Winter Is My Favorite Season

Jono Naito

Blood drips from my chin on the bathroom faucet. The person in the mirror holds a square of tissue to her face. She is clumsy; her father never taught her how to shave.

I start with long underwear, because it has snowed for eleven hours. The fabric rises over my legs, past the Jewish hair, squeezing me. I feel molded. I leave my hands on my stomach; it’s turning, working, doing its job like everything else.

I brush on foundation blind, just to cover where the hair once was. It is a ritual of leaving that I love and dread. It is a ritual of winter, of cold and ice and wrappings. Going outside in the skin I have is a devil’s deal, but in winter I am not so scared. If I fall, it will be soft.

The sidewalk beside the playground is frozen. It is covered, secret, and I try not to misjudge my steps in the thick crumbling whiteness. I rewrap my scarf as the wind flicks my cheeks. My socks already feel damp and frigid, but each toe, painted red, is glad to not perform for an audience on a burning beach. Although, if I could, I would walk barefoot in snow, if it didn’t hurt. I kick the ground, watching the clouds form in a moment and fall to the earth, sure of their place.

When I order my medium hot chocolate, they ask my name. “Christina.” They take extra long to consider me. When it arrives, they say Chris. I ignore them. Hot chocolate is my favorite drink.

Everyone in the café has layers. Everyone outside has layers too. Coats that are puffy, wide wool scarves, double socks, heavy boots. I wrap every stretch of skin, and as much as I can of my face. Maybe just the eyes, that is what they see. I have a light lipstick on, and it peeks out when I drink.

I don’t want to go back in the cold yet, but a woman comes up against the door and opens it halfway. “Excuse me, miss,” she says. I tell her sorry and step back, and I don’t mask my voice like I have been practicing, again and again in the echo chamber of my leaky shower. I think she hurries away too quickly, but doesn’t say anything upsetting.

The playground is full of children as I walk back. I pull off my scarf to sip and one kid, maybe nine, presses his face against the fence. “Are you a boy or a girl?” he yells at me. His friends crowd closer. There are no adults. “Are you a boy or a girl?” I shrug, because I don’t think they would hear the answer. “Are you gay?” the same one screams. He jumps about the snow. “He’s gay!” He points. “He’s a faggot!” The others repeat the word, quietly, ready for the next me in their lives.

Just one of the children is ignoring me, throwing snowballs at a wall. I always like to do that too.

At home, I shed my coats. I am wearing a magenta sweater, strawberry earrings, off-purple jeans. I finish my hot chocolate and go to the mirror. She is there, she is proud, she is beautiful. I take off the sweater and my sequined shirt. My armpits are upturned mats. My breast forms fall on the floor. I tell her I went out today.

about the author