The Dancer

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Chapter 13

After George kissed me I didn’t know what to think. I still don’t know what to think a few days later. Things were a bit awkward the first day after work, but after a while, things went back to normal. George was still as nice to me as he always was. We still went for lunch break together and still waited for each other to be done with work before we walked to the bus stop together. But despite everything falling back in place, I could still feel things get awkward at times, or maybe it was just me.

Maybe I was imagining the way George would look at me a little too long. Maybe I was imagining him hesitate when he had to touch me. Maybe the way his face got red when I thanked him or smiled had nothing to do with him, and everything to do with him having a cold. Maybe I was just projecting the way I felt on him.


They were all just maybes.

“What are you thinking about?” I blinked, looking up from my food to look at Advik. We were the university’s cafeteria, and he was sitting across from me. Since Grace started to stay clear from me I’d let my guard down and allowed Advik to hang around me like usual.

I opened my mouth to say something, but I got lost in thought just staring at Advik — at his lean face, and deep brown eyes. At his hair, at his concerned look. He was as handsome as ever, but I was starting to realize something that made me anxious and confused. My attraction to him was fading. It was still there, but dull. I didn’t think about him all the time now, and I wasn’t as red-faced and flushed around him anymore. It was like I was back at square one. When I started liking Advik, slowly and gradually — that, but it was now it was in reverse.

“Oliver?” Advik called, making me blink before muttering a string of apologies under my breath when I realized I had zoned out again.

“Sorry,” I repeated, running a hand through my hair before looking from Advik to the food on my plate. I sat up straight, pushing my tray of food aside. It was cold now, and I hadn’t even managed to eat a little bit, oh well.

“Did I do something wrong?” Advik asked, making me look over at him again. He was staring at me. He let out a sigh, laying back on his sit as he continued to talk. “You’ve been eating strange. I know it’s partly because of Grace, but... I don’t know... and I’ll keep on not knowing if you don’t talk to me,” he said, and I bit my bottom lip. I didn’t know what to say — where to start. How do you tell someone you don’t like them as much as you used to? Wasn’t that a slap to the face?

Advik sighed again before looking again, and that feeling of being distant and difficult filled my thoughts again. He was trying, he really was, but I didn’t know how to stop confusing myself and making things difficult.

When Advik was done eating he left the cafeteria since he had a class soon. I didn’t have anything to do for the rest of the day, so I stayed back. I’d brought my laptop with me, so I spent the next hour going through what I had complied to blackmail Grace. Everything was ready. All I had to do was meet up with her and argue a deal through, but I don’t know.

I stared at the messages Grace and I had exchanged over the years. I thought about them, wondering how I had missed the fact she was such a messed-u person for a long time. No, then I was a messed-up person too. It’s not that I didn’t know, is that I didn’t care because she wasn’t horrible to me — yet.

Since that day George talked to me at the bus station I’ve been confused. I wanted to hurt Grace. I really wanted to make her feel as small and as helpless she had made me, and countless other people feel. I wanted her to know that she wasn’t above me and I was more than the rag doll that pinned over her in high — school. I wasn’t that person anymore. But if I went on with my plan, wouldn’t that just make me that person again?

Gosh. I covered my face before taking in a deep breath when I felt my heart race as I thought about things. My dance instructor hasn’t mentioned anything about getting me kicked out again. I’ve been coming for practice, I’ve made sure I was there early and that I was always available, but it stung that I had a target on my back now. One wrong move and I would be kicked out. It was frustrating to think about. Would it be fair for me to live with the possibility that I could get thrown out because of Grace’s loud mouth while I stood back and did nothing because I wanted to be the bigger person? Was it so wrong that I wanted things to be even — fair? What was so wrong with that?

The cafeteria emptied out with time. People had classes, and people who were just sitting around to study were starting to leave too. I got up soon after, realizing that just sitting down and thinking about the same thing for minutes on end wasn’t a good way to spend the free time I had. I had assignments to do, and worksheets to submit.

I left the cafeteria in the student union building and started making my way to the residence building. I passed the music department’s building on my way. A small smile found its way to my face when I thought of Advik he had classes here. Stopped, looking at the old red brick structure with the school’s flag flapping against the wind. My smile dimmed when I began to think of what I had come to realize concerning my attraction to him. I sighed, shaking my head before looking out into the street and continuing heading to the residence building.

When I got to my room the first thing I did was drop my bag before crawling under my covers. Austin would probably be at his Latin student union thing at this time of the day. He never missed it and kept on telling me that he would be a shut-in if he didn’t force himself to sign up for events or join clubs. I smiled against my pillow at the thought. Maybe I should take some advice from him. Sometimes I felt so alone and secluded, and I knew it had a lot to do with me being reserved and hence not having anyone I really talked to or could rely on.

I was lost in my mind. A part of me wanted to open my phone and talk to Grey, but I knew he was busy and I didn’t want to bother him. I wanted to talk to Advik, but things were awkward. My face flushed once I thought of George. I’ve only talked to him on the phone a couple of times. Would it be odd if I randomly messaged him? I don’t know.

Against my better judgment, I sat up in bed before fishing for my phone under my pillow. I unlocked my phone and opened my chat with George. I haven’t messaged him in days, and I was starting to think it was a bad idea again. I shook my head, not wanting to think too deeply about it.

Message to: George.


THURS, 4: 52 PM.

Message from: George.



THURS, 4:52 PM.

My eyes went wide, and my mouth opened as I stared down at his immediate reply. I hadn’t expected that at all. I bit down on my lip, thinking of what to type back. I started typing, but I stopped, pressing backspace as I cursed myself for being silly. Great, I was getting nervous.

Message to: George.

I’m sorry. I’m not sure why I’m messaging you. I don’t have anything to say to be honest.

THURS, 4:54 PM.

I ended up sending instead. I just wanted to talk to him, but I think telling him that would be even more embarrassing.

Message from: George.

It’s okay. It’s not like I’m busy or anything, how are you?

THURS, 4:55 PM.

I smiled at his reply, happy that he was just rolling with it and not making me feel nervous.

Message to: George.

I’m alright.

THURS, 4:56 PM.

I replied, and from there we started talking about anything and everything. Apparently, he was at home and didn’t need to go in today for his other shift at a small restaurant. George worked a lot, and sometimes I wondered if he got time to rest. As I spoke to him I realized how much I still didn’t know him. I didn’t know what he liked to do hobby wise, I haven’t been to his place not even once, and I’ve never seen him outside of work. What did I have to do to get to know him better? How do I bring that up? It wouldn’t be crossing boundaries, would it? We’re friends — I think. I don’t know. I’m not good at this friendship thing.

Message to: George.

Is there a chance you’ll be free this week?

THURS, 5:57 PM.

I asked, waiting for him to reply. I was doing it. I was going to ask him to hang out. My face was burning red as I watched the ‘typing’ sign come up. He was taking some time to reply, or maybe I was just thinking that up due to my anxiety.

Message from: George.

Yeah, is there a reason you’re asking?

THURS, 5:59 PM.

took in a deep breath as I stared down at my screen. I just want to hang out. No, do you want to watch a movie? I continued to rehearse what I wanted to type in my head until I just decided on what to say.

Message to: George.

Do you want to hang out? Maybe watch a movie.

THURS, 6:01 PM.

I mean, we don’t see each other outside work.

THURS, 6:02 PM.

I quickly added, feeling nervous. Did that sound too date like? Was I coming off like I liked him? Was that a bad thing? What am I doing? My mind was arguing with itself at this point. One part wanted to explore the feelings I was starting to have for George — get to know him more, but a part of me was feeling guilty about Advik. Why was I suddenly losing interest in him? What was happening to me?

Message from: George.


THURS, 6:04 PM.

The simple answer on my screen made my heart rate quicken. I readjusted my legs, folding them better so I was more comfortable sitting on my bed. It was happening. It was really happening. The smile that had formed on my face dimed a bit when I realized something. I’m not sure I’ve told George I’m transgender. It wasn’t something I just told people out of the blue. In fact, I rather not tell people. I fiddled with my phone, thinking about what I wanted to do. I hate like I had a responsibility to disclose this all the time, but I needed to know if he was okay with it. What if things progressed and he blew up on me if he found out. If I was going to get hurt, it was better I got hurt now.

Message to: George.

That’s great!

THURS, 6:06 PM.

I know this is out of the blue, but I wanted to tell you something.

Do you know I’m transgender? I don’t remember telling you.

THURS, 6:06 PM.

This is it. I thought, looking down at my phone. I’ve told him. Of course, I was nervous. It was never racking, but it had to be done.

Message from: George.

I know.

You didn’t tell me, but I figured it out back in the dressing room.

THURS, 6:07 PM.

His answer made me go stiff. Really? thought to myself, wondering how he figured it out. Didn’t I pass as much as I thought I did? On one hand, I was relieved, and on another hand, dysphoria was kicking in.

Message from: George.

Your scars, I saw your scars.

THURS, 6:08 PM.

He clarified, and I calmed down, realizing it made a lot of sense. I didn’t cover up my mastectomy scars.

Message to: George.


THURS, 6:09 PM.

Message from: George.


THURS, 6:10 PM.

I have to leave, talk to you later.

THURS, 6:10 PM.

I texted him, ‘bye’ before clicking out of the messaging app. The room went quiet since of course, I wasn’t saying anything, and the clock ticking felt distant and out of the picture. I guess the weight of the discussion just washed over me. I was going on a date with George — well, sort of. I looked through my other messages. Advik had sent me a message that I had missed sometime in the day, and I realized I had a text from an unknown number. I clicked it, immediately realizing it was from Grace.

Message from: Unknown number.

This is Grace, we need to talk.

Me, you and Harry.

Do you have time at six tomorrow, main quad?

THURS, 4:02 PM.

I read the message repeatedly. It was obvious that she wanted to settle things. I wanted to do that too. Things were getting exhausting.

Message to: Unknown number.

I have time. I’ll be there.

THURS, 6:20 PM.

I replied before tossing my phone to the side and getting up from bed before heading for the bad I’d carelessly dumped by the door. I grabbed my laptop before heading back to bed and settling down. If I was meeting Grace tomorrow I needed to be prepared.

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