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Grade
9

    I think i've been staring at this for years now, contemplating the insane. I shouldn’t call it insane. Insane is the act of doing something over and over again, hoping for a different outcome. This small note is telling me to do the opposite of insane… Change.

    My feet are working faster than my head, and my head feels like it’s running at a million miles per millisecond. My heartbeat thuds rapidly and evenly, I can count it, count on it, unlike everything else. Everything feels temporary right now.

    My fingers are racing each other on the pad of my phone, making plans I’m not quite sure I can achieve. My nails are usually perfectly manicured, french tipped. They are bitten down to my skin, uneven and ragged now. My hair is usually sprayed into its typical place, but it's flopping into my face and mouth and tickling the tip of my pointy blushed nose.

    I didn’t realize I was running until I was panting from being out of breath, and well, not in shape. Pulling up my jeans I get in my car, and drive out of this dim parking structure. I’m driving recklessly, I’m swerving and crying. At a point, I abandon my car in traffic. Bleeps of horns fill my ears and motivate my further. “Leave.”

    At a point, I almost pass a hair salon, almost. As quickly as I can, ending up paying for a styling and sitting myself into a leathery chair. I feel the strands hitting my tanned neck and arched back. I’m ready to leave. I can’t face my reflection.

    The second she’s done, out of the chair and gone. Calls are coming in, notifications are gone. I’m practically gone. Ignoring a message from my grandmother and run harder, I can’t stop running. I grip the paper in my hand tightly, unwilling to let go despite me letting go of everything else completely.

    Vibrations run through my pants pocket, people trying their hardest to contact me, or who and what they knew as me. I push myself, everything blurring, but everything else is clear.

    I read my house numbers and pull out my phone, calling the one person that can truly help me right now. “Justice?” I ask, seeking her soft excited voice.

    “Ashley, everyone is worried sick about you.” Her tone is serious and she sounds concerned.

    “I need to get out of town. I can’t tell you why, I don’t know why.” My voice cracks, I sound like I have been crying. Wiping my cheek, I realized I have been. A sigh comes from the other side of the phone.

    “I love you and I trust you. I think I know why you’re calling, and I can.” It’s my turn to sigh, but this time in relief.

    “You know where I keep everything, just put the money in my bank account. Keep what you need, I’m not taking anything.” A gasp ensues.

    “You’re fucking crazy.” I hear her say, in the most pained voice she probably tries her hardest not to muster. “I love you.”

    “I know.”

                            ***

“It’s Atlantis Airlines, have a safe flight.” I haven’t stopped crying in twenty four hours hour, my only source of nourishment has been the small bottles of wine they give me, literally child sized if an alcoholic beverage could be that.

There’s a lot to face, including my face. I remove myself from my seat and make my way to the back, ignoring the scent as I enter the small restroom. I immediately lock the flimsy door and turn on the sink to the coldest setting. I’d be expected to say this freezing water is refreshing, but really it just hurt and now my fingers are numb.

    I lift my head and finally meet my reflection. I quickly wash my face again, unable to see it through my thick lines of eyeliner and mascara running down my face. I scrub away at this with a tissue, and then only, finally meet my reflection.

    “Um, hi. This isn’t how people usually do this is it?” I say finally facing myself. “You usually buy a fancy car or get your nails done when this happens, I guess.” Slightly laughing at myself. “I guess you could say you’ve always been an extremist.” I snicker harder. I get up closer to the small airplane mirror, and examine myself.

There are bags darker than Lord Voldemort, themselves, soul. And that’s okay. My eyes are no longer powdered and gelled into looking a different shape, and my eyebrows are weak and definitely not on fleek. I push these thoughts out of my head, and start admiring my freckles. They look like a small chocolate milky way on my face, so I don’t understand why i’ve always covered them. A gigantuan pimple stands proudly on my left temple, and I laugh at it. “You’ve always acted so intimidating.” I say as I pop it aggressively. The scar I just gave myself is more permanent than anything in my life right now. I practically flinch just at thinking the word. I inspect my hair as I realize it. It probably hasn’t been this short since I was born. The sides are buzzed and I have a floppy mess on the top of my head. Curly. My hair is curly. My hair is springier than an old mattress. I’ve straightened my hair or had it straightened for me for nearly ten years. There’s been so much relaxer in my hair you’d think it’s had it’s permanent vacation, but hell no. My eyes are browner than usual, the blonde has been cut out of my hair, my eyeliner has been cried off, my foundation has separated and fallen away in more ways than one.

I smile, for the first time in weeks, I smile. “You look handsome.” I say, fully convinced. I sit down on the toilet, ignoring the knocks getting louder and louder and create all new social media with a couple crucial changes. There’s not face tune or angles to make me look unhuman like, just the truth. I shorten my name for the profile (and myself) to “Ash.”

“Preferred pronouns?” it asks.

“Oh honey, thank you for asking.” And I do it. “He/Him/His.” and it’s done. I think the relaxer that escaped my hair has gone to my head, because God, I feel good. I feel temporary and strong and unstoppable and god damn, I just ruined things.

“Lady, get the fuck out of the bathroom!” I heard a male’s voice screech.

“I’m not a lady.” I say politely as I exit. I feel the note in my hand, and I open it back up. I need it's reassurance right now, I need something, anything really. I can't think of a singular thing that could fix this feeling, not a singular thing that can fix how I feel and who I am. Why would I want to change this? Maybe the threats of violence? Maybe the stares? Maybe having to correct people or screaming at them when they still refuse to use them. My pronouns, something that helps define who I am.

And who I am is a 'he.'

State
MI
Zip Code
48103