A mysterious smog had fallen over the lake some time ago. Mark and I sat at the bank shivering and wondering where to go from there. Worrying about when the witch would come back to claim our lives. We sat as close together as possible without getting too weird. He is me and I am him, or rather he was me and I was him. Well, at least before that lady gave me that terrible, wonderful drink…
I love the way I look but it’s not worth freezing to death. I’m lying – I’d freeze, burn, deep dive into a ravine, just to keep this feeling forever. It’s worth it but you won’t hear me admit it aloud. The more I speak with my former self the more I notice these glaring differences. There are these quirks, oddities if you will, that force me to question his own intentions. Could the shock of all this be playing with his mind?
It’s worse than the way I was before – so unhappy, so unfulfilled. Mark traps himself in deep thought but I can see the envy in his eyes. He’s displaying the telltale signs of jealousy which is much deeper and darker than envy. I felt the same in the past. I would watch an attractive woman walk into Macy’s or Victoria’s Secret and pay close attention to her makeup. The unique artistic style of each girl told a different story. How she lines her eyes, the color of her lipstick, the foundation, nails – all intrigued me. I’ve been looking for a style to call my own for years, can’t say I’ve found it yet. Back then, there was no ill will or malice intended behind my envy—the covetousness Mark displays is dangerous. I so wished I had the courage to one day walk amongst others as Raquel. Yet, I remained hidden from the world and all alone. Anyone who bears a secret of this magnitude almost has to feel alone. Finding support in those days was scarce, almost non-existent. Troubling other trans people with all my burdens petrified me. I used Twitter to find help, but found no reprieve. A simple concept to reach out for someone in your position who may be further along and can offer amazing advice became difficult. And I don’t blame them because the world has taken a giant shit on them so how can they trust you’d be a true friend. Answer: they can’t. Forget about relationships – It’s hard to give your heart to someone else when yours is in constant turmoil. It’s weird how I can recall these feelings of dread and loneliness but not much else from my life. Other memories trickle back the more I tap into my emotions. I remember rushing to tell strangers but admitting my feelings to my closest relatives was impossible. When I started hormones and informed my family, the one person I wanted to accept me didn’t – my dad. We haven’t spoken since I told him the truth. It feels like years ago but, how can I be sure?
Mom always worries about me and is unsure if can hold a job because according to her ‘dressing and acting like a woman is not a good career choice.’ I tried to explain it’s not an act with no positive results. I was always a woman in the truest sense of the word. She didn’t accept those small details as facts but as foolish thoughts which would someday vanish when I came to my senses. Years later, I’m still here. Yes, there are so many employers who discriminate, but there are still opportunities for transgender individuals. Not every company in the world is as obtuse as my parents. Those jobs are difficult to come by. Do I even have a job? If so, I’m getting fired.
It’s weird; as moments pass, I remember more from my life. I used to think like Mark, but didn’t want to live this lie any longer. First, I did something about my weight. Diet and exercised my way to a one hundred pound weight loss! Then I scheduled an appointment with a Planned Parenthood Transgender Clinic. I couldn’t pass as a woman but It still felt wonderful to be authentic. I remember smiling all day after my first appointment. There were no prescriptions yet, but knowing I had altered my future was enough. I admire all who take the first steps, as I did. There is so much courage involved.
My outside had to match what was inside my heart. Anything less wouldn’t have appeased my gender dysphoria. It was an addiction but not in a bad way. Then I ended up here and the old woman did the rest. That can’t be all. Something is missing from the story. You don’t go from A to Z without all the letters in between. Perhaps, Mark’s snide comment about this going easy wasn’t accurate. Well, it’s something to think about after I figure out how not to freeze to death.
Mark sits next to me in silence and I sense what he’s thinking – those last pitiful words our father spoke; I thought about that every day. When Dad found out about me he said, ‘you need to leave and find more abominations like yourself. Go to hell! You’re a disgrace. An embarrassment to the entire family’ It was horrible.
The feeling you’re not wanted always is. I tried, well Mark tried to explain it to Dad, but it was no use. My father always was and always will be a stubborn man. I would say it’s his loss, but when matters involve a family, everyone loses. We all lost a piece of ourselves that day. Forever. unmended fences have a way of leaving permanent scars.
Mark speaks and interrupts my dreadful memories returning me to the comfort of this frozen forest, “I hear something coming from inside the mist.”
The fresh smell of pine mixed with the winter air reminds me of Christmas time. A time I used to spend with family. The last few years it had been a lonely night full of watching ‘The Santa Clause’ movies by myself. Here I go again back into this shit.
“Do you hear it, Raquel?” Mark shakes my shoulders.
I snap out of my funk and say, “I haven’t paid attention. I was thinking about Dad.”
“Well, snap out of it! Something’s out there.”
“I don’t hear anything,” I exclaim.
“Well, if you didn’t have your head up your ass thinking about depressing shit, then you might have heard it,” Mark rages.
I sit silent listening intently but, “I still don’t hear it.”
“Shhh, listen. It sounds like the creaking of a boat or something.”
I close my eyes and focus on the lake and; he was right! I hear the same creaking and slapping of wood against water. It does almost sound like a boat. “Yes. I hear it too.”
“I can’t see shit through this murk,” Mark announces as he stands near the water looking out into the dense fog cover.
The sound we hear draws closer and closer. After a few moments, I see it. I extend my finger out over the water and screech, “Look Mark over there!”
“We’re saved!” He yells. The bow of a little rowboat emerges from the mist. It’s magnificent. There are two oars laying down upon the seats. He runs into the freezing waters and grabs the boat to pull it ashore.
“A boat hardly saves us in this situation but it’s a damn good start. I mean we can’t see the other side what if it’s another trick?” My reservations about taking this boat into the unknown is sincere. I’m literally scared to find out what’s on the other side of this lake.
“Well, at least it’s warmer on the other side. We have a better chance of survival over there,” Mark replies with an optimistic view of our future.
I’m so proud of him. “Well, that’s a great way to look at it, Mark. I’m just a little afraid of what we may find. The whole experience has brought back bad memories and thoughts. Thoughts I forgot I had. Thoughts I never knew I had.”
“I’m afraid too,” he continues, “but what other choice do we have? You know damn well if we stay here we will freeze to death, Raquel. No matter what you feel, even regrets, we must push forward.”
“Regrets? I never said anything about regrets.”
“If I have them, you have them. Trust me.”
Now we have the means to get to the other side of the lake. Hopefully, we can find out a little more about the old tricky woman and this strange world. Mark folds his arms glaring at me waiting for a reply.
I place my hand on my hips and say, “So, I guess we leave for the other side?”
“That was rhetorical, wasn’t it?” Mark asks.
“You know me so well.”