Shauntelle Brannon lay on her shabby bed in the small, dingy room she shared with another girl, Valerie Evans.
Valerie was out working the street at the moment, not that any of them had much choice about it, as each of the seven that lived in this old three bedroom house on the edge of town had all been hooked on a variety of legal and illegal drugs over the last two years or so.
Shauntelle was still in bed because she had come down with a case of the flu and their pimp, Sebastio, had given her strict orders to stay inside until she was well again. Alicia Kelmar, a girl like Shauntelle, entered the room carrying a large mug filled with hot chicken noodle soup. Alicia handed the mug of soup to Shauntelle, standing there for a moment to ensure that Shauntelle actually started to eat, then left the room.
Shauntelle had pushed herself up in the bed until she was relaxing against the wall behind her when Alicia passed the mug to her. While she slowly but methodically worked her way through the delicious contents of the mug, she thought about how she had ended up here.
Shauntelle, you see, had been born male, and was known as Shaun until shortly before his fifteenth birthday. He had known for some time that he should have been born female, but had suppressed it until it could no longer be contained and he finally told his parents.
To say that that had not gone well would be a vast understatement. Shaun's father had backhanded him hard, sending Shaun crashing into a nearby wall and creating a fair sized hole in the process, then laid a nasty beating on Shaun before literally throwing him out of the house.
Shaun's father, Brian, stood on the porch yelling at him, "You are no son of mine! If I ever see you again, I'll kill you! Now bugger off!"
Shaun had slowly hauled himself to his feet, one hand holding his ribs on the left side, then staggered away from the house. Shaun was not watching where he went at that point, it was all he could do to stay on his feet and keep moving, eventually collapsing against a wall.
The wall in question was a property marker between one of the three library locations in the city Shaun lived in and a large house next door.
Shaun lost all knowledge of the world around him at that point, descending into oblivion while leaning against that wall.
The owner of the house, Mrs. Eileen Brady, came out on her porch late that evening to have a look around before heading off to her bed. To her surprise, there was a person slumped against that wall at the edge of the property, so she wandered over to take a look.
It didn't take long to see what had been done to the boy, Eileen was seriously upset. She yelled for her husband, Colm, to come out and help her; between the two of them, they carefully lifted Shaun up and carried him into their living room, placing him on their old sofa to rest.
Shaun woke up a few hours later to find himself lying on the old sofa. The ribs hurt a fair bit, but he thought they might just be bruised. He knew that there would be an obvious mark on his face from that first slap, and likely several other bruises, but he could handle a little pain.
Shaun used the downstairs bathroom, then carefully laid down on the sofa again, and eventually slept.
Eileen and Colm woke him up early the next day, fed him, listened to what had happened to him, then respectfully agreed not to do anything regarding it largely due to Shaun's saying he wasn't seriously injured. They exchanged phone numbers, then Shaun went on his way.
For the next three weeks, Shaun managed to keep himself fed, although his clothes were becoming rather dirty and quite stinky.
Then he ran into Sebastio in a cafe/bar for teens that didn't card anyone; so long as you didn't cause problems, you were welcome in there.
Sebastio talked with him for a fair while, plying Shaun with drinks; Shaun, being only seventeen, wasn't paying attention to how much he was drinking. Eventually, it reached the point where Shaun was drunk enough that he wasn't very steady on his feet; when Sebastio offered to drive him home, Shaun just nodded, staggering over to Sebastio's car with Sebastio making sure he didn't fall down during that brief walk.
Shaun barely managed to put the seat belt on before Sebastio started driving, then passed out a few minutes later.
Shaun was still out of it when Sebastio arrived at the shabby old house, Sebastio carried him up to a bedroom on the second floor. Sebastio laid Shaun on a bed, stripped him, then grinned a wolfish smile as he headed down to his small office, pulled something from a locked cabinet in the office and carried it upstairs. Sebastio laughed as he filled a syringe with heroin and injected it into the young man's arm near the elbow.
It didn't take too long before the heroin became the controlling force in the youngster's life, then crack and speed were added to the mix. By the time Shaun's eighteenth birthday arrived, he was seriously underweight, being 5'9" tall and maybe 125 pounds.
Somewhere along the line, Shaun had told Sebastio about being transgender, and Sebastio obtained hormones that slowly worked their changes on Shauntelle's very slender body. Sebastio also forced her to eat more as the hormones would need the fuel to boost her transition.
Time passed, Shauntelle's body became more and more feminine, eventually reaching a B cup with slight padding around her hips. The drug use continued, with Shauntelle eventually being forced to do her own injections, shifting from one location on her body to another as needed.
Shauntelle was finally alone in the house that day, the other girls that lived there had all headed out to their usual "work" locations.
She dozed off and on as her body recovered from the flu; what she didn't realize was she was also clearing her system of the drugs. On a few occasions that evening and night, Shauntelle went into brief convulsions as her body reacted to the lack of drugs. With no one else in the house, she was very lucky that none of the convulsions had any other effects; they ended and she slept for an hour or so each time.
At one point that night, shortly after 1:30 AM according to the small clock on the nightstand the girls shared, Shauntelle noticed an odd light in her room and looked up to see what could only be described as a glowing winged female standing about five feet away from her.
"Come, child, it is time for you to leave this place, I will take you to people who will love you and care for you as if you were their own child."
Shauntelle giggled, she had to be hallucinating, there was no way an angel would be here to rescue her.
"Have you forgotten Eileen and Colm so soon, child? They have worried for the last two years because you stopped calling them."
Shauntelle had to sit back and think for a few minutes before she remembered meeting the older couple after the beating from her father.
"Yes, child, they wanted to report him for what he did to you then, but you persuaded them to let it go, so they did for your sake."
Shauntelle whispered, "I'm not the same person as I was then. I'm transgender, I'm an addict, I'm a fucking whore, dammit!"
"You have the chance to put all the bad things of the last two years or so behind you child, if you give them the chance to love you."
The shining angel held out her hand, waiting to see what Shauntelle would do.
"They will help me?" Shauntelle asked, "Even with all that has happened to me?"
"I believe so, child, now come, your time to leave here without being seen is limited."
Shauntelle smiled, whispering, "Okay," as she climbed out of the bed, wearing only a long sheer nightgown and grasped the angel's hand.
The two walked down the stairs, out the front door and down the street, Shauntelle was surprised that the angel's glow disappeared.
The angel laughed, remarking to Shauntelle as they continued walking, "I don't want to advertise my presence, you know."
It was a slow journey, with many stops, as Shauntelle would suddenly slump, convulsing briefly within the angel's outstretched wings. Yet it wasn't long after each of these stops before Shauntelle would be on her feet again and walking onward across the city to the Brady home.
Eileen was relaxing on her front porch when Shauntelle staggered up her walk, then collapsed just a few feet from the steps. Eileen never noticed the angel that had been with Shauntelle; the angel smiled when Eileen came down to check on Shauntelle, then vanished.
It didn't take more than a few seconds for Eileen to recognize the young person lying there. Just like the first time they had met, she yelled for her husband Colm and the two carried Shauntelle into the house, once again laying her on that old, comfortable sofa to rest.
Over the next six months, Eileen and Colm got Shauntelle all the medical help she needed, eventually allowing Shauntelle to overcome the addictions she had been dealing with, plus they found her a good psych doctor to oversee her transition and hormone regimen.
The biggest gift they could give her, though, was when they showed her the adoption forms they had filled out in her name.
Shauntelle wept, hugging the two hard for a moment, then signed the forms. Now she could start anew.
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