LGBTQ+ Transgender Coming of Age

This story contains sensitive content






I stare into the mirror, and he stares back at me. His image is so crisp, that I feel I could reach through the glass like Alice and run my hand against his freckled cheek. If only I could; I'd dive in headfirst.

The pads of my fingers tingle with phantom pain and longing. I want to stroke the wiry abrasion of his five o'clock shadow.

There I am, I tell myself. We'll get there, someday. A smirk twitches on our lips.

I fill my chest with breath and say, "My name is Edgar."

Suddenly, the wrong name is bellowed up the stairs, summoning me. It rings off the walls and lands on my skin. It stings. "The bus is coming!"

I blink, and Edgar vanishes into Wonderland. A girl is left alone in the mirror.

Her face is too round. Her hips, too wide. Her chest presses pleadingly at the plackets of her button-down shirt, which she begged her mother for at Goodwill. The buttons strain like they'll pop at any moment. Puberty is a bitch.

Before I can even begin to ponder how fat my ass looks in these chinos—which are too long for me and bunch around the ankles—I snuff the thoughts out.

I already want to rip out of my own skin. There was no more time to feed my inner demons today. I needed to get to school and finish my photography portfolio for a college application.

"Coming!" I answer the booming voice.

I grab my L.L. Bean backpack from the floor. It's the same one I've had since middle school, and it's highlighter pink. Not my first choice; I asked for lime green, but it gets the job done. It's embroidered with my initials. I like that because I can pretend the "E" stands for my secret name; not my "real" name.

I wrench open my bedroom door with a loud creak. The mirror mounted on it swings behind me, and the girl trapped inside disappears with it.

My green Converses patter down the stairs. My school books press heavily on my shoulders. I wish that I was stronger. Everything seems larger than I can carry—the books, looming graduation, my secrets I whisper to the mirror.

My father stands at the foot of the stairs. I pause at the landing, where the handrail twists to the ground floor. My father's eyes darken. He folds his broad arms across his chest. He clutches a plastic mailing envelope in his hand—one with my name on it.

"What did you do to your hair?" Each word is barbed. His lips thin. He glares at my short, shoddy undercut, uneven in places. He's never seen my hair this short.

"You ruined it," he spits.

Panic sets in. I remember the panic I felt running my father's clippers against my head for the first time, following the curve of my skull. I went shorter than I intended. No one teaches girls these things, like how to use clippers, or how to measure the inseam of men's pants.

I remember my curses echoing off the bathroom walls as I fumbled with the clippers. How loudly it buzzed behind my ear. Clumps of coarse red hair in the sink.

But that panic was nothing compared to this.

This panic swells in my chest until there is no room left to breathe. It pushes my stomach to my feet. It dries out my mouth and makes my thoughts go blank. My jaw tightens and I freeze like spotted prey.

"And what the fuck is this?" He dumps the contents of the bubble mailer to the floor. My first binder, carefully selected after months of researching, falls into a crumpled pile.

My breath stops.

Outside, I hear the harsh squeal of school bus brakes, and the door crumples open with a metallic hiss. My father doesn't move, only glares at me. I hear each breath rattle, as he razes my soul to the ground with his stare.

"My bus is here," I creak out, barely. I pray for escape.

I wish I could fly through the window and away from this. Or hide in the deepest hole. Anything. I'm scared to death. I wish I could take back everything, and wipe myself clean like a blank slate.

Hair grows back. I'll return the binder. I could be good.

My face burns with shame. The bus driver lays on her horn outside. He shakes his head at me.

Why can't I move? Why can't I speak?

The bus driver honks once more. The seconds drag. Finally, having waited long enough, the bus pulls away from our intersection and continues up the hill.

"I go away for a few months, and my daughter becomes a fucking freak," he grumbles, then turns on his heel. He rips his jacket off the hallway hook. "Can't believe your mother lets you get away with this shit."

He storms down the entryway. His car keys jingle as he seizes them from the credenza. "I can't even look at you right now. Find your own way to school."

Why can't I move?

If I run now, I can probably catch my bus. But I descend the stairs stiffly and watch my father's car screech out of the driveway.

Vermillion maples rattle their branches in a howling wind. I am empty.


The leaves in Central Park are warm and vibrant. They whisper overhead in bursts of gold and crimson, and my heart dances with this simple pleasure.

I sit before the statues of Alice in Wonderland, tucking into my workday lunch. Just beyond, I can hear the pleasant white noise of children's chatter by the Conservatory water. Ribbons of sunshine dance on its surface.

Idly, I think of the afternoon ahead, planning my route from a fashion shoot, to a designer collection launch, to my office, and hopefully, back home. I hope I wouldn't have to sleep under my desk again.

My DSLR camera sits in its protective case beside me on the bench. My brain hums with chatter of apertures and lenses, train schedules, and dinner.

That's right, dinner. I'd probably have to skip dinner. I make a mental note to pass on any complimentary drinks. No one takes good photos buzzed.

It's warm, for an autumn day in New York City. I wear a pair of nice-fitting black slacks: inseam, 30". As I sit, one leg crossed over the other, the hem hikes up to flash a pair of pink, white and blue socks. They proudly proclaim, "Busy Making a Fucking Difference". They're my secret pleasure as I clack away in my office cubicle, editing my copy.

I pair the slacks with burnished leather brogues, a crisp, white pleated dress shirt, and a tan wool overcoat from designer Maison Martin Margiela.

I screw the cap on my hydro flask and stash it in my worn, well-loved Vivienne Westwood tote bag. It's vibrant blue and screaming red. It hollers in a bold, stenciled typeface, "CLIMATE REVOLUTION".

I run a hand through my short red hair, the nape of my neck clean and evenly shaved. Clipper guard level: 3.

As my fingers brush the short, wiry hairs, I muse on how far I've come. A decent living funded the roof over my head, and the occasional designer item. But when I remember the lonely girl in the mirror I saw years ago, I can hardly recognize her.

I stand, collecting my belongings, and sling the tote bag over my shoulder. I've gotten stronger while hauling photography equipment, and all the walking in New York has been good for me. My chest does not strain the buttons of my shirt anymore.

"Crap!" a voice breaks over the paved walking trail.

A young woman scurries after an empty clamshell container tumbling in the wind. It leaves a trail of dressed lettuce in its wake, plump red cherry tomatoes rolling into the grass. She seems distressed. Just as I sling my camera over my shoulder, the clamshell settles at my feet.

She halts, mortified. Her cheeks flush with embarrassment. It's adorable.

"I am so sorry!"

"It's nothing," I smile and laugh, retrieving it from the ground. "I'm sorry about your lunch."

"God, I'm so embarrassed," she grasps it. She wears chipped metallic blue nail polish. "At least it didn't get in the water. It's not like these things are biodegradable."

She seems like the type who rambles when she's flustered, and this too is adorable.

"Oh, I like your tote bag!" she gestures at it as if you could miss it. "Vivienne Westwood is such a badass."

"Right?" I burst, grinning. Then I reel it in, forcing composure. "I mean, she does some awesome stuff..."

I'm socially clumsy, as always. She doesn't mind. She extends her hand, and I take it. It's soft.

"I'm Ellie," she says, cocking her head, "I come here on my lunch break."

"Me too," I reply, "... I'm Edgar. Nice to meet you."

May 09, 2022 19:48

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15:17 May 24, 2022

I l o v e this, very cool, I like the way it was written. The beginning and then that ending- awesome sauce.


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Holly Guy
08:32 May 20, 2022

What a beautiful story, full of details! Very heart warming. It started very alike to my own story 'Mirror me' and I was shocked for a second, haha! But it had a lovely turn and change. Really enjoyed this story- keep on writing! :)


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Lucy Rose
15:17 May 17, 2022

This was such a great read! For some reason this sentence really stuck with me: "I run a hand through my short red hair, the nape of my neck clean and evenly shaved. Clipper guard level: 3" I liked the detail! The whole story was full of nice, small details that really added to the character.


Erich Cliffe
18:41 May 17, 2022

Oh thank you! Since at first, Edgar didn't know how to use his father's clippers, or how to measure the inseam of men's pants, I thought it was important to include the details of which clipper guard he uses and which inseam he wears. I wanted to show his subtle growth and peace when he finds freedom. Thank you for the read and comment, I appreciate it.


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