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Dress Like A Dude

 

 

Dress Like A Dude © 2014 by Foxglove Lee

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Cover design © 2014 Foxglove Lee

Photo Credit Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First Edition October 2014

 

 

Dress Like A Dude

 

By

Foxglove Lee

 

 

Mila couldn’t stop glancing at Laura’s hand as they walked back from The Goof. She’d saved five dollars from her allowance just to afford Thursday’s almond beef special, but totally worth it. Even if The Good Food Café couldn’t afford to fix their burnt-out neon sign, they sure made delicious stir-fries.

 

Now her belly was full—almost too full, actually—and all she could think about was hooking her pinky around Laura’s pinky. Her girlfriend’s pinky. Nobody would notice. Jaden probably wouldn’t even notice as he walked on Laura’s far side, on the sunbaked September grass.

 

Not that it would matter if he saw. Jaden knew about them. Nobody else did, really, but they trusted him. Jaden was gay too, so who was he to judge?

 

It was sort of weird, coming back to the structure of school after a summer of lolling around. Not that Mila didn’t work—she did, she worked as a junior camp counsellor for the world’s most adorably annoying kids—but at four o’clock her day was done. No homework. No papers. No projects. Just free time spent with Laura, kissing on the couch when her dad wasn’t home, being together and feeling like an actual couple. Like a real couple.

 

And then September rolled around. The moment they walked through those green double doors they were right back where they left off in June. Secretive, closeted. Nobody could know.

 

But maybe that’s the way Mila wanted it. She really wasn’t sure. Was she ready to deal with the repercussions of coming out at school? Coming out to more than just Jaden? Because if she did, even if it went okay, one of her teachers might mention it at parents’ night and then what? She’d have to talk to her father about being a lesbian. The thought sent a chill right through her.

 

Look at Laura’s fingers!

 

Look at the way she sort of curled them as her hand swung with every step. Laura had such pretty fingers—oval nails, no polish, unbitten. Long white fingers, like a model’s. Mila’s were short, stubby, brown with a tint of pink in the creases. She’d painted her nails with White-Out for no reason in particular. In class, she’d coated the shiny surface with highlighters and then drew flowers and checkerboard patterns on top in pen. Her hands were so ugly that even when she tried to make them look better they only ended up looking worse.

 

Laura’s fingers were so pretty…

 

Just as Mila swung her hand close enough to hook her pinky around her secret girlfriend’s pinky, Laura stopped in her tracks.

 

“Sorry,” Mila said, but Laura was obviously listening to Jaden and not her.

 

He pointed up ahead, pointed at the school and said, “What’s going on over there?”

 

Oh yeah… everyone was out on the lawn. Usually it was just the dance girls and the smokers, although the smokers were supposed to stand across the street because they weren’t allowed to smoke on school property.

 

“Maybe there was a fire drill,” Mila said.

 

“Or a bomb threat!” Laura covered her mouth with both hands and gasped. Oh, those pretty fingers! Moving her hands to her cheeks, she asked, “Do you think there was some kind of… you know… something bad? Something really bad?”

 

“Like a shooter?” Jaden asked. “Nah, there’d be police cars and SWAT teams and stuff. And look—those guys have signs. Maybe it’s a protest.”

 

“A protest?” Laura’s hands slid down the clean white straps of her backpack. “I hope afternoon classes are cancelled. Mr. Lin’s been giving pop quizzes every day. It’s so annoying.”

 

“What are they protesting?” Mila asked. “I can’t see what those signs say.” They were written with Sharpie on broken-down cardboard boxes. Not very creative.

 

“If it’s political stuff, who cares?” Jaden asked. “Let’s just go home.”

 

Laura grabbed his arm before he could leave. “No, I want to find out. Maybe it’s about the cafeteria raising the price of fries. Sandy and all her people were really mad about that.”

 

“It’s not Sandy and the humanitarians this time.” Mila didn’t recognize the kids putting on the protest. “Minor niners? Look how young they are. And it’s mainly all guys. That’s weird.”

 

“Maybe Coach Kinney’s been supervising showers after gym class,” Jaden joked.

 

Laura said, “Maybe Coach Kinney’s jumping in the showers after gym class!”

 

Jaden laughed along, but Mila was too intrigued by the strange scene to really pay attention. Ninth graders making a spectacle of themselves? That didn’t usually happen, and definitely not at the start of the school year. They should all be hiding in fear of whatever imaginary threats were lurking behind every corner of their active imaginations.

 

Mila crept onto the patch of grass that divided school property from the neighbouring houses—an island between the driveway and a chain link fence. She wandered far enough to see what was going on without running the risk of becoming part of it.

 

Dress Like A Dude!

 

Guys Shouldn’t Wear Girl Clothes!

 

You’re A Boy So Act Like A Boy!

 

Ducking under a tall pine, Mila checked to make sure Jaden and Laura had followed. When she spotted them just behind her, she said, “I wonder what that’s about.”

 

From behind the aging pine, a young man’s voice crackled, “If you’re so curious I can tell you.”

 

Mila nearly jumped out of her canvas running shoes when she spotted the surly-looking guy seated against the fence. He was dressed in black from head to toe and sitting with his back somewhat hunched, his forearms resting on his arched knees. His skin gleamed like polished bronze and he had a mop of black curls that shone even though he was cast in shade.

 

“Sorry,” Mila said. “I didn’t realize anyone was over here.”

 

He stared at her with eyes rimmed in black liner. Something about him made her feel awkward. When she looked away, she caught herself focusing on his silver rings: skulls and bones and gory gloomy things.

 

The way he fixated on her felt so threatening she didn’t know what to say. So she simply said, “Sorry, I missed that.”

 

“I can tell you what they’re all worked up about,” the boy replied. “Because they’re all worked up about me.”

 

“You?” Laura asked over Mila’s shoulder. “Why? What did you do?”

 

“They feel threatened because I don’t conform to arbitrary gender norms.” The young boy folded his knees down to sit cross-legged, and as he did Mila realized that his black pants were actually an ankle-length skirt made of long, flowing fabric. “I wear what I feel like, and I don’t care what they think. Look at them all in their matching jeans and T-shirts—uniform of the masses. What a bunch of sheep.”

 

Mila felt like she was in a dream. This was really odd. The boy’s voice sounded so young, but he was incredibly well-spoken. He sounded smarter than most of their teachers.

 

“What’s wrong with jeans and a T-shirt?” Jaden asked. That’s what he was wearing. So was Laura, for that matter. Only Mila was dressed a little differently, in threadbare cords and a tank top she’d made out of canvas tote bag. She’d thrown one of her dad’s old work shirts overtop to complete the ensemble.

 

“Gee, I’m so sorry.” The guy in black tilted his head sarcastically. “Sounds like you don’t want people critiquing your fashion choices. Now you know how I feel.”

 

Jaden looked taken aback. “All those kids are just wearing normal clothes. There’s nothing wrong with dressing like a normal person.”

 

“But there is something wrong with dressing like a freak, right?” The boy in black grinned. “Wouldn’t want to be different. Wouldn’t want to challenge the status quo, because then we might have to ask why… and once we start asking why, it’s like pulling a thread. All of white North American society falls apart right before your eyes.”

 

Laura looked quickly at the ground, and Jaden took one angry step forward. Mila knew exactly why. It was just one word: white. Neither Laura nor Jaden was all that comfortable talking about the impact a person’s skin color had on every little part of their life. It was easier to buy into all that “post-racial society” nonsense. Easier not to think about it.

 

The young man stood slowly, giving them the full effect of his unusual outfit. He didn’t just have on a long black skirt, but also a long, tailored jacket. His look reminded Mila of The Matrix. He looked really… good!

 

“I like your coat thing,” she said.

 

He raised an eyebrow. “That makes two of us.”

 

Was he flirting with her? A minor niner boy flirting with a tenth-grade girl? Now, that was unheard of! Even though she didn’t usually like it when guys came on to her, the novelty of the situation amused her.

 

“I think you look like an idiot,” Jaden said. “You’re just trying to get attention.”

 

“Jaden!” Laura smacked him.

 

“Have you never seen Middle Eastern men wearing thawbs—long robes that go all the way down to their feet?” The boy remained completely calm. “Do you think they look like idiots too?”

 

“Yes!” Jaden shot back.

 

Laura smacked him again, harder this time. “Jaden, shut your mouth! I mean it!”

 

“Ignore him,” Mila told the boy.

 

“I try, but they’re all like him.” He glanced over her shoulder, to the minor niners protesting his apparel. “They’re all the same—small-minded pricks.”

 

“Excuse me?” Jaden stepped forward, but Laura caught him by the arm and tugged him back.

 

“Do you wear this for cultural reasons?” Mila asked, trying to be sensitive.

 

The boy laughed. “No. Do I look Middle Eastern to you?”

 

He sort of did, but she wasn’t about to say so and risk sounding stupid.

 

“I wear what I feel like wearing. I don’t care what other people consider girl clothes and boy clothes. It’s all so stupid. They’re all so stupid. They call me faggot.”

 

Mila’s gaydar was spot-on, and this kid wasn’t sparking a reaction. “I don’t think you’re gay. I mean, I can tell you’re not.”

 

“And what’s wrong with being gay?” Jaden asked, spitefully, as Laura held him back. “You’re gay, Mila. Or had you forgotten that because you spend so much time in the closet?”

 

She breathed in sharply. Tears needled her eyes, though she wasn’t sure why. She wasn’t ashamed of being a lesbian, but as she glanced at Laura’s moon-like expression she realized she was ashamed of herself for another reason. She was ashamed of being so afraid of coming out. If only she could be more like this kid, who didn’t care what other people thought.

 

Just when the tears threatened to fall, something happened to scare them right out of her system. Another kid swaggered up the parking lot, walking like a little tough. A Nazi, neo-Nazi, whatever they were called. Just look at him, with that eerily shaven head, military fatigue cut-offs and a ratty sort of jacket-vest. Without any sleeves, it showed off a huge range of swastika tattoos. How was that allowed in school? How come the ninth graders were protesting one guy wearing a skirt when another looked like this?

 

“Hey, Trent!” the Nazi called out, raising his hand in a heil salute.

 

Oh God, he was going to kick the crap out of this boy in black, this boy named Trent. Maybe he’d beat them all up! Nazis weren’t so nice to gays and lesbians, were they? This swastika kid was short and slim, but he looked scrappy. He looked like a fighter. Oh God, oh God oh God…

 

Oh wait a minute… that wasn’t a Nazi salute. He was just waving. Just a normal wave.

 

Trent waved back. “Pawell!”

 

When the kid came closer, Trent put an arm around the guy’s shoulder. Mila realized those weren’t swastika tattoos up and down his arms. They weren’t tattoos at all. His skin was a field of tic-tac-toe games, drawn in pen. Mila glanced down at her fingernails, which she’d scrawled on during class, and she felt guilty for thinking such mean things about this guy, who was obviously a friend of Trent’s.

 

Pawell asked, “These kids hassling you?”

 

“Only that one.” Trent pointed to Jaden. “But it’s fine. When he can’t sleep tonight, he’ll realize he’s only being a jerk to me because he’s so uncomfortable with himself.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jaden piped up.

 

The punk kid, Pawell, said to Trent, “The Principal’s looking for you.”

 

Trent’s eyes widened, and for a brief moment he seemed overcome with a childlike brand of fear. That quickly dissipated, and his expression of snarky dismissiveness took hold. “What does she want?”

 

“Pfft!” Pawell nodded toward the group of protesters outside the front steps. “What do you think she wants?”

 

With a grumble, Trent let his friend lead him toward the side entrance. He didn’t say goodbye. Mila wasn’t sure why she thought he would, but as she watched his long skirt kicking around his feet she really wished he’d turn back and wave or something.

 

“What a freak,” Jaden grunted.

 

In a small, calm voice, Laura asked, “Why? Because he’s wearing a skirt? Who even cares?”

 

“All those kids over there care enough to make signs and protest at their new high school.” Jaden set his hands on his hips and stood with a self-righteous hip popped. “If you ask me, that takes guts.”

 

“No it doesn’t.” Mila couldn’t stand his smug reproaches. “So what? A bunch of white males upholding the status quo. Whoop-de-doo! So revolutionary!”

 

“They’re not all white.” Laura’s voice grew so small it receded into her before she’d even crossed her t and dotted her i.

 

“I just think he’s making people look bad,” Jaden said.

 

Mila shook her head. “What people?”

 

Laura’s tiny voice jumped in to say, “It’s not like there’s a dress code here, like at schools that have uniforms. I mean, there’s nothing that says boys have to wear boy clothes and girls have to wear girl clothes. Right?”

 

Mila wasn’t sure how to respond. Laura was only skimming the surface of the issue, and probably only to show she was on Mila’s side.

 

Laura tried again. “It’s a human rights violation to discriminate against someone based on their gender identity.”

 

“But this isn’t about the kid’s identity.” Jaden tugged his arm away from her grip. “That kid, he identifies as a guy, right?”

 

“I think so,” Laura said, looking to Mila for answers. “That’s the impression I got.”

 

Mila asserted herself, even though she wasn’t one hundred percent sure. “Yeah he’s a guy, but a gender-nonconforming guy. A guy who doesn’t buy into stupid social expectations.”

 

“Gender-nonconforming? Is that an identity?” Laura asked, innocently. “I don’t know much about this stuff.” She looked to Jaden this time.

 

“Hey, don’t ask me! I’m only gay, I’m not some freaky drag queen or whatever that guy is.”

 

“I don’t think he’s a drag queen,” Laura said, like the mom settling a dispute between her naughty children. “It’s not like he’s pretending to be a girl or acting like a girl or whatever.”

 

“So he’s a cross-dresser,” Jaden said, flatly. “He probably sucks off closet jocks behind the dumpster.”

 

“No, that’s just you.” Laura was obviously trying to lighten the mood, but her joke fell flat.

 

“He’s rejecting binaries and social constructs,” Mila said. “Why is that so hard for you to wrap your head around? What difference does it make in your life whether some minor niner wears pants or a skirt?”

 

“Look,” Jaden said, like he was trying to negotiate with her. “It would be different if he were trans or whatever. Because then it’s like… if you identify as a girl, fine, you’re a girl. If you identify as a boy, fine, you’re a boy. It would be easier to deal with.”

 

Laura stepped forward and asked the absolute perfect question: “It would be easier for him or easier for you?”

 

Jaden furrowed his brow. He obviously felt the sting planted in her voice, because he shook his head and said, “Whatever.”

 

Hopping down the curb, he crossed the driveway and walked toward the same side entrance Trent and Pawell had disappeared into. Half way there, he turned around and opened his mouth like he was about to say something, but then he just waved his hand and walked away.

 

When he got to the door he turned around again and shouted, “All this in-between stuff is just… ugh! I don’t get it!”

 

They watched him enter the school, in disbelief. Jaden often overreacted, but not about things like this. His reaction was so… extreme.

 

“What’s his problem?” Laura asked.

 

“Who knows?” But Mila wondered if maybe she did know. “Do you think Jaden’s mad because gay guys always get picked on for being effeminate, being sissies, all that?”

 

Laura’s eyes widened. “What do you mean?”

 

“Well, like, maybe it bugs him to see another guy who doesn’t care what everyone thinks. Trent is pretty brave. A minor niner coming to a new high school wearing a skirt? He’s not even trying to fit in. We’re older than he is and we’re not even that brave.”

 

For a brief moment, Laura looked as if she might argue, then she thought better of it. “You’re right. If anyone’s a sissy, it’s us.”

 

Reaching out, Laura took Mila’s hand and squeezed it tight.

 

“What do you think the principal will do?” Laura asked.

 

“About Trent’s skirt and the protesters?” Mila shrugged. “Put it to a vote, probably. That’s what she usually does.”

 

“You think she’ll let us vote on whether or not a guy can wear girls’ clothes to school?”

 

“Yeah, she lets us vote on everything else. Well, except the price of fries.” Nervously, hoping she wouldn’t get an answer she didn’t want to hear, Mila asked, “Do you know which way you’d vote?”

 

“Of course.” Laura took a step back and cocked her head, giving Mila an odd look. “The same way as you, obviously. Even if we’re the biggest cowards in the world, I still think everyone should have the freedom to be who they are. And part of that is expressing themselves through the way they dress.”

 

“I’m so glad!” Falling into Laura’s open arms, Mila hooked her chin over her girlfriend’s shoulder, fighting with that bright white backpack. “When you think about it, Trent’s right: it’s pretty arbitrary, what passes for girl clothes and what passes for boy clothes.”

 

“We can get away with so much more than guys can.” Laura lifted the hem on the oversized work shirt Mila wore—the one that belonged to her father. “We’re lucky that way.”

 

Pulling back just far enough to gaze into Laura’s lovely eyes, Mila said, “I’m lucky in a lot of ways.”

 

They’d never kissed at school. Not once. Not ever. But, as the warning bell rang before the start of fourth period, Mila took a chance and pressed her lips to Laura’s, expecting a fight.

 

But Laura didn’t fight, and Mila let her eyes flutter closed, and they kissed under the tall pine beside the driveway. The whole school was focused on Trent’s ordeal, anyway. Nobody would notice two girls kissing by the parking lot.

 

And even if they did… so what?

 

 

The End

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

Foxglove’s fiction has been called SPECTACULAR by Rainbow Reviews and UNFORGETTABLE by USA Today.

 

Foxglove Lee is a former aspiring Broadway Baby who now writes LGBTQ fiction for young adults. She tries not to be too theatrical, but her characters often take over. Like Rebecca from her debut novel Tiffany and Tiger’s Eye, who is convinced an evil doll is trying to ruin the summer of 1986. Or Kenny from her Evernight Teen book Truth and Other Lies, who keeps secrets from everyone in his life when his first novel hits it big! Or Noah from OmniLit Bestseller “The Secret to a Perfect Latke,” who comes out live on national television. Or Mila and Laura, who celebrate Valentine’s Day in “I Hate Love” and destroy a family member’s kitchen in “Happy Birthday, Klutzface!”

 

Follow Foxglove on Twitter @foxglovelee or stay tuned to her blog http://foxglovelee.blogspot.com for new releases!

 

 

Wondering what to read after Dress Like A Dude?

 

Try Tiffany and Tiger’s Eye by Foxglove Lee!

 

 

How many secrets can a family keep?

 

If there’s one thing Rebecca knows, it’s how to hide her problems. But with a rock-and-roll dad who drinks too much and a mom who works day and night, Rebecca needs a sympathetic ear. That’s why she tells her troubles to Yvette, an antique doll that once belonged to her grandmother.

 

In the summer of 1986, after her father’s strange disappearance, Rebecca and her little brother are sent to the cottage with Aunt Libby and Uncle Flip. Rebecca’s relieved to get away from the city, and her relief grows to bliss when she meets Tiffany, a water-skiing blonde who dresses like Madonna, makes her own jewelry, and claims to see auras.

 

[_ But strange things happen when Rebecca spends time with Tiffany. Her aunt and uncle are convinced she's acting out -- and she'd have good reason to, considering they obviously know where her father is and won't say -- but she can't convince them she isn't the one trashing her bedroom and setting fires. As crazy as it seems, Yvette must be the culprit. _]

 

There’s nothing more dangerous than a jealous doll that knows all your secrets…

 

Published by Prizm Books

 

Or

 

Truth and Other Lies by Foxglove Lee

 

 

Have you ever wanted to get noticed? Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you worked or how hard you tried, nobody in the entire world cared what you did? Well, what if someone famous—and we’re talking Oprah-famous, here—noticed you for the one thing you wish you could hide? For your one big secret…

 

That’s exactly what happens to 18-year-old Kenneth McIntyre when television guru Prahna Mehta hails his self-published novel as the next bestseller. Little do his new fans know Truth and Other Lies wasn’t written by Kenny at all… and it isn’t fiction. Sometimes he feels like he’s lying to everybody he loves.

 

When Kenny gets swept into stardom, how will he hide the secrets he’s kept for years? And, if his lies are exposed, will anyone stay by his side?

 

Published by Evernight Teen


Dress Like A Dude

Foxglove’s fiction has been called SPECTACULAR by Rainbow Reviews and UNFORGETTABLE by USA TODAY! What's going on in front of the school? When Mila and Laura get back from lunch, there's a big student protest going on. Signs and placards say "Guys Shouldn't Wear Girl Clothes" and "Dress Like A Dude." Turns out a new student doesn't believe in gender-conformity. He’s a Goth guy who wears whatever he wants, including skirts. This ninth grader's got guts! Mila and Laura have been dating since last school year and they haven't even kissed in public. Will this young student who isn't afraid of anyone inspire them to come out, or will other kids' reactions drive them deeper into the closet? LGBTQ short fiction for teens from the author of Tiffany and Tiger’s Eye & Truth and Other Lies!

  • Author: Rainbow Crush
  • Published: 2016-07-20 03:35:08
  • Words: 3840
Dress Like A Dude Dress Like A Dude