The boy turns the pages with curious fingers. He runs them across the glossy photos, lingering on the women’s faces and pouty red-painted lips. They are all so beautiful, he thinks.
That is the word he should use, isn’t it?
The pictures steal his breath from his tummy and lite his body afire.
He can feel it racing through his body. The flames tickle his palms and make the crevices between his fingers sweat. His fingers slip on the page. He flips to another page, and his eyes widen.
She looks like his mother, he thinks. He traces the line of her jaw and strokes the waves of hazel hair cascading over her bare shoulder.
From beyond the bathroom a door slams.
He drops the dirty magazine in fright. It slumps against the tile floor.
Leaning down, he picks it up, his eyes lingering on the cover model’s lingerie clad body for just a moment. He shoves the magazine between the others atop the toilet.
Tomorrow, he thinks, I will look again tomorrow.
Across the hall the girl presses her thumb against the cool lock of her bedroom door, assuring that no one could enter.
Not like anyone was home.
Her house was a ghost town. Its only inhabitants today were herself and a younger brother who only came out of his room to use to the bathroom.
She sits on the edge of her bed. The purple comforter ripples with her weight and spreads out like a mystic sea behind her. Her mother had picked it out. She would have preferred a red or green, but her mother thinks a girl should be interested in purples and pinks, not boy colors.
The letters on the brochure match the blanket, she thinks. Maybe her mother designed it. Her lips tilt up in a smirk.
She reads them again, holding her breath as if they might have changed since she picked the paper up at the teen center downtown.
“Trans youth, we’re here to help you.”
They haven’t changed. They still look the same as they had in the little plastic brochure holder, vibrant purple and bubbly.
Her breath flies out in a woosh and she unfolds it to read the information inside. The numbers and statistics float in front of her eyes and her smirk straightens into a smile.
Tomorrow I’ll go back and talk to the counselor, she thinks.
Outside her window her father’s car idles.
He sits in the front seat, his hands pressing a pack of papers to the steering wheel. He reads the same line over and over again.
“Am I doing this?”
He whispers aloud to himself. His words bounce off the empty seats and smudged windows.
He rereads the divorce papers and turns off the car.
He fingers the key, nervous energy filling his every limb and keeping him from being still.
Might as well get this over with, he thinks.
Is she even home?
He walks inside the house, his ear cocked for any sound, even though he knows he will hear only silence.
Are his children even here?
His daughter is never around. She’s always out with her short-haired friends smoking cigarettes.
His son hides upstairs more often than not with his video games and music.
Sometimes, he finds himself wondering if he even has a family.
He lays the papers on one of the placemats his wife had laid out earlier. She will see it whenever she decides to come back, he thinks. Then she can leave without having to worry about arranging placemats ever again.
When she leaves he’ll take these plastic things to the garage and light them on fire. He can see them now, twisting and dancing in the flames.
He collapses on the overstuff cushions of living room’s puke-green couch. His wife picked it out a handful of months ago when he’d gotten a raise. Once she was gone, he would get something a little less puke colored and a little more leather colored. The corners of his lips perked up at the thought. He would finally be able to make his own choices.
Tomorrow, he thinks, after tomorrow I can do anything I want.
The house shifts on its foundation, sending a creak through its halls.
The girl looks up at the noise and stashes the pamphlet under her pink pillow. She uses the remote on her nightstand to turn on her iPod radio.
The boy turns up the volume of his gun slinging videogame in the room opposite hers.
Downstairs their father turns up the TV so as to hear the actors say their lines. Tomorrow. At least tomorrow it will be quiet, the house thinks.
Previous version published here.