Life, Death, and Rebirth

Gillian sits at her vanity, gazing into the mirror. Only her eyes are recognizable. The left side of her face is swollen as is her mouth. Her cheek bears the distinct pattern of a boot sole. Her eyes are puffy and swollen almost shut. Tears and mascara streaks streak down her badly ravaged face.

Why? What did she do to deserve such abuse? How can people bear such a deep and profound hatred for a person they don't even know? Why could they not just ignore her, the way her family and friends did so many years ago?

With a shaking hand, she grasps the bottle of Jim Beam and pours a generous shot into her tumbler. Taking a deep breath, she kicks back a deep drink, swallowing half the amber liquid in one gulp. The fire burns deep, paving a path like molten lava as it rushes to her stomach. She gasps and her eyes blur as she struggles not to cough while pain lances through her core.

Happy Birthday, she toasts to herself as she finishes the whiskey and examines the gifts assembled before her:

1 bottle of prescription painkillers
1 bottle of prescription sleeping pills
1 legal pad
1 pen
1 cell phone
1 loaded m1911A1 Colt pistol
1 bottle of Jim Beam
1 water glass

Taking stock of her life, she begins making notations on the legal pad, weighing the pros and cons of her choice to transition. She is 18 years old (despite a fake ID saying she is 21). She is seven months into her Real-Life Test. She is unemployed. She is almost broke. She is alone.

She struggles to think back on the point in her life where everything went wrong, looking for that fork in the road. She remembers crying when her parents took away the dolls and refused to let her wear the pretty clothes. She remembers the so-called doctor who used conversion therapy to try to cure her of her unholy urges at a religious retreat. She remembers the years of physical abuse at the hands of her parents as they tried to beat the devil out of her. She remembers Ms. Henry, the brave teacher who lost her job because she reported abuse directly to the police after the school district failed to act on three previous reports. She remembers bouncing from one foster home to another, seeing the disdain, hostility, and outright animosity as each family turned their backs on the 'incorrigible little freak' that was Gillian.

Looking down, she sees only two entries in the pro category, the aforementioned Ms. Henry, and Crystal Mathis. Crystal who would cuddle her and dry her tears. Crystal who would encourage her to see the good in life. Crystal who always smiled. Crystal, the angel of her life.

Gillian winced in pain as she tries not to smile as that last thought enters her mind. "I'm at best a tarnished angel," is what Chrys would have said if she ever heard herself referred to as an angel. Regardless, Crystal was as close to an angel as anyone Gillian had ever met.

She thought back to the night they met. Gillian was 15 and had stolen some cash from her foster mom. She was waiting near the bus station, wary about actually entering as she had been caught running away three times before. Crystal was working the corner and asked her what she was doing. Gillian had tried to walk away, but Crystal would have none of it. She took Gillian by the hand and led her to a diner around the block.

After that, the two became inseparable. Over the next few months, Crystal taught Gillian how to be a girl. She taught her how to dress, walk, talk, and act. She also managed to score androgen blockers and estrogen tablets. Gillian was well on her way to displaying secondary female characteristics before she ever spoke to a therapist about transitioning.

Their tiny motel room had been home for almost three years. During this time, Crystal struggled to make a living for them as an independent. She often came home with bruises and scrapes. She refused to be coerced into anyone's stable and made it stick by the simple expedient of giving freebies to the cops.

Even though a lot of cops were taking money from pimps, they all made sure to let them know that Crystal was to be left alone. As crazy as it sounds, it worked. Crystal was cute, funny, and smart. She left a john feeling better just for having been around her.

It was only natural that Gillian would want to do her share. Crystal tried to keep her out of the life, but Gillian refused to back down. Crystal was left to choose whether to shepherd Gillian or to run the risk of Gillian picking up the wrong john. She finally relented, and their room was regularly bustling with activity.

Of course, it was not all plain sailing and fair seas. There was the occasional pimp who tried to push things, despite the police. 'Mad Melvin' Stiles had cut Gillian pretty badly, leaving a scar on her collar and shoulder. He had been pretty wild on crack at the time, and the police had responded by placing several bullets within his head and chest cavity as he tried to slit her throat. 'Buzzy' Greene had felt that Crys and Gilly were stealing johns from his girls. He rolled by the corner in his Escalade and opened fire with a Mac 10. The bullets sprayed so widely that they wounded some poor shmo 3 blocks away as he sat in the diner. Buzzy's barely recognizable remains were found three days later, beaten to mush in a blind alley. His Escalade was never recovered.

After that, things remained pretty chill. Business was up and down (no pun intended) along with the economy. Crys and Gilly worked steady, and Gillian was able to save enough to begin planning for her full SRS. Each girl had favorite clients, many of whom were generous. Most of Gillian's tried to dissuade her from going through with it. They liked her package just fine. Even though her penis was small and no longer fully functioning, many of them loved to fondle and suckle on it. That always bothered her, as her dream was to be accepted as a complete woman in every way possible.

Gillian's SRS was a regular topic of conversation at 'Chateau le Slut' as they christened their crib. Gilly was about half-way toward raising the necessary cash. Crys repeatedly offered to make up the rest, but Gillian knew that Crystal's dream was to save enough to buy a small beauty shop. Crystal argued that since Gillian had a false ID and was about to turn 21, she should take it all and go to Thailand to complete her transition.

That argument was just yesterday, as they had planned her birthday party. What a difference a day makes. Now the money was gone. The dream was gone. Crystal was gone.

Hal Baines was a nutcase and wannabe pimp. He had tried to run a string of girls out of another motel a few blocks away. He tried several times to convince Crystal and Gillian to join his stable. He did not like the word "no".

Gillian had been awakened by a splintering crash as the door of their room was kicked in. Hal Baines had beaten Crystal to death and left Gillian unconscious on the floor. On his way out, he took their stash and put 2 bullets into each body.

Gillian awoke in a hospital to find that each bullet had passed through her body without striking a single major organ or artery. She was miraculously alive, and Crystal was gone. The one bright light in Gillian's life had been extinguished.

Gillian knew that her life was over. Her body had just failed to recognize that fact. Pulling the IV tube from her arm, she gathered her few meager belongings and called Dave, a cab driver who had been a regular of Crystal's.

She stumbled out the back of the hospital to the waiting cab and asked him to take her home. She tore down the police tape and forced her way into the cramped space that had been home for these past few years. Lifting a loose floorboard, she pulled out a blue steel Colt 45.

Hal Baines would be at Prissy's pad until things were chill. He was a fucking moron, and she was the only one of his girls that he could trust. Prissy would be working the street. It was way too early for her to be home, so Gilly was pretty sure that Hal would be alone.

It took her almost 20 minutes to walk the two blocks to Prissy's. Knocking on the door, she saw a brief flutter of the curtain before Hal yanked it open.

"Yo. Back fo' mo' ya faggoty freak?" He snarled.

She calmly placed 2 bullets between his eyes and walked away. Dozens of witnesses watched as she turned and stumbled back toward her small room, the gun held loosely in her hand.

It was almost an hour later when Bob Ashton showed up at her room wearing his starched police uniform and looking like a police department recruiting poster. She was sitting on the floor, in the corner, cradling Crystal's favorite stuffed bear, the pistol lying between her legs.

"Gillian, we have a few things we need to talk about."

"No, we don't. I'll confess. I did it. I don't give a fuck. She's gone and nothing matters anymore."

"That's not true, baby. She loved you. She took care of you. You need to do right by her love. If you throw your own life away, you render her life meaningless."

"I can't, Bobby. I loved her so much."

"We all did, Gilly. We all loved her, but she only loved you. You need to live for her."

Officer Bob Ashton knelt and kissed her lightly on the good cheek, tasting her tears. As he rose back to his feet, the gun was missing and in its place was a brown paper sack. He reached a hand out to caress her hair, brushing it behind her ear.

"Dave's cab is waiting outside. Go far away. Be someone that Crystal would be proud of. Create a new life for yourself."

The police officer strode toward the door, stopping just before leaving the room. "By the way, they found Hal Baines dead a few blocks from here. No witnesses. Looks like they're calling it a suicide."

He stepped out into the night.

Lifting the bag, she placed it in her purse and stumbled toward the door, and a new life.

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