A Changing Time
My childhood was the same as every other boy, since only the girls get raised by women. I excelled well in school and was physically top of my age group. Because of all this I was encouraged from an early age to seek a black uniform career, and was considering it.
Then on my thirteenth birthday my Dad woke me up, and handed me a small black book as he told me, “This is a gift from your Mom. She said to give it to you at this time, in case you need it soon.”
Honestly I didn’t pay much attention to it. My Mom was a distant thought. The woman who gave me life, knowing it would cost her own. I could never meet her, or get to know her family. I was nothing even to her planet, so why would some little book matter? I put it in the top drawer of my bedside table, and prepared for my special birthday, the one that would launch me into man training. My childhood was officially over.
I excitedly dressed in the forest green jean uniform that was laid out waiting for me. It included full length jeans with zipper off option right around the knees, in case you want to turn them into shorts, a jacket with double zip off option, so you can have sleeves that come just above your elbow, or a vest, as well as a cotton t-shirt and a hat.
Next to the clothes was two sets of four pockets, one for each arm, and each leg. One set is black pockets, and the other are camouflaged pockets. Each set is to indicate your choice of what path you want to take as a man. If you wear all four black pockets than you want to be a leader, and are aiming for high ranking careers. If you wear the camouflage set you want to work in the field, assisting others, seeking no high level leadership. The only way to assume command is if you are an alpha type and an alpha situation arises.
I stared at them for a minute, not because I was debating which ones to put on, but because I was wondering which would be my final four.
My birth group contains six other guys, and we are all very close friends. Three of them had already started their training, and the other three were waiting for their start date. We had all agreed to start our training evenly, and not choose either side until the last of us had been in training for at least two months, that way we maximize our time together instead of getting split up, as all birth groups do.
We had even agreed to using the criss cross pattern, with left leg and right arm black, right leg and left arm camouflage. As I continued wondering what I would choose by the time I was fourteen, the choosing age limit, I also began imagining what path each of my friends would pick.
Once my pockets were on I walked out into the living room to see my friends standing with my Dad. They immediately congratulated me on my big day. Moxta, whose name means resilient one, Vovner, whose name means strength within, and Tarden, whose name means wise beyond his years, were all wearing identical outfits as me.
Moxta, the oldest of our group, stated, “Now there are finally more of us in training than there are waiting to start. Welcome to the training side my Nextar brother.”
I replied, “As excited as I am to be here, it won’t feel right until our group is complete.”
Then I looked over at Nebluk, whose name means dependable friend, Zatlex, whose name means unforeseen, and Deyvan, whose name means crafty one. They were still in the blue jean uniform of male childhood, that I had been wearing just the day before. I smiled as I told them, “To the day we are all in training!”
Deyvan, the youngest, replied, “It can’t come fast enough.”
Zatlex agreed, “The more green I see in our group, the more uncomfortable the blue gets.”
Tarden reminds everyone, “Ralue has orientation and the rest of us have class of one sort or another to get to. We will all meet back up tonight to go to the central party and make your indecision formal.”
My Dad gave me a gentle hug and whispered, “I am proud of the man you are becoming.”
I smiled and replied, “Couldn’t be me without you for a Dad.”
Then my friends and I walked out together, only to have to go our separate ways. Orientation was basically just a repeat of information about how my first year was expected to go. More than anything I wanted to go to sleep an order to escape the boredom, but I knew better than that, so I went through the mind numbing orientation wide awake, though hardly attentive.
Finally the torture ended and I went to the central party, which took place in the central zone every day after main shift ended, Secondary shift held their own party each day while everyone else worked or attended school. I found my friends quickly, and shortly after the Nextar birth announcements for 3044 started being announced.
The announcer called out, “A boy was born last night, on the 21st day of Nextar 3044, and a girl was born just a few hours ago which would be on the 22nd day of Nextar 3044.”
The crowd cheered, knowing that their names would be available within the next couple of days, for anyone who wanted to look them up.
After a few moments the announcer continued, “Now let’s welcome Evtan, born the 22nd day of Nextar 3024.”
A man dressed in a full black uniform walked onto the stage.
The announcer patted his back and stated, “As we can see Evtan will be holding a place of leadership, and I’m certain he will do us proud.”
Again the crowd cheered. For a moment I wondered exactly what job he would be doing, but I decided it really didn’t matter. Besides I could always look it up if I so desired, after all I had heard of others who had chosen their profession based on what a date sharer had chosen for themselves. It wasn’t the worse way to pick your lifelong career. I didn’t have time to ponder the option for long, the only other birth sharer older than me was a girl who turned fifteen that day, and she would have nothing to announce, which made me the next birth date announcement.
As the announcer called out, “Now let’s welcome Ralue, born on the 22nd day of Nextar 3031.” I gritted my teeth and walked up on stage, wishing my friends could be by my side. The announcer patted my back and stated, “Today Ralue officially entered training, and as we can all see he is leaving his options open for his future.”
The crowd cheered, and I was free to leave the stage. I stood there for a moment trying to see my friends and possibly my Dad in the crowd. The announcer took his hand off my back and whispered, “That’s your cue to leave.”
I turned and left the stage embarrassed with myself.
Once I was in the crowd Moxta approached me and asked, “Is everything alright? I’ve never seen you like that before.”
I smiled weakly at him and replied, “I never had to do one of these announcements before.”
Moxta looked at me doubtfully, but didn’t push the issue. Not that it mattered, I had noticed the uncharacteristic nervousness in myself, and I couldn’t help but wonder why.
I didn’t find out any answers for another three months. It was just life as usual, except a buried nagging thought that occasionally popped up, until I woke up one morning in the month of Uxka, and I was feeling oddly sick. I took a long hot bath, to see if that would help. Afterwards, as I was getting dressed, my Dad walked in on me. Not only was I surprised, because he should have been at work, but for some reason I was ashamed of my body, and covered up quickly.
In that moment both my Dad and I saw me as a girl. My Dad rushed out to our living room and put the security lock on the door, a privilege his job gave him that I had never seen him use before.
I walked out, fully clothed, and asked quietly, “What’s going on?”
Dad replied, “I take it you haven’t read the book from your Mom.”
The hushed, yet urgent tone in his voice sent chills up my spine. I said in a harsh whisper, “I haven’t had time or reason to.”
Dad walked over to me, grabbed me in a tight hug and informed me, “I cam home because I was alerted you were not at your classes.”
I replied, “I wasn’t feeling well, but wanted to see if I could get better before registering as sick.”
Still holding me he stated, “I’m putting you on the sick list, and telling work I need to be here to watch after you. You need to go to your room and read that book, but not out loud. I’ll bring you food and a wellness drink in a little while.”
I went to my room, feeling more upset than if I was being punished. I’ve always hated the diet assigned to sick people, and who likes being stuck in their room? This would be bad enough if I had done something wrong, or was still feeling sick, but since I was now feeling better, and I hadn’t done anything that deserved being sent to my room, I really hated what was happening.
I actually debated being stubborn, and refusing to read the book until my Dad gave me a decent meal and released me, however I’d been through battles of wills with him before. They were long and never ended well. Besides he seemed really concerned about me, and very certain that the book would somehow help.
So, I sat on my bed, pulled out my top drawer, and pulled out the little black book. I opened the cover and read a language I had never seen or heard before. As I looked at them warily I realized that I not only could understand the words, but that I also “heard” them in my head. The book was written by my Mom, and directed at me. As my eyes flowed over the scribbles I heard a woman’s voice, and concluded it must be hers.
Mom said, “My darling child; there is much about the way that gender is assigned on our planet that outsiders don’t understand. Even our people don’t comprehend everything, but I feel it is only fair to warn you about some of the difficulties that can occur.”
I took a deep breath and looked away from the page. The voice paused as I wondered to myself what difficulties she could possibly mean.
When I looked back down Mom’s voice continued, “Your Dad and I have talked this over at great length, and have come to the conclusion that regardless of your gender you will have a better life on his planet. However since men only raise their sons, it would be best for you to be a boy. As the Beta of my clan I will be giving birth to you in a special place that helps harness thought energy an order to persuade the gender of a child. Even if I was planning on requesting to have a girl, this place would not guarantee my request is granted. Since I plan on requesting a son, the chances of success will be even less, as a son is never requested.”
Again I took a break from the words I heard, but didn’t want to understand. Dad knocked gently on my door and startled me. As he placed my tray on top of my bedside mini dresser he asked, “How’s it going?”
I replied, “I’ve just gotten started, but I’m already feeling overwhelmed.”
Dad smiled gently as he said, “Take your time. I’m here for you when you need me, but for now I’ll leave you with your Mom.”
His words rang in my mind as I turned the page. Mom explained, “Your dad and I won’t be the only ones there, if we were our plan would have a greater chance of succeeding. But since we won’t be, the others will be concentrating their thought energy on you being a girl, while your Dad and I will be focusing on you being a boy. This situation has a high probability of producing a mixed child.”
I put the book down, grabbed my glass, and took a sip. After a moment I realized that I wasn’t drinking the medicinal wellness drink assigned to sick people, I was in fact enjoying a fruit punch, which is my favorite beverage. Since Dad had to list me as sick before he placed the order, that meant that Dad had to be suffering through my wellness drink, while ordering for himself my favorite drink, which thankfully he ordered sometimes anyways, so it wouldn’t cause any probing questions from the food and drink women. I smiled knowing that it was the one thing he could do to ease my suffering, and no small favor.
Then I took a deep breath and focused on the scribbles, both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Mom’s voice informed me, “A mixed child has the body of one gender, but the mind and soul of the other. In your case you would be born with the body of a girl, but the mind and soul of a boy. Until you reach puberty you won’t know if you are one of these mixed children. Because once I speak out loud that I want a son everyone will see you as a boy, whether you are one or not. No one has been able to figure out why this happens, but it has been documented that in every case of a mixed child the gender request was spoken out loud. From this point on there is a cycle between others’ belief of you being a boy causes you to see yourself as one, and you seeing yourself as a boy causes others to see you as such.”
I took a big drink of my punch and rubbed my head, as I wondered what kind of strange world I had been born on. Then I continued reading.
“When you reach puberty your body will start changing, and if you don’t keep your mind and soul channeled on being a man, then others will start seeing your body gender. If however you have the strength and stubbornness of your Dad, you will be able to keep everyone seeing your inner gender. This will require one great sacrifice that is incredibly hard to bear. You cannot seek, or even entertain the idea of, a mating relationship. Just thinking about being intimate with anyone can cause your mind to accept your body’s gender, and your soul will follow, causing everyone else to see your body’s gender as well, and then there is no going back.”
I dropped the book on my bed and went to find my Dad. He was in the living room, pacing the floor, as if it would somehow change or help our situation. I was only standing there for a few moments before he spotted me, and stopped in his tracks. He stood there staring at me, not certain of what to say.
I took a deep breath and asked him, “Did you know I was a mixed child?”
He answered, “I always knew it was a possibility, but when you turned thirteen and continued being yourself I started to breathe a little easier. Until I walked in on you today, and saw your body, I was starting to think we had pulled it off and had a son.”
I lowered my eyes to the ground as I inquired, “Are you disappointed?”
Dad quickly crossed the room and lifted my chin until I looked up into his eyes. Then he told me, “Never. You amaze me every day, and I care for you with all of my heart. I’m pacing because I’m worried for you. If you decide you want to become a girl I will back your decision.”
I shook my head and stated, “I have no interest in being stuck in purple or pink, never mind that the career opportunities are not great. Nor do I want to be taken from my home and forced to live with some woman, who will be robbed of having a kid of her own while I’m living with her, probably causing her to resent me. Are you just as happy to help me stay your son?”
My dad smiled big as he nodded his head and grabbed me up into his arms as tightly as before. Then he said, “First you should finish your Mom’s letter to you. Then we can focus on how to keep your inner gender visible.”
I nodded my head the best I could and told him, “I also wanted to thank you for bringing me my medicinal drink.”
He chuckled a bit as he released me, and then he said, “Don’t get too used to it. You’re getting old enough now to order your own food and drink, even when you are sick.”
I laughed and smiled as I walked back to my room. Then I sat on my bed wondering what else my Mom would say, or had said, whichever way that works in this weird situation.
I got comfortable, picked up the book, and turned the page. Mom’s voice said, “Maintaining your inner gender is not an exact science. But according to those who have experienced being a mixed child you will succeed best if you concentrate on your duties. Friendships are alright, but can be dangerous, because of the high probability of developing attractions. For the same reason developing a nemesis is just as dangerous, because anger can hide other base instincts. Another problem you’ll need to overcome is any awkwardness you might feel when naked. Apparently you need to be extremely calm and confident, not only in your biological body, but also with your mind’s body. However you must always look at your mind’s body! If you are looking at your hand while performing a task, or your face in the mirror, or the rest of your body while dressing or bathing, you must always view your inner body. You cannot let yourself slip for a moment, because pictures or videos can catch your body gender if you relax your inner body too much. Because of how much energy and concentration it takes to maintain your inner gender it is best to keep your stress levels as low as possible. High stress situations, like those put on leaders, can cause you to lose your concentration, and leave you vulnerable for accidental glances of your physical body.”
I set the book down and took a few deep breaths as I realized how this would effect my life. I no longer had endless opportunities. Whether I liked it or not by the end of my first training year I would be wearing four camouflage pockets, which meant a lifetime of the camouflage uniform once I became a man.
I picked the letter book back up and turned the little page to hear, “Once someone has seen your body gender, even for a moment, they are more likely to see it again, unless they are prepared to remove the image from their mind, which they won’t be. Eventually this can cause them to see your body gender constantly. Their sight of you can cause others to see your body gender, even if they don’t tell anyone. The expert I talked to says that this is due to the way the inner gender works. It is vulnerable to brain waves, even from other people. Although your mixed species blood puts another factor into it all. There is no way to know if your Dad’s blood will help defend you, or make you more vulnerable.”
I took a deep breath as I prepared to look at the next page, and was surprised when my Mom said, “Although I would like to believe that you will spend your entire life far away from here, regardless of your gender, I also know there is a large probability that you will end up on my planet at some point in your life. There are a few things you should be aware of, in case my fears come true. The Alpha of my clan is my older sister Lesty, though many think I should take it from her, she is the Alpha. She does not approve of me mating with your Dad, and there for your existence, and she has been protesting his rights. I have no doubt that she will follow the old laws and have me killed for requesting a son in our special birthing center, but if I let you be born a girl your Dad’s rights will be lessened, since he won’t be able to raise you on his planet, and you will have a much worse life. I also don’t doubt that her hatred for your existence will not lesson, no matter how many years have passed. She may even pass the hatred onto any daughters she might have. For this reason, if you return, you must do your best not to have contact with my clan.”
Maybe I should have been bothered by this information, but after thirteen years of an entire planet caring so little about my existence, this news just made sense. However I had no idea what a sister was. I debated asking, but decided it must be a title in the clan.
I turned the page to see my Mom’s final message to me. She said, “There are so many things I would like to tell you, but mostly I want more than anything to hold you and let you know that you are cared for and wanted. I trust that your Dad is doing the best he can at this task. So, rather than continue writing and risk becoming emotional, I will wrap up my letter. Remember that there may come a point when you want to accept your body’s gender. Just be certain of it, because no matter how much you want to go back, there is no back. Never feel guilty for living, because the choice to make, and bring you into the universe, was mine. I happily end my life, so that yours can begin. Eternally, your Mom.”
I suppose there was a small part of me that wanted to cry, but mostly I felt relieved. Knowing how she felt about everything made me grateful, not only for my life, but also for her sacrifice.
I spent the rest of the day talking with my Dad. We were able to joke, and hang out, like before I had to start attending school. By the end of the night we had a plan of how to handle our situation. That was a great night, and the next day I was back off the sick list, and attending my classes.