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The Subtle Art of Loving You

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13th January

It was just as cold as the day before, but sharper in comparison to the Christmas holidays, which offered a gentlier breeze and a soothing aura. In that moment, they might've as well be cracking the air particles open with shovels. People's noses were pink and icy and matched with their blank faces, while they covered their necks and hair with thick clothes. Teeth clattered and hands brushed against the other in an attempt to keep their body temperature to themselves, in times where Eden Park seemed to be unbearable to handle, especially in such frosty dates. In between all of this silent mimicking, stood the NC club, all gathered around Kate's old purple inspection notebook laying next to a lighter, at the centre of the dull-looking mint table. The cafeteria was deliberately packed that day, probably more than ever.

"You could've just buried it next to the old Cloverdale pool, you know." Leo mumbled. 

"Hush." Kate concentrated on her notebook, dead serious. "I want to do this the right way."

"Burying a stack of papers in the school's backyard, hoping for the best?" Essie snorted.

"Babe." Felix frowned. "Don't." 

"Guys, I gotta put my intentions to this action. It needs to have a meaning, and I can't in between all of your bickering." She added.

"Sorry, baby." Essie added. Kate chuckled, reassuring her. 

The notebook had been the first cause that had joined Leo and Kate together, yet helped the last one tell her parents about her troubled situation. It had came in handy for her, at the worst of times, but also the main reason people were going to measure 'six and a half' length with their fingers for the rest of her remaining time there. And it wasn't okay. She couldn't just put up with it and keep rummaging through its pages like nothing had ever happened, like she never had been called 'Freak Show' before, or that Zachary Olsen never had frowned to the recital of the contents of the book. It was something Kate wanted to put in the past, and she wanted to do it right. It was going to be okay. 

"Don't you want to, like, write something? The last chapter?" Leo prompted. 

"About what? What a hopeless loser I've been throughout my last fourteen years?" Kate asked, crossing her fingers. 

"I think he was rather thinking about a love letter to yourself." Essie intruded calmly. 

"A letter praising myself for being so unlucky and feeling pitiful for not having what I want. Great." She rolled her eyes. 

"Hun, you're hurting our name." Felix whispered.

"Sorry about it. I just don't think writing down my feelings in this situation could really help, pretending to be happy about being "trans" when people are measuring the air the whole fucking time." Kate almost spit.

Leo's face looked somewhat hurt, so he lowered his head down. 

"Haters are gonna hate. What's that to do with you?" Leo mumbled. 

"What is, is that I'm stuck with "David's Freak Show starring his very own Circus" for ever.

"It's going to die down. Eventually." Essie tried to say. Leo stood silent. 

"It's not. Guys, I thank you very much, but it's not." Kate whispered. Leo crossed glances with her, for a moment, during which they both shared the same light in their eyes. For a moment, she could picture them both holding hands back in Tripton, laughing and having fun like they weren't about to witness James Denton disowning his own son. 

That sense of understanding Kate had lacked so much for the past years. 

She then looked away, fixing her stare back towards the notebook. Leo, on the other hand, continued to watch her behavior in silence, taking his own time to break visual contact while biting his nails. Essie watched this with a worried expression.  

A few tables away, Harry Beaumont was swinging his hand around look-who-we-got-here, Lexi Taylor in her usual designer clothes, loop earrings and a LV bag. His typical stare, smug and proud, was being fed by the satisfied expressions of his friends around him, telling them jokes about members of the opposite teams in their football matches. In their busy world, Essie hoped that Kate and Leo's issue was just a knotch in their belt and not a major gossip subject to be easily hating on. Her friends already had enough with putting up with therapy sessions and secondary effects of the hormones, yet having to put up with stupid names and public humiliation...

She couldn't bear it. The world was too unfair, drawing a line between cis and non-binary teens in a place where having money and contacts was everything to them. No wonder why Kate had been so depressed over the fact that she felt un-fuckable beside Zachary Fuckboy Mutt-sen. She was struggling with being different and original besides black and white themed people. Why couldn't she see that she was so special? Why couldn't Leo, for instance, see it? In Essie's opinion, Leo had been wasting too much time on that strawberry girl named Alicia while Kate was obviously thinking about him. But it was a topic off-limits to her, anyway. 

"Nevermind, guys. I'll just throw it in the bin." Kate concluded, standing up and tossing the lighter over to Leo, who caught the little object in the air. She pulled a grimace and grabbed both her backpack and notebook before walking towards the exit, tossing the purple book in the trash as she avoided the smug year-ten kids that mocked towards her direction in disgust. 

The whole time, Leo watched her move with a determined look. Felix exchanged looks with Essie, just as worried. 

Their time was running out.