Child of the Meteor, part 4
It took the better part of a day to reach the Portland area all the way from Sacramento by bus. It felt like forever to me. The only thing that kept me from dying of boredom was that Gabriel wouldn’t leave me alone, sending me messages, memes and anything that crossed his mind through the way.
Despite how long it took to get there, I couldn’t sleep, the movement of the bus keeping me awake, making my clothes and the seat scrape against me. When we finally reached the bus terminal I was about to collapse.
As promised, Gabriel was there in the terminal. He looked tired; he hadn’t slept just so he could keep my company by text.
“Ryland!” He shouted all the way across. He ran toward me, opening his arm for a spontaneous hug. I flinched, readying myself for the contact, but he stopped himself at the last second.
“Wait.” He said to himself, putting his hands up. “You don’t like to be touched. Sorry, I’m just so excited to—” He cut himself off and laughed nervously.
I wrapped my arms around his torso and gave him a quick squeeze. My cheeks flushed when I realized what I’d done. My arms however already felt a little chafed from that…
“I’m really happy to see you too.”
I had the biggest grin on my face. We hadn’t seen each other since May and now we’d spend most of July together before I had to go back home. I’d miss mom, but this was going to be the best summer ever.
“Good evening Ry.” Grandma said, coming to my side. “It’s so good to see you.”
“You too Gran.”
“You look exhausted, dear. Why don’t we go home and get you some rest.”
“Aww shucks, I was hoping we could hang.” Gabriel said.
“You can come by in the morning, I’m sure Ryland would like that.”
“Guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
Gabriel and I went our separate ways, me to Grandma and Grandpa’s house while he went back home. After a quick dinner, I went to bed and quickly fell asleep.
The second I woke up the next morning, I sent a text to Gabriel telling him I was up. He was at Gran’s within twenty minutes, I hadn’t even finished my morning routine by then.
“You were fast.”
“Sorry, I was just excited, jumped on my bike and came here. Didn’t even eat breakfast.”
“Now that won’t do.” Grandma said. She put her hands on his shoulder and guided him to a chair. “How’s scrambled eggs?”
“That’d be great.”
After a really quick breakfast, Gabriel and I were about to scamper off when Grandma spoke.
“Wait a minute, Ry, you’re due for your medicine.” Grandma said. Just like mom, my grandma was a nurse.
“Does it have to be now?” I mumbled back, shooting a glance at Gabriel.
“It was supposed to be yesterday.” She said sternly. “Come on, it’ll only take a minute.”
I sat on a stool and hiked up the leg of my shorts. Grandma got blockers from my bag where it was all still in its box, putting gloves on and getting an alcoholic wipe. I had to take a shot once a month so it’d stop me from going through girl puberty.
“Ready?” Grandma said once she had the syringe in hand.
I put the flesh of my index in my mouth and bit down, closing my eyes before nodding. She disinfected the area with the wipe, waited for a moment and then jabbed me with the needle. It hurt like hell, not because of the injection but because of my own messed up sense of touch, it felt like she’d ran sandpaper over my skin.
“You’re all done.” Grandma said, removing her gloves and disposing of the needle.
I got up and went toward Gabriel who’s just waited at my side all this time. I guided him to my room and closed the door.
“So, what’s the medicine for?” He asked in a low tone.
I bit my lip. Should I tell him? What if he reacted badly? He was my old real friend… If he was really my friend, he’d be okay, wouldn’t he?
“Ry? I get if you don’t want to talk about it.”
“It’s a puberty blocker.” I said. He just blinked. “I’m transgender.”
“So you were like born a girl?”
I flinched, I didn’t like it when people said that. “I was always a boy.” I said, a little harshly. “Its other people who decided I wasn’t supposed to be one.” I instinctively raised my knees to my chin.
“I guess that makes sense.” Gabriel nodded. “So does the blockers mean you don’t get a period and grow boobs?”
“Doesn’t stop mean they had to start to begin with?”
“I started late… My dad insisted that I had to be a girl…”
“Oh… Where’s he?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t want to.”
“Right.” There was a moment of awkward silence. “Want to work on our Ravenhold app?”
“That sounds good.”
I took out my laptop from my bag and booted it up.
“Aww man, that’s such a dinosaur! How can you even use that?” He said with a snicker.
“I don’t use it for anything but talking to you and homework.” I said with a self-conscious shrug. I knew I definitely shouldn’t show him my phone either… He’d have thought I was a luddite.
A few days later, we were hanging out at Gabriel’s place. We’d spent the morning in the pool to cool down from the scorching summer heat. As we were eating lunch, still dripping wet, Gabriel spoke up.
“I have something for you.”
“Stay there, I’ll be right back.”
He ran inside and came back a minute later with his arms behind his back. “You know how it was my birthday last month?”
“Well my parents got me an upgrade so I guess you can have my old one.” He said with a grin. He took his arms out and revealed a laptop, it wasn’t new but it was much better than mine. “I asked them and they said it was okay to give it to you.”
“With that we can even play some games together.”
“I’m not big on games, but I’ll definitely play some with you.” I smiled back.
He sat down on the deck and put the laptop down. The grin on his face just wouldn’t disappear. After a moment, I noticed he was kind of staring at me.
“Is there something on my face?”
“No, no.” He said with a nervous chuckle.
“What is it then?”
“There’s something I want to tell you…”
“I… like you Ry.” The moment my brain made sense of the words that had just been said, I could feel my heart beating out of my chest.
“For real.” He said. There was a smile on his lips and some redness on his cheek which were quickly hidden as he shrunk down a little in his hoodie. “Can’t believe I just told you that…”
“I like you too.”
I nodded, looking away as I felt my own cheeks redden. When I dared look back we were both smiling stupidly.
“I want to kiss you.” He said timidly.
“I want you to.” I said after a moment.
I felt like I couldn’t quite breathe. We both leaned in, eyes closed and butt foreheads together. We both said ‘ouch’ at the the same time, then laughed nervously. Our second try was better. Our lips met, his breath tickled my skin, the contact was intense, electrifying, lighting up my whole body.
When we broke away, just a moment later, we were both out of breath.
“Do you want to be my boyfriend?”
I smirked at the word. “Yes.”
July came to an end and with a heavy heart I had to go back down to California. Gabriel and I were definitely dating, and ready to be long distance. If we were lucky, we’d be together at Ravenhold just a few weeks from then.
He was the best I could hope for, he was kind, patient and understanding. He didn’t mind how I couldn’t stand being touched, he was happy with the little ways I was comfortable being intimate.
I was reading a book in my room when the distinct dial of video chat came from my computer. I jumped out of bed and hit open. Gabriel’s face immediately showed up on my new laptop’s screen.
“Ry!” He practically screamed in excitement.
“I got it!”
“My Ravenhold response letter! Did you get yours yet?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t check today. I’m not even out of my pajamas yet.”
“It’s one in the afternoon, man.”
“Yeah and I didn’t have anywhere to go. Let me check.”
I went outside, ran down the stairs and checked the mailbox for our apartment. Just like Gabriel, there was a letter from Ravenhold in there for me. I sprinted back up to my room. When I made it, I was a little out of breath.
“Lets see what they say?” He asked.
I nodded and ripped the envelope open. My eyes ran across the letter until they reached the fateful line.
Mr Cook, we would like to inform you that your application has been carefully considered and that we regretfully inform you that you were not selected for our class of two-thousand and fifteen. We hope that you will apply again in the future.
My heart sunk.
“I didn’t get in…” I muttered.
“Me neither…” Gabriel answered a moment later.
There was an empty silence for a moment.
“But you know what?” Gabriel began, his tone getting more confident. “Next year we’ll definitely get in. By then we’ll be way more badass, we can learn kung-fu and stuff man!”
“You bet.” I answered with a smile. “We’ll have even better essays, better costumes, maybe I’ll even find a better name than Zeitgeist!”
“But I like that name.”
“Of course you do, you picked it.”
The next year was the greatest of my life, sure I had all the old problems I had, but I also had Gabriel, at the end of the day we’d be there for one another, even if many miles were between us, we had the internet.
I had a boyfriend who loved me as I was and through winter and spring break we got to see each other again. As summer came closer, I was excited to see him again. We’d work on that year’s Ravenhold application and hopefully by September we’d be there.