Today and Tomorrow

Riley always has a way of putting a sarcastic twist on just about anything. Their depression. Their friend's suicide attempt. Their sexuality, gender, love life. It's not even that their life is terrible. It's that their life is empty. And it appears that will never change. That is, of course, until Alex. [Entry for the Diversity Competition]


1. Zero

"Alex?" Their eyes met mine and crossed the purposeful distance we'd placed between each other.


"Riley?" I saw their breath caught somewhere in their chest as their name left my lips. Do you ever have moments when you realize how lucky you are? Even with the too many inches between them and me, I could smell their clothes... an indescribable scent that made me feel at home. "What is it?" It was then that their eyebrows drew together, and those lips folded in on each other. They turned away, studying the park around us. 


"I love you." The words were warm on their tongue, and they almost flooded out of them. I could feel my face melting into a sugary smile. 


"Riley," I dared to intertwine my fingers with theirs. "I love you too." my words could've been mistaken for a simple disturbance in the air, but to them, to us they meant the entire world. 


"Really?" I could hear the genuine surprise in their voice. I let my eyes wander their face for a moment. God, I had never felt such attraction. I'm sure others would simply call their eyes brown, but to me they were the color of molasses and honey with a dusting of cinnamon. They'd been growing out their soot hair for a little bit now, and it swayed and curled around their hand in beautiful waves that I'd love to run my hands through. Their chin was a little crocked with a smile that made me melt every. single. time. that those lips turned up. All of their features were small but undeniably strong. After all, they were almost a foot shorter than me. And yet, their hand fit perfectly within mine. 


"Of course." I wanted nothing more than to kiss them. Right then. Right there. I almost couldn't bring myself to care that we were supposed to be watching my little cousin at that moment. I wanted to take them far away from here and--


"Anna?" They called across the space. My cousin turned her head our way. "I'm gonna show Alex something real quick, will you be okay for a minute or two?" She nodded furiously in response, quickly turning back to climbing the yellow ladder. She'd always loved being independent. "Come here." They stoop up and led me by the hand, a half step in front of me all the way to the dugouts on the edge of the baseball field. A laugh bubbled up within me and left my lips breathless before their mouth was on mine. I had to bend down to reach them, and I'm sure they were on their toes. Their hands were in my hair as mine found the hem of their shirt. They kissed my cheek, jaw, neck, and goosebumps scattered across my skin. My eyes fluttered closed. They pulled back for a moment and I studied their face. I could see their eyes bouncing across my features. I would never understand what they saw in me. They scrunched up their face playfully, and I mimicked the absurd expression back. In some bravery I wouldn't normally have, I put my hands on their waist and sat down on one of the rickety benches that hadn't been replaced in at least twenty years. They were in my lap, and I couldn't help but feel something special. Not the twisting in the place just below my belly button and in my heart, but the novelty of the absolute trust between us, of them trusting me with their body, and me trusting mine with them. Any dysphoria dissolved and we were just two people. Two people irrevocably in love. 


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