Tamika Wood’s Birthday Party

& Other Stories by Le Kendall

December, 2017

Alan Sebastian

Cello jokes that I was born a thirty-five year old man. That’s how I will be in January, but I still feel like I got stuck a while back and never made it into adulthood. Cello says she feels the same way, as does Scott. Perhaps this a universal thing that everyone pretends is not the case.

People keep asking me if Mani growing up makes me feel old. It makes me feel younger, somehow, because I look at him and think about how much I still feel like I’m that age, and also how young eighteen actually is. When I was Mani’s age, Mani was two. I look back and can only think Scott and I were far too young to be parents and to have had to do the things we did. But we had to. So we did.

Things will be different for Mani. Mani has me and Scott.

I suppose Mani also has Cello. But they don’t actually talk to each other very much so I don’t know that he does. He’s told me he doesn’t need a mother, or have room for her in his life. I do not know how Cello feels about it, which is good because this way I don’t feel like I am in the middle of something which isn’t anything to do with me.

People seem to think that meeting Shell—albeit briefly—and then her disappearing entirely from our lives again would affect me somehow. I don’t really know why or how it would. I know something I didn’t used to know, but it doesn’t affect or change anything outside of that. Gillian still doesn’t want to talk about it. This does not surprise me, but I know that it frustrates Cello.

Cello has been back in my life for more than three years, so I still have a sister after not having one for a very long time. In some ways that hasn’t affected much either. We meet up for birthdays and things which might not be a lot, but it is a lot more than when I didn’t see her at all.

I didn’t feel really awful about the marriage equality debate until it was already over. This is probably because Scott was very upset and stressed about it, and I don’t always know how to have my own feelings about things when his are so much more visible. Now I feel very stressed about it, even though it is over and done with. When everything was up in the air I could tell myself that it would soon be over. Now I have the knowledge that 38.4% of the country disapproves of my relationship and identity, and that source of unpleasantness does not have a time-frame.

There is nothing I can think of in my life that I would like to change. Instead, I am stressed out about things that have already turned out okay. When I can’t sleep I remember all of the things that could have gone wrong in my life and prevented me from ending up here and now. I keep accidentally thinking about times I could have fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed the car, or times I could have been hurt, or all the times I nearly walked away from Scott.

I do not know why knowing that things turned out okay does not seem to help. I do not know how to escape from the past mistakes I did not even make.

In order to cope with this I spend a lot of time in my imaginary world imagining stressful things happening to other people, and then things turning out okay.
And if I still feel stressed I can simply rewind the story and play the part where things become less stressful over, and over again.

So I daydream instead of sleeping. I daydream when I’m running.

Once upon a time I dreamed an elephant. Then a girl, now a woman (mostly).

I’ve daydreamed her so many times. Imagined for her, so many things. I know her now as well as I know myself. I know how she walks slightly on her toes. I know the ache in her left hip, and her love for her family, like my love for mine.

And one day, as I am running I see her.

She looks at me and I look at her. Dyed hair a bit like Cello’s. Hazel eyes a bit like Scott’s. A bit like me in all sorts of ways and a bit like all the different people that I love.

“Do you daydream me the way I daydream you?” she asks.

And I blink a few times and then she’s gone.

And when I return home I open my laptop and I begin to write.

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