I ran into Madeline at the Met, a week after I went on T. It was exactly the kind of place I had always imagined our reunion would happen, probably because the last event we were supposed to attend together—and did not as we had broken up earlier that month—was an art opening in Soho. I remember the city that winter as a kind of butcher shop: thighs of molding snow, ice like gristle.

“Madeline,” I said.

She turned. She was wearing the same obscure perfume she had when we were together—grassy, mixed with something almost too acrid, like dregs of Pinot Grigio left in a glass overnight. “Sara?” she exclaimed, her right hand hovering around her chin. I had forgotten how long and thin her fingers were, like albino spiders.

“Tilo, now.”

Her eyes flickered down my body, over the flatness where my breasts used to be, the small arch between my legs where I was packing. She reached out and grasped my middle finger, raising my hand to inspect briefly.

“Still small,” I said.

She laughed and let it drop. “What are you doing here?” she asked.

“What, at the Met?”

“Yes—no,” she said, smiling. “Do you live in the city now?”

“I’m visiting Avi.”

“Avi,” she repeated.

When Madeline’s eyes lit up, it was literal; it was the moment ignition catches the billow of gas. There was almost a sound to it. I watched the whoosh of her remembering my old friend. The November before we had broken up, we had stayed with him and his wife at his mother’s apartment in the financial district. The apartment had space for Madeline to build the polystyrene model she was using for her applications to graduate school. Avi and I had roamed the brittle canyons of the neighborhood to find a sturdy folding table, which we set up in the kitchen. We all got along then. Avi and his wife taught Madeline how to pronounce the days of the week in Hebrew. Everyone agreed the sounds came naturally to Madeline because she was French. I’d never been so proud to belong to someone, and for her to be mine—mine! I could barely sleep.

“I’d completely forgotten about Avi,” Madeline said. “How is he?”

“The same,” I said. “Working too hard, but happy.”

“Ahh, yes,” Madeline said. Her eyes darted to the top right corner of focus, the way they always did when she was untangling a thought she found pleasurable. While we were dating, she had kept a small notebook in which she wrote down clever things I’d said in tight, neat cursive. At the time, I’d been flattered. Standing in the museum, I realized I was still flattered, and the fact that I cared raised little fibers of bitterness in me. Our sex had been mild; I remembered it as the folding of a fine, cashmere cloth, such that all its ends were perfectly aligned. It was almost always in the morning, mostly with our hands, and silent except for the slightly heavier breathing. Whenever we came, I was listening to the city—street sweepers, honking, small dogs barking—and so my memory had linked Madeline’s contained, perfectly groomed vagina to the grating roar of the city.

“What a funny thing,” Madeline said, “that his life just continued on without my knowing about it.”

Madeline was standing in front of a Greek Orthodox painting, and I thought that it suited her remote kind of beauty—how her features were neither the voluptuousness of classical or Renaissance paintings, nor the blurry beauty of the Impressionists, but arched and elegant, almost aggressive. Her face was as precise as an arrangement of pins.

“Is he still with…?” Madeline continued.

“Niva. Yes. Still together.”

“And where do they live?”

“They bought a two-bedroom in Gowanus last year.”

“Only one child?”

“None, yet.”

“I wonder what they’ll do.” Madeline trailed off, glanced over her shoulder at the painting, then back at me. “Someone from my program went on to specialize in this, in making space out of the no-space the city has to offer. I’m all for minimalism, but children are one of the things you can’t solve with emptiness. They need…foliage. Why are we talking about Avi?”

I grinned. “It’s good to see you.”

She took a step forward and grasped my wrist. “Let’s get a cappuccino, no?”

I nodded. We moved toward the exit. For half the length of the room, she held onto me. Her fingers were cool. I resisted the urge to rub them between my palms. It was important, in the fantasy, for all initiation to come from her.

“You don’t have children,” she asked, “do you?”

“No.”

“Me neither.”


We went to the cafe attached to the Church of the Heavenly Rest. When we were together, it had been a small, dingy cafe with nothing but an espresso machine and a few droopy pastries, but sometime in the years since, it had reinvented itself into white standing tables and golden lattes. We sat outside, though it was early November and barely fifty out. Madeline ordered a chamomile tea.

“May I?” she asked when my cappuccino arrived, raising her teaspoon.

“No,” I said.

“No?”

“I like the foam.”

“But you know I can’t have the caffeine.”

“Then order a cup of foam, Madeline.”

She set her spoon down and sat back in her chair. She was wearing a woolen blue poncho with leather trim and a white blouse, the top two buttons undone, revealing collarbones that pressed up against the skin of her sternum like two delicate keys. Her brown hair fell loose down her back. I sipped the foam and thought about how Madeline’s nudity had always looked so private—not like that of the American women I’d been with whose sexuality bridged clothing to not-clothing with a kind of obviousness, but a dimpled modesty. Whenever she walked from the shower to our bed, it was with a kind of surprise as though she were a figure in a painting whose silk had accidentally slipped.

“You’ve changed,” she said.

I set the cup down on its saucer and looked across Fifth toward the lake. “I’d hope so,” I said. “It’s been what, seven years?”

“Last June.”

It was nerve-racking to find myself inside a fantasy. On the one hand, I felt a responsibility to guide its unfolding, and on the other, I felt that years of constructing it had already cast the mold so that we found ourselves on train tracks. I did not know how concerned I should be that the specifics were slightly altered.

In the fantasy, we ran into each other at an art gallery, not the Met, and we were drinking wine, not coffee.

In the fantasy, we ran into each other at an art gallery, not the Met, and we were drinking wine, not coffee. Importantly, I would have attained embodiment, something I could never fully picture, or only in parts—the cocked gun of a tricep, a patch of stubble, a London Fog trench coat, its boxiness elegantly obscuring what I could not imagine beneath—as though my proper body was something that would only ever exist in peripheral, fragmented vision. We would go to a candlelit dinner at one of the small, well-reviewed restaurants Madeline knew, and it would become apparent, over the course of the evening, that what Madeline wanted was for me to go back to her hotel with her and fuck her. Consummation would grant the sense of completion with her that had always evaded me.

But sitting there with Madeline across from me, a concern I could not name began to bloom in the back of my mind. It was pure disquiet, an animal moving in the shadows. I felt as though I had missed something. But what does it mean—how is it possible—to witness yourself missing something your mind alone has constructed?

“You don’t look different,” Madeline said. “Not really.”

“I’ve only just started on testosterone.”

She sipped her chamomile with the very edges of her lips. “Do you remember that Louise Glück poem? The one about you?”

I nodded.

“I read it to a friend just the other day,” she said. “‘It was like living with a woman, but without the spite, the envy, and with a man’s strength, a man’s clarity of mind.’ I speak of you often, you know.” She tapped the side of her mug with her index finger. “I don’t suppose I ever saw you one way or another in particular. You were always such a perfect mixture of both.”

I didn’t say anything. A runner exited the lake and pounded down Seventh. His thighs were river slabs beneath thin skin. It was unlikely my body would change so much as to resemble that shape. I feared that I would always be built of muted curves, stains that could be scrubbed into faintness but never entirely erased.

“How’s your mother?” she asked.

The question startled me. I thought of Madeline as fundamentally selfish. Maybe this was unfair, a later revision. “She’s well,” I said. “Doing her volunteer work most of the time. She’s let go of being a mother.”

“That’s probably good, no?”

“Sometimes we miss her. But yes, it’s good.”

I scratched my forehead. Madeline reached out and took my hand, inspecting the ring on my fourth finger. It was heavy and silver. Her thumb pressed against my knuckle. “It’s too big for you,” she said.


In the fantasy, I rose from linen sheets and went to a balcony to smoke. The geography was a little fuzzy—less New York, more European. Consistent with the entirety of the fantasy, I couldn’t picture my body in high definition, but my back was the unfocused shape of a man’s, leaning over a balcony railing that overlooked a washed-out city. The sheets in Madeline’s actual hotel room were plain cotton, but there was a small balcony, so I rose from our entangled bodies—I had forgotten how childish her kneecaps were, how perfect, precise Madeline had faint stretch marks in the space between ass and hips—and fished out Blue Camels from my jacket.

The door to the balcony wouldn’t open.

“Is there a key?” I asked over my shoulder.

“I don’t think so,” Madeline said. “Besides, you don’t smoke.”

I went through the drawers in the desk, peered into the bathroom.

“What’s the point of a balcony you can’t access?”

She was thoughtful for a moment, and then said, “Modernism didn’t solve everything.”

“There’s gotta be a key,” I said.

Madeline rolled the duvet tight around her. “But actually, your question is quite interesting, no?” she said. “Is the balcony staged for the benefit of the outside viewer, or the inside?”

“It’s most likely a legal issue,” I said. “Too many suicides.”

“Still.”

I looked at her: flushed, familiar, foreign. I knew what she wanted. “It’s like a dangling ‘de’ clause,” I said, referencing the Greek particle we’d once delighted over together, “the ‘on the other hand’ that never arrives.”

Her face cracked into joy. We each had always considered the other more intelligent. This was what we had shared, what I never found again.

I opened the window and crouched beside it.

“What are you doing?” Madeline said, sitting up. “You can’t smoke in here.”

“Turn on the fan.”

Madeline stared at me and then started laughing. She got up and scuttled, naked, to the other side of the room, where she turned on the fan. I laughed, and she did too, and I thought: this wouldn’t have happened seven years ago.

“There’s something philosophically interesting here, no?” she said, standing in the middle of the room, holding her breasts.

I watched the street below. Six taxis passed in a little line. A woman walking a small, white dog got stopped by two tourists and gesticulated wildly, pointing first east, then west. As she marched confidently on, the tourists stood stranded. The man started walking toward Madison, but the woman hadn’t moved, her torso turned toward Park. They began to argue, twenty feet apart. I was sure they were yelling, but Madeline’s room was on the eighth floor, and I couldn’t hear it.

Madeline went back to bed and flicked through a magazine. Her forehead furrowed in the same place. I’d forgotten that detail.

“That was the best I’ve ever had,” Madeline murmured from behind the magazine.

For a moment, I didn’t understand what she was talking about. The sex had been tender and slow, the climax like dotting an “i” or crossing a “t”.

“I’ve missed you,” she said. “You’re more confident, now, as a man.” She squinted at me. “Even though you’re not a man, not really.”

“Even though you’re not a man, not really.”

I turned my face toward the wallpaper. It was paisley, hideous.

“Hey,” Madeline said, getting out of the covers and crawling toward me from across the mattress. “It’s just true. I mean yes, sure, you’re a man, but you don’t have a man’s body. That’s not offensive. I prefer it. It’s like—” she trailed off. I glanced back at her. “It’s like you’re not being any one thing releases me from needing to be one thing. It’s freeing.”

She raised my hand and kissed it. I tried to smile. “Let’s find a new beginning. Dinner, no?” 

“Sure,” I said. I was supposed to be at Avi’s already. My hands looked childlike on my thighs. She was right; the ring was too big.

“I’ll just take a shower,” Madeline said.

She left the door to the bathroom open. When we were together, I had berated her into always keeping the door open, such that our bathroom-lives were humorous and shared. It was the opposite of her prim, Parisian upbringing. She loved me for it. I wondered whether she had carried this habit into other relationships, or whether she was just doing it again because of me.

I took a Bible from the bedside table, used it to prop the door to the hall open, and called Rose. She would be home from the pool now, beginning to cook dinner. Something vibrantly healthy, like her. Dark greens, tahini, sweet potato. She answered on the fourth ring.

“Guess who I’m with,” I said.

“Who?” 

The sliding glass door to the porch opened. Thin glass set down on wood. I could smell our backyard, which opened onto the wood: balsam, damp soil, and thyme. She was having a glass of wine. The Beaujolais, probably, which we had opened two nights before.

“Madeline.”

“We ran into each other at the Met.” 

Rose laughed. “Just like the fantasy,” she said. Rose and I had been in an open relationship for three of the five years we’d been together. We’d read Esther Perel, drawn diagrams, talked to therapists. Because we understood our relationship indestructible. I’d fallen in and out of short flings: three to six month arcs that shot across my world as bursts of adrenaline, little booster shots that helped me believe I could be seen, and desired, as male. Sometimes I feared Rose loved me separate from gender, whereas gender for me was the sun around which everything orbited. I needed strangers. I needed to watch myself unfold in their eyes.

“I’m at her hotel now. We’re going for dinner,” I said. I was speaking softly, though the shower was still running. “And?” 

“I’ll tell you about it when I’m home.” 

“Have you seen Avi yet?” 

“No, not yet.” 

There was a brief pause. I heard her taking a sip. “Should I be worried?” she asked.

“No,” I said.

One of the first conversations we’d had when we opened up our relationship was about exes, and whether they were a boundary we wanted to draw or not. We had decided not; what a rich space that was, and in a way, weren’t they actually less of a threat than someone new? Didn’t the ex being an ex draw a kind of negative space around their potentiality?

“Just today, Tilo,” she said.

“I know. It’s a one-off.” 

“Okay.” 

“I love you,” I said.


The light was long and webbed as we crossed the park. Madeline insisted on the Seventy-Ninth Street traverse, though Eighty-Sixth was closer. We walked with our sides pressing together, her arm wrapped through mine. Runners and nannies and frazzled businessmen passed us. Sycamores lined the path. I hadn’t known about trees when I was with Madeline. Trees were a thing Rose and I shared.

“When they see us, do you think they see a couple, or lovers?” Madeline asked.

I looked at her. She was a few inches taller than me. I realized that half of me was there and half of me was striding along in the parallel fantasy, and that the fantasy me was, of course, taller—gazing lovingly down at the parting in her hair and the soft, childish scalp underneath.

“Probably neither,” I said. “People here don’t think twice about anyone they see.” 

“I’ve never been someone’s lover before,” Madeline continued. “It’s exciting.” 

I should have told her then, but instead I just squeezed her arm. We passed an old man sitting on a bench, his right leg resting over his left. I could tell by his blazer and by the way he was sitting that he sat there every night. To him, it was just another day. I took out my phone and texted Avi that I’d been held up and would be in touch later. 

At the restaurant, the server bumbled at Madeline’s beauty, and I wondered whether it was possible for men to watch other men desiring a woman they are with and not feel that desire compound within themselves into something cruel. 

We sat. I was restless. Across the table, Madeline’s silk shirt dangled from her bones. She wore the same simple necklace. 

“The duck, I think, and the bass. How does that sound?” Madeline asked without looking up from the menu. Madeline always ordered. Madeline was the type of person most at ease in restaurants and museums, places with clear hierarchies, where her natural disposition as a critic was not only acceptable, but respected. “Sounds good,” I said. I leaned forward and took her hand. She set down the menu and smiled at me. “Hello, you,” she said. She raised my hand and peppered it with kisses. “Do you know,” she said, “I still have the notebook with all of your ideas. I look at it frequently.” 

 She used to call the notebook an “architecture of a beautiful mind.” I had felt acutely while we were together that if I didn’t have a body—and in a way I didn’t, which was what made the whole thing so complicated—we would have been perfect together. Back then, I could think of nothing more romantic than an endless dialogue. “Where do we begin?” I said.

“In the middle.” She was smiling. “Where else?” “Sure,” I replied, “but what about the basics? You’re still in Boston?” 

She nodded.

“No partner?”

“No. I had a boyfriend, Hamid. An almost-husband. He was an engineer.” 

I raised my eyebrows. She laughed. “A poetic engineer,” she said.

“What happened?” 

“Oh, you know.” 

I released her hand and sat back.

“Let’s talk about interesting things,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many things I see in the world that I wish I could ask your opinion about. It’s never stopped, that desire for you to be my reference in everything.” 

“You don’t have notebooks of Hamid?” 

She smiled. “No. He was very patient, though.” She touched the pendant at her neck, and added, “And then there was Louisa, but that didn’t last long.” 

The waiter brought a bottle of wine. He deferred to Madeline. Though I did not want for him to defer to me solely because of any perceived maleness, his lack of deferral to me threatened my confidence in being perceived as male. Our earlier sex—the soft quiet of it—flashed through my mind like an agitated, exposed animal. It occurred to me that maybe its lack of carnality had nothing to do with gender, that Madeline was simply more mind than body, and that all these years I’d assumed it was my gender that was the problem. I’d assumed that changing my body could change her sexuality, but maybe I was completely missing the point. I pushed the thoughts away. To accept them would have been to accept living with a sense of incompleteness about her. The wine was thin and tasted of minerals and citrus. I felt the alcohol instantly. It was a relief. I resolved that after the first bottle, I would suggest we pass through a sex shop on the way back to her hotel to buy a strap-on.

I’d assumed that changing my body could change her sexuality, but maybe I was completely missing the point.

“The other day I came across your line about the task of the classicist—do you remember?” she said. I shook my head.

“How his task is to provide words where they are missing. He knows what rhyme scheme he is in, and because of the limitations of Greek vocabulary, he uses logic to insert the most likely word, given those parameters. But,” Madeline raised her finger, her eyes alight, “poets don’t operate on logic! That killed me.” 

I drank my wine and looked across the restaurant. Outside the window, a man in an oversized jacket with tears at the elbows weaved into the street. “It’s beginning to snow,” I said.

Madeline ran her index finger down the center of my hand. “I don’t mind that you’re married,” she said softly. “In a way, it feels like that’s what we were always meant to be. It suits me to be your lover. It suits you to have a lover.” 

Before I could say anything—would I have said something, would I have risked it ending then before I got what I wanted?—she raised her perfect hand. “Let’s live in its hum, at least for a little while.”


We were on our second bottle of wine before I worked up the courage to tell her what I wanted. “There’s a shop on Fifty-Seventh,” I said. “We can stop on our way back.” 

“Fifty-Seventh?” she replied. The corners of her mouth were stained red. “That’s quite out of the way.” “We’ll take a taxi.” 

She cut a small piece of duck. “What about that thing you’re wearing?” 

“I can’t use that,” I said, “that’s just for visuals.” “Oh,” she said.

I sat back in my chair and crossed my arms. I regretted having given in to our reunion so easily. She was the one who had left me. In the fantasy, she had tried harder. “What?” she said.

“Can’t you see this is important to me?” 

“Yes, and I’ve said we can go.” 

“I don’t want your permission, I want you to want it.” She set down her fork. “Don’t be a child,” she said. “You can’t orchestrate desire like that.” 

I stood. “I’m going for a smoke,” I said. 

“Ohlala,” she said. “How many times do I need to tell you? You don’t smoke.” 

I ignored her and went outside. It was freezing. I stood alone in the empty patio area, watching chairs fill up with snow. The smoke bit my throat. Everyone who passed belonged to a life I did not know. I wondered what Rose would do in my situation, but then, Rose would never be in my situation. Rose would gracefully leave, slip into the current of the city and wash up whole and self-contained at Avi’s. This was partially to do with who Rose was, but more to do with the fact that Rose had a body—had always had a body—and didn’t live her life according to its tyrannical desire to be seen. I glanced through the window front. Madeline was turned toward me in her chair, watching. She smiled and waved at me to come back. When she looked at me, did she see Tilo or Sara? 

A car at the red light rolled its passenger-side window down and a dog with tight golden-brown curls stuck its head out. We looked at each other. I couldn’t see its owner. Small snowflakes landed on its snout. It wasn’t panting, but its face was in the permanent smile dogs have. Its gaze slipped off me and up the street. Eager, I thought. Stupid. The light changed and the car moved on.

“I’ve ordered us the tiramisu,” Madeline said, as I sat back down. “And a digestif.”


We were drunk in the taxi. Madeline sat in the middle seat, burrowing herself into me. I stabbed at the TV, trying to shut it off, both of us laughing. I managed to mute it. An advertisement with interracial couples out to brunch on the same streets we were driving through played over and over.

“New York is so self-referential it’s as though it’s on repeat without realizing it,” Madeline murmured into my armpit.

“Don’t fall asleep,” I said.

There was fluorescent lighting in Eve’s Garden. Everything was expensive and tastefully arranged. “Which one do you want?” I asked, standing in front of the dildos.

Madeline was drifting through the porn, examining it like she would a painting. “Whichever you want,” she called over her shoulder.

“I want you to pick. I want to get the one you want.” Madeline came over. She pointed at a large, veined one. “That’s awful,” she said. “Why would anyone choose that?” 

I didn’t say anything. Madeline sighed, leaned against me, and kissed my shoulder. “I love your mouth,” she said. “You have such a talented mouth.” 

“Pick one,” I insisted.

She turned her head, still leaning on me, and pointed at a small, purple dildo.

“You don’t want a realistic one?” 

“No. It’s interesting, being a penis and not a penis at the same time,” she said. “Besides, penises are ugly.” It was one hundred and fifty dollars. I paid, wishing Madeline would offer to split it, not for the money, but as a sign that she too wanted the experience. On the ride back to her hotel, Madeline watched the city lights, her hand on my thigh. 

“Will you call me at odd times of the day?” she said suddenly. “It’s fitting, for us to go from not speaking at all to speaking in the useless hours. Like eleven in the morning, or three at night.” She squeezed my thigh. “I don’t even know where you live,” she said.

“Oregon.” 

The neon of another advertisement passed over her face. “There are direct flights from Boston,” she said. “And besides, that means everything between us is middle ground. So many places to meet.” 

I took out my phone. 11:37 p.m. A text from Avi: ‘are you alright?’

I switched my phone to airplane mode. 


In the hotel room, Madeline rushed to the bathroom to pee. I took off my shoes, pulled down my pants and briefs quickly, got into the strap-on, and put my clothes back on. I was buttoning up my pants when she came back in, the dildo pressing aggressively out against the fabric of my briefs.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Nothing.” 

She came to kiss me. “You already have it on?” she asked after we embraced, pulling away.

I nodded.

“And that’s how you want it?” 

“Yes.” 

“Okay,” she said.

“Language helps,” I said, softly. 

“What do you mean?” 

“Talk to me. Make me feel male.” 

“Talk to me. Make me feel male.”

“I’m not sure I know how to do that,” she said. I didn’t want to have to explain. I kissed her instead. We made it to the bed. I was on top of her. I could not hear the city. She was quiet, only little sighs and murmurs here and there. I undressed her, kissed her torso, went down on her. I still had all my clothes on. My neck began to hurt. She came.

“Do you want to be inside me?” she asked. I nodded. I undressed myself, eased myself inside. I couldn’t feel it. The imaginative leap it took to translate the silicone pressing into someone into me pressing into someone was always more difficult when I was drunk. It was like driving through fog. I turned her over. I could tell in the contour of her body that she did not like it, that at best the feeling was neutral. “Do you want me to stop?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “I want you to come.” 

“What position is best for you?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “On my back?” 

“Okay,” I said.

She turned over. I moved slowly in her, kissed her. Her hands were little birds at my neck. Sweat pooled and ran the seam of my bicep. Far off, like a lighthouse, the possibility of orgasm blinked at me, but it felt impossibly distant, and when I looked at Madeline, at her passivity, it shrank back further. I was male in position and action, but not in sensation: I was not flesh inside her, semen angry to be spilled, testosterone flooding my system. I was all mind grappling around in the dark for a body, knowing in an adjacent way what it meant to be female and what it took to be entered, and I could not attach myself to my release without her active desire for it. I faked it and rolled off of her. 

“Mmm,” she murmured into my hair.

I lay next to her facedown, arm and leg tossed over her, the strap-on jutting painfully into my pelvis. She kissed my forehead again and again, ran her hands over my back. I was too empty to cry. After a while I said, “Do you remember when you told me that you might have other boyfriends but that you would always be mine?” 

Her hand paused in its stroking.

“It was in the preliminaries of our breakup,” I said. “We had gone out to buy Drano.” 

She nudged me to turn over. I took off the strap-on and got under the sheets. She curled against me. “It wasn’t true,” I said.

She kissed my neck, my jawbone, my ear. “It hasn’t been true for a while, but maybe it’s true again now,” she said.

“Don’t be a revisionist.” 

“Okay.”

“You never wanted me the way I wanted you.” She was petting my forearm. “I’ll make it up to you,” she said eventually. “You can keep your life. I’ll be the desperate one.” 

She fell asleep quickly. I strained to listen to the streets below, but the glass was thick. Around two, I went to the bathroom and washed off the strap-on. I stared at my reflection, at the worm-like scars from top surgery. The purple looked silly on the counter, a child’s toy. She hadn’t touched it. I sat on the toilet for a long time, trying to pee. Even turning on the faucet didn’t work. Eventually I gave up and went back to bed. Madeline murmured something in her sleep and moved against me. I wasn’t satisfied. Changing my body hadn’t fixed it.

I watched the light drain slowly back into the sky. For as long I could remember, I had thought the mistranslation of my gender was the only thing standing between me and the seamless coming-together of bodies. How easy it had been, to mistakenly whittle down the barrier between myself and others to this belief. And to think the mistranslation could be corrected—to think anyone else could ever correct us. At five, I dressed and slipped out. The street-sweeping trucks were vibrating along the avenues. Halfway to the subway, I realized I’d left the dildo behind.


“The Gallery” by Finnegan Shepard and the artwork titled The Masterpiece by Amy Santa Maria appeared in Issue 41 of Berkeley Fiction Review.

Finnegan Shepard is a published trans writer, classicist and entrepreneur with 1/3 of a PhD in philosophy and 3/4s of an MFA in fiction. Finnegan is the founder and CEO of Both&, a storytelling and apparel startup designing for transmasculine bodies, the co-founder of Limns, a bi-monthly newsletter that explores concepts through etymology and photography, and the author of Tilt. More about Finnegan and his various projects can be found at finneganshepard.com

Amy Santa Maria, a linguist by trade and a creator at heart, experiments with capturing small details with continuous contour lines. Her favored mediums are calligraphy pens, linoleum block prints, and charcoal. In 2019, her charcoal portrait of BTS singer V received 3rd place in Visual Arts at the Orange County Fair.

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