Mary’s queer, the kids said. She’s fat and queer and stupid and ugly.

They made fun of her crush on Michelle, the class princess. Teased her, taunted her, harassed her. Called her Pussy Breath and Muff Diver. Michelle laughed it off, even was kind to Mary — at least when no one was around to see.

So long ago and far away, yet the scars linger, fading and blooming as childhood wounds forever do.

This is Manhattan. This is today. Now see Mary:

Tall and blonde, successful and happy. Loved by Elizabeth who kisses the scars on those rare occasions when they make an appearance. Mary is making love to Elizabeth in the bed of a thousand roses. That’s what they call it, after the rose petals, Elizabeth’s romantic gesture on their first anniversary.

Mary is touching the quiet slope of her lover’s breast, watching the goose flesh quiver in response. She runs her thumbnail across the raspberry nipple, watching it spring from under the enamel edge. Elizabeth moans, whispers, I love you. Mary knows this is true, yet it still fills her with wonder, with awe, that love runs this deep, this true for her.

I love you, too, she whispers back, spreading Elizabeth’s legs. Let me show you how much. I am going to make you cum with my mouth, darling.

She lowers her face to the moist labia before her. Ever so slowly, just so she can savor the scent of her lover’s arousal.

Somewhere far away a woman named Michelle — whose story is of sadness and betrayal, and not to be told here — would give all to be loved like Mary for just one day.