A beautiful spring day, the air was warm, the trees were pushing their leaves out to catch the flowing rays of sunshine, and Frances was in love. She could hardly conceive how her life had changed. Frances thought that no one was like her and that she would never be able to love or be loved. Trevor was a boy she knew from school. He blended and talked so well no one ever thought twice about him until the day he stood up for her.

Class ended and Frances was heading to her locker to change books. Approaching from the other direction was Jenine and her troupe of butch bitches. Frances wanting to avoid them, ducked but it was too late, Krista saw her and whispered to Jenine who made a beeline for her.

“Well, well, well, if it is miss prissy. How is the hetty today?” Jenine scoffed as she hip bumped Frances.

“Please Jenine, just leave me alone. I’m not bothering you.”

“Oh, your existence bothers me you flashy little cunt!”

Frances pushed through the sea of teens trying to move away from the sharks but they seemed to be pulled with her in the wake.

“Off to the dark side? There’s nothing there.” Krista chided and the others laughed.

Pushing through the throngs, Frances felt the hallway shrink. She had made it to her locker but the sharks were still with her.

“Oh look ladies, the dolly needs her makeup.” Jenine sneered reaching to scramble the lock.

Frances grabbed her hand and quietly said, “Jenine take your boyish hand and your slutty girlfriends and leave me alone.”

Jenine flipped her wrist shoving Frances into the locker. Her smoke filled breath tickled Frances’ ear as it offended her nose but before she could utter the curses that was surely on her tongue she was pulled off.

“What the hell you think you’re doing Jenine?”

Frances recognized Trevor’s voice. He was in a number of her classes.

“Get your skinny fingers off of me you butt pirate,” she hissed.

Trevor let her go but at six foot four, he was not someone even Jenine wanted to test.

“Come on ladies, let’s leave the little love birds to make their nest.”

Frances watch them swim through the crowd before turning away from her gallant knight.

Opening her locker and strictly forcing herself not to look at Trevor, Frances mumbled, “Thanks for that.”

“Oh no worries,” he said. “You know…” he hesitated as he lowered his voice to almost a whisper. “ … I understand you. I mean, I really…well I’m like you. I’m not like everyone else, I just play one to fit in.”

Frances just stared at him, not sure what to say or think.

Yeah, that day changed everything for her. Trevor started hanging around her more. He was not only a guardian but also became a friend. As the weeks past, something she didn’t know she had came out of the darkness. Walking home and reminiscing about that day almost made her miss the extra car parked in the driveway.

Why is Uncle Jack here, she wondered sadly removed from her warm fuzzies.

She entered the house and immediately heard her mom crying. “Mom, is something wrong?”

Moving through the house, she realized that the crying was coming from her bedroom. Stopping at the mostly closed door, she peeked in pushing gently. “Mom? What’s…”

The door swung in to reveal her mom sitting on Frances’ bed crying holding a picture while her brother, Jack, tried to comfort her.

They both looked up at her and Frances read all kinds of things plainly written across their faces. She saw anger, disappointment, pain, fear, and loss but it wasn’t until her mom dropped her hand and she could see the picture that she understood.

After the yelling and screaming, crying and throwing things, accusations and name-calling, Frances ran from her home no longer feeling loved by her mother or welcome. Tears streaming down her face she marched to Trevor’s house. She had nowhere else to go.

She texted Trevor en-route so he was waiting for her by the garage. Her eyes were puffy and swollen, her nose red and irritated while her bottom lip trembled.

“What the hell happened?” Trevor asked as he took her into the garage out of the cool spring evening.

She laid out what had happened as she attempted to keep from crying more. When she was done she said, “I’m leaving. Mom doesn’t want a breeder like me. She told me never to come back, so I’m headed for the city. I’m sorry Trevor.”

“Not your fault Frans. Look, if you’re going, then I am too.”

“No, I can’t let you do that Trevor. You are safe. Stay here.”

“Not hearing it. Give me five and we are outta here.”

Leaving her in the garage, Trevor headed into the house to get his things.

That was six months ago. Frances and Trevor left that night heading for the city. There were lots of homeless teens in the city so it wasn’t like they stood out. Trevor turned sixteen before Frances and one of the shelters helped him get a part-time job. They moved around a lot due to having very little money and the gender-segregated shelters. They did their best to keep their love secret but neither the streets nor shelters provided much privacy.

The sirens blared washing the sidewalk in blues and reds. In the dim light, the blood lay black and shiny. The police were talking to people who had gathered, canvasing the crowd, trying to verify events. Frances sat on the bumper of the ambulance watching the paramedics prepare Trevor for transport. They had told her he was stable but otherwise she didn’t know how bad his injuries were.

Detective Horn appeared at her side, startling her out of the thoughts floating around her mind like the lights over the brick walls. “Miss Baton,” he said pulling her away from the vehicle so they could load the gurney. “From the witnesses we have talked to so far, none are certain what started the altercation. Do you have any idea why those men attacked you and your…friend?”

It is simple really, she thought and immediately dismissed it. “I had never seen them before. Trevor seemed to recognize them but I don’t know how or from where. We were just walking along and talking when out of nowhere, they jumped us.” The paramedics were closing up the bus to take Trevor to the hospital. “I think we were holding hands but, I really don’t know why any of this happened.”

Horn made some notes on his notepad before sliding it back inside his jacket. “Come on, I’ll take you to the hospital. You’re not allowed to ride in the ambulance.”

Taking her arm he pulled her as she watched the EMS pull away bellowing its searing screeching siren.

At the hospital, Frances felt lost. The nurse informed her when they arrived that Trevor was being prepped for surgery. Horn took her to the waiting area. She was not allowed to see him before surgery but she was told that the doctor would come out afterward and speak to her about Trevor’s condition.

Sitting in the large soft yet sterile chair, Frances noted that the room was supposed to be welcoming and comforting but to her it was a sad reminder that she was different.

While waiting she watched Detective Horn talk to the nurses and make phone calls. Every so often, he would glance in her direction as he was on the phone and give her a look that made her feel as she did the day she came home to find her mother crying over the picture of her and Trevor.

It felt like time had stopped before finally the door swung open and a young handsome doctor came in wearing his blue scrubs. Frances was the only one waiting so he asked, “Are your Miss Baton?”

“Yes, is Trevor going to be all right?”

“I’m Doctor Nickels and Trevor is out of surgery. He had some serious injuries. We got the internal bleeding stopped but I am more concerned with the injury to his head. His blood pressure and heart rate are all over the place and his brain wave patterns look odd. I am sending him to ICU for close observation tonight.”

“But he’s going to be ok, right? Can I see him?”

“Unless something comes up that we have not found or there is a complication that we can’t predict then there is a good chance that he will be just fine. As for seeing him, unless you are family, there is nothing I can do.”

“He’s my boyfriend, my partner…he’s all I have.” Tears welled in her eyes.

Dr. Nickels having shock written on his face took her by the arm and guided her over to the window. Then in a much softer voice said, “Miss Baton, I would not say that too loudly. It is hospital policy that we do not treat people who are like us. It is not safe as you found out last night.”


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