Luna sat in the front row of the courtroom gallery and tried not to look at the ass of the lawyer in front of her.
In moments like this, she thought of it as stealth mode. She enjoyed the act of checking out a man, of letting her eyes graze over buttocks clad in carefully tailored suit pants. She did it every time an attractive lawyer entered the courtroom, although that didn't happen as often as she'd like. Most of the lawyers were gray haired and heavyset, the sort who were on their third marriage and ninth Lincoln Town Car.
Luna sat on the same bench three days a week, her notebook open on her knee, and her pen tip scrawling across the lined paper. She prided herself on being able to separate herself from the stories she covered, and she was seasoned enough to believe she did it with this one, too. A local Christian Orthodox doctor, Tziaki, had hauled the school board into court for not informing him when the teachers were going to discuss "non-traditional" views such as same-sex marriage.
They were all waiting for the judge to return. Luna opened a fresh page in her notebook and wrote the date along the top—"Sept. 17 court." The man in front of her sat along the periphery of the inner chamber as if waiting his turn; he hadn't talked yet. He was a law clerk of some kind, Luna decided. He couldn't be older than 25.
The courtroom clerks chatted with each other. "We're heading up there this weekend with the kids," one woman said. "John heard there's good fishing."
"That's a great campground," the other said. "We take the kids up there. It's a perfect area for families."
Luna underlined the page heading again, making this line a squiggly one that swerved over the straight one. She glanced at the cute law clerk, who sat back in his creaky chair and stretched.
She liked to fantasize about being bold with men because in reality, it felt impossible. She'd been raised as a boy—hopelessly dainty, sitting knock-kneed on the school bench as the boys clobbered each other on the soccer field. When she'd studied journalism at Carleton University, it wasn't much more comfortable. She'd finally been free to go to gay bars, but when she had, she'd stood along the sidelines watching shirtless men dance, sizing up each other based on abs, pectorals, shoes, trousers. So she'd sat in her dorm room on Friday nights listening to her roommate's drunken roar in the hall. She'd curl up with her copy of Geek Love until he'd barge in with a girl and say "Stevens, get the fuck out."
She'd embarked on her journalism career with her male name, starting off in an all-male Belleville newsroom where the reporters called each other gaylord. She'd worked her way up to the newspaper in Waterloo, where she finally came out to the world. She caught snatches of inappropriate dialogue here and there. Some glances in her direction turned into stares. The young straight-out-of-college photographer visibly shook as she approached Luna, voice wavering. I just want you to know that I think you're really brave.
But that had been a year ago, and Luna forged onward. She'd picked up the court beat again, sitting through trials of murderers and bank robbers and cops charged with unnecessary use of force. Aside from one rapist who boldly winked at her from the prisoner's box—did he know? didn't he?—she lost herself in the walled garden of the courthouse. She walked with the same studious, impartial stare as the lawyers. She knew every sandwich option at the lunch kiosk.
Luna pulled out her phone and peeked at the time. 3:50. Court would break for the day soon. She opened her email program and messaged her editor. "On break. Nothing to report yet." When she looked up, the pretty law clerk turned around, and she caught the clearest look at him she'd had all day.
He had a sharp nose and nearly crystalline blue eyes. His hair partially covered his ears. He clicked his pen over and over—ink in, ink out, ink in, ink out. He scanned the courtroom as if events happened on his own time, and he momentarily settled on Luna. Her heart galloped.
-- from "Honest Lawyers" by Kelly Rand