Family gatherings can be tough.
|Jack leaned over the sink, looking at himself in the reflection in the bathroom mirror. He studied his freshly cut hair, admiring how the sides were cut close to his head. He stepped back, adjusting the chest binder that he wore under his red Christmas sweater. The binder was tight, but it actually managed to make breathing easier. He smiled, took a deep breath, and stepped out of the safety of the bathroom.
He meandered through the drunken chatter. He had always hated these gatherings, but ever since he came out, they had become considerably more insufferable.
“Honey, come here! We’re opening presents.”
Jack moved toward the ostentatious tree that had been set up in his aunt’s living room. The branches were weighed down by baubles and ornaments of all sizes, but with a consistent red and gold colour scheme.
“Which one’s mine?”
“Oh, that one dear”, said his aunt, as she pointed to a thin rectangular gift that was nestled between other larger presents.
Jack picked up the gift, turning it over in his hands looking for the gift tag. When he found it, a cold dread settled on his stomach.
The curling gold ink snaked its way through a familiar and dreadful pattern. The letters stung, pointing and sneering, telling him that he would never be the person he was always meant to be.
With tears threatening to spill over, he muttered, “That’s not my name.”
Everyone was looking at him now, and scanning over their expressions, a familiar meekness resurfaced. His aunt looked irritated, his parents were begging him not to make a scene with their eyes, and his cousins looked apologetic, but remained silent.
With a resigned sigh, he tore at the wrapping until he held an eyeshadow palette in his hands.