Sid stood there in the dirty bathroom of the train station staring at herself in the grimy mirror. How many women had passed through thinking she was a crazy person. Sid with her stringy disheveled hair and her small frame, it was a wonder she had ever been in a fight in the first place. Sid with her bruises across her body and her god-awful black eye.
She sighed and pulled the scissors out of her backpack with her shaking hands. Was she really about to go through with this?
Just as she was about to make the first snip, a strange woman with pink hair entered the bathroom. She was the first person Sid had noticed come into the ladies room.
The pink-haired stranger smiled politely at Sid. "Hey there stranger. What are the scissors for?" she asked, eyeing Sid’s shaking hands in curiosity.
"I'm going to cut all my hair off," Sid answered, her voice hoarse and monotone.
The strange woman frowned. "Why would you cut off a mane like that? I would kill to have your locks."
Sid started combing her knots out with her fingers so that it would be easier to cut through her thick hair. She muttered distractedly but honesty, after all what did she have to lose? The woman was a complete stranger. "Well you see I have to go to this boy's academy. I think they'll know something's up when they see my long hair."
Strange lady frowned again. "But you're a girl."
Sid laughed bitterly. "So I've heard."
The woman stepped closer. "Do you mind explaining?"
Sid looked at the woman carefully. Why did she even care? Nobody else seemed to. "What's it to you?" Sid asked in irritation.
The woman took a handful of Sid's hair and started to play with it. "I'll tell you what, if you tell me why a pretty little girl like yourself is going to a boy's academy, then I'll do you a very big favor."
Sid eyed her through the mirror and asked, "What's that?"
"Well number one, if the school I think you're talking about is the school that I work for then I'll keep my mouth shut."
Sid gulped. Oh shit, just my luck. "You work for Lewis?"
The lady smirked. "The sister school, Llewellyn. Number two, I'll fix your hair up so nice your own mother won't be able to tell who you are."
Sid felt a wave of relief. Suddenly this woman was a godsend. "You'll cut my hair for me?"
"Yup, now spill." The stranger placed Sid's head under the sink and waited for her to begin.
A week earlier…
"Okay class we're going to have a little discussion," Mr. Gearson announced to his English class. It was one of his rowdiest periods of the day, which also made it his favorite.
Steve, a big quarterback type who never seemed to have an original thought in his head, rolled his eyes and interrupted the teacher rudely, "Can we just skip the discussion and move onto the reading part."
Sid gave out a short bitter laugh and muttered, "Why, so you can put your head down and sleep for the rest of class, finally fulfilling your duty in life to be a brainless moron?"
Steve knocked on his head with his fist like a door. "Oh yeah Sid, cause that's my only goal in life. And what's yours again? To get kicked out of so many schools that they finally say 'enough we're not taking your leftovers.'"
Sid scoffed, "Too bad I'm not one of your little side pieces."
Steve breathed out hard, his temper flaring. "Don't talk about my girl friend like that."
Sid held in her laughter to keep things on a serious note. "No one even brought her up."
Mr. Gearson sighed and went on, "Anyway, like I was saying. We're having a discussion about As You like It. Who's the author again Steve?" He smiled mockingly at the buff quarterback.
"Thank you. And what is it about Sydney?" He looked over at the street punk of a teenage girl.
Sid groaned and sat up in her chair and said in a bored tone, "Rosalind goes into a forest dressed up like man and falls for Orlando. Can I take a piss now?"
"After we're done. Now does anyone remember the importance of Rosalind's actions?"
One of the good students answered, "It's only in her disguise that she can go through with her feelings for Orlando."
"That's right. Now where do wee see this in normal life?"
This finally caught Steve's interest and he took the opportunity to be a smart ass. "Wait, do you mean like how Sid shops in the boys department so she thinks she's a badass?"
Mr. Gearson gave him a pointed look and said, "Language! And… it's sort of like that. Although I think Sid would act like that either way…. Actually you know what, that's a perfect example. Sid, come up here."
Sid stumbled out of her chair and dragged her feet over to the teacher's desk. "Do you see how Sid's dressed? If she were to put on a short skirt and a tight top, this façade would disappear, but because she dresses like your average tomboy she's invincible."
Steve snorted, "I wouldn't go that far."
Sid snapped, "Shut up, I'm invincible."
The teacher ignored the pair and went on, "Do you guys understand what I'm saying here? Steve is like three times her size, but she still has the balls to say whatever she wants to him. Now if she were to wear a dress, in comes the vulnerability, but in her disguise of sorts she feels invulnerable and in turn Steve also believes that she's invulnerable and that sparks fear in him. The disguise is key."
Steve didn't like this. He snarled, "Are you trying to say that I'm afraid of Sid?"
Sid cocked her head to the side and said, "I don't see you making your move."
Steve smirked up at her and snapped back, "Oh I'm supposed to make the first move?"
Sid looked at him like the answer was written on her face. "That's exactly what I'm trying to say. If I make the first move, I’ll get kicked out again."
Steve’s smirk turned into a vindictive smile making the atmosphere of the room turn from light-hearted banter to complete mischief. "Alright then," Steve said standing up.
Penny, the stranger, stopped mid-snip. "That jerk beat you up? But you're a girl!"
Sid nodded. Finally someone who understood just how intolerable her life could be. "I know right! I mean I usually fight boys, but still. He was tree times my size!"
Penny went back to cutting. "So where does the whole boarding school dilemma kick in."
Sid groaned, remembering the bitchy doctor she had to deal with. "When I woke up in the hospital," Sid answered.
Beep… beep…beep… beep…
Sid woke up in a daze as she removed a strangely familiar tube from her nose. Oh great, not again. She croaked, "Why does my brain hurt so much?"
A female doctor looked down at her with an irritated look on her face. She droned, "You're in the hospital, Sydney."
She tried to sit up, but felt an extremely sharp pain in her torso. She struggled back down. "Just Sid, please. How did I get here?"
The doctor wrote something down and went on in her bitchy tone, "Concussion. You hit your head on that desk pretty hard."
Sid smiled without even thinking. "Oh yeah… I hate when that happens."
The doctor looked up sharply and asked, "That's happened before?"
"More times than you can imagine."
Doctor Betty snorted, "Aren't you cool."
Sid frowned. Where were the nice nurses that always felt sympathy for Sid whenever she did something stupid?
Sid looked around the room and asked, "Where's my mom? She's usually here when I come to."
Doctor Betty smiled, but she was obviously being sarcastic. "Oh you just keep getting cooler and cooler by the minute, don't you?"
Sid looked at her nervously and asked, "Excuse me?"
Doctor Betty cocked her head to the side like she was talking to a five year old. "Do understand that your actions have consequences."
Sid just rubbed her forehead and muttered, "Okay drill sergeant Betty, can I see my mom now?"
"She's making a phone call to see if she can get you into a new school."
Sid was aghast. She couldn't have gotten kicked out again. "I got expelled again? I didn't even start it this time!"
"You instigated. And you didn't get kicked out. Your mom's pulling you out of public school."
"What do you mean? My only other options are private school or home school."
Doctor Betty laughed as she looked down at her clipboard as if anything about Sid's situation was funny and said, "Try the first one."
"I can't go to private school. They're all snobs and they make you wear uniforms."
Just after she said this her mom glided in with a grace only she could muster. This was a walk in the park for Mrs. Sullivan. "Sydney! Good you're awake. I just called the headmistress at Llewellyn. She'd love to take you in."
Sid was taken aback by how blunt she was being. "Wait I thought you were putting me in private school."
"Yeah…" she said slowly.
Sid shifted her jaw, her temper already through the roof and shot back. "Llewellyn's an all girls boarding school, mother!"
"It's where I went as a girl and look how I turned out."
"Mom that was the fifties-"
Mrs. Sullivan interrupted, "Eighties."
"It's the twenty-first century mom. They'll eat me alive."
"You're going, end of discussion. Now are her ribs going to heal quickly?" She smiled up at the doctor.
The doctor smiled at Sid smugly. "I'm sure they will. Only two are cracked."
Sid looked down, confused. She lifted up her gown to see her rib cage bandaged up. Not to mention the fact that the whole left side of her torso was black and blue already. "What the hell did this kid do to me?"
Doctor Betty nodded with that stupid fake smile of hers. "Oh your pretty banged up. He got some good throws before the teacher could even break you guys up."
Sid laid back and groaned, "I just want to die."
Doctor Betty patted her head and said, "That's the spirit."
Back in the train station bathroom, Penny shook her head. "What a bitch."
"I should have kicked her ass."
Penny thought for a moment and then asked, "So what did your dad say about the whole thing?"
"My parents are divorced so I hardly ever see him."
"But doesn't that make the whole scheming thing so much easier. Your one parent says no so you go to the other parent and they have to say yes just for the heck of making the other parent mad."
Sid wished. "That type of stuff doesn't fly at my house. My dad's a workaholic."
Penny nodded and went on snipping away at her hair. "I understand. So when did you get the idea to switch schools?"
"It wasn't after I did a little research and found out that Lewis was the school of my dreams. There was just that tiny little problem though."
1 week earlier…
Sid sat on her bed with her brother while their mom packed up her suitcase for Llewellyn.
Sid looked up at her diligent mother and asked, "Don't you think I should give my body some more healing time?"
"It's been a week. I don't want you to miss too much work. They're already far into the second semester and boarding school is hard work."
Sid shoved her face into a pillow and screamed, "I can't believe you haven't even told dad about your ruthless plan to make me into your little princess!"
Of course her mom was just as stubborn as Sid. "This has nothing to do with him. If he doesn't want to call then that's his problem. I'm not going to be the first one to call."
"You know he's sitting at his place thinking the same thing, right?"
Mrs. Sullivan shook her head and insisted, "There is nothing wrong with going to boarding school."
Sid looked at her brother and took his hand in hers. They locked eyes and spoke with out moving their lips. "Can you give Bobby and me some time to say our last goodbyes?" she asked.
Mrs. Sullivan nodded in understanding and said, "Of course." She zipped up Sid’s bag and left the room.
Bobby smiled sadly at his little sister. "What's up kiddo?"
She smiled, giddy with excitement over her new plan. "Have you ever read As You Like It?"
Bobby frowned in confusion. "Yes, but what does this have to do with you leaving?"
She didn't answer his question, but instead went on, "Only in a disguise can anyone truly be themselves."
"I don't think that's quite what Shakespeare meant."
She let go of his hand. "How can you say that when I'm living proof of every Shakespearean comedy?"
Bobby snorted just like Steve did. "I wouldn't go that far."
"Okay Steve, can you just listen to me. I have a plan."
Bobby rolled his eyes, preparing himself for one of his sister’s crazy ideas and said, "Oh joy."
Sid shoved him lightly. "You could be a little more enthused. This is a totally legit plan. You see Llewellyn has a brother school called Lewis academy for boys."
He shrugged his shoulders. "So what?"
"So with your technologically advanced brain and my boyish good looks, we can get me into Lewis so I don't have to go to Llewellyn."
"But I don't understand. Lewis Academy is for boys and you're a girl."
Sid stood up and looked at herself in the mirror. She put her hair up so it looked like she had short hair. "And your point?"
"My point is, even we can't pull this one off. It's too risky."
"All you have to do is hack into the school's database. The two schools share their enrollment data. Since I have a unisex name, this will be a slice of pie."
Bobby rolled his eyes. This was by far her most ridiculous plan ever. "There's that other issue to discuss."
Sid raised an eyebrow in the mirror and asked, "My tits?"
Sid held up a long bandage and smiled. "Trust me bro, this is going to work."
Sid looked up at Penny as she trimmed her bangs and finished the story, "So I threw a bunch of Bobby's clothes in my empty bags and kept that one bag of my clothes in case of emergencies."
Penny mussed her hair up a bit and muttered distractedly, "Good thinking. You can turn around now."
Sid turned around slowly. She was very much nervous to see her hair demolished. Even looking at her hair on the concrete floor made her want to cry. She jumped when she finally saw herself. "Whoa there cowboy! Is that hottie in the mirror really me?"
Penny smiled and nodded. "Yup."
"I'm hotter as a dude than I am a girl."
Penny took out some clothes from Sid's bag to see which one would make her look bigger. "The only thing is that you're a little scrawny. It's a good thing you have height on your side." She gave Sid a pair of khakis to put on.
"I'm only 5'5."
Penny said in a reassuring tone, "There are plenty of freshmen boys who are shorter than you."
Sid frowned, "But I'm a junior."
"Oh…" Penny’s voice trailed off as she stared at Sid pensively.
"Oh? What do you mean oh?" Sid asked in a panic of emotions.
Penny waved her hand in the air dismissively and reassured her, "Nothing. It's fine. You can just tell them you skipped a couple grades."
Sid groaned in frustration. "Oh god, this isn't going to work."
"Yes it will. Don't worry. I would totally do you if you were a real guy and legal."
This boosted her self-esteem a little. "You would?"
Penny placed a hand on her shoulder. "Trust me, those Llewellyn girls are going to be all over you."
Sid finally smiled. "Thanks Penny. Now can you help me brace these suckers down?"
Sid placed one end of the bandage over her chest and handed Penny the other end while she spun around to the point where she couldn't breathe. Good sign that it was working.
Sid allowed herself one more glance in the mirror before they left. She looked good. This would work.