The Other Dress (Flowers and Keyboards 2)

We both love wearing dresses, the prettier the better.
We also both love cosplaying.
But that is where our similarities end.
Right?

Nobody would call Elliot a flashy person, he’s calm and kind, spending most of his time with his nose in books or playing games. But when he’s finally brave enough to cosplay loud and cheerful Aoi, a female character from Magical Princess Club!, at AmAnime it changes everything. Especially when he’s swept off his feet by a girl cosplaying Sakura, Aoi’s best friend.
Can he really expect more than friendship when he’s dressed like someone else entirely?

Izzy lives for cosplaying and conventions. She loves dressing up as magical girls because when she slips into their characters, she transforms a little too. Cosplaying and dressmaking are her ways to deal with the discomfort she feels over the body she was born in, making her feel more like her real self.
And cosplaying at AmAnime is the highlight of her year. Meeting friends, showing off her skills… And this year, somehow being face to face with a person who makes her heart beat faster than ever before.
She’s always thought that dating would be out of the question, but is it?

When Elliot and Izzy impulsively team up for the yearly cosplay contest, they may win more than just a trophy…

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Before – Izzy

 

I live my life according to the motto “What if I didn’t?”
– What if I didn’t decide to wear that beautiful dress?
– What if I didn’t go to that party?
– What if I didn’t study for that test?
Some of the answers are simple. If I didn’t study for the test, I’d probably fail it. This can mean that I’ll have to retake it, or I’d have to make up for it with my other grades on that subject.
I tend to do this with literature, I love books, but I never seem to be able to focus on what I need to read for class, I much prefer reading fanfic. So, I’d put off reading the book, or writing the essay, until it’s far too late. Which is why even though everyone knows me as a bookworm… I only barely have a passing grade on the subject.
My life never used to be like that. I’d never ask myself “What if I didn’t?”
Instead, I worried about what other people would think of me if I did do things.
– What would they think of me if I did wear that beautiful dress?
– What would people think about me if I did go to that party?
– What would they think of me if I did study for that test?
These answers never really satisfied me. They never made me feel good, they made me feel like I should just stay in my place, not move too much and definitely not stand out. The answers made me scared that people would think poorly of me, that they’d think I was trying too hard, that I was showing off. So, I never wore the dresses, I didn’t go to parties and I only had grades high enough to pass a class, never more than that.
My life existed in greys and muted colours. My grades never surpassed those of my most average classmate and I never ever stood out.
I believed that I wasn’t someone who stood out. I believed that I was average, plain. Boring. I tried to blend into the background, I tried for people not to notice me, because if they did, I’d have to face their judgement, their mocking.
And if it wasn’t for one person, one person I didn’t even know, one person who had no idea how much she would influence me, if it wasn’t for her, I may have never been here now. I may never have stood here, I may have never stepped forward and I may never have demanded my place in the spotlights.
The worst of this is that she’ll never know, because she’s no longer here. Which is the only reason why I do know about her.
That beautiful girl, she was my age, still in high school, and she killed herself. I don’t know what her motto, or her question in life was, but her life ended with “I can no longer do this”.
That’s what her final letter said. “I can no longer do this.”
I learned about her when my own life had lost all its colour, I learned about her when my life was a dark charcoal colour with a few spots of black. I had little to lose and couldn’t see anything that I could gain anymore.
I remember it so clearly, that final moment of the old me. That final moment when my mom looked at me, sitting next to my dad, holding hands, holding each other so tightly that their knuckles were white, I could see the white outline of their tendons against the red on the sides. I don’t know why I remember it so well, maybe because this was the first time that they told me that I had to do something. The first time that, instead of letting me take the lead, they sat down and told me that I needed help, that I needed to live my life being me, not hiding in the shadows. Or maybe it was because that was the final moment of what my life used to be like.
I didn’t know who she was before that moment, but I know her name now, Vicky. I know that she was in many ways like me, and that what happened to her could have happened to me too, though I think my parents understood that better than I did at the time.
One day, as I came home from school, my parents were both already there, waiting for me. Which was odd because normally I’d be alone for a couple of hours before either of them even came home. I immediately knew something was wrong.
One moment, I knew nothing, I was still unaware, I walked in the door, unsuspecting of anything ever changing. But in only a couple of minutes time, I knew about Vicky, I knew that she was also living in this dark place in her mind, and I knew that she’d killed herself. Vicky, like me, had been born a boy, and in many ways we grew up the same way, but she had designated herself to the shadows, only living half a life. She could no longer live hiding herself, hiding who she really was inside, and even after she started living her life as a girl, she couldn’t get out of that depression anymore. It had gotten too deep, and wouldn’t let her go.
My parents didn’t ask me if I’d wanted to talk to them, they didn’t ask me anything that day. They told me that they didn’t want me to do the same thing, they didn’t want to lose me to depression too, and that they’d made an appointment with a psychologist for me. They didn’t want to lose their daughter, they understood that this constant gray I was living in had a name, and that unless I got help, I’d never get out.
That day I realised three things:
1. I didn’t want to die.
2. What is the whole use of life, if I didn’t live it to the fullest?
3. I no longer cared about other people’s responses to the most important question of all:

What if I did wear that beautiful dress?

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