Monstrous Femme

My heart hammers nervously in my chest as I park and prepare to leave my car—I have never been outside my house in makeup and a dress before. I doublecheck my wings in the rearview mirror, painstakingly drawn in liquid eyeliner just half an hour ago: sharp and symmetrical. I had practiced my makeup skills for months before finally gathering the courage to go out with it on.

After studying my reflection for almost two full minutes, I step out of the car. The October night is damp and only a little chilly—I keep expecting to see my breath when I exhale, but I never do. On my feet are a pair of black sneakers with curling and twirling red roses printed on them. Despite being the largest size I could find in the women’s section, I still had to loosen the strings considerably before they would fit. My freshly shaven legs (a task which took my inexperienced hands about an hour and a half in the bathtub this morning) feel cold and naked in the night air, unused to being so exposed, unprotected by the normal layers of denim and hair. A breeze rustles the scarlet skirt of my dress around my knees and breaks me out in goosebumps.

I saunter down the sidewalk along a row of parallel-parked cars to my left—more partygoers, or actual residents of the neighborhood? A light wisp of cloud is partially obscuring the full moon, smearing its light in a semi-corona. Despite not being able to see the house numbers in the dark, it’s pretty obvious that the one I’m going to is at the end of the block—the one with all the lights on, from which a booming bass beats down the street like blood from an arrhythmic heart.

There are three twentysomethings hanging out on the porch—two sitting on a couch, one standing, all wearing leather jackets and smoking cigarettes. I feel a little nervous as I step up to the door, worried that someone might ask who I am, what I think I’m doing here, why I’m wearing a dress, et cetera. But aside from an initial glance to see if they recognize me, I am ignored, and the person who is standing—androgynous, with a pinkish-red mohawk—continues the story they were probably telling before I arrived:

“. . . so then I ask her, do you want me to, like, Venmo you for half the Plan B?”

As I open the front door, I am buffeted by a wall of sound: dozens of laughing, drunken, chattering voices; live electronic dance music rising from the basement; clinking bottles and tapping, dancing feet on the wooden floorboards of the living room. I have no idea what to do or where to go. I don’t know anybody here: I’m not even familiar with any of the musical performers tonight—I only came to meet up with a girl named Ari, whom I had met on Tinder.

I pull my phone from my purse with the intention of texting Ari and asking where to find her, but just as I finish tracing the unlock pattern on my phone’s screen, a boyish voice says to me, “Hello!” Looking up, I see a tall, slim, androgynous individual with a platinum-blonde pixie cut and a face full of piercings standing before me.

“Hi,” I return, smiling shyly.

“I’m Morgan,” they say, holding a hand out.

“I’m Selena.” I shake their hand.

“What are your pronouns?”

“Uh, she/her,” I stammer, unused to the question. “And yours?”


“Cool.” I don’t really know how to respond—I’ve only ever hung around cis people before, where the asking and exchanging of one’s pronouns is pointless. This is part of why I’m so eager to finally meet Ari.

“Do you want me to take your jacket for you?” Morgan asks. “We can just put it in my room.”

“Oh, you live here?” I suddenly feel very stupid and awkward—I just waltzed into this house without even knowing the tenants.

Morgan laughs. “I sure do. This way.”

I follow them upstairs to a hallway lined with numbered doors on both sides—odds on the left, evens on the right. They take me to a door at the end of the hall—number 6. It smells like weed outside, and when Morgan opens the door, I’m practically smacked in the face by a cloud of the stuff. Three people are sitting on the beige-carpeted floor, passing a joint around.

“Hey guys,” Morgan says as they step into the room, snagging the joint mid-pass.

I stand there awkwardly in the doorway with my jacket still on as Morgan hits the joint, unsure of what to do or say.

“Hi,” one of the floor-sitters greets me—a very pretty girl with bright red hair, black harlequin glasses, and lots of makeup on her face. “I’m Gina.” Judging by the half-lidded and bloodshot appearance of her eyes, this is not Gina’s first joint of the night.

“Hi, I’m Selena.”

“You seem familiar—do you perform at The Drag Strip?” The Drag Strip is the local queer bar; as the name suggests. They have weekly drag shows there. I had been there only twice before, about a year ago, back when I used to present myself differently.

“No,” I tell her. “You probably wouldn’t recognize me if you’d seen me before.”

I learn that the other two people in the room are named Shaun (black hair, big glasses, he/him) and Marcie (shaved head, septum ring, she/her). Normally I’d be feeling incredibly anxious, sitting in an unfamiliar room in an unfamiliar house with people I’d never met before, but it feels nice being with this group. It’s freeing to be able to wear makeup and a dress among strangers without feeling conspicuous, worrying what they might think of me.

“Do you wanna hit this?” Morgan asks, holding the joint out toward me.

I consider declining, since weed tends to make me introverted, giving me major communication difficulties, but I figure what the hell and take a small hit anyway. I go to pass it to Gina next, since she’s closest to me, but she says, “You can hit it again, if you want—it’s puff-puff-pass,” and so I take a second hit, a bit deeper this time. The smoke burns my lungs in a pleasant way and I hold the joint out blindly as I cough uncontrollably into the crook of my elbow.

I sit down and look around the room, feeling more relaxed as the THC enters my system, enjoying the way the music in the basement vibrates the floor beneath me. There is a bookshelf bending under the weight of several thick volumes of electronic music theory, and some interesting-looking books on witchcraft and the occult (The Trans Sisters of Perpetual Virginity is a title that particularly catches my eye), as well as some Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut paperbacks. I spot a copy of Breakfast of Champions and consider making a comment about it—I enjoyed that book quite a bit—but then I wonder what I might say after announcing I liked it, where I would take the conversation next, and I can’t think of the names of any of the characters, or really of any events that happened in the book, just that I remember enjoying it when I read it in high school, but if someone were to ask  specific questions regarding the book then I don’t know how I would answer, and I might look like an idiot who was just trying to seem well-read, and so I opt not to say anything at all, and that’s when I realize that I’m probably a bit higher than I should have gotten at this party, but the joint comes back around to me, and I figure I may as well take another couple hits since I’m already high anyway and there’s no going back at this point.

“So when’s your set?” Marcie asks Morgan.

“I’m playing last,” they reply, “so it probably won’t be until like two or three.”

“Cool. I’ll be here. What kind of stuff will you be playing?”

“I’ve been working on some new material that should be . . . interesting, to say the least.”

My eyes are drawn to a poster on the wall across from the bookshelf: a picture of a beautiful nude being, angelic and androgynous, with six black-feathered wings and long white hair reaching down to its knees, as well as both a penis and a pair of breasts. I’ve always found androgyny to be immensely attractive, and this image (as well as the THC in my system, probably) makes me feel a little turned on.

“Were you ever going to take that off?” Morgan asks as they pass me the joint.

“What? Oh!” I realize I’m still wearing my jacket. I giggle as I remove it and hand it to Morgan in exchange for the joint. Jacket for joint, jacket for joint, my mind begins to chant, and I giggle even harder.

As I’m taking my second pull from the joint, the door suddenly opens, and in walks a person whose face I had only seen before on Tinder.

“Is Gina in here?” Ari asks the room—then, after noticing me a fraction of a second later: “Oh my God, Selena!”

I open my mouth to say hi, but end up just coughing out a plume of smoke and laughing. Still holding the joint, I’m not sure what to do. Do I pass it along to Gina, or to Ari? It’s not my weed, so I don’t know if I have the authority to share it with somebody else, but I’m also worried that it might be rude if I don’t offer it to Ari. Fortunately, before I can even stop coughing, Ari plucks the joint from my fingers and hits it, quite literally taking the issue out of my hands.

“Hi,” I’m finally able to say.

“Wow, you look great!” Ari tells me after exhaling her first hit. “I love your wings—they’re so sharp.”

“Thanks.” My cheeks are burning and I’m not quite sure where I should be looking: it’s hard to maintain eye-contact with someone as attractive as Ari. Despite the fact that she isn’t wearing any makeup, she still passes really well, and that makes me feel both envious of and intimidated by her.

“Do you have any molly?” Ari asks Gina as she hands the joint to her.

“Yeah,” Gina replies. “How much do you need?”

“Do you want some molly?” Ari asks me.

“Um, well, I don’t have any cash on me,” I say.

“Don’t worry about that; it’s on me tonight.”

“Really? Well, in that case, yeah, I’d like some molly.”

“Two points,” Ari says to Gina.

Gina reaches into her purse and removes a transparent orange pill bottle, out of which she takes two capsules, which she exchanges with Ari for a twenty-dollar bill.

“Thank you, Gina,” Ari says. She turns to leave the room.

“Um, it was nice meeting you all,” I say before following Ari out the door.

We head down the stairs and around the corner into a kitchen. There are a few people standing around with bottles in their hands. Ari opens the fridge and takes out an unopened bottle of wine.

“Want some Prosecco?” she asks me.

“Uh, sure,” I reply. “Is that . . . is that even yours?”

A loud POP! as she opens the bottle, and an androgynous person wearing sea-green eyeshadow with a short reddish-brown beard jumps and spills some beer on themself. The others laugh.

“Of course it is!” she says, handing me the fizzing and smoking bottle. “I do live here, you know.”

“I did not actually know that,” I say, a bit embarrassed, but she laughs good-naturedly so I don’t feel too bad about it and I laugh with her.

I take a sip from the bottle, unsure what to expect (I know next to nothing about wines—is Prosecco even a wine?), and am pleasantly surprised at its sweetness.

“That’s pretty good,” I say, handing the bottle back to Ari.

“Oh, hang on,” she says, not taking the bottle from me. “You probably want this, right?” She hands me one of the molly capsules.

The see-through capsule is comically large in comparison to its contents: a miniscule pinch of off-white powder. I pop it into my mouth and swallow it with another swig of Prosecco, both excited and a little nervous—I’ve taken molly a few times before, but only ever with friends in a familiar setting, and never in a stranger’s house where the only person I actually know is someone I’d only ever interacted with on Tinder. I pass the bottle to Ari and watch as she takes her molly, momentarily captivated by her beauty: the uncontrollable curliness of her dark hair, the sharp angles of her jaw which serve more to accentuate her feminine features than detract from them, the several piercings in the cartilage of her left ear, the subtle swell of her breasts beneath her dark green blouse. She swallows, lowers the bottle, and meets my eyes. I can’t help but grin (and probably blush, too), and soon we’re both giggling for no reason at all—I feel like a giddy schoolgirl.

“Was that molly?” eyeshadow-and-beard asks Ari.

“Yeah,” she answers. “I got it from Gina. Last I saw, she was up in Morgan’s room.”

“Awesome, thanks.” They hurry out of the kitchen.

We stand there for a while, handing the Prosecco back and forth, taking furtive glances at each other, grinning, blushing, not saying much. Am I being awkward right now? Should I be talking? This is our first time meeting, and I can’t think of anything to say—is Ari going to think I’m weird? What if my silence is off-putting, and she decides she doesn’t want to talk to me anymore or see me again in the future? I have to think of something to say. I shouldn’t have smoked that joint: if I weren’t high, then I would be able to talk, rather than spiral in on myself. Hopefully these big swigs of Prosecco that I’m taking will open me up soon. Maybe I should—

“Do you wanna go downstairs and dance?” Ari asks.

“Yes!” That’s a great idea; why didn’t I think of that?

I follow her through the kitchen and into the living room, where there are about a dozen people hanging out, talking, sucking on Juuls. We squeeze our way through a few of them, but before we can reach the basement—

“Yo, Ari!”

“Oh my God, hey James!”

A guy wearing a tan-and-black plaid button-up shirt comes up to us, and he and Ari hug. I wonder if I should introduce myself, or if I should just stand there quietly and observe their conversation.

“How’s it goin’, dude?” he asks Ari. I wonder if she’s the kind of girl who hates being called “dude.”

“Pretty good! This is my friend, Selena.”

“Hi.” I smile and wave.

“Hey, I’m James.” We shake hands.

“When did you get here?” Ari asks him.

“Not too long ago. I just got off work like half an hour ago. This party’s pretty sick! Are you performing tonight?”

“Nooo, I can’t perform while rolling.”

“Wait, are you guys on molly?” James asks. I wonder how Ari feels about the use of the word “guys” as a gender-neutral plural.

“Yeah,” Ari answers. “Gina’s around here somewhere—probably up in Morgan’s room.”

“Cool. All right, I’m gonna go find her. Nice meeting you, Selena. I’ll see you guys around.”

“Nice meeting you,” I call as he’s already turned and walked away. He probably didn’t hear me.

To Ari, I say, “What did he mean by ‘performing’?”

“I play music,” she answers simply.

“Oh! How did I not know that you play music?” I feel very stupid—do I even know anything about Ari at all?

“I guess it just never came up.” She laughs, and I feel less embarrassed and laugh with her.

“Come on,” Ari says, grabbing my hand. My heart rate leaps dramatically at the feeling of her hand on mine—it’s all I can think about as she leads me through the living room and down the staircase.

The basement is unfurnished, and it would probably be cold if there weren’t a couple dozen people dancing around us. Red and blue LED fairy lights are wrapped around the wooden ceiling rafters, giving the room an ethereal aura. There is a decent-sized alcove across the room to the right of the foot of the stairs, in which the musician is performing. An orange extension cord is attached to a white power strip, which is powering a pair of huge monitor speakers on both sides of the alcove, a handful of smaller speakers dangling from the rafters around the basement, a MacBook sitting atop a small table, and an array of samplers and synthesizers (also on the table). The musician is wearing a black cloak with a pretty blue flower pinned to their chest. Their hood is up, completely obscuring their face in shadow.

Ari pulls me off to the side, against the wall and beneath a rectangular window. She takes another drink of the Prosecco and hands the bottle to me. I swallow a mouthful of it and pass the bottle back to Ari, realizing that I’m now beginning to feel the pleasant dizziness of being crossfaded. She sets the bottle on the floor behind her and starts to dance. I have no idea how to dance and basically just swing my hips from side to side in time with the driving bass of the music. EDM isn’t generally my genre of choice, but I’m really digging what the mysterious hooded musician is playing—it’s weird, with polyrhythms of subtly-pitched noise, a melody you can barely catch, hearing it more with your brain than your ears, and with every four-bar repeat, there is a slight variation in the rhythm or another synthesized or sampled voice added to the mix, and my body begins to move on its own as my mind intently follows the progression of the music.

Ari grabs my hands, and the room starts spinning. My God, does she look sexy. Her hips sway, and mine sway with them. These fairy lights are so vibrant, so goddamn beautiful. The music is really picking up now, and it’s just so perfect—I need to remember to compliment the musician after their set because this is a compositional masterpiece: they are a true genius of their craft. She’s pressing against me now, her hands on my back, my hands on hers. There is a small fire in my belly, slowly spreading both upwards and downwards, and the texture of her blouse on my palms is so smooth, so soft, I can’t help but squeeze it, digging my nails into her back in the process, and she responds with her own nails in my back, and we’re pressing against each other, into each other, and her hand slides down and squeezes my ass and I let out a slight moan and she giggles and that makes me giggle and we’re both giggling before we’re making out, lips on lips, tongues wrapping around each other, taste of teeth, biting and sucking my lower lip, her ass in my hand and her breasts against my flat chest, my other hand in the wild curls of her hair, and we’re both moaning and pressing and grinding our hips and crotches into each other and she’s pulling my hair and biting my neck and I worry about producing a lewd bulge in the front of my dress but we’re in the dark and it doesn’t matter because no one is paying attention to us and no one can hear us sighing and moaning into each other’s mouths and the fire in my belly grows like the onset of an orgasm, rising, rising, rising, and I know I have to tell her, I absolutely have to tell her, and I pull my mouth from hers and say, “You know, you’re the first other trans girl I’ve ever actually met,” and she grins and bites my neck and I’m digging my nails so hard into her back that I feel I must be about to break through the fabric of her blouse and her skin and I just want to scream with how amazing everything feels and I can feel the growing bulge beneath her skirt and I want to fuck her and I want her to fuck me and I’m starting to sweat and I can feel and smell her sweat beneath her blouse and we’re kissing again but my mouth is so dry now and her mouth is also dry and I can practically hear the rasp of our sandpaper tongues grinding each other and I realize that I would very much like a drink of water right now but I don’t want to pull away from Ari quite yet but I’m really thirsty and I would probably enjoy Ari’s mouth more if I weren’t so distracted by this bodily inconvenience and then the song is over and she pulls away from me and says it first: “Do you want some water?” and I respond, “Yes, please,” and we both laugh and she takes my hand and starts to lead me away but then I remember “What about the Prosecco?” and she laughs again and turns around and retrieves the bottle from the floor and then we go upstairs for real this time and into the kitchen, and she goes to the fridge and pulls out a large clear plastic water bottle and takes a big gulp from it and then holds it out for me, but I just open my mouth and so she upends it over my head and squeezes water onto my face and into my mouth and we’re giggling as water is flowing down my neck onto my chest, and my God water has never tasted so good before, and we’re giggling and the water feels so cool and refreshing on my sweaty body and I take the bottle from her and squirt water onto her face and into her mouth and down her neck and my horny mind is thinking very lewd thoughts, thinking about coming on her face, thinking about sucking her dick and making her come on my face, and I want to kiss her again but I’m not sure if I should just go for it or not so I decide not to, at least not right now at this very moment, but maybe later, probably later, hopefully later, and then Gina of all people enters the kitchen, and Ari goes, “Oh my God, Gina!” and Gina laughs and they embrace each other and then they start to kiss and I feel a little jealous but also it’s pretty hot to watch them kiss so I’m not too upset about it and then they stop kissing and Gina turns to me and asks, “How are you feeling?” and I tell her “So. Good!” and she laughs and now she’s hugging me and now we’re kissing and I’m thinking about a threesome with her and Ari and I’m wondering how viable that would be but I probably shouldn’t ask especially since Ari and I haven’t done anything very sexual with each other yet (“yet”? What do I mean by that? Is there a possibility that we may engage in sexual activities? Of course there is, we’re obviously very hot for each other) and then Gina pulls away from me and says “I have to pee,” and Ari says “me too!” and then she asks me, “Do you want to come with us?” and I’ve never been asked to go to the bathroom with another girl before and I know this is a normal thing that girls tend to do together and I feel honored and happy to be included and so I say “yeah!” and the three of us head into the bathroom and I close and lock the door behind me and Gina sits down first and Ari says to me, “Do you wanna make out?” and of course I do so I grin and nod enthusiastically and she grabs me and pulls me against her and now we’re making out not three feet away from a pissing girl and I can’t help but giggle at the ridiculousness of the situation, and then Gina finishes and it’s Ari’s turn and Gina washes her hands and then looks into my eyes and smiles this sexy smile and now we’re making out and I’m wondering if the three of us are going to end up fucking in this bathroom because that’s a thing that I’ve heard about happening at parties in movies and books and stuff, and then Ari finishes and it’s my turn to pee but as she’s washing her hands I remember that I’m horribly pee-shy and I don’t think I can go in the same room as these two beautiful girls, especially with the half-chub I’m sporting under my dress, and so I say, “Uh, actually I’m not sure if I can go in front of an audience,” and they both laugh and say it’s okay and they leave and I lock the door behind them and I’m worried that they may think I’m some sort of pervert for coming into the bathroom with them and being in their presence while they pissed but not doing the same myself, but I sit down and think that it’s probably okay because everything is okay, everything is great, everything is wonderful, very much so, and I finish peeing and flush and wash my hands and then I look at myself in the mirror and—


You know that feeling when you’re at a party or a bar or some generally overstimulating environment, and you’ve completely lost yourself in all the noise and people and substances you’ve taken, and then you go into the bathroom where all of the noise is muffled, and you look at yourself in the mirror and slowly regain your ego?

My pupils are enormously dilated: only the slimmest sliver of blue is visible around those black holes in my eyes. It’s the molly, of course. When did it start to hit me? What time is it right now? I check my phone and see that it’s 1:06, but I had forgotten to check the time when I had taken the molly in the first place so I have no idea how long I’ve been rolling for. I consider splashing some water on my face, but I don’t want to mess up my eyeliner so I decide not to, and I exit the bathroom, and all of the sound and stimulation immediately brings me back up again, and I look around but there is no sign of Ari or Gina anywhere, but that’s okay, I’ll probably run into them again sometime soon, and I sort of dance my way through the crowd, feeling the music beneath my feet, the vibrations tickling my soles and my soul, and I’m in the living room and it seems like there are more people here now than there were earlier but that makes sense because it’s late but not so late that people are starting to go home but more like peak party-time late and despite the crowdedness of the living room, I see that there is an empty spot on the couch next to two other people—Shaun from earlier in Morgan’s room, and an androgynous individual with a pinkish-red mohawk and a leather jacket whom I recognize as the one standing outside on the porch when I was coming in—and I decide that I would like to sit down and observe everything so I dance my way over to the couch and sit down next to pink-mohawk and I say hello to both of them and they look at me and I can see by their eyes that they’re probably just as fucked up as I am and mohawk smiles and says “hi!” while Shaun says, “Hey! I’m sorry, what was your name again?” and I laugh and say, “Selena! You’re Shaun, right?” and he goes, “Yeah, that’s right!” and I ask pink-mohawk, “What’s your name?” and they tell me, “Mercury!” and I go, “That’s a sick name! What are your pronouns?” and they shrug and say, “She or they. Yours?” and I smile because now I’ve met another trans girl and I say “me too!” and we both say “nice to meet you!” and shake hands and whatnot and then Shaun pulls out this little black vial and screws off the cap and holds it up to one of his nostrils and closes his other nostril with his finger and inhales deeply and leans his head back with his eyes half-closed and a slight smile on his face and then he passes the vial to Mercury and they do the same thing and then they turn to me and hold out the vial and ask, “Poppers?” and I say, “What?” and they go, “Do you want some poppers?” and I say, “I have no idea what that is!” and she laughs and tells me, “It’s pretty much the dumbest drug ever—you just hold it up to your nose and inhale and you’re high for like thirty seconds,” and I figure why not try something new? so I shrug and say, “Sure!” and take the vial and hold it up to my right nostril while closing my left one with my left forefinger and I take a very deep breath, and there is this metallic oily smell—kind of like nail polish remover—and








My consciousness skyrockets out of my body, up through the ceiling and over the house and into outer space. I’m floating above the earth in this serene little black bubble. All stimulation is gone; my mind is completely blank. I’m spinning, rotating like any other cosmic satellite, the sensation tickling my stomach and my head. Then, just as suddenly as I had been ejected into space, I crash back into my body on the couch, still holding onto the vial.

“Wow,” I say, and start giggling uncontrollably, and Mercury and Shaun are laughing too, and I hand the vial back to Shaun as he takes another whiff of the stuff inside.

I look at the party in front of me, at all the queer gender-nonconforming people talking and sipping from bottles and hitting from Juuls and swaying with the music coming up from the basement. I’m feeling considerably calmer now than I was earlier. There is still that orgasmic fire burning in my belly, still that sensual static tickling my skin, but my head is no longer as speedy as before. My thoughts aren’t racing by in an incomprehensible blur while my body drowns in ecstatic stimulation. I’m definitely still feeling the molly, no doubt about that, but I’m much more collected now. Mercury offers me the poppers again and I take another whiff.


oh yeah

Feelin’ good.

Then, from out of the crowd, that mysterious hooded musician emerges and approaches the couch.

“Hey, what’s up, Oliver?” Shaun says.

Oliver takes off their hood and replies in a boyish voice, “Not much; how are you?” Oliver has short hair, dyed neon green, with dark brown showing at the roots. There is an unfortunate smattering of acne on their cheeks amidst wispy patches of facial hair. I wonder if Oliver is a trans man, newly on testosterone—I remember how my voice, complexion, and facial hair were when my body began overproducing the stuff as a young teen.

I’m beginning to feel excited again, now in the presence of this amazing musical artist, and after Shaun and Mercury and Oliver share their small talk, I say, “Hi, I’m Selena!”

“Hey,” he says, and we shake hands.

“What are your pronouns?”

“He/him. Yours?”

“She/her!” with much more confidence than I had when Morgan asked me earlier in the night.

We exchange our “nice to meet you!”s and I tell him, “Your set was amazing! Normally I’m bored to death by EDM, but your music was so good!” and he grins and blushes and says “thanks,” chuckling a bit, and then I say, “I’ve never been to any sort of event like this before. It’s so great!” and he goes, “You mean a queer party?” and I say, “Yeah! I barely even know any other queer people, and it’s just so nice to be a part of this community where I feel completely and totally accepted. The only person I even knew here was Ari, and we had only ever talked on Tinder before, but now I feel like I’ve made so many new friends tonight—it’s just so wonderful to feel like you’re a part of something, you know?” and Oliver gives me this look that I can’t really identify, not right now, maybe if I weren’t so fucked up, but as of this moment I can’t read expressions, and he reaches into his cloak (such a cool thing to wear to a party—seriously, everyone here has such great style) and pulls out this tiny yellow flower and holds it out to me and says, “Take this, it’ll keep you safe,” and I take it and look at it and it’s just so beautiful, I wish I knew anything about flowers, and so I ask him, “What kind of flower is it?” but he says something that I can’t really hear or understand and I hate to make people repeat themselves so I just go “oh, okay” and smile and nod and maybe I’ll look it up when I get home and now Oliver is talking to Mercury and handing her a tiny red flower that he has produced from his cloak and she giggles and blushes and puts it in her hair behind her ear and it just looks so cute because all girls look cute with flowers in their hair and so I decide that I should follow suit and I put my little yellow flower in my hair behind my right ear and Mercury and I lock eyes and we’re giggling together and I think about kissing them but decide that I probably shouldn’t since we barely know each other but I also barely knew Ari or Gina before making out with them but still I never feel comfortable making the first move so we don’t end up kissing, and I’m looking around the room, just kind of watching everyone, looking for any signs of Ari or Gina, and I see that James guy stumbling around with a bottle of liquor in his hand, accidentally bumping into someone and immediately apologizing to them, and I chuckle quietly to myself, and then I see Morgan heading upstairs with a girl who has these cute golden feathers dangling from her ears and I’m curious so I decide to investigate—because I figure that since my jacket is in Morgan’s room, it’s not like they would be doing something private that I shouldn’t be walking in on, right?—and I follow them upstairs and to door number 6 and they’re both sitting cross-legged on the floor and they look up when I come in and I say “hey!” and Morgan says the same and the other girl says (in a quiet, shy voice) “hi,” and now that I’m getting a closer look at her I realize that she’s also trans, which is awesome, there are so many trans people at this party, but maybe I shouldn’t just assume that this person is a “she,” so I say to them, “Hi, I’m Selena. What’s your name?” and they tell me “Janelle,” which I think is a very pretty name, and I ask them that old question (“What are your pronouns?”) and they tell me, “She/her. And yours?” so it looks like I was right with my assumption all along, and I wonder if I should have just stuck with that assumption rather than ask her and make her doubt her appearance, and now I feel bad because I didn’t feel bad about asking Mercury her pronouns, but I haven’t felt insulted when others have asked me my pronouns earlier in the night, and in fact it kind of made me smile inside when they asked me, so I don’t feel bad anymore, and I tell her, “I love those feather earrings!” and she blushes and smiles and says “thank you,” and then I ask Morgan and Janelle, “What are you two up to in here?” and giggle because my repetition of the “two/to” sound was funny, and Morgan says, “Just performing an occult ritual. You want in?” and that’s when I notice that they have a book open in their lap, and I say, “Hell yeah, that sounds awesome!” and I sit down and cross my legs and look around the room at all the neat posters and books and whatnot and my eyes go back to that poster with the winged androgyne and I think about how awesome it would be to fuck and be fucked by a celestial being such as that, and Morgan says to me, “Are you familiar with the Trans Sisters of Perpetual Virginity?” and at first that doesn’t mean anything to me but then it comes back to me and I remember seeing that title on Morgan’s bookshelf earlier and so I tell them, “Oh yeah, I noticed that book earlier! I also noticed that you have Breakfast of Champions—that’s such a good book!” and Morgan laughs and says, “Yeah, it is,” and then goes on to explain, “The Trans Sisters of Perpetual Virginity are a cult that was formed in the late seventies by . . .” and I kind of start to zone out a bit because as interesting as I think this kind of stuff is, it’s difficult for me to focus on historical information like names and dates but I think I’m doing a pretty good job of at least looking like I’m paying attention because I haven’t looked away from Morgan’s face, gazing unblinkingly into their pale blue eyes, such beautiful eyes, wow, “. . . and the basic idea is that, in many ancient religions, virginal women were considered to be among the best human sacrifices for the gods, due to the purity of their intact hymens or whatever, but since trans women have more of a ‘spiritual hymen’ than a physical one, theirs can never be broken, and therefore their souls provide a perfect gift for the gods whereas their mismatched bodies and spiritual wombs serve as a perfect vessel for . . .” and I can’t help but admire the asymmetrical array of piercings on Morgan’s face, the two rings in their left nostril with the single ring in the right side of their lower lip, and the cute little skull in their septum ring, and I’m thinking that I should get some more piercings in the near-future, like maybe after my next paycheck, like maybe get the cartilage in one of my ears pierced, probably the left ear, but a septum ring would be really cute too, those always look great, and now I notice that Janelle is lighting some candles around the room, which is a good idea, I love candles, and then the door opens and who should it be but Ari and Gina and Mercury! And Gina is saying “hello, friends!” and I’m up and hugging Gina, and her body is just so soft and smooth against mine and I feel like I want to just hug her forever, but then I let go and now I’m looking at Ari, and we’re smiling and kind of giggling, and now we’re hugging again, and I can smell her hair and her deodorant and just a hint of her sweat beneath that, sexy and sweet, and I have this urge to bite her ear, but I don’t think that would be entirely appropriate, but then again we’ve also been making out a lot so maybe it’d be okay, but before I can decide whether to bite her ear or not she pulls away from me, and we lock eyes and grin and giggle again, and then I look at Mercury and figure what the hell, why not, and I give her a hug too, and she smells like cigarettes, which is normally a smell that I hate, but for some reason it doesn’t seem so bad right now, actually kind of nostalgic, it makes me think of a girl I had dated in high school, and I remember that once we had worn each other’s clothes while having sex, the first time I had ever worn women’s clothing, her name was Mary, we had dated for like six months when we were sixteen, and we broke up because I had a lot of emotional problems back then, back when I was still a boy, she said I had trouble taking things seriously sometimes, and normally I would feel regretful and self-deprecatory to remember those days, but right now I feel happy thinking of that relationship, happy about how much I’ve grown since then, happy to be where I am right now, and I inhale Mercury’s Marlboro aroma, and we pull apart and smile at each other, and she takes the red flower that Oliver had given her out of her hair and puts it in mine behind my left ear, and she says “you look so adorable right now!” and we’re giggling and the next thing I know we’re kissing, I can’t believe how many gorgeous women I’ve kissed tonight, and then Gina says “would anyone like some more molly?” and everyone is saying “yeah!” but I tell her, “That would be great, but I don’t have any money,” and she says, “Don’t worry about it; this one’s on me,” and she takes a little mirror out of her purse and sets it on a desk against the wall, and then she takes out a little baggie full of that off-white powder—presumably molly—and pours some onto the mirror and then she takes out a debit card and arranges the pile of powder into several lines and then she takes out a twenty-dollar bill—possibly the same one that Ari had given to her earlier—and rolls it up and snorts one of the lines and then sniffs a few times and hands the twenty to Janelle, who does the same and then gives the twenty to Ari, who does the same and then passes the twenty to Mercury, who does the same and then gives me the twenty and even though I’ve never snorted a drug before, I’m always open to new experiences, and my heart is beating quickly because I’m nervous that this will be an unpleasant experience but then I figure that it can’t be that bad since people do this sort of thing all the time, so I put the twenty up to my right nostril and I start to lean in but then Gina says, “Watch out for your hair,” and I realize that that’s good advice because my hair was just about to sweep away the line of molly and I laugh and quickly tie my hair up in a ponytail and then lean back in and close my left nostril with my left forefinger and then snort the molly and the first thing I notice is that my nose stings a little, but not too bad, not as bad as I was worried about, and I start sniffing heavily through my right nostril to make sure that it’s all in there, and now there’s this weird bitter taste dripping down the back of my throat and OH WOW OH MAN OH MY GOD that hit me fast and everyone is laughing and I realize that I just said that out loud and I’m laughing too because everything just seems so wonderfully wonderful right now like my whole body is having one continuous orgasm just riding it at the peak of climax and I feel like I’m fucking flying despite the fact that I’m not even moving at all and I can’t stop giggling because giggling just feels so good and there’s this intense beautiful warmth radiating throughout my body and I can’t remember the last time I felt so good inside my own body inside my own skin while simultaneously feeling so feminine feeling so womanly this has just been such a wonderful atmosphere full of friends and love and acceptance and I can’t say I’ve ever felt so accepted and loved for who I am for my identity before I’m so glad that I met Ari and accepted her invitation to this party because normally I never go to parties because usually they’re all full of straight people who don’t see me for who I really am it’s tough when all of your friends have known you as a boy for years and have trouble seeing you as anything different but it’s so nice being at a party full of other queer trans people and goddamn Ari is looking so gorgeous and now we’re making out again and it’s like an electrical storm in my lips and tongue and I feel like I can’t pull Ari close enough against me like our bodies are melting together into one continuous form of pure ecstasy I can’t tell where my body ends and hers begins and I can’t tell how long we were wrapped up in and around each other but then Morgan says, “Okay, everything is set up in here. I’m gonna go downstairs and get ready to play,” and Ari pulls away from me and Morgan gets up and kisses Ari and hands the book to her and then flicks the light switch so that now the room is illuminated only by candlelight and Gina follows Morgan out of the room and now Ari and Mercury and Janelle are all sitting cross-legged on the floor and Ari looks at me and pats the floor next to her like she wants me to sit down and says, “Join us for this containment spell!” but I tell her, “I wanna check out Morgan’s set real quick. I’ll be back!” and I stumble after Morgan and Gina and downstairs into the living room and everyone and everything passes by me in a colorful blur and I practically fly down the stairs I can’t believe I didn’t just fall and kill myself and I run right into someone just as they were about to climb the stairs and I laugh and apologize and they’re laughing and saying it’s okay and wow the lighting down here is just incredible absolutely beautiful all of the blue and red blurring together into a vibrant violet coating the amorphous crowd around the alcove where I see that Morgan has set up this beautiful array of synthesizers and I’m so stoked to hear this because I absolutely love synthesizers especially modular ones which it looks like Morgan has a few of and I’m already dancing in excitement despite the fact that no music is playing quite yet and I see other people I recognize from earlier down here like Shaun and Marcie, and James is stumbling around very drunk, and Oliver is over in the corner by himself with his hood up looking cool and mysterious and I think he notices me because he’s coming my way and he asks me, “You still have that flower, right?” and I point to both of them in my hair and he says, “Wait, did Mercury give you hers?” but it must have been a rhetorical question because before I can respond he goes on to say, “You need to make sure to hold onto those tonight—they’ll mask your scent,” and I have no idea what he’s talking about and I start to laugh and then he walks away back into the corner and I wonder what he’s on or what kind of sense of humor he has but now it seems like Morgan’s about to play and everyone is cheering and calling out their name and they begin their set by speaking into a microphone that reverberates their voice throughout the basement and I can’t really tell what they’re saying, I think maybe they’re speaking in another language like Latin or something, I don’t know but it’s pretty cool and I have to admit that I’m impressed by their bilingualism and now by twisting knobs and patching modules they’re actually playing some music and this kick sample is just so powerful I can feel the bass resounding throughout my body like a second stronger heartbeat pulsing in straight quarter-notes and more strange percussive sounds are layering over that pounding kick and now some melodic synthesizers are coming in and at first they sound kind of off-key and detuned to me but then I realize that they’re microtones and if I wasn’t already enjoying this music then I am definitely digging it now because not enough musical artists use microtones and I just think it’s so awesome to hear chords and harmonies that would be impossible to replicate with most instruments or at least most Western instruments that are confined to the twelve-tone octave but I guess you could play those notes on a fretless stringed instrument or even something like a trombone but either way it’s cool to hear and I’m wondering what temperament Morgan has their octaves divided into and I’m going to need to remember to ask them about that later but for now I just can’t stop dancing to this otherworldly music and Gina comes out of the crowd and takes my hand and now I’m dancing with her and I’m reminded of dancing with Ari earlier in the night and I hope I will have an opportunity to dance with Ari again later probably I will and my god this music is so good I find myself feeling attracted to Morgan because I mean how can you not be attracted to someone who makes such great music and then Marcie comes up to us and says, “Hey Gina, do you have any more molly?” and Gina goes, “Yeah! Let’s go upstairs,” and she tries to take me along but I say, “I wanna stay down here for Morgan’s set,” and she tugs on my hand and says, “Come on, it’ll be quick, and I’ll give you another line for free!” and I tell her, “I’ll probably take you up on that later, but for now I am really feeling this music,” and she shrugs and lets go of me and she and Marcie head upstairs and the music is rising and swelling and seems to be swirling between the speakers around the perimeter of the basement and I close my eyes and I can feel the music it’s like I’m rising with the music floating in space no not in space more like in some sort of warm womb and there is this singular note some note between notes that gradually crescendos above the rest and I can feel this note inside me growing along my spinal cord spreading through my nervous system and filling me with this wonderfully orgasmic sensation and Morgan’s voice comes back speaking more Latin or whatever in an urgent tone and the music reaches this glass-shattering no earth-shattering peak and there is an enormous crash that jolts me back to reality and the basement is filled with screams and when I open my eyes, I see that a portion of the ceiling has collapsed, crushing a chunk of the crowd, and from this opening in the ceiling, a great and strange creature has descended—something like a huge golden-feathered eagle—and there is blood and screaming and the fairy lights have all broken and are splashing sparks on the concrete floor yet the music is still playing and Morgan is still speaking their urgent Latin and from under the wreckage of the ceiling I can see a bloody arm wearing a sleeve of tan-and-black plaid and the eagle thing has someone’s head in its beak and there is a crunch and more screams and blood but they don’t override the music, somehow the music is still playing, somehow the speakers weren’t affected by the collapse of the ceiling and I want to keep dancing but everyone is pushing past me in a panic to get to the stairs and I don’t have a whole lot of room to myself and someone pushes me to the floor and the concrete feels nice and cool on my skin and so I decide to just lie here for a bit and hope that I don’t get trampled but at this point just about everyone has gone upstairs even though Morgan is still playing and I stretch out because my body is kind of tense and tight and oh wow it feels really good to stretch out on this cool concrete floor and my hand touches something warm and squishy and I see that it’s a body wearing a leather jacket and smelling of cigarettes and I think it might be one of the people who were sitting on the couch outside when I arrived at the party about a thousand years ago and then suddenly the golden beak of the eagle-thing digs into the torso of this body spattering me with blood and the blood is hot and I’m worried about it potentially staining my dress but it just feels so nice on the floor so I don’t move and there are these absolutely revolting sounds as the beak tears into the body’s belly and pulls out a wormy intestine and there is this truly godawful odor like shit and raw meat and my stomach turns and I gag and for a moment I worry that I might vomit but then I hear someone call my name and I look over in the direction of the voice and it’s Oliver over there in the shadows and he’s beckoning me so I crawl along the cool concrete to him and he asks, “Are you okay? Can you stand up?” and I laugh and say, “Yeah, of course, I’m fine,” getting up to my feet and then he asks me, “Do you know where Mercury is?” and I tell him, “I’m pretty sure she’s up in Morgan’s room with some other people,” and I’m wondering why he’s so concerned about Mercury, like is he interested in her romantically or something, and I think about how cute a hetero relationship between two trans people would be and thinking about what their sex would be like kind of turns me on—a little reversal of gender roles and everything—and then I remember this video I saw about a hetero trans couple who decided to temporarily halt their transitions so that they could have a biological child between the two of them and I think that’s just so sweet and I realize that Oliver has been saying something to me but I kind of zoned out and wasn’t really paying attention so I ask him to repeat himself and he says, “We need to get to Mercury before it’s too late,” and I laugh and say, “What do you mean by that?” and he just looks at me but it’s difficult to read the expression on his face and I can’t believe this music is still going on I really admire Morgan’s dedication and I start to sway my hips a little and Oliver says, “Selena,” and I go, “Yeah, I’m right here,” and he says, “Can you show me where Mercury is?” and I tell him, “But I don’t wanna leave Morgan down here by themself,” and he says, “It’ll be okay, we’ll come right back down after we get her, I promise,” and I reluctantly say, “Okay,” and lead him through the basement giving the eagle and the wreckage and the corpses a wide berth and we head up the stairs and I feel bad for leaving Morgan down there to perform for no one and upstairs everyone is panicking and shouting and crowding around the front door and the windows and there is a huge hole in both the floor and ceiling of the kitchen which is now dark due to the ceiling light having been replaced with the hole through which I can see respectively the basement and Morgan’s bedroom and I realize that I can still perfectly hear Morgan’s music and Latin up here as if there are hidden speakers set up all over the house which I think is pretty cool and I look up through the hole into Morgan’s room which is dim and lit only by orange flickering candlelight and I can see someone up there I think it might be Mercury but it’s tough to tell in the low lighting and I can hear murmuring voices but can’t make out what they’re saying due to the music and the yelling and then Oliver is tugging at my sleeve saying, “Come on, let’s go,” but this great screaming crowd is blocking the way to the stairs trampling each other in their panic and I’m not sure how we’re supposed to reasonably make our way through without being trampled ourselves and I see Shaun at the front of the crowd being crushed against the front door and there is a spatter of blood from his face and Oliver says, “We’re going to have to find another way up there,” and as we turn to go back to the kitchen that eagle-thing leaps up through the hole in the floor and Oliver immediately grabs my shoulders and pulls me around the corner to crouch beside a bookshelf that is next to the kitchen doorway and he tells me, “As long as you hold onto that yellow flower, you should be safe from that thing,” and I reach up and touch the flower in my hair and giggle because I had forgotten all about it and I wonder how cute I must look with these flowers in my hair I really wanna get up and check out a mirror now and so I stand up just as the eagle comes barreling out of the kitchen and into the living room and the crowd is screaming with a renewed fervor as they scatter with some of them going up the stairs and others trying to duck behind furniture and I spot Marcie behind the couch with some others but the eagle catches her shirt in its beak and I wonder where Gina went off to because I had last seen her with Marcie and I can’t tell if I’m actually able to hear Marcie’s shirt rip over the music and the screaming or if I’m just imagining it and now she’s lying face-down on the floor with her upper half out of sight behind the couch and everyone else who was behind that couch is now scattering and screaming as the eagle begins tearing strips of flesh from Marcie’s back and I can’t remember why I had stood up and where I was going to go or what I was going to do but then I remember that I wanted to check out my reflection and so I round the corner into the kitchen where I see that Oliver is standing on the counter trying to reach up into the hole in the ceiling and I laugh because it’s kind of silly to see an adult standing on the counter like a child and then he notices me and starts to say something but I don’t hear it because I’m already in the bathroom and I close the door and it’s like a little personal music-listening booth as the pandemonium outside the room is muffled yet Morgan’s music is still perfectly audible and I can’t help but bounce and sway with these polyrhythmic electronic beats and I look at my grinning face in the mirror and wow I look absolutely adorable with these flowers in my hair maybe I should start wearing flowers more often or maybe I should get myself a flower crown yeah that would be super cute and unfortunately my makeup is a little smeared around my eyes now but it doesn’t actually look too bad and it’s not like I can do anything about it now anyway and then I decide to leave the bathroom before I become too absorbed in my own reflection and I see that Oliver has somehow managed to get his hands up in the hole in the ceiling and is currently dangling precariously over the hole in the floor as he tries to pull himself up into Morgan’s room and it’s kind of a funny sight and I giggle a little bit while he struggles and kicks his legs around causing his cloak to flap around his feet but it looks like no one up in Morgan’s room seems to be taking any notice and I can make out who I’m pretty sure is Mercury up there and also I think Ari but I see no sign of Janelle but she could just be out of my line of sight and I can barely hear Ari’s murmuring almost chanting voice though it’s mostly muffled by Morgan’s voice and music as well as the terrified and raucous screams of the rest of the partygoers and the music rises and swells crescendos into this frantic fever pitch and suddenly this nearly blinding light begins to shoot out of whom I had correctly believed to be Mercury and I hear Oliver cry out something and the light emanating from Mercury seems to pierce my eyeballs and tickle my optic nerves and I am unable to look away as suddenly her form seems to grow and bulge and then finally erupt in a burst of blood and light and for a few moments all I can see is an afterimage of blues and purples and there is another cry from Oliver and my vision returns and there is this horrible monstrous batlike thing crouching at the ceiling hole’s perimeter and Oliver slips and plummets straight down through the hole in the floor and I watch as he smacks face-down into the wreckage below and there is a blood-streaked plank of wood poking out of his back and the bat-thing jumps down and lands on the kitchen floor and I see its great leathery wings and its light coating of pinkish-red fur that almost looks like a mohawk and it hobbles awkwardly into the living room on its little legs using the bends of its wings for balance and support and it just looks so silly this huge hideous bat walking like this and I laugh and follow it to the kitchen doorway and look over and see that the eagle has caught someone on the stairs it’s eyeshadow-and-beard from earlier and I wonder if they ever found Gina and got molly from her and in their struggle to escape from the eagle’s clutches they try to throw themself over the stairway banister but the bat catches them in its fanged mouth and now the eagle and the bat are engaged in a tug-of-war with their body and the person’s shrieking as the two creatures rip their body apart in a bloody spray of guts like one of those party favors that shoots out a bunch of confetti I think they’re called confetti cannons and then someone wearing a leather jacket I think they were one of the people whom Mercury was talking to on the porch when I arrived at the house pushes me as they rush into the kitchen and I stumble backwards pinwheeling my arms for balance and then my foot touches nothing and wooo—


—the wind is knocked out of me, and for a moment I’m not quite sure what just happened, but then I realize that I’ve fallen through the hole in the kitchen floor and I’m currently lying on Oliver’s body with the bloody piece of wood just inches from my face, and wow what a rush, that was actually kinda fun falling that distance, but now I need to lie here for a few seconds and catch my breath, feeling the music and the waves of chemical pleasure washing over me, gazing up through the darkened kitchen and into the flickering candlelight two stories above me, my chest calmly rising and falling as I focus on my breathing, I just realized that I’m clenching my jaw and I’m wondering how long I’ve been clenching it for, I think I may finally be starting to come down a little, that’s kind of disappointing, I wonder if Gina is still here and if she still has any molly left, and the music begins to rise again, the high-frequency percussion intensifying, Morgan practically shouting their Latin-or-whatever now, and what had Oliver been trying to tell me earlier? My vision begins to narrow as my breathing slows, the holes above me taking on the appearance of a tunnel tapering off into dim orange light, and I realize my left hand is touching something soft—it’s the blue flower that had been pinned to Oliver’s cloak all night, and I clutch it in my fist as bright light begins to pour down the tunnel into my eyes, and there is a rumble like an earthquake but it’s coming from above me, and dust is sifting down from the ceiling as the house starts to shake, and oh man it is really not fun to come down from molly.