I’ve been reading this board for a long time, but have never posted anything to give back. This isn’t from my AB side - rather from I guess my LG/TG side. I have posted it on a couple other sites, but I know there are a number of you who might enjoy this here too. Anyway I thought I would post it for you all to read if you wanted to. I hope you enjoy!
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real people and events are unintentional and are coincidental. This work may not be reposted to other sites or medium’s without expressed permission of the author. (It will be given in most cases if asked)
This novel is copyright Tiffany Shar 2008, All Rights Reserved.
Standing Up to Life
Chapter 1: September 1994
I walked up to the bus stop, hoping maybe today would be better. Maybe today wouldn’t be one of the bad days I have had so often. For instance yesterday… yesterday was a terrible day. I had come home crying again.
I suppose I should introduce myself to you, seeing as how you’re spending the time to read my story. My name is Brandon, I’m 11 years old and in the Sixth Grade at Holden Middle School. My town is just about 25 minutes away from Albuquerque, NM. Close enough to go in if we want to during the evening, but far enough away to be away from the smog and such.
I had hoped when I moved up to the Middle School to have a new start – perhaps losing the problems I had before in elementary school, but they’ve only compounded and gotten worse. You’ll hear enough of that later - unfortunately I’ve arrived at the bus stop so we’ll have to move past these pleasantries.
I walked up to the bus stop cautiously watching to see if there were any plans in action that I needed to be aware of. The bus stop consisted of a dirt lot that had a volleyball court from a neighboring church in it. It’s really just the standard dirt lot you see all over the southwest.
I looked down at my watch and saw that I had arrived about 5 minutes before the bus would arrive. Looking around further I saw Luke had gotten to bus stop already… not good. As I saw him he turned around too, he gave me a look and started heading over my way.
“Well if it isn’t little Brandon. I’m surprised you came back to school today after yesterday. I see your arm is starting to turn a nice purple today… Maybe we can make your legs match it!” He said laughing, a couple of his friends came up and started to taunt me together. “You know on a lot of guys your spiked hair means they shouldn’t be messed with, but on you it really doesn’t do you any good!” Joe, another guy taunted.
The bad part is Lucas is actually just a lieutenant in the group of guys that gives me trouble. If these guys were already getting on my case it would only get worse. I could tell this was about to get out of hand real fast. Joe started to make a grab for my arms about the time that the bus pulled up.
“What are you kids doing? Do I need to write you all up?!?” Our bus driver Miss Amy screamed at us. They instantly let me go, and I instantly knew that this story would be to my Mom (another bus driver) before I got home. Great… another day of hell all around. So much for today.
As I took my seat my eyes started welling up – I couldn’t help it – I’ve dealt with this since first grade. It seemed like no matter what there was always another bully to take and make it their personal mission to torment me. I didn’t do a very good job of dealing with it to keep it from happening.
It didn’t help that I wasn’t big enough to come off as a threat to anyone. At 4’2" and 75lbs I was the smallest boy in my class. There was one girl, Nikki, who was shorter than me that kept me from having the honor of being the shortest in the entire class of 180 kids. I was also a year younger than a lot of the kids since my birthday had just fallen inside the deadline for my grade level. My parents wanted to keep me from entering Kindergarten that year, but the preschool I was at insisted that mentally I was ready. They were right on that part – I was one of the smartest kids at the school – but emotionally I was a baby in comparison. Something the kids had no problems telling me.
By the time the bus pulled up to the school I had regained some control of my eyes and wiped them. I went out the bus and took my instrument into the band hall storage room. I then waited outside the main door to go in for the day. I could feel the stares of the other kids burning in my backside. That’s when I noticed Matt had joined up with the group of guys that had been with Lucas.
He had brought his own group with him to make a formidable gang of kids. Matt was the leader that I spoke of earlier. As far as I could tell their entire goal in life was to see how miserable they could make other people. I was easily on the top of their list.
I could hear Lucas snickering to Matt how he had seen me crying on the bus after I got on. They were more than 10 feet away, but I could hear them fairly clearly. I developed very good hearing as a result of my torment – it was a defense mechanism. I saw them point at me right as the bell rang and I tried to hurry to my locker before anything else happened.
As I got to my locker I opened it quickly and grabbed my books, putting them into my backpack as quickly as I could. I closed my locker just in time to turn around and stare at Matt and Lucas right behind me.
“So I hear Baby Brandon made another appearance this morning. Maybe baby needs to go back to day care instead of Middle School?” Matt sneared at me. As he did so he grabbed my arm and shoved me into my locker. I landed on the other arm that hadn’t been bruised right on top of one of the locker dials. I was instantly in tons of pain, and I knew that I had another bruise to match my other one.
I did my best to try not to cry – I knew that was what he wanted, but at that same moment he punched me in the stomach as he walked away from me. I was crying as I walked up the stairs to go to the second floor where my first class was. As I walked up to that class Mr. Krantz, my teacher, saw me.
Mr. Krantz asked, “Brandon why don’t you go to the bathroom and wipe off your face?”
I nodded, “Thanks,” and sniffled at the same time as I headed for the bathroom. I managed to regain control and went back to class… This was not going to be a good day.
When I went back to class and sat down I at least was in a sanctuary of the classroom now. This class was biology – my favorite academic subject of the day in most ways. Mr. Krantz was the hardest teacher I had ever had though. A point that was going to be made clear today.
“Morning everyone, I want to give you a chance to see what your grade is going to be when it comes out Friday. I’ll call you up one at a time.”
I sat there waiting as he went through the names until he got to the R’s. “Brandon, your next.” As I looked down at his paper I almost fainted… A C?!?!?!?!?!?
“Is that a mistake Mr. Krantz?”
“No Brandon, it looks like your vocab notes are what knocked your grade down. Make sure you write neatly next 9 weeks so we can get that grade up.”
To say I was miffed would be to put it mildly. I could clearly see I wasn’t the only one, and I was sure that nobody was getting an A in his class if I wasn’t. I had been a mostly A student since 2nd grade… A C did not sit well with me.
“Psst… Brandon.” The girl next to me, Amy, said. “What did you get?”
“A stupid C…” I said as quietly as I could through my anger, trying not to lose it again. Thankfully I was too in shock to cry. “What did you get?”
“A B-, I had an 80% exactly. Laura got an 88% over there, she’s the highest grade I’ve heard of so far.” We were going to keep talking but Mr. Krantz gave us the teacher glare, so we both shut up.
A couple minutes later Mr. Krantz stood up at the front of the class and started talking. “Many of you are no doubt shocked at your grade, indeed some of you I was worried were going to faint.” The jerk smiled as he said that… “In my class I take very literally the meaning of the names of the grades. An F is Failing – I handed out 5 of those in this class. He started graphing the numbers. A D is nearly failing, I handed out 7 of those to this class. A C is average, I handed out 13 of those in this class. A B is above average, I handed out 2 of those in this class. And finally an A is excellent and superior. I did not have any A’s in this class this 9 weeks.”
He continued to speak for 10 minutes on this topic before we moved on. I had a 79%, one stinking point away from being a B. It was clear I was going to have to work a lot harder to get an A in this class. I had the highest grade for a boy from what I gathered.
I went downstairs from Biology over to my social studies class. Amazingly I managed to make it without incident. Maybe today was going to improve? Mr. Randolph was my social studies teacher, and he smiled and said hi as each of us walked in. He was a different kind of teacher… in most ways he was actually probably a terrible teacher… but at least as class went on today I found out I had an A+ in his class. Of course it seemed like the only thing we did in his class was watch Americas funniest home videos…
I got out of that class to go to my favorite class – Band. I had just started playing saxophone this year and I was pumped about it! Mrs. Remar was also really good about keeping control of the bullies in my class – something I greatly appreciated. Especially since Matt also played saxophone. I was first chair though, which meant that I had some space between him and myself.
I sat down and we began playing a number out of the book. “Saxophones you’re playing too loud!” Mrs. Remar seemed to love saying that… That period went well, I was excited about playing and having a good time in that class. I found out from Mrs. Remar that I was receiving an A in band, and also got to see her chew Matt out for doing something stupid… Maybe today was turning around.
I put my saxophone up quickly and took the shortcut from band to the choir room through her office. Having 2 electives as a 6th grader was definitely nice.
I walked into the choir room and sat down on the front riser where I stood due to my short size. Mrs. Schultz greeted me as I came in. She was the one person in this school for whom I believe more students picked on than me… As a new teacher she was making just about every mistake in the book of mistakes, and making up some new ones. Even I would place bets on the likeliness that she would end up running to her office crying some days.
“Brandon, here, this a new piece we’re going to sing. Go ahead and put it in your folder.” She handed me a piece of music as she said that.
“Thanks Mrs. Schultz.” I looked at the piece, it was called, ‘All the pretty little horses…’ Yeah that was a real manly song to sing I thought to myself. I was sure the other guys were going to have a field day with this piece. Oh well, I looked at it and thought it sounded like it was going to be a pretty piece.
Everyone joined me on the risers as they came in. Mrs. Schultz was in her office grabbing something when one of the boys next to me started snickering from some joke that a guy named Pete had said. I was really hoping that it didn’t have anything to do with me. In the meantime another girl, Alicia, tapped me on my shoulder to get my attention.
“Brandon can I touch your hair?” I had my hair in the spiked hair style that was quickly fading from coolness, but was still unique. I wanted to say no – I didn’t like people messing with it, but it was pretty much stuck up there so I said, “I guess.”
“This feels so cool, I was expecting it to be hard and pointy, but it’s actually really soft. Amy feel this!” Alicia said.
“Ooh, this isn’t what I expected either, Brandon what do you do to make it stick up?” Amy asked.
“Well you know, I just stick my finger in the light socket everyday and it just does this. Hurts a bit for a second but it saves tons of time!” I said jokingly.
Amy and Alicia chuckled a bit. Amy said, “You know Brandon you can be funny sometimes, I wish more people gave you the chance to do so.” She said sweetly making my face turn red.
“You’re also the only guy I know that can blush like that!” She said making me really embarrassed. I didn’t know what to think about this. I wasn’t used to her paying any attention to me, I wasn’t exactly in her social circle. Well… at the moment I wasn’t really in any social circle!
“So really, what do you do?” She asked again.
“I just take a comb and some water and run it through it backwards. Then I spray some hairspray on. I used to have to put gel in it, but it does it on its own anymore.” I replied.
“Cool,” She responded.
Soon about 4 of them were enjoying the fact that my hair stuck straight up but wasn’t stiff. I’d been spiking it for about 4 years now, so it really did do it on its’ own. It was getting a little long now for it though (about an inch and a half long,) and I was going need to cut it if I wanted it to keep from having to gel it.
In the meantime one of the boys that had been laughing leaned over and told Jordan (another girl to my right) something to which she looked at me and started laughing… Yep whatever it was it had to do with me.
Soon Pete couldn’t contain his humor anymore. “Brandon, have you seen the movie the Christmas Story?”
“Umm… no?” I replied cautiously. Whatever this was it wouldn’t be good.
“Because other than your hair you look just like Ralphy,” he said in a manner that wasn’t nice.
Another boy, Robert, asked me, “so do you have a BB gun?”
“Yes, why do you ask?” I asked (I hadn’t seen the movie before so I had no idea what was coming).
“Because you’ll shoot your eye out!” He said. He and his friends laughed really hard. As well as the rest of the class.
Thankfully that was the moment that Mrs. Schultz decided to try and teach the class. She was a much better target than me. “Okay, up until now we’ve been singing songs with one part this year. The new piece I handed out has 3 parts, and I want to go ahead and split everyone up into their proper parts. For now I want all of the boys on my right side and all of the girls on my left side.”
It was an amazing thing actually, we had about 10 boys in our choir class in addition to the 20 girls. You don’t see that in a lot of choir programs. I moved over to the right side and we started working on the piece. About 5 minutes later she was working with the boys on their part and she heard me having trouble getting down low enough.
“Brandon, would you try singing this instead?” She had me singing the soprano part though I didn’t know it yet.
“Okay,” I said. I was very proud of how high I could sing. Looking back at it now I wished I had been in a part of the country that had a boys or even a childrens chorus that I could have joined. I had no problems reaching those pitches at all.
“Okay Brandon, would you move over next to Amy there?” I was petrified now… oh no… this skill backfired bigtime! Now I was going to get more crap from the kids about this. So much for things getting better this morning. I looked over at Amy as I walked over and she at least smiled at me. Behind me the other guys snickered. This couldn’t get worse I thought.
Mrs. Schultz spoke up, “Now class Brandon has a lovely voice that at certain times in history would have meant he would have been treated like royalty. Boys that could sing high were accorded a very high place in the choirs that were in the kings courts…” I tuned it out, I was wrong, it could get worse. After 3 minutes of terribly screwing things up more for me we started singing again.
As class ended I left as quickly as I could, not looking or speaking to Mrs. Schultz as I left for lunch.
I got into the lunch line and heard snickering behind me. When I turned around it was Pete talking to Matt. Great.
“Brandon, just ignore them, they’re just jealous.” Amy appeared next to me speaking.
“That’s easier said than done,” I said trying to keep control of my voice. Couldn’t anything go right in my life?
“Personally I like your voice, I think you can actually sing higher than I can.” Amy said trying to cheer me up. I was kind of bewildered. It wasn’t like we’d never talked before, but at the same time for her to talk to me in public was new and unexpected.
“Thanks Amy, I appreciate it.”
We didn’t say anything else as the line winded through lunch. I actually was feeling a little better about myself, one of the hottest girls in school was talking to me. I got my wonderfully healthy meal of French fries and went to have a seat by myself at a table as far away from Matt’s thugs as I could.
I had one Fry to go when Matt and Lucas came up to me. “Hey Ralphy, don’t shoot your eye out!”
A kid nearby asked, “Why are you calling Brandon, Ralphy?”
“Because he looks like Ralphy from the Christmas Story,” Matt said as loudly as he thought he could get away with without being yelled at. “And he cries just as much too!” He said while grabbing my last fry and pushing me off of my seat.
“Matt!” A teacher said from across the room. “Come Here!”
I was beside myself and went from the cafeteria to the bathroom crying. I couldn’t believe it, not only did I have a bad nickname I didn’t want from a couple kids, it was going to spread through the school now. Not to mention Matt was going to blame his getting in trouble on me. I stayed in there for a couple minutes before one of the PE Coaches came to check on me.
“Brandon, are you alright bud?” Coach U asked.
“Yeah, I guess.” I replied shakily.
“You’ve got to stop giving him what he wants. Anytime he can get a reaction out of you he’s feeding off of it. If you can even at least keep from crying immediately after it you’ll make some progress. Or, and I’m not saying this, stand up to him and push him back.”
“He’s twice my size though…” I said.
“Yes he is, and he may very well use that against you, but even just standing up to him will cause him to realize there are easier targets. Just think about it Brandon, I need you to go ahead and move on though, you can’t stay in here. Matt will be out of your hair today and tomorrow – I can promise you that.”
“Thanks Coach.” I said as I left. I decided to go by the snack bar real quick to get a coke and a Reese’s.
From there I went outside and found a spot on a 2 foot stucco wall we had outside and tried to stay out of sight. I managed to somehow succeed in that before having to go inside for PE. I went in and changed as quickly as I could – but not quite quickly enough.
“Hey Brandon, the girls locker room is on the other side of the gym,” an 8th grader named Bryce said.
“Ha ha you’re very funny.” I replied.
“I know I am, kind of like that face of yours,” He said as I tried to get past him and go into the gym.
“Actually I understand I’m supposed to call you Ralphy now, I sure hope you don’t shoot your eye out with that BB Gun of yours.” He said as he finally let me walk by. As I walked by he tried to trip me, but thankfully that was one thing I was good at recovering from. I stumbled for a step but kept on going. I made it to the safety of my line and we began warming up.
Mrs. Bradley, our 58 year old PE teacher, got up to the front of the class and said, “Okay class today we’re going to run the mile. Everyone will do 4 laps around the track and I’ll time you.” I groaned, I played soccer and could run for short distances at a time very well, but I was terrible at the mile.
We walked out the door and another kid tried tripping me. I again managed to avoid falling. We got to the starting line and she said go. I ran as well as I could, but I was much slower than any of the other boys. I managed to run it in 9 minutes and 20 seconds, that was the fastest I had run it.
By the time I was done I was exhausted and sat down on grass next to the track. Amazingly I wasn’t the last person. That honor fell to the kids that didn’t care and practically walked the whole way. A couple minutes later Nikki came and sat down next to me. She was the girl I mentioned earlier that was smaller than me. She was just shy of 4 feet tall, and was usually pretty nice to me.
“So Brandon are you going to go?” She asked in and excited manner.
“What are you talking about Nikki?” I asked.
“Haven’t you had English yet?” She asked. I shook my head. “Well you’ll find out more when you have English, but they’re offering that trip to Florida this summer through the school. Ms. Fitzgerald came up from the elementary school for the day to talk to all of the 6th graders that came from Maple Elementary. They’ll call you out of class to talk to you. Since this was unexpected for us to go to the Jr. High instead of being at the elementary school again they decided to go ahead and offer the trip to us so we don’t miss out.”
So for those of you that are a little confused, our elementary school offered a trip every year that would be offered to 6th graders. It was a really cool trip, and we all had hoped to be able to go. You had to pay/fundraise your own way to go though, so not a lot of people went. In April though our school board in all its wisdom decided to suddenly vote to move 6th graders up to the Jr. High and stop it from being just 7th and 8th graders. That’s a whole other fun subject, but one of the reasons we were all mad about it was this trip.
“So are you going?” I asked.
“I’m hoping to, I’ll talk to my parents tonight about it. I’ll tell you tomorrow what they say okay?” She said.
“Yeah, that would be so cool.” I now had a reason to look forward to going to 6th hour!
I had been to Disneyland in California the previous summer for the first time and it had been really cool. The previous summer had actually marked a huge change for my family. My dad had worked at his company for 10 years now, and they got bought out by a larger company. In doing so he had to cash out his pension that he had saved up.
This had enabled us to move out of the trailer I had grown up in and into a real house. My parents had also surprised me in July with a trip to Disneyland. I had grown up in New Mexico, and had never been outside of the Four Corners states previously. My parents weren’t rich though, so I didn’t know whether or not we could afford this. Still… maybe, just maybe!
I talked with her for a few more minutes. It was kind of funny because the 2 of us were like a couple days apart in age (she was older) – between that and our height I had always been friends with her. We talked about how we were excited about how band was going so far. (She played flute) Class wrapped up pretty soon after that and I went into the locker room to change.
After a 4 minute hell section where I discovered that Ralphy was definitely going to stick I managed to get out of there without any more physical violence against me.
I hurried on to my English class, going down the one hallway that connected that wing to the main school, and down another to get to the oldest wing of the school and up the staircase. This led to the room of Mr. Tamera, probably the worst English teacher of all time. To get you to shut up he’d say, ‘shut the mouth.’ The more I think about it I had a lot of bad teachers that year!
I sat down in my chair, and after he called roll he called those of us from Maple Elementary to go down the hall to an empty classroom where Ms. Fitzgerald was waiting.
“Hi Ms. Fitzgerald,” I said as I walked up and gave her a hug. She had been one of the few teachers who had really tried – and somewhat succeeded – to keep my life from being as tough even though I wasn’t even in her class (she had taught 6th grade but chose to stay at the elementary). Right behind me Amy did the same thing – most of the kids did. There were about 8 students in there. I saw they had not invited some of the students, like Matt and Lucas, who were from that school too. I wasn’t going to complain.
“How are you all doing?” She asked. “You’ve all grown a bunch since I saw you all last year. Well I’m guessing most of you have heard about what’s going on by now, but just in case here it is!” She said enthusiastically but not condescendingly, as only a good teacher can.
“We’ve received permission to offer the Florida Experience trip to you guys even though you’re not at the elementary anymore. We decided to only offer it to students that passed all of their classes last year and were from Maple Elementary. The district approved that and we’re going to do it that way!” She smiled as she said that.
“I won’t keep you long, but basically if you go you’ll go for 6 days and 5 nights to Orlando, Fl. We’ll go to Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, Universal Studios, and the beach among other things. Your parents are welcome to come along if they want to. We’re willing to help you setup fundraisers, but you do have to pay for it on your own. Do any of you think your parents might be interested?”
Amy, Kyle, and I raised our bands. The other kids shook their heads, I don’t think their parents had a chance of affording it, and they knew it unfortunately. I didn’t honestly think my parents could either, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask. I looked at the stuff that they gave me, it was only $700! That was cheap and I knew it.
As we left Amy spoke to me briefly, “Brandon that would be so exciting if we could all go together, and we won’t have any of those jerks with us either it looks like!”
“Yes that would be nice wouldn’t it?” I replied and we went separate ways. My thoughts had paralleled hers. There was a meeting next week, I hoped I could get my parents to go to it!
I got back to class getting plenty of stares of “why did he get to go?” But I couldn’t answer even if they asked, Mr. Tamera was droning on about some stupid tense thing. I understood it within 1 minute of his 26 minute lecture I had to hear. I got the feeling he had droned on 14 minutes before that too! All in his broken English. Shouldn’t an English teacher be able to speak English?!?
I left that class still on a high from my hopes of the trip still. I got to Math and did my homework quickly while he talked on. I had my homework done and still 30 minutes of class to go. I checked the odd answers with the ones in the back of the book and fixed any I had wrong and looked and saw I still had 25 minutes. One of my other nemesis was sitting behind me and started giving me crap.
“Jeff, leave me alone okay?” I said. He was a jerk, and a wannabe cool kid. While he was a rung higher on the chain than I was, he wasn’t much higher. He wasn’t much higher because he was a fat oaf to put it nicely…
“Why, Ralphy, what are you going to do? You’re just a wimp!”
“Just knock it off!”
“And what if I don’t?” He asked. I’d had enough today, he was going to get it.
I stood up and reached down and grabbed the hair on the top his head and yanked as hard as I could.
“OWWWW!!! Stop that!” He cried. The other kids nearby were watching and all amazed that I was actually successfully taking on one of my antagonists.
“Then you promise me you’ll stop picking on me!” I suggested to him.
“Alright, I won’t do it anymore.” He fairly cried.
I turned around in my desk expecting to be getting sent to the office by my teacher, but Mr. Martin just turned around at that moment and looked at me. He gave me a wink and got back to doing something on his desk. I couldn’t believe it, I actually accomplished something and got away with it! That never happens.
I ran to the bus after grabbing my saxophone as quick as I could once the bell rang. As I got on the bus I heard kids talking about my ‘Fight’ with Jeff. It certainly earned me a bit of respect. I still got called Ralphy as I got on the bus though, so I knew it wasn’t enough to get away from it. But progress is progress right?
I shouldn’t have thought I got away so cleanly for the day. As I was getting off the bus I saw Matt was behind me. How did he get on my bus? He doesn’t even ride this bus I thought!
I tried to hurry across the street and get down the block to my house but he caught me just after crossing the street. “Hey Brandon hold up! I still owe you for what you did to me earlier!” He said while he grabbed at my backpack.
I couldn’t go anywhere at that point so I turned around. “What did I do to you?!? If I remember correctly you were the one picking on me!”
“Ooh we’re talking back now that we fought like a girl to beat up Jeff huh?” He said pushing me backwards. I stumbled but managed to stay on my feet. I was frantically trying to think of a way to get away from him.
“No, I’m just sick of your shit is all.” I replied. I slowly walked backward to a yard that had some rocks in it.
“Ooh you think you’re all big now cussing at me? Well let’s get this over with runt. Because of you I was in ISS today, and I’ll be in the same place tomorrow and Monday!” And with that he started to rush towards me. I decided I had one chance, to use his movement against him.
If I could trip him he would be falling the opposite way as my house. Which might give me enough of a head start to make it home… Everything slowed down, and I did a move that I used in soccer to fake out my opponents. I leaned in the opposite direction as I was going and he fell for it. I then stuck out my leg and he bowled over 2x head over heels.
Of course, I didn’t see that part because I was already running as fast as I could for home. I got my key out of my pocket in the hope I could make it there, unlock the door, and lock it before he got there. I needn’t have worried that much because when I got to my door I saw he was nowhere nearby me. Still the same I decided not to chance it and locked the door quickly behind me.
I collapsed, crying on my bed, could I not get any peace?
I woke up to mom standing in the doorway. She could clearly tell that I had been crying again. I was sure that she had also heard about earlier and as she saw me stir she came over toe my bed and gave me a hug.
“Sweety, what happened?” Part of me hated it when she called me that, but part of me liked it for some reason.
I related to her all of the bullying crap that had happened to me that day. When I told her about what happened with Matt after school. She immediately got on the phone and called her boss to find out why that kid had been allowed on the bus. He said he would look into it. After a quick dinner I put on my clothes for soccer practice.
Soccer was the only sport I liked to play. In all honesty it was the only one I had even a modest amount of skill in – as I couldn’t catch or throw to save my life. I was a defensive sweeper. Even though I was small I managed to get the ball away more often than not from my opponents and pass it to the offensive players. We were hoping our team could make the city championships this year.
It was a coed team and I said hi to all of my friends as I got there. The nice thing about my soccer team is that they were all the same age as I was, meaning that I was the only one in 6th grade, the rest were in 5th grade. I’d been playing with the same teammates for 4 years now, and we all pretty much got along. We had an awesome coach that understood that sports should be fun. Yes hard work was involved, but there was the human aspect to it that so many coaches didn’t have.
We went through a lot of drills that night using cones and having other people try and get past with the balls, as well as some goal shooting against our goalie.
I went through practice and was thoroughly exhausted when I was done. I came home and sat down at the kitchen table with a bottle of Gatorade.
“Ooh I almost forgot!” I exclaimed and ran to where my backpack was to get the stuff about the trip out.
“Ms. Fitzgerald came up from the elementary school to give this to us today!” I showed my mom and dad who were both sitting at the table. “I’d get to go to Florida and see Kennedy Space Center! They even take us to Space Camp!” I said excitedly. It had been a dream of mine to go to space camp ever since I watched the movie by the same title.
My dad looked at it and said, “I don’t know, it’s not cheap.”
My mom looked at him and said, “Well I don’t know that he would ever have this chance again though. This is really a once in a lifetime chance to do all of this at his age.”
My dad looked at us and said, “Okay we can look into it, I’m not saying yes though.”
I hugged him and sat back down, knowing to push it any further at this point would be a good way to get a no. “So what’s this I hear about you fighting today?” My dad asked.
“Umm… it wasn’t really fighting…” I continued to relate the events of the day, though not as thoroughly as with mom. I didn’t talk to him as much about stuff. In all honesty he was at his jobs beck and call 24 hours a day most of the time, which meant I didn’t see him nearly enough.
Afterwards he looked at me and said, “Maybe I should find this Matt kid and teach him some manners.” Flexing his muscles…
I had little doubt that he would think about doing that, but mom and I said, “That’s a bad idea, then you would just get in trouble.”
“Well, let me know if you have any more trouble with him and we’ll deal with it.” Just at that time the phone rang and mom picked it up.
“Brandon it’s for you!” Covering the microphone she whispered to me, “it’s a girl!”
I blushed and took it in the other room away from prying ears. Who would be calling me?
“Hey Brandon? This is Amy.” Amy was calling me? My heart just about stopped.
“Hi,” I somehow kept from stammering.
“Hey I heard something and wanted to make sure you were okay. Someone said that Matt got on your bus and tried to jump you today. Are you okay?” She asked, very concerned.
“Yeah, I managed to trip him and run home as quickly as I could. How did you hear about it?”
“Well, Halley called Lindsey, and Lindsey called me, and told me that Matt tried to beat you up after school, but he was the one that got beat up.”
“HUH??” I asked.
“Apparently when you tripped him he went head over heels and hit his face against the concrete. The rumor going around is that he broke his nose!” She said giggling.
“No way… Great, now he’ll really be after me.” I said.
“Actually, I have a feeling you’ll be alright for a while, apparently the police came by just before you ran off and saw him attempt to attack you. They were the ones that took him to the Emergency Room.”
“I can’t believe that they didn’t come down and try and talk to me.” I said.
“Well Halley’s dad, who is a cop, said that they’re going to come by the school tomorrow and talk to you to see if you want to press charges. They watched the whole thing go down and saw him clearly attack you. This could mean we could get rid of him finally!” She said.
“Wow, I don’t know what to say. I’m still scared he’s going retaliate. So is this all over school already?” I asked.
“Yeah, the fact that you ‘beat up’ Jeff and Matt in the same day is making waves around the phones today.”
I smiled, “Well neither are true, but maybe people will back off a bit for a while.” I paused and then decided to see if she would talk about anything else, “So what are you up to besides checking on me?”
We struck up a conversation and talked for 15 minutes before her mom started nagging her to get off the phone. “Brandon I’ll see you tomorrow okay?”
“Okay, talk to you later!” I hung up the phone, happier than I had been in years. I told mom and dad about what I heard and they both decided that meeting the principals tomorrow would be a good idea. I went to bed dreaming that maybe the next day would be better.
That next day was Friday, so much for TGIF? When I got to school kids were whispering behind my back like I was some sort of alien that inhabited Brandon’s body.
First hour came and went without incident. During 2nd period I got called to come down to the office where I saw my parents waiting. We went in together to talk to the Principal, Mrs. Hinther. My dad made clear, in no uncertain terms, that Matt was to be nowhere near me ever again in this school. He added that if this stuff didn’t stop they would be hiring an attorney to sue the district for not doing its’ job of protecting students.
Following both my parents rants, and my own rant of facts that she asked, she assured my parents that though she could not talk about another students disciplinary action, she would go ahead and make sure we didn’t come in contact at all. She switched his schedule completely around, dropping him from band as well.
At that point in the meeting the school resource officer came in and took a statement from me, and my parents filled out the forms to file charges against him. He said it should be a pretty clear cut case since the officers had filed their own reports of what they observed – they all lined up with my statement perfectly.
We finished up during 3rd hour and I returned to choir right after the meeting let out.
Mom let me know that she had found out from the bus yard boss that he would not be allowed on a bus for the remainder of the school year. Mom also let my driver have a piece of her mind the night before… Crossing an only child’s parents is tantamount to messing with a grizzly bear who has cubs!
When I got to choir I stood by Amy who asked what had happened. I told her before class started. Pete asked, “So is it true Brandon? Did you really beat up Matt?”
“Well, I tripped him and he went flying if that’s what you mean?” The kids were all very impressed with this. But I knew it wasn’t going to solve my problems. I knew for a fact that Lucas was talking a lot of threats towards me to get even. Matt had been removed from school pending expulsion hearings, and so he had become the leader by natural selection. Still…
Mrs. Schultz interrupted our conversation and said, “Okay we need to get started.”
We sang and worked on the piece for about 10 minutes before she got mad about something and stormed into her office crying.
I whispered to Amy, “I feel bad for her, but I have to say I’m glad to see there’s one other person on this campus that gets picked on more than I do!” She snickered. We both agreed she was a terrible teacher. That was something we’d talked about the night before.
We talked to each other back and forth for the rest of the period before the bell rang and we went to lunch. Lucas came up to the line behind Amy and I and asked, “Amy why are you hanging out with this loser?”
“I don’t know which loser you’re referring to. The only one I’m seeing present is you.” She replied nonchalantly.
He started to open his mouth to reply but stopped as a teacher came over and said, “Lucas I don’t believe you were in that spot in line. Go back to the end.”
Lucas tried arguing with the teacher but gave way eventually. I got my food and went to the table farthest away from anyone again. As I set my food down though, I saw Amy coming along with some of her friends. “Brandon may we sit with you?”
“Sure.” I said… I wasn’t really sure what to do. This was strange. We sat and talked through lunch, eventually moving outside and sitting together on the grass. I decided to go get something to drink from the snack bar and started walking back inside. On my way in there I ran into Matt’s ‘girlfriend,’ Eliza.
“Brandon why are you sticking your chest out like that, what are you trying to look like a girl? I guess that makes sense, that’s how you fight, cry, and act.”
I was dumbstruck, my day had been going so relatively well. I managed to get inside to the bathroom before breaking down for a few minutes. I came out and found Amy waiting by the door.
“Brandon, are you all right?”
“Yeah, I guess. I’m just tired of getting crap all the time. I was hoping it would get better today. I guess I should have known better.” I said while looking down at my feet.
“Brandon, look, you are an awesome guy, and I’m really proud to have you as my friend. Can you trust me on something?”
I thought for a second then nodded, “I guess.”
“You are so much cooler than they are it’s sickening. You’re also the sweetest guy I know. You’ve put up with so much crap, and I’m sorry it keeps happening. But, know that I’ll be here for you okay?”
“Thanks,” I said meekly.
“Now I’m guessing you want to get that drink before the snack bar closes?” She asked.
“Sure,” I said and then got into line. Once we had gotten my drink she walked back outside with me. From that point forward in the year it was an odd time to see one of us without the other at lunch.
I managed to somehow make it through the rest of the day without incident. Lucas didn’t ride the bus for some reason that day, meaning I didn’t have to worry about anything that day at the bus stop. What a week.
When I got home I went inside and sat down at the computer. I got on the internet and just started looking around. I saw there was a new video game coming out and would have to ask for it for Christmas. I got bored and decided to go and play with some toys. Yes I know I was in 6th grade, but really who doesn’t still want to play with legos!?
I sat down building something or another and thought about what had happened that day. Liza’s words were still ringing in my ears for some reason. I kept running her exclamation through my brain again and again, “Why are you sticking your chest out like that for, are you trying to look like a girl?”
I had read a Star Wars book a couple weeks before that the author had written something like, “if someone calls you a hutt once, ignore them. If someone calls you a Hutt twice start to wonder, and if someone calls you a Hutt a third time, buy a drool bucket and start stockpiling spice.”
It was honestly making me wonder. I had been getting called a girl so often, and now that statement… To be honest to you, the reader, I had for many years fantasized being a little kid again. Event back to being a baby again, because those were the last times I remembered really being happy. I’d been picked on so many times. Perhaps if I’d been a girl…
Really… perhaps if I’d been a girl life would have been better. I got it into my head that girls aren’t constantly beating each other up, they’re not constantly picking on one girl. I got up from my toys and went to the bathroom. As I stood washing my hands I looked at myself in the mirror. I stared for several minutes.
What would I look like if I was a girl? I looked at my body and noted that I was small enough that if I had longer hair maybe I could get away with looking like one. Ah it was no use… Even though I was probably the most clueless person on sex, I still knew that my parts didn’t look like a girls parts…
I kept thinking about it. Hair might be the key to me looking more like a girl… About that time I heard mom come in and she asked me how my day went. I told her everything but Liza’s comment. I decided I wanted to think about her statement without having any other problems. I didn’t have soccer practice that night so we went and rented some movies.
She had rented some ‘chick flick,’ and I rented a kids movie. I grumbled at watching the sappy movie, but in all honesty I enjoyed it more… That disturbed me slightly and added to the conundrum that I was thinking about.
When the movie was over mom announced that it was time to take my bath, since I had a soccer game tomorrow. I sat down in the bath and thought more about the idea of being a girl instead of a boy. On one hand I thought kids would probably make fun of me a lot for trying to be a girl… but really how much more could I get picked on?
Mom and dad were already talking about taking me out of school and home schooling me or something. If it wasn’t for band I was sure they would have pulled me out this week. I was already thinking about using that argument to get them to buy me a flute. At the beginning of the summer I had really wanted to play either flute or clarinet – I had done really well on both of them when I had tried them at the music store. But they had bought me the saxophone hoping that kids would have one less thing to make fun of me.
It honestly didn’t matter, as they said ‘Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.’ It was a fact of life. Though I did see some light at the end of the tunnel if people recognized that I wasn’t quite helpless after having ‘beat up’ 2 guys in one day. I tossed and turned most of the night, that night I dreamed of how great it would be to have long hair like a girl. Even if I couldn’t –be- a girl, I could maybe kind of look like one?
The morning came too soon, mom pretty much had to drag me out of bed and to the sink to brush my teeth. I ate breakfast quickly and then got dressed to go to the soccer game. We got down to the field early and I warmed up with my teammates. Before I knew it we started the game. I was playing sweeper on our side of the field.
The game went fast and furious, with me getting the ball off our side of the field more often than not. At one point a player ran down the field with the ball and I kicked it hard. The player went one direction (towards the ground,) and the ball went flying to my friend, Brittany, and she went the rest of the way for a goal. The coach gave me a huge pat on the back for that one. Brittany was one of the 2 girls that were on the team. The other’s name was Sarah. I had grown up as friends with Brittany since she went to the same church as we did at the time.
I thought to myself, I could be the third girl on the team! That thought only distracted me for a few moments though, as the ball was soon heading back and forth across the field some more. The game ended with us up 7-1, and we all went out for ice cream to celebrate.
Mom had come to the game, but dad hadn’t… big surprise. He did some work for a friends company on the side occasionally, and they had called him wanting help again that night. He had been there since Midnight, and hadn’t gotten home by the time we left. I was beginning to kind of resent that other job. But I wasn’t going to let that get me down today. The next game we were going to play would be for the city tournament. That was going to take place over the next 2-3 Saturdays, depending on how we played.
The coach told us to make sure we made it to the practices that week, it was important that we be there. When we left the Dairy Queen where we had gotten ice cream I sat back in my seat in the car thinking about all of the things that had happened that week.
When I got home I decided to play a computer game since Dad wasn’t there to monopolize it! I had a Star Wars game that I was playing. I loved games based on space or flight in general. I played that for a few hours until dinner, when I decided to go read a book of some sort.
I thought about it for a bit and decided to read one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I found myself thinking not just of growing up at the time, but growing up as a girl at the time. I found myself thinking more and more that night about being a girl. Truth be told as I thought about it there had always been a nagging part of my brain that had wanted this.
There were several opportunities that I had turned down to wear girls clothing… not because I didn’t want to, but because I was scared of what people would think. Another night passed of this, and then I went to bed.
The next morning I woke up after my parents did. I found I was sleeping later and later these days, my parents were frequently making the comments that they didn’t know how I could sleep that long! Mom made me some French toast that I ate as I sat down and looked at the comics. She left the room to go do something and dad was gone to a store for some things.
It was at that moment that I caught sight of the ad from JC Penney. It had girls clothes on the front of it. I looked at the ad with the girls in their clothes and thought about how great it would be to wear those form fitting shirts. They looked neat. They looked a lot neater than what I was wearing. I flipped the pages and for the first time looked at the pages with bras and panties. I thought that would be strange to wear, but kind of wanted to try it.
I turned to the walmart ad and looked at some of the toys that were for girls to play. The dolls seemed kind of bizarre to me, but at the same time I could still see playing with them. They also had some legos in there for girls. More and more I was getting curious, but I knew there was no way I could talk about this with anyone. I would get yelled at… and who knows what else. Dad had always talked about homosexuals with utter hate. What would he think about his son wanting to be a girl?
I decided that I did want to check and see if there were any internet sites that discussed this online. But I would have to wait until tomorrow when mom and dad were gone after school. They said there was an internet site for everything, perhaps I could learn more about my problem there.
In the meantime I had some practicing to catch up on, I hadn’t been practicing as much the past couple days. I worked on my book and music for saxophone for 2 hours that day and used that as a distraction so I didn’t have to think about my problems. I also did that dreaded homework that day – my science teacher had given us yet more vocab to copy into our notebooks… I was still mad that he gave me a C!
The next day was actually fairly uneventful. I hung out with Amy at lunch time, as well as her other friends. I definitely felt like we were becoming close friends, but didn’t know if that would mean we would be boyfriend/girlfriend? I honestly wasn’t interested in that at this point.
I had gone home that day and started looking up my situation on the internet. I quickly discovered there were a lot of others out there like me. I also discovered there was a name, transgendered. I looked through the sites and couldn’t decide if I really qualified for that statement or not. I also found a number of stories that I enjoyed of boys being turned into girls by their mothers for various reasons.
Many of the stories involved boys in similar situations that became more accepted when they became girls. I didn’t know what to think about it, since I felt it was probably wrong to feel this way. My Christian upbringing just didn’t really allow for me to feel completely alright with these thoughts. That still didn’t stop me from daydreaming and watching the girls more and more to figure out what it would be like though! I also discovered that it was possible, by surgery and hormones, to make yourself look like you had been born a girl.
I had a dream one night that I kept rolling over in my head over and over again. It was based on a time when I was about 5 at my cousins house.
We pulled up into their driveway and walked into their house. I saw my aunt sitting at the kitchen table. “Where are Abby and Annie?” I asked.
“They’re outside swimming in the swimming pool.” I looked outside and saw they had a 3 foot pool setup outside on the lawn.
“Mommy can I go swimming?” I asked.
“Sweetie, we didn’t bring your swimsuit, so I’m sorry you won’t be able to go.”
“But mommy, I really want to go! Can we go buy a swimsuit?”
“No honey, we don’t have any extra money, and I’m sure they’ll be done swimming by the time that we got back. Why don’t you go watch TV for now?”
“But mommy!” I started to throw a fit.
“Mandy, he could borrow one I guess.”
“Really?” I stopped sobbing a little.
“He could probably borrow one of Annie’s swimsuits.” My aunt suggested.
“But that’s a girls suit…” I said. “Do you have anything else?”
“Well uncle Bill’s got the only other thing big enough and his is going to be too big for you.”
I stood still for a few moments thinking about it. “Okay, can I borrow one of Annie’s?” I looked up at mom to see if she would be okay with it. She shrugged her shoulders and nodded. (It had after all ended my tantrum)
“Well, let’s go up and see if one of them will fit you.”
We walked back to her bedroom and looked in her dresser. She held up a pink swimming suit with purple polka dots on it. When she held it next to me she said, “It looks like it’ll fit, do you want to try it on?”
I nodded timidly. She told me how to step into it and pull the straps up. She led me to the bathroom where I pulled off all of my clothes and put it on. I liked the way it fit. I had a type of haircut that was a unisex cut (it was a little short for a girl, but there were many with this style too), and I kind of looked like a girl in the mirror.
I went down the hall and my mom and aunt saw me. They gave me a hard time about looking ‘cute’ and ‘pretty’ before telling me to go ahead outside. Annie and Abby kind of gave me a funny look, but Annie said, 'you stole my suit!" smiling while she said it. “You look pretty in it.”
We were playing in the pool….
I never got any farther than that since mom woke me up. It was the first of many dreams that I was wearing girls clothing. I also based a lot of my daydreams off of this, since it was really close to what had really happened. My aunt really had offered to let me wear her swimming suit… but I had been too scared and hung up, so I had ended up going in my jean shorts instead. It became a really happy dream to think of during the day!
As the week progressed the meeting about the Earth Shuttle trip came up quickly. My mom decided to go check out the meeting and dragged my dad along. They came out of the meeting telling me that they wanted to do it, my dad just had to crunch some more numbers.
That weekend they called me into the kitchen and told me to pull up a chair.
Dad said, “Okay Brandon, we think we can do this trip, but we have a few ground rules that we need to set down first.”
“YES!!! Okay, what are your rules?”
Mom answered first, “Well first of all we’re both going to go on the trip with you.” I stared at her for a second half wondering if I should be mad… but I decided it would make life better so I wouldn’t have to worry about something bad happening.
“Okay. What else?” I asked
Dad answered this time, “You have to fundraise as much as you can. In all honesty this is going to push us to the breaking point this year. But we’ve decided that this is an opportunity that won’t come up again. If you promise that you’ll do your best to fundraise we’ll go ahead and pay the deposit to Ms. Fitzgerald on Monday.”
“Okay, I’ll do whatever fundraising I have to do. If I have to go up and down every street in town I’ll do it! You guys are awesome!” I gave them both a hug and when I left started day dreaming of what it would be like to go to all of those places.
I went to bed also thinking of how wonderful it would be to go on the trip as a girl instead of a guy…
Chapter 11: 2 Weeks later
It was Saturday, we had just gotten done with our 2nd set of city tournament games. We learned just 2 hours ago that we were going to be playing 2 games next Saturday. If we won the first we would go to the Final match for the championship. If we lost that one we would play another for 3rd place.
On our way home from the game Mom said, “Brandon, your hair’s getting pretty long. We’re going to need to cut it when we get home unless you want to start doing something different with it.”
“What else could I do with it mom?”
“Well I suppose you could grow it out to the bowl cut that everyone has now to start with.”
“Okay, that sounds good. Let’s do that.” Mom kind of gave me a strange look, I hadn’t wanted to do anything else with my hair for the past 2 years. This seemed like a sudden change. I thought that maybe I could use the bowl cut for a first step on my new goal of growing it down to my shoulders.
A few minutes later I decided that I would take this one step at a time. I figured out that by the time I got to December it should be at about 5 inches long – almost longer than the “bowl cut” mom had suggested. When she asked about cutting it then I would say I just wanted it trimmed! And get them to let me grow it the rest of the way out.
I had begun looking for guys in the media and in movies with long hair so that I could emulate them. Or at least say that I was! It was funny, the past 2 weeks I was getting less and less crap due to my run in with Matt and Jeff. The comments hadn’t stopped, but no one was getting physically violent with me anymore. I think they all believed deep down that I was a wimp still, but they were all nervous to push it.
More than anything else – damage or not, the loss of face to those two made people not want to try me. That was giving me some courage to go ahead and grow my hair out.
I had continued hanging out with Amy at school at any chance I got. We both talked and both agreed we were just friends, not wanting to date each other. She became my first girl ‘girlfriend.’
That fall my team won the city championship soccer tournament for our age group. It was really cool, they gave us medals and everything!
By December mom had to trim the front of my hair to keep it from getting in my eyes. I loved the fact that I basically had bangs now if I combed my hair forward. It had gotten to the point where it was 7 inches long. Definitely a bit longer than the bowl cut. It was beginning to come down my neck, I was guessing it would definitely be shoul