Marlene showed up at my café on Friday. I could feel my cheeks burning as I turned around to greet her. My heart was hammering away and I couldn’t speak. Marlene took over and ordered a cappuccino. I scribbled it down and went back to the counter to pass on the order.
My boss was the barista and asked me if I was alright.
‘Yeah,’ I muttered.
He looked across at Marlene and nodded his head.
Before she left, Marlene asked me over to her house to watch a recording she’d made.
Of course, I said ‘yes’ and had to agonise over her as I finished up for the day, reminiscing about our past together before I went to Melbourne.
Once all was packed up and the floors washed, I raced out the door and over to her place. By the time I arrived I was in a lather of sweat from work and running.
We acted like we didn’t really know each other and neither of us made the first move.
‘Sit down here, Michael. Some of this is your story and I’d like to watch it with you.’
‘Okay.’ I had an idea of the show she wanted me to watch as I’d seen it on SBS last Tuesday with my cousin. He is so cool about my transition and jokes about seeing more hair on my chin. I wish.
Marlene sat on the floor at my feet and operated the controls. When there was something she needed clarifying, she’d hit the pause button.
As the show went on, it was clear to me that Marlene wanted to know about my journey and whether I had wanted to be a boy when I was younger.
‘You bet. I was the best footballer in the street and did all the things boys do, even playing with marbles.’
‘Do you mind if I sit next to you?’ Marlene asked.
So we talked into the small hours of the morning, after I had woken my cousin, Joe, to say I would be home late.
‘Ah, the lovely Marlene,’ he said.
I didn’t stay the night but we promised we would walk by the river and have a cappuccino together the next day. This could be a new start but I don’t want to be hurt. My body tingles when she looks at me and we did a lot of gazing into each other’s eyes last night. The reminiscing was all good.