This is a short story about a transgender character. I was asked to write an lgbtq piece and stage it in a bathroom, and a bathroom alone, and so, "Shred." came to be.
S H R E D
You stare at yourself in the mirror, almost naked. Your hands pinch at the sides of your waist as you wonder, “Have I lost or have I gained.” You can't tell, but there's a certain roundness around your upper body--a certain roundness that could just give you away.
You bite your lip and stare at yourself some more.
You can hear your mother calling your name in the distance--somewhere near the living room--but you can't hear her very clearly over the bathroom fan. It's hot in here.
You wipe your brow.
Why, you wonder, do you still gain weight like a girl does, around the hips, on the thighs and in your upper arms? Why can't you gain it like a guy--however guys gain weight.
Would you look rounder or would you look flatter?
The doctors say that when you start on the T, there isn’t any turning back. Sure, you’ll start up with your period again, you’ll start gaining weight like a woman again, but your voice—the slight deepening of your voice—that will never change back.
Not that you want it to.
Your mother interrupts your thinking as she yells, "Hurry up, will you? You took less time getting ready when you were a girl."
You breath in and out, and then you yell back, "I'll be right out, Ma. Goddammit be patient."
You hear her groan as her footsteps trail off and you thank your lucky stars that even though she's probably the most annoying person on Earth, your mother has accepted you--she's accepted your change. Your father on the other hand? Well that's another story.
But you won't let that bother you. Inside, you know who you are. All you're trying to do is show everyone else.
Everyone on the outside.
But then again, nobody at school knows that you’re on the T, or that you’re not who you say you are. They see you and they think you’re the way you are, but they don’t really know that underneath it all, you’re changing yourself. You’re changing yourself into what you want to be.
What you’ve always wanted to be.
You lift your hands up and squeeze your chest closer to your ribs. You wish that you could push them in so far back that they’d disappear and never come back. You wish that you could grab a giant sword and slash them right off, but you can’t.
You have to do it the slow, frustrating, uncomfortable way.
You stare at the three different shirts in front of you. You’re slowly evaluating them. All three of them at once, or binding, and just two? You think about it for a few more seconds, and then you make a decision.
“Rather more than less,” You tell yourself.
Before, your solution was duct tape, duct tape and more duct tape. But that was before summer came, and you sweat into the duct tape and it restricted your breathing, causing you to pass out in a public area. Looking back, you realize how stupid and impatient you were back when you didn’t know about the bandages.
You stare at them.
Lying in a messy pile are all your bandages. They need to be washed, and yet, both you and Ma have neglected them. They smell of sweat and tint in a different kind of brown. You have just one more packet, and then you’ll be in need of new ones.
You stare at yourself in the mirror again. You can’t stop staring at the corners of your waist, wondering whether fat has been added or removed.
Out of the corner of your eye, you see the scale just sitting there. You wonder if it’s better to know, or to keep yourself in the dark until the doctor tells you.
You decide you’d rather know here and now.
You step on the scale and wait as it checks your weight. It hasn’t changed. But why do you feel as though it has? You shake your head at your own anxiety. Why does your weight bother you so much? Maybe it's because when you gain weight again, your curves will begin to show, and people will get more suspicious than they already are.
You step off the scale and sigh.
Now it’s time to get dressed for another day of school. Another day where you have to pretend as if you’re living in the body you want to be.
You pull out your last clean bandage and press it to your chest. As you lift up your arm, you look at yourself. You look tired and worn out--as if you haven't rested in days. But you have. You look to the ceiling as though you are looking to the heavens and thanking the only higher power you believe in that you were born with small breasts.
Otherwise.....you can't even go ther.e You mustn't.
You clip the bandage and pull on the largest t-shirt of the three and you stare at the other two. You don't need them today. One layer is enough.
You sigh. Today is just another day.
Another day where life is nothing but an allusion.
Another day where the world is carrying your burdens.
Another day where you feel no weight.
You’re floating in a sea of pretense.
Pretending to be who you’re not.
It’s time to go out, and be the man you’re not.
The man you try too hard to be.