Sorry, this entry is only available in Nederlands.
The below excerpt is from the first chapter of “Aldus Sybren”. Sybren is living with his uncle in The Netherlands and two relatives visit to see the niece who became their nephew. Sybren isn’t exactly… thrilled.
“And, how does it feel to be back in The Netherlands?” asked Aunt Ann after a short pause. “Are you doing all right getting used to it?”
“Well, of course,” said uncle Harold disparagingly. “She’s Dutch, innit. Doesn’t get changed by a couple years on the other side of the pond.”
“Har!” Aunt Ann shot him a warning glance.
“What did we say earlier?”
“He!” whispered aunt Ann with emphasis. “Remember?”
“He what? Oh! Right.” Uncle Harold cleared his throat. “Beg pardon. Got to get used to that.”
That I understood and I relaxed.
With a certain kind of detached interest I listened to the political discussion between my uncles. I’d always figured that the Dutch government knew what they were doing, but according to the discourse apparently there had never been a less capable cabinet.
“At least it’s not Bush,” I said with a smirk.
“Didn’t you vote for him then?” asked uncle Harold.
“Of course not! I voted for Obama.”
“Bush had his points.”
I didn’t even want to reply to that.
“At least he knew how to act. That’s what we’re missing here in Holland: acting. You’d stayed in America.”
Not to that either. Part of me agreed with uncle Harold, though for reasons he wouldn’t understand.
“I think the girls there are nicer too,” he went on with glittering eyes.
“Whatever.” I sipped my tea. Too hot still, and I focused on the pain in my tongue.
“Oh, come on, you’re not blind, are you?”
“I look at men.”
Uncle Harold stared at me. “But… you want to be a man, right? Then you’ll look at women, surely?”
“I am a man. A gay man.” Something smoldered in my chest, something that wasn’t hot tea. My jaw clenched.
“Wouldn’t it have been better if you’d stayed a girl, then?” asked aunt Ann cautiously. “Then it would be easier to find someone…”
“But all the rest would be harder.” Hopefully they’d have to drive a long way so they would leave on time. Like in two minutes. Or now.
“Impressive you’ve done it regardless, then, if you know you’ll be alone forever. So brave!”
She beamed at me like she’d given me a huge compliment.
“So how do you deal with the depression?” she went on. “Do you take pills for that?”
“Many trans-sex-u-als,” aunt Ann lowered her voice, “are depressed, right? They say that on the news. About suicide.” She looked at me with eyes full of pity.
“I’m not depressed,” said I as cheerful as I could.
“You’re sullen, though,” said uncle William, unsolicited. “You used to be happier.”
I was certain this was not true. “I didn’t use to live in The Netherlands.”
“The weather here makes me sullen, too!” Uncle Harold laughed loudly.
“Har!” hissed my aunt again. “You shouldn’t play it down. Then she’ll think we don’t take her seriously. Him. Sorry. Sorry, Sybren.”
I crossed my legs and wrapped my hands around my mug. The smile I forced on my face seemed to have been carved with a dull knife.
“You shouldn’t do that, you know.” Uncle Harold indicated my legs. “They’ll see right away you’re actually a woman, if you sit like that.”
Beside me uncle William hastily re-positioned himself.
“I’m not actually a woman,” I said, with my jaws clenched tightly. “Never been.”
“You know what I mean. You can’t change nature, you’ll never be a real man.”
“Har! We’ve talked about this too!”
“I can say what I think, can’t I?”
“Why do you think I care about what you think?”
My face felt cold.
“We’re family,” my aunt protested weakly.
“Family should be able to be honest with each other,” said my uncle.
“Can I be honest then and say that I don’t give a fuck about your opinion of my life and my choices?” My throat closed up and I ground my teeth.
“Well, well,” said uncle Harold, not even slightly taken aback. “That’s not necessary, now is it? Real men don’t let themselves go like that, you know, they have their emotions in check.”
“Good thing I’m not a real man then, huh?”
Uncle Harold was finally stumped and fake-nonchalantly rapped his fingers on his knee. Aunt Ann dug through her purse to find god knew what.
I broke the silence by throwing my mug on the tiles. White porcelain flew every which way.
“Oops, sorry,” I said upon meeting the shocked expressions of my relatives, as if it’d been an accident. “I’ll clean it up.”
“I’ll do it,” said uncle William hastily. He picked up the biggest pieces from the ground and put them on the coffee table. The ear was still intact.
“Do you want another cup of coffee?” I said.