sometimes, things are written to be therapeutic. this is such a thing. and it's about the only thing i've ever written that played A LOT on personal experiances/surroundings. this place is based upon the town i grew up in, when i was of the age of the characters in this story. but as with everything, people are not as they were or are. literary license, as it is.

not beta'd, so forgive the odd error or awkward syntax you may find.

sunday, 3 june, 2007. 1:41pm.

Seventh grade was a breaking point in my life.

From first to sixth grade, I had attended a small backwater elementary school—one consistently looked down upon in comparison to the other two schools making up our district. Mine was the one set out in the crossroads from one small town to the next, out in the boondocks and surrounded by woods and a highway at its doorsteps. The other two were established in towns, surrounded by a backdrop of roads, stores, and gas stations. I liked mine best—we had the higher graduation rate for attendees than either of the others, and kids from my elementary school almost always managed higher percentages in honor roll totals. But then again, we were the smallest of the three.

My first day of junior high began as roiling turmoil in my gut, for even though mine was the last bus stop on the way to school, it was a thirty minute ride one way for me; one of the other elementary schools was located less than five miles from the junior and high school, and the second was fifteen minutes further than that.

Inside was a madhouse, despite the school being split down the middle in regards to the junior and senior high schools, attached only by a cafeteria and strictly segregated. I found a small clump of my friends as soon as I skittered through the milling crowds of students awaiting the first bell to announce our careers in the "higher-ups" of education.

I didn't care about the rest of them, not as soon as I spotted my best friend, Alexia; it was easy to spot her, because the mildly overweight girl was hard to miss. The summer between sixth and seventh grade, Alexia finally convinced her mom to allow her to streak her hair lime green amongst her natural blonde, something that awed me and made my mother aghast. I'm not even allowed to wear shirts with brand names on them because my mother is ultra-conservative, and believes that "today's society is corrupting the impressionable youth of America." If she weren't my mom, I'd throw rotten eggs at our mailbox and t.p. the front yard.

"Hey, Jay, wha-do-ya say?"

I rolled my eyes at her lame greeting, but dropped down across the table from her, swiveling a bit on the round seat attached to the table in question. "My mom wanted to drive me in today."

Her nose crinkled at the thought before it smoothed out in a placated show of sympathy; "You really ought to divorce that woman."

"And ruin our relationship? The sex is too great."

Our eyes caught and we burst into raucous laughter, startling another group of kids I recognized from the seventh grade orientation we'd had to attend at the end of last year. And no, I don't have sex with my mom, that's disgusting; as in, "someone barf me with a spoon" disgusting.

Alexia had a paper carton in front of her, in which rested four soggy-looking waffle sticks literally drenched in runny syrup; I watched, morbidly fascinated, as she picked up the dry end of one and allowed the syrup to drain away like water before she ate half of the stick in one bite, her reddish tongue flicking out to catch a bit of moisture from her lower lip in the process.

"That is so sick."

"Better'n the corn beef hash my mom tried to fob off on me this morning; she knows that stuff makes me want to barf, and yet she always thinks I'm going to eat it if she says so. 'Sides, I get free lunch for a reason."

My bag lunch was already in my locker with my book bag; my mom makes too much money for free or reduced lunch, but she says we can't afford to pay for my lunch and breakfast every day. I've been brown-bagging since the second-grade, so I'm used to it.

We compared schedules and were dismayed to find that we had nothing in common for the entire year, which means that we won't see each other except during breakfast and lunch and outside of school. That really sucks!

Her sympathy for me was overflowing; "Yeah, Jessie has English with me, and I know James and Eddie are in my math class."

I pouted, suddenly stricken with the uneasy thought of having strangers in all of my classes, that none of my friends will be with me this year.

--- --- ---

I had Civics for my first class, which meant that it was also my homeroom, of sorts. When the bell rang, I made my way into the classroom and chose a seat in the farthest back corner of the room—right next to the large windows looking out on the football field—and I nervously waited to see if anyone I knew would walk in and talk to me.

And as time went on, hope dwindled and finally died, as people I had never seen in my entire life were those to file into the classroom. And I sat there, feeling like a loser with my dark-green zippered binder, with the brightly colored Garfield and X-men folders inside; I felt eight years old and stupid.

But that was before someone came into the room that made me forget my own worry, because 'they' were something different. The clothing was plain and ordinary, but the hair…that was different. The sides of the head were shaved while keeping the top long and swept back into a gently curly ponytail, and the facial features were mildly long and almost effeminate, although 'they' looked like a boy. I couldn't tell just from looking, and that fascinated me.

The mystery of gender was solved when some of the other people in the room called out a name in greeting; "Brandon."

As far as I know, girls aren't named Brandon.

He sauntered over and lowered himself into a desk about halfway in the middle of the room, half-spilling from the seat as he easily talked to kids he obviously used to go to school with before. As the final bell rang, I came to terms with the fact that I was the only kid from my 'class' there, and having sat in the back had pegged me as ignorable.

What a way to start the new school year.

--- --- ---

I was wiped out by the time I trudged down the street and up my driveway, pulling the key from beneath my shirt—I keep it on a sturdy piece of black satin-cording—and letting myself inside. If anything positive could be said about my experience with junior high so far, it would be that it ended an hour earlier than the elementary had and thus meant that I had three hours before my mom was to come home.

I dropped my bag in the mudroom and removed my sweaty shoes, grabbing an icy Diet Coke from the fridge before entering the kitchen and detouring to the left, dropping onto the ugly brown couch in the living room and savoring the silence of the house as I popped the tab on my soda. I drank greedily, ignoring the sharp burn in my throat and nose that caused tears to sting my eyes from the carbonation, and I had to pause for a gulping breath or two before draining the rest of the can and dropping it onto the square table to my left. The side of my fist thumped against my chest as I waited, and finally, a huge and nasty burp sounded loud enough to make me giggle slightly before I remembered that twelve-year old boys don't giggle. They chortle, chuckle, snicker, or outright laugh, but never giggle.

"Guffaw, ha ha ha."

My tone was dry and loud in the quiet house, and I jumped when the phone abruptly started ringing. Getting up, I approached the phone and saw from the caller I.D. that it was my other best friend, Brad; he's in home school this year, and will be until he graduates high school. Which really sucks, because he's the best guy ever.

"Hey, Brad."

"Jay-Jay! How was school?"


"Yeah, me too. My mom is totally plugging the "Christian" value into the curriculum. I don't know why, it's not that she has to convert me or anything."

I wrinkled my nose, but nodded to myself; "Hey, we're still going to church this weekend, right?"

"Yeah, we'll swing by and pick you up, like always. You want to come over? You can take your bike through the back roads instead of taking the highway so your mom doesn't have a bird."

"Or your dad could just come pick me up…?" He paused, and I heard everything he couldn't say; his dad wasn't home again.

"Ok, I'll take the back roads. See you in forty."

"Yup. Leave a note for your mom that you're staying over for dinner, ok?"

"Yeah, I guess."

After hanging up, I went over to the phone in the kitchen, digging out the notepad and scrawling an almost-illegible note saying I was at Brad's and that if she wanted me home for dinner to call their house. Then I locked the front door and went through the garage, wheeling my green mountain-bike—fifteen speeds!—from the jumble that makes up the storage space so that we can't park our car inside anymore.

I locked the side door to the garage and slung my leg over the seat of my bike, leaning into the push-off I gave with my foot before I used the pedals to slowly start the bike in motion; I stood on the pedals until reaching the road, because the yard is full of ruts that will knock a guy's 'nads back into his body if he's not careful.

My house was on top of a hill—reached from three separate roads that were all steeper than the next—and I coasted down the straightest run until barreling past the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, laughing into the wind as I chanced getting creamed by the cars and trucks that like to use our town for a speedway even though we have three stop signs—I remember when there was just the sign at the bottom of the hill, not that I ever paid much attention to it. Nobody my age lived in town—they were all older or younger than me—and so I've been riding my bike to the next little town over since I was old enough to lie to my mom about where I was going.

She'd have a heart attack to know that I've ridden down the highway for as many times as she's told me I'm forbidden to do so. But like the saying goes; what she don't know don't hurt me. I took the back roads though, bouncing over abandoned tire tracks and following the path through the woods until I reached the faded bike trail through the woods, and finally hit the dirt and rocky road leading close to his house; another bike trail branched off, and I followed this until cutting through the uneven field just beyond the small copse of woods on his property.

He was waiting on his front porch when I finally showed up, and he dashed inside the moment he saw me, reemerging just as I coasted to a stop near the front steps; he held out an unwrapped grape double-popsicle, and my face lit up as I hopped from my bike and let it fall to the side, jumping up onto his porch and relieving him of the icy treat.

"Your mom rocks."

He nodded and slurped at what was left of his own orange snack; his lips were tinted the faintest color and proved that mine are going to be purple for hours.

We plopped down on the edge of the covered wood porch, our heels lightly bouncing as we leaned forward so as to drip juice down onto the grass and not on ourselves.

"School sucked?"

I nodded; "Big time. Nobody from school in any of my classes, except that Kyle's in gym with me."

He grimaced; Kyle is probably the biggest asshole to ever live. Ever since the first grade, he's lived to make mine and Brad's lives hell, although the hostility has faded a bit over the past few years; he's still a big dick in general.

"And Alexia had her hair threatened by the assistant principle, except that when she called Alex's mom, Gina chewed her out BIG time for hassling her daughter over something so stupid. It's not in the student handbook that hair can't be green, and it's not even all green."

He snickered—yeah, he snickers and I still giggle, go me—and said, "Alexia should shave her head and see what happens."

I laughed; "Yeah, that'd be so funny!"

But thinking of shaved heads reminded me of Brandon, and I thought a moment before asking, "You ever see someone you couldn't tell was boy or girl?"

Brad gave an owlish blink; "No?"

"There's this guy—at least, I think it's a guy—who has his head shaved short all along here and in the back, and then there's this long strip of hair that runs all the way back and into a ponytail. But I couldn't tell if he was a guy until someone called him Brandon, because…."

"Ew, he's girly-looking?"

"No-o, just…a little, I guess." I shrugged, and he scrunched his nose, tongue licking the excess juice from the wooden stick left behind.

But then he was asking, "Is he pretty?"

I squirmed, looking down at the grass and dirt as I licked at my popsicle, "No, not really. Well, sort of, but not like a girl. I mean, he's like…hn, I don't know!"

"Relax, Jay-Jay!" His grin was teasing, and I felt my face heat up, which surprised him into laughing. "Oh! Oh no! Jay-Jay got it bad!"

"I do not!" My face burned even more, and his laughter grew louder as he doubled over and held his stomach, shaking his shaggy-blonde head.

I asked Brad to be my boyfriend once in the fourth grade, shocking him beyond words as he'd froze next to me on the swing set; I had laughed and said it was just a joke after the awkward pause, but his blue eyes had seen the hurt in my mine at his reaction. And it's not that I had known what one would do with a boyfriend—holding hands was taboo enough back then—but I had known inside that I wanted a boyfriend…and not a girl.

"Jay-Jay, boys don't have boyfriends."

"I saw a show where a boy had one."

"…My dad calls them faggots, Jay-Jay, and you ain't a faggot!"


And a week had gone by before I asked him if he would still be my friend even if I was a faggot, and maybe it was because he'd had the time to think about it, but he said…it didn't matter. And so, at that point where some boys were starting to notice girls, I was at the stage where I realized I noticed boys instead. I was just lucky to have a bestest friend who didn't care.

Alexia doesn't really know right out, but I think she gets the idea, because she never really talks about girls but she'll talk about guys a lot with me, about which ones she thinks are cute. Sometimes, I agree with her, but not always. Most of the guys I know are jerks.

Once having recovered from laughing, Brad suddenly asked, "You wannna go play Sega?"

I shoved the last bit of my treat into my mouth as I nodded, and we pushed to our feet and went around the side of the house, entering their mudroom and pulling off our shoes before going inside.

"Hey Jason, how was your first day at school?"

Brad's mom is pretty nice, I guess, but she always makes me uncomfortable because I know she smokes and I'm always afraid my mom will smell smoke on me and freak out, like she did when Brad sneaked out two of his mom's cigarettes last year, and we smoked them until we threw up. My mom grounded me for a month because she smelled it on my clothes, hands, and hair.

"It was ok, Cindy." She laughed and ruffled my hair like she has since I was in the second grade and I had came over to Brad's for the first time.

"Jay's staying for dinner, Mom!"

Brad called this over his shoulder, and I thought to pause and add, "Unless my mom calls before then."

She nodded, knowing the routine, and we went back to his room, ignoring the pestering of his younger brother and sister as we locked them out.

We played Mortal Kombat on his Sega Genesis for a couple of hours, skillfully mashing buttons into combos to take each other down, until the fighting on the screen morphed into playful wrestling in real-life, when we tumbled around his room and knocked over his desk chair and froze, waiting for someone to call out and snickering when nobody did.

An hour later—as the smell of macaroni and cheese wafted from the kitchen and grumbled up our bellies—we were lying side by side on his twin-sized bed, our feet up on the wall as our heads fell over the edge of the mattress so that the room looked upside-down.

"You like being at home for school?"

He was quiet a moment, but then he shrugged, "It's ok, I didn't have to get up until eight and stuff. But I had to sit with Hanna and Nate and listen to Mom teach them stuff I already know. She gave me my assignments and them talked to them, and it's kinda weird to be in charge of doing my own thing. But yeah, her stuff is just full of the Jesus talk, and I kinda hate it, because I read the bible and go to church all the time already."

"And how you going to get a girlfriend at home, huh?" His cheeks blazed at my tease, and his elbow slammed into my ribs and made me squawk and retaliate.

Thus began another bout of rough-housing, until one of us fell off the bed and hurt ourselves, at which point we drifted from his room and checked the progress of dinner. Afterwards, I watched a bit of television before my mom called and said it was time for me to come home.

I waved good bye to my best friend and returned home the same way I rode in; Mom threw a hissy fit when she found out I'd taken my bike, but when I told her I took the back way, she calmed a bit. Enough to ask about my day and sign the papers I needed her to sign before I drifted off to bed and dreamed about thousands of kids I didn't know.

--- --- ---

Two months into the school year, we had to form groups in my civics class for an assignment, pairing up at random. I was left alone—because I still don't have anyone I can call a friend in the class—and thus I was paired up with Brandon and a girl called Micah. They didn't seem to care that I was there, almost ignoring me as they barreled through the sheets while I just dumbly copied their answers, too meek to speak up or contribute. But, sitting there, I realized that Brandon's voice was as androgynous as his appearance still was to me, a bit low and high and smooth all at once, and it made me bite my lip and keep my eyes on my paper, pretending to be deeply studious.

"Hey, kid, you gonna do any of the work or just look like a retard all hour?"

That same voice was barbed and low, all the world a contemptuous male voice that made my cheeks flush bright even as my eyes skittered up and were dismayed to see light-brown eyes staring at me.


"Pfft, Brandy, leave him alone. We're doing fine as it is."

Irritation flickered over Brandon's face; "Don't call me that. And why should he get a free ride when we're busting our asses, huh?"

He turned to me; "Go work by yourself."

Mortified, I sat there a moment before jerkily grabbing my stuff together; "Asshole."

I had surprised myself with the dark mutter, but I left the group and went to another one close by, asking, "Can I join you guys?"

The two girls blinked but gave shy nods, and I pulled a desk in close and set my things down, asking, "Where are you at?"

They showed me their progress, and we started working together; but I felt a stare boring into the back of my neck for a long time.

--- --- ---

For Alexia's birthday, she invited me and Brad to go ice-skating at a pond close to her cousin's house, and we agreed. I showed up with a large box wrapped in three week's worth of the funny comics, and her shoulders slumped in fake dismay when she saw the way I could pick it up with one hand.

"You are a fat bastard, Jay."

Brad cackled in the background as I gave her my most-innocent grin and mimed handing her a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass. She groaned and half-heartedly kicked at my leg, but she slit the top of the box and opened it, truly dismayed to see the finely shredded tissue paper that filled it entirely.

"Oh my god, you gave me shredded maxi pads."

I rolled my eyes and made the motions of pawing through the paper, and her glare was evil even as she spared a small smile of pleasure at all the fuss.

Thus, she patiently began to push it this way and that, and finally began to pull it out in handfuls, growing impatient the longer it took, until she popped upright and fumed; "Jay-Jay, there's nothing in there!"

Grinning like a mad hatter, I slyly pulled a bulky envelope from my jacket pocket, her eyes lighting up as she reached out and opened it, speechless when she saw what was inside. "No fucking way! Ah, Jay-Jay!!!"

She ran over and knocked me into the snow, squealing like a little kid.

I cracked up, saying, "Alexia, put it on, will ya?!"

As if she'd forgotten, she jumped off of me and pulled out the fine-chain and polished stone pendant I'd gotten her with Brad and my Mom's help; she went as to do the clasp behind her neck, and Brad stepped up to help her as she lifted up her blonde and fading-lime hair out of the way. Once it was secured, her fingers lightly touched the chain and pendant; her eyes were shining when she again looked at me, coming over to envelope me into a tight embrace as she mumbled a 'thank you' into my shoulder. My cheeks burned as I shot an awkward glance at Brad, who shrugged while giving a silly grin.

"Aw, how very sweet." The droll voice made my back clench up even as Brad and Alexia turned and gaped at the boy standing not too far off with a pair of ice skates laced and hung over his shoulder.

My cheeks turned a near magenta, and Brad made the connection, his resulting grin mischievous as he suddenly asked, "You're…Brandon?"

My classmate raised an eyebrow; "What's it to ya?"

And my friend's lips curved up even more; "Oh, nothing, I've just heard a lot about ya, s'all."

Brandon's head cocked to the side, his expression neutral except for the sudden tension around his eyes, "Like?"

"Only that J-"

I crashed into my best friend and tumbled him to the ground, hissing lowly, "Shut up."

He started laughing, and I balled up my fist and started pummeling his chest and belly just hard enough to hurt through the thick winter coat he was wearing; his knee came up and barely missed my groin, causing me to grunt and twist, rolling him over and shoving his face into the cruelly-icy snow before he coiled up and shoved me off, his face turned red from the effort and the white-washing I'd given him.

"Fucking bastard, I ought to slaughter you, Jay-Jay!"

My laughter was unabashed as I pelted him in the face with a loosely compacted handful of snow, and was shocked when a harder snowball clipped my back almost immediately afterwards. Turning, I saw Brandon standing there with a tame smirk, tossing up another snowball before catching it one-handed.

"You wouldn't-"

My arm blocked the expected missile, and I scrambled to my knees and quickly had another one going before he could do the same, hauling back and pegging his left shoulder, causing him to step backwards with a breathy grunt before he honestly laughed, his eyes as bright as his grin.

I don't know what made me do it—maybe that laugh—but I thought to ask, "You wanna skate with us?"

Brad and Alexia exchanged glances, but Brandon sobered, rubbing a hand over his black-wool hat; "Ah, no, I was headin' out. I just saw you and yer girlfriend and couldn't resist pickin' atcha."

"We ain't dating."

Alexia was quick to point this out because I found myself struck dumb with embarrassment, and Brandon scratched his cheek a bit before asking her, "Oh, so you're dating the other dude?"

"No. What do any of us need to date for?" Alexia was huffy, and I found myself frowning, which amused him for some reason.

He 'tched' and rolled his shoulders in a shrug; "Whatever. See ya Monday, Jay-Jay."

Again, I felt myself break into an all-over blush, glad that his back was already turned before he could see me die of mortification. And as soon as he was far enough away, Alexia wisely suggested that we pick up her mess and go skate before her mom came to pick us up again.

Even still, it took a while for my blush to completely die away.


Fate showed me the finger about four days afterwards, when destiny maneuvered things so that I was forced to pair up with Brandon for another project assignment. His lips curved into a smirk as he sauntered over to drop into the empty seat next to mine, his book slamming onto the desk harder than necessary.

"Hi'ya, Jay-Jay."

"You don't get to call me that."

My quick reprimand amused him, but all he said was, "Fine. You do your half, I do mine."

My mouth was tight as I quickly immersed myself into the work.

We were quiet for quite a while, until his low voice suddenly said, "I never seen that dude you were with; he go here?"

"No, he's home schooled."

I glanced up and was startled to see almond-honey brown eyes staring at me, shocking me into staring back. "What?"

His gaze ripped from mine, and I saw a tinge of pink highlight the skin beneath his eyes; firmly looking as his book, he managed to drawl, "Ain't you finished yet?" "

We're not supposed to finish today." He snorted at my confused tone, and I found myself biting at my lower lip before I turned back to my book and went back to searching for the answers.

Again, silence fell and again, he broke it a few moments later; "You're different outside school."

A hint of a blush fell down my cheeks, and I mumbled, "Yeah. …You too, though."

Our gazes again caught, and he looked back down; "Maybe."


He sat down next to me the next morning at breakfast, upsetting me into speechlessness as he said, "We need to go over yesterday's shit so we can turn it in today."

"Um, I…mine's done already…."

He snorted, "Then let me look at it!"

I frowned, my fingers clenching onto my binder; "Why should I?"

Truly set back at that, he stared at me, "Because I said so."

"F-fuck off." He reached out and grabbed my binder out of my startled hands, undoing the Velcro and flipping it open.

"Hey, you scrotum-sucker, give it back!"

Frozen in mid-action, he stared at me; "What was that?"

My mouth felt leaden, but I still managed to scowl and hiss, "I called you a fucking scrotum-sucker, you bastard! Give my folder back!"

Angry, he slammed my binder shut and practically threw it back at me, glaring as he gathered his stuff and shoved a sharp elbow into my spine as he passed by. Jesus, I hate him sometimes.

And…when he's pissed, the tiny birthmark just below his left eye stands out even more than usual.


I wasn't quite sure how I went from wanting to bitch about the bruise he put on my back to planting a kiss on him like I almost did to Brad my fourth grade year, but once done, some things can't be taken back.

And the relief on his face afterwards changed my mind on it, anyways.

--- --- ---

Summer time romances are spectacular, and the one between seventh and eighth grade was the best in my life.

Brandon rode his bike to my house almost every day, and sometimes both of us went over to Brad's to fart around, although Brandon was never quite himself then as he was with just me. With me, he sobered up quite a bit, subduing the swaggering bravado.

There was never anything better than moving in close for a sweet kiss to his lips before I would pull his hand into mine, feeling his warm and usually sweaty fingers against mine; Brandon was great at holding hands.

But as the summer progressed, he grew increasingly moody and quiet, sometimes coming over only to sit around and stare at the floor and shrug his shoulders whenever I said something to him.

He grew four inches that summer, and I swear I shrunk two.

Then came the day he came over around noon, the vivid red of a large handprint on the side of his face still there even though it takes him at least half an hour to get to my house.

"Brandon?" His almond-honey eyes refused to meet mine; he just stood there until I suggested that we walk out in the rolling fields behind my house, like we usually do.

And after an hour, the handprint had faded but his face was flushed with heat, because he still stuck to the denim jeans and layered shirts even in the worst of the summer weather.


A breath hissed in-between his front teeth, his eyes narrowing as he stared at the thigh-high grass that obscured the uneven ground surface beneath our feet. "You're gay, aren't you Jay."

His tone was gruff and heavy in the questioning statement, and shock splashed through my chest; "Well…yeah?"

For the first time that day, he looked at me and I saw tears gathering in his eyes, my heart squeezing tight at the implications. Long and bony hands wiped at his eyes; thus, his words were muffled but clear as day, "I'm a girl, Jay-Jay!"

My body froze before I pulled backwards, my eyes showing my horror and made him—her—curl up and thud down to the ground, shoulders hitching as faint cries reached my ears. Tears of my own burned my eyes as I stood in indecision; my feelings made up my mind for me, leading me to walk over and drop onto the ground next to—her—and put an arm around those shaking shoulders.

"I don't understand." Any other time, I would be horribly embarrassed by the way my voice cracked without my permission, but I barely heard that as I pulled those long hands away from her face, seeing only Brandon.

Voice raw, she said, "I don't want to be a girl, inside I'm not, I'm a boy, and…I like boys. A-a-and my d-dad, he don't unders-s-stand!"

I don't understand it either, but I can't stand seeing the person I care about cry, can't stand to see him cry. "Brandon-"


I paused, choking a moment before I asked, "Were you ever lying when you kissed me as a boy?"

He was quiet so long that I nearly started crying again, but then he replied, "No."

"Well, I like boys, and I love you. Even…even if…."

His face dropped down and he started shaking again, releasing gut-wrenching sobs and I couldn't do anything but put arms around him and let him cry on me, rocking back and forth the way Mom used to hold me when I was scared of the dark.

We sat there and ignored the ants biting at our ankles, until the tears had gone.

"He's going to send me away, Jay-Jay. He wants…he wants me to be a girl again, he's trying to let someone tell me to be a girl again."


My whisper was raw at the pain of losing him, and I felt his fingers pluck at the tiny threads of my shirt, his voice both high and low at once; "Because God made me a girl, Nature made me a girl, and he—he says I used to be a pretty little girl, and he doesn't want me to look like a boy no more."

Words failed me, and I'll never know what else I could have said to change things.

--- --- ---

Two weeks into the new school year, a girl showed up in my science class, her chest still flat and her limbs as long as they ever were; I grew some over the remainder of the summer, and almost matched her height now. Her jeans were stylishly flared at the bottom, and her shirt hugged her torso and left her looking…bare. She was pretty, I guess, but beneath it, I could still see Brandon.

Her eyes never met mine, never met anyone's, and she slid from the classroom as soon as the bell sounded.


At lunch, I skipped eating and went out onto the front lawn, purposely walking around the side of building and finding the low brick wall we had usually favored the last few months of school last year. Her arms hugged her stomach as she blankly stared at the ground, not even noticing my approach until I sat down next to her; my heart clenched at the pain in her almond-honey eyes, and I couldn't help reaching out and gently brushing my fingers through her curly pony-tail.

The style was the same, and my lips curved into a soft smile; "I was afraid they'd make you cut it."

"They wanted to, but dad said I could keep it, if I wanted."

My fingers left her hair to reach out and take her hand, but her face turned away, voice dull as she said, "It's weird, isn't it."

A little bit, yes.

I finally stood after an uncomfortable silence, still holding her hand as I gave awkward voice to my feelings; "I always thought you were pretty before, too..."

Her thin shoulder rose and fell, and I let her hand go as my arm returned to my side. I stood there for a long time, observing the lifeless creature sitting on the wall before me; the Brandon I was in love with had lost his spark.

Maybe in a few years, I would have known what to do, what to say, but at that point in time, I just walked away, my heart dropping down to my feet to bleed, lost and alone.

A/N: end.

but, for some clarification: Brandon is a guy in a girl's body who's attracted to other boys. in hence, he's a homosexual born as a girl. you don't think it happens?