My eyes won’t open.
Michael Taylor Anderson felt a momentary sense of panic, as he slowly became aware of his conscious thoughts. He felt no pain, which at that moment was perhaps not the best thing for him. He felt weak and terribly small at that moment. He wondered if he was truly awake at all. Not feeling anything was scary because the last thing he remembered was pain.
The car came barreling towards the curb out of nowhere.Michael was walking directly in between Paris and his brother Peter on their way to the mall. Everything happened so fast. He grabbed at Paris’s jacket hard, spinning him in an instant back out of the way of the oncoming car. In an instant, he barely registered the stunned look of his brother Peter on the curb. Peter’s face was a mixture of horror and bewilderment as he hit the ground. His eyes widened in horror as Michael felt the impact.
It was his father’s voice. It snapped him back to the present. This time he felt more of a sense of things around him. He heard rustling on all sides of him, and the hushed voices of the rest of the Anderson family, all six of them.
He heard his father speak very softly to him in a tone he’d only heard when he was sick. It was the tone of love –the love that only a father has for his child. In his 14 years of life, Michael Anderson rarely heard “Doctor” David Anderson speak in this way and it always gave him a sense of comfort and security.
“You’re eyes are covered with bandages. Stay still. I’m going to take them off in a moment.”
Bandages? Oh God, is it that bad?
He sniffled as he felt a rush of hot tears.
Someone squeezed his hand. He could tell it was his mother’s hand, but the feeling was different. Her hands had a feel he could always identify, but something wasn’t right. It was as if they felt much larger. He went to move his left hand to raise it, but felt the tug of restraints.
Why? Why am I restrained?
He panicked. A thin cry escaped his lips as he began to shift uncomfortably in the bed. In an instant he felt his mother’s hand on his forehead as she whispered to him:
“You’re all right, Taylor… You’re all right… Stay still. The bandages on your eyes were to keep you from panicking if you woke up and none of us were here. Dad’s going to take them off… Shhhh… be still…”
He shivered uncontrollably.
Paris. Was he Ok?
Just then he realized that Peter was holding his other hand silently. He and Peter were the youngest two and the closest in age –just eleven months apart. Danny, Jim and Marcus were all several years older than the two of them. Danny was in the middle of his second enlistment in the Navy, while Jim had been a police officer now for almost two years and Marcus was starting his third year of college. He and Peter had formed an unspoken bond that was deeper than his relationship with his other brothers.
“Are they here t-“ The words died in his throat.
That was not his voice. Even though it was barely above a whisper, it was higher pitched and distinctly more …feminine…
He stiffened instantly, gripping his mother’s hand tightly.
“Taylor… When these bandages come off, no matter what you see –it is real.”
His father’s words flooded out with the discovery.
“The accident was bad --really bad… We were going to lose you. Almost every bone in your body had been crushed and your internal organs were unsalvageable. We did what we could but your body was dying.”
What did you do to me?
Michael felt the bandages coming off, as his father worked hurriedly to remove them. He was lost amidst the chorus of voices in his family. They were all there. They were all trying at once to calm him down and it was having an effect, but a poor one.
The room became lighter and lighter as his father removed the bandages. He could feel his mother and brother working loose the restraints on his hands.
“There wasn’t any other choice… We had you transported to my lab. We work with bioengineering replacement organs –heart, lungs, liver –but nothing ever of this scope. We had the technology, you see but not the approval to go on with this level of replacement growth. The equipment was ready and functional –we were just waiting on approval to start this level of bioengineering. Most of the models we’d done had been based in theory only with a few tests, but nothing like this. I didn’t have time to work up a simulation on a human male –we’d been working with a female specimen model.”
As the buckles fell off Michael’s wrists, the last bandages fell away from his eyes. He blinked several times while his eyes adjusted to the light. The images around him were blurry and he blinked hard to bring them into focus. He looked down at slender, delicate hands that moved as though they were his own. Danny, Jim and Marcus crowded in too, making him nervous and uneasy. He looked into the eyes of his father, then to the eyes of his mother, absentmindedly bringing his hands into his chest. They impacted with soft, supple flesh, firm with the ripeness of youth.
I’m a girl.
Michael Taylor Anderson, promptly passed out.