I was Laurie ’til fourth grade when I put on Mom’s nightgown. I told my sister, “I feel like a queen, Mercy!” Mercy took the nightgown up over my head and said, “We’ll make you feel like a king now, Laurie.” She got me a king crown and I used Dad’s robe for a robe. Then my parents said, “It’s time to stop calling you Laurie.”
I loved girl things but I didn’t even know I was doing them ’til I got punched in middle school. Dad said, “Those idiots are trying to teach you a lesson, Lawrence.”
My best friends in middle school were almost all girls. I loved Chloe best. She was goth and skinny from throwing up in the bathroom. We hid in the cave under the low juniper tree in the playground and she showed me how she cut. A little drop came out of her arm like raspberry Jell-o with a star inside from the light that came in. There was a tear in her eye like a diamond, and it just sat there without falling out. She wiped her X-Acto knife on an alcohol pad and handed it to me. I cut into my arm and smiled at her, and when she smiled back her tear dropped on the sand.
I’m in tenth grade now and I love arts and crafts. It’s a girl thing, but that’s cool with my parents. “Just be yourself,” Dad says, and Mom sort of nods. I’m the only boy in the club besides Ronnie, but he’s gay. I make chains of cutout people colored like rainbows and stretch them out like a assembly poster we had about tolerance. They told us celebrate diversity and a lot of kids sang, but after school Ronnie got pushed. I took my finger and touched the blood that was on the tree, then I put my arm around his shoulders and kissed his hair even though I’m not gay.
Abuela left me her rosary beads and a painting of Jesus with blood dripping down from his crown of thorns. I get it out of my treasure chest and stand it up on my desk next to Abuela’s picture. I look at Abuela and she smiles at me, and then I cut where the nails go in.