Yvette woke up on that Tuesday in March with her head hurting. The tears yesterday had erupted like waterfalls out of her eyes, it was absolutely endless the way the tears flowed. Tyrone, her boyfriend for six years had totally shitted on her on her birthday. He’d promised that he’d go to dinner with her, the first dinner, the two would’ve ever shared outside. Not only had he not returned her texts, in her boldness ,she’d called him twice just to be able to confirm if he was coming. He knew how long it had taken to get reservations for the restaurant. And she felt like a fool, all dressed up, all luscious feeling on her 32nd birthday and her only friend in the world, the man she spoke to day and night by text , the closest thing she’d ever had that was a real relationship had bailed. To be fair, she realized he probably was occupied by his bitch wife Judy. Judy the giraffe who he married two years ago, four years after they met. Judy, who by stroke of luck first pregnancy in her 40 years had been blessed with triplets. Yvette had accepted it at the time being homeless herself and unable to help Tyrone find a place. He’d used that 10 inch cucumber and gift of gab and bagged a desperate Judy one night at a bar. She took him home and never let him go. Deemed ugly by society’s metrics and way too tall and wide, she took great solace in finally having a fixer upper like Nasty Rone.

Yvette woke up and walked around her six month lived in -studio. She looked at the periwinkle curtains, the king size bed, the posters of Pam Grier and Toni Morrison, the pink and blue flag of her tribe and all the emptiness of her home. She was so alone. She reflected on the words of her therapist who told her not to blame herself for lack of relations, to focus on her non- existent dreams, to count her blessings. Yvette looked at the picture of Ty, the picture she’d snapped when he slept , the picture he didn’t know she had and which she was careful to hide when he came over. In the photo, Ty’s graham cracker skin is smooth and worry free, he looks much younger than his 45 years, his darkened full ,weed puffing lips had looked so welcoming that early evening when the photo was taken. She’d gently pecked him , feeling guilty knowing how much he hated kissing and hated her requesting it . She understood, she’d always known. He couldn’t help but see her as the tranny whore he met one night on the train platform. The one dressed in her sexy whore garb, the one who had by chance been forced off the track early for lack of customers and crossed paths with the one Ty who’d peeped the Godiva amazon since 34th street. Cautious approaching, followed by intense staring, minimal conversation and a follow back to her crib with the promise to deliver her only d of the night. The sex can only be described as life -changing, as liberating , as femme affirming as a new trans girl like Yvette could ever get. She knew she was in trouble the night the sexy stranger left. She’d even let him hit her raw that first night. He demanded it, hell took it without convo and as scared of HIV as she was, she accepted this new form of living on the edge as par for the course. She did sell it for a living. And he accepted it, knew about hustling , about sleeping in parks and in stairwells. He knew about back being against the wall and one having nothing. He supported her hardworking grind and counted the stars on finding a young, clean ,tight tranny who also could cook, who took the meat no complaints, who respected discretion.

Yvette thought about all of this as memories and thoughts of Ty got her to touching herself. He made her feel so feminine, had finally gave her some head for the first time, the last time he was by. Of course, he’d just asked her for $300 to give his daughter for her birthday But the gesture was appreciated, she constantly like her kisses had to affirm that it wouldn’t make him gay to please her. It didn’t take away how she felt softer and weaker with him, with his alpha male bravado, his hard from the streets vernacular, when she could sit on his lap, when he made her keep her panties on as he kept on his boxers. She felt her most feminine when she saw those two articles next to each other. She knew her place. And for five years amidst all the ever changing plots and settings of her tumultuous plot, amidst arrests and shut downs of strips, and brief outta town trips and homelessness as a force, they found their way to each other. Even if it was brief encounters in the park or on a roof. And she was so grateful that he was there, to affirm her, to make her remember lighter days, and rubbing his head, and being his goddess. He stuck around always encouraging her to stay strong. In the last year ,she’d finally landed her first legal job in three years, her first real job as a woman, with her name legal. And six months into working ,she finally had her own apartment, finally able to leave the shelter. Tyrone came around every day and soon every other Friday he had his hand out. What a drastic change from what used to be, from when he’d get a hotel room every now and again, from never ever breaking his voice to ask for money through the ever current money woes. And now he tithed her faithfully. It was nothing at first and she brushed it off when her new trans acquaintance Natalia warned her ” Sis that is a bad idea, giving a man money”. Fuck Natalia, what did she in her skinny blond- haired Columbian pale body know about the struggles of having a real man for girls like herself. She never had to lower her standards or understand that she was on the lowest rung of the desirability totem pole. Those words haunted Yvette now as she smashed Ty’s picture against the wall. She realized he wasn’t worth shit . She knew she deserved better and she knew that things with them would never change. She couldn’t believe it was now almost two and not one text message came from Ty.

The tears began again and Yvette didn’t know what to do or how to stop them . She was tempted to call him until he answered, a tactic she never tried because she didn’t ever want to be messy. She didn’t believe in that very endemic tradition of queers who messed with straight men and who eventually exposed them for their hidden lives. She knew that it could get her killed. She just wanted him. She needed him. This city was so lonely, he was a huge comfort in her introverted world. He was her source of validation as a person. She knew that it was pathetic but sometimes you have no way of knowing that better things could be for you too. Tyrone was the best man who’d ever crossed her path. As the tears continued, a voice came in her head, “let it go”. It said that over and over and over. That night of tears continued and the memories and long glances at herself in the mirror and more tears and the Help like affirmations. She looked at Yvette. She was having those moments in the movies when those tragic bitches finally see what bad asses they are for surviving. She felt like Jada in Set it off at the end, Halle in Monster’s ball at the end. And she knew she would get through this.

The next morning, Yvette awoke to a message from Ty. It said” Sorry bae about your birthday, some shit went down, I owe you Mama. Just may need to hold $omething. I got you baby love”. Yvette deleted the message and blocked Tyrone’s number. She got up suddenly in the mood to wear something sexy.

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