With friends like me, who needs anemones?
Tue Jan 9, 2018 06:52

Holland handed Claudia a red lipstick. It wasn’t a shade she would have chosen for herself, but Claudia trusted Holland’s judgment on make-up, if nothing else. She took it and turned to the mirror, keeping her hand steady while she applied the lipstick and listened to the older student talk. As seemed predictable by this point, Claudia agreed with about half of what Holland was saying. She accepted that their gender was part of their identity; she had never had any qualms accepting that about Holland. She didn’t know how she might react if she only just met someone now who claimed to not identify as male or female, but she supposed she would never know. Holland was just Holland, and Claudia understood that. However, she also considered it to be an eccentricity. Having a non-gendered identify wasn’t normal, it was peculiar. It messed with the natural order of things. If Holland was part of Claudia’s society, they would have to adopt the gender associated with their biology, because that was just how things worked. Men were heirs, women made heirs, in the most basic version of gender expectations.There just wasn’t room for people who didn’t belong in either category.

Pressing her scarlet lips together, Claudia considered that her brother might have behaved in a way that Holland felt was disrespectful, but was probably only a misunderstanding. Obviously Danny had never met someone like Holland before, because he had been brought up in a proper, civilized society. Besides, it could be argued that respect ought to be earned, not given freely (although Claudia would concede that being polite cost nothing, and if Danny had, in fact, been impolite to Holland, regardless of the circumstances, she would have to consider that a failing on his part). If Holland had, in fact, initiated conversations with Dardanius to enable a friendship to evolve, then Claudia would grudgingly admit that perhaps talking to Marley might be worth it, to save their own friendship. She passed the lipstick back to Holland.

“But going against societal norms is a fundamental difference,” Claudia argued. “If Marley really is genuinely attracted to girls,” she said, her tone an uneasy mixture of doubt, concern and disapproval, “as well as boys,” which made so little sense to Claudia that she could barely conceive of it as a possible scenario, “then making a decision to date a girl instead of a boy seems like defiance against expectations.” She tried to make Holland understand that if you had a choice, making a decision to swim against the tide was utterly nonsensical. “If Teal is only attracted to girls then I feel sorry for her,” Claudia frowned. “That seems like it would be hard.” If, Merlin forbid, Claudia felt that way, she supposed her inevitable future of marrying a man would be less enticing. Of course Teal wasn’t from the same background as Claudia, and seemed to be comfortable dating girls. The concept was bizarre and unsettling.

“I’m not as tolerant as Danny,” she said what was probably obvious to Holland, as they already knew her brother well. “When something is against my core beliefs I find it difficult to accept. I always thought that was a good trait to have, but it seems to be making it difficult for me to keep hold of my friends.” If the conundrum was to be friendless or change who she was as a person, Claudia wasn’t at all sure whether there was a correct decision.

  • Don’t mind my carping - Holland, Mon Jan 8 06:44
    Holland chose the red lipstick—if you wanted to make a statement, why speak quietly?—and offered it to Claudia to apply. She had the lighted wall-mounted mirror to use in guiding her application of... more
    • With friends like me, who needs anemones? - Claudia, Tue Jan 9 06:52
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