Who I Am
The first class ticket was simultaneously wrong and the only one the world would accept. Written there in the casual typeface, written without a second thought, was a name prefixed ‘Ms.’ To all the world, there was no problem - ‘you’re not married, so it’s not Mrs, so what on Earth is the problem?’
The problem is that Stevonnie was not a Ms. or a Mrs. or a her. They were a they. And nobody seemed to get that.
Still, it was only a few days, to get away from Great Britain. Then they could melt into some distant corner of the USA and become a farmer or something, and nobody would ever care about what they were again.
Just a few days.
By the 13th, it had become akin to a war of attrition.
The weapons cutting away at themself were probably intended as compliments - ‘aren’t you a lovely young woman?’ - but they hurt nonetheless. It was like they were wearing armour, and every casual misgendering cut away at it, exposing their vulnerabilities. It was like an opulent hell, surrounded by water, where their curse was to be regarded as something they were not. Sure, they didn’t mind the dress (although they sometimes wished they could wear pants too), and most people were outwardly accepting (because they didn’t know the truth?), but it was the principle of it, and that wore them down.
They found themself standing alone on the bow, leaning on the railing, gazing at a sea lit by the evening sun. They felt deeply vulnerable, emotionally drained - like they couldn’t be them.
An invasive thought ran through them - the sea looked inviting. They imagined jumping into it, transforming into a dolphin or something, and leaving this beautiful mess far behind. Even being claimed by the sea might-
They stepped back, terrified of the very thought - and immediately bumped into someone, toppling to the wooden deck.
They shook their head, regaining their bearings as they regarded the other woman, slowly sitting up.
“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry!” they exclaimed, “I was just… I mean, I… I am so sorry…”
“It… it’s fine, I wasn’t looking,” the woman replied, “Just, uh, deep in thought.”
“Yeah, same, same.”
Stevonnie stood up, offering their hand to the woman.
“Stevonnie,” they said, “I… think I’ve seen you at dinner a few times? Sitting with the kid and his… mom?”
“Lapis Lazuli,” replied the woman, taking her hand, “And that’s Pearl, she’s his guardian. And… maybe what I’m thinking about.”
Stevonnie chuckled, pulling her up.
“Thinkin’ of asking her out, huh?” they asked.
“Nah,” Lapis sighed, “She’s… she’s already got someone.”
Stevonnie nodded sympathetically.
“So what about you?” asked Lapis, “What’re you thinking about?”
“I… feel like I can’t… be myself, you know?” replied Stevonnie, “I just…”
“I’m not a woman, okay,” they blurted, “And I’m not a man either. I’m… I’m Stevonnie, and I just… I feel like nobody gets that. Like… oh, shoot, I shouldn’t be unloading this on you, I’m…”
“So you’re… ‘they?’” said Lapis.
“Yeah… I’m sorry, you can go away if you don’t…”
“No, no, I don’t mean,” Lapis shook her head frantically, “I mean, that’s really interesting! I… I think it says a lot about how confident you are, that… um…”
She rubbed the back of her head.
“Sorry, I’m not good at this,” she replied, “But I think that’s okay! And, um, I think if you met Steven and Pearl, they’d be fine with it too… if you wanted to?”
“Oh, I don’t want to intrude, I just…”
“They’d be fine,” replied Lapis, “I think Steven just… really loves meeting new people. He’s a good kid. I like him. I think you would too…”
“Maybe, if you feel up for it, you can join us for dinner?”
Stevonnie blushed, a smile slowly crossing their face.
“I… I don’t know… but I think I’d like that.”
Lapis smiled back.
“Then it’s a date! I-I mean it’s dinner, it’s… it’s a dinner… if you want to, I mean, no pressure!” she stammered, “Sorry, I’m… not really a social person.”
“You look like you’re doing okay to me,” replied Stevonnie.
“Well, I… I hope to see you there, then,” she replied, “But if you’re not up to it, I… well, we can meet again, right? I’m in C-73 if you… you just want to talk or anything.”
“I think I’d like that,” Stevonnie replied.
Lapis smiled, waving as she walked away, leaving Stevonnie alone. They smiled back, watching them disappear towards the main structure of the ship before turning back to the sea.
It was still inviting, as all water was. But the dark urge to leap into it had vanished, and they felt much more at peace.
After all, now they had a friend.