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Time to See What I Can Do
While Blues Moon was closed
in the early morning hours, Luci had
gotten permission to push some tables
together and work on her costume
as the pirate queen Zhèng Shì.
Parts of it were cotton, but
other parts looked like real silk.
It had metal buttons here and there
that Shiv couldn't help fondling.
"What do you think?" Luci said.
"Uh ... it's pretty?" Shiv said.
He knew almost nothing about
clothes, much less costumes meant
to resemble weird old Chinese clothes.
"Maybe you'll like this better," Luci said
as she pulled out a length of pale blue cloth
that sparkled with tiny sequins and beads
of glass or silver in snowflake patterns.
"Wow," Shiv said, his hand hovering
just above the see-through cape.
"I'm thinking about wearing both of
my costumes at O-Comic Con," said Luci.
"Since you like Frozen too, we could
see about teaming up somehow."
Shiv rolled his eyes. "There is
no way I'm dressing up like that."
"I know, but between my silk
and your metal, I think we could
put on quite a show," Luci said.
"We could have swirling ribbons
and flying snowflakes and all."
"Yeah, maybe," Shiv said,
still not really convinced.
"What's this all about?" Gray said,
as he came up behind them.
"Luci has this wild idea that
I'd make a good Ellis -- you know,
like Elsa from Frozen, only a guy,"
Shiv said, waving at the cape.
"It's a beautiful outfit," Gray said,
tilting the cloth to catch the light.
"Oh, that's my Elsa costume,
not Ellis," said Luci. "Here, Gray,
let me show you some pictures."
Gray leaned over her tablet computer
and made some admiring noises.
"I told Shiv that he'd look good
as Ellis, but it's fine if he doesn't
want to play," said Luci. "Then again,
you would be a natural at this too."
"It looks fun," Gray said with a grin.
"What, you're not serious?"
Shiv said, staring at him.
"Why not?" Gray said.
"I like Frozen. Elsa has
a superpower that scares
people. I can relate to that."
Shiv hadn't even realized
that Gray had seen the movie,
let alone liked Elsa too.
Gray was right about having
scary powers, though. Most folks
found his Pain Ray alarming.
Shiv liked it, but then he was a freak.
"Besides, I like dressing up,"
Gray went on. "I could pull it off."
That was true. Shiv recalled
how stunning Gray looked when
he put a little effort into dressing up.
If he really went all out -- well.
That would be a sight to see.
Suddenly Shiv wanted to see it.
"You could go to the con with Luci,"
said Shiv. "Maybe take some pictures."
"Oh, if Gray goes to the con, we will
take all the pictures," Luci said.
"I'm on board with that," Gray said.
"The only bad part about this plan
is that it puts us in direct competition,"
Luci said. "I like you, so that kinda sucks."
"Not necessarily," Gray said. "We'd have
Elsa and Ellis. Who says we have to be
competing against each other? Or even
cosplaying different characters?"
"I don't get it," Luci said, frowning.
"Think about it," Gray urged.
"The theme song is all about
hidden urges, a secret identity ...
it's really a coming out song. When
I heard 'that perfect girl is gone,' well,
I thought it was about a transman
finally revealing his true self."
"Oh, oh!" Luci said. She clapped
her hands, jumping up and down.
"We could set it up with me, and
then change to you, with Shiv
providing the special effects!"
"Could you do that?" Gray asked,
turning to Shiv. "Make some kind of
curtain with ice or glass or whatever,
so Elsa and Ellis could switch places?"
"Maybe ..." Shiv said. "It's hard for me
to control a lot of things at once, and
I couldn't do it for very long."
He'd played with all kinds of things
in the sensory bin, though, so it wasn't
entirely outside of his experience.
"We'd only need a few seconds,"
Gray said. "A stage isn't very big.
We have months to practice. Luci and I
could study quick-change work, while
you focus on superpower control."
Shiv pulled out the lump of metal
that he used as play-putty, then
flicked his fingers to peel off
thin slices of the stuff.
Swishing his hands through
the air, he made the slivers
rise up and dance together,
trying to recreate the swirls he
remembered from the movie.
"It's gonna take a lot of practice,"
he said, looking at the measly flurry.
"Yes!" Luci crowed, throwing her hands up.
"Let's look up some images for inspiration.
Get over here, Gray, and tell me what kinds
of costume you would or wouldn't wear."
Shiv watched them idly as he made
more metal snowflakes and tried
to move them in a mass.
Then he shook his head.
"I'll need something better
than play-putty for this," he said.
"Like what?" Gray looked up from
the computer screen. "I've seen you
work different kinds of metal and glass ..."
"I didn't know you could work glass,"
said Luci. "I thought it was just metal."
"Anything hard enough to hold an edge,"
Shiv admitted. "Metal sort of flows, and
glass just wants to snap into place."
"So you'd need glass that could look
like snowflakes, but still hide us,"
Gray said. "Clear won't work."
"Yeah it will, if it's frosted," Shiv said.
"I've seen beach glass like that -- when
it starts clear, it turns out almost white."
"I've seen art glass in something called
winter mix that has different shades of
light blue," Luci said. "I've used that
in some of my earlier costumes."
"Dichroic glass," Shiv said. "I buy
that in bulk, just random shards of
the clear kind in different designs."
They didn't need to know that he
was using it to experiment with
what amounted to flash badges.
"Maybe throw in a handful of
mirror tiles, or shards if anyone
has a broken mirror," Luci said.
"Do we really want to be dancing
around a stage surrounded by
broken glass?" Gray said.
"That could be dangerous."
Shiv thought about that.
"When it's just a few pieces,
I have great control," he said.
"When it's a whole bunch ... yeah,
that could be dicey. Maybe I should
round off the edges until there's
just enough sharp to hold."
"That should work," Gray said.
"You can practice moving the bits
on your own at first, and then try
adding us to see how that goes."
Shiv remembered what Dr. Bloch
and Tolli had taught him about
doing a little bit at a time.
"I think I could learn how
to do it, if I added a handful
now and then to build up what
I could control," Shiv said.
"Worth a try, at least."
"Terrific," Luci said.
"See what craft glass
you can turn up, and I'll
ask at the university too."
"Can do," Shiv agreed.
Lucy bumped Gray
with the edge of her tablet.
"Now back to our Ellis ideas ..."
"Well, we definitely want
to do the ice castle scene,
rather than the coronation, if
Shiv's providing special effects,"
Gray said. "That narrows it down."
"Okay," said Luci. "That matches
the Elsa outfit I already have."
Curious, Shiv pulled out
his smartphone and searched
'boy Elsa' to see what came up.
Luci and Gray smiled at him.
They paged through one outfit
after another, variations on
the ice castle clothes and
the coronation ones as well.
Some didn't look like either
of those examples, though.
"Now that I could do,"
Shiv said slowly.
"Do what?" Luci said,
leaning over to look.
"This costume," Shiv said,
turning his smartphone so that
they could both see it. "I mean, look,
that's basically me in a rocker vest over
a Let It Go t-shirt and no shea butter
in my hair so it punks up like it does."
Gray looked at the screen,
looked at Shiv, and laughed.
"Oh yes," he said. "That one
definitely suits you. Go for it."
"I'll think about it," Shiv said.
"Good for you," Luci said,
patting him on the forearm.
The idea was already stuck
in his head, though.
So far, Shiv had thought
of Elsa as a girl thing, because
all the toys and stickers and things
were aimed at little kids, little girls really.
They were all fuzzy towels and
sparkly capes and dolls with big eyes.
This was different. This was him.
But it wasn't just one part of him.
It was the Elsa fan and the bad boy
somehow stuck together with
denim and metal studs and
some swirly blue beads.
It was like saying that he could
be a supervillain and an artist
and a movie buff all at once.
Dichroic, Shiv remembered,
already imagining what kinds
of beads he wanted to make
as part of this outfit.
"Yeah," Shiv admitted.
"It's time to see what I can do."
* * *
The title of this poem comes from a line in the Disney song "Let It Go."
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
Listen to the original on YouTube. You can also enjoy the multi-language version and the parody "Fuck It All."
O-Comic Con is an event in Omaha, Nebraska.
Zhèng Shì was a famous pirate queen. Luci enjoys dressing up as her in a hanfu costume.
Here is Luci as Elsa.
This is a comparison of genderbent Elsa/Ellis pairs. Here is one pair together.
This Ellis has butter-blond hair, this one is ash-blond, and here's one with gray hair.
Here is the bad boy Ellis that Shiv finds tempting.
The approximate mix of materials for Shiv's special effects:
Clear Frosted Glass (three buckets)
Frosted Glass Winter Mix (two buckets)
Dichroic Glass (one bucket)
Mirror Glass (one scoop)
Snowflake Coasters (seven)
Snowflake Ornaments (three in different styles)
This transgender doll has been made to teach children about gender identity.