Content Warning:

Explicit descriptions of transphobia, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, and physical, emotional and verbal abuse.
— fairydoctor

rating: +50+x

September 10, 2022

Mordecai slipped his binder on over his head, reached for a dress shirt, and buttoned it. He observed himself in the mirror: black dress pants, plain dark brown belt, navy blue shirt (with little white stars and a red collar), and nice brown leather shoes. He sighed and hoped it would be unassuming enough for them and would act as an olive branch. Approaching a bookshelf, Mordecai retrieved a plain, black leather kippah. He walked back to the mirror. Standing next to the mirror was his white rabbit, a servitor, Hal. She glowered at Mordecai, unblinking eyes, judging him.

"I'm aware, but this is a them problem."

Hal stood on her hind legs, twisting her head from side to side. Her blank stare observing Mordecai carefully.

"My sister asked me to come. I'm not going for anyone but her, and she doesn't have an issue with this." He gestured to himself.

Hal got back on all fours and hopped away. Mordecai again looked at himself in the mirror. He placed the kippah on his head and while affixing it he sang: "Shema Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad!"

Taking a deep breath in, he visualized breathing in gold threads.

He slowly exhaled.

Deep breath in.

Slow exhale.


Then suddenly, his phone buzzed.

"That's Rose!" he said to no one in particular, since Hal had hopped into the other room. He checked his phone and read out loud, "im outside".

He sighed deeply again, "I'll be back later Hal. Please don't wreck the apartment," and left.

The ride out to the countryside with Rose and her sons was longer than Mordecai expected. The topics of conversation were old high school friends and their families, recent movies watched, romantic affairs, and the recent fight Mordecai had with his mother.

"So, we're still goin' to your parents' house after the shower?" Rose asked as they turned down another dirt road.

"Yea, that's what we agreed on—"

They arrived at the small venue. A large elk statue stood menacingly outside the venue. The placard below read, "Clear Creek Club est. 1979". The brass statue was dark green and the elk's antlers were dulled from decades of hostile, 'Great Lakes' weather.

Mordecai, Rose, and her two sons put on their masks as they entered the venue. A few of Mordecai's relatives stood near the front door. The relatives shifted nervously, and gave Mordecai soured looks as he walked by them. The building was packed, and no guest other than Mordecai's party wore masks. Fox News was on all the screens. Thankfully, the TVs were muted and closed captioned. Yellow streamers and paper cut outs of barn yard animals and sunflowers decorated the hall.

His sister sat in the corner chatting with a close friend. Cait noticed her brother entering and stood to greet him.

"Mordecai! Thought you weren't coming! Can I give you a hug?" She wore a soft, yellow sundress.

Mordecai had a thought, She just had Covid, but if I can hug only one person it's her.

"Of course I'd come!" They embraced and Mordecai's eyes began to dampen. He held back his tears.

They released, and Mordecai exclaimed, "Congratulations, Cait!" He noticed that Cait was wearing her sunflower patterned hearing aids today.

"Thank you! Let me show you Sally." Cait led Mordecai, Rose, and her sons, to the table in the corner. "Sally is a friend from school. She's helped a lot with decorations."

Mordecai's eyes dampened again.

Dont cry…

Cait knew the sex of her child, but opted to have a neutral gender baby shower. She only had the "gender reveal party" on account of their mother, Eliza.

Where was sh-

"Marla— MORDECAI!!"

Jolted out of his thoughts, he turned toward the voice. Quickly approaching him with arms splayed wide was a skeleton figure, wearing a grotesque, red mask.

"Don't I get a hug?"


She stopped in front of Mordecai with a large, fake grin. Mordecai felt all eyes from the venue watching him. Judging him. Glaring at him.


Silence fell over the venue. Mordecai and his mom locked eyes. She had not moved from her stance, arms still held wide. Peeking out from under her blouse, Mordecai could see the cord to her scapular. Another moment of silence passed, Mordecai's mother slowly put her arms down. Her fake grin faded, she huffed and left to greet another table.

His face was cold and clammy, and sweat rolled down the back of his neck. When the venue resumed chatting, Mordecai turned to Rose and whispered, "Did I do the right thing?"

She paused, "I- I don't know."

They both sat in silence for a moment. Cait and Sally had moved on to a conversation about Cait's cows. A commercial came on on the screens and distracted Mordecai. A commercial for men's deodorant, an elk running through the snow in the woods. Nostrils flaring, he huffed.

Mordecai shook his head and regained focus from the stupor.

Rose continued, "I don't force my kids to hug if they don't want to."

Mordecai nodded his head defeated. He knew there would be some recourse with his parents. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his parents quietly arguing near the door. A moment later, his mom angrily left the venue. Mordecai sighed.

Time passed, and dinner was announced. Rose said to Mordecai, "Let's go first, and you can follow behind; so, it doesn't look like I'm your chaperone."

"Kinda fucked up that I need a chaperone," Mordecai mumbled. Rose nodded slowly as she stood. Her and her sons approached the dinner line, and Mordecai quickly followed. He also avoided getting close to a few relatives that had been giving him cold glares since he entered the building.

His step-father stumbled by him and grunted, "Ma's gettin' your stuff."

Mordecai nodded nervously.

The step-father shuffled by Rose and Mordecai and muttered, "—fruit loop."

After a few moments, Rose asked "What was that?"

"Mom's bringing my boxes here." Mordecai stated, "At least we don't have to go over to their house after this."

He choked back tears and tried to convince himself that he misheard the last thing.

At the counter, Mordecai requested tubberware. The cook was a long time friend of Mordecai's step-father. He said nothing and looked enraged. Rose gently repeated what Mordecai said, the cook huffed and handed Mordecai a small tub of tubberware. Mordecai thanked him and moved further down the line.

Sauerkraut with sausage, green beans with bacon, fried chicken (questionable), mashed potatoes… the potatoes were the safest option. Mordecai sighed and spooned some mashed potatoes in his tubberware and followed Rose out of the kitchen.

They returned to their tables. Sally asked Mordecai, "What is it that you do again for a living?"

Mordecai hated this question.

"I work at a research facility near Bay City. I signed a non-disclosure agreement with them."

"Yeah, but what do you do?"

Mordecai stifled a laugh, "I can show you."


He stood up and approached Sally. "I'm going to do a magic trick."

He bent a knee and said, "May I reach behind your ear?"

"Uh, sure?"

Mordecai reached behind her ear, and whispered. The space behind her ear became warm, and Mordecai conjured a yellow rose. He handed it to her. Stunned, she idly placed the flower on her dress as a broach. He sat back down.

Sally cleared her throat and said, "That was a fun parlor trick but what does that have to do with your job?"

"Non-disclosure agreement."

"Of course."

More time passed, and it was time for desserts.

Rose looked around the venue, "Where's Eliza? She's gonna have to set up the games soon."

"She's not back yet?"

"I guess not," she paused. "Do you want dessert?" Rose asked Mordecai.


Rose asked her sons, "Do either of you want something?"

Mark replied, "No."

Luke replied, "Yeah, but can I come with you?"

"Of course!"

The three got up from the table. Mordecai, as before, followed Rose and Luke. The dessert table was crowded, and through the crowd Mordecai could see cute little cookies cut in the shape of sunflowers and barn animals. Tubberware! He needed another one to pack a few cookies.

"Gimme a moment," he said to Rose. She nodded as her and Luke began to pick out desserts he wasn't allergic to. Mordecai retrieved more tubberware. Rose was on the other side of the dessert table when he exited the kitchen. She was engrossed in a conversation with Luke about the sugar cookies.

Mordecai was alone.

In the corner of his eye he saw his step-father, and one of his friends, drinking beer by the window. Mordecai tried to ignore them as he passed.

"Ma's here with your stuff," Mordecai's step-father huffed.

"Oh!" Mordecai replied.

"If we find anymore of your things we'll send it to ya."

"Cool! Thanks!"

Mordecai started to pass the duo and in the window behind his step-father, he saw his mother putting boxes by the Elk Statue.

"And we don't want you 'round here no more," Mordecai's step-father growled.

Intense rage flared inside Mordecai's core. Breathing deeply, he turned to his step-father and said in an even tone, "I don't want to be around here anymore either."

Mordecai turned to look for Rose. She was still engaged in the conversation about sugar cookies.

Laughter. Mordecai focused his attention back to his step-father who was red in the face and laughing hysterically at Mordecai. Through the window, Eliza's face was furious and red… like Mordecai's step-father.

Mordecai's anger raised in intensity. The cold, burning static, blossomed behind his eyes. The world started to go black but he pulled himself out of it.

No. Never again will he silence me and then laugh.

In the deepest voice that Mordecai could summon, he projected:

"I'm done with you, I'm done with you standing up for Eliza after she abuses you. And I'm done with you taking it out on us."

The dessert table went silent. The step-father, his friend, and a passing by guest's eyes were wide.


Mordecai turned back to the dessert table, and saw Rose still discussing the sugar cookies— and tried to get her attention. The crowd around the table felt more packed as he tried to squeeze around them to get to Rose. He didn't want to shout.


Rose looked up in terror, and Mordecai turned around. His step-father barged toward him.


Stopping a few feet in front of him, Mordecai's focus fell on the club insignia on his step-father's shirt. Seething, Mordecai's step-father growled, "GET. OUT. OF. HERE."

Mordecai took a deep breath in and visualized breathing in gold. He whispered under his breath, Lord, bless his deer soul, and braced himself.

Mordecai's step-father threw a punch and Mordecai strafed to the left. He managed an upper cut into his step-father's jaw, when he heard Rose yell, "WE NEED TO LEAVE!"

He struggled to get away. As the crowd formed a wall around him, he whispered under his breath, Move. There was a momentary gap between on-lookers, and Mordecai pushed through them. Rose was by the door with her sons. Together they rushed out of the door. Shouting came from behind Mordecai, but he ignored the words.

Strewn around the elk outside sat three boxes, a trombone and a party goer smoking a cigarette.

"Those are—" Mordecai started to say. There was writing on the boxes; Marla. He grit his teeth.

"Mark, take one of the boxes." Rose's ten year old silently nodded and grabbed a box. Rose took another box and went to the van. Mordecai bent to grab a box and the trombone, when he was interrupted by the man. Mordecai's blinding anxiety and rage ebbed long enough for him to comprehend his brother-in-law. Marla had gone to high school with him.

"Wanna smoke?" He leaned the open cigarette box toward Mordecai. The sweet, bitter smell of instilled death blown freely in the summer wind. Mordecai could already feel the hot, comforting death on the back of his throat.

"No thank you."

The brother-in-law nodded and placed the box back into his pocket. The shouting got louder, Mordecai looked behind him and saw his step-father attempting to leave the venue. Mordecai's aunt and grandmother were trying to hold him back.

God bless you two.

Tears welled in his eyes, but he held them back as he hurried after Rose. They shoved the items in the van. Filing in quickly, the sons remained quiet and fixed their seatbelts. When everyone was inside, Mordecai immediately locked the doors. Rose paused and looked at Mordecai. There was a storm raging in his eyes, but it was quickly fading. His eyes dampened. Rose gripped his shoulder.

"You are very brave to live your life. He was a coward to confront you like that… you are an inspiration to me. And I'm sure there are other people who are inspired by you too."

Mordecai finally cried.

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