All 17-year-old Xavier can think about is graduating high school and moving to a place where no one will look twice at him. Everyone at school thinks he’s gay, but he’ll take the rumors over everyone knowing his truth. For 17-year-old, Natasha, life’s pretty good. She’s popular, has two best friends, and is dating the captain of the football team, the object of Xavier’s crush.
After witnessing a traumatic event at a Halloween bash, Xavier and Natasha experience a night which forces them to view the world through each other’s eyes. Soon Natasha is faced with the grim realization that her identity dictates how the people in her life treat her. Meanwhile, it’s a concept which Xavier knows painfully well. As they struggle to accept certain truths of their own realities, they can tell no one what’s happening to them. No one would believe them anyway, because they barely believe it themselves.
Targeted Age Group:: 15-115
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
As an ally of the LGBTQ community and as a person of color, I’ve never been able to grasp this thing that some humans tend to do: judge and despise each other based solely on an individual’s identity, as if being born the way we are is a choice. The science fiction geek in me believes it’ll take an alien invasion for this to change, but still I hope, and I write.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My writing style is Pantser, and once I know the general point of the story and the "who," I start writing. They say write what you know. This this story has many scenes at a high school. I went to private school from 8 grade through senior year, so I don't know what life at a public high school is like. So, my MCs' attend my Alma mater private school (name changed and no references to real people).
As I contemplated the story, I soon felt compelled to write about a transgender teen. I decided to write from the perspective of a transgender female, because I didn't feel I could capture the inner dialog of a male/transgender male character. Once I made the decision, I knew my two MCs would be transgender female and female.
When I was deep in the first draft, I still questioned whether or not I should write it starring a transgender female. I worried that people would tell me that I had no business writing it since I am not a member of the LGBTQ community. But after a while I realized that not only was it okay, it's very much needed. I'm proud to be an ally.
I finally make it home just before 1 a.m. It started snowing by the time I was halfway here. Now that the adrenaline’s worn off, I realize just how sore I am. My body hurts like hell, my head’s still pounding, and my left ankle is tweaked from falling down the stairs.
By the time I left, Janice was outside talking to the girl’s parents. Turns out she goes to our school. Adel Patterson. A sophomore. Janice has drama class with her.
I can’t imagine what Adel’s going through right now. When the cops released me, I decided to stay behind so I could talk to Adel’s parents. I felt it my duty to make sure they focused on the fact that their daughter was attacked. Yeah, she shouldn’t have taken mushrooms at a party without any friends there to back her up, but what happened after wasn’t her fault. If it wasn’t her, those guys would’ve gone after someone else. I made damn sure her parents knew that before I left.
As I pull on a t-shirt and shorts, ready to climb into bed, my phone lights up with a text from Janice.
-U home yet?
-Almost. Don’t worry. I’m @ a stoplight. Let’s not tell any1 @ school what hppnd OK?
-No1 will hear it from me.
-Did u tell cops u want to testify?
-Hell yeah. U?
-Double hell yeah!
-Thanks 4 helping her
-Ditto. Han the hero! You RLY saved Adel from serious 💩
– U did 2! ☺️ Gnight
-CU 2MORO 4 phys proj!
-ugh almost 4got ☹️
I set my phone on my nightstand when a crazy blast of wind rips through the tree branches outside my window. I peek through the blinds into the lamp-lit night. The snow’s coming down pretty hard, swirling like a blizzard because of all the wind. I gaze at it for a while, letting the scene calm me so I can try to sleep.
I replace the blinds and climb into bed, listening to the sounds of a wind so fierce it’s making the house creak. I’d watch some t.v., but I don’t want to risk waking Liv up since we share a wall.
I lie in bed, trying to settle in that sweet spot of drowsiness, but my mind is still racing from everything that happened. It also dawns on me that I have to pee.
I force myself out of bed and do my business, replaying the events in my head. I don’t bother turning on the light as I go to the sink. I wash my face as if the act of scrubbing it will clear away the thoughts of what would’ve happened tonight if I didn’t listen to my gut. I try not to imagine it, but I can’t help it. The images of those guys keep playing in my mind, and I can’t get rid of it.
I plant my hands on the countertop, letting the water from my skin drip into the sink. I lift my face and catch my reflection in the mirror. It’s so dark, it’s like I’m staring into an abyss shaped like my silhouette. The sound of the howling wind and the darkness of my reflection is hypnotizing. I meet my eyes in the mirror, wanting to look away from the creepiness of the dark figure staring back at me when I swear my silhouette shifts. It’s fleeting, and I’m convinced that my eyes are playing tricks on me, or that someone is behind me. But I know I’m alone.
I seek the whites of my eyes, like the light of distant stars engulfed in blackness. Then a blinding pain shoots through my skull, and a flash of white light drowns my vision. My breath seizes, and for a second I feel like I’m falling. Then everything goes black.
I’m lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, but it’s not happening. My thoughts and the crazy ass wind are keeping me awake. I sent a good-night text to AJ a little while ago, knowing he won’t see it until morning. I wish I was already asleep like him.
Part of me wishes I’d gone to Katie’s. They’re probably still awake, wondering why I haven’t texted them yet. They’ll want details, and I’m not exactly sure what to say. I can’t keep anything from them, but I also need to remember that Adel’s feelings are the only ones that matter in this situation. I can’t let what happened to her tonight become high school gossip.
When I got home, both my parents were asleep. My mom was only because she thought I wasn’t coming back tonight. I’m thankful the cops never called them. The only reason they let me go without an adult is because I was sober and already trying to leave when they got there. If I’d been in the basement with Marissa and Katie, the cops would’ve pegged me as one of the few still down there who didn’t have the sense to go home when everyone else did. Of course they wouldn’t dare think people were trying to be responsible by not driving drunk, or in Katie and Marissa’s case, just waiting for a friend to come back.
If I keep replaying all this in my mind, I’ll never fall asleep. But I can’t help it. The images are so vivid. It’s like I can still hear the thud from when Adel hit the car. I also keep imagining what it must’ve been like for her in that room with those guys. It makes me wish they went to our school so I could have a stab at kicking the shit out of them. Guys like that wouldn’t see it coming from a five-feet-six-inch girl like me.
The failure to sleep is driving me crazy. I grab the remote, deciding to watch a little t.v. to see if any horror movies are on. I fluff my pillows to get comfortable, then groan when I realize my bladder’s calling. I crawl out of bed to do my business, not bothering to turn on the light.
The images start playing in my head again. It’s like a faucet I can’t turn off. I wash my hands, then plant them on the cold, tile countertop, staring at myself in the darkness. The wind rips through the night, and I flinch. I take a few deep breaths to calm myself. I’m acting like it’s actually Halloween night, and I’m in one of those scenes right before the killer comes in and attacks the babysitter.
My breath steadies as I continue to gaze at my silhouette, daring myself to look into my eyes. It’s so dark, I can barely make out the whites. I don’t know why, but doing this creeps me out. The one time I did it, I felt like Alice right before she goes through the looking glass, only I was sure I’d be snatched by the Jabberwocky the moment I stepped through the mirror. It was like staring deep within myself, seeing my darkest thoughts and greatest fears manifested in the silhouette, and the tiniest hint of my eyes looking back at me. It was like staring into my soul. I could swear my reflection moved even though I was holding still. It freaked me out so bad I never tried again. But now I can’t seem to look away. Something about the night—just coming from a Halloween party—makes it so I keep staring at my reflection.
Then something happens—a flash of white light and a blinding pain piercing my skull. I suddenly feel dizzy and light, and it’s like my feet are too numb to feel the cold tile beneath me.
And then nothing.
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