“Is gaydar really a thing?” Cooper asks.
I shrug. I don’t know. I’ve never really thought so. It’s something off the telly. I shift a little and settle further into my seat on the wall. I’ve found a flat stone to sit on and so has Cooper. The wall is newer than the church and the graveyard but still pretty old. It’s stable though, enough for us at least.
Everything’s quiet out here, even the spring lambs.
“What about transdar?”
Except Cooper of course.
The sleeping sheep in the field behind us grumble.
“Transdar?” I repeat, trying not to laugh.
“Yeah, gaydar but with trans people.”
I sometimes regret coming out to Cooper. I should’ve known he’d have questions; he has questions about everything. A weird obsession with information. It’s harmless mostly, I like that he wants to learn but it’s tiring and Google exists.
“We sort of gravitate towards each other,” I say eventually.
“Gay magnets,” I tell him with a smile.
“Do you have a deadname?”
Okay, so he has been on the internet.
“That’s mostly just trans people.”
He nods and I wonder what he does with all this information he gathers. It’s not like he’s writing a book.
We’re waiting for Myra. It’s been an hour and it’ll probably be an hour more. I can hear the crying start up though so maybe not quite that long.
“Animals can be gay too right? Saw that on facebook?”
I want to tell him he shouldn’t believe everything he reads online but he’s not wrong. Or did I read that online too?
“Am I the only gay person you know?” I ask instead.
It has dominated most of our conversations over the last two months, but it’s a small village and few of us about these days.
We all fade away eventually. Like queer people, Cooper and I have gravitated towards each other. Alone, young, accident victims.
Not much else in common but what else is there?
Someone’s hyperventilating, I can tell from here. It’s not the first funeral we’ve attended and it won’t be the last.
Like I said, we gravitate.
“I think so,” he replies.
He probably doesn’t even know many other people any more. The rest of the village is elderly. Only me and him are even under forty. Perhaps that’s why he’s trying to learn so much now; because he didn’t before.
“What about you?”
I live in a village surrounded by other villages. The kind of place where they have a WI and you’re not supposed to go to the other village shows unless you’re a spy. I always went along with it without question, like with most things. Explains how I ended up here certainly.
Cooper stands, stretches his legs. The hymns start again.
We don’t sing.
I did once, Mrs Keystone’s funeral. My voice didn’t sound right, still doesn’t even when I talk. I don’t know about Cooper.
“What’s your first name?” I ask.
It’s been six months since we met, on this same stone wall outside this same stone church. He already knew my name and just introduced himself as Cooper and nothing else really mattered. Still doesn’t I suppose but it would be nice to know.
Mrs Jones is wailing.
I don’t blame her.
Cooper waits until someone consoles her, calms her, before he answers.
“Gwilym,” he admits, “Cooper’s cooler. Not that it’s important now of course but it used to be. Plus there were three other Gwilyms in my year at school.”
“Cooper is cooler,” I agree.
The hymns are over, I can tell because the crying has started in earnest again. Or perhaps it’s no longer drowned out by the organist. People are standing, pews are creaking – though usually at one of these it’s bones too – and I slip off the wall to my feet.
A few minutes later and Father Justin walks out of the church, followed by the pallbearers carrying the coffin and a mass of black behind them.
Myra appears next to me, and I give her a weak smile. She’s still adjusting, reconciling, so I wait.
“Welcome to the afterlife,” he says cheerfully.
After the procession passes us by; Myra’s mother held up by her brothers, I see the realisation on her face as she feels it.
“You’re my welcoming committee?” she asks.
“Something like that,” I reply.
She nods, watching her dad collapse to the grass.
“Thanks,” she mutters.