Amanda Grace Shu
It is my responsibility to lay down the terms for her. I must turn my eyes cold and play the dispassionate judge, as if she were not my own child, born of my own flesh. My knees weaken a moment, but I straighten my back. And I speak. “In the castle, at court, and any time you are acting in public as a representative of this crown, you are my daughter and will be referred to as such. Your choice to live as a man will not be made public, nor will it be acknowledged in any statement of mine, public or private.”
warnings: misgendering, transphobia, self-harm
She tells her second-grade class, My daddy is in space.
Oh, says the teacher. You mean he's an astronaut. Someone who goes into outer space in a big rocket ship to explore the universe.
The next time he comes, he's thirty with curly brown hair and she asks him why he doesn't have a rocket ship like a real astronaut. “Astronaut” just means “star sailor,” Clare. You don't have to sail the stars with science.
Then what do you sail them with?
He sticks his tongue out slightly. That's for us to know and the rest to find out, eh, Clare-bear?
Left, right, left, right. The forest around me's too quiet for my liking. Dry fall leaves crunch under my boots and somewhere far off water churns against the rocks of some little stream, but other than that it's dead silent. Left, right, left, right. I pick up the pace. My footfalls grow louder. I know I shouldn't let 'em—gotta tread carefully or else somebody'll hear me—but I can't live with this quiet, not now. Maybe once I could, maybe once I'd even liked it, but that girl's gone now, whether I like it or not.