Neither One Thing, Nor Another
Gillian shushed Hal as they climbed into the rickety treehouse. She’d outgrown the play area years ago, so she’d thought, but now, as Hal wrapped his arms around her waist, she thought that it did still have its uses.
“We have to be quiet, or Aunt Ruth will hear.”
He nuzzled her neck. “I thought you said her name was Rosa.”
“Sometimes it is.” She twisted away to look at him. “I’m serious. You don’t want her mad at you.”
He laughed loudly. “What’s she going to do, turn me into a frog?”
“That would be too easy.” The quiet voice came from a dark corner. “She’s more likely to turn you into something that isn’t, or isn’t always. Do you think I was always a shadow?”
Hal snorted, let go of Gillian, and strode to the corner — no doubt to prove that there was nothing mysterious going on. When he got there, he started poking around. “All right, where’s the hidden speaker?”
Gillian just shook her head.
“You know, Gillian, if you didn’t want to do this, you could have just said so.” He pushed past her to the ladder and quickly descended.
She watched him go, torn between tears and rage. A hand settled on her shoulder, and she spun around. “How could you do this to me?”
“At least I didn’t actually hurt him.” Aunt Ruth changed the subject. “I notice you only told him two of my names.”
“And one of mine,” Gillian said bitterly. “So? Can you imagine how he’d react if I told him sometimes I was Gerard? It’s been hard enough to mask it at school.”
“It’s okay, sweetie. Someday, you’ll meet someone who can accept you for all the yous you are.”
“Going to be mighty lonely in the meantime.” Gillian crossed her arms.
“You want me to change him? I could.”
Gillian shook her head. “No. Just, can I be alone for a while? I’ll come in for dinner, I promise.”
“All right.” Aunt Rosa dropped a kiss on her head. “Just remember — sometimes one thing, sometimes another –”
“And never really either.”
“No. Always you.”
Gillian stood without moving, watching her aunt who was also sometimes her uncle head down out of the tree and into the house. She wouldn’t want Rosa/Ruth/Ryan to be any other way. She supposed it was time to accept herself, too.
— THE END —
My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.
This odd little flash was inspired by discovering a typo in one of my published works. Oops!