Sarah stands in front of the mirror. Tears are threatening to form in her eyes. She fights them, but it is a battle she will soon loose.
Her eyes. She fights.
Standing there, looking at her naked body, she starts to shake violently. She feels like throwing up. Her knees buck under her, and soon she is in a heap on the floor, holding herself as she rocks back and forth.
"She, she, she! Her, her, her!" It screams in her head.
"He, he, he. Him, him, him." Darren whispers in response, as he slowly gathers his strength and forces himself back up on his feet.
At first, he avoids looking in the mirror. First, he focuses his strength on straightening himself. He closes his eyes as he turns toward the mirror. He lifts his chin up; squares his shoulders and broadens his stance.
When he feels ready, he forces himself to open his eyes and look into the mirror once more.
The shakes threaten to start again, but he concentrates on his breathing instead. He looks into the eyes of his reflection as he counts "One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three," while breathing in sync with the numbers. It takes awhile, but then his pulse starts to slow back down and he is able to stand steady.
Carefully, he lets his eyes look at the rest of his reflection. He takes in the broad hips, the DD-cup breasts. He looks at his curves. Feeling detached now, his eyes take in the triangle of hair between his legs. He lifts his gaze back to his face, almost allowing himself to wince a little at the rounded, soft chin he sees.
Looking himself over, he counts to ten. Then, he does it again. When he has repeated the process five times, he allows himself to look away. His pulse is raising again and he is feeling dizzy. He hates doing this, but it has become a ritual he forces himself through each morning. He is not entirely clear on why he does it, but somehow it helps him keep in mind why other people do not see him as Darren, like he feels they should. It helps him accept that they see her instead; Sarah. He hates it; he hates himself. Sometimes he thinks it would be so much easier to just give in and pretend to be her. He cannot do that though. He is Darren. He cannot be anyone that he is not, he has to be himself and only hope that one day others will see him as well.
He finds his clothes on a nearby chair. He quickly dress himself, before going back to stand in front of the mirror.
The shirt is almost too tight over his chest and hips. It is baggy everywhere else though, and the sleeves are too long. The shirt is a nice one; he really likes it. It is a simple, black shirt but the fabric is soft and with a luxurious quality to it. It just will not fit as it should though. His body just will not do it justice. He has been told repeatedly that he should get a similar one from the women's department. A form-fitted one. It will have room for his breasts, but then be sewn in at the waist and broadened again at the hips. It will fit his figure, they say. It will flatter his curves.
"Her curves," is what they actually say.
"His, his, his!" He wants to scream at them. I do not have curves. Why can you not see that I should not have a body with curves?
He wishes he could find a binder that would fit. It is hard though. He has been told that he is "blessed in that department"; having the bosom many a woman would be envious of. He would give them his breasts, if he only could.
He stands in front of the mirror, gathering strength. One day, he swears to himself, he will look into the mirror and the person he sees reflected will have a flat chest, a strong chin and no one would even think about calling him "her".
He turns away, opening the door and steps out of the bathroom.
"Good morning, darling" his mother greets him.
"Morning," he mumbles. In his head his daily mantra is already on repeat, helping him to stay strong. "He, he, he. Him, him, him."
"Are you going to school dressed like that again? Sweetheart, if you don't want to wear a skirt, I understand, but you could at least change into that nice blouse I got you the other day. You're a beautiful girl, I don't understand why you don't want to show it!"
"I've told you mum, I'm not a girl. I'm a boy."
"Nonsense. I know you've got a tricky figure to dress for, and maybe that's why you prefer not to even try, but that doesn't make you any less of a girl," she smiles at him benevolently. "You know what sweetheart? This weekend, we'll go shopping. Just you and me. We'll have a girl's day out and go on a real spree. I'll bet you we'll find some really nice clothes that fit and that show the whole world what a beautiful woman my daughter is becoming. We could even go and have our hair and nails done! How does that sound?" His mother is beaming at him. He feels a lump forming in his throat. Why does she not see? Why will she not understand that he is her son, not her daughter? He cannot bring himself to form a reply.
"Sweetheart? It'll be okay," his mother takes him into her embrace. "You're a lovely girl, Sarah. You just need a little more confidence to show it."
"Yes, mum." He finally gives in. He is tired of trying to explain. Why does she not see him? Why does everyone just see her?
Darren sits down at the kitchen table to eat his breakfast. When his father walks in, greeting him with the standard "How's my girl?" he grunts while repeating his mantra to himself. In school they are divided into two groups for a project that will last until the end of term - the girls form one group, the boys the other. He feels dizzy again as he has to sit with the girls while the other boys are gathered across the room.
"He, he, he. Him, him, him." At times he can hardly hear anything else than his own mantra, he concentrates on it so hard. It is the only way that he can keep himself from falling apart.
Every time they call him Sarah; every time they refer to him as "she" or "her; he screams inside.
One day, they will see him as he is. One day, they, too, will see Darren.
"He, he, he. Him, him, him."