– Fiction by JC Scott –
As seen in Issue 13 of Dreamers Magazine
The room is smaller and darker than Jules recollects from childhood. That first time was the last time. Until now. Of course, everything was different then. Very different. Second thoughts are beginning to percolate from within. She begins to sweat. Her thoughts reach a fight or flight like crescendo as she tries to rise but is frozen. The little door slides open, and escape is no longer an option.
She has rehearsed this moment for many hours over the past several days. Her right arm moves reflexively up, down and across, as she says, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” She reflects for a moment, before adding, “Amen.”
Jules then recites, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned,” though, only because she believes it’s expected.
An awkward length of silence clings to the darkness as she founders in her attempt to gather everything she wants to convey into a single mouthful of words. Ultimately, she takes a deep breath and begins.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. Since my first confession, in fact. That’s when I still thought I was a boy. I mean, I knew something was different, but only God knew I was a girl. I didn’t understand that then. When I did begin to understand, my father beat those thoughts out of me. And, the boys in the neighborhood beat those thoughts out of me. Yeah. Yeah, that was a …, a time. I’ll just leave it at that since that’s not why I’m here.”
Jules flinches each time she enunciates the word beat. The chair creaks behind the wall as the priest shifts, uncomfortably. Before she can continue, Jules is presented with a familiar question she has no answer for.
“Why are you here?”
Without hesitation, she ignores it, regurgitating the thought that possibly the answer would manifest itself, benevolently, to her at some point.
“As I grew up, the thoughts morphed into knowledge, … that I was a woman. I fought the knowledge for years, even tried marriage, and had a kid, who’s an adult now. I just kept thinking that if I could find something to beat the knowledge out of me, everything would be OK. I prayed, a lot, and finally came to the conclusion that God wanted me to have the knowledge, because they were perfectly fine with me being me.”
She stops for a moment. Looking down at the hands resting in her lap, she says, “So, I’m a transgender woman.” She listens for any audible reaction, such as a sigh.
“Did you get that? Have you checked out on me?” Jules asks the questions rhetorically, but hears, “I have not, … checked out.”
“Hmm, OK, so, my son, he suffers from schizophrenia. You know, he’d actually like talking to you, because he believes he has a direct communication channel to God. But he also believes the illuminati run everything in the world, and when he gets going, it can be hard to calm him down. So, maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea, I don’t know.”
She hesitates for a moment, in a way yearning to hear something like, I would love to talk to him, but only silence echoes from the other side. No matter. Jules is beginning to feel very warm and glances at her Fitbit. 119 bpm. She is feeling emotional but doesn’t want to begin crying again.
“Anyway, I’ve been receiving gender-affirming therapies, and presenting more and more as me, looking more feminine, just waiting for the right time to come out to my son. So…, uh…, a couple weeks ago now, I take him to his favorite taqueria. We’re eating outside, even though it’s cold, because he doesn’t like to be around strangers. Anyway, he says, dad, you’re beginning to look like a woman. I look at him kind of funny, like, and he quickly says he’s just joking. But, I think, this is it. This is the time. So, I try and explain everything to him, and he starts looking all around. I ask him if he’s OK. He slams his hands down on the table and tells me I’m one of them. He practically screams that I have snipers hidden all over. I’m in shock. I don’t know what to say, and then he gets up and runs away. It takes me a minute to gather myself. I start crying as I pay up. I go look for him. Turns out a cop had to pull him out of the highway. He ends up being TDO’d to a psychiatric unit at Inova. Of course, he’s an adult, so I can’t get any information, and I’m really freaking out.”
Jules begins crying and reaches into her purse for a tissue.
“Take your time,” the priest says, calmly. Jules tries to detect sympathy in his voice, but she can’t tell one way or the other. Fuck it all, she thinks, but immediately feels bad and tries to rewind the thought, to no avail.
“Finally, I get a call from the doctor. He tells me my son thinks that I’m being programmed by the illuminati to be a woman and suggests the only way to help him get better is to reassure him it’s all a mistake. I tell the doc it’s not a mistake, the part about being a woman, that is, and I clarify that I’m transgender and was trying to come out to my son. He doesn’t say anything for a while, and I have to ask if he’s still there. He says yes, and explains medications can only do so much, and that I have a decision to make.”
“So, you’re here to ask my advice?”
“God no,” Jules immediately responds. Angry with herself, she rises, fumbling with the door on her way out.
Jules thinks, why the fuck DID I go there, as she speeds away from the church parking lot. There’s no decision to make.
JC’s writing focuses on giving voice to the Transgender communities, often drawing from personal experiences and continuing journey as a nonbinary writer. They are a Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction finalist, and their short story, The End of Something has been published in the Stories That Need to Be Told Anthology 2022. J.C.’s poetry has been published in the 2019 Best Emerging Poets Anthology for Virginia and will be featured in the upcoming Poetry Society of Virginia Centennial Anthology. J.C. is currently working on numerous short stories and their debut novel. They have participated in and learned from various writing workshops and instructors, including Cristen Hemingway Jaynes, Richard Crossland, Jacob Appel, Jenny Bhatt, Nancy Stohlman, Ran Walker, Rachel Swearingen, and Brenda Peynado. J.C. is a member of the Hemingway Society, The Poetry Society of Virginia, and the Academy of American Poets.
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