Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ash: Questions

This is basically the climax of the story, don't read if you don't want it spoiled.
[Totally not a final version, will probably be completely reworked.]
[Context: First installment of Ash is here.  There was a school dance where the theme was a masquerade, some of the students getting into it enough that their identities were well and truly concealed.  At her sister's prompting, Ash, a closeted trans girl, went as a girl and not the boy she presents as.  Ash ended up losing her good luck charm (her deceased mother's MP3 player) and this scene is after Ash has convinced Zee, the girl she was dancing with, that it really is her MP3 player.]

- - -

"The dance was . . . magical; it was like a fantasy," Ash said. "But that's over, everything has collapsed back into reality.  Your mystery girl was just a dream; I'm all that's left.  Sorry.  I know it sucks.

"Now can I please have my mother's MP3 player back."

"I have questions," Zee said.

"You're going to hold the MP3 player hostage--" Ash didn't get a chance to finish.

"No!" Zee said as she shoved the MP3 player into Ash's hand.  "Of course not.  Take it."

Ash brought the MP3 player to her chest and said said, "mom" so softly she wasn't sure it was out loud.  The one connection to the only parent that might have loved her was back.  It was with her again.

Ash's attention returned to Zee and found her in the middle of a sentence.  ". . . still have questions but I'd never force you to do anything.  I'd like to think you know me better than that."

"Lot of stress," Ash mumbled.  "Ask and get it over with."

"At the dance, were you trying to trick--"

"You asked me to dance."

"I felt like I knew you," Zee said.

"You did."

"Apparently not as well as I thought."

"That's nice."

"Do you like me?"

"Thought that was what friendship was about."

"Don't make me go contrastive focus reduplication on you."

"We covered this already," Ash said, anger flaring for no comprehensible reason.  "Yes, I do, and for a while I got to pretend there was a chance of something coming from it.  But pretend time ended, so what does it matter?"

"It matters," Zee said as inched closer.  "Next question, are you a boy or a girl?"


"So we've ruled out non-binary options," Zee said.  Ash was mildly surprised she knew such things existed, and barely noticed that Zee inched forward again.  "Are you a girl?"

Zee had most definitely invaded Ash's personal space.  They were so close now, and she was looking right in Ash's eyes.

Ash knew the smart thing would be to lie.  Instead she admitted, "Yes," in a way that sounded as defeated as she felt.  Her only friend would reject her now.  Things could get bad going forward.

"Last question," Zee said, "will you go out with me?"

The "What?" was produced without any real thought on Ash's part.

"You know, a date.  We go somewhere together and do something and if we're lucky there might be kissing involved."

"But you're . . ."

"And you're a girl," Zee said.  "We covered that."

Ash's first thought was shot down and became flaming wreckage in her mind.  Zee wouldn't try to trick her.  But it was still impossible to believe.  "You're serious?"

"Of course I am," Zee said.  "Just come as the real you, no pretending to be a boy."

"Pretending to be a boy is safe."

"Then we can be careful," Zee said.  "Go out of the way to avoid people we know, stick to less well lit places, stuff like that.

"What kinds of movies do you like?" Zee asked.

"Fun, explosions, hope," Ash said.

Zee seemed to think that over for a bit and then said, "There's nothing good in theaters right now, but I've got Fury Road on disk and a big screen TV."

"LED or LCD?"


"And you wonder why everyone thinks of you as some rich kid."

"I don't wonder about it," Zee said, "I just wish they didn't think it was my defining quality"

The conversation lagged.

"You know, you haven't actually answered me yet." Zee said.

Ash closed the small distance between them, hugged Zee, and said, "Yes.  So very much yes."

- - -

Or something like that, not satisfied with it.

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