Cevinâ€™s Deadly Sin by Sally Bosco
I finger my lace panties through a hole in the bottom of my jeans pocket. The satin is smooth and reassuring in this cold, uncaring world. Yes, Iâ€™m a boy, and yes, Iâ€™m wearing red lace panties. Deal with it. I do.
The house has a damp, decaying smell like flowers that have been left in a vase to rot, and the living room is stacked to the ceiling with cardboard boxes from the move. We unloaded our cartons from the U-Haul last night and both of us were too tired to unpack. Mom looks at them with a frownie face, but when she notices me noticing her, she switches over to fake-cheerful. â€œItâ€™s a beautiful day for our fresh start.â€
â€œYeah.â€ Right now, Iâ€™m too preoccupied to make conversation. What am I thinking, wearing my girlâ€™s panties the first day of school in a new town? Just that I need them, that they neutralize any bad energy, that they make my life bearable. But maybe I should ditch them for today. Maybe I need to start out in this new school by trying to be more normal, whatever that is. I run into my room and change into briefs, stuffing my red panties into my backpack for safekeeping, then I pull my ratty jeans back on. Itâ€™s a new school where no one knows me. I can be a completely new person here.
When I get back into the living room, Momâ€™s holding up a freshly ironed cornflower blue shirt and chinos that are starched so hard the crease could cut through steel. â€œHere you go, Cevin. You want to make a good impression your first day at school.â€
I look down at my gray T-shirt, frayed jeans, and rumpled hoodie, the drab clothes I wear when I want to blend in. My heart digs into my chest at the thought of wearing her dorky clothes in public. â€œMom, this is a hick town. Theyâ€™re not going to be all dressed up. And itâ€™s not the 1950â€™s, you know?â€
My objections only make her more adamant. She holds the clothes in my face. â€œYou have to make the teachers like you, make them think youâ€™re a serious student. Thatâ€™s the most important thing.â€
Sheâ€™s been through a lot in this year. We both have. Still, I have to hold my ground. â€œThe most important thing is not looking like a geek. You want me to fit in, right?â€ I fold my arms in front of my chest.
She lowers her eyelids and her face tightens up. Iâ€™ve hurt her feelings now, I can tell. She rubs the stump where her left hand used to be before the accident, which makes me feel really bad for her, and she blinks back the moisture in her eyes. â€œI was just trying toâ€¦â€
Neither of us mentions this, but memories of my sister, Caroline, float through the room like a ghost, casting a pall over our house and lives. If she were here sheâ€™d be making jokes and organizing things the way she always did, and everything would be okay.
I grab the clothes from her. â€œOkay. Just today, though,â€ and duck into my room to make a quick change. After I change, the reflection I see in the mirror makes me want to cry. I look like a prime dork. Momâ€™s bought the clothes a little too big for me, like theyâ€™re hand-me-downs from an older brother. And the outfit does not fit my hair, which is just past shoulder-length and straight. My hair is the one thing I insist upon, despite my motherâ€™s protests.
The peeling paint of the windowsill with its pile of dead flies momentarily takes my attention away from my clothes. I wish it was last year and we were still in our ranch house in Daytona.
â€œCevin. Come on. Youâ€™re going to be late.â€
I jolt back into awareness and dash into the living room, only to find my mom going through some of the boxes. Panic shoots through me, and a drop of sweat trickles down the inside of my cardboard shirt. â€œLet me unpack my own stuff.â€ I pull the box away from her and set it down.
â€œOh, here it is.â€ Mom pulls out my trumpet case. â€œYouâ€™re going to need this. I signed you up for band and you have practice today. It says so on your schedule.â€ She shoves a piece of paper into my hand.
I hadnâ€™t even looked at my schedule. â€œI donâ€™t want to do band at this school. Weâ€™ve been all through this.â€
â€œBut you like music so much.â€
How can I tell her that I have no interest in getting involved in anything at this school? I just want to make it through the year and graduate so I can get the hell out of here. â€œIâ€™m not into it anymore.â€
â€œNot into playing the trumpet? After I spent so much on it, the least you can doâ€¦â€ Mom gets that sad look again.
â€œOkay. Iâ€™ll take it to school with meâ€¦â€ And deposit it in my locker the first chance I get.
She starts rummaging through my boxes again, and my head throbs. I have to stop her from finding the box that has my girl clothes in it. â€œDonâ€™t you go to your new job today?â€
â€œNo, it starts tomorrow.â€
There are easily fifty boxes piled up in the living room, and I start pushing the stacks around, looking for the box with the small â€œXâ€ on it. But there are so many boxes I canâ€™t find it. Why didnâ€™t I put a huge â€œXâ€ on it? I know perfectly well it was because I didnâ€™t want to call attention to the carton that has my special stuff in it.
â€œWhat are you doing? You need to hurry up.â€
Finally, I find the box and carry it into my room. Now what to do with it.
Mom follows me into the bedroom. Great.
â€œMom, can you see if you can find a box that has my name on it? I had some school supplies in it.â€
That diverts her long enough for me to remove my prize possessions and stuff them into my backpack: a cast-off black mini-skirt, a special set of baby pink, shimmery Victoriaâ€™s Secret bra and panties I bought on eBay, a princess-cut red dress with matching heels that almost fit me, and other assorted bras, panties, and blouses Iâ€™ve managed to gather together. It makes my backpack lumpy and conspicuous. Shit. But I have no other option with Mom being home and going through my stuff.
â€œI couldnâ€™t find the one with your name on it.â€
â€œThatâ€™s okay.â€ Especially since there isnâ€™t any box with my name on it. I hoist the backpack over one shoulder and head toward the door.
â€œAre you sure you donâ€™t want me to drive you to school? Your carâ€™s not going to be ready for another couple of days.â€
Before she can question me about all the stuff in my backpack, I grab my trumpet case and hurry past her, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. â€œNo, thatâ€™s okay. The walk will do me good.â€
â€œJust one minute, young man. We need to say a quick prayer before your first day at school.â€
â€œCome on, Iâ€™m late.â€
â€œThis will only take a second.â€ She bows her head and closes her eyes. I do the same but open one eye to watch her. â€œDear Lord,â€ she says with her eyes squeezed shut. â€œPlease guide Cevin throughout his day in this new school. Lord God, please make his day be a glory to your own great goodness. Amen.â€
â€œAmen,â€ I say as I dash out the door. It irritates me how she always has to push her religion on me. I know thatâ€™s the reason she and Dad broke up. He couldnâ€™t stand it either.
Mind you, a year ago, she wasnâ€™t like this. She was still partying just like my dad. That was before the accident.
As I trudge through the woods, past a lake that has pretty pink crepe myrtles blooming beside it, I think that things might be okay; I might be able to make a new life here. But when I get closer to school my feelings change.
A sense of foreboding races through my veins as I walk down the main street of Tilapia, past a teenage mother carting her two wriggling brats into the Piggly Wiggly, past a pudgy handyman catching an artery-hardening breakfast at the Cozy Rest before his day of work. A micro-sized post office, a Dollar General, a one-pump gas station, and a Baptist church complete the collection. This is life in a conservative Florida town like Tilapia. Never heard of it? Neither has anyone else.
Iâ€™m hopeful that I can lay low at school, that I can stay in my protective shell and no one will touch me. At least I keep telling myself that.
*Â *Â *
Sally Bosco (sallybosco.com) writes young adult fiction. Novels include Death Divided, The Werecat Chronicles, Shadow Cat (written as Zoe LaPage) and Cevinâ€™s Deadly Sin. Recent publications include a chapter inÂ Many Genres, One Craft and stories in Small Bites, Hazard Yet Forward and Cellar Door anthologies. She has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.
Her newest book, Cevinâ€™s Deadly Sin, is the story of a hetero, teen cross-dresser: his struggles with first love, self-identity and bullying during his senior year in a small, Florida town. It is published by QueerTeen Press.
- About the Author
- Posts in the Past
Sally Bosco writes young adult fiction.