Shifting Tides

Shifting Tides

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Overview

Shifting Tides by Caitlin Ricci, A.M. Burns

Angela always knew there was something different about herself. When she realizes she’s really Adam, his whole life changes in ways he never expected.

Adam comes out to his family during a vacation to Assateague Island. While he’s trying to explain to his parents that he’s not Angela anymore, they leave him there with the rest of his family. His aunt and uncle take him in to live with them and his cousin, Seth.

Over the course of that summer, he also begins a relationship with his cousin’s best friend, Blaine, a boy he’s had a crush on for years. With the support of his extended family and Blaine, Adam embarks on the drastic changes he must undergo to be the person he always felt he was inside.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786517661
Publisher: Totally Entwined Group Ltd
Publication date: 08/09/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 131
Sales rank: 433,101
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Caitlin was fortunate growing up to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading. She has always been a voracious reader and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. If she isn't writing, she can usually be found studying as she works toward her counseling degree. She comes from a military family and the men and women of the armed forces are close to her heart.

She also enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies where she calls home with her wonderful fiance, their dog and Blue Tongue Skink. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories.


A.M. Burns lives in the Colorado Rockies with his partner, several dogs, cats, horses, and birds. When he’s not writing, he’s often fixing fences, splitting wood, hiking in the mountains, or flying his hawks. He’s enjoyed writing since he was in high school, but it wasn’t until the past few years that’s he’s begun truly honing his craft. He is the president of the Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group. Having lived both in Colorado and Texas, rugged frontier types and independent attitudes often show up in his work.

Read an Excerpt

Copyright © Caitlin Ricci and A.M. Burns 2016. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Finch Books.

When Angela Marglasey’s mom took her to the mall a month before her freshman year ended, she wasn’t excited. Angela liked clothes, to a point, but not shopping for them. She hadn’t in…at least four months. Maybe longer. So much was changing for her that it was hard to keep track of it all. The jewelry store that her mom pulled her into, which seemed to cater to mostly teen girls just didn’t feel right at all. She hadn’t worn earrings since the year before. The only piece she still wore almost daily was a blue topaz necklace her dad had given her on the first day of high school.

She touched it to help herself calm down as her mom grabbed hair clips and headbands and put them into a bright pink basket hanging from her left hand. The shop was making her uncomfortable and she knew she didn’t belong there, surrounded by all the glitz and glam of such a girly place. It definitely wasn’t her style and she really didn’t even like the color pink to begin with. Even the basket her mom was using was embellished with shiny rhinestones on the handle and around the rim. It was just as hideous as anything else there and Angela couldn’t wait to leave both the store and the mall entirely.

“This would look just so absolutely perfect on you!” her mom said as she held up a bright blue locket against Angela’s slim neck.

It had feathers coming out of the bottom of it that would interfere with the collar of any shirt she wore and had to be at least three inches wide. It would have been so huge on her and terrible. She had no idea why her mom would even think that she would have wanted something that absolutely horrible-looking when she barely wore any jewelry to begin with. She couldn’t imagine ever liking a necklace like that, or ever being able to force herself to wear it, even if it was a gift from her mom. She knew her mom meant well, but sometimes—actually, a lot lately—it seemed like her mom just wasn’t in touch with who she was at all anymore.

Angela put her hand over her mom’s and gently pushed the necklace away. “Mom, I’m not really sure about that one.” It was the kindest way she could think of to tell her mom that there was no way in hell that she’d ever be wearing something that looked anything like that.

Her mom wasn’t listening at all, though. She brushed aside Angela’s words as if she hadn’t spoken at all. Angela thought it was rude of her mom, but part of her was also used to her mom ignoring her by now.

“Nonsense, Angela, this will go great with that dress I bought you last week. When are you going to wear it? I can’t wait to see it on you. I bet you’ll look just like a princess.”

The dress her mother was so in love with was a dress that Angela had yet to even take the tags off and really didn’t intend to wear anytime soon, if ever. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate it when her mom went out of her way to buy her things, but what she liked to wear and what her mom thought would look good on her were two completely different things. But she knew there would be no arguing with her mom after she’d decided the necklace was perfect with the dress. “Sometime soon probably.”

That was the most she could promise her mom, and it was far easier to just give into what her mom wanted than to try to argue about one little necklace, especially in the middle of the mall where her friends probably shopped and people would be talking about it if she made a scene. She definitely didn’t need that kind of attention in such a small high school, not when she already felt kind of out of place on most days. It had gotten to the point lately that she felt more like a dress-up doll for her mother’s entertainment than a real flesh and blood teenager.

It was getting old super fast, and even more so because what Angela wanted to wear wasn’t anything like what her mom wanted to dress her in. She didn’t want skirts or dresses, or the bright pink leggings that her mom thought looked so good on her. She wore sneakers and flip flops, not the low heels that her mom wanted her to wear. It was like what she wanted and what her mom did were on two different planets, and she was so tired of not getting her way lately when it came to what she wore. She was a teenager. She wasn’t five anymore. She could dress herself all on her own and Angela didn’t agree with her mom that she had to get dressed up just to go to school like it was somewhere special that she had to impress people at. She had a headache before her mom was even halfway through the store.

She bought Angela so many sparkly things, most of them in pink or yellow, and Angela tried to pretend that she wanted even half of them. But by the time they left the store an hour after they’d entered, her face was hurting from trying to smile so much and it was all such a big fake. She’d never wear a single piece of jewelry or hair clip that her mom had bought her unless, for some reason, her mom insisted on it, which she sometimes did. Or she used the tried and true, long-time mom-approved method of guilting her into wearing something so hideous she wanted to change the second she left the house. But her mom had caught her sneaking clothes out of the house before and now Angela knew better than to try that. She’d been grounded for a week before.

“Let’s get smoothies before our manicures,” her mom suggested excitedly as she looped her arm through Angela’s and tugged her along with her bag of new purchases bouncing against Angela’s hip between them.

“I’m not that hungry,” Angela started to protest. She’d actually been feeling a little queasy all morning and being surrounded by sparkly things and glitter in the store really hadn’t helped much. Added to that were all the little girls who were squealing over the same kinds of things her mother had thought that she should be oh-so interested in.

Those girls had been loud, annoying and so freaking giggly she had idly wondered if they weren’t some kind of weird new robots while her mom had wasted money buying her all those things she didn’t want. Her opinion hadn’t mattered in the least. It was a nightmare and the whole experience had just helped to reinforce how dressing up and ‘getting glamorous’, as her mom had put it often enough when she was growing up, just wasn’t for her anymore.

Maybe getting to be fifteen meant that she wasn’t into girly stuff anymore at all, even though there was a big part of her brain which said that it was far more than her just turning fifteen and growing up some. She wasn’t sure what else it would have been, though. She lacked any kind of an explanation at all for the changes she’d been feeling within herself.

Angela hadn’t changed her friends or anything like that and she still listened to most of her favorite songs. Even though she didn’t have any answers, the feelings she was experiencing were undeniable and they were leaving her more confused than ever. It was frustrating and distracting not to feel like herself most of the time and not to have any idea of why she was feeling like that, but knowing that she couldn’t go to her mom about any of it didn’t help her feel any better about it, either.

Her mom wasn’t paying any attention to her and her somber mood as she dragged Angela over to the smoothie cart at the edge of the large and diverse foot court. Angela loved all the different foods she could get there. Everything from Thai and sushi to the best street tacos with the freshest cojita cheese that she’d ever had. But her mom wanted to have a smoothie so that was where they were. The badge on the lanky teen’s striped shirt said that his name was Adam, and for some reason Angela just stared at the name tag for a long time. She stared long enough that her mom had to shake her shoulder to get Angela to pay any attention to what she was saying. “Angela!”

“Huh? What?” Why were so many people staring at her? Heat shot through her face as she turned away from her mom. She couldn’t believe that she’d blanked out so much that she hadn’t even heard her mom talking to her, which she’d clearly been doing for at least a few minutes, judging by her mom’s expression.

Her mom looked annoyed, heading into full-on pissed-off mom mode, which Angela rarely saw, and for good reason too. That look meant trouble, and Angela did her best to stay as far away from trouble as possible.

“I swear. Sometimes you just wander.” Her mom huffed loudly, clearly upset with her. Since she’d completely spaced out, Angela knew that she couldn’t really blame her mom for not being happy with her in that moment. “What do you want to drink?”

“Uh…” Angela quickly scanned over the menu choices and dismissed most of them easily. She didn’t like strawberries or bananas when they were blended up, and she thought orange juice was kind of gross after twelve o’clock. There was a chocolate option, but she’d heard at school that the chocolate from this smoothie place was not that good. Something about it tasting super fake and cheap. “Mango?” she threw out with a shrug. She didn’t really want a smoothie anyway so it was the best of the options she had very little interest in. Maybe it would surprise her and taste more like a mango lassi than like canned mangoes and ice blended together. She just hoped that it didn’t have any orange juice in it.

The teenage guy working at the cart, Adam, smiled at her. “Great choice. I’ll have those two smoothies right up.”

Angela smiled back at him. He was probably closer to eighteen than her fifteen, and cute, too, with short red hair and bright brown eyes, but that wasn’t why she was suddenly feeling a bit lightheaded. It was his name. That simple little thing about him. And Angela couldn’t even explain why it mattered so much.

Her mom paid for the smoothies then turned Angela away from the cart in a hurry. “He was actually pretty cute, for someone who works in the mall food court that is, of course,” she loudly whispered in Angela’s ear as she took her arm again. She acted as if she were afraid of Angela taking off on her if she didn’t hang on to her just as tightly as she possibly could all of the time.

“Uh.” Angela thought so, but wasn’t going to let on that she’d paid much attention to what he’d looked like beyond noticing the basics like his hair and eye colors. He’d been taller than her too, but she was pretty short so that wasn’t that hard for someone to be.

Apparently, her mom wasn’t done gushing about him yet, though. Angela hoped that she got over him quickly, because it wasn’t like it had really been that big of a deal. A few minutes after meeting him and now Angela couldn’t even really remember what he’d looked like. Only his name had stuck with her.

“That Adam, though—he’s little old for you, I think, but you’re on the right track at least. It’s great to see you taking an interest in boys. Well, aside from that little crush you had on your cousin’s best friend. But that was years ago. And he lives too far away for you two to be anything more than friends anyway. Which is too bad really because I do like Blaine. He’s a real sweetheart whenever we get together. Polite and nice to everyone, just like a good boy should be.”

Angela had managed to lose some of her blush in the previous minutes but now it was right back up on her cheeks again. “Blaine was…” Yeah, she wasn’t going to start thinking about him again. She’d been crushing on Blaine for a little while, more like a few years, but it was just a little crush and nothing more. It couldn’t be anything more because, like her mom had said, he lived too far away. Blaine was seriously cute and he had one of those movie-star smiles, but she was convinced that he was far out of her league and he lived about a half hour away and neither of them had a car…and it was all just one big no as far as they were concerned. There were just these things that kept them apart. Stuff Angela didn’t even know how to put words to. But she felt them deep in her gut and rumbling through her heart, even now as she and her mom stood there in the food court, waiting on their smoothies. Blaine would never be hers and that was okay with Angela because he was only a friend during the summer. He wasn’t even really her friend. He was her cousin’s best friend and they just hung out together during their family vacations, which Blaine always came along for.

Angela didn’t really want a manicure and her feet were so ticklish that getting a pedicure was a pain, but her mom had guilt tripped her about them not spending much time together doing mother-daughter things only the day before, and Angela didn’t want to be mean to her mom. She figured she could get through the manicure and pedicure that her mom had booked for them.

When they got into the salon, they were handed cucumber water and Angela sipped it and listened to the soothing classical music around her. It couldn’t be that bad, she figured. A manicure might have actually been okay. Maybe she could just get some clear polish or something. She didn’t like bright colors and she especially didn’t want to go back to school with pink nails. Her friends would never let her live it down. She wasn’t a girly girl. She was a tomboy and she did not have pink nails.

For once the pedicure felt nice and didn’t leave her giggling and almost kicking the person giving her a foot massage since her leg jerked whenever she got tickled. Her feet were left really soft and smooth and her toenails were all shaped and didn’t have big cracks in them for once. They were even clean. Angela definitely had hope for her manicure and getting to have exactly what she wanted there too, especially when her mom hadn’t said anything about her having a simple clear polish on her toenails.

But her mom dashed any hope she had of that when the woman asked her what kind of polish she wanted for her nails. Angela said, “I’d like the clear polish again just like I had on my toe nails, please.”

Her mom shook her head. “No, you’re getting the French tips.”

Angela’s heart sank. She didn’t want a French manicure. She didn’t like how they looked and she’d had them before and they were impossible to keep nice. They barely lasted two days with her and then her mom would be mad at her for getting the polish chipped and ruining her manicure so quickly. “Mom, could I please have just the clear polish? I think it would look better on me.”

“Really, Angela, if we were just going to get you clear polish then there would be no reason for us to even be here. Now, stop trying to waste my money and get the French tips. They’ll look gorgeous on you. I want you to start looking more like a girl. Someday you’ll actually start to care about that thing, but until then at least you’ll have the practice.”

Her mom was annoyed, and Angela was right there with her. She sighed and leaned her head back. As she nodded she closed her eyes. Whatever. It would be fine. Having a French manicure wouldn’t really kill her. She just felt like it was going to as she sat there and the woman put ugly-looking pale pink polish over her nails. It was absolutely awful and the worst part of it was her mom still wanted to go shopping for new clothes after this. Angela was sure that they would be more of the same clothes she wouldn’t be wearing. She really should have tried harder to convince her mom that she wasn’t all that well that morning, but part of her had hoped that maybe this afternoon would bring them closer together.

She’d been feeling kind of separated from her mom for a while, and this day had only made that feeling worse. Her mom clearly didn’t know anything about her, and worse than that was how Angela didn’t have any idea of how to make things better between them. She was feeling lost and the only time that she really felt like herself was with her friends, but even they were starting to seem alien to her. Maybe it wasn’t them, though. Maybe this was about something being wrong with her. She really didn’t know anymore.

* * * *

Two hours later they were back home and Angela tossed her many new bags of clothes, jewelry and shoes onto the bed before she flopped down on top of her comforter. She had a bright-blue journal in her nightstand, which she quickly pulled out. At first she was only scribbling. It was something she did when she was bored. But then she started writing ‘Adam’ over and over again across all the narrow lines of her notebook. It was weird, at first, writing someone else’s name down, especially as she laid there, going through her own loopy handwriting and hating the way the A looked in a boy’s name when it had always been fine in her own. It didn’t look right at all, and as she laid there trying to make the name look perfect and having no idea why it even mattered to her at all, Angela was starting to get frustrated.

So Angela changed the way she was writing the letters and made the A more angular and less of the large circle like she had always done. The D lost its curved top somewhere around the thirtieth time she had rewritten the name that was slowly becoming familiar to her. The second A could stay a loop. That wasn’t so bad. But Angela couldn’t connect it to the M. That made it look way too girly. Seventy-three times after she had started writing the name, she was happy with how it had come out. Spikey A, simple D, loopy A, spikey M. Adam. It was… Angela wasn’t really sure what it was really. But she liked how it looked a lot more now than when she’d started writing it out. She had heard this name probably hundreds of times. It was a pretty common name after all, but it was becoming more familiar to her as she spent so much time writing it over and over again. There was no real explanation that she could give for why she’d written the name so many times. It might have even been some type of new madness that she’d never heard of before. But it didn’t feel like she was going crazy. She felt almost calm as she kept carefully writing the name Adam over and over again.

As she put her gel pen down and traced her fingertip over that simple little name, Angela couldn’t help feeling a little happy with it. And maybe she was even a little relieved. Because for some reason that name and how it was written mattered to her. And she didn’t have the slightest idea why that would have been.

* * * *

Monday morning meant that she had her Sex Ed class. Angela hated that stupid class and all the awful girls in it who giggled when the banana was brought out, and the guys who groaned at all the disgusting videos of what could happen when people had unprotected sex. It was even worse since the class was right before she was scheduled to have lunch. She’d skipped eating a few times after seeing those horrible videos.

The only saving grace of that whole class was that her friend Heidi was in it. She sat right next to Angela and was as bored as any of them, but that was mostly because she’d been having sex for over a year and knew everything there was to know about being with guys. And Angela had yet even to kiss a guy, though there had been a few that she’d been tempted to. Like Blaine. It was stupid but just thinking about him and kissing together made her smile. It would never happen, but imagining him leaning over and kissing her was one of the silliest little daydreams that she’d ever had.

“Today in class we are going to learn about a few of the different gender identities that exist in our society as well as those outside of ourselves as well. It is important that we get a wide cultural understanding of different peoples to broaden your horizons and appreciation for other people and not just who you’re most familiar with. This will also tie into the video we watched last week on human sexuality and the diverse sexual practices and sexualities that can be found around the world,” their teacher, Mr. Hawthorne, said as he came in and started up the TV with a click of the remote in his hand. “And there’s a movie to go along with it.” Which meant that he could sit at his desk and ignore them while he played on his phone and called it work. He’d probably have his feet up too. “I expect you all to be paying full attention.” Unlike how he would be, of course.

Angela sat in the front row so that when she laid her head over her forearms there was no one to get in the way of her being able to see the screen. Once Mr. Hawthorne had turned off the obnoxiously bright fluorescent overhead lights, Heidi put up the hood of her dark gray wool sweater and laid her head down on the desk too. Angela knew that she’d be asleep within the first ten minutes of the movie. At least her best friend didn’t snore. Sam, a guy two rows back, snored so loudly they had all started laughing a few weeks before. He was a pretty quiet guy and he’d been so embarrassed by it that he hadn’t been able to meet anyone’s gaze for over a week. He was still barely saying hi to anyone. Angela felt pretty badly for him.

She knew, from the times that she’d stayed after school to hang out with Heidi or to get some extra tutoring help in a class, that Sam stayed late to help out in the after school program with the elementary school kids that hung out in the high school’s gym. She’d seen him in there a few times as she was leaving the school. Angela figured he must really like kids to want to spend his evenings playing soccer with them so often. But one thing she knew for sure of was how much he liked Heidi. Too bad her best friend was absolutely not interested in him at all. The poor guy. Heidi didn’t go for guys like him. He was too sweet, and far too nice for her tastes. She ran with the much more dangerous, bad boy type of guys. She said they were exciting. Angela didn’t get it at all. She liked nice guys. The kind that thought of her first and were sweet about it. Guys like Blaine.

She really had to stop thinking like that. Blaine was completely off the table for her. She had to get her head off obsessing about him. In the winter she hardly thought about him, but as summer came, and with it her family’s annual camping trip, each day she was just one more day closer to seeing him again. Focus, she told herself. I’m in class. Right now I need to focus and not waste time thinking about Blaine or his perfect smile.

“Wake me up before the movie ends,” Heidi whispered to her.

Angela could tell that she was already starting to drift off to sleep. No one would notice that she wasn’t paying any attention to the movie, though, since she didn’t snore at all. If Angela was feeling tired, she might have taken a nap too, but then no one would have been looking out for Heidi. And, also, she’d had an orange soda in art class so she wasn’t tired at all. She was more bored than anything else.

Angela nodded to her. She’d watch out for Heidi like she always did when they had movies in the classes they shared. They’d been friends for years and this was just what they did. “Sure. I doubt you’ll miss anything anyway. It’s probably going to be a pretty crappy video.” They’d seen dozens of movies over the year and they were all low budget and not very good at all. Angela often struggled to pay attention and not start daydreaming or thinking about what she was going to have for lunch. She really loved nachos and they were one of the few things in the cafeteria that was actually good to eat, though the hot chocolate wasn’t half-bad either.

Heidi giggled softly and stretched out her long legs, getting as comfortable as she could in the awful little desks that bit into Angela’s butt. Heidi didn’t seem to have that problem, but then again she also had a much smaller butt than Angela did. Angela tried not to be jealous of how skinny and cute she was. She wasn’t even that vain, but she saw how guys looked at Heidi and sometimes she really wanted that for herself too. But she didn’t want to be a girly girl like Heidi was to get it. Heidi wore pink and looked cute all the time and she did her nails and kept them neat constantly. Angela had no idea how to even be like her. She wasn’t even sure how she and Heidi had become friends, but she was just grateful that they had. Heidi was her best friend and Angela absolutely loved her.

Mr. Hawthorne used the remote to start the movie and someone in a flat, monotone voice started telling them about gender versus sex and how gender was how a person felt and sex was what their body was and how that didn’t always match up right from birth. Angela really didn’t get it but she was trying to pay attention just in case any of the information was on the final in a few weeks. Heidi quickly dropped off to sleep beside her.

A woman came on the screen, though her voice was actually that of a man’s, and Angela frowned at the instant strangeness of it. “I knew something was different about me from an extremely early age. I think I was about three when I first started wearing my older sister’s dresses and sparkly purple play heels. They felt right in a way my boy clothes never had. People like to say that clothes have no gender, and they don’t, but how people react to you with what you’re wearing definitely plays a role in how accepted you feel as a child and that makes you wear certain things over others. I knew that wearing her clothes was probably wrong, but I did it anyway because it made me feel better. I played with her dolls in private. I joined her in her tea parties whenever I could. At first our parents thought I was just being a good little brother, but when it became obvious that I wanted to do the tea parties even when my sister didn’t, they realized something was off about me.

“Our parents didn’t understand what I was experiencing and within a few months, they decided to put me into talk therapy. But I didn’t need that kind of help from them or anyone else. I was a girl but I wasn’t in the body I needed to be in. I was confused and angry, and sometimes I acted out because I had no better way to express myself. I was extremely aggressive when I started school. I was put in more therapy. I started fights and I would scream out for no reason at all. I was frustrated and angry all the time. I didn’t understand what I was doing or what was going on with me. I had no explanation for the things I was feeling or what I was going through. The only things I was absolutely aware of was how I felt absolutely wrong all the time, and it only got worse as I got older, and also that no one in my family seemed to care how much I was suffering every single day. I was only seen as the bad child, the one who didn’t try hard enough or at all, and who sought attention in the worst ways when all I was trying to do was find out how to fix myself.”

Angela didn’t need to hear any more of what the woman was saying and she quickly tuned her out because what the woman was talking about, what she had been feeling, was pretty close to what Angela had been experiencing lately too. She didn’t feel like a girl most of the time. And even though she hadn’t been acting out like the woman had been, she knew something was wrong. She didn’t feel like a girl should, or at least like she’d been told that girls should be. Instead of how she had always been told that she was supposed to feel, she felt wrong, and in that moment Angela felt more wrong than she ever had before because it was all suddenly clicking. She didn’t like shoes or girl clothes or doing her nails or messing with her hair. But it was more than being a tomboy. She didn’t like what her body was doing now that she was in full-blown puberty and she missed being androgynous like she’d been only a few years before. She wasn’t a tomboy, and she was starting to be pretty sure that maybe she wasn’t even a girl at all.

Her heart raced as she sat there staring down at her scarred, old wooden desk and wishing she was anywhere but sitting right there in the middle of class. As her mind started realigning to an incredibly scary new reality that was becoming clear, Angela was acutely aware of how much she needed to get some fresh air. The room was suddenly far too confining and far too normal for the thoughts and feelings racing through her.

She didn’t exactly have permission to leave the room in the middle of class and she didn’t ask for it either. Angela just grabbed up her backpack and ran out of the room without saying a word to anyone. She was only two rooms from the front doors of the high school and she burst through them and out into the warm summer air.

Angela found a bench to sit down on in the high school’s front courtyard and that helped her catch her breath a bit. There were so many thoughts and ideas running through her head that she needed time to think about. When the bell rang for lunch, she managed to pull herself together and join the other students in their rush for food.

“OMG. What the hell happened to you?” Heidi demanded as soon as Angela came over to sit next to her at their favorite lunch table. “You freaked out, I mean, at least according to the moron sitting behind you. He said you must have been possessed or something, the way you took off. But you and I both know that if you were ever possessed, the first person who would know, aside from you of course, would be me. Because obviously.”

Angela cracked a smile. “Sorry. My stomach was just acting crazy for a little bit there. I’m all good now.” It was a lie. She was freaking out inside and she desperately wanted to talk to Heidi about it, but she was terrified of what her best friend would think of her if she shared even a tiny percent of what was going on in her own mind. It was a scary place right then, but she also felt so completely comfortable with her thoughts for the first time in a very long time.

“You feeling any better now?” Heidi asked her.

Shrugging, Angela stared down at the bag of chips and a soda she’d grabbed out of the case for lunch. “More or less?” She had to tell Heidi sometime. She knew that. But she was so completely scared to. Maybe Heidi would still love her. Maybe she’d even try to understand. But Angela was terrified of what the flip side could be and she absolutely loved Heidi and didn’t want to risk losing her. “I’m good. I promise.”

Heidi blew her a kiss. “Of course you are. That was one hell of an exit, though. Way to get out of a damn boring movie.” They laughed together, and Angela didn’t feel too scared for a moment as she laughed with her best friend over a bag of chips and a soda Heidi was quickly draining.

* * * *

That night her mom ordered pizza and they sat together watching a movie in the living room with plates on their laps and glasses of milk beside them.

“What happened in Sex Ed class today? Your teacher called me and said you just took off. Mr. Hawthorne thought you might have been upset by the video you were watching in class for some reason.”

Angela shrugged and kept eating her pizza. She wasn’t ready to go into that just yet. “I wasn’t feeling well.” Frowning, she put her pizza down and looked over at her mom. “What would you have done if I was born a boy?”

Her mom laughed but didn’t glance at her. “Well, you would have probably had a lot more in common with your dad than with me then. But you’d still be my princess.”

Even though I’m a boy?

Angela shook her…his head. Clearly his mom hadn’t heard him, hadn’t understood what he was trying to get at, or hadn’t really cared. But it had taken a lot for Angela to even want to ask that before and he couldn’t repeat himself now. It was too scary to say the words. Too new to v

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