"Don't stop, Avery." Theresa whispered. "Let it all out."
"I..." The words coming out of Avery's mouth rang with the heaviness of sixteen years of pain. "Lived every single day worrying about other people judging me... Knowing that if they found out I wasn't actually a boy, they'd wind up hating me. Just because I wound up in the wrong body. Feeling scared to be in the locker room. Every time seeing another girl, getting insanely jealous... Over what they have. What they take for granted: Being able to feel comfortable in your own skin. Puberty was a living nightmare."
Theresa rocked Avery, who was still crying.
Suddenly, Avery chuckled. "It's funny. Tell your parents you want to be an Astronaut. They'll tell you to chase your dream. Tell them you want to be a football player, and they'll say that 'nothing is impossible with hard work and dedication.' Tell them you want to be a girl. Fuck..."
Avery looked at her hands. Her perfect, small hands that she always wanted, but never got until she finally went to sleep.
"They'll mock you. They'll talk about you behind your back, and they'll shun you. They'll send you to ten different counselors to try and 'fix' you, when they're the ones that are wrong. Because..." Avery looked up at the starless sky. "In the living world, I could never be the one thing I always wished I could be. Me."
A few seconds passed. Avery stopped crying, and stared off into space, pondering. "But when I dreamed." She smiled. "I could always be exactly who I wanted to be. People loved me for who I was, not a stupid mask I had to put on every single day of my fucking life. Jerome knew, but he died. Then there was nobody to help me, or see me for who I was."
Theresa spoke. "So you chose to dream forever, rather than watch yourself get further away from who you really were?"
Avery nodded. "And it worked." She examined herself. "Now that I think about it, I don't even regret it. I would rather have died myself than lived a lie for the rest of my--"
"Avery." It was a deep voice.
She opened her eyes and looked up. It was Jerome. He stood tall over the two girls. Smiling, he was extending his hand towards Avery. "You're ready."