I am a boy. I feel like I should wear a shirt that says so, just to reassure the people, especially the old people who look at me so judgementally. Well, it's not always judgemental. Sometimes it's just curousity, which I can understand. I don't look very much like a boy. I don't look very much like a girl, though, either. I'm one of those "it" things that you can spot in crowds at parties or on album covers. It's what I'm good at. I don't know why I do it. I don't know why I let her drag me around by the collar. She's standing beside me now, in a pink fluffy costume with her face painted. She's really pretty, but sometimes she looks like an it, too, under all of her layers. Her bangs are teased up high and her long purple hair is twisted and piled up on her head. She looks like a fairy, she always has. I guess that's why I follow her like I do, hoping to catch just a little of her pixie dust, hoping to float away... we never talk. Not really. We know each other through movement and the shadows of our eyes and music, but not through words or kindness. I don't know anybody by their kindness.
Sometimes I feel like her pet. She dresses me to match her. She's seen me naked and she hasn't even batted one of those glitter-encrusted eyelashes. She buys me drinks in different colors, which keeps me occupied but I guess I'm still waiting to hear her say she loves me. Or that she wants me. Though I think most of all I'd like to hear her whole name. We're not lovers, though. No one really seems to love an it- not really. Certainly, I am loved by people. I am worshipped, actually. People worship me, but no one loves me. It's because they don't know what I am. How can you love something you can't really see?
I've always been skinny. My legs go on forever, meeting up with my neck which seems to tower several stories high. It's hard to dress the longest pair of legs in the world, especially when they're not very big around. I don't even know how to walk sometimes. My head doesn't help much either- it's pretty big. Most of the time it feels too heavy for my body, or too full, like I'm a helium-filled balloon with only these shiny shoes to keep myself on the ground. Most of the time though I am a bouy, like those things that float in the water. Sometimes I see myself dancing in reflections, in the water, bouncing back at me through the lights that decide what color I'm going to be today, and I know if they tied me to the sea I'd be the best bouy there ever was. No one would come too close to me, but if they did they could hold tight to me and I'd save them, me with my giant face. Some man once said my face was like a canvas, a beautiful blank ripe for any artist. They do touch my face alot, but I have good skin anyway. Even with all of the soft adorations from the darkness, and the glitter that she leaves behind when she kisses my forehead, and the impressions left by fearsome talons at my cheeks, and the scars that disco demons leave behind as mementos, curving the clefts of my mouth. I have good skin.
I am a boy, I feel like telling her tonight. She's not looking at me, though, she's looking at herself in the subway window. We are passing another railway, and she is seeing double reflections now- her eyes are wild with wonder like a little girl looking through a kalidascope. I try to admire myself too, but all I can see are legs. I remind myself of an ink drawing I saw in a Beatrix Potter type book about a frog or a cricket or something- he was drawn like a gentleman, with a top hat and large shoes, but he was mostly legs. He looked silly but also sort of sinister. I wonder if I am sinister, a little bit, sometimes. I wonder where we're going. I want to start crying so that I can go home, but then the glitter would get in my eyes and it would hurt. What am I, anyway, that I should have such nice skin?
She's pulling on our imaginary leash now, and she's getting off at this stop. There's one only a little bit from here. I don't want to get off here. I don't want to walk. I follow her to the door and let her wander off, thinking I'm behind her. I'll find her again, or she'll find me. She'll find me, she always does. I watch her float out the doors and her smell vanishes. I wonder if I want her at all. She tells me I don't, so I don't. Her absence feels strange. I stand alone by the doors without a rail or strap or fairy to hold, and I wonder if I'll be knocked down. The air smells bitter and dank, now, and I wonder if I plan to get off at the next stop after all, or if I should just ride away and never be heard from again. No, she'd find me. I still stand here, my hands reaching out so that I can steady myself against the door. Someone passes me to take hold of a rail. I hear them come and go, and all of a sudden I am full of their smell- old leather and old spice and drainwater. And maybe my dad. Suddenly I am aware of my arms, which I forget I have sometimes, and that soon I will be on the floor, or dead or something. The smell of drainwater becomes stronger, and just as the doors close and the movement begins again a hand- not a talon- draws me in. Now the smell is all around me, and the rough leather is against my canvas of a face. I bury myself in the cologne like a baby on the beach. I am surrounded. I wonder if I'm crying now after all, but I don't feel anything on my face. He holds me closer and I know he doesn't want anything. He has no adorations, no scars waiting to be released from his cuffs. He knows I have nothing to give. He knows I'm an it and that I am not beautiful. I don't want to be beautiful. I just want to be a boy, like I was once.
Finally, the protector lets me go and the doors open again. I don't look at his face, but he says "Don't trip, now." He wants to make sure I hold onto the rails. The smell is fading. I step slowly from the doors to the platform, and finally look up at him. He looks like he was a boy, once. Probably never an it. But he looks like he knows that I'm not one of those either, after all. It's not until the doors close and I see me, my canvas wiped clean, my bouy of a face unmoving that I recognize myself. The fake flying dust drifts off from my shoulders and I take off my shoes. I look like a boy. I am a real-live boy. She will see that someday, if she ever finds me again.