It was a moment that felt almost inevitable.
I could have been partnered with anyone in class. I could have been given any improv prompt. But, I wasn’t. I was given this.
“Okay, so, your scene will be taking place after you just found out that one of you have been written out of the other’s will, and it will take place in a hospital,” announced the substitute improv instructor.
Across from me stood an older woman, someone’s possible grandmother. It felt, or rather seemed, obvious that I would be the one written out of the will. I knew how I needed this scene to play. This was a chance to live in a moment that may come. This was a chance to figure out what I might say and how I might say it.
I opened, staring at the ground, filled with emotions bottled up and dread of what may come, if or when she, my grandparent, finds out that I am transgender.
“It’s not like I haven’t wanted to see you.”
“Well, you could have.” she responds.
And I have to separate the scene from my fears of what may come. Because I know why I haven’t visited, but the woman beside me is not one of my grandparents. She doesn’t know.
Do I reveal in the scene?
Do I reveal in life?
The scene moves forward.
Parallel to a reality that may come.
Sideways to a reality that may never exist.
Quick back and forths.
“You could have been around.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t.”
“You have your own life. You’re busy.”
“Living in another state makes it difficult to visit.”
More fictional back and forths follow until she adds, “You have time to spend with your girlfriend.”
I ignore the rules of improv to ignore the line. I wonder if I heard resentment in her voice when she said it. Is there some truth in that line for her?
But, for me, I can’t imagine a relationship anytime soon. The last wounds still haven’t healed.
In a rash moment, I throw in my own reality, “Do you want to know why I haven’t been around? Ask your son . . . my father.” The words struggle to the surface. Disappointment. Anger. Sadness. Disgust. And, disappointment. “I told him what’s going on, and he made it very clear that I wasn’t welcome.”
A moment of confusion flashes across her face. “What are you talking about?”
“I can’t tell you. It was made very clear to me that I could not tell you.” More truths spill forth. “I believe the exact words were that you’d kill over if I ever told you.”
“I don’t have much time left,” she responds, but it doesn’t matter. The scene needs to end soon. It is too close to what may come. Fiction’s blurring too much, bleeding into a possible future.
“Look, it’s not you. It’s me,” I stammer. “Well, it’s kind of you.” Which elicits laughs from the audience.
Finally, I feel that the moment has built enough. I won’t reveal my truth in this scene, with an audience of improv classmates, but I will say what I need to say. And, she gifts me the perfect opening.
“Look at that monitor, my heart’s practically flatlining here. Just tell me.”
“I can’t tell you. You have been my hero my entire life. I’ve looked up to you. I never want you to know what it’s like to lose a hero, to lose complete faith and trust in someone. You think you know me, but you don’t. And, if I tell you, I risk losing you. It’s a risk I’m not willing to take. I can’t . . .”
“And, scene,” the instructor says, saving me from further fears and encroaching too close to a future that may or may never be.