4.8 Garden Party


Mother was in an uncharacteristically good mood.

Uncle Altair was arriving tomorrow with his family for their first visit this year, and a garden party was in order. Unfortunately for me, my history with parties of any sort was no short of disastrous. Based on experience, Mother’s good mood was not likely to last past the second platter of sandwiches. 

I was a right anxious wreck when Gem caught me after dinner.

“You’ve been dropping off the face of the earth for hours at a time,” he said. “We can’t find you at all, and yes, we have tried. Do you have a secret den we don’t know about?”

This was the thing I absolutely detested. When I was in a mood, it affected the people around me too, and then I was the weird one who was getting everyone down, the one who couldn’t keep her over-dramatic feelings to herself. Apparently removing myself from their presence had not helped in that regard.

“I didn’t mean to make you worry. Sorry.”

“No, don’t apologise, we just want to make sure if you’re alright.”

See, Gem was always so nice, so perfect, it made me the bad person.

“It’s nothing, I’m just tired lately. I’ve been taking trips to the forest. You know me.”

I was most definitely off my game. It was obvious from his face that my lies were so flimsy, I couldn’t even convince my trusting brother. “Does it have something to do with Alistair?”

“What? No!”

“You can tell me if it is. He may be my friend but you’re my sister, and for what it’s worth, I am the better boxer.”

“No, for goodness’ sake don’t beat him up, Gem, it has nothing to do with him.”

With a gentle sigh, he backed off.

I decide to take a walk around the gardens. It was getting dark, so maybe I would get some quiet there. My pace quickened.

Two steps out, and I was caught this time by Alistair.

“Hey Deneb, are you okay?”

Great, now him too.

“Yes I’m fine Alistair, just a little annoyed that everyone is asking that, and by the way, Gem was awfully eager to beat you up so maybe it’s you who’s not okay.”

“Hey, woah, alright, sorry, I won’t ask that anymore. I was just, you know, worried that it was the thing you were telling me about before. I’m sorry I didn’t take you seriously. It was callous of me.”

“That’s alright. Why would anyone take me seriously? It’s quite a silly thing to say, that I was supposed to be made like someone else. There’s no way that’s true.” I turned away, trying to calm my breathing.

“No, you’re not silly, I just wasn’t listening. I’m sorry I made it seem that way.”

“Then what would you call it, Alistair? Erratic? Insane? I look i-in the mirror and I expect to see Gem, but th-there’s someone else, and I hate them, I hate being them, but I’m TRAPPED in them and every day, it gets WORSE.” I was sniffling now, but I couldn’t stop. “Th-there are BITS of me, that I DON’T WANT but they WON’T STOP GROWING. I want t-to TEAR these bits OFF, but I CAN’T because I’m a COWARD and it will HURT.”

Alistair quickly grabbed my hands in his. Perhaps he was worried I might start there and then. He then led me to a nearby bench and said some things- I didn’t really catch the words over the roaring in my head, but they were low and soothing. 

When my breathing was calmer, he said, “You’re right, I… don’t understand. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand. But I’ll still try, okay? Just promise me you won’t hurt yourself.” Seeing my mouth quiver, he threw in a joke: “I’d rather not have bits of you falling off when you walk down the aisle with me.”

I let out a snort. “S-stop it. If you keep saying that, I might just start believing you.”

“I mean it, Deneb. I can’t think of a single person I’d rather marry than you.” He awkwardly attempted to wipe the tears sliding down my cheeks. “I still think you’re perfect.”

A perfect mess, maybe. No one in their right mind could possibly think I am anything but a fiasco. “What do you even like about me?” I managed to choke out.

“Well, let’s see. There’s your laugh. There’s no pretense in your laugh. I never have to wonder if it’s a fake laugh or not.”

I preferred Alistair’s laugh. It was always light and tinged with mischief, unchanged from when we were children.

“And your eyes. They’re deep and dark, more than anyone else I’ve ever seen.” 

His were a clear, dancing brown. Full of life.

“Sometimes, you say things that blow my mind. It’s like you can see things no one else can.”

No, it was him that had that ability, if he could see the good in me.

“And I’ve told you all this before, you just didn’t want to believe me. Do you believe me now?”

I wasn’t sure. It was so hard to tell when he sounded so genuine.

He shrugged. “Well try to, because it’s true. In the meantime, am I the only one that finds your mother’s new pansy bed hideous?”

He kept me talking about unrelated things until my eyes and nose were no longer streaming. The garden was almost completely dark, at which point he walked me back to my room. We reached the door and he asked, “Anyway, what was that thing you said about Gem wanting to beat me up?” 

I gave a weak laugh. 

He smiled in return. “Get some sleep. Tell me tomorrow, alright?” Then he loped down the hallway, turned the corner, and was gone.

The next morning I was in misery.

Overnight, the anxious knot in my stomach had turned into full-blown cramps. I sat as still as I could, stiff as a board, as the tea cooled in front of me. I tried to ignore Gem’s concerned gaze as I hoped, over and over, that no one would talk to me.

In vain.

“So Gem, Deneb, have there been any arrangements made for you to go to school?” asked Uncle Altair.

“We are still being tutored at home,” Gem replied quickly.

“I keep saying they should be sent to pursue higher education,” said Aunt Vega. “Why they are still here is a mystery to me.” She shook her head disapprovingly.

“They are better off here, where their roots are,” snapped Mother. “Why send them off to heavens-knows-where learning heavens-knows-what?”

Aunt Vega flared up immediately. “They could be so much bigger with better schooling. Gem could make a scholar, or a doctor, like his father. Deneb, too, is very bright. She would make a good teacher, if she wanted to.”

“There is no need for her to pursue such activities. We have estate and class. The only important thing for her to learn is to be a good wife!”

They were talking about me, and far too fast. I had to say something, anything, to defend myself.

I took a deep breath

and turned away just in time. A second later, I was retching into the grass. I could hear surprised shouts from behind me. Their voices blended together, barely sounding human.

“I’m so sorry,” I gasped, and fled. 

I raced into my room and slammed the door shut. The windows and the curtains, too- shut. In a frenzied haze I tore off the dress, petticoat, and corset in turn. Each layer gone, and I could feel a weight lifting off me.

It was only when I got to my drawers when I saw the stain. Then I was shrieking, and weeping, though I wasn’t sure why, as the last piece of sanity holding me together fell away.


It took me far too long for me to throw off everyone- concerned, like Gem and Altair, or angry, like Iris- and break away to Deneb’s room. From beyond the door, I could hear her crying. I knocked on the door. “Deneb? I’m coming in.”

“No!” she yelled.

“Don’t be silly, I’m not here to tell you off. You know that.” I pushed the door open.

She wasn’t on the bed, like I’d thought. She wasn’t even at her desk, or on a chair, or by her favourite window seat.

“Don’t look!” she screamed, but I had already seen. I held her as she sobbed, huddled on the floor, as blood ran down her leg onto the carpet.

Hi everyone! I can’t believe January is almost over, 2022 can be upon us at any minute now! Hope everyone has been doing well so far.

We are approximately halfway through the downward spiral of misery that is Gen 4. I’m trying to stick to a schedule to post every Friday (or Thursday, depending on where you are) and I’ve kept to it for 3 weeks so far, so fingers crossed so I can keep going. I’m also getting ready for a new story so when that comes along I might have to rethink this schedule… we’ll see.

In the meantime, thank you all so much for reading, and stay safe!

2 thoughts on “4.8 Garden Party

  1. I’m really enjoying this generation, with all its gender dysphoria. My puberty was filled with those feelings, too. I just didn’t want wide hips, breasts, and a soft, curvy body. It took me a long time to adjust to having monthly cycles. I never wanted to be a man, or even a masculine boy. I just wanted to be genderless and free. Good news! Being an older woman is sort of like that, especially when I dress like a ten-year-old boy!

    At any rate, reading Deneb’s thoughts and feelings fills me with compassion and appreciation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you relate! I’ve personally never had these thoughts so I wasn’t sure if I was portraying them very well. I don’t mind being a girl… I don’t think I’d mind being a boy either…. HATE periods though, with a burning passion.


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