Kay, from Deal Me Out, by MJ Halberstadt

KAY. (they/them, nonbinary, AFAB, early 20’s)

(buckets of irony)

It’s really all Elizabeth, she’s always set the schedule: we can go to Lewiston Mall on weekdays, but we can’t be seen there on weekends. Weekends we go to the Auburn Mall. And we can buy things on sale but not from a sale rack. Now that Josephine has her license back, we have to all go together in her car, or at the very least use the buddy system: two at a time. Now and then Elizabeth will go with one other person if Martin drops her off, but the whole point is that no one can ever arrive at the mall by themselves because if we have a hard time syncing up and finding one another we look
retarded—her words, not mine. There was a whole episode when Josephine, Elizabeth, and I were at the mall and then Olivia got dropped off and it was a total disaster. So, buddy system: never one, and never three unless one of us is out of town and it’s, like, a known indisputable fact that the fourth isn’t coming to the mall.

Elizabeth’s new thing is controlling our social media presence. She makes us send pictures to her before we post them, and we have to post at least one picture of all four of us together every week, and we can’t repeat outfits in those; she’s working on a collage or something. And I like started running out of things I wear and she was finally like “This is why we go to the mall. You have every opportunity to buy more tops.”

She lost her shit last month when I cut my hair, because usually she wants approval first and I didn’t ask. And then I told her what it’s really about and her eyes got really big and she was like “You know what, this is totally okay. We’re living in different times, and a little diversity isn’t a bad thing.” She actually wanted Marina in the group instead of Olivia so that we’d have racial diversity but not too-much because Marina’s half-whatever.

And so I was surprised that she was cool about it. But then she started changing some of the schedule and stuff, and talking about branching out. She started hanging out with Klara one-on-one which felt like an interview, especially because her name starts with K too and she’s custom-ordered so much J-O-K-E stuff for her room.

She told me we could still hang out at the mall and stuff, but that she didn’t want to keep me in the weekly group picture but we could still hang out at the Lewiston Mall and at her house, but I should hang back on weekends when they went to the Auburn Mall, and she asked me to stop visiting her at the salon because people kept asking questions and, well she said, it was “for my own good.” She “didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable.”

I said, “Elizabeth, that’s all really sweet of you to look out for me like that, but I have another new rule I was thinking of initiating,” and she was like “What’s that?” and I said, “How about I hang out with you zero days of the week, and we can talk to each other never and nowhere, for pictures, I’ll wear whatever I want and you can say nothing about it because you are not my friend. I like that schedule better.”

Context: The play concerns a board game group who meet to kick out a longstanding member. In this flashback scene, Kay (nonbinary, AFAB, early 20’s) is their high school self, catches a new friend-group up to speed about why they left their old friend group.

More info: MJHalberstadt (at) gmail (dot) com

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