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Cameron, Asher, Jonah, Jack

Story by Jackie Sabbagh (Read author interview) June 19, 2023

Art by Jona Samuel

When I moved to New York City I dated all the men I could because this is where they like transgender women: he peeled parmesan over summer squash pasta for us in his shoebox kitchen while I watched from the linoleum, he kissed me on the stone benches in the public park and I turned so the chess players couldn’t see, he ordered us coffee milkshakes in our diner booth with his feet clamped amorously on mine like crab pincers, he walked us through Bushwick backstreets pointing out which inscrutable blue graffiti tags on the commercial building walls were his, he rated the Christmas light set-ups on the brownstones we walked past in a faux-Russian Olympic judge voice, he pointed out the trembling bushes that could contain baby raccoons on our scavenger hunt through Prospect Park, he explained to me how his recreational soccer team diverged from major league rules in our sticky corner of the bar, he did a stolid head-bang at the dive bar punk show as I tried to discern the shouted lyrics, he came into my apartment and sat beside me on my roomy loveseat and looked at me with masculine and desirous eyes, he put his hand astride the crevasse of my jean shorts and asked me softly what I had, I had the surgery to turn my penis into a vagina and I awoke sobbing to the corona of nurses around my bed, I slept in the hospital bed for three days while my body cohered its startling wounds, I wailed in the cab ride home because it was excruciating to sit on the hole I carved in myself, I stayed in my bed for another week while my beautiful mother made me intermittent lasagna, I wept from the pain and trying not to take an oxycodone as she assured me I wouldn’t become addicted, I inspected my vagina in the mirror of my phone while I used it to insert antibiotic gel, I saw the blue and fuchsia of the inflated bruising like some lurid sky after good weather, I got a text from him saying How are you healing up and I replied I’m getting there, I got a text from him saying How are you healing up and I replied I’m getting there, I got a text from him saying How are you healing up and I replied I’m getting there, I got to the doctor’s office and lay on the exam table where he removed my catheter and the packed gauze and the miniature sutures, I took a car back home sitting on my wafer-like comfort pillow as I watched billboards full of women flick past, I walked into my apartment and closed the door behind me and waited to hear a meaningful sound, I waited to hear the sound of a man who had loved me before and would love me now, I waited to hear what it would sound like when you had been perfected on earth where people are loved.

About the Author

Jackie Sabbagh is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Her writing is published or forthcoming in journals including Passages North, Bennington Review, Southeast Review, The Pinch, and DIAGRAM.

About the Artist

Find more photography by Jona Samuel at Unsplash.

This story appeared in Issue Eighty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Eighty

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