A DELICATE LINE 

A Short Story 

By Raquel Swann

I open my eyes and my vision is blurred. I have no idea how long I have been asleep but I know it has been a while. My face throbs and I feel soreness all over my body. My mouth feels as dry as a desert in the heat of the mid-day sun.

The room is bright and I can feel tubes poking and prodding their way in and out of my veins. The electronic beats of my heart through a monitor starts to come to life as I move my head, slightly, left to right I think I am in the hospital.  I start to think about the last thing I can remember as a flash flood of memories break down the barriers of my conscience mind.

It was a freezing cold winter night. I had done my makeup a little different. I had worn an outfit just a bit more revealing. I had gone with the “fuck-me” red lipstick instead of my usual conservative nude and pale shades.  I had been planning to use my new color since I had purchased it. Why not? I thought.

My eyeliner was gold and I picked a pretty greenish-red shadow to bring out the color of my brown eyes. I had been to many stores that week and even picked up a new concealer and color corrector to get rid of those nasty bags under my eyes. A brand new contour kit to highlight my face and make my nose seem thinner and my cheekbones seem higher. I watched YouTube videos all week at work to make sure I looked flawless.

I was cute. I chose a tight red blouse and a plaid skirt that barely covered my black lace panties. I had looked in the mirror numerous times before I went with the long, elegant blonde wig. Blondes have more fun, of course they do! I had thought right before I left the house.

I had gone to the gay club.  The one on Main Street where I had felt comfortable and safe. The only one I have gone to since I began my transition.  This sexy guy walks up to me and it had been a while since I found someone. I wouldn’t say that I was desperate but I was definitely lonely.

He says all the right things. Addresses me by the gender I identify with, instead of acting a total chaser. A chaser, for those of you that don’t know, is a guy that wants to experience a girl like me with no attachments or risks. Jonathan didn’t seem to care what people thought of him while we were in a gay club.

He was full of tats and piercings, which absolutely drives me crazy! His arms were muscular and he had a smile that makes you feel at home, at ease, relaxed. I couldn’t wait to feel his body against mine but I never let on, I’m good like that. We spoke about life and music and places we’d been. We had a lot in common. I felt like we had a connection that was real and genuine.

Then he said what I had been waiting to hear all night, “my roommate is gone, let’s go to my place and have a few more drinks.”

I pretended like that wasn’t something that would interest me. I told him I didn’t want to stay out late or whatever excuse I could come up with at the time. He asked again and again until finally I accepted. After all, he was single, hot, and he knew all about me and was accepting. That’s all a girl could ask for in this world. He was sweet and caring and to be honest I really didn’t know much more about him. Honesty is a relative term I guess. Let’s say I believed him to be truthful and sincere but never really knew whether he was or not.

I should have seen the warning signs as we left the club. He looked in both directions as we entered his car. He shut his phone down and said that, “I don’t want to be disturbed. I want our time to be special, no interruptions!”

Now that I think about it, there was a white patch of skin on his ring finger. Most likely in the place where a wedding ring sat for years. I ignored it. I truly believed in him. We took all the back roads to get to his house. It was very peculiar, to say the least.

We finally arrived at his house which was on a street with a lot of houses close together.  He pulled inside his garage and shut the door with the remote before we exited the car. Yet another warning sign that I had ignored. Did I mention how cute he was? I’m sure that matters now, not.

This is the part where we can fast forward a little because I’m not one to kiss and tell. Let’s just say we had a good night and everyone involved had been satisfied completely. I remember as I was lifting my dress over my body for the second time that night, he just sat there like a statue on the end of his bed looking down at the carpet. I assumed he was relaxed and just taking it all in, like some people do after a night of love.

“I have to get back, Jon. I work tomorrow,” I had said. He just sat there and didn’t respond.

I was about to repeat myself until he had replied in a sharp tone, “well, good for you.”

“Baby, I really have to work. I’m not joking,” I smiled thinking he was toying with me.

“You think I’m gay, don’t you?” He said, his eyes still pointing downward.

“That’s a weird question, I don’t think anything like that,” I had responded but he didn’t like my answer.

“You don’t think it because you know it. You think I’m like you and that makes me sick.”

“No, I think you are a man and I am a woman and we had some fun. You’re actually scaring me a bit,” I had said. My hands trembled furiously as I could hear this tone of disdain in his voice. He obviously regretted what had happened.

“You are no woman and I’m not like you. So get the fuck out of here, fag!”

“Sure,” I said. Tears formed at my eyes and I intended to do just that, leave. I headed for the door but he must have followed. I saw him in the corner of my eye creeping behind me silently watching my every move.

“Please get away from me!” I yelled. I had tried to walk out the door.

“I’m not going to let you tell anyone that I’m some kind of gay freak!” That was the moment I knew I was in trouble. That was the moment he struck me in the face with something he must have grabbed while I wasn’t looking. That was all I would remember of that night. However, his face will be etched in my memories forever. I would assume, based on my condition, that he wailed on me a few more times.

No wonder why I never really trusted anyone. There is a delicate line that we all must decide to cross one day. I just hope you will be more careful than I was. More observant, more aware, more everything.

I press my button and call for the nurse, I need something for this throbbing pain in my jawline. It isn’t long after reliving this nightmare do I hear scurrying footsteps enter my room.  “You are awake,” whispers a concerned voice. It was feminine, calm, and friendly. The voice took my anxiety down a notch but I’m still afraid. I think I know what happened but it is still a little hard to process. . I try to speak but my jaw is wired shut.

I could barely see the outline of her body but she is a bigger woman from what I could tell.  I can feel the palm of her hand fall delicately on top of my hand. Her grip is soft and compassionate. I grab her hand tightly and take a deep breath. A tear forms at the corner of my eye.

“You were injured really badly, honey. You were in a coma. One of your ribs is broken and so is your jaw. Do you understand me?”

The scent of sterile hospital sheets and plastic tubing makes me feel nauseous. I try to reply but the only sound that comes out is a whimper. Tears flow down my cheeks and they feel wonderful as the corner of my cracked lips catch a few. I nod my head in agreement to her question. I can see a little more clearly and notice this woman, whom I do not know, is crying with me.

“Oh this is just terrible, terrible. My name is Joann. I am your nurse, sweetie. If you need anything just press the button. I have put a pad and pen next to your bed on the end table. When you feel up to it you can write more specific needs. I am so sorry,” she says, her voice is trembling.

This woman appears to be of Latin descent. I can see her lovely warm brown eyes are puffed and swollen and filled with water. What a way to meet. I could tell she was caring and empathetic and sweet and worried. But maybe I deserved this. I certainly appreciate sharing a moment with my new friend but I feel like I am the one to blame.

I struggle to reach for the note pad and pen that Joann has supplied me with and I gasp in agony. I feel the tape over my rib tighten as I try to move my torso. The pain!

“Don’t move, girl!” She shouts and scurries over to grab the supplies for me. She hands me the pad and the pen.

It was nice to be called a girl after what I had been through. All of my insecurities were intensifying as I grasped the pen with very little strength. I wrote two words on the college lined white paper. ‘My fault.’

She shook her head and began a rant, “it’s not your fault. Don’t you say that!  Us women have to stick together. You get that right out of your mind. If it was anyone’s fault it was-”

I moan as if to stop her. I don’t want her to utter that name. I sob like a scared little girl locked inside of a dark closet. She places her hand on my leg and sits there right beside me, consoling me. My mind cannot help but relive those moments before I ended up here.

It really wasn’t my fault but I felt so low and so dirty that I could fall for a man with such hate in his heart. I feel like I failed myself. It’s hard to believe that there are people out there with this kind of hate in their heart.

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