A Summer’s Odyssey Part 16...the end...for now

A Summer's Odyssey
Part 16

By Jennifer Sue
the end... for now



Now I was even more surprised... and pleased. “Tony... I’m... I won’t make a good girlfriend until I’ve transitioned and that will take years.” The tears still threatened but once again had transformed from sadness to joy.

“You’re legally a girl now, right,” he asked as he took my other hand.

“Yes,” I answered as mixed emotions swirled in my heart.

“Well, I’m a boy and you’re a girl,” he declared. “There’s no reason you can’t be my girlfriend.”

“But Tony,” I protested. “It’ll be so hard.”

Instead of saying anything he pulled me against him and gave me a short sweet kiss on the lips. My body trembled as his lips touched mine. It was like grabbing hold of a live wire, but it felt so wonderful! I felt my knees growing weak as the joyful tears flowed!

Tony felt me sagging and slipped his arms about me to hold me up. Then the bumpkin barked like a dog, panted a few times and began licking the tears off my face! I couldn’t help but giggle as it tickled and melted my heart at the same time.

“You’re such a bumpkin,” I finally said as I regained control and leaned my head out of reach of his slobbering tongue. Then I smiled and gave him a quick peck on his lips... then another... and another...

Just then a shrill whistle blew nearby causing us both to jump although we held onto each other. We looked to the source to see Coach W and Mom standing about five feet away looking at us.

“Illegal use of hands,” Coach W declared. “Ten yard penalty.”

Their scowling faces quickly faded into grins. “Masters, take this young lady off the field. You two are distracting our practice. It was only then that we saw most of the players and cheerleaders looking at us. Blushing deeply we separated except for holding hands and quickly made our way off the field.

“While you two look cute together, you were getting a bit too involved, especially in public,” Mom gently reprimanded us. “I’m not sure it’s safe to leave you here alone.”

“I’m sorry, Mom,” I whispered.

“So am I, Mrs. Scott,” Tony added.

“Just see that you behave,” Mom admonished.

“We will,” we simultaneously said then sheepishly smiled.

Suitably chastened, Tony and I sat on the grass at the edge of the field, still holding hands. My head was spinning. The kisses had been so spontaneous and so dreamy. The first had been a pleasant surprise, my response had been instinctual. I had felt as if my entire body was on fire and the only way to quench it was with Tony's lips. My entire body tingled and shivered just recalling being in his arms and our lips touching. I'd thought holding hands was nice, kissing was so much better

Then Mom's warning came back to me. One thing led to another to another, each feeling better than the last. I now understood her cautioning to go slow and be careful. My mother and dad had to have been on such an emotional high when I was conceived! If Mom and Coach W hadn't intervened, how far would Tony and I have gone? That was scary. I wasn't ready to go that far, heck, I wasn't even ready to be kissed!

But the way I had reacted to Tony's impetuous kiss also confirmed in my mind that I was all girl. No way was my reaction even remotely masculine, I wanted to simply melt into Tony. Now I knew without any shadow of a doubt that I was Krista. Tony's kiss had killed off the last remnants of Kristopher. That's not to say Kristopher was destroyed, but he was gone, his thoughts and memories were mine. His abrasive personality was crushed, but his ability to handle stress and defend himself were mine. We had fully merged. I was Krista, a girl who knew how boys thought and reacted. I determined to use that ability to the fullest.

My earlier desire to be a natural parent now seemed insignificant. I wanted to be a mother, but there was no need for a child to be of my own flesh and blood. Mom loved Lyndi, Teri, and me as much as she did LJ and Pete. I could do the same. I didn't want to delay my female puberty for something now so irrelevant. I wanted to mature into all the girl I could be as soon as possible!

Then a scary thought occurred to me. I'd been on the male hormone blockers only a short time. Granted, I hadn't entered puberty as a male, but I'd thought and reacted like a male. Yet my reaction to Tony's kiss had been all girl. If I swooned so easily without female hormones fueling my lust, what would happen when they were? Another topic for discussion with Mom and Dr. Sykes.

"Excuse me, Tony," I said as I let go of his hand and stood. "Please wait, I'll be back shortly," I added as he began to get up.

He watched as I walked over to Mom. We both knew she'd been keeping an eye on us.

"Mom, I'm sorry," I apologized as I sat beside her. "I don't really know what happened, but you were right. Each step is better than the last. It felt so good at the time, and the memory makes me feel all warm and toasty. But I know it was too much too soon. I liked it but it also scares me. It just overwhelmed me." Tears began trickling from my eyes.

"I understand," Mom soothed me as she slipped an arm about me. "I'm glad you understand what we discussed. You'll have to be patient and resist temptation. I trust you to do that. If you want to stay with Tony until his practice, it'll be okay. Just behave yourselves."

Tony had been trying to watch us without seeming obvious, fearing I'd not be allowed to stay. Stealth was not one of his abilities.

"We will, Mom," I sniffed as I leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. "Thanks for being my mom."

"It's my pleasure, Krista," Mom replied as she dabbed the tears from my cheeks. "Here is your paperwork for the Midget cheering squad. It’s all filled out, just in case you decide to try out. Now go back to Tony before he worries too much."

"Thanks again," I said as I got up and skipped over to Tony.

"I can stay but we've got to behave," I told him as I sat beside him.

"Great," he exclaimed with a silly grin pasted on his face. Then he turned to wave his thanks at Mom.

We held hands as he explained what was happening on the field. It was all beginning to make sense. It was obvious the players, as well as the guys watching were getting a tremendous thrill from the bashing and crashing. I realized it was an adrenalin rush, one I'd often experienced, most recently when I'd dumped Tony to the grass on our first meeting, and again that night when his dad came home. At least I was able to control it better than the guys.

When the practice was over, my sisters came bouncing back. They'd been accepted on the cheerleading squad. They were giggling and told me I just HAD to join the cheering squad for Tony's team. Once they settled down, Mom gave me some money, and after I'd hugged everyone goodbye, they headed back to the car to go home.

Tony and I walked to a concession stand and we each bought a hot-dog and Coke. Then we headed back to the field to watch the Pee-Wee squads practice. Although we sat side by side while we ate I paid more attention to the cheerleading work-out while Tony watched the guys.

The girls seemed to be having fun and the coaches seemed friendly. In addition to dancing, they were doing some cartwheels, somersaults, and leaps. The chants and songs they sang were simple and cute. I smiled, understanding why my sisters had so enjoyed their time practicing. When the guys began scrimmaging, I did watch them as I wanted to learn a bit more about the game itself.

"Well, I'm glad to see you're behaving yourselves," Rachel said as she came up behind us. "After the call I received from Krista's mom, I was concerned about what I might find."

"Hi, Mrs. Masters," I said as I blushed deeply.

"Hi Mom," Tony said as he stood and gave his mom a quick hug. "I'm sorry if we upset you and Mrs. Scott. I'm still not sure how it happened but it did. We'll keep it under control."

"Krista, you are a marvelous girl," Rachel sniffled as she looked down at me. "You just keep being a good influence on Tony! I can't even remember the last time he gave me a hug."

"Mom, we've hugged," Tony complained.

"I hugged you, and you let me," she corrected. "This is the first time in ages you've initiated the hug."

"Oh," Tony said abashedly.

I giggled and stood up. Rachel pulled me and Tony into a group hug. It felt good, family good, not sexual, simply very nice.

"Krista, I'd like you to call me Rachel," she said. "You're practically family, what with Kylie and Larry being engaged."

"When we become family, does that mean Krista can't be my girlfriend?" Tony asked.

"I can still be your girlfriend, you bumpkin," I giggled. "We won't be blood relatives."

"So now you two are boyfriend and girlfriend?" Rachel smiled. "You make a good pair. Just understand you're young and this is the first love for both of you. If it doesn't work out, at least remain friends. That's where Jack and I failed."

"Mom, what do you mean," Tony asked.

"Your dad and I had a tempestuous relationship," she confessed. "By the time I realized our relationship was physical and we were not really friends, you were on the way. We married before you were born, but it was a mistake from the start. Not you, you're the most wonderful thing that ever happened in my life. But I never should have stayed in the marriage. I kept telling myself it was because you needed a father. By the time I realized I didn't like the way he was influencing you, I was too frightened of him to get out. It took Krista to wake both of us up. So I as I said, if your love fades, at least stay friends."

"I have every intention of remaining Tony's friend," I said. "I hope I can stay his girlfriend, but I know we're both young and it might not last."

"It better last," Tony exclaimed. "I need you! I never understood the saying that behind every good man there's a good woman. Now I do. I want to be a good man... your good man!"

"I'd like that," I said. "If I'm the woman behind you it'll be easier to kick you in the butt when you screw up. Just don't expect me to stay behind you. I want to be at your side."

Right in front of his mom, the bumkin kissed me and grinned like a fool. His mom and I giggled.

As the Pee-Wees were coming off the field and the Midgets were heading out, Coach W came over to us. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Masters," he smiled at Rachel. "I just wanted to let you know this young lady has had a very positive effect on your son. Except for having to penalize them earlier, they've been good."

"You have no idea how Krista has effected our lives," Rachel replied. "I only met her on Monday, but that first day she forever changed our lives for the good."

"I hope to see a lot more of you," Coach W smiled at me. "All right, Tony, let's get out there! I intend to work your butt off, so you leave this young lady alone."

I watched Tony jog onto the field to join his teammates. Then I looked over to the girls gathering for cheer practice. Part of me wanted to go, part of me was terrified.

"Let's head over," Rachel said as she placed a hand on my shoulder. "I know the coach, so I'll introduce you."

"Mindy, I'd like to introduce Krista Scott," she said when we reached the girls. "Krista, this is Mindy Welch. Krista is thinking about joining the squad."

"My mom filled out the papers," I meekly said as I handed her the forms.

"Yes, I spoke with her when she brought your sisters over to join their squad," Mindy replied while eyeing me up. Then she softly added, "If your mom hadn't told me, I would have never imagined you were born male. I think you're very brave."

"Girls, can I please have your attention?" she called out as she turned to face the squad. "This is Krista Scott. She's recently moved here from New England and is interested in joining the squad. She has no previous dance or cheer experience, so any help you can give her will be greatly appreciated. Karen, will you take Krista under your wing?"

"Sure," a bouncy blonde stepped forward and greeted me with a smile. "Krista, I'm Karen Savage, pleased to meet you!"

"Thanks," I nervously replied as we shook hands.

"How much do you know about cheering?" Karen asked.

"Just what I've seen this morning," I meekly answered.

"Okay," Karen said. "Do you do any sports?"

"No, never, but I'm in pretty good shape," I answered.

"I could see that," Karen chuckled. "I didn't think any girl could tame Tony."

"I didn't tame him, I just redirected him a bit." I smiled, "I take it you know him?"

"Yeah, we're in the same class at school," Karen answered. "Scott... are you any relation to Mrs. Scott, the school nurse?"

"Yeah, she's my new mom," I answered.

"No way... you're the one who took Tony out at school on Monday, aren't you," she asked with a hint of excitement. "Then you helped bust his dad for abuse! Girl... you're famous! You certainly did redirect Tony! No wonder he likes you."

"I didn't do anything special," I said. "I was just trying to be a friend."

"I'd say you're more than a friend." She laughed, "Okay, I'll do some simple steps, see if you can follow me."

I spent the next 15 minutes learning dance steps. By the end, we had linked arms over our shoulders and were doing shoulder high kicks. It really was fun! Quite a few of the other girls were watching us and clapped when we'd finished.

"Either you're a natural dancer, or you were not telling the truth about having no experience," Mindy smiled. "Join the rest of girls. All right everyone, let's start from the top."

I struggled, but managed to keep up better than a few of the regular girls. I quickly learned the steps and cheers, having seen and heard my sisters doing them earlier. By the end of practice I'd met most of the girls and they seemed quite friendly. A few were giving me mean looks. I guessed they knew my past, and were not happy to have me with them. I saw two of them go to Mindy and say something to her that made her frown and look at me.

She was about to speak when I decided I'd better do something. "Please, can I have your attention," I said as I stepped out from the group. "I'd like to thank you for letting me practice with you. I really enjoyed it and would like to become a member of the squad. However, before I do that, I need to be honest with you. I don't like fooling people and I'm not trying to fool anyone, but I'm a unique girl."

Mindy came over to me as the girls who'd spoken to her rejoined the group. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"I have to," I replied as I took a deep breath. "My birth mother died in June, leaving me to take care of my younger sisters and get us from Cape Cod in Massachusetts here. We had only what we could carry and a bit of money, so we started walking. We walked for four and half weeks, doing a few odd jobs to earn enough to eat, while sleeping wherever we could. Along the way I discovered I wasn't who I thought I was."

I paused to settle my nerves and saw a few of the girls realize they'd heard about our odyssey. "I discovered I was a girl," I continued. "I'm currently under a doctor's care for gender dysphoria, and last Friday I was legally recognized as a girl. If you don't know what gender dysphoria is, it's a condition where a person's mental gender is different than their physical gender. It's not possible to change a person's mental gender, but it is possible to change their physical gender. I'm at the beginning of that process. To put it bluntly, I'm a girl with a birth defect, I have a male body."

Most of the girls just looked at me in disbelief. A few, including the pair who had spoken to Mindy, had smug 'I told you so' expressions on their faces. A few had heard about me and obviously had difficulty believing I was ever male.

"No way you're a boy," Karen said. "No guy can move like you did! Plus, there's no way Tony Masters would ever hang with you! Unless he doesn't know?"

"I've been honest with everyone about my situation," I replied with calm serenity which I didn't feel. "I am a girl with a birth defect. Tony knows I'm a girl with a birth defect. My church knows I'm a girl with a birth defect. The school knows I'm a girl with a birth defect. I'm sorry if that upsets some of you, but I'm not going to go away. If anyone doesn't want to be my friend, I'll respect your right, but it's your loss. If anyone tries to get in my way, well, I won't look for a fight but I won't run away from one either. I'm not afraid to fight for what's right, and since the courts have recognized I'm a girl, deal with it or get out of my way."

"Girls, she's right," Karen smiled as she stepped by my side. "Tony Masters tried to take her on Monday outside the school. Even though she was wearing a skirt, she took him down and shoved his face in the dirt until he promised to be a good boy. My mom said she came out in my church, too."

The expressions on the faces of the girls changed to one of apprehension, which shook me up a bit until...

"I deserved it too," Tony said as he stepped beside me and took my hand. "Krista taught me a lesson I'll never forget. To show you she's reformed me, let me publicly apologize for anything that I ever did to offend or upset any of you. Also, Krista is my girlfriend. Neither of us are gay. I'm a boy and she's a girl. That's it, nothing more and nothing less. If you can't handle it, it's your problem, not ours."

The girls were bewildered. Most knew Tony and had never heard him apologize for anything.

"Girls, I think Krista will make a fine addition to our squad if she's willing to join us," Mindy announced. "I know this will upset some of you and I'm sorry. But since Krista is legally a girl and under a doctors care for gender dysphoria, I can not deny her a place on the squad due to her birth defect. Since she has been able to pick up our routines so quickly, I can't disqualify her from a place on the squad due to poor performance. I hope all of you will stay with the squad, but if you can't, I'm sorry. Also, if any of you do quit, your deposits are nonrefundable. I'll be here for a few minutes if any of you want to talk to me. If your parents have any questions, they can call me. Any questions?"

Mindy looked about the group and saw a few disgruntled faces, but no one said anything. "If no one has any questions, we had a great practice, and I'll see you here Saturday at 2pm for the first game of the season."

Most of the girls gathered around me to welcome me onto the squad. I could tell a few wanted to ask me about my birth defect, but no one had the courage. As Tony and I headed back towards his mom, Karen asked if we could wait a few moments because she wanted to introduce me to her mom. Rachel smiled, knowing from the expression on my face that I'd made the squad.

"Krista, Tony," Karen called as she brought a smiling woman toward us. "This is my mom, Beth Savage, Mom, this is Krista Scott, Tony Masters, and Mrs. Masters."

"Hello, Krista," Beth greeted. "It's good to see you're getting acquainted. Karen, this is the girl I told you about."

"I already figured that out," Karen smiled. "I think I'll start coming to church more often.

"Mom, can we start going to back to church too?" Tony asked.

"I'd love to," Rachel replied with a smile, and once more looked at me, smiling for the positive influence I was having on her son.

When we got to his mom’s car, we both slid into the back seat and held hands. Tony and I talked non-stop all the way home. Having been to the farm with Kylie, Tony gave his mom directions. When we pulled up by the house, Gram and Mom came out of the house while my siblings came bounding from the play equipment. Tony and I slipped out of the back seat still holding hands. They all wanted to know if I’d tried out for the cheering squad.

“The Tidewater Titan Midgets have no choice but to win every game,” Tony announced. “With my abilities as tailback, and with Krista cheering, we’re a shoo-in!”

Everyone hugged and congratulated me.

Mom sighed. “Now I have to take THREE girls to be fitted for uniforms tomorrow!”

We all laughed and explained how things had gone.

“Mom, you gotta see what Kylie’s doing here,” Tony exclaimed as he took his mom’s hand with his free hand and led us both to the barn.

Kylie and Ed were hard at work on the DUKW. They were lowering the engine onto a cart. Tony let go of our hands and went over to center the cart and hold it steady.

Rachel happily smiled to see her son pitching in to help without being asked. She reached over and took my hand and mouthed “Thank you,” as tears of joy filled her eyes.

I blushed and sheepishly smiled.

“Thanks Tony,” Kylie said once they had the engine secured. “Aunt Rachel, this is Ed Nelson. Ed, this is my Aunt Rachel, Tony’s mom,” she introduced the adults.

Ed and Rachel greeted each warmly. “You have one heck of a talented niece,” Ed declared. “I’ve been a shade tree mechanic all my life and she’s teaching me.”

“Her father was the best mechanic in the area,” Rachel answered. “He taught her well.”

“She’s not afraid to tackle anything,” Ed smiled. “I can’t believe we got this engine out in one day.”

“She’s a hard worker,” Rachel smiled. “I hope Tony will be just as ambitious.”

“He already is,” Ed chuckled. “Tuesday he and I pulled all the wheels, removed the tires, then sanded and primed the wheels. He and Krista are both gogetters.”

“I take it this is the ‘duck’ Tony was talking about,” Rachel said as she walked to the side of the monster vehicle. “I’ve seen these in movies but they were always in the water. I never thought they were this big.”

“Gram said her grandad bought it as Army Surplus after WWII ended,” I said. “He used it until 1972 when he parked it after a hurricane. It sat until Tuesday when we started fixing it up.”

“You mean you intend to fix it up after it sat for 35 years?” Rachel asked, hardly believing their audacity.

“Sure,” Kylie smiled. “It was in the barn all that time and is in great shape. I hope to have it running by spring.”

Suddenly I realized something. “That’s just so you and Larry can get married on it,” I giggled.

Krista blushed and smiled guiltily, which made everyone laugh.

By that time it was getting near supper so Tony and I helped close the barn. The bumpkin kissed me before he got into the car with his mom to head home. I floated into the house with a silly grin on my face.

Dad was delighted we’d made the cheer squads and smiled at Mom. “Now I have a good excuse to to watch at least three football games on Saturdays!” We all laughed.

I slept well that night, dreaming of Tony.

First thing Friday morning Mom took my sisters and me to the uniform shop in Easton and fitted us with blue and white cheerleader uniforms for the Tidewater Titans. The uniforms were stock items and they promised to have the team logo put on so Dad could pick them up after work.

We arrived home just before lunch. I changed into work clothes and took sandwiches out to the barn to Ed, Kylie, and Tony. After we’d eaten, I joined them working on the DUWK. Tony and I began dismantling the engine. We carefully cleaned every piece. Removing the old gaskets was really a pain. Kylie and Ed set to work dismantling the transmission and gearbox they’d pulled out that morning. When we finished working for the day we cleaned up. Ed walked home. Tony kissed me before he got into the Fruitmobile with Kylie. I stood in the lane watching them disappear into the trees with a wistful grin on my face.

After a shower and supper, the girls and I modeled our uniforms and after warming up, practiced our dance routines and cheers.

Saturday we were all up early. We formed a caravan to the football field. The entire Scott family, including Gram as well as the Masters and Nelsons were there to cheer LJ and Pete play football at their 9am game, and Lyndi and Teri cheering at the 11am game. The Tidewater Titan squads won both games. We had a leisurely picnic after the girls were done, then Tony and I had to get ready for our 3pm game.

Tony tripped over his feet when he first saw me in my cheerleader outfit. I looked hot and knew it. I loved the way the short pleated skirt swayed saucily in response to my tiniest movement. I wantonly teased poor Tony. His teammates razzed him, but they enjoyed my show too.

Only one of the girls had quit the cheer squad because I’d joined. I felt bad, but stuck to my determination that it was her loss and problem, not mine. Mindy took me to the side and quietly told me I was a better cheerleader than the girl who left the squad. Karen broke the ice by giving me a welcome hug. The other girls quickly made me feel welcome.

The game was tough. I cheered my heart out for the team, especially Tony. As the game wound down the score was 13 to 9 against us. With 20 seconds left, Tony took a handoff on our 40 yard line. The clock ran out before he crossed the goal line, but he made the winning touchdown! I screamed and jumped up and down with the other girls. Karen hugged me and together we screamed and jumped up and down. The guys were carrying Tony off the field. They carried him right to the sideline, putting him down in front of me. He swept me in his arms and swung me in a circle as I screamed. We kissed long and hard when he put me down. That earned us hoots from the guys, and cheers from the girls, but I loved it!

As we headed back to our families I saw that Dad was watching us closely. Mom held his hand and smiled. I realized it was the first time Dad had seen Tony and me express our love.

We all adjourned to Gram’s for a picnic. We rehashed all three games and had a great time. By the time we wound down I was physically and mentally exhausted, but I’d never felt more loved, by my extended family and by Tony.

My dreams that night were fantastic.

Sunday morning we all went to church. Tony and I sat with Kylie and Larry. Karen joined us in the pew, too. The service was nice, and Rev Giles pointed out that Tony had scored the winning touchdown in the Tidewater Titan’s Midget Squad game. We were all warmly greeted and congratulated by the congregation as we left.

With his mother's permission, Tony invited me to his home for lunch and to spend the afternoon walking about St Michaels to help familiarize me with the town. We planned to eat supper at one of the small eateries and get home about 7 so his mom could drive me home. After saying goodbye to my family we climbed into the Rachel's SUV and pulled out onto the street. We'd only driven a few blocks when we heard movement behind the rear seat. As we turned we saw Jack Masters emerging from beneath a blanket with a pistol in his hand! His face was bruised, one eye almost swollen shut and his lip was crusted with blood where it'd been split.

"My faggot son with his faggot boyfriend," he laughed in a most unsettling manner. "Now I can take care of both of you! Rachel, you just keep on driving. Head to Easton and get on Route 50 south. If anyone tries to signal for help, I'll kill all of you. Got it?"

We all nodded our heads. "I'll do whatever you want, Jack, just let the kids go," Rachel begged.

"Shut up and drive, bitch," Jack snarled.

"Dad, let Krista go," Tony bravely demanded.

"Shut up, faggot," Jack bellowed and slammed Tony on the side of the head with the barrel of the pistol.

Rachel and I both screamed as Tony slumped to the side, unconscious.

"Tony," I yelled as I leaned across the seat. I saw blood oozing out and reached in my purse for some tissues to tend to the wound.

"Jack, you son of a bitch," Rachel snarled. "If you hurt Tony I'll..."

"You'll shut your yapping trap and drive," Jack snarled.

Meanwhile, I was checking Tony's wound. "It's not a deep wound. I'll keep some pressure on it until it stops bleeding."

"Ahhh, ain't that sweet," Jack sneered. "One faggot taking care of another faggot. I taught my boy better than to have anything to do with faggots, the ungrateful bastard! Then to go around holding hands with it! Well, if it wants to be a freaking girl, I'll make it a freaking girl!"

"Jack, please," Rachel cried.

"If you don't shut the hell up I'll blow this faggot away right now," Jack screamed as he pointed the gun at my head.

I was scared to the point where I was ready to wet myself. But I felt a cold rage building up inside. I did my best to control my anger and appear like a scared kid. It really wasn’t difficult to start crying and it did help release some of the tension I felt.

"Christ, you even bawl like a freaking girl," he yelled. "Shut the hell up or I'll smack you on the head!"

I sniffed back my tears and held Tony on my lap.

"You make me sick," Jack sneered. "A freaking pansy! Do you have any idea how I was ridiculed in the county jail because my son was beat up by a freaking pansy? Then when the two of you were seen at the football practice kissing... God it was horrible! But I'll make you pay, and your cop dad!"

We drove on in silence, right into Easton before heading south onto Route 50, a 4 lane highway. Tony started coming around, moaning and reaching up to his head. I soothed him and made him stay laying on my lap. We all knew if we arrived wherever he was taking us he'd probably kill us. I found I wasn't afraid of dying, but I was afraid of suffering before I died. I had no doubt this mad-man would make me suffer.

"How did you escape?" I asked trying to build up his machismo hoping it's be easier to take advantage of a mistake.

"Some jerk was getting on me about my faggot loving son so I swung at him," Jack sneered. "I had him until a couple of his buddies joined in. Once they'd knocked me around and bloodied me, I pretended to be knocked out and fell. The jailers forced everybody back and one knelt to check me. I played possum, so they brought in a stretcher and took me to the infirmary. They thought I might have a concussion so they called an ambulance. Once I was inside, I cold-cocked the guard and the EMT, then made the driver take me north until we were out of town. I made them pull into a service road and stop. Then I had the driver tie the other two up with adhesive tape, then I shot all three."

"Why?" I asked not having to try to sound horrified while trying to draw him out.

"Why not?" He laughed like a maniac. "With the way you set me up I'd be in prison for life, anyway. I had nothing to lose, and with them missing the cops, they’ll figure I took off with them."

Now we knew for sure we were going to be killed. Rachel began crying and could barely see to drive. The SUV was weaving all over the road. "Damn it woman, drive right or you'll draw the cops!"

By this time Rachel was nearly a basket case. "Pull over, Rachel," I said. "I'll drive."

"Like a little faggot like you can drive," Jack snorted as Rachel pulled over to the side of the of the interstate.

"I can drive," I said. "I've driven my Gram's van. If I screw up you can shoot me."

By that time we were stopped. Cars were whizzing past us. Rachel was gasping for air.

"Stop the theatrics and drive, bitch," he snarled.

"Dad, Mom's having an asthma attack," Tony groggily said. "You know how she gets. Krista can drive, I saw her. Let Mom come back here and Krista go up front."

"Damn," Jack swore. "All right, no one gets out. Rachel, slide over to the passenger seat so the faggot can get behind the wheel."

Rachel was gasping as she slid over to the passenger seat. I climbed through the front seats to slip behind the wheel. Before I buckled in, I dug her inhaler from Rachel's purse and gave it her. While she was puffing, I reached over and buckled her in. Then I buckled myself in, and adjusted the mirrors.

"Come on, you little fruit," Jack snarled. "Stop screwing around and get going!"

"I will," I said as I adjusted the seat all the way forward. Then I put on the turn signal and watched the traffic until it was safe to pull out. I stayed five MPH under the 55 mph speed limit as we headed south towards Virginia. Naturally, everyone was passing me, but I maintained a steady pace and stayed in the right lane. Rachel's breathing settled but she was still wheezing. Looking in the mirror I could see Jack staring daggers at me. I also noted Tony blinking his eyes and shaking his head to clear it.

"Tony, just lay down and relax," I scolded. "I'm pretty sure you have a concussion, so you need to rest."

Tony mumbled, but did I as said.

"Christ, you listen better to the faggot than you ever did to me, you little fruit," Jack said with venom dripping from his voice.

After about five minutes of flawless driving I saw Jack beginning to relax. Apparently my driving met with his approval which surely made him angry. About five minutes later I saw a tractor trailer bearing down on us doing about 70mph. He slipped out into the passing lane to go around us. I figured this might be my only chance to save us. Just as he approached the back of the SUV I swerved over in front of him and hit the brakes.

Of course, my desperate maneuver didn't quite work as I'd hoped. I wasn't able to stay in the passing lane, and slammed the right front end of the SUV into the median barrier. The truck driver managed to swerve towards the right lane, but never had a chance to hit his brakes as he slammed into the right rear corner of the SUV. The air bags went off, slamming Rachel and me into our seats. It hit me right in the nose so hard my eyes watered. The sound of tearing steel and shattering glass is one I'll never forget.

Things happened fast. We stayed slammed into the median barrier for about a hundred feet as the bumper of the big truck rode over the crushed bumper of the SUV. As the tractor trailer bulldozed into the driving lane he turned us sideways and we began to tumble and bounce down the road. Pieces of the SUV flew all over the place. The tractor trailer ran off the side of the road into a ditch and overturned.

When we finally bounced to a stop we were upside down. Even though I was dizzy and disoriented, I took stock of my body. My nose was bleeding and I had dozens of small glass cuts and I didn’t want to think how many bruises. I was just glad no bones were broken. Rachel dangled upside-down from her seatbelt, she was extremely groggy and disorientded. Twisting to look back at Tony I saw he too was suspended by his seatbelt, he had small cuts all over and was barely conscious. Peering past him I was shocked to see Jack was groaning and starting to move. I had no idea how he survived, since he wasn’t belted in. All I knew was that I had to disarm him.

I pulled myself up enough so I was able to unbuckle my seat belt. After dropping to the crushed roof I crawled through the wreckage to the back. There were only about 10 inches clearance between the top of the back seat and the rear storage area. The rear storage area where Jack had hidden was only half the size it had been. I could see Jack was barely conscious, but still had the gun in his hand. Steeling myself, I squirmed my head and shoulders into the back and grabbed the pistol in an attempt to pull it from his hand..

Jack snarled and tried to keep me from getting the weapon from him. We both grunted and I clung to the pistol so diligently he dragged me into the crushed area until we were stuffed together like sardines. After a bit more struggle, he pushed me down and managed to wrench the gun from my grasp. Fortunately his arm and the weapon were jammed into the side and he was unable to bring it to bear on me. Knowing I was about to be shot, I saw a long thin object and grabbed it. My head was spinning and I was gasping for breath, spraying the blood still freely running from nose. Desperately twisting about I jammed it toward his face. Jack bellowed like an ox and spasmed. The automatic pistol began to fire. The sound inside the cramped space was deafening, and I felt a sharp pains in my left arm and in my right leg.

People had been running towards our wreck when they heard the gunfire, and immediately scattered as bullets tore from inside the shattered SUV. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Jack wasn't moving anymore. I twisted about until I was able to pull the empty pistol from his hand and toss it out. Then I looked at Jack. He was clearly dead. I had grabbed the torn off rear wiper blade and managed to plunge it into his one good eye. Only a few inches of the blade protruded from the gory hole, while blood and a clear goo trickled down his cheek. If the blade was intact, I had to have shoved it right through his brain to the back of his skull.

I did what any girl would do at such a grisly sight. I threw up.

By that time people had once more approached our SUV. As my hearing returned, I heard Tony and Rachel moaning which told me they were still alive. Several people tried to yank the doors open, but they were jammed shut. I heard someone ask if the shooting was done.

"The shooting is done," I called out. "The shooter is dead, and I threw the gun out."

I managed to crawl back to Tony. He was all bloody, but none of the cuts seemed serious, and he was regaining consciousness but was still out of it. After wedging my body against his and pushing up, with a lot of coaxing he was able to unbuckle his seatbelt. We collapsed onto the crumbled roof. People were down on their hands and knees looking in the crushed windows. I shoved Tony into the front and out through the windshield, which was the least crushed window. Several helping hands pulled him to safety

Rachel was too out of it to release her belt, so I asked if someone could reach in and cut her belt while I lowered her to the floor. I wedged myself under her as a hand reached in with a knife and began cutting her seatbelt. When it let loose she crushed me to the roof. I managed to extricate ourselves from our mixed limbs and I made her crawl out the windshield. Again, several hands pulled her to safety. Then I crawled out. As they pulled me out, they asked if anyone else was inside.

"There's a man inside, but he's dead," I managed to say. "I killed him." I saw looks of disbelief on the faces around me as I was carried to the side of the road. Rachel was once more hyperventilating, and a blubbering basket case. "Her name is Rachel Masters. She's asthmatic and took a shot from her inhaler about ten minutes ago. Tony is her son. He was smacked on the side of the head with a pistol and I think he has a concussion from that."

"My name is Krista Scott, please call my dad. He's a deputy sheriff for Talbot County," I said as I felt pain washing over me in waves. "Tell him Jack Masters is dead." I heard sirens approaching, and saw people milling about, then everything went black.

I woke up slowly. I looked around and realized I was in the hospital. I saw Mom sitting in a chair beside my bed. Looking out the window I saw the sun was just coming up. As feeling returned to my body I felt pain everywhere. I heard beeping and realized I was hooked up to monitors. I saw an IV line coming down from a pole into my arm.

I tried to speak, but my throat was too dry. Grasping the bed rail I shook it. Mom wearily raised her head to look over at me. Even though it hurt, I managed to smile.

"Oh Krista," she exclaimed as she came to life leaping from the chair to give me a hug. "Thank God you're awake! We've been so worried!" Tears of joy were running down her face. I saw her press the call button.

I licked my lips and she understood. A cup of water with a straw was soon at my parched lips

After a long draught, I settled back. "Are Tony and Rachel okay?" I asked.

"Yes, they're fine, thanks to you." Mom smiled at me. "They said you were driving when the accident happened."

"I was driving and it wasn't an accident," I declared. "Is the truck driver okay?"

"Yes, he's fine," Mom answered with a bit of confusion. "Although he was quite shaken up. Did you say it wasn't an accident?"

"Yeah, I did it on purpose," I declared. "It was the only way I could think of to keep Jack from killing us."

"Okay," Mom said as she shook her head. "You just settle down and rest."

"Yes," came the disembodied voice over the intercom in response to the call button buzz.

"Krista is awake," Mom happily replied.

In a few moments the nurses were swarming about me. Dad was right behind them. Then the doctor came in. My vital signs were good. I'd been shot twice, once in the left arm and once in the right leg. Fortunately no bones were hit and the bullets punched through cleanly. I was bruised all over and had dozens of small cuts. My nose had been broken by the airbag.

Once I pronounced okay, Dad went out and led two Maryland State Police into my room. They wanted me to recount what happened from the time we left church until the accident. When I reached the point where Jack had said he'd killed the prison guard and medics, I could tell by their reaction, they were dead.

"That's when I decided the only way we were going to survive was to take Jack out," I calmly explained as the troopers raised their eyebrows and looked at Dad, who smiled sardonically. "I had no idea how I could do it, until Rachel started having an asthma attack. Then I convinced him I could drive.”

“You know how to drive?” one of the troopers asked.

“We taught her last week out on our farm,” Dad explained, while I guiltily smiled.

“After I’d proven I could drive safely, Jack relaxed a bit. I waited for the right opportunity,” I continued. “When I saw that tractor trailer barreling towards us in the passing lane, I realized it might be what I needed. I swerved in front of him and hit the brakes."

"You swerved on purpose?" Dad asked in disbelief.

"Yeah, Jack had a gun," I said matter of factly. "How else could I stop him?"

They looked at me in amazement.

"Once we stopped tumbling, I unbuckled and squirmed into the back," I explained. "I tried to get the gun away from him but he was still conscious and ripped it from my hands. I knew he'd shoot me so I looked around and saw the wiper blade, so I grabbed it and jammed it in his face. I buried it right through his eye into his brain. I’m pretty sure I killed him, but as he was dying, he spasmed and squeezed the trigger and emptied the clip. That's when I got hit in the arm and leg. I felt it, but I was too cranked to stop."

They looked at me with their mouths open. “The SUV rolled nine and half times,” one of the troopers stated.

"I knew it was a lot, and I felt every one of them. Anyway, then I crawled back up front and got Tony and Rachel out before I crawled out," I finished.

They asked me a lot more questions and I answered. Then the state police thanked me and left. I looked at Mom and Dad. "Am I in trouble for what I did?"

"No," Dad answered. "It's just that once again, we all find what you did is absolutely incredible. Rachel and Tony told us you were driving when the accident happened, but they had no idea how it happened or what happened afterward. We knew Jack was killed after the accident by having a wiper blade shoved through his brain, but no one knew how it was done. They did find your blood on the driver's airbag, then a trail of blood into the back with Jack, then a lot more of your blood and some puke, and another trail of blood out to the front as you rescued Tony and Rachel. The evidence pointed to you doing it all, but we couldn't figure out how you did it."

"I don't know how I did it," I said. "Something had to be done , Tony and Rachel were to out of it, so that only left me, so I did it. So, will I be well enough to start school on Tuesday?"

Mom and Dad exchanged looks. Then Dad took my hand. "Krista, you've been unconscious for three days. Today is Wednesday. School started yesterday."

"Oh," was all I could say. "Am I in trouble for missing school?"

"No sweetie," Mom smiled as she hugged me. "The school understands."

“Good, I don’t want to be in trouble before I even start,” I said.

"The doctors want to keep you here for a bit just to make sure there are no complications," Dad explained. "You lost quite a bit of blood. We almost lost you."

"Oh," I said. "I'm sorry I scared you."

"You scared us, but we know how tough you are, and knew you'd be okay." Dad smiled at me.

Everyone wanted to visit me, but they only allowed my family and the Masters to come in. Tony spent almost as much time with me as Mom. I didn't get out of the hospital until Friday morning. A few reporters tried to sneak in the hospital to get to me, but they were arrested for trespassing. We all knew they’d harass us until we allowed interviews.

The news media were having a feeding frenzy over the murders and kidnappings, and wanted to talk to me. They were all over the place about how a thirteen year old transgender girl had saved herself and two others by wrecking the SUV and killing the man who had killed three men to break out of prison and kidnapped us. My decision to crash the SUV was hailed as a brave action. That I had then crawled through the wreckage to disarm our assailant, was labeled foolhardy. That I killed him was called miraculous. Of course, taken in light of my summer's odyssey, my family didn't consider my actions to be out of character. Unfortunately I'd stepped fully out into the media blaze and EVERYONE knew I was transgendered.

Dad arranged a once and done media meeting at our church for right after my discharge. Rachel, Tony, Kylie and I would relate our initial run-in with Jack and the kidnapping for the news media. The fact a thirteen year old transsexual took out a 240 pound six feet 4 inch tall man who had already murdered three men seemed impossible. But there was no other explanation.

As we began the interview, Dad announced we would explain what happened then open for questions. He explained Jack’s run-ins with the law, his incarceration and how he escaped and killed the three men.

Rachel followed, explaining how Jack had repeatedly abused Tony and her and what she remembered of the kidnapping.

Tony was next, and verified his father’s beatings before telling what he recalled of the kidnapping.

Kylie came on next to explain how her uncle had freaked out and assaulted she and I. Then she digressed to explain how I had saved her life which made the audience babble.

I was the last to speak. I began with my summer’s odyssey, filling in all the details of our trek and how I discovered that I was transgendered. Then I explained how Tony had tried to attack me when I’d registered for school and how we became friends and went to his home where Jack assaulted us. Then I told them my recollections of the kidnapping.

Then the questions began. Few if any of the reporters believed my story. Their questions quickly descended into accusations and insults. When I was asked if I felt any remorse for killing Jack, I just looked at the reporters.

“I’ve heard the media is nothing but a bunch of vultures,” I declared in a trembling voice as I blinked back tears. Then I grew angry. “Your questions have made it quite obvious your major interest in this case is because I’m transgendered. How DARE you ask if I have any remorse for taking a life! Of course I have remorse! I killed another human being! Do you have any remorse for hounding people? Do you have any remorse for sniffing out a person’s shortcomings while you ignore your own? I killed that man because he was going to kill us. He’d told us he killed three people already. He kidnapped us. He had the gun he’d gotten from the prison guard he’d killed. He was going to kill us because I’m a transsexual! I did what I had to do because there was no one else to save us. I HATE what I did! But if I had to do it again, I would do so without hesitation.

“I want you so called reporters to think about how the media thought and spoke about African Americans in the South in the 1950s,” I declared in a challenging voice. “Imagine how the reporter’s upbringing perpetuated their bigoted beliefs and how that was reflected in their writings. I hoped something like this could never happen today, but you've dashed those hopes.

"I am part of a class of people that are still treated that way. A class that people will say, in all seriousness, that they "know" about you because they saw your "kind on the Jerry Springer show. Imagine if your friend's mother says she understands you because her husband works at the jail and sees all "kinds". Imagine if every movie that you watched, where there was a person like you in it, that person was either a murderer, murdered or was a sex worker. What if you were diagnosed with a disorder just as gays were in the 70's just for being yourself? What if, instead of typical nouns used to describe you, people used a clinical diagnosis? How would that make you feel?

"That is how I see your media coverage everyday. I am a transgender person. It’s hard to imagine journalists treating non-transgender people in the same way they treat transgender persons. Unfortunately, in the media, transgender people’s bodies and what they do with them are rarely granted the same privacy that others are given; many reporters obsess over a person’s “genital status,” and ask invasive questions. You reduce your transgender reports to sideshow surgical curiosities! Instead of reporting on the systemic discrimination we transgender face or our political struggles and victories, the story that the media most often want to tell about transgender people is about their anatomies. The media only want to describe, define and understand the transgender in terms of genital status or sex life, which are demeaning, not to mention morally wrong, but you choose to make what is normal, sensational!

“The way you portray transgender persons only encourages hatred and bigotry, and gets in the way of understanding and acceptance,” I continued with my disgust for them clearly evident in my voice. “You've devolved from reporters of the news, into creators of sensationalism. You'll write or say anything to get better ratings or to sell more issues. You are morally corrupt and deceitful, twisting words and taking statements out of context. You are destroying this country for your own benefit. While I will not condemn you as individuals, I will condemn your actions. I know my soul is clear, and at judgement day I'll stand tall before God, confident that heaven is my destination. I fear you may not be so lucky. I will answer no more questions, and I will not be interviewed again. This interview is over. Good day.”

I turned from the podium and walked down the church aisle. Tony scampered beside me and took my hand. Rachel and my family followed. Naturally, my outburst was highly edited before it was broadcast. But they at least portrayed me in a favorable light, calling me a heroine.

The local people who had issues with my gender kept quiet. They all knew Jack Masters either personally, or by his unsavory reputation. The fact he'd killed three men escaping only solidified their negative opinion. My actions were viewed as admirable, and their improved opinion of me overcame their negative feelings. Most still didn't understand or condone my transgender status, but they begrudgingly accepted me.

The St. Michaels police, Talbot County Sheriffs, and Maryland State Police were all grateful I’d taken out the murderer and did their best to keep the reporters and curiosity seekers at bay.

We had a fairly quiet Labor Day weekend on the point. I was able to walk but slowly, and with a limp. Tony assured me he’d carry my text books for me from class to class as we had identical schedules. We took short walks every chance we could, and cuddled and kissed. I really needed his affection to overcome my horrid flashbacks of the killing. I was glad I had a strong boyfriend.

I had a tough time deciding what to wear for my first day in school. I was scared, yet calm. My arm and leg were bandaged, and I had strict orders to take it easy. I finally decided on a simple denim knee length skirt that hid the bandage on my leg. I choose a short sleeved pullover with French cut sleeves and a V-neck that did nothing to hide the bandage on my arm. While I didn’t want to call excessive attention to my injuries, I wanted to let it known I’d been injured. My intent was to present an undeniably girlish image that would not be confrontational while at the same time indicating I was not afraid to get hurt in a fight. I hoped to embody Teddy Roosevelt’s admonition to walk softly, but carry a big stick.

Mom drove us to the school Tuesday and we’d stopped to pick up Tony. There were a handful of transgender hating religious bigots picketing the school, protesting my attendance, fortunately none were local. The St. Michaels police, Talbot County Sheriffs, and Maryland State Police maintained an obvious presence and kept the protestors in line. All of the protestors had caravanned in, and most received parking tickets for parking violations. Tony held my hand as I limped into school for my first day as a seventh grade girl at St. Michaels Middle/High School, one of 390 students. I simply wanted to be an ordinary student, but there was no way I could be invisible. My Summer’s Odyssey was over... but would there be other odysseys in my future?

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