His chest felt tight as he heard his mother calling him from downstairs. His bum was planted on the hardwood flooring as he sat cross-legged in front of his mirror, looking at his reflection. The cool scissors in his hand was prepared to make a cut his mother would surely be angry about. His mother was angry about everything he wanted to do with his body, as if it wasn’t his own. It angered him how much his mother loathed everything he wanted. The clothes he wanted to wear, the haircut he desired, and the hatred for the body he was born with didn’t matter to his mother; she only cared about herself it seemed. Everything he wanted was “against God’s will” as she would say. He didn’t feel it was that way; he felt like how she was treating him was against human rights.
The creeks on their staircase became louder and louder as his mother climbed the stairs with anger. It was almost like her feet were yelling as they stomped on the floor, rather than her actually using her voice. Before she could open his door, he put the scissors in his backpack on the left of him, and then sat in front of the mirror again.
“Are you deaf?” his mother questioned with an angry tone he was expecting, “I asked you to come down to the table ten minutes ago.”
He turned to face his mother and frowned, “Sorry.” He carefully stood up and followed his mother down the stairs.
As they walked to the table, she spoke to him about how to be proper. Her voice shook slightly as she continued on about how his clothes looked sloppy and he needed to wear something nicer, even if he is only in his home. He should be dressing nicely at all times. While she spoke angrily at him, he nodded his head every once in a while to try to say he was listening, but he wasn’t. After he turned sixteen he realized that he didn’t exactly like the way his mother spoke to him and didn’t want to mouth off and get in more trouble, so he chose to act like he was listening instead.
The lasagna on his plate didn’t seem very appetizing at the time, but he ate it anyway. After each bite he felt like he might throw up, so he used his milk to keep it down. His mother always told him not to have dairy with an upset stomach, but he didn’t feel that it applied in this situation. After eating half his dinner he felt he couldn’t eat anymore.
“Can I go out for a bit?” He asked, pushing away his plate.
His mother stopped eating and looked at him oddly, “But you didn’t eat your salad. I made the poppy-seed salad just for you.” She pointed her fork at him.
He sighed, “I’ll have it later.” It was a lie, but he didn’t feel like dealing with her any longer.
She put her silverware down on her plate and looked at her son with a straight face, “Where are you going?”
“Just to Julie’s house.” He lied again.
“Yeah, I like her. Go ahead. Text me if you two go anywhere else.” She finally smiled at him for the first time that day.
“Thanks.” He nodded his head and ran to his room upstairs without bothering to clean his plate. Although he didn’t feel like he should be getting her any angrier today, he didn’t want to clear his plate. He felt like if he looked at any more food he might throw up the minimal amount he already consumed that day.
When he entered his room, he grabbed his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. He looked around the room that was decorated the way his mother would like it, not him. He shut his eyes for a minute, to picture what he wanted; light blue walls, a darker colour sheet, brown furniture, posters of girls; a normal room for a teenage boy. Something he desired greatly, but wasn’t allowed.
He left his room with his eyes shut, not daring to look at his real room. He wanted to picture it how he felt it should be, instead of how it really was. He did open his eyes to go down the stairs or he knew he would fall. He didn’t bother to talk to his mom on his way out; he only wished her a goodbye while she cleaned up the kitchen. As he put his shoes on, he ran out the door, only stopping to pick up his skateboard.
The street he lived and grew up on was a hill so it was very easy to skate down the hill to his destination. He wasn’t going to Julie’s house like he has promised his mother, but instead he was going to the other side of town. The side of town where, as his mother put it, “criminals and drugged up prostitutes live” but he didn’t have the heart to tell her that the part of town they lived on wasn’t much better than over there. There were more drugs on the so-called prostitute side of town, but there was more shootings and trouble on their side of town. The whole city they lived in was problematic.
It was only a twenty-minute skate to get to his friend Dave’s house. Dave was sitting on a lawn chair outside of his house with a brown bag in his lap. He stopped in front of Dave and pulled out money from his bag to hand to Dave for the brown bag he was getting. He shoved the bag in his backpack and left, neither of them saying a word.
His next destination was just up the street, about ten houses ahead if he was to guess. That house he had to knock on the door in order to meet his other friend, Molly. She was much older and sweeter than Dave, greeting him with a smile and ushering him into her home.
“Would you like a cookie?” She asked with what seemed to be a permanent smile on her face.
“No thanks,” He shook his head at her, “just a haircut.”
Although she was still smiling, you could tell her mood dropped after hearing the words leave his mouth. “Oh you know I would, but they made me take all the scissors out of the house because of James possibly being a danger to anyone.”
With a smile, he moved his brown paper bag and pulled his scissors out, prepared for Molly to say she couldn’t cut his hair. He handed her the scissors and she took them easily.
“Well, let’s get you seated shall we.” Molly happily sang out.
She grabbed a two garbage bags from the cupboard as the young teenager awaiting his haircut brought one of her table chairs out from the kitchen. He helped Molly put one bag on the floor with the chair on top, and put one garbage bag around his chest. As he sat on the chair awaiting his haircut, he put full trust in the eighty year old to do a good job. She was a retried hairdresser so he felt she would do a good job – and she did.
As he stared at the mirror in his room that night, he knew Molly truly loved him. She cut his hair how he wanted, she called him a name he felt he wanted, she complimented his clothing, and she never got upset with him for acting like himself. His mother was supposed to treat him identical to how Molly did, but she didn’t. She treated him the exact opposite, really. He was done with the way his mother treated him. He was done with her and this life.
The morning after his haircut, when his mother entered his room she found him dead on the floor. She was shocked and heartbroken. When the police told her it was an overdose on hormone injections, she couldn’t believe it. She wouldn’t believe it, and she even ignored it. At the funeral, she cried until she was out of breath and could barely let a word out.
“My daughter, my poor daughter.” She sputtered out as she kneeled over the fresh gravestone. “I loved Lindsey so much.”
“That was the problem.” Julie spoke up.
“What?” She questioned, quite confused as to whether or not she was becoming delusional from the amount of crying she had been through.
“You loved Lindsey, not Alex, and Alex needed you.” Julie stood beside the grave, not looking her in the eye.
“Alex doesn’t exist.” She wiped the tears from her face.
“Lindsey doesn’t exist. He was Alex all along.” Julie walked away, leaving Alex’s mother in front of the grave.
Loving daughter, sister, and friend
Looking at the grave his mother still couldn’t see where she had gone wrong, but the words were written all over it. The grave shouldn’t have said Lindsey, daughter, or sister. He wasn’t any of those things – Alex was robbed a life and a grave.