight through. Then the light shifts, and it’s morning. I’m standing in the same room, but not in the corner. I’m looking down at the bed. There’s blood on it, and a detective describes the scene to me. I look at him from behind the head of the person I am, both here and not here. I know I’m the victim, but I’m also not the victim. The detective knows I’m the victim, but he also doesn’t know I’m the victim. He tells me to find my body, which is missing. I don’t remember where I put it.

 

 

 

Janice Worthen is agender, asexual, and unapologetic. They received their MFA from the University of San Francisco. Their work has appeared in Your Impossible Voice, Switchback, Bitterzoet Magazine, and more.

 

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