illuminated

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illuminated

Post by lightworm on 3/4/2015, 3:06 pm

hello. I never anticpated I would be putting this here, honestly, but here I am alas.
every year, my city has a writing competition where every student can submit a piece of something they wrote into a competition. this is my entry.
I hope you all like it! feedback is great.

..........

Illuminated

Lorelei's reflection looked as good as she felt. The clothes she had taken from her sister's closet hung nicely on her skin, different from what she was used to. A slim purple dress, a thin golden belt around her waist, cheap plastic bracelets that clanged with every move of her arm. Her sister was two years younger than she and the clothes were tight, but to Lorelei, they were perfect.

      ***

"Benjamin!" her mother called, summoning her to the ground floor of the house. "Help me put away the groceries."
Lorelei hadn't tried discussing who she actually was to her mother. She was too nervous about how her mother (or anyone) would see her. She didn't want to take chances. She was dressed in the boy clothes her mother bought. She loathed them.
"Benjamin, put those in the fridge," Her mother said, gesturing to the short plastic bag of tomatoes Lorelei held.
"It's Lorelei," Lorelei muttered under her breath, but she did as she was told.

 ***
Her mother was a teacher who worked at another school, and left earlier than Lorelei. As soon as the SUV pulled out of the driveway, Lorelei ran up the stairs and into her bedroom.
She stripped the clothes made for boys and pulled on the same dress she had tried a few weeks ago, along with the belt and bracelets. Her hair had grown past her ears, and while it bugged her mother, Lorelei refused to cut it. She pinned it up like she saw her mother do when something special was happening. It was time for everyone to see her as she saw herself.

                                                          ***
There was a substitute in homeroom. She called attendance; however, no one payed attention to her. Instead, their gazes were focused on Lorelei, who sat in the middle of the room at her assigned desk. The boy sitting next to her had pulled his chair away, and was now sitting more than two desks away from her. Other peers laughed behind hands and from turned heads.
"Benjamin?" the substitute said stiffly, her eyes roaming over all of the boys. Lorelei raised her arm.
"It's Lorelei, actually," Lorelei said, her voice plump with faux confidence. The substitute tensed her face but nodded, continuing onto the next student.
Lorelei had to hold her hand flat against the desk to keep it from shaking.
                                                          ***

For her birthday years ago, Lorlei was gifted an old book of myths and legends all around the world from her grandmother. She wasn't a good reader, but she liked the colorful pictures that accompanied each story.
There was one story entitled "Lorelei." It was about the German legend, in which a beautiful woman named Lorelei throws herself into a river from despair after she is rejected. The picture beside it was the most depressing of the entire book - a woman with blonde hair, mid jump into the river, her face red from crying. Blue robes cover her body, wind tearing at them. They looked like the woman's wings.
Lorelei fell in love with the story and started to pretend she was the woman. After her mother found out about how much Lorelei loved the legend, she took the book away.  

                                                          ***
After school, Lorelei sat on a rotted bench as she waited for her mother to pick her up. She was tense as she prepared herself to take on her mother's anger.
A boy approached her. He was short for his age, and had thin brown hair that curled round his ears. Lorelei recognized him, but couldn't remember his name.
"Ben," he started, shoving his hands into his pants pockets. Lorelei corrected him. "Sorry," he said, and took a hand out of the pocket, rubbing the back of his neck with it. "You don't want to be Ben?"
Lorelei shook her head. "I like this version of me better."  There was a crack in her voice that she tried to prevent.
"But... on your birth certificate, doesn't it say male?"
Lorelei sighed anxiously.  "It also says I'm six pounds." She ducked her head so they made eye contact. "Do I look like I'm six pounds to you?"
The boy briefly shook his head, obviously uncomfortable.
"And it doesn't matter who I want to be. What matters is who I am."
The boy opened his mouth to say something, but thought against it and ran off to his group of friends.
Lorelei was turning her head back to her hands that shook with a tremor when the blue SUV pulled up in front of her.

                                                         ***
Her mother and her father were in the kitchen arguing. About her. Although it was obvious they were trying to keep their voices down so she didn't hear, the door that separated them was a piece of wood, not a building.
"He's your son!" she heard her mother sneer, followed by a thud, like someone got pushed into a wall. "You figure something out!"

A few hours ago, as Lorelei got up from the bench and walked to her mother's van, the woman had immediately rolled down the window. It was innocent at first. Lorelei assumed that her mother was about to tell the girl that was approaching that she had the wrong car.
Then the yelling began as realization sank.

Lorelei heard her father swear as he recovered from whatever had just happened. "How am I supposed to -"
"Fix it!" her mother yelled, and shoved the door open, running through it and up the stairs.
Lorelei's father followed after her into the small living space. He stopped short of the bottom stair and turned to Lorelei, who was still dressed in girl clothes.
"You like dressing like this?" he had grownup in Boston, and his accent fluctuated as he spoke.
Lorelei nodded as she smoothed her hands over the dress. "I do."
Her father nodded, looking around the room for something he could focus his gaze on that wasn't her. "Benjamin-"
"Lorelei," Lorelei interjected, correcting him. "It's Lorelei now."
Her father made a tired sound.

                                                           ***
Lorelei was in her room reading a book on her bed. It wasn't a very good book. The storyline was confusing and the main character was annoying. This made her a little relieved when her mother opened the door to her room and peeked her head in. "You in here?"
Before, her mother would've probably announced her entry by a loud 'Benjamin!', but now she wasn't calling Lorelei any name, male nor female.
Lorelei nodded, closing the book and sitting up. "You can come in." It was an unnecessary invitation. Her mother was already standing in the middle of the room, studying the walls while pretending not to.
They were now a murky purple color, murky because Lorelei forgot to prime them before she began to paint. The purple was only a small change from the sky blue that the walls were before, but they were a start.
"I wanted to know if you wanted to go clothes shopping," she said, her eyes glancing towards the closet. It contained all of Benjamin's clothes, a person entirely different from Lorelei.
At the proposal, Lorelei's eyes widened. Never had her mother shown support before, other than not calling her Benjamin anymore. "Uh. Sure."
Her mother nodded, not concealing discomfort nearly as well as Lorelei could. "Good. And Lorelei," she said, half turned. "We leave in 5."
Lorelei's name sounded wrong on her tongue.

                                                         ***
Lorelei's hand curled around the hair that now fell past her shoulders. It was thick and tangled, and Lorelei soon regretted the action and began to loosen the knot she had created.
She was outside, seated on the same bench where she was interrogated by a judgmental boy and then cussed at by her mother, all within the same fifteen humiliating minutes.
No one ignored her anymore, or pushed away their chairs, or sighed when they were partnered with her.  
"Lorelei!" she heard one of her friends call, and Lorelei looked up.
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