Shannon's Course - Hatbox and Doppler Press Premium

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We all must make choices -- or have them made for us -- that change the direction of our lives...


Shannon's Course

by Angela Rasch


"Hey, get outta here!"

My head snapped up in response to the sharpness in Mr. Portrous's command. I had worked for him for ten days and had never heard him raise his voice to anyone. . .until just then. . .when she came in.

She? I didn't know her name. I had only been going to Bern High for three days, but I'd seen that body --her body-- which made every boy in school think of sex. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be her -- insanely pretty and enormously popular. I would give anything to be just like her.

She studied Mr. Portrous for a second. "I'm not hurting anything. You're not open for business yet, and I need to talk
to Scoops."

My face froze. I had lived in Bern for less than two weeks, but I was pretty sure it wasn't some kind of Geek Fantasyland where a senior woman like her hooked up with a sophomore boy like me.

Mr. Portrous didn't seem as taken with her as I was. "The Illinois Department of Public Health could have my butt for you being in my kitchen without a hairnet." He put down his ladle, and appeared ready to physically toss her out. "Why don't you take a break, Shannon?" He never called me 'Scoops,' like everyone else; he preferred to use my given name. "Take your girlfriend out of my kitchen and into the dining area." He winked, as if he thought she really was my girlfriend.

"Hi. "Damn, that was lame.

"Hi, Scoops." The huskiness from her throat probably meant she smoked and maybe even drank whiskey.

I trailed her out of the kitchen.

She spoke again in a voice that reeked of her sophistication. "I hope I'm not getting you into any trouble."

Uh huh. She looks like the kind of girl who gets people into trouble just for the hell of it. "No big deal." Damn! Mr. Portrous had given me a choice between cutting my shoulder-length hair and wearing a hairnet. Because I hated barbers, I chose the hairnet, which I snatched off my head, and then fumbled like an idiot with the folds of my apron before finding one of my cutoff's pockets.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the stainless steel kitchen door. My hair had curled from the steam coming off the soup. I need a brush to straighten it, but what the heck? She isn't here to hook up with me, that much I know for certain.

My hair wasn't even the worst of how I looked. Like everything else in the world, my apron was too big for me. Mom even had to buy juniors' extra-small T-shirts for me. Although I loved the softer fabrics and appreciated the brighter colors I was terrified someone would find out I had to wear girls' clothing.


Read Shannon's Course by Angela Rasch
Big double-length transgender novel
FREE to 2007 annual subscribers through The Hatbox.
Also available from Doppler Press for $6.25.

Shannon’s Course, newly edited and expanded, is now offered for sale. The proceeds will go toward the operation of this website.

I’ve given this story to the website because BigCloset provides a place for authors to grow and encourage each other. Please support this website by purchasing the stories that are offered for sale.

There are hundreds of stories provided for free and just a very few that are held for sale. If you really can't afford to purchase Shannon's Course for the sake of the website's future, PM me; and I'll probably give you a free copy.

Thank you.

Angela Rasch

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I enjoyed the story even more than Peaches but must say that the ending jarred me. I really didn't think that was the choice Shannon would make. The tenor and feel of Shannon's emotions certainly led me to believe that the choice made would not be that one. In that I felt misled. It didn't jibe with the character you painted. It wasn't a completely unbelievable choice merely one that didn't seem to be validated by Shannon's thoughts or actions to that point.

It was difficult to write this without exposing that choice and spoiling the story for others.


Visit my Caption Blog: Dawn's Girly Site

Visit my Amazon Page: D R Jehs

Factual misapprehension...

Puddintane's picture

It's difficult to say whether the statement in the book about Deborah Skinner (now Deborah Buzan) is meant to be urban legend or actual fact, but she is neither insane nor dead, and if she committed suicide made a quite miraculous recovery. Last I looked, both of Skinner's daughters are very much alive.






A tender heart is an asset to an editor: it helps us be ruthless in a tactful way.
--- The Chicago Manual of Style


A little less than two years ago I summoned sufficient courage to send an e-mail to Angela to comment on "Shannon's Course." That e-mail gave rise to what I will cautiously call my writing career. When she ased me to read and comment on this version, I likened it to the teacher asking the student for help. I was both flattered and intimidated.

What I guess I'm saying is this story got me off my butt to write. I am hopeful that it will inspire others to do the same.

Dimelza Cassidy

Ansel Adams?

kristina l s's picture

Can't remember the name, but it looks like his.
I read the original 'Shannon's' some time back and it was a good read if a little tough at times. How did you describe it, 'Peaches on Steroids' ? If this is an improved version it has to be good. Guess I'll have to find out now won't I.

New and revised, sounds interesting

I read the previous version from two years ago some time back.

An interesting tale then, though a long one. But hey, this was an attempt at a serious toned novel for publication if I remember. Giving it a rest for two years then returning to it should make it all the better.

In my dabbles at writing -- mostly silly stuff mind you -- I find that coming back to something after a long break I get two reactions. One, "Ooh, that line was good!" and two, "What the hell was I thinking?" I hope the result this time will net "Ooh that was good" across the board in a few years.

And it's to support the site, something, frankly *I* need to do as Erin has been extraordiarilly kind in hosting us rabble rousers.

Thanks for contributiong to Erin's Hatbox, Angela.

John in Wauwatosa

John in Wauwatosa


erin's picture

Public domain photo taken by Ansel Adams for the Us Dept of the Interior. Meant to include a credit for it in the text, I'll have to fix that.

- Erin

= Give everyone the benefit of the doubt because certainty is a fragile thing that can be shattered by one overlooked fact.

Unreliable Narrator Puddintane

I guess you missed the part where the protagonist states that he found out his teacher was wrong in what she had said about Skinner's daughter.

There's an urban legend about her that the teacher in the story taught as fact. I was using this to show how shallow the teacher could be.

Angela Rasch (Jill M I)

Angela Rasch (Jill M I)

I did see the "online research" immediately following

Puddintane's picture

and her conclusions seem valid, all in all, but we see magazine "articles" -- by which I assume that the teacher didn't just gin them up as elaborate hoaxes -- contrasted with "online research," by means of which one can prove anything, including the fact that great scientific advances were made by people from Atlantis and spread across the world when that vast continent sank beneath the waves. Without some background knowledge, it's difficult to say whose assumptions are justified.

It's also true that these rumours started in the US, spawned -- I suspect -- and spread -- I know -- by disgruntled psychology departments all across the USA who hated Skinner and his damned theories with a grand passion. We can assume, I think, that Ms North is supposed to be a product of an institutional psychology department somewhere in the USA, so it's entirely possible that she hated him too, or listened avidly to his detractors -- who were legion -- in which case it's moderately hard to understand why she's using his methods.

We know Ms North is crazy, because we're able to look inside her head, but objectively, a child researcher has no particular claim to the final word, although her presumed reference to Deborah's letter to the Guardian (or something similar) would go further if it were placed in context. It's perfectly clear in external context that *you* know the whole story, but Ms North has something on her side as well. The book mentioned below was extensively researched, by all accounts, and it's easy to find "evidence" that supports her version of reality.

Against Skinner were arrayed all the apparatus of institutional psychology departments, psychiatric professionals, many right-wing churches (since Skinner was contemptuous of religion), and big business (since he was also an early critic of over-consumption and the poisoning of our environment by industrial processes). Plus, of course, he was a socialist, which "pinko" stain made him a target of hate and nasty slurs. About the only "hot button" he missed pushing was global warming, and even that was probably a lack of good science at the time. He did, however, foresee catastrophe if things went on as they were.



Opening Skinner's Box by Lauren Slater

A possible source, or a compilation of such sources.

Refutation by Deborah

Here we see a "scholarly" book, which received great praise by many respected reviewers, contrasted with mere refutation by an eyewitness. Who you gonna believe? A scientist, or a crazy dead woman?




A tender heart is an asset to an editor: it helps us be ruthless in a tactful way.
--- The Chicago Manual of Style

Compelling reading!

Jenny Walker's picture

If you have ever read any of Angela's works then you will really enjoy this. In my opinion it is the best thing she has produced. I spent a few late nights reading it and, when coming near to the end, was glued to it. If you have never read anything by Angela before, then this story will be a grand entrance to reading her works.

There are so many good things about this story that it is hard to know what to write. The characters are more real than most if not all TG fiction. Their relationships and the way they pan out feel authentic. There is emotion, pathos, humour, fear, mystery... what more do you want?

For goodness' sake, stop reading my comment and dive into this wonderful story. It's like a six course meal sitting there - go eat!



Leave the best till last...

Its a shame that you couldn't find someone to publish it, if I could I would. I loved Peaches, mainly as it was so soppy. I loved this as it didn't pull its punches. The only time I nearly lost my cool with it was when 'Grams' decided that Shannon should see a counselor, I was for a moment so convinced that the counselor would also know what was best for him.

Thank you for this marvellous story, I'm sure I'll read it again. A hard copy would be nice, as all stories are nice, in my opinion, as a book.

Lastly it is stories like this that make me want to write, I know mine are unlikely to be anywhere near as good, or long ;), so thanks for that too.

Good luck in whaterver you do next, if its fiction, on the basis of this I suspect we'll read you again.


The Legendary Lost Ninja

*grumble* You are a mean, cru

*grumble* You are a mean, cruel, cruel person... writing such a wonderful story that has kept me up for not just one but TWO nights following far too long of a day at work. I.... am going to go sleep now. Zzzz....

Oh, and thank you. *g*



a Rasch to judgment... :-)

I have to agree with everyone. Especially Hart! I really needed to get some work done last night and today. :-) Oh well, I can always work through the weekend, I'm sure my family won't mind... :-)

I enjoyed the first-person chapter approach. I thought this came out better than in "Peaches", since the characters had more to reveal about themselves and more complexity to explore. I've liked this style of writing ever since I read "As I Lay Dying".

We'll all really miss your talent and your efforts. Wherever life takes you next, I wish you the best.



"Jezzi sounded ...

Jezzi Stewart's picture

... a little bizarre"

Well, duh, I DO work at it, you know !!

On to the serious:

Thank you Jill for allowing me to be a small part of such a wonderful work.

I guess I would have been one of the people who were trying to tell Shannon what to do, to fit him/her into my own agenda, because I very much want to tell you, Angela, "You complete ninny! How dare you stop writing for your TG audience and deprive us all of your truly great work! How can you deny your gift!" HOWEVER, "Shannon's Course" has taught me somethings, one of which is that if I believe in what the Declaration of Independence calls an individual's right to the pursuit of happiness, I have to be willing to accept that an individual I admire as a writer and a friend may decide to persue her happiness in a direction which I don't desire. SO, like Sally, who loves a male Scoops who will soon cease to exist seems to be doing at the end of the story, I will rise to the occasion and wish you well on your new journey; may it bring you as much happiness as you and your writing have brought to all us readers.
Major hugs, Jezzi

"All the world really is a stage, darlings, so strut your stuff, have fun, and give the public a good show!" Miss Jezzi Belle at the end of each show

BE a lady!

What's wrong with Bizarre?

What could be wrong with being unconventional?

All the "how-to" books say a writer shouldn't base a fictional character on a real person, yet it seemed to work with you and the fictional you.

I have read hundreds of your comment to writers over the years. You have a way of being honest without hurting the author. I tried to build that compassion into the fictional Jezzi. Yet when you see something that bothers you (child abuse depicted in a story) you are not afraid to voice your objection.

You know the difference between fiction and RL, but also know the connection between fiction and giving social acceptance to wrongful acts. I also tried to show the realistic side of my fictional Jezzi.

I has been fun writing for you, writing about you, and reading what you write.

Angela Rasch (Jill M I)

Angela Rasch (Jill M I)

This was a very well written

This was a very well written story. I found that it held my interest and it was very entertaining. It contained a good bit of drama and a great plot something that a lot of transgendered stories fall short of. Kudos to you.



When the lines between reality and fantasy blur, true magic can begin.


Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.

The Coda
Chapterhouse: Dune


This story was unusual in a few aspects. The change in Perspective every few chapters lent a different and refreshing taste to reading. That stood out to me most of all. The next item is the addition of a murder mystery mixed with a forced femme situation. That gave this story and added air of wanting to go through and find out who done it :) The play out of the feminization and its desired affects was also a twist. Up until almost the very end I was going to think perhaps Shannon would remain a boy.

The few downsides to the tale were not enough to shake my like for the story off at all but did detract some. The obvious insanity of the principal and Ms. North, the lack of courage for Shannon to stand up and fight for himself to stop the process (noted that the point for the story is the change, just he went down with a whimper rather than provide some real challenge against it), and the lack of anyone else including the teachers or his friends to stick up for him despite several thought musings of his friends. Real friends would have tried to help much sooner. It was a surprise that the sheriff had to do the deed.

All in all I love this tale. Made for 2 nights of intense reading and is well worth it! Excellent story!

Sephrena Miller