Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 31: Social Armor

Lark (20s me): So we’re investigating our relationships with other people?

Mom (Present me): Yeah, it felt… Important.

Lark: Fair enough, I guess. Thanks for letting me tag along with you, by the way.

Mom: I’m just doing some shopping… It’s not that exciting.

Lark: It doesn’t matter what you’re doing! I’m just happy we’re doing it together.

Mom (smiling): Well, you’re always welcome to join me.

(A deep, undeniably male voice pierces through the air around Lark and I.)

Voice: Hello ma’am… Can I help you find anything today?

Mom (tense): No, just browsing, thank you!

(Several seconds later, I pause and look down at myself, finding myself dressed in a formidable suit of armor. I glance over at Lark to see her holding a torso-length heavy shield on her left arm. Her right hand is behind her back, clutching a dagger, and I realize suddenly that I’m holding a dagger as well.)

Mom (sighing): It slips on so quickly now.

Lark: What does, Mom?

Mom: What are you carrying, Lark?

(Lark looks down at herself and notices the shield on her arm. Looking surprised, she reaches out to touch it with her other hand, but sees that hand is already closed around a short dagger.)

Lark (shocked): WHOA!

(Lark throws the dagger away in shock and quickly slides the shield off her arm, dropping it to the ground.)

Lark: What happened!?

Mom: You know how when you used to get within a dozen feet of a woman or so, they’d tense up a bit? They’d suddenly get cold and distant?

Lark: Yeah?

(I gesture at my armor.)

Mom: We’re women, so…

Lark: Oh. I guess so, but… I didn’t even notice you putting it on.

Mom: No, it’s a reflex. It happens instantly. One moment we’re happily minding our own business, and the next we’re on alert because a man passed near us or said something to us. That’s all it takes.

Lark (disappointed): It… It kind of feels like a betrayal. I remember how much it sucked to be on the other side of that armor.

Mom: It did suck. It felt horribly unfair; I just wanted to share in feminine camaraderie and connection, but I couldn’t.

Lark: So maybe we should work on not wearing this armor.

Mom: I wouldn’t go that far.

Lark (angry): What!? Why not?

Mom: Two reasons. One, the reason why we wanted to socialize with women so much is because *we are women*. We weren’t trying to date all of them, we just wanted them to feel comfortable around us.

Lark: We wanted to date some of them.

Mom (begrudging): Okay fine, we find ourselves attracted to lots of women. Partly because who we wanted to date got jumbled together with who we wanted to be.

Lark: So now that we’ve transitioned and know the difference, we aren’t drawn to so many women?

Mom (pitying): *Oh honey.* That’s not how it works.

Lark (uncomfortable): So uh… What’s the second reason?

(For a moment I let a smirk cross my face, amused at Lark’s obvious redirect.)

Mom: The second reason is because men are dangerous.

Lark: What! When we lived as a man, we weren’t dangerous!

Mom: I think we did a pretty good job at not being dangerous, but how is a woman we just met on the street supposed to know that?

Lark (trailing off): I mean, once she got to know us…

Mom: But she doesn’t know us. She has to make a guess, and if she guesses wrong, she could be attacked or worse.

Lark: Okay, but women attack people too. Why single out men?

Mom: Because society is tilted in favor of men, so they’re much more likely to try it and they’re much more likely to get away with it. Men tend to have more influence, more money, more power. Courts and police believe men over women. Men are trained to feel entitled and domineering.

Lark: I don’t know if all that’s true. Sure, maybe things were like that once, but society’s progressed. The world is a better place, and things aren’t like that anymore.

Mom (sighing): They haven’t changed nearly as much as you think, and in some ways things have even gotten worse.

Lark (shocked): That… That can’t be right.

Mom: Look, this is a bigger discussion than I thought it would be. Let’s finish our shopping trip and we’ll talk about it another time, okay?

(Lark considers pressing the conversation further, but decides against it.)

Lark: Okay Mom.