I was ten years old when the first kid in my class bloomed. I remember it clear as day because of how gross and stupid traumatizing it was.
We were in the middle of a quiz, so the only sound in the room was that of scratching pencils. I was halfway through the first essay question when I heard the kid next to me start panting like a dog. I turned to look, and there I saw Alex breathing hard, trembling all over and sweating. They had their hands in their lap and were staring at their paper as if they’d forgotten where they were.
“Hey, are you okay?” I whispered at them. They didn’t look up at me. They didn’t even blink.
I raised my hand. “Mr. Collins? Something’s wrong with Alex.” I pointed their way as our teacher looked up. He left his desk and came over, a confused look of concern on his face. I looked back at Alex, whose breathing had quickened, their cheeks flushed bright.
“Alex,” Mr. Collins said, “what’s the matter?” He put a hand on Alex’s shoulder, and that’s when it happened.
All at once, Alex’s body changed. They seemed to explode outward almost, gaining about two inches in every direction. I heard pops and snaps— and to this day I’m still not sure if it was just Alex’s clothes that made those sounds or something deeper. They clung to Alex’s sweat soaked body in too-small tatters, tightest around their top and bottom, the former of which now sported a pair of little breasts, nipples straining against the fabric. Alex, now sexed, shuddered.
Then she started screaming.
“Everyone into the hall NOW,” Mr. Collins yelled.
We jumped to our feet in a clatter of chairs and confusion and scrambled out, stealing last glances at the classmate whose childhood had effectively just ended. She was taken out of school after that, and it wasn’t until about four or five years later when most everyone else had bloomed too that she came back to the public system. I say most everyone, but what I really mean is everyone except me.
I’d been thinking about that day a lot lately. Because eleven years had passed since then, and I was still andi— still sexless and completely androgynous. Certifiably adult and yet still unbloomed, a combination that shouldn’t be, and yet there I was. Living life forced to sit at the metaphorical kiddie table.
And living like that would be perfectly fine —it’s not like I’m sick or anything— if not for the fact that andies are the equivalent of children in the eyes of the average person. And that’s something I can’t really fault people for either, because generally speaking those things do go hand in hand. Being andi is synonymous with childhood, and by extension innocence and purity. You’re born that way and then you bloom into your adulthood between the ages of twelve and sixteen. Until then, your body is sexless. You don’t feel sexual impulses or desire, and obviously you can’t reproduce. Alex was an example of an extreme early bloomer. And I’m the opposite. I’m a late bloomer.