It's Complicated (Jerelin!)

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  1. "Get dressed and get out."

    Marilyn didn't have time to react before the bundle of her clothes hit her in the back of the head. They were what she usually wore for her nightly "work." She pulled herself to her feet and grabbed her bag from the floor, the one that held everything she owned. She had been kicked from the motel room she had spent so long in, and was forced to carry her things wherever she went.

    Slipping away into the apartment bathroom, she dressed herself again, comforted by the pocketknife that rested in her against her thigh in the pocket of her shorts, and then attempted to scramble from the apartment, but was stopped by the man she had just serviced as he pinned her against the wall. "We should do this again sometime," he purred, running a hand up her thigh. In a panic, Marilyn bolted from the room without a word, dashed down the stairs and out onto the street.

    She walked quickly down the streets, which were spattered with droplets of water from the light rain that had just started. The only light was the dim glow of the city street lights. She made sure to keep underneath them as she moved. She was out again. She'd only had a single client the entire night. She needed to find someone else soon or else she definitely wasn't eating tomorrow.
    This was the only way she had to make money, as much as she hated it. She couldn't put limits on herself if she wanted to make enough to survive. Men had asked her to do some pretty messed up things and she'd agreed to almost all of them. As long as she got paid it would be fine. Maybe one day she would be able to sleep with someone that actually saw her as a woman and not some sort of glorified drag queen, maybe one day have some sort of family to raise. It was something she wanted more than anything, but had long ago accepted she would never have.

    But oh, how she wished she could. She could give love to people. She just wanted someone who wouldn't see her as a man, whether that person be a man, a woman, or someone in between. Her own parents still saw their son. She hadn't spoken to them in nearly ten years. She could be a motherly figure to someone, regardless of what she had between her legs.She loved children. When she was younger she had often taken care of her younger cousins when her aunts and uncles hadn't been able to. She didn't even get to see them anymore. If coming out hadn't been enough, the sex for money thing had been enough for her never to be allowed to see her cousins again.

    The only family member she still spoke to was Devin, her twin brother. He had always been there for her. Her gender had never mattered to him. He was always checking up on her, making sure she was safe. Even now, while he was away at film school, he was constantly calling the cell phone he had gotten her, sending her things when she had somewhere to stay. Marilyn missed him, and she felt guilty. He shouldn't have to worry about her. She should be mailing him things and worrying about him being away at school. He had tried to go when they were younger, but he had given it up to help her. She should be sending him things, worrying about whether he was okay or not.

    She knew that doing this was dangerous, especially tonight. She was completely alone. She normally looked for people with gay men so nobody would get the wrong idea about her parts, but her "friends" weren't with her tonight. She'd often been beaten up by men who didn't realize what parts she had, and Tammie, an old friend of hers that was also a trans woman, had been found strangled and shoved under a bed a few years ago. They never did catch who did it. Marilyn wished they would. She missed Tammie a lot. Her death had broken Marilyn.

    She caught a glimpse of her reflection in the side of a parked car and leaned closer to check herself. She smoothed down her honey blonde curls and inspected her makeup. It seemed okay, though her lipstick had smudged just a bit. She fixed it as best she could and then went on to the rest of herself. She wore a red corset top and black leather shorts with fishnet stockings underneath them along with black high heels.

    Marilyn noticed her apparently lopsided chest and frowned as she noticed that her left breast form was nearly falling out.
    "I'm losing my left tit," she said quietly, fixing her top. "God damn it." She looked toward her lower half, making sure her parts were hidden. Even if the people who wanted her needed to know she had them, it definitely wouldn't look right to have a bulge in these pants. Upon seeing that she was fine, she stepped back to survey her entire reflection.

    She was fortunate enough not to grow a lot of facial hair, it took several days for her to get anything really visible, but that didn't stop her from being incredibly paranoid. She hated the way her body looked. She was about 6'0" without heels. She lacked feminine hips, though the corset helped, and the closest she had to breasts were the silicone ones she put in her bras. Without that, she was just as flat as her twin brother. That could change with hormones, but she couldn't afford them at the moment. Then there was her lower half of course, something that never ceased to make her uncomfortable with herself. Hormones could only do so much. After that, surgery was her only option.

    She nearly jumped three feet in the air when she felt someone touch her shoulder. She whipped around and took a few steps backward when she saw the man who had tapped her. She sighed quietly, slightly relieved that he wasn't just grabbing her and trying to hold her down. That had happened before, but a high heel to the groin normally sent them running. "Can I help you?" she asked, putting on the usual sultry persona she always used for this. It was the total opposite of how she was in reality. She was normally very shy, but that wouldn't work for her, not now, not for this.
    • Love Love x 1
  2. "Hi, Melissa? Yeah, this is Michael Blythe. Look, I'm sorry that it's so late and such a short notice, but could you come watch the kids tonight?" A man sat on the edge of his bed with a cellphone to his ear. A pair of reading glasses twirled through the fingers of his free hand. He was a fairly attractive man of 29 years with a fair amount of dark brown hair covered his hair and lower face. His gray eyes squinted at the floor as he waited for an answer from his babysitter. It was close to 9pm but every inch of Michael's being urged Melissa to take the job. If she asked, he would stay that it was for work. If she didn't, then she didn't need to know his plans. He stopped fiddling with his glasses and was about to tell her to forget about it, when her voice came through the speaker.

    "Mr. Blythe, still there? Sorry that took so long. I just had to get permission from my parents and everything. Yeah. I'll be there. Give me about 15 minutes."

    The man smiled and sighed with relief. "Thank you, Melissa. I'll pay you double for tonight. See you soon." He took the phone away from his ear, closed it, and tossed it on the mattress beside him. Michael allowed himself to fall back on the bed and stare at the ceiling. Where he was going tonight didn't exactly make him feel comfortable, but it wasn't like he was going to be doing anything wrong. After a mixture of sour dates and broken promises, he didn't see how it would hurt anyone to go out and enjoy himself without having to feel obligated to make that second phone-call.

    With a grunt, he forced himself up and off the bed and made his way the the closet. The sound of hangers clacking together reminded him that he didn't have much of a sense of fashion and also brought up the good point of that he didn't know what to wear for tonight anyway. He settled for a thin, white button-down shirt and some dark jeans. Nothing too formal, but it would at least give the lucky girl the right idea that he wasn't some trash that they would have to suffer through. Michael slipped the clothes on and stared at himself in the mirror. Children had given him the dark gray patches of hair that were found around his years and in spots around his beard. Long fingers whispered through his hair in an attempt to try and tidy it up. He was about to go for the cologne that was on his dresser when he heard a knock.

    "Come in." It was Zoey. Her brown hair was tied into a bun at the top of her head and her pajamas hung loosely around her form. She looked so much like her mother that it was uncanny. Unfortunately, the look of disappointment and anger was also the same.

    "You're going out tonight, aren't you?"

    Michael sighed, "Yes, I am. Melissa will be here soon. She'll be watching you and your brother to-."

    "I don't want Melissa to be here. Why do you always have to be going somewhere? Why can't you stay here?" Her pitch rose with every word, grating on Michael's ears.

    He wouldn't deny it. He had been neglecting home. Sometimes work would keep him late or a date here and there. But that was none of her business. He sighed and turned to his daughter. "Are we really going to do this tonight? I'm going out. I'll be back later. Melissa will be here any minute, so straighten up."

    "Fine. Go out. I hope you don't come back." Michael could hear the tears coming to her as she slammed the door closed behind her. He stood, listening to her as she stomped down the hallway, up the stairs, and then slammed her own door shut. He groaned and rubbed at his temples. That girl was going to be the death of him. He finally sprayed himself with cologne and left his room just in time to catch the lights of Melissa's car as she pulled into the driveway. Michael gathered his things and left the house, meeting the girl on the sidewalk.

    "Zoey is in a terrible mood tonight, so watch out for her. Some food is in the fridge. You know their bedtimes. Eli at 10 and Zoey by midnight. I'll pay you when I get back. Make yourself at home."

    It was nearing 11:30PM when Michael pulled up to a sidewalk downtown. He had made a trip to Wal-Mart to buy some flowers and chocolate, and then stopped by the liquor store for something a bit more fun. He turned on the cablight to his jeep and adjusted his hair and checked himself out in the rear-view mirror. He looked good. Nervous... but good. He cleared his throat, closed his eyes, and then opened the door and let himself out. He only walked along the sidewalk for a few feet when a figure in front of him caught his attention. The streetlight allowed him to see glimpses of the woman's figure and long blonde hair. Her heels looked like they were giving her trouble, too, from the way she kept stopping and leaning every now and them.

    He picked up his pace and finally caught up to her, surprised that she hadn't heard him. "Ma'am?" Michael reached out and gently touched her shoulder. He jumped in response to her. "Sorry, sorry! Didn't mean to scare you. I thought you might have heard me." His heart was beating loudly in his chest and he tried to calm down his breathing. He was already nervous for being out here, trying to find a lady like her. And the small scare didn't help matters.

    Michael cleared his throat to answer her, "Uh, yeah. I was wondering if maybe you would like to..." How was he suppose to ask? What if he was wrong and she wasn't a night girl? The lighting of the streetlamp didn't do her much justice and the fear of being caught made him hear her voice slightly deeper than he expected. Instead of finishing the question, and turned to look back at his keep that was parked in the distance. "I was wondering if you would like to accompany me tonight," he finally replied, feeling a bit stronger about the situation.
  3. Marilyn scanned the man over as she spoke to him, shifting the bag that contained all her belongings onto her shoulders. He was actually fairly nice, actually. Most of the men that paid her for sex weren't this good looking. Some of them had the potential to be, but mostly they didn't seem to care. The few women she'd slept with–and there had been a few–had actually been quite pretty, but they'd never shown any interest in her beyond wanting sex. Nobody ever really had. Most of them were just people desperate for sex who had a thing about transsexuals. She suspected it made them feel better about themselves. Sleeping with a girl who used to be a boy, that sort of thing. Marilyn didn't really have any sort of preference with who she would sleep with, for money or in a relationship.
    The man seemed nervous as he spoke, saying that she knew what he wanted before pulling money from his wallet. He apologized for scaring her and then continued on. As he spoke, Marilyn realized that she was not with the usual few gay men she searched for people with. She was completely alone, and nowhere near a gay bar or anything else similar. He was probably confused about what she had.

    "Don't be sorry. I should be more aware of my surroundings. I know what you want," she said. "But I really don't think you know what you're asking for." Her hand rested on her hip as she spoke, and while most people might interpret this as a provocative sort of pose, she was really keeping her hand near the pocket of her shorts she carried her pocketknife in. She might need it, depending on this guy's reaction to what she was going to have to tell him.

    She had always carried the knife when she was out, whether she was working or not. She had become more careful about carrying it after what had happened to Tammie. Tammie had been her only friend. She had been a beautiful person, and she definitely hadn't deserved the death she had had. As shitty as living this life was, Marilyn was not ready to die, and certainly not in the same way as her friend.

    "I really don't think you want me, unless you're gay or something else other than straight," she said, pushing his money away. "I'm a transgender woman; I really don't think I have the parts you'd be interested in." Yet, she thought. She hoped to have hormones and surgery one day, putting aside money when she could, but at the moment she supposed she just had to play the cards she'd been dealt.

    "If you're not interested anymore, you should go," she said, and then realizing how early it was getting to be, added, "I need to find somewhere to sleep." She didn't even have the money to keep staying in the crappy motel room she had spent so many years in. She guessed she would sleep on a bench or something, and then go hungry tomorrow, unless she could find some other sort of job that needed doing. "And don't try anything on me either." There was one thing she actually liked about her body, which was that she was a lot stronger than your average woman. She had to be.
  4. A dark blush settled over Michael's face as the woman?... man?... person? explained to him that he was mistaken. He nervously ran his hand through his hair and took a few steps back. "Sorry, I didn't mean any offense." Michael, usually a man of great confidence, had been reduced to a shy, nervous, and embarrassed boy. He looked at the person standing in front of him and realized that he didn't really know what to say. He shook his head and brought his hand up in a wave. "Have a good night," he muttered and turned away with the intent of going back to his jeep and straight home.

    As he walked back to his vehicle, he honestly didn't know if he should be angry that he was deceived or embarrassed that he couldn't tell the difference. The nervous were finally leaving his body and the urge to just punch something rose through him so quickly that he was almost unable to contain himself. How stupid could he have been to not notice? He pulled his keys out of his pocket and unlocked the jeep, ready to get inside and put this behind him. No doubt the person he was just speaking to would have a good story to tell their buddies in the morning. Michael let himself inside and started the engine when he finally allowed himself to look back to the person under the streetlight.

    It was only then that he noticed the large back that they had been carrying. What had they said just before he left? Were they homeless? The drops of rain on his windshield finally brought his attention to the weather. In good conscience, there was no way that Michael could just leave. He hit the steering wheel hard with the palm of his hand, a loud "Argh!" escaping his mouth. His gray eyes looked down at the gifts he had bought for the night and he moved them to the backseat. "Damn it," he muttered.

    He put his eyes back to the road and shifted the jeep into drive, making his way back to the streetlight and back to the stranger he had just met. Pulling up beside the sidewalk again, he rolled down the window. "You don't need to be out in this weather. You'll get sick or something." He looked the person over and sighed, "Come on. Let's go get some coffee or something." He pressed the button on the side of his door to unlock the passenger-side to allow them to get in. They probably wouldn't take his request, but at least he would have tried to be a good person.
  5. The man blushed when Marilyn spoke, and when he apologized Marilyn shook her head. "Don't be sorry," she said. "It's my fault. I usually look for people around gay bars or something. Tonight has just been a mess for me, I'm sorry." The man told her to have a good night before he turned and walked away from her Marilyn breathed the sigh of relief.

    She was glad to be safe, or at least it seemed that she was, but was slightly disappointed. Not that she wasn't going to have sex, just that she wasn't going to make any money. Sex had become a chore for her at this point. Something she did for survival rather than pleasure. She hadn't eaten properly in days. Her brother had sent her one of those giant bags of Swedish Fish a while ago, and she'd managed to make it last a pretty long time, but she knew it wasn't healthy. And she had to admit that she did miss eating real food.

    Marilyn turned to start in the direction of the park she normally slept in. Hopefully all the benches weren't all taken yet. Sleeping on the ground in this rain would be horrible. Ground was bad, rain was bad, but combining them…ugh.

    She had only just started walking toward the park when a car, more specifically a jeep, pulled up next to her and the driver rolled down the window. It was the man she had just met. What did he want from her now?

    She was surprised when she made his offer. He seemed nice, but maybe he was just trying to trap her. She kept her hand on her hip as he spoke. It would be a risk to go with him, but she supposed that the risk of something bad happening to her was definitely higher if she fell asleep on a park bench or in a homeless shelter.

    She had a knife, a way of defending herself if he tried anything, and coffee did sound nice. She was freezing and exhausted, and coffee was a luxury that she hadn't been able to have in ages.

    "I would really appreciate that, but only if you're sure. I really don't want to be a bother for you." She didn't want to burden anybody with her problems. "My name is Marilyn," she said, extending a hand for him to shake. "Marilyn Havanna."
  6. Michael sighed and watched her come to the car. "No, no. It's fine, really. It's cold and wet out here and you look like you haven't eaten in days." He would probably hate himself for doing this in the morning, probably sooner than that, actually. A large part of him was wondering what he was doing in the middle of a night asking a transgendered hooker out for coffee. He reached out his hand to grab hers and shook it lightly. "Michael Blythe," he said shortly and reached down the open the door for her. Once she was in the jeep he looked over at her. "The rain has made your eyes run," Michael said before pulling away from the sidewalk and driving down the road.

    "Do you like Waffle House? I think they are open around this time. They never close. I love to eat there, but we haven't been since they put a pickle on my daughter's waffles one time." Michael started to laugh but then shut his mouth and tightened his grip on the steering wheel. He had just met this person. Coffee was one thing. Talking about his family was another. He had no idea who this person was. He had no idea what this person was.

    Another ten minutes and they were in the thick of town that was mainly closed except for the lone Waffle House that was tucked behind a strip-mall. Michael parked under the awning and got out of the vehicle without saying a word and waited at the entrance for Marilyn. Once inside, Michael made himself a place at the bar and ordered two coffees.

    "Get whatever you want," he encouraged, looking down at the menu. He hadn't realized how hungry he was until that moment and decided that a simple plate of eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns were good enough for him.
  7. Marilyn gave a small nod when Michael said that she looked like she hadn't eaten in days. He was right. She hadn't. Even when she did get to eat, she rarely ever got much. She had grown used to living on small amounts of food. That didn't mean she wasn't hungry or exhausted almost all the time. It just meant that she had grown used to being hungry and exhausted. It wasn't pleasant.

    She slipped into the passenger seat of the car and felt her face blush when Michael told her that the rain had made her eyes run. "Thanks for telling me," she said. "I don't want messy sad raccoon eyes." She dug into her bag and pulled out some makeup wipes, making an attempt to clean her eyes up a bit. Once satisfied with her reflection in the window, she stuffed the wipe back into her bag. "I hate rain."

    She shivered, still cold from the rain, when Michael asked if she liked Waffle House. "I do," she said. "I haven't eaten there in forever though." She had to laugh at Michael's story about his daughter and the pickles. He stopped his laugh abruptly, and it dawned on her that maybe he was just a bit afraid of her too.

    "Pickles on waffles..." She said. "Sounds like an interesting combination." She slipped out of the car as Michael parked it, and then followed the man into the restaurant.

    He encouraged her to get whatever she wanted, but Marilyn had no idea what she wanted. She was starving. She would eat just about anything at this point. She decided she would just get the same as whatever Michael decided on.

    The man at the counter returned with their coffees and then they ordered their food. Marilyn picked up her cup and took a sip of coffee, grateful for the warmth it spread through her. She hadnt had coffee in so long. "Thank you for this," she said to the man beside her, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
    • Love Love x 1
  8. Michael picked up the small packet of creamer and poured it into his coffee. "Yeah, you're welcome," he said glancing over at Marilyn. He sat quietly for a moment, tapping on the menu with his right thumb and stirring his coffee absentmindedly with his left. There was one question that he knew that he had to ask, but couldn't bring himself to. He cleared his throat, a habit that he just now realized he had been doing all night, and looked up at the clock. Jesus, it was getting late. He looked back over at the person beside him, conflicted over who he was sitting beside. Their name was Marilyn. They looked like a woman, but they weren't. Honestly, he was unsure of what to call... him... her?

    He had been raised in an environment where this person wouldn't be considered normal. Not in an insulting way, of course. Just in the fact that it was unheard of in his town. They had their homosexuals, but this area was something that Michael knew nothing about. It frightened and embarrassed him. He wasn't an educated man by any means, but he couldn't help feeling so ignorant.

    The man behind the counter finally put their plates infront of them and with a "Thank you" from Michael, he suddenly realized that he had been staring at Marilyn during his entire thought process. He blinked and shook his head, clearing his throat again. "Sorry," he said, another habit he had gotten into within the last hour or so. "So, uh... Where you from? Got any family around these parts? Not meaning to pry or anything. Just trying to make small talk."

    He looked down at his plate of food and unwrapped his silverware from a napkin. He began to eat and slowly began to feel slightly more comfortable around Marilyn. It was strange how food would bring people together. He felt his shoulders ease the tension they had been carrying for most of the night and closed his eyes in relief. It wasn't the night that he had planned, but it wasn't completely terrible. Strange, yes. But terrible? No.
  9. Marilyn noticed that Michael was staring at her. He apologized quickly, and Marilyn just nodded. "Don't worry about it. It's fine. I'm used to it." He was obviously confused about her. She didn't look particularly masculine. She had a feminine face even without makeup--though not wearing any makeup at all gave her anxiety, and she always wore at least a bit. Her corset helped give her a feminine shape. She had never really been a very masculine boy in terms of looks, even when she was young. She had had feminine mannerisms too. Her father had more than once given her a slap for the way she crossed her legs, at the knee like she had always seen women do, rather than the more masculine way of at the ankle. Her father was always trying to make her into a man. She had constantly failed, and eventually just stopped trying.

    "I grew up in a town a couple of miles away from here," she told him, not minding his attempts at making small talk. "As for family..." She paused. She no longer counted her parents as family. Not after the way they had booted her out. Not after the things they had screamed at her when she had finally built up the courage to come out. She sighed softly as she thought of it. Her parents hated her. She had tried so hard to fit into the mold that they had built for her, tried so hard to change the way she felt about herself. But she couldn't. And that had cost her the love of her parents. If she ever had children herself, she would love them no matter what.

    "Not really. I have a twin brother, but he's been away at film school for a while." Her brother never had really settled on what exactly he wanted to do with film, so he was just studying everything that he possibly could. He deserved to make it far. "My parents still live in the house I grew up in...but we don't talk anymore so I can't really count them." She shrugged. Their food was placed in front of them, and Marilyn slowly began to eat. She had to pace herself. It was taking everything she had not to just scarf it all down. She had started to feel comfortable around Michael. Maybe he didn't want to hurt her after all. He could have done it already if he really wanted to. Instead he had bought her food and coffee.

    "What about you?" she asked curiously. "Have you always lived here? You said you had a daughter, do you have any other family?" Marilyn had to admit that she was a bit jealous, even though she hardly knew this man. He had a daughter, something she had always longed for but would very likely never have, and presumably a house, probably a stable job too. He wouldn't be wasting money on her if he couldn't afford it. She hadn't had anything like that...ever, actually.
  10. Michael listened to Marilyn as she talked. She had a small family, some that was quite a bit different from his own life. Granted, a lot of things were different. He took a small sip of his coffee to try and balance the many thoughts that were running through his head. A hand went to his temple and he massaged the spot near his eyebrow. He glanced over at the plate beside him and was pleased to see Marilyn eating. After the life he felt like he had been having lately, maybe this would be his good deed to swing karma back in his favor.

    "So, I guess you're from Hazelgreen, huh? Only little town I know that's reasonable distance from here. Nice little town. Some guys and I would head up that way to the Little River Motel and hang out. Don't ask me why we chose a motel of all places, but..." Michael laughed and took a bite of his food. Those were the days. His gray eyes darkened with nostalgia. Sure, he had done things that he wasn't proud of, but he wasn't a bad guy. Especially after Zoey was born, all of that "fun" stopped. No more drinking or smoking with the boys. It was probably a good thing, too.

    He snapped out of his little phase when Marilyn asked him about himself. He nodded his head and brought a tissue to his mouth to clear off any food. "Yeah, always lived here. Dad passed away in '08, but Mom is still kicking it in a few houses down from mine. She's never been the same since, but she's making it." Michael looked over at Marilyn and took a sip of his coffee. "Got a daughter, Zoey. She's ten and thinks she rules the world, and then I have a son named Elijah who is turning five in February. He does rule the world." He chuckled and ran his hand through his hair. For a moment he was going to ask if she had kids herself, but then remembered that if she had, she probably would have mentioned them earlier. It was probably best not to open that probable can of worms.

    "They are good kids. Great kids. But Zoey has been having trouble lately. Hormones, maybe? I think another thing may just be the fact that her mom isn't around. You know how girls are. They need their mom." He shrugged and took another bite of his food. "Sorry, I'm rambling. You don't need to hear about young daughter troubles," Michael said with a laugh, "I'm sure things will sort itself out in a few weeks."
  11. "I did grow up there," she said when Michael mentioned Hazelgreen. It had been a fairly nice town, but Marilyn had definitely not been well liked, especially as a kid. The kids she had grown up around had been vicious to her. She had tried to tell them that she was really a girl, in the hopes that maybe they would listen where her parents had shut her down. She had been wrong, of course. They had been absolutely awful to her, and she had slowly stopped trying to convince them. She had tried so hard to be normal and failed.

    Marilyn snickered when he mentioned hanging out at the motel. "That's a weird place to hang out," she commented. "I used to live there. It was not fun. The locks on the doors didn't work and the place was crawling with bugs no matter how clean I kept it. Ugh." She had grown used to the bugs, and killed them when she needed to, but that didn't mean she'd liked them being there. They'd realky freaked her out. But...bugs as roommates were still a whole lot better than being homeless. She had to admit that she missed the place.

    He mentioned his children, and Marilyn was instantly jealous again. She got jealous a lot. Jealous of cis women for having the bodies she had always wanted but would never quite have. Jealous of people with families who still loved them and would never reject them. She wished that she wasn't jealous. She wished she could just be happy. She wasn't dead yet. That was something, right? That was good. But it was definitely not something she should have to worry about as often as she did.

    "They sound like good kids," she commented when the man finished talking about his kids. She paused when Michael mentioned his troubles with his daughter. "Don't be sorry," she told him. "I don't mind. Maybe she does miss her mother. It's good she still has you though. Maybe she's just lonely. I was lonely when I was that age too."
  12. When Marilyn confessed that she had lived in Little River Motel, Michael was shocked. It had never looked like a terrible place while he was there. Some areas, at least, looked like they were kept in good condition, safe for the back of the Motel that was a druggie's safe-haven. Now that he looked back on it, maybe it had been stupid to hang out there, but the past was the past. Thank God for that.

    He laughed at the mention of his kids. "Yeah, they can be..." His mind flashed back to his short conversation with Zoey earlier that night. Maybe he had been the one who had the temper instead of her? He wasn't sure. Arguments always blurred together in his mind and he could never remember the beginning of them, no matter how short they were. But maybe Marilyn was right. It would make sense, of course. Especially given the topic of their earlier spat. "But, maybe. I can't really say that I was ever lonely. Being a middle child didn't really give me much time," he laughed.

    Michael finished his plate of food and asked for a refill on his coffee which was given to him without hesitation. He mixed more cream and sugar back into it before taking a sip and sighed. "That and the fact that I didn't grow up as a girl makes it hard to really understand what she might be going through. Girls have it hard. It's weird. You don't have to be a girl to even realize how hard they have it. But, maybe that's just the dad in me." He shrugged and looked up at Marilyn.

    "This might sound crazy, but.. no, nevermind." Asking her to talk to Zoey would be ridiculous. Zoey barely talked to him, much less anyone else. Plus, he wasn't sure if Marilyn would be the right person anyway. Maybe if she was dressed a bit more conservatively... maybe. He kept himself from laughing and only smiled. "You know, considering how this night started, it's been going pretty well."
  13. "You're lucky then," Marilyn said when Michael said that he had never had time to be lonely. "I had my brother, but I wasn't really close with either one of my parents or really well liked by much anybody else. I think that's why I was lonely so often." That and her gender issues anyway. She had never been able to talk to anybody about how she felt. Nobody understood it. So she'd bottled it away and tried to cope with it. It had made her into an angry, mean teenager. "Maybe she's having problems she's not telling you about," she mentioned. "And that's why she's not happy. I was like that." She paused. "I was an asshole. Mostly because I wasn't very happy."

    "Girls have it rough," Marilyn said. "And girls that she can be so mean too. All kids that age can be kind of scary. If I see a group of middle schoolers on one side of the street, I'll cross to the other side," she joked. "They'll get to what you hate about yourself and then destroy you emotionally. Some of them are really cruel. I was afraid of them in middle school and I don't think I ever really got over it."

    She was partly joking, but there was truth to her words too. Kids had been mean to her all through school, but late elementary and middle school had been the worst by far. She was picked on for everything, but her feminine mannerisms had been the most popular target. Alex walks like a girl, Alex talks funny, Alex is this, Alex is that. She had worn makeup to school once. Stolen it out of her mother's bathroom. That had been an invitation for everything. Taunts, beatings, the works. School had been hell.

    Michael started to say something to her, but then stopped. "What?" she asked. "Trust me, I've seen a whole lot of crazy. Anything you throw at me is guaranteed to be mild."

    She had to smile when Michael said that the night had been nice. "It has," she said. "I'm just happy you haven't tried to kill me yet. Kind of surprised, actually." She supposed she could have stabbed him too, but Marilyn tried to avoid stabbing anybody for the most part. She wouldn't do that unless they attacked her, and even then she tended to try to scrambleaway from them first. The knife was just a last resort. She really didn't wantto have to hurt anyone. She would feel guilty. Her brother had often told herthat she was too sweet, too empathetic, to be living out her life the way she was. Perhaps he was right.
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