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Flash Fiction: Ol' Brown Eyes 

The woman-who-wanted-to-be-a-man married the man-who-wanted-to-be-a-woman. The arrangement felt confusing at first, not knowing who belonged to the wrench set, the mascara tube, where one body ended and the other began. Sometimes it was hard to tell if they were really married at all.

The woman-who-wanted-to-be-a-man resented her partner. The way "he" loathed his body hair, mocked his Adam's apple, complained how his testicles always looked so sad. Annoyingly sad, hanging around with not much to do but fish for the occasional disingenuous compliment.

The man-who-wanted-to-be-a-woman longed to sip coffee, the more feminine decaf with a flavored creamer like hazelnut, out of one of those coffee cups his spouse unceremoniously piled in a box for Goodwill. The mug danced in pastel peonies and white kittens with big blue eyes. The eyes always made the man-who-wanted-to-be-a-woman think of Frank Sinatra. Frank Sinatra in his hat-wearing Rat Pack days, scooping up chicks like a handful of mints only to toss them aside when he was through.

The woman-who-wanted-to-be-a-man caught her partner dreaming about the Chairman of the Board as he gulped a cup of black coffee from a mug printed with the logo of a local hardware store. She could always tell when her partner dreamed of Frank Sinatra. The faraway look. His flushed cheeks. The way he tried to hide a noticeable erection with the Home Living section of the Sunday paper.

"You know what?" the woman-who-wanted-to-be-a-man spoke towards the defiled newspaper. "If Sinatra had brown eyes, everything would've been different. Ol' Brown Eyes. What a riot. Might as well call him Ol' Shit Eyes."

The woman-who-wanted-to-be-a-man had obviously taken "her" hormone shot. This made her do things like buy belt sanders and say the F word. The woman-who-wanted-to-be-a-man was becoming a menace. And she couldn't be happier.

The man-who-wanted-to-be-a-woman had brown eyes, but dreamed of changing those, too. Frank Sinatra liked blue eyes. Angie Dickinson eyes. Mia Farrow eyes. Frank Sinatra liked blue eyes because he could see himself reflected in them, a vision of a man with blue eyes staring back, like one of those paintings of a hand drawing a painting of a hand drawing a painting...

The man-who-wanted-to-be-a-woman watched his partner assemble small tools without reading the directions. Then she insisted on watching the playoffs of another dumb sport. She demanded he make chili. He recorded programs about real housewives and celebrity weddings.

The woman-who-wanted-to-be-a-man realized she liked blue eyes, too. And soft blonde hair. And real, milk-bearing nipples.

The woman-who-wanted-to-be-a-man and the man-who-wanted-to-be-a-woman decided to stick with each other through the pre-surgery ritual of wearing the other person's clothes, dealing with each other's newly constructed parts, the taunts from strangers and their own family. The couple had sex as soon as their new bodies healed. Of course they were disappointed. Not so much because of having or not having blue eyes or blonde hair or more tender words or a better map to navigate what was supposed to be a brand new life.

The disappointment settled around the little things that would grow into big things. An inability to pick up dirty clothes off the bathroom floor. A refusal to make chili. The couple were married, then. This brought contentment that can't be found in crooners or power tools. They climbed in bed that night, insulting each other until they fell asleep to the best possible dream.


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