|Honorable Mention: Best Fictional Storay
"More than Meets the Eye"
By Holly Allen - CA
2012 KarMel Scholarship Submission
Description of Submission:
"The name "More" and nothing more. More is a queer individual living the confused life of an inner city individual who
deals with identity and social conduct on a daily basis. From the fragrance of fresh pastries to the confines of a
high-end fitting room, More is wilting." - Holly
Why Karen and Melody Liked It:
We liked how this told about a queer individual and how the world sees them in a typical day.
|Do you like this? Then feel free to send an email message to
“You can call me More,” was the silky reply.
Introductions are important and More was well aware of this. Words, More knew, are permanent as ink,
staining the image chiseled in one’s mind at first meeting. More hoped these words worked in comely shades,
though words often come out grey as cement when intentions were white as snow. At least the image would be
good if the colors weren’t: More’s face was handsome and shapely as a Roman statue. The image, More
hoped, would make up for any faulty shades.
The woman More spoke to was lithe and pretty, her mouth glossy and golden as wild honey molded to her
baby-doll face. She stood over a white and pink street-cart that came out every Friday and Saturday for the
bazaar. She sold warm buns and sweet muffins that were often topped with a sugary, milky type of glaze. She
parted her lips to speak in return and More groaned in hunger. Immediately embarrassed by this, More
swallowed hard enough to bust a blood vessel. Luckily, the lovely lady was polite and said nothing of the lonely
“More? Your last name?” she smiled, cheekily almost.
“You can call me Sir if you prefer.”
The woman’s seemed to tighten all of a sudden, her shoulders hunching strangely. More had meant kindly
enough, but realized, with embarrassment, that it had sounded strange and rude.
“Well Sir,” the lovely lady began, her eyes passing over More and unto the crowd gathering close behind, “I
hate to cut you short but the line behind you is getting quite long so if you’re not going to buy anything I suggest
More felt that burning sensation in the throat, the hollow fall in the stomach that could make any grown man
feel simply shameful. The lovely lady’s face turned still and fixed as an animal defending its territory. The
smallest of animals often scare off the largest predators with a simple stance and a strong glare. This lovely
lady seemed well versed in the skill, the shining in her honey-lips suddenly seemed cold as polished glass. To
this, More simply walked away without word or purchase. It was better that way. More now wouldn’t have to
take out an old wallet, unfold its crumpled body, and face once more that letter that seemed so frightening. The
letter that lurked in the wallet: a powerful, insulting thing.
The street was crowded with vendors, their carts pregnant with the weight of fragrant pastries and spiced
meats. More found no interest in the spiced meats. They seemed too plain, too familiar a taste to be
interesting. The pastries, however, were delectable. More preferred those that came moist with condensation,
often these were the ones that were drizzled with vanilla crème. Often their sweet scent alone created clouds, a
warm atmosphere within the bazaar that made More’s mouth water. Not now, not now that that lovely lady had
killed More’s appetite. More shouldn’t have said “sir”, that was obvious. Chagrin polluted the spring air and
gummed up the pretty colors of the bazaar. Friends called More “sir”. It was a kind of inside joke, a bittersweet
nickname, this “sir”. More didn’t have many friends. Mainly because of the letter. The letter that lied, the letter
that oppressed. More didn’t have many friends, and of course, the lovely lady with the muffins would never be
one of them either. Shame sure is an appetite-killer.
More decided to head deeper downtown to buy a new pair of pants. That had been part of the original plan
anyway. So what if More had been rejected? It was a part of life. New pants were still a must.
The walk was long, though it became quite tolerable once the scent of sugary crème was far behind. More
looked now for other lovely ladies, eyes resting a moment on a set of impressive red locks, the next moment
resting on the nude collarbone of a woman with deep, ebony skin. More’s eyes flittered from one canvas of skin
to the next like a starved hummingbird. Well, they were flowers after all. More always thought of them as
flowers, these pretty little things. At home, in their iron boxes, they were undoubtedly kept in the darkest, flakiest
corners possible, their parents afraid of what such beauty might bring. When they did manage to escape the
clutches of the old and the jealous, they blossomed. Rouge on their cheeks and colorful skirts swaying on their
hips, they really blossomed. That was what More saw.
More continued to admire the gardens of the street in this fashion for quite some time, before arriving at a
trendy clothing store on 13th. More had seen men his age enter here often, the youngest perhaps nineteen, the
oldest definitely no more than twenty-eight. Because of this, More speculated it might be an adequate place to
shop. In truth, More often felt lost in clothing stores. The associates often gave suspicious looks instead of
warm greetings, the other customers often no better.
This store, however, didn’t seem so terrible. The men shopping within seemed young and open-minded,
their apparel and dispositions as different as possible, and yet there seemed to be a consistent and
comfortable flow throughout the place. An associate approached More, a man with a strong smile and a neck
decorated in dog tags.
“Hey man, need any help?” his voice was thick and dark, like molasses.
“Uh,” More attempted as deep and convincing a voice as possible, “No thanks, I’m good.”
“Alright. If you decide you need anything, ask me.”
More swallowed hard, a little glad to see the associate walk in the opposite direction. More slowly walked
over to a clothing rack and began to sort through things, somewhat languidly. More liked everything. The way
one particular pair of pants had the most amazing brass buttons, the way another pair of pants had the tiniest
of z-pattern stitching down both legs- Everything. But More knew very few things, if anything at all, would work.
After spending about twenty minutes amongst iron racks and twisted hangers, More took a few things and
headed towards the fitting rooms.
More stopped in front of the fitting room entry. Around a small bend a million tiny doors with little metal
latches were visible, a shirt thrown over the partition here or there. More eyed the oversized sign hanging
above the fitting rooms- MEN. Nowhere in this word did there appear the letter that More so loathed. It was a
fine word, short and simple. More looked ahead, down the row of little, bitty boxes and felt nearly ecstatic. The
bland beige of retail walls and the sticky, threadbare carpets therein were a special treat. More rarely could
stay more five minutes in a store without leaving.
More quickly headed for the last fitting room in the hall, despite the fact that they were all available, with
three pairs of pants in tow. The door of the fitting room didn’t latch completely at first and was cause for
frustration for a whole eight minutes or so. Once the door to the fitting room was latched completely, More
began to throw off shoes, sock, and pants alike. A moment of hesitation held off trying on the first pair. There
was a strange nervousness fogging up the tiny, vented box they called a “fitting room”, a fear that none of the
pants would fit. More finally overcame such feelings and pulled on the first pair. Which didn’t fit. With frustration,
the first pair was thrown to the floor and the second were attempted. They, too, did not fit correctly. Breathing
heavily, More threw the second pair more fervently than the first. Ignoring the third pair, More placed both hands
on the fitting room mirror, staring down a dirtied reflection.
Perhaps if More’s hips had been lower and narrower. Perhaps if the pants were a bit shorter. Or, at least,
these were the things that More considered. More was nowhere near overweight, a hint of ribs and hipbones
peaking from beneath a pale veil of flesh. More was a bit short, true, but nothing serious. Still, More hated this
reflection, as well as any other reflection that More had ever faced, or been afraid to face.
More hurriedly left the clothing store without purchasing anything. The pants had been desired, but not
necessary. The day was already over, the sharp yet pleasant air of the evening greeting More upon exiting the
store. More had hoped to wear a new pair of pants to the club tonight. The thought was that if More wore those
ripped, low pants that were so popular among men of a certain age, that admission wouldn’t be a problem. But
More directed thoughts, instead, to the array of flowers that might be present in the club tonight. More could all
too easily picture the low lights, the thick, hot air of the club. The perfect environment for growing colorful,
voluptuous flowers of every breed.
The club was on 7th, probably the most crowded street downtown. The evening light s extinguished here,
neon lights in shades of lime green and blood red painting the cement. Long and crooked lines stretched the
length of 7th street, their origins at one club entry or another. Indeed, many flowers were waiting in line for any
given club, their bodies clothed in the most exotic and artistic pieces of fabric imaginable. The strong scent of
sweat rode the air, which More wholly disliked. And yet, twisting through the evening cold, More could also, just
barely, pick up the scent of sugary crème. More smiled and feigned confidence.
More fell in line behind those waiting at the penultimate club on 7th street- The Aphrodite’s Skeleton. More
craned upwards, looking at the club’s curly neon sign of pink and red. More didn’t particularly like the color
pink. At least that letter, that letter which More loathed above even a daily reflection, wasn’t present in the word
neither Aphrodite nor Skeleton.
The line wasn’t too terrible and More kept busy by admiring the flowers in line. Freckles or scars, make-up
or not, each one smelled lovely. These lovely scents excited More but were also cause for quite a bit of
nervousness too. More’s throat hardened and the hope of speaking with a convincingly deep, strong voice was
all but gone. The line inched up towards the door, the greeter now visible- a tall Caucasian man with a buzz cut
and narrow, hazel eyes. More felt weak. The greeter peered down at More critically as the couple ahead
disappeared into a room full of smoke and heavy vibrations.
“Hmm. You’re alone?” the greeter said, callously, with a tease playing on his lips.
“Yes,” More replied simply, the word hanging awkwardly in the air.
“Right,” The guard sighed, looking More up and down suspiciously.
More’s stomach had popped like a tensed balloon. The greeter’s looks were sharp as knives and long as
the Nile. More became anxious and began to regret everything instantly. More regretted speaking to the bun-
lady this morning. More felt stupid for entering that fashionable clothing store on 13th street. Most of all, More
felt like a complete idiot as neon lights burned through the very floor More stood on, the greeter’s fiery eyes not
helping the situation.
“Lemme see your ID,” the greeter commanded, thrusting his large, open palm forward.
“A-Alright,” More stuttered in a higher pitched voice than was intended.
More searched for an ID card through lint-ridden pockets and suddenly became very, very afraid. If More
wasn’t careful, the letter would come. If More even glanced at the ID, that horrid, oppressing letter would mock
its way into More’s conscious. More finally caught the ID between two fingers in a back pocket and hastily
handed it over to the greeter.
At first the greeter simply nodded at the piece of flat plastic, seemingly calm and accepting. But then
something changed. The greeter’s eyes moved over what seemed to be the same area of the ID for many
moments. The greeter then peered up at More with distaste, his hazel eyes laced with disgust.
“We don’t exactly service your type well here,” The greeter snapped, shoving the ID card into More’s chest.
“B-But I’m over twenty-one,” More began hesitantly, shaking.
“Doesn’t fuckin’ matter. This club ain’t for your kind. Leave before someone causes a scene,” The greeter
seemed cold and nearly snarled.
More looked up at the greeter nervously, then at the long line of people behind, shuffling their feet
impatiently. A few of them peered at More judgmentally, their breathing heavy with the heat of frustration. More
looked up at the greeter one last time and, with tears gathering stubbornly, More quickly left.
More walked hurriedly down 7th street, eager to be far, far away from Aphrodite’s Skeleton and everyone
in and around it. More’s mind was plagued with self-mutilating thoughts born of regret and chagrin. Had anyone
ever felt so low?
More stopped suddenly in the middle of a street blocks away from Aphrodite’s Skeleton, the trendy
clothing store, and the downtown bazaar. More’s shoulders shook and twitched oddly in the cold afternoon
wind. More looked down, filled with hatred, at that tiny piece of white plastic- the ID. There it was. There it was!
The letter that haunted More every day. It kept More from feeling whole. It kept More from finding love. It kept
More from living. More’s eyes filled with hot, dime-sized tears that crept from face to neck. The ID seemed to
belong to a “Lily More”, born on Christmas about twenty-three years prior. And there, beside the category
marked “Sex”, was the letter More feared. F. F for Female.
More’s knees felt weak. Her knees felt weak. More fell to the ground, her knees scraping the asphalt, even
through her loose, manly fitting jeans. More kept crying, hard and noisily like a little girl who couldn’t get her
way. More’s chest heaved up and down heavily, her heart thumping painfully beneath her shirt and binder. She
bent the ID in her hands, the plastic stubborn, only bending slightly. More wanted it to break, to snap in half,
severing her from the name “Lily” as well as the letter “F”. But the plastic was too strong, too stable to break.
More shuddered and wilted. Ah well, Lilies are flowers after all.