Griffin at 15


Griffin at 15


The boys aren’t outside yet. I go through the buffet line and take a hamburger and some fruit. I pick a seat at the corner of a picnic table furthest from the food.

            A group of boys spill out of the back of the concrete block building that looks Stalinist in spirit. My god, he’s grown so much. Griffin stands taller than most of the boys, and they seem to respect him, waiting for his cue. He’s wearing the Li’l Peep hoodie that I sent him a few weeks ago. He doesn’t know I’m already at a picnic table, and I have a few moments to watch him, to see how he handles himself, how he interacts with his peers and the staff. He looks self-confident, comfortable and somewhat defiant. He seems to be one of the boys’ leaders. I think of Lord of the Flies.

            I stand up and he spots me. As he makes his way across the dusty, hardpan yard, several of the boys joke with him. He has about three times as much food as I do.

            I’ve chosen my spot at the far end of the picnic table so that we can have some modicum of privacy in the surging sea of adolescent testosterone. He reaches me, and we hug longer than we ever have, in a wordless communication possible only with someone you have loved for a long, long time. Everything else, the buzz of conversation, the loud laughter, the impromptu kicking and punching games all drop away, and it’s just the two of us in our own universe.

            We have intense, honest conversations, some heavy, and some fun. He still misses his girlfriend, he hates all the rules and regimentation, he misses his younger sister, he is angry and sad about not going back to Oregon. For our brief time together, we’re as close as a father and son can be. Sometimes, I can see us being friends when he’s an adult and on his own, even though I know that’s self-delusional.

            Much too soon, a supervisor signals, and Griffin joins the other boys as they file inside for lockdown.


Claire Galford


Claire Galford writes from the perspective of one who has lived as a boy, a hetero man, a trans woman and, now, a woman. Her writing focuses on the emotional and interpersonal aspects of her lifelong journey to self-discovery, and reflects her commitment to living authentically, no matter the costs and trade-offs involved.


  1. touching and sensitive writing. Ariel Chart outdoes itself again.

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