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A moment too soon

Pui Kei

29 Mar, 2013 01:18 PM

I knew this was my moment. All eyes were fixed on me except Audrey’s. Hers were shut tightly, tears trickling down her rosy cheeks. Pa and Ma were somewhere around us, I could sense it because they were crying out for me. If you were to ask me if I regretted this path that I had chosen, I would say no. Perhaps, a little, now that Audrey was so disheartened.
* * * * *

“Alex, are you in there?” Audrey’s squeaky voice reverberated from behind the bedroom door.
I quickly chucked away the dresses, wigs and cosmetics into my one and only wardrobe before opening the door.
“They’re asleep?” I asked her.
“Yes,” my biological twin replied. I let out a sigh involuntarily and locked the door. Audrey started to take out everything that I had just stuffed into the tiny wardrobe. After changing into a sleeveless dress, she sat me down in front of the mirror and started fixing my hair, carefully putting on the wig. This had been a routine for us for the past few years. I could feel her loving caresses and affection with each stroke of the comb. She was the only one in the family who loves and cares for me. Pa and Ma? Nah, I was merely a tool to sustain Audrey’s life longer. My birth was totally unexpected and unpredicted. Shameful, wasn’t it? Perhaps, I admit that it was heartbreaking. But I could never hate Audrey regardless of her being the one domineering Pa’s and Ma’s world. After all, it was already a hard life for her to undergo chemotherapy since she was merely fifteen- her rights of enjoying the world as a teen taken from her. Audrey took one final glance at me before smiling sweetly.
“You’re lovely, Alex.”

The kindness that she had been showering upon me was the very reason why I could never blame her for this miserable life of mine. Her gaze lingered longer than usual. Did she sense it back then that this was the very last time she would be dressing me up? The end to our shared routine?
“Thank you, Audrey.” I really meant it. I kissed her on the forehead before sneaking out through the window into the eternal darkness looming ahead.
“Happy birthday, Alex.”
* * * * *

I had only been walking for around fifteen minutes before I reached Scotch’s; a bar-cum-restaurant located just outside my housing area. Today, we were supposed to celebrate my birthday. Tom planned it all. In a split second, the cake was brought in and distributed. The crowd ( regular customers at Scotch’s and friends of ours) started to disperse; each engaging in a certain activity from playing darts to smooching in the corner. “Happy birthday, Alexandria,” Tom gave me a swift peck, his hand clutching a mug of beer. Tom was my boyfriend and it had been like this since two years ago. By daylight, I was Alex but every other night, I was Alexandria. I was a woman trapped in a man’s body. Of course, Pa and Ma did not know about this- or they chose to continue their pretenses, which was totally not what I had been hoping for initially. They didn’t really bother about me as long as I was willing to donate my organs to Audrey whenever needed. Maybe, I wished that they would scold me, or even hit me for being a homosexual but my very existence was completely invisible to them. “Alexandria,” Tom’s gentle voice shook me out of my reverie. “Come, I want to show you something.”

He led me to a corner and took out a miniature box from his jacket. He opened it slowly and a ring sparkled at the center. Tom’s gaze never left my face, searching for my expression. I was lost for words momentarily. Yes, I love being a girl. I crave for Pa’s and Ma’s love. They hated me because I was born as a boy. I wanted a life like Audrey’s. I love being able to love and to be loved. But, this was too soon. How could I break the news to Tom that I was nothing he had been dreaming about? “No, Tom.” My whole body shaking uncontrollably, my mouth kept on whispering the word “no”.
“But why Alexandria?” Tom’s grip on my shoulders tightened, making me winced. He shook me hard, perhaps to wake me up from my denial. “You love me, don’t you?” And then, it was a total chaos. Tom was getting violent; he must have been upset and slightly drunk, while I was there, pleading him to spare me time enough for a proper consideration. Suddenly, I was pushed towards Jonathan and I could feel my wig slipping off. The next thing I knew, my wig was on the ground.

It was so embarrassing to see the shock on everyone’s face not to mention the disappointment that flashed through Tom’s for a nanosecond. Then, the outburst of feelings that I half feared erupted. Laughter, criticism, jeers and sneers. No, it was just too much to bear. “No, please don’t!” I begged mentally. My eyes searched for Tom’s, hoping and praying inwardly that maybe, he would protect me just like he did for the past two years. But no! He was rooted to the ground and struck dumb. With the apprehension of the worst has yet dawned on me, I escaped the restaurant, my vision blocked by the streaming tears. I just knew that it had been too good between us. What did I expect? A homosexual relationship between us? Did I really hope that he’s better off living in blissful ignorance about my gender? How could I be so selfish? It was indeed really painful to be waken up from a sweet dream and only to find that I was trapped in a nightmare.

That was when I heard it. Tom’s voice. He was chasing after me. No, I don’t want to face another rejection. Panic kicked in and I ran across the road so that he could not follow my trail, insecurity overruled my common senses. No! He’s going to hate me! He’s coming after me to mock me. I can’t bear it! “No, Alexandria!” The squealing of brake echoed after Tom’s voice. I was hit hard by a passing vehicle, the momentum was too strong.
* * * * *

Faint noises buzzed into my head. The ambulance is coming. Where’s her family? It wasn’t my fault! She ran across the street out of the blue! “Alexandria?” The familiar voice vibrated in my eardrums. His warm hands were holding me. “Will you forgive me, Tom?” My voice sounded so fragile. I couldn’t believe it. He was here, and when I looked at him, he was smiling with tears in his eyes. “Yes, Alexandria.” His voice was ever so warm and gentle. “Do you still love me then?” I knew that it sounded wrong. That somehow this question did not fit in between us anymore but I could not control it from lurching out of my mouth. Tom hugged me in his loving arms, careful not to suffocate me but I knew that Death himself was not far from me now. “Yes,” he suppressed a sob. Pa and Ma found their ways next to us then. They did not even spare a glance at Tom. They held my hands; the very first time not because they wanted something from me but because I was their son. Their Alexander. Pa seemed to be worried and Ma was sobbing.

“Perhaps, we have been wrong, Alex. A son like you is as good as a blessing from God.” Pa wiped away the tears that slid down from my eyes. And I knew that this was my moment. Albeit I did not lead a more contented life, I was about to leave this world with Pa, Ma, and Audrey by my side. To leave this world with no regret in my lover’s arms. Whether Tom’s confession was a truth or a lie, I cared not. I love him and that was all that mattered. A lone tear escaped from Tom’s and fell on my eye. Then, I saw Him, dressed in a black cloak, He held out His hand to me in a welcoming gesture.
“Why do people love life but not death?” I asked Him.
“Because life’s a beautiful lie and I am a painful truth.”
Upon hearing Death’s answer, I embraced Him eagerly.

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