Felix Ever After

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender


For trans and nonbinary youth:

You’re beautiful. You’re important. You’re valid.

You’re perfect.


WE PUSH OPEN THE APARTMENT BUILDING’S GLASS DOOR, out into the yellow sunshine that’s a little too cheerful and bright. It’s hot as hell—the kind of heat that sticks to your skin, your hair, your freaking eyeballs.

“Christ, why did we sign up for this again?” Ezra says, his voice hoarse. “It’s so early. I could still be asleep.”

“I mean, eleven isn’t technically early. It’s—you know—about halfway through the day.”

Ezra lights a blunt he pulls out of I-don’t-know-where and offers it to me, and we suck on the last of it as we walk. Reggaeton blasts from a nearby park’s cookout. The smell of smoke and burning meat wafts over, along with the laughter and screams of kids. We cross the street, pausing when a man on a bike zooms by with a boom box blasting Biggie, and we walk down the mold-slick stairs of the Bedford-Nostrand G stop, sliding our cards through the turnstile just as a train rumbles up to the platform.

The train doors slide shut behind us. It’s one of the older trains, with splotches of black gum plastered to the floor and messages written in Sharpie on the windows. R + J = 4EVA.

My first instinct is to roll my eyes, but if I’m honest with myself, I can feel jealousy sprouting in my chest. What does it feel like, to love someone so much that you’re willing to publicly bare your heart and soul with a black Sharpie? What is it like to even love someone at all? My name is Felix Love, but I’ve never actually been in love. I don’t know. The irony actually kind of fucks with my head sometimes.

We grab a couple of orange seats. Ezra wipes a hand over his face as he yawns, leaning against my shoulder. It was my birthday last week, and we got into the habit of staying up until three in the morning and lying around all day. I’m seventeen now, and I can confirm that there isn’t much of a difference between sixteen and seventeen. Seventeen is just one of those in-between years, easily forgotten, like a Tuesday—stuck in between sweet sixteen and legal eighteen.

An older man dozes across from us. A woman stands with her baby stroller that’s filled with grocery bags. A hipster with a huge red beard holds his bicycle steady. The AC is blasting. Ezra sees me clutching myself against the ice-cold air, so he puts an arm over my shoulders. He’s my best friend—only friend, since I started at St. Catherine’s three years ago. We’re not together like that, not in any way, shape, or form, but everyone else always gets the wrong idea. The older man suddenly wakes up like he could smell the gay, and he doesn’t stop staring at us, even after I stare right back at him. The hipster gives us a reassuring smile. Two gay guys cuddling in the heart of Brooklyn shouldn’t feel this revolutionary, but suddenly, it does.

Maybe it’s the weed, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m that much closer to being an adult, but I suddenly feel a little reckless. I whisper to Ez, “Wanna give this guy a show?”

I nod in the direction of the older man who has straight-up refused to look away. Ezra smirks and rubs his hand up and down my arm, and I snuggle closer to him, resting my head on his shoulder—and then Ez goes from zero to one hundred as he buries his face into my neck, which—okay—I’ve never actually gotten a whole lot of action before (i.e.: I’ve never even been kissed), and just feeling his mouth there kind of drives me crazy. I let out an embarrassing squeak-gasp, and Ezra puffs out a muffled laugh against the same damn spot.

I look up to see our audience staring, wide-eyed, totally scandalized. I wiggle my fingers at the man in a sarcastic half wave, but he must take that as an invitation to speak. “You know,” he goes, with a slight accent, “I have a grandson who’s gay.”

Ezra and I glance at each other with raised eyebrows.

“Um. Okay,” I say.

The man nods. “Yes, yes—I never knew, and then one day he sat me down, and my wife, Betsy, before she passed, and then he was crying, and he told us: I’m gay. He’d already known for years, but he didn’t say anything because he was so afraid of what we would think. I can’t blame him for being afraid. The stories you hear. And his own father . . . Heartbreaking. You’d think a parent would always love their child, no matter what.” He pauses in his monologue, looking around as the train begins to slow down. “Anyway. This is my stop.”

He stands as the doors open. “You would like my grandson, I think. You two seem like very nice, gay boys.”

And with that, the man is lost to the platform as the woman with the baby stroller follows him out.

Ezra and I look at each other, and I burst out laughing. He shakes his head. “New York, man,” he says. “Seriously. Only in New York.”

We get off at Lorimer/Metropolitan and walk down and then back up a bunch of stairs to get to the L train. It’s June 1—the first day of Pride month in the city—so there are No Bigotry Allowed rainbow-colored signs plastered on the tiled walls. The platform is filled with pink-skinned Williamsburg hipsters, and the train takes forever to come.

“Shit. We’re going to be late,” Ezra says.

“Yeah. Well.”

“Declan’s going to be pissed.”

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