Dear Mr. Pear Tree
From a boy that likes to wear dresses
Nathaniel Green stared up at the ripening pears hanging from the branches. They were almost ripe enough to pick.
“We need to leave soon, kiddo,” his mother called from the patio.
“Okay, mom,” he called back.
Today was Wednesday, meaning there were only a couple more days to finish the final touches on the costumes. The play premiered this Friday night. He took a deep breath as he pictured the actors in their costumes, specifically the white gown he had made for the angel. He glanced down at his own clothes: a ratty blue t-shirt and jeans. A smile flickered across his lips as he imagined his clothes transforming into a dress. Leaning his head against the bark, he began his daily ritual of writing a letter to the tree:
Dear Mr. Pear Tree,
The play premiers this Friday. I am both ecstatic and nervous. The costumes are almost done, just a couple more buttons and hooks to sew on the townswomen’s dresses. I have this strange feeling whenever I see the angel dress that I want to wear more things like that. I want to wear dresses. Transitioning has already been hard, and that’s with my parents being supportive. Can trans men wear dresses? That sounds like a silly question, but I don’t know anyone like me.
His mother called once more, this time much louder. Nathaniel went off running. He raced to the car and quickly closed the door.
“Are you staying at school late today?” She asked, peering at him through the rearview mirror.
“Yes, I need to finish up the costumes. I only need to sew some buttons onto the front of one dress and then I’ll be done. Plus, I want to see Anna’s face when everyone comes out wearing their costumes.”
His mother smiled warmly.
“Anna is very lucky to have you as a friend, someone to design and sew all the costumes for her plays. You two make a good team.”
“Yeah, we do,” he smiled back.
School was uneventful. He went to his usual classes, barely surviving Calculus at the end of the day. He practically ran out the door, when the clock chimed. He made his way to his sanctum sanctorum, the basement of the building where his sewing machine and mannequins were set up. Anna was already down there, pacing back and forth.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, halting in front of her.
“Susan is sick, extremely sick. She is bedridden, Nate.”
“Oh. Can’t one of the actresses paying the townspeople be the angel as well?” He inquired.
“No! None of them want to play the angel and I can’t exactly force them to do it.” She slumped to the floor.
“It’s a morality play,” she continued, “The angel is a necessary piece.”
“Does the gender of the angel matter?” A thought brewed inside his head.
Anna looked up at him, “No, but I already asked the boys, and they don’t want to do it either.”
Nate glanced at his shoes before responding, “Well, I could do it. If that would be okay with-”
Anna wrapped him in a tight hug.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re the best bestie in the whole world!”
“Of course. This is our project after all.” He pried his arms out from under hers and wrapped them around her back.
She looked up, eyes trying to surpass his chin.
“Would you be comfortable wearing the costume? It is a dress. If you’re not comfortable wearing it, we can always go shopping.”
“About that,” Nate breathed deeply, “I think I like to wear dresses.”
“Oh, okay. That’s fine. Clothes are a different thing entirely from gender. It doesn’t make you any less of a man-what?” her left eyebrow twitched up at the expression on his face.
“You always know what to say. I needed to hear that. Thanks.”
“Glad to have helped,” she withdrew from the hug.
“Are you nervous about it-the liking dresses thing, I mean?” Her eyes searched his.
“Kind of…” his voice trailed off, searching for the right words.
“When I first figured out I was a boy, I wanted to wear all the boy clothes. I still liked dresses, but I guess I suppressed it, because I desperately needed to be respected and seen as boy. Now that I am, I want just to be me.”
The grin on Anna’s face caused him to pause.
“What?” he asked, not sure he wanted the answer.
“It’s just nice to see you finally becoming comfortable with yourself,” she said.
She glanced at the stairs leading to the stage, “Have you told your parents yet? We should also tell Mrs. Gillset that you’ll be the angel.”
“I’ll tell my parents tonight. Can we wait to inform Mrs. Gillset until after I’ve spoken with my parents. I want to get their opinion first.”
“Okay. We’ll tell her tomorrow. Wait-do you need to make any adjustments to the dress?”
“Oh, absolutely. I need to get to work!” Nate noticed he felt lighter, freer.
Nate was quiet on the ride home with his mother. He went outside briefly to pick a couple of pears off the tree, those would be desert. He helped set dinner out on the table and munched down on some steak while gathering some courage.
“How are your costumes coming?” His father stopped slicing up his steak for a moment.
“Good. I finished all the costumes. One of the actresses is very sick, she was the one playing the angel.”
“Oh, that’s terrible. Has Anna found a replacement?” His father asked.
The question hung in the air for a few minutes before Nate answered.
“So, I asked if a boy could play the angel, Anna said gender wasn’t any issue. And that all the actors and actresses didn’t want to play the character. I thought maybe I could be the angel?”
His mother eyes twinkled; his father grinned.
“That sounds like an excellent idea! I told you our boy would be an actor one day!” his father said while looking at his mom.
“Didn’t you make a gorgeous white gown for that character?” her eyes shone.
“Oh, I remember now. It looked…what’s the word?” his dad looked beseechingly at each of them.
“Ethereal?” his mother suggested.
“Ethereal!” his father exclaimed, “That dress was one of your best pieces yet! Are you going to wear the dress? Do you even have time to make something else?”
“Yeah, so I recently figured out that I actually really like dresses. I’m still a boy, but I like to wear dresses as well.”
Nate glanced at his parents faces, they beamed.
“We support you, darling,” his mother said immediately.
“We always will,” his father added, “Especially when you take that phenomenal skillset of yours and start making your dear old dad some clothes.”
“He makes clothes for plays, dear,” his mother muttered.
“My life is a play, Sandra,” his father promptly responded.
Nate choked on his food; his parents’ heads snapped towards him.
“I’m fine,” Nate sputtered, forcing down some water.
After he finally recovered, dinner went smoothly. The next morning brought another session with the pear tree.
Dear Mr. Pear Tree,
I told Anna and my parents. Now I just have to tell my Theatre teacher, and hopefully the play goes well. Mrs. Gillset should be fine with it. It is just a costume after all. Aren’t all angels depicted wearing robes? It should be fine. It’ll be fine.
He sighed. Maybe it would be, maybe it wouldn’t. He couldn’t pretend like he didn’t love the way the gowns looked and how they swished when twirled. On the way to school, his stomach felt like mush, a mixture of surreal excitement and overwhelming anxiety. The day dredged on. The only spark of fun was art class, he could show his teacher his latest drawings.
He scampered down to the basement; Anna wasn’t there yet. He gazed for several long minutes at the dress, which was displayed on the nearest mannequin. He had to alter almost the entire costume to actually fit it. Nate’s head jerked up as Anna entered.
“Why are you just staring at it? Put it on so I can see!” She exclaimed.
He delicately unzipped the piece from the mannequin and ducked behind a curtain. He exited a minute later; Anna’s hands flew to her mouth. She squealed.
“You look amazing!”
Anna grabbed his hand and pulled him to the nearest mirror. He stood there, mouth agape. The white satin looked elegant against his frame; the tulle of his sleeves connected to another layer in the back to appear cape-like. He honestly looked like an angel.
“I take it you’re going to fill the role for the angel, Nathaniel,” a light voice wafted past them.
Nate and Anna both turned around sharply at the same time.
“Yes, I am,” Nate recovered quickly.
“Wonderful. Beautiful dress. You will be wearing that for the play, yes? It would be a shame to waste such a beautiful piece.”
Mrs. Gillset cocked her left eyebrow up.
“Yes! Yes, I will be wearing it.”
“Splendid,” their teacher said before making her way back upstairs.
Nate and Anna looked at each other.
“Well, that went well,” Anna laughed.
“Yeah, I would say it did,” Nate joined in.
The dress rehearsal went surprisingly smoothly. Almost all of the other actors commented on how nice Nate’s costume was during their breaks. By the time Nate got home, he was exhausted. He laid on his bed and passed out.
The next day brought the end of the week, and the first night the play opened to the public. Nate had woken up early and sat in front of the pear tree for a while. He took several deep breathes before starting.
Dear Mr. Pear Tree,
Everything went well with Mrs. Gillset. None of the company had any issue with me being the angel. I actually got a load of compliments! Now I just have to focus on getting through school today and remembering my lines. Wish me luck.
The school day flashed by. Nate was far too nervous to pay attention in any of his classes. When the sun dipped below the horizon, people began piling in. He ducked his head behind the curtains. Anna gave him two thumbs up.
“You got this!” She whispered.
Nate heard his teacher introduce Anna, who then talked about the play for a bit before giving the signal to dim the lights.
Nate stood alongside the main actor; he did look ethereal compared to the regular workday clothes the actor was wearing. Nate took a deep breath, centering himself.
It was his time to shine.
The lights shone down on them, illuminating him for all eyes to see. His parents cheered. A few people gasped in the audience. A few murmured what Nate was sure were not nice comments. He brushed the noise off like stray water droplets on his skin. He continued his monologue; he was needed to narrate the events of the play. When he finished, the room had fallen completely silent, enraptured with his performance.
For most of the play, he either waited in the wings or was standing to the far side, pronouncing important shifts in the story. He tried not to fiddle with the long sleeves during the break. He didn’t hear any further comments during the second, third, and final act. His voice projected to the back of the theatre as he pronounced the end of the play. Deafening silence met him moments after he finished. His parents as well as Anna’s mothers were the first to stand up and applaud. They were quickly followed by the remainder of the audience. The applause brought a welcome warmth to his heart. The rest of the cast joined him onstage and lined up together. They bowed in unison.
About the author
I am a lover of words. I am a trans man (pronouns he/him) writing about my experience through a fantasy and sometimes real world lens. I express the pain of living with PTSD through poetry and horror stories.