You find yourself in a bright room, surrounded by giants. You are wet, and it is cold. You miss the warmth you’ve always known. You don’t know what it is to be cold or warm, only that this is cold and before the thundering sounds and celestial lights, you were warm. You squirm in discomfort, vocalizing your displeasure.

“It’s a girl!”

You don’t know what these words mean. You feel hands on your body, the chill of the air. You can’t tell what sounds you are making and what sounds the giants are making. You are frightened.

Your fear dissipates as you feel the embrace of that warmth you once knew. Mother now has you. She touches your head, and you fall silent. You are safe.

You close your eyes.

When you open them, you are no longer a newborn. You are in your dorm room. Classes start today. Your alarm blasts its piercing cry, scaring away the deepest and most sacred memories that danced before you moments before.

You wonder what class will be like. You see yourself as if in a movie, finding a seat in the crowded lecture hall. You’re late. Everyone is looking at you. Laughter fills the room. You are naked. You cover your shame and turn to leave the hall, terrified. This was not how today was supposed to go.

You dart through the door to find yourself back in your living room at home. You’ve just returned from soccer practice. You wave goodbye to Tommy and his mom, who gave you a ride home. You replay the conversation you had in the van in your head: be brave and tell your parents exactly how you feel. You wish Tommy’s mom was your mom. She’s so understanding. She’s safe. You can’t remember the last time you felt safe around your mother outside of your loud, bright, cold dreams.

You step into the dining room, and it is now dinner time. Your father is in the kitchen finishing his signature spaghetti. Your mother waits at the table, smoking and watching the TV in the living room. Fox News is questioning Obama’s foreign policy, and your mother nods and tells your father that she doesn’t want a Muslim in office.

The food is now on the table, and you tell your parents that you don’t want to go by Stacy anymore. Your name is Timothy. In all your daydreams about this moment, your father supports you when you ask to start transitioning. In reality, he sits silently, staring at his spaghetti as your mother cries. She hits you until you black out.

You awake in the hospital. Your joints ache, and your hair is long and gray. Your hands tremble with age, but they are held steady by Jacob. You tell Jacob that you love him, and thank him for the many wonderful years he’s given you. Your matching rings touch as he cradles your hand softly. He tells you that he loves you. You’ll see him again, you’re sure of it. You close your eyes for the last time.

When they open next, you are letting out a deep breath. Thousands of fans are still holding theirs. Their eyes are focused solely on you. You see yourself from the view of the cameras, the view that millions of fans at home see as they perch on the edges of their seats. You’ve been the person trembling in anticipation as the final shot is taken. You’ve stood up at bars and cheered as your team brings home the championship trophy, and for a moment you feel drunk. Another breath steadies your aim.

It’s just you and the goalie. All else has melted away. There is nothing but the goal and its keeper, the ball, and you. You are ten years old again, learning how to score a goal with a penalty kick. You try to kick the ball, but you miss it. You try again, and you miss again. You hear laughter. It’s the classroom, mocking your nakedness. Finally, the kick connects. Thousands of people scream as the ball sails past the goalie, millions more cry out in victory or defeat as you score the winning point. Your name will go down in history: Timothy Alzone, the first transgender athlete to win a World Cup.

You see that moment often in your dreams. Now, you are retired, coaching ten-year-olds. Your team is the Red Dragons, and you suck. But it’s ok because all kiddie soccer teams suck.

You watch your team practice free throws and think about your college days, constantly drilling. You spend hours a day on the field, conditioning and taking shots under the stadium lights. Nights are not for sleeping, they are for dreaming of the day you sign with a real team. There is a scout coming to the next game tomorrow. You are the best offensive player on the team, but you’re not good enough. He is going to see you play, your team will lose, and he will fly off to the next college team to prove your mother right. You should have stayed a girl.

Sometimes you fear that when you wake, your top surgery will all have been a dream. You’ll still have your beard, your deep voice, but you can feel the weight of your breasts and it sickens you. It isn’t who you are. You know when you’re dreaming because, in your nightmares, you are still Stacy Alzone, the girl who would give up soccer to be an accountant like your father. The nightmare is real when you show up to your first job on campus working at the front desk of the administrative building, answering the phone and forwarding emails. You grow out your facial hair so that people stop calling you ma’am. You always felt it makes you seem so old.

You don’t mind being called sir when you are old. You know how old you are. Jacob doesn’t look at you the same way anymore. Your therapist says that it’s all in your head, he loves you, but you see him clearly fucking Monica from advertisement every time he returns home from the office. Maybe if you’d given him kids like he wanted. You would adopt a little boy, Oliver, and you would teach him soccer and how to be accepting of his friends. You teach him to be like Tommy, and you hope that you’re the same parent that Tommy’s mom was.

The night of her funeral, you cry more than you did at your own mother’s. You lay down, thinking about motherhood, wondering why you can’t remember your own birth, imagining your own death and thinking about the life you've lived so far, and you close your eyes.

February 28, 2020 22:21

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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