It's your Old School celebrating a milestone. What happened to those you used to know, and how have they changed. Remember the Libel laws. -- Anon Guest
This used to be my playground... Ze had come from here, more or less. The society that dysfunctioned in these borders had done more to form hir than hir parents had. This used to be my hell. They hadn't understood, in decades prior what 'nonbinary' even was. As a result, they had tormented hir mercilessly.
Ze could still hear the taunts in hir head, on the bad days. It had taken a lot of work to overcome that kind of thing, and while ze had some success as evaluated by the rest of the world... it was conquering these demons that had been the hardest, and most treasured, victory. Aer hardly flinched when someone clapped hir on the shoulder.
"Luanne, hey, how's it -whoah- You're not Luanne..." the stranger squinted, trying to match Aer's face with one she knew decades ago. "Aaron?" Way to go. From zero to deadname in like five seconds. Was it worth correcting her? "I thought you were a dude... and just now I thought you were Luanne. What's with the skirt?" This was once Kylie. One of the perpetual mean girls who had become a Soccer Mom with a can-I-speak-to-the-manager haircut.
"I prefer Aer, now. Rhymes with chair. And -uh- I'm wearing the skirt because it looks nice and I like it."
"Challenging those gender roles, huh? Just be brave. Some people'll still want to tell soap jokes." Kylie smiled warmly. "Of course I was right to hang out with someone like you."
If 'hang out' meant 'torment mercilessly' then... "I don't think you remember high school like I remember high school..." Aer wanted to say. Instead, ze derailed that train of thought with, "So how have you been doing?"
Kylie had three kids and a husband who worked late. Used to be the captain of the sports team, and she pointed out a balding head with a beer gut and a half-dozen other jocks who had gone to seed. Of course she was about 'pure foods' and against vaccines because of The Chemicals. She didn't want any of her little darlings coming down with Autism or The Gay.
"What's wrong with being gay or autistic?" said Aer, and regretted that decision. To this day, ze had an unfortunate habit of opening hir mouth to talk without thinking. Now ze had to stand there and smile during a half-hour diatribe about how neither was really wrong, not really. There were some wonderful people who were that way, but it was such a struggle. Kylie didn't want the world to be mean to her poor little babies just because of the way they were born.
Aer pretended to see another friend -ze had never had friends at this school- and made it hir excuse to get out of there.
The popular girls were all soccer moms who had married the popular boys, or close enough to it. Their pecking order was still all about what was popular. In this case, wine mom memes. They never once asked how alcoholism was supposed to be funny. Those kind never did.
The jocks that used to beat Aer up in their heyday were still living their heydays in memory. All their conversations were: "I used to," and, "hey I once," and, "do you remember," when they weren't dissecting the pros from the sports channels' performances and how their coaches were doing the wrong thing.
So many people going in circles. No wonder they tried to latch on to anyone who was going places. Aer tried to shoot them down, but it was like trying to lasso clouds.
"Yeah, I remember beating on some nerd boy who wore skirts..."
"That was me. You gave me swirlies at least once a month."
"Nah, that never happened. You and me were buds, back in the day. Remember? You were one of the cool theatre kids."
"I never did theatre."
"Oh wait, you were on the chess team, right?"
"Nope. I was in the board game club. We played D&D during lunch hour."
"Eh, whatever. You were one of the cool ones."
"You just finished laughing about how you used to pummel all the board game kids with your friends," argued Aer.
"Yeah, but not the cool ones. Like you."
It was amazing. Every single one of them had rewritten their own history to fit Aer in as one of their friends. Not one of them remembered a single slur. Not one of them recalled a single cruelty. They were all laying the groundwork for reconnection, and possibly a sample of Aer's success in the form of a small loan or two.
Every single one of them had a variation of, "What? No, I never said those things. You must be thinking of someone else."
Even if there had been solid, scientific, documented evidence, they would have denied it in a court of law. They would probably get away with it, too, because they were the kind of revisionists who could rewrite the world to suit their own needs.
Aer left them to their sad, sagging, and circular lives. Ze knew who hir real friends were, and they weren't any of these people.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Artisticco]
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