The first time we kissed, you slid your hands around my neck. You were gentle but firm, pulling and kneading my skin in rhythm with the rest of our bodies, the rest of whatever we were becoming together.
Years earlier, I described my anxiety disorder this way. Maybe even to you. Around my neck, two hands.
Your laugh is a kingdom. Resonant: a song in the key of canyon. The largest lion, throwing its mane back, all that weight, dark sound, falling on my small, clean ears, I wondered what it’d be like, to find myself crushed beneath that laugh. Not your body, but your laugh.
I love to eat onions. But you smelled of onions the morning after, and I hated it.
I did not so much learn joy from you as I did remember joy. You coaxed the hop-skip-jump out of my pigeon toes and I remembered, adventure could be around every corner. Could be around our corner. Adventure could make elaborate webs in every corner of our house, and we would never clean them. We’d lie on the living floor with our heads together, near the bay window, and invent constellations from the webs and the dust and the water stains in our ceiling and we’d name them all. And when my phone would ring I’d throw it across the room and when you’d look at me like I had committed murder I’d remind you “don’t worry, it’s LifeProof.”
You love somebody else, and I would not go so far to say that I accept this, but I will say that I believe this, and, fundamentally, will never understand this. You love somebody weak and manipulative, somebody untrustworthy, somebody whose life sputters out before her in red, blue, and yellow— Oil paint. She is a brilliant finger painter, who throws fits when she does not receive payment and praise. And I know this like you do not know this; I met her first, tried to love her first, for one year, then another, we moved together, she’s here because of me, and I met you because of her, we, she, you and me, we fucked her, you loved her, still love her, and I couldn’t, I tried, I could never.
I implode into righteous fire. My naked body sops up all the red paint, and I spread my legs, and call out for your reckless, eager fingers, and yet, I could never.
Today I had the thought that If I stay on T, the voice in which I speak to you, this voice, will grow faint and strained, buried deep in my vocal folds. This voice, the only vehicle for my love, the finest vehicle for my love, from one fraught body to another, lost to the steadiness of age, consistency.
Before I wondered, man and man?
But then at the vigil, our arms touched on accident as we were walking down the street, and you shuddered, shrugged your shoulders like I was a spider you were hoping to shake off.
If this is our course, then, squash me.
You used to be named Celeste. I used to be named Emma, or rather, my life used to be labeled ‘Emma’, and now, it is labeled ‘Sebastian.’ I will not apply my system of knowing myself to
you, but the bricks at the bottom of my body are Emma. On Emma my world is built. When I hear the name called, Emma, it rattles me all the way down.
You were the last person I loved as Emma. And no matter what I do, or where I go, no matter how my body changes, the depths of me, Emma, will rattle on.
They will rattle for you.
Sebastian Booth is a transgender writer living in Seattle, Washington.