Jensen is a 12 y.o. kid that goes on a trip with the school. During this trip, and with the support of his friends and family, he'll discover things about himself that he didn't know, and grow up to become a more complete person.
I managed to avoid the morning excursion by saying that I felt sick, which I really wasn't, but surprisingly no one questioned it. I just wanted to spend this last morning playing with my friends. We run a lot, talked, and even went sailing on one of the boats in the lake, which we hadn't done until then. We really had lots of fun.
Before we left, Emily and Lisa managed to leave Keith and me alone for a while. I liked Keith, but being alone with him I somehow started to get very nervous. We just kept on talking for a while, until at some point he took my hand. I looked at his eyes and saw some kind of sparkling in them. I don't exactly know why, but I then gave him a peck on his cheek, and his smile lit up the room. It's funny to feel those strange butterflies in your tummy, when you are so at ease with someone. We exchanged our mobile phone numbers and agreed to meet up again in a few days, when we went to Castle Rock.
But, as everything, our stay at the lake had reached its end, and we had to keep on with the trip. During the first days we went on visiting different towns, monuments and even some caves, on our way up the river.
My group of friends and Erika's seemed to have almost merged together, and I mostly hanged all the time with them. I had the feeling that something was emerging between Joey and Sarah, and I knew for sure that Ash had some interest in Kevin. That was a problem, in fact, because Kevin seemed incapable to set his attention on just one girl. Raoul and Joey kept teaching the girls and me how to defend ourselves, in case that we needed, and Erika seemed to like the guys too.
I wasn't trying to dress like a girl or anything, but I was definitely acquiring a taste for female tops and cute hairstyles. Sis was right, I didn't have to be a boy nor a girl, I could just be whatever I wanted, even if it was something in the middle, or something totally different from both. I could just be myself.
The first days were pretty uneventful, but at some point I found myself going to have breakfast at the hotel earlier than my sister and her friends, and Joey and the boys weren't already there. There were some of our schoolmates, but I didn't have a good feeling from them. One of them was Lucas, the boy I have seen fighting with Joey that day at the lake. There were also Brit and Samantha, the girls that Ash and Sarah were fiercely discussing with, and a couple of guys more.
"Well, if it isn't the sissy, and it's alone!", I heard them comment between themselves, as Lucas was pointing discreetly towards me.
It was then when I started having the feeling that there would be problems. I had a look around and saw no teachers present. I considered fleeing and going back to my sister, and come back with them later, but suddenly I remembered all that Joey had taught me, and how I shouldn't just ignore them and hope they would somehow leave me alone, because I knew that wouldn't happen. I then knew that I was proud of who I was, and that I would never tolerate such bullying, even if I got slightly hurt.
"Yeah, you can get hurt. There might be a fight, and you might lose it, but you have to keep facing up to them, until they know that they shall not mess with you", Joey had told me. "They might hurt you a bit in the moment, but it will spare you a lot of hurt in the future"
That settled it. I went towards Lucas, I looked him straight in the eye, and asked him firmly.
"Who are you calling sissy?"
He looked at me with surprise, not expecting that reaction from me.
"Well, you", he replied jockingly. "Ain't you a fruitcake?"
I slapped him in the face. Yes, me. I wasn't going to tolerate that, even if he punched me or anything. He got angry as expected, and tried to hit me. I guess I was lucky, because I easily avoided him, and he just fell over one of the tables, throwing everything to the floor with a great noise. That got him even angrier. I managed to get out of the fight with just a bleeding nose, but not before hitting him hardly on the crotch, as Joey had suggested me to do.
I know, I shouldn't have started the fight, but I still think it was the best I could do. None of their group bothered me again for a while. Of course, Erika scolded me harshly, especially for having gone alone, but I really think she was somewhat proud of how I had managed the situation. No one got punished because no one told the teachers about the fight, or who was involved, but seeing Mr. Scott smiling at me and nodding proudly later in the day made me suspect that they really did know.
We had one afternoon off in Milldale Ridge for shopping. We went on looking for souvenirs for our parents, friends, and things like that, but at some point we were watching clothes for ourselves. There was a really cute purple and lavender sundress that Erika simply fell in love with, but sadly it wasn't available in her size. It was available in mine, though.
"Jenny, why don't you try it on and see how it fits?", she suggested.
As I went out of the fitting room, the theee girls went on how well it suited me, and that I was adorable with that dress. It was indeed a very lovely dress, and I finally bought it. We also bought a couple of things more, like some shoes and socks that were suitable for it. I was sure that Emily was going to love it too!
I got to wear my dress for the first time the next day. My sister helped me fix my hair properly, and I must confess I sincerely loved how I looked in it. You know, since the beginning of the trip, I had always shared a room with my sister, and sometimes with her friends depending on the number of beds in each room, but no one had suggested that I should share a room with the boys or anything like that, and that was OK for me.
I got many compliments from some of the girls and the boys, and even though some of our schoolmates gave me really wierd looks, no one dare say anything. I would probably have slapped any of them if they did, even if that got me another bleeding nose, but it wasn't needed. I wasn't going to tolerate the slightest bullying, and all my friends and my sister supported my decision.
The funny thing about the dress is that everybody that didn't know me already seemed to think that I was a girl, which really made sense, I think. It's not that most of the boys go prancing around in a cute dress. I wasn't sure if I felt like a girl, anyway. I just wasn't sure how girls felt. But then, along the same lines of thought, I didn't know either how boys felt, so, until I could sort out my feelings, I'd have to limit myself to just feel like myself.
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