Being With Him
A Horizons Series Novella
Turning his attention back to the 9/11 tour, Alex listened as the guide explained the meaning and symbolism of the memorial, and the design and appearance of the museum, while throwing in relevant stories along the way. The guided portion of the tour, which had remained true to the projected time of two and a half hours, ended at the One World Observatory where Zeb and Alex could continue on their own if they chose. This self-guided tour would take approximately one to two hours depending on their pace.
“Would you like to call it a day?” Alex asked, giving Zeb the option of staying or leaving. “We can do this portion of the tour the next time you’re in town.”
“You don’t mind?” Zeb asked, looking relieved. “I’m sort of wrecked.”
“Not at all. Hungry?”
“Starved. Let’s grab a bite before going home.”
They ended up at a convenient burger place and chowed down like they hadn’t had the enormous breakfast earlier that morning. In between swallows, Zeb bombarded Alex with more questions.
“So you’re attracted to guys?”
“Are you offering?” Alex teased.
“Dude, come on. You said you’d tell me more later.”
“I’ve always been attracted to guys.”
“So you’re gay,” Zeb concluded.
“Must we do labels?”
“I’m just trying to understand how this works,” Zeb explained. “You’re my first transgender friend—”
“Not a science experiment,” Alex snapped. “If you cut me, I’ll bleed like anyone else.”
Zeb’s eyes widened. “Chill out, dude. I never said otherwise. Don’t get all snarly.”
“Shitcan the label.”
“All right,” Zeb said. “Do you mind if I ask a few more questions?”
“Talking about myself to a complete stranger is uncomfortable.”
“But I’m not a stranger,” Zeb defended. “Not anymore. All I’m trying to do is educate myself. I don’t want to offend you by saying the wrong thing, but I guess I’ve crossed that line several times already. I’m sorry.”
Alex reached for Zeb’s hand across the narrow table. “No, I’m the one who should apologize. You’re fine, Zeb. Trying to explain my feelings to a cis male makes me hostile.”
“Cisgender,” Alex said patiently. “A person whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender people are the exact opposite. I was born with female organs but considered myself male from an early age.”
“Gotcha,” Zeb said. “This can get really complicated, right? Like that Jenner person. She used to like girls, but now that she’s no longer a guy, she’s insisting she’s not a lesbian.”
Alex laughed. “You really need to stop using Caitlyn as a reference.”
“But she’s famous, Alex. Shouldn’t her opinion matter?”
“Not necessarily,” Alex said. “As I’ve said before, each of us chooses our path, and no two are ever the same. I don’t know—and I honestly don’t care—who Jenner is sleeping with these days.”
“You don’t like her?”
“Let’s just say she’s not your typical transgender woman.”
“I think she should just come out and call herself a lesbian if she still likes women,” Zeb persisted. “Don’t you?”
“Oh my God, Zeb, enough! Are you done with your food?”
Being With Him will release on December 27 and is available for pre-order here: Dreamspinner Press