The sun is warm. A sickly sweet breeze blows. Dane is sitting on the edge of the pier, feet dangling off the edge, the tips of their shoes just above the water. They breathe in deeply, slowly, then let the air out all at once.
A friend appears behind them, offering a can of knock-off cola. “Party’s just begun, Dane,” the friends says to them. Dane looks up at the speaker. It’s Dylan. She hasn’t picked a new name yet, but Dane’s certain she’ll figure one out soon. She’s been transitioning for a year.
“Yeah,” Dane replies, “I just wanted to take in one last sunset out here. The way the light reflects across the ocean… I’m gonna miss it.” They reach up and take the cola.
Dylan sits next to them. “Yeah. It’s really something.” She’s obviously nervous about something. She’s twirling her own drink, causing the liquid to slosh in the can. She has an excellent poker face, but Dane sees through her.
Dane cracks open the can. They take a long drink of the cold soda. Dylan’s can quietly swishes. “So what are you gonna do next?” She asks.
Dylan already knows the answer to this question. She just wants to hear it from Dylan’s mouth. It doesn’t feel real yet, even with the unofficial graduation party going on in the abandoned warehouse next door.
Dane sighs. “I’m moving to Capron, Illinois. I’m going to take over my grandpa’s general store.”
Dylan sighs, too. She can feel the distance between her hands and theirs. It’s only inches, but it feels like so much more. “That’s small, huh? Only 1500 people. You think you can get used to that? No misgendering?”
Dane shrugs. “They’ll probably get it wrong for a long time. That’s okay. They’re good people. I used to know some of them when I was younger. They’ll grow.” Dane takes another sip of the cola. Swish, swish.
Dylan’s soda is nearly spilling out of the top of the can. “Just a general shop. Do you know how to run a store?”
“Grandpa’s not dead yet,” Dane replies, “So I’ll learn a bit from him. He’s just worried about the place. He doesn’t want to sell it. Besides, I’ve always been interested in taking it over.” Dane puts their soda down and lifts a leg onto the pier, folding their arm over it.
“But that’s not what you want to ask about, is it?”
And before Dane has the chance say something else, Dylan has already thrown herself onto them. She’s gripping their shoulder tightly, pressing her lips against theirs. Dane is taken aback. They don’t know what they’re supposed to do.
Dylan is completely sober; Dane can’t taste a hint of alcohol on her breath. She stops kissing them, but keeps her face near theirs. “I’m so sorry. This was stupid. I’m stupid.”
Dane puts a hand on her cheek. She’s so warm, so soft, so alive. They kiss her back. They release the kiss, and Dylan sighs as they retreat. “Don’t say that, Dylan. You’re beautiful, and amazing.”
They sit in silence for a while, Dylan laying atop Dane. Both of them breathing each other in. Dylan is so scared. Dane doesn’t know what to do.
“Take me with you,” Dylan finally asks. “When you leave for Capron, take me with you. I don’t want to be here in California without you.”
Dane grips her hand tightly.