Bailey decides to take drastic measures, and chooses to let things go. It seems some reevaluation is in order if anything is going to seem normal again. However, as Bailey is letting things go, he discovers some things are going on their own...
The gray carpet seemed dull; as dull as the gray sky outside of Doctor Dinesh's office. I normally made myself at home on Rajan's couch. Today I didn't feel at home. I didn't feel like I belonged anywhere for that matter. My baggy male attire did nothing to hide how I truly saw myself these days. I wasn't anywhere close to being male. Nor was I any step closer to being female. I just fell into this void somewhere in the middle.
"Bailey…" Doctor Rajan Dinesh made his way into the office, closing the plain wooden door behind him. "How have you been?"
"Terrible," I managed to mumble.
"Anything you'd like to talk about?" Rajan asked, as he eased into the comfortable brown leather chair adjacent to the couch. "We have the afternoon."
I slowly peeled my focus away from the window. As I looked up at Rajan, I saw genuine concern in his eyes. This guy had always seemed like more of a friend than a doctor. I felt I could tell him things now. Nothing ever got back to my parents, except the really important medical decisions. These little makeshift therapy sessions had become my one source to vent my frustration at anything that bothered me; be it my family, friends, or even the world in general.
"I don't really know where to start," I said.
"Well…" Rajan leaned back in his chair. "Why don't we start with the day after your last visit?"
"Everything was fine then," I said. "I was fairly sure where I was. Who I wanted to be…"
"What changed that?"
"I remember you mentioning that," Rajan said. "Was it not enjoyable?"
I tapped my fingers on my knees. "The actual ballet was fun," I said. "I really enjoyed it. And I enjoyed being alone with Tawny."
"Tawny's another girl your age?" Rajan asked, as he jotted in his notebook.
"Yes," I said, watching him write. I'd grown used to him keeping a loose database of my friends and family. He usually brought them up in our discussions at later dates. "I don't think I've ever mentioned her before," I added as a final note to end the silence.
"Are you two close?"
"Closer than I am with Tiffany at the moment," I said, looking back outside.
Rajan took a moment to flip through his notes. "Ah! The girlfriend," he finally said. "Did you two have a fight?"
"I haven't spoken to her since I gave her a Christmas present on the last day of school," I said.
"What did you get her?"
"A silver necklace," I said. I held my fingers up to my neckline. "It had a little T on it…"
"Did she get you anything?"
"She got me a charm bracelet," I said, smiling a little as I reflected on the gift. "She said we could add things to it over time."
"What happened after that?"
"I got on the bus and went home," I said.
Rajan sat quietly for a moment. I continued to stare out the window. The entire sky looked overcast and completely dismal. A light snow swirled around the parking lot. Leafless trees scraped at each other as they blew in the wind. Everything outside looked lifeless. There weren't even any cars passing by on the street.
"I was looking for a little more than that," Rajan finally said.
I let a long breath pass over my lips. "Well I don't know what else to tell you."
Rajan flipped his notes around for a long moment. "Have you talked to Nathan lately?" he finally asked.
"I stayed over at his house before Christmas," I said.
"Your parents were okay with this?"
"My mom was," I said. "Tom didn't come back home until later that day."
"How are they getting along?"
"Fine," I said. "In fact, they seem to be better than ever."
"How are you getting along with Tom?"
"That seems to be fine too," I mumbled.
Rajan scribbled for a bit. "I'm glad to hear that." A moment of silence passed between us. "Did anything happen at Nathan's house?" he asked a moment later.
"No!" I said, a bit defensively. I turned to see Rajan's reaction, but there didn't seem to be one. "We didn't do anything improper, if that's what you're asking."
"I'm just asking if anything happened," Rajan said calmly. "Positive, or negative."
I studied Rajan for a moment. He sat with his legs crossed, comfortably sunken into his chair. His face looked generally neutral, but definitely expectant of an answer. I cowered from his stare, and pushed myself off of the couch. For a moment I thought about pacing back and forth in front of the couch, but soon decided to take a seat in the matching chair. My body sank into the leather.
"You can tell me anything," Rajan said, still eyeing me. "I promise it won't leave this room."
"I…" My eyes focused on the carpet beneath my sneakers. "I kind of… had this… emotional breakdown."
"Like the one you had this past summer?" Rajan asked.
"Yes," I said quietly. "Only this time I didn't tune out. I… I actually cried. And I didn't know why I cried, but I kept crying. I didn't even know if I was upset, or tired, or…" I threw my hands in the air. "I don't know. It was just…" My hands dropped back to my thighs. "I don't know."
"It's nothing to be ashamed of, Bailey," Rajan said. "It's quite common to have emotional responses in persons who have hormonal imbalances."
"That just doesn't sound right… When you say it like that," I said.
"I'm sorry," Rajan said. "I didn't mean that to have any negative connotations."
I drew in a long steady breath, and then slowly released it. Any will I had to start an argument, or fight over anything the last few days, had been, if nothing else, non-existent. "I'm not upset about it," I finally said. "It just sounded weird."
"Let's just move on from it," Rajan said calmly. "What happened after you left Nathan's house?"
"I went home and had a long talk with Tom," I suddenly blurted out.
Rajan flipped a few pages back in his notes. "How did that go?"
"It… was pretty draining," I said. "I still don't really know if I can trust him."
"Because of his outburst on Thanksgiving?" Rajan asked.
"It's more than that," I said. "I just don't know if he's the right person to be my stepfather."
Rajan jotted a few things down. "I can suggest a family counselor, if you think --"
"No!" I said, cutting him off. "I don't… no."
"Okay," Rajan said. "So none of this…" He paused for a moment. "You said everything changed because of the ballet. Do you want to talk about that?"
I slowly shook my head in silence. "It was great," I mumbled.
"What was great?" Rajan asked.
"The ballet. The entire afternoon," I said. "Everything was great." I paused for a moment as I recounted the amazing performance. My mind wandered to Tawny in all of her beauty and poise. "I had a lot of fun with her."
"What changed that?" Rajan asked quietly.
"Vince," I said, through clenched teeth.
"Vince was with you?" Rajan asked, as he flipped back through his notes.
"No," I said. "He was with her."
"I'm not following," Rajan muttered.
"Tiffany," I said. "Vince. They were together." My eyes came up to meet Rajan's eyes. They were filled with as much confusion as my mind seemed to be at the moment. "She was supposed to be in Iowa. At her uncle's ranch." I turned to look at his desk. "There was a horse…"
"Okay," Rajan said. "Slow down for a minute. Where did you see these two?"
"At Starbucks," I said. "We stopped to get hot chocolate. I was listening to Tawny talk about ballet and gymnastics…" A smile spread across my face, but quickly diminished. "And they just walked in."
"Aren't they friends?" Rajan asked.
"Oh… they were a lot more than friends that day," I said, looking back at Rajan. "He had his hand in the back pocket of her jeans. The jeans that she modeled…" I quickly recollected our modeling gig at 'Tweens. "Well that doesn't matter. But what did matter was that they were kissing."
"Vince and Tiffany?"
I nodded thoughtfully. "Kissing," I said again slowly. "Right in front of us."
"They saw you?" Rajan asked.
"No," I said. "And I couldn't do anything." I thrust myself up out of the chair. "I wanted to confront them. I wanted to tell them off." I caught my own voice rising, and I quickly eased back onto the edge of the chair. "But I couldn't…"
"I was dressed like a girl," I said quietly. "Tawny's parents were there." I sighed. "It just would have seemed strange confronting my girlfriend like that."
"Is she aware that you know?" Rajan asked.
"I don't even care," I said quietly.
"I think you do," Rajan said. "It's obviously upsetting you, and I'm afraid that's not healthy physically, or emotionally." He leaned forward a bit. "Why don't you talk to her?"
"And say what?" I asked, looking up at him with tearful eyes. "What do I say?"
"That…" Rajan took a deep breath. "That's really up to you. But I don't think you'll be able to get over any of it without some sort of closure."
My eyes dropped back to the floor. "I don't even know where to begin," I said. "Or what to say. Everything has been a blur since then."
"Why don't we start with that evening?" Rajan asked. "After you found out. Let's walk through it together."
I eased back in the large chair. Rajan uncrossed his legs, and then crossed them the opposite way. He shifted once, and clicked his pen. My eyes followed his hand, still holding the pen, as he rested it on the arm of the chair. Then my eyes fell to my own hands, resting in my lap. My pouty lips parted with a sigh, and I started to recall the last couple of weeks.
Twas the night before Christmas, and on one side of my home, my parents were drinking eggnog, which left me alone. My brother was downstairs. He went down after we ate. I was in my bedroom; not feeling so great. Okay… So it didn't exactly all rhyme like that, but that would have taken the edge off. The truth is that I was alone. I felt alone.
Tawny's parents had dropped me off right at dusk. Her embrace lingered with me for a minute after she left. I stood for a good two minutes staring at the steps leading to my front door. A large part of me wanted to stay out in the cold; feeling on the outside what I felt on the inside. I didn't want to be some part of a big happy family dinner right now, but I knew if I blew it off, I'd never hear the end of it. Even if I wanted to be left alone, I wouldn't be if I took that approach.
So I went in. I ate in the same dress I wore to the ballet. In fact, I still had it on when I pulled Tawny's gift onto my lap. I managed to fake it through dinner. My mother pushed me to talk about the ballet, and so I did. Everything I said and did I tried hard to make it sound like everything was alright. Inside I was crying; wanting to escape the moment at every turn.
Now the house had grown quiet. Every so often I would hear my mother giggling, and Tom talking softly. I kicked off my wine colored shoes, and curled my nylon-clad legs underneath me on the bed. It actually felt good to take those shoes off after the long day. Tawny's present had the weight and shape of a book, but it seemed to have hard edges and corners. I collapsed back on my pillow and pulled the gift up onto my stomach.
The wrapping paper looked pretty. There were hundreds of embossed white snowflakes strewn across a light blue background. A bouncy, stringy bow brightened it all up with silvery luminescence. I glanced at the clock and noticed it was only ten o'clock. It wasn't Christmas yet. Turning back to the present, I decided to open it anyway. Maybe it would end the night on a bright note.
I pulled my knees up, planting my feet firmly on the bed. The skirt of my dress fell slightly down my thighs. What little bit of cool air left in my room, managed to find its way onto the freshly exposed spots on my white tights. I flicked the edge of the wrapping paper with one ruby red fingernail. Then I smiled, thinking of Tawny going the distance with her own nails that afternoon. I was starting to really grow fond of her.
I reached up and carefully slid the bow over the corner of the package. Then I pulled it down and off on the bottom. Now just a pretty blue paper with snowflakes, the package begged to be torn away. So I did it justice. I quickly pulled at a gap in the taped edge. The paper seemed stiff, but ripped quite easily. In a matter of seconds I had exposed the present beneath. It was a picture frame.
Instantly I took notice of the meticulously handwritten note taped to the frame. I figured Tawny had somehow captured a picture of me, or something, and wrote a note to explain it. I reached over quickly and turned my bedside lamp on. Then I pulled the whole gift closer and started to read her letter. I imagined it was important, as she clearly took the time to write it out perfectly. It read:
Not a lot can be said on such a small space,
but I will try my best to explain my gift to you.
When I learned of our project in art class,
I jumped at the opportunity to have you as my partner.
I wanted to draw you how I see you. Every time I look
across the table at you, or from a distance, I've
wanted to capture your true beauty. Unfortunately,
the art teacher did not share my artistic
interpretation of the school project. So I took it
upon myself to draw another portrait, at home, in my
spare time. This is the result. I hope you can
understand that it's simply how I view you.
I care about you deeply, and hope this will not offend.
You're a magnificent person, and one of my best friends.
Confusion gripped me for a split second, as my eyes traced over her cutely artistic cursive writing. Then I suddenly realized which project she was referring to. It was the only one where she was my partner; the pencil shading portrait. I carefully pulled the note off of the frame. As I looked at the portrait underneath, I suddenly found it harder to breathe. I'm sure I let out an audible gasp in the still room.
True to her word, Tawny had drawn a completely different picture than the finished one I saw in art class. The one in class had been based on an older picture of myself. It was when I had shorter hair. I looked more boyish in that version. This new picture showed me in a completely different light; a feminine light. My face looked softer; my hair longer.
Tawny went into magnificent detail. I had no idea where she got the inspiration for it, other than simply seeing me every day in class. At no point in the past did I ever give her a newer picture of myself. The only possible picture she could have used would have been one that Kate took over the summer. Only, Kate went to great lengths to make me appear older for those mock modeling pictures. Tawny had drawn me in a more youthful form.
I pulled the framed picture closer. My eyes danced over each and every pencil line. Subconsciously I had let my fingers glide over the curves beneath the glass. What Tawny saw in me -- what she had captured in this portrait -- it was what I was starting to see in myself. Somehow she saw it all before me, and I had simply been in denial about it. I was turning into a girl, while still clinging desperately to my male identity.
"Bailey?" My door creaked open slightly, letting a sliver of light cascade across my body. "Oh, I didn't mean to disturb you," my mother said from the hallway.
"No," I said. "It's okay."
"What's that?" my mother asked, now opening the door a bit more.
"A gift," I said. "From Tawny."
"May I see?"
I slid my legs over the side of the bed, and held the gift out. My mother slinked into my room and carefully took it from me. She studied it for a minute. Then she glanced up at me, and back down at the picture. For what seemed like an eternity, she thoughtfully looked over the portrait.
"She spent a lot of time on this," my mother said.
"I know," I replied. "I kind of wish I'd put more thought into her present."
"Oh…" My mother seemed absorbed in the portrait. "You got her a nice gift." She looked up at me. "From the looks of this, it's one she'll probably use quite a bit."
"I don't know…" I said, pushing myself off of the bed and making my way to the dresser. "There was a letter, but it's personal."
"Well, I don't want to intrude," my mother said. "This is nice though."
I watched her thoughtfully make a spot on my beside table for the portrait. "She said that's how she sees me," I suddenly found myself saying. "A girl…" I turned back to my dresser and pretended to search for something inside one of the drawers.
My mother stood silently for a moment, but then strolled over behind me. "You know, honey," she said, as I felt her hands rest upon my shoulders. "Maybe it's not so much about her seeing you as a certain gender, but rather her way of portraying the potential she sees in you as a person."
"You've been drinking with Tom," I said, pulling myself away from her.
"Seriously… Look around," I said, gesturing to the four corners of my room. "I'm turning into a girl."
My mother put her hands on her hips. "Is that so bad?" she asked.
"I don't know," I said, moving back to my bed. "I don't know what's good, or what's bad."
My mother watched me for a moment. The room grew deathly silent. "I can't…" She strolled over to my desk, and eased into my chair. "I know it probably doesn't seem like it, or hasn't seemed like it in the past." Her hands dropped into her lap. "We can't make you choose."
"That's not what I want to hear right now," I said, falling back onto my bed.
"What do you want to hear?" she asked. "I can't read your mind, honey."
"I don't know," I said. "I've been through all the medical pros and cons. And the social junk, and whatnot. The peer pressure. The bullies. I've even discovered who my true friends are through it all." I thought of Tiffany's betrayal, and suddenly drew in a huge breath, and slowly let it out. "I think I might need a break from it. To see if it's really what I want, or if I'll even miss it."
"Miss what?" my mother asked. "You want to stop seeing Rajan?"
"No," I said. "I think he's actually helping." I pushed myself up to where I was looking at her eye-to-eye. "I think I need a break from dressing… From everything girly."
"That's completely understandable," my mother said. "Do you want me to take it all away from you?"
My eyes slowly trailed around my bedroom. "I think that's going to take some doing," I said, with a halfhearted laugh.
"It's perfectly manageable," my mother said, "and reasonable." She sat up straighter in the chair. "If, and only if, it's what you really want."
I slowly nodded toward my mother. "It's what I want," I said. "At least for now."
"Did you want to start tonight?" she asked, with a pleasant smile.
My head shook feverishly. "Too tired."
"Okay," she said with a slight chuckle. "Why don't you sleep on it?" She rose to her feet, taking a slight pause to steady herself. "If you feel the same tomorrow, then after Christmas, I'll help you put everything away."
"Thanks mom," I said, sheepishly.
"I'll let you get some sleep," she said, stooping over to kiss me on the top of my head. "Goodnight honey."
"Goodnight," I said, as I watched her walk to my door.
She turned back for a moment. "Please at least hang the dress up before you fall asleep though," she said, as she closed the door behind her.
"And did you do that?"
My eyes suddenly opened to dull gray carpet. Light poured in them; slightly burning, as though I'd awakened from a nap. The air around me felt stiff. Bits of sleet hit the windows behind me, exploding in my ears like the steady ticking of a miniature drum. Rajan sat across from me. He looked at me with intrigue.
"Do what?" I finally asked.
"Did you put away your feminine attire and all?" Rajan asked, his Indian dialect returning, now that I'd awakened a bit from my haze.
My feet shuffled around on the floor below me. "I did," I said. "In a way, I did."
"Care to elaborate?" Rajan asked.
Twas the day after Christmas. Okay. Really it was. The tree still stood, tucked away in the corner, but retaining all its sparkling decoration. A fire crackled in the fireplace, casting shadows on the walls that flickered away. I could still smell peppermint candles burning, as they mingled with that fake tree smell my mother insisted spraying onto the tree. The beautifully wrapped presents, which once fell beneath the tree, had all been ravished; the remnants of wrapping paper now a day removed.
I felt a tinge of remorse in what my mother and I were doing. Little more than a day had gone by, and here I sat, putting newly bought feminine attire in boxes. My mother seemed fine with it, but I knew she held at least some disappointment in her heart. I had already thought about changing my mind three times in the last hour, but her encouragement helped me stick to my guns. We were going to give this a decent try. I was going to try to live solely as a boy for a while.
Nathan had stopped by earlier in the day. He didn't stay long, as he had plans with Justin, but I at least got to talk to him for a few minutes. I didn't tell him about Tiffany. In fact, I hadn't told anyone about what she had done to me. Nor was I even sure she had done what I thought she had done to me. I did, however, explain to Nathan what my mother and I were doing. He didn't even blink when I told him.
"I think that's the last of it," my mother said, as she situated things in another box.
"Do you think I'm doing the right thing?" I asked, as I curled back into my favorite armchair.
"Honey…" My mother looked up at me, brushing hair away from her face. "I've long given up on knowing what's right in situations like these." She gave me a half-smile. "Does it feel right to you?"
I sat for a moment, letting my steel blue eyes dance over the feminine things I'd acquired. One box alone had been filled with pairs of ballet flats, boots, girls' sneakers and dress shoes. My eyes focused on a pair of four inch heels sitting on the top. They were the tallest heels I had, and I barely knew how to walk in them. I suddenly recalled the fact that I could actually walk in them if I had to in a life or death situation. This thought forced my eyes away from that particular box.
They landed on another box, filled with plastic bags, which in turn were filled with clothes. Panties, socks, leggings, pantyhose, and even bras, were just the icing on the proverbial cake in this box. Below them, I knew I had bags filled with dresses, skirts, tops and even pairs of girls' jeans. Most of my nicer attire had been hung in my mother's closet in storage bags. I looked back to my mother, as she placed a box full of nail polish and other beauty supplies in the top of a larger box.
She looked up when she saw me looking at her. "These will only last so long," she said. "But I'm keeping them in case you change your mind."
"This feels right," I slowly said.
"Are you sure?"
I nodded. "I need to clear my head of it all."
"Well…" She slid a top over one of the boxes. "If you change your mind, none of it will be far." As the lid clicked onto the box, she looked up at me again. "I just don't want you to think it's being taken away from you."
"No… I know," I said. "I just think it would be better this way." I gave her a warm smile. "Out of sight, out of mind."
"I do ask one thing though," my mother said.
She took a deep breath, as she slid on another box top. "If you do change your mind, please let me know," she said. "I don't want you to think you have to sneak around, dressing in private." She looked back up again. "I'm serious. If you're just wanting to put a dress on after school, or are doing it to goof around with your friends. Even if you simply want to paint your nails again. Let me know how you feel." She gave me a pleasant smile. "It's not healthy to hide it."
"Okay," I said quietly. "I'll tell you." I took one quick look around. "But I don't think I'll be changing my mind any time soon."
"So how have you been coping with your decision?" Rajan asked, his voice shattering my thoughts once more.
"It was actually hard at first," I said, focusing again on the doctor across the office.
"Care to elaborate?" Rajan asked.
"Well…" I fidgeted with my hands again. "It's a little embarrassing."
Rajan leaned forward, garnering my attention. "I don't want you to feel obligated to tell me anything that makes you feel uncomfortable," he said.
"I wouldn't say uncomfortable," I said. "It's more like… relearning everything."
My eyes shot up to meet his, noting the strong sense of encouragement and understanding in them. "Like for instance," I found myself blurting out. "I've worn panties for months now, and it's like I keep going to look for them in my drawer. It's weird, but it seems like they're missing. Or… things are missing from my life somehow." I chuckled a bit at the thought. "I'm still not used to reaching in and grabbing a pair of boys' underwear."
"I can see how that would take some getting used to," Rajan said. "Do you get that same feeling with other pieces of attire, or other objects?"
"Sometimes," I said. "It comes and goes." I looked down at my attire. "I'm actually pretty used to wearing the other stuff most of the time."
"Do you feel an attachment to feminine attire, or rather more specifically, in your case, to female undergarments?" he asked.
I shook my head. "I don't think I'm attached to them," I said. "I really haven't missed them all that much, except for that weird feeling from time to time."
Rajan leaned back in his chair, and scribbled in his notepad. "That feeling you're experiencing, could simply be from having it removed so suddenly," he said. "Like getting used to initially wearing female undergarments daily, you probably need time to adjust to wearing something different."
I watched for a moment, as Rajan continued to write in his notepad. Inwardly, I laughed at his use of the word undergarments. He made it sound so professional and generic. Though what he said, actually seemed to explain what I had been dealing with. Maybe I simply needed more time to adjust, and not just to the absence of panties, but to everything else in my life. It really did feel like things had come to a grinding halt for me. Especially with a few of my closer relationships.
"Do you think this change was brought about by what happened with Tiffany?" Rajan asked.
"What?!" I looked at him as if he'd entered the room unannounced.
"Are you giving up on your feminine side for Tiffany?"
"No," I quickly responded. "I haven't even talked to her."
"Not even on some subconscious level?" Rajan prodded.
I buried my face into the palms of my hands. "I…" I took a deep breath. "That might be a small part of it," I finally said. "But I'm not even sure it is."
"Don't you think it would be conducive so see where you sit with her?" Rajan asked.
"Con-what?" I peeked out over my fingertips.
Rajan cleared his throat. "Um… advantageous… helpful," he said.
My hands dropped onto the arms of the leather chair. "I really don't want to talk to her," I said.
"You can't avoid her forever," Rajan said, with an understanding smile.
"But she lied to me…"
"Maybe it's not what you think," Rajan said. "Maybe you didn't even see what you thought you saw."
"What if it's worse than what I saw?" I asked.
Rajan leaned forward, uncrossing his legs and planting his feet firmly on the floor. He gave me a studious look for a moment, which turned into a pleasant smile. "Could I encourage you to at least talk it out with her?" he asked. "It might go a long way into helping you out with your own path."
I stared down Rajan. For the longest while I felt numb, simply looking at him with an expressionless face. He didn't budge from his position. We must have sat looking at each other for a good minute, before the thick silence in the room was cut by a light knocking on his door. As if on queue, we both turned to look in the direction of the knocking.
"Enter," Rajan said loudly, making me flinch.
The door whisked open, scratching at the gray carpet beneath it. In walked the older, dowdy looking assistant who mostly handled appointments at the front desk. She glanced at me, and then over to Rajan. The look on her face begged the question, "Is this a bad time?" However, Rajan waved her over to him anyway.
"Mister Caldwell is more than half an hour early, as usual," she said, as she approached. Rajan nodded, as she handed him a clipboard. "And Doctor Brooks needs your signature for approval here," she said, pointing to something on the clipboard.
"Oh, that reminds me," Rajan said, as he looked over the paper in front of him. "I won't be here for our next appointment, Bailey." He glanced up for a moment. "I'm going on vacation, but Doctor Brooks will be here to answer any questions, and Jennifer will be here to administer your monthly shot." He quickly signed the paper, and thoughtfully waved the receptionist away.
"So I'll be talking to one of them?" I asked.
"Well probably not Doctor Brooks. Not unless you have questions about your medication," Rajan said. "That's why I'm having an extended session with you today." He watched me for a moment. "If there is an emergency, and you need to contact me, the receptionist can help you get in contact with me. But Doctor Brooks is not a licensed psychiatrist, so he won't be meeting you for therapy."
"What does he do?" I asked. "I mean, I know he's here, but I never see him."
Rajan chuckled. "Doctor Brooks is our general practitioner," he said. "There is actually another office on the other side of this building."
"I didn't know that," I said, dumbfounded.
Rajan smiled. "I always have my patients come to this side," he said. "It's easier that way, and they don't run the risk of getting sick while waiting in the other waiting room."
"Do you have a lot of patients?" I asked, becoming a bit nosey.
"I wouldn't say a lot," Rajan said, as he shifted in his chair. "I'm mainly a psychiatrist. So I see various types of people. However, I tend to focus on gender dysphoria cases, and sometimes administer hormone therapy." He gestured towards me. "As in your case."
"Speaking of which," I said. "I've been feeling tired ever since we started the new medication." I watched Rajan as he clicked his pen and began scribbling on his notepad. "The exercise has helped, but I just feel drained when I get home sometimes."
"I'll make a note of it," Rajan said. "We might have to make some changes when I get back." He looked up at me thoughtfully. "Are there any other side effects you've noticed?"
"Just that one," I said, looking down at the carpet.
"No depression?" Rajan asked. "Loss of appetite? Weight gain?"
"No," I said, shaking my head slowly. "I mean, I've been kind of depressed, but that could be because of this whole thing with Tiffany."
"Well…" Rajan sat up straighter. "I again would advise talking to her."
My eyes came up to meet his reassuring smile. I felt my shoulders raising in a shrug all on their own. "I'll think about it," I said. "I have to go back to school anyway tomorrow."
"I always hated going back after the winter break," Rajan said with a chuckle. "Even in college." The smile faded from his lips as he glanced at his watch. "I'm going to wrap up our session here, unless you have anything else you'd like to say."
I shook my head. "Can't think of anything."
Rajan flipped his notepad shut, and moved to the edge of his chair. "I'd like to discuss a few things with your mother before you both leave," he said. "I rarely get a chance to catch her up to speed."
"Okay," I said, moving to stand up.
Rajan reached for my hand. "I will see you in March," he said, as he shook my hand. "Be safe."
"I will," I said, letting his hand slip from mine. "Have a nice vacation."
"Thank you," he said, stepping to hold the door open for me. "I'm luckily going some place warm."
We both kind of chuckled as we came out of his office. Rajan waved my mother in, and I strolled past her to the small waiting area. As the door of Rajan's office shut, I turned to find an empty chair to sit in. Before I could, however, I felt someone tapping me on the shoulder. I spun around, and my eyes met a pair of concerned brown eyes staring back at me.
"Hi Bailey," Megan said in her quiet Korean demeanor.
"I didn't expect to see you here," I said, reaching out to give her a friendly hug.
"Actually I heard you were here," Megan said, as she pulled back from my embrace. "I wanted to talk to you before…" She appeared even more concerned now. "Well…"
"What is it?" I asked.
Megan's brow furrowed almost as if in despair. "I'm moving," she finally said.
"What?!" I reached out and took both of her hands. "Why? Where?"
"The army talked my father into coming out of retirement," she said. "We're moving back to Texas."
"That's…" I looked at her for a lingering moment. "I'm going to miss you."
"I'll miss you too," Megan said solemnly. "I…" She looked down at our hands, still clinging to one another. "I'd like to write to you," she slowly said. "If that's okay?"
"Sure!" I said, trying to be encouraging. "Let me give you my address."
I let go of Megan's hands long enough to scurry over to the receptionist's desk, and ask for a piece of paper. Then I quickly jotted my address down and came back to her. I held it up to her quietly.
"Does Tawny know?" I found myself asking out of nowhere.
Megan nodded, taking the piece of paper from me. "She knows," she said quietly. "I don't know if she told you, or not, but we're kind of broken up."
I shook my head. "I hadn't heard," I lied, not wanting to bring anymore sadness to the occasion. Megan did enough of that for the both of us.
"Could you…" She looked up with tearful eyes. "Could you tell her I'm sorry."
"For what?" I asked.
"She'll know," Megan said. "I have to go." She began to pull away from me.
"Megan," I said quickly.
I waited for Megan to turn before approaching her. She stood there quietly, blinking away what would soon be a waterfall of tears. In the stillness of the tiny waiting room outside of Rajan's office, I looked upon Megan for the last time I would ever see her. Her soft golden skin looked so young and smooth beneath her shiny black hair. The small frame of her body stood so boldly in female attire. I lacked the courage to wear it to school like she did.
A look of confusion started to spread across Megan's face, and I knew I was losing the opportunity to do what I felt necessary. I stepped forward, boldly standing face to face with her. Her eyes rose to meet mine, as if pleading to let her go. Yet I couldn't let her go. Before me technically stood the only boy I had ever kissed. She could put whatever clothing on that she wanted to, but it didn't hide the fact that she had been born a boy.
I knew her secret. I shared her secret. And as Megan and I stared silently at each other in the quiet office, I knew there was one more thing I wanted to share with her. Without another word or another thought, I tilted my head ever so slightly. I felt my hands going up to rest ever so gently on her cheeks. Then I found her lips with mine. It felt so right for the moment; a proper way to say goodbye.
Her lips moved against mine. They felt so soft. Our eyes shut. I felt her arms move around my waist in a soft embrace. We shared one last thing that day. It was something we shared before on Halloween night, and something I'd been longing to experience one more time. I never had the reason or will to do it until now. Megan and I would never meet again, and I would never have another chance.
It ended so suddenly. Nothing interrupted our sweet kiss goodbye, but neither of us wanted it to be anything more. I could sense that she shared in my curiosity and sentiment. Megan forced a smile with tears rolling down her cheek. She placed a hand on my chest, and with a nod, pushed away from me. Still looking at me as she backed way, she raised the same hand in a wave.
"Goodbye," I whispered.
"Goodbye," she said, before turning to exit.
I stood for a long moment in silence. Another person had walked out of my life. Be it bad timing, or a winter curse, I couldn't stand the feeling any longer. It felt like everyone I cared about was leaving me. I wasn't even sure if I could hold on to what was left. My body felt like a statue; numb and unwilling to move. It took my mother to snap me out of it, with her promise to get something to eat on the way home. Home sounded awfully good to me now.
To be continued...
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