“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. ‘Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.”
― Roman Payne
I was tired. Tired of the painful longing that had been scorching the very fabric of my soul for the last four and a half years. I desperately desired nothing more than to find my own identity. The truth to who and what I was. My searches always lead me to the depths of darkness before blocking my way with an irremovable wall. To become the person I wanted to be had become impossible, due to two large and heavy chains that I called “Mom” and “Dad.”
I was a girl of fifteen years, though not many people actually knew that I was a member of the female gender. I credited most of that to my parents who had so desperately wanted a son, they had raised me as though I were of the male species. Not only had they given me a boys name, but they also enrolled me in school as a boy so I was forced to change in the boys’ locker room for gym, though I always changed in a stall. My parents were also the reason I had no friends. I was forbidden to befriend a female. Members of the female gender were deemed too “dangerous” to my “way of life”. The members of the male gender thought I was too different and kept their distance. So I was left to wander the halls of my high school alone.
It was the first official day of the summer vacation that would forever change my life. I woke up to the sound of loud noises in my parents’ bedroom room. I threw off my covers in agitation and walked down the hall, rubbing the icky green sleep off of my eyelashes. I was surprised to see open suitcases on their bed and both my parents rushing around like crazy people. I admit I was slightly amused as I stood in their doorway and watched.
“Where is my bathing suit?”
“You already packed it.”
“Check, if you don’t believe me.”
“Umm, guys?” My parents stopped and looked at me. “Where are you guys going?”
“We didn’t tell you?” said my mom.
“We’re going to travel Europe,” said my dad.
“And you’re leaving me here? By myself? How am I supposed to eat?”
“We have a card for you to buy food and we got you a bus pass.” Mom didn’t seem to care that she was leaving a teenager home alone. I came to the sensible conclusion that she had lost what little was left of her mind.
“And what if I decided I wanted to throw a huge party for all my friends and we destroy the house?” I inquired skeptically.
“There’s no worry of that, son,” said my father, rubbing my head. “You don’t have any friends to invite over.”
I folded my arms, trying to pretend to be angry. My father’s words stung deep, but I wasn’t allowed to be emotional. It wasn’t manly. What a stupid rule.
“How long are you going to be gone?”
“Just two months,” said Mom as she closed her suitcase and zipped it. From outside, the sound of a honking horn pushed my parents into overdrive. “The taxi is here!”
“Now, the card and the bus pass are in the kitchen on the counter by the fridge. We’ll be back in two months, son.”
I stepped aside and watched with mixed emotions as my parents left the house and jumped into the yellow taxi that was waiting outside. I stood in their room for several minutes in shock before I realized that my parents were not playing a practical joke. This was my new reality. They really were gone. This was fantastic! I couldn’t believe this was really happening!
Hope began to fill my body like rising water. I had two months to rebel. For the first time in my life, I was alone and free to do as I wished. I ran to my bedroom and got dressed as fast as I could in the tightest clothes I had and deliberately left my small chest unbound so my shape was somewhat visible through my baggy shirt. I ate pudding and pop tarts for breakfast before grabbing the bus pass and heading to the public library halfway across town. I had made up my mind to learn how to be feminine and become the kind of girl I had always wanted to be and I only had two months to do it.
I found the fashion section and picked out some books I thought would be helpful. I found a table by the window and began to devour the pages. I was so hungry for information, I did not notice that I was being watched. An hour passed and I had been through several books that had been helpful when it came to finding the right clothes for my body type, and how to kiss a boy, but there was nothing that could help me change myself. I sighed and got up to put the books away when I was stopped.
“Excuse me,” said a very pretty brunette girl dressed in all pink. Her hair and her makeup were perfect. In fact, I saw absolutely no flaw at all. Not even a sign of a pimple.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “I was wondering if I might be able to persuade you to join me for a bite to eat.”
“I’m not allowed to date,” said I, though I couldn’t help but feel flattered. I had never been asked out by a member of the female gender. Actually, I had never been asked out by a guy either, so this was definitely new. The girl smiled and chuckled with a soft shake of her head.
“I’m not asking you on a date,” she said. “I noticed the books you were studying and I would like to help you.”
“Help me?” I raised an eyebrow. I wasn’t sure what to say or how to act. This girl had some nerve, watching me, judging me. Then again, she wasn’t acting like she was better than me. Maybe she was genuine.
“Join me for lunch and I’ll explain what I mean.”
I hesitated a moment before nodding and following the girl to the parking lot. She unlocked a gray BMW and waited for me to open my door before she climbed it. I watched how graceful she was in her movements and tried to copy, but nearly fell. I felt like a clumsy idiot. I got in and shut the door feeling suddenly doomed.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know your name or how old you are,” I said.
“My name is Mary Ann,” said the girl. “I’m seventeen.”
“I’m Cory. I’m fifteen.”
“Well, Cory, where do you like to eat? It’s my treat.”
I was suddenly under the impression that Mary Ann was trying to sell me something. Oh, God. Was she a drug dealer? What had I gotten myself into! I had to stop myself from visibly freaking out. When I looked over at her, though, I couldn’t help but relax for some weird, unknown reason. I couldn’t help but trust this beautiful stranger.
“McDonald’s?” I suggested timidly. I didn’t want to overreach.
“I’m insulted,” said Mary Ann, though it was clear she felt no insult at all. “How about the Olive Garden?”
Twenty-five minutes later, we were seated in the restaurant with salad and breadsticks in front of us. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until I saw the bread. Forgetting my manners completely, I started stuffing my face like a ravenous cow. I’ve added gross to the list of things I’ve made myself appear to be today.
“So tell me about yourself,” said Mary Ann, ignoring my stuffed chipmunk cheek. “Why were you studying those books so hard.”
“I want to be more feminine,” I said after swallowing. I instantly regretted it, though. I looked like a boy. I probably sounded like a creep. I admit I have issues.
“Tired of dressing like a boy?” asked Mary Ann. At my nod, she added, “That’s wonderful because it does nothing for your beautiful figure.”
I stared at Mary Ann in disbelief. My stomach flipped and I nearly forgot how to breathe. Mary Ann somehow knew I was a girl without being told, or seeing me naked. Unless she had been spying. As I thought about it, I began to grow uneasy. What if Mary Ann was a spy and she was sent to unravel all of my darkest secrets. Mary Ann’s explanation put me at great ease and I relaxed.
“When you stretched at the library, you bent back and your breasts were very visible.”
“So how are you going to help me?” I asked.
“I’m going to teach you how to be more like a girl,” said Mary Ann. “Only if you want to, obviously, but I should warn you it’s going to be a lot of work.”
“What will I have to do?”
“I can teach you how to walk, sit, and do other things like a girl. You’ll have to practice.”
“How much money do you want?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Oh, I don’t want anything.” There was no sign of deception in her voice. “I do want to help you. Now, so I know what I’m dealing with; how long have you been dressing like this?”
I hesitated, feeling slightly trapped but if I was going to be feminine, I needed to find my confidence and courage.
“My parents always wanted a son, so when I came along, they were disappointed in my gender. They raised me like a boy. They won’t let me buy my own clothes, my mother cuts my hair and I’m forbidden to hang out with girls in case I start acting like one. They even enrolled me in school as a boy.”
Mary Ann looked shocked and, to my surprise, upset.
“How could your parents do that to you? Being a woman is a beautiful thing. I admit that it can be difficult to be seen by some as a sexual object, but feminine beauty is something of a treasure.” She took a breath and relaxed. “So why are you now seeking to be more feminine?”
“I’ve always wanted to, but this morning my parents surprised me. They’ve gone to Europe for two months. I’ve got two months to completely transform myself.”
“That’s doable,” said Mary Ann confidently. “Before I started high school I lost twenty pounds and got my braces removed. I also had horrible acne in middle school and I had clear skin by the first day. I also had waist length hair that I got cut. When ninth grade started, no one recognized me. I felt so ugly in middle school I needed a big makeover.”
“Me. Middle school is the most awkward phase for every gender. Boys get drowned in rising levels of testosterone. Girls start their monthly cycle. Acne and hormones are part of the game as well as peer pressure and the desire to fit in.”
“I don’t fit in anywhere,” I admitted.
“Your friends would disagree.”
“I don’t have any friends,” I said.
“Well consider this your lucky day then,” said Mary Ann, with a kind smile. “I’ll be your friend. Tomorrow, I would like you to meet me at this address.” She pulled a pink glitter notepad and a turquoise pen with a fluffy ball at the end and wrote down what I assumed was her address. “I’m going to make you look like a girl. Starting with your eyebrows.”
I took the little sheet of paper and put it in my pocket with a smile. Both of us got to our feet and Mary Ann left a tip for the waiter. I walked her to her car and said goodbye before heading to the closest bus stop. I was in almost total disbelief. I could finally see a light at the end of the dark pool of nothingness. It felt silly to admit it to myself, but I saw Mary Ann as my angel in pink.