Solomon opened the hotel door and stretched. God, she was getting too old for this. She’d been coming to the Plunder convention, celebrating her favorite swashbuckling video game, for five years now. And, Lord, late night parties felt different as a fresh-out-of-college kid than they did now.
How was that possible that five short years could make such a difference?
She flopped on the bed with a huff. She glanced at Max Wells who still had her face buried in the con’s schedule book, high on the novelty of her very first con. “Ooo, there’s a panel on the ethics of fan-made game modding in an hour; do you want to try to make it?”
Solomon groaned softly. How could Max still have so much energy? Envying the other woman’s excitement, Solomon sighed and longed for a time when this all felt new like it used to.
She loved conventions, especially the whole cosplay experience. Had for a very long time. Even before coming out as a transwoman, cosplay had provided a safe, fun outlet to explore gender and identity. From her very first crossplay costume—just some cheap mismatch of thrift-store leggings, a modified prom dress, and a wig—she’d fallen in love with the craft. Over the years, she’d learned so much about herself, her creativity and what she was capable of, through the magic of costuming. How with some fabric, Worbla, and a wig, you could become someone else. It was strange; transforming herself into someone else somehow let her be a little more herself too.
Even now, she still felt its magic. Still loved that, with ingenuity and hard work, anyone could be anything. She’d spent months planning and constructing her Atlantica costume, from stitching tiny mermaid scales on her skirt to forming intricate thermoplastic shells. It’d taken her two hours to get her look just right this morning. But, by the time she was done, she’d walked out of this room feeling like the sea goddess of her dreams.
Yet, as the day went on, all that magic began to lose its luster. She and Max had gotten up extra early this morning so they could get dressed in their costumes in time for the con’s start. Then they’d run from panel to panel, event to event. They’d visited artist alley and the dealer’s room. They’d watched belly dancers and stage sword fights.
It was only the first day of the convention; she shouldn’t feel so tired. It wasn’t even a physical exhaustion. She was just tired of it all. Tired of the crowds, of the noise, of the hustle and bustle. All the things that had felt exciting in her first few years of coming to the convention, just felt...wrong this year.
No, not wrong. Everything felt decidedly not wrong. Though not right either, not exactly. Just the same as always. The same panels, the same events, the same people. The same experience.
Maybe it wasn’t so much that she was getting too old for the convention, but could it be that the con—her favorite event of the year—was, after so many years, starting to feel old?
Solomon looked up and saw Max sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at her worriedly. Solomon sat up and shrugged. “Just not really feeling the Plunder spirit this year.” She really hated to rain on Max’s first convention, but Solomon didn’t relish the idea of heading back into that people-packed throng. She heaved a reluctant sigh. “Just give me a minute and I’ll be good to go again.”
“Are you sure?” Max gripped the schedule book in her hand and bit her lip. “We don’t have to go back.”
Of course they had to. This was Max’s first convention, she should get to enjoy every moment of it. “I just need a little lie-down.” She was sure that was it.
“I don’t know.”
At the sad hesitation in Max’s voice, Solomon shook her head and pushed to her feet, regretting it almost immediately. She groaned, her soles killing her in her costume’s four-inch heels, and almost sat back down. But, damnit, this was her favorite time of year. It was her geek Halloween, her nerd Christmas. She was not going to spend it passed out on a hotel bed. She flexed her poor feet and gritted her teeth. “Let’s go.”
Fighting a giggle, Max waved Solomon back. “Sit down, you look like you’re about to fall over.” Max unzipped her boots and kicked them off. She wiggled her eyebrows. “How about a hot tub break?” She stood and began to take off the rest of her Captain Jolli Rouge costume. “Might as well take advantage of it, since we paid for it.”
“You’ll miss your panel,” Solomon warned.
Max shrugged and strode naked to the tub. “We’ve got a little bit of time.” She turned on the faucet, filling the tub with warm, steaming water that called out to Solomon. “Come on, badass Mermaid Queen of the Seven Seas, your bubbly berth awaits...”
Read Part Two Here