Hard Times.

Hard Times.

by

Angharad.

She stood there watching the fish fingers cook with the oven chips and the tin of baked beans. In Britain, that is pure comfort food. She ate once a day. Part of her reason was to lose weight, thirteen stone had become less than ten and while she used to feel perpetually hungry, her tummy seemed to have become used to it.

She was still getting used to the female pronoun, although she’d always felt female—well as long as she could remember anyway, she’d only felt an entitlement to it about two months ago after her previous incarnation as Laurence tried to shuffle off this mortal coil using a combination of drink and paracetamol. It messed up his liver so he’d never be able to drink alcohol again. His next door neighbour found him and the ambulance saved him once they’d cleaned up the vomit he was lying in. Liver failure is not a nice way to die.

Feeling a failure after the seventeen years of marriage finally crumbled, he gave his wife the house and all the money in their bank accounts, keeping back just enough to rent a room to kill himself in, he did the deed. Or tried to. Long term solution for short term problem is how the rather young, hip psychiatrist who he saw once they’d save his life at the local hospital.

“Why did you do it?” asked the young doctor.

“Why should you care?” Laurence replied.

“Because it’s my job, I have an insatiable curiosity and I do care.”

“If I told you, you wouldn’t.”

“Try me.”

“I want to be a woman.”

“So how is killing yourself going to achieve that?”

“It seemed less messy than cutting you know what off.”

The doctor snorted. “Okay, I’ll give you that except would that make you a woman, being dickless?”

“It would be a start.”

“Would it though, I mean what would the surgeon use to create your vagina and clitoris?”

“That isn’t going to happen is it?”

“Not if you cut it off it won’t.”

He faced away from the doctor, “It isn’t anyway, is it?”

“Why not if you meet the criteria for reassignment surgery.”

“I’m forty years old, I’m too old to make look feminine and I’m tired of trying to be a man. Why couldn’t they just have let me die?”

“The bodies smell too much, neighbours complain, suicide statistics go up and we get a bollocking from the morons in Westminster. That’s why.”

“How old are you?”he asked the doctor.

“Thirty two.”

“Married?”

“Not yet, but living together.”

“I hope you’ll be happy.”

“Thank you. I take it you weren’t?”

“At the beginning I really tried, but living in a house where I was reminded of female things became intolerable.”

“Did you tell her?”

“I tried but she didn’t understand. I saw my doctor who told us both that I was probably a transvestite and for me to join a group and dress up now and again.”

“I take it he was wrong and it didn’t work?”

“Wrong, he was an idiot. He didn’t listen, I told him I wanted to be a woman and he thought I just wanted to wear some girly clothes and wank occasionally. It wasn’t about the clothes.”

“Okay, if it’s not about the clothes I’ll treat you as a woman, just as you are. What should I call you?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I’m not being ridiculous, you say you’re really a woman, I’m respecting that choice. Now what should I call you? Mrs or Ms Phillips seems a bit too formal, so what is your first name?”

The young doctor watched tears flow down the cheeks of his patient. “Hey, don’t cry,” he said patting the back of her hand.

“Laura,” she managed to get out eventually as the young doctor sat patiently waiting for her to regain control.

“Nice name, suits you. Okay, Laura, how do we sort things out so you can be yourself and live happily ever after?”

“How indeed?” she replied wiping her face with the tissue he offered her.

“I can ask the nurses to call you by your chosen name.”

“Won’t that look silly? I mean I’m dressed as a man.”

“When you feel a bit better I can try and rustle up a CPN or a social worker to take you shopping, perhaps get you a couple of things to wear.”

“What with, I let my ex have all my money—didn’t think I’d need it.”

“We could ask for her to give some back.”

“No—I don’t want her to know about this. She’d only tell me I’d fucked up again.”

“As supportive as that?”

“Yeah. She believed the GP—silly old fart he was.”

“So dress up and jerk off with the other trannies?”

“Yeah, something like that I suppose—I don’t really know because I didn’t go.”

“Pity, you might have developed some friendships which could have helped you through the crisis. I won’t deny that some transvestites do exactly what we described—and who are we to judge—many don’t, they just enjoy a temporary respite from being men and to demonstrate that they indulge in things feminine, clothes, wigs and makeup. But then I suppose you know all that already?”

She nodded.

“You didn’t, did you?”

She shrugged.

“There’s loads of information on various web sites, didn’t you think to look for it?”

“Don’t have a computer.”

“Okay, I’ll organise some information for you.”

“Thank you.”

“Right, it’s my job to try and stabilise you so you can return to the big wide world. Once you do, I’ll refer you to a colleague of mine who’ll take on the job of helping you explore your gender problem—she’s an expert in it.”

“I’ve nowhere to live.”

“We’ll organise something for you, though once you transition or start to you might want to move. Once you’re in the system it shouldn’t be impossible to organise.”

“Why are you being so nice to me—I’m a waste of space.”

“That’s your judgment not mine, I see you as someone with a problem and I enjoy solving problems.”

“What other people’s?”

“Yeah, natch far easier than my own. I’ll be by tomorrow would you like me to get your name changed on the notes?”

“Can I think about it?”

“Course you can. Be good,” he said tapping her on the back of her hand and left her.

It was a month before they discharged her and another two weeks before she saw the gender clinic doctor. Things after that seemed to drag and it was like a life time before she got a chance to start to transition. Money was always a problem and she lived from hand to mouth so clothes were often charity shop purchases and meals were frugal to say the least.

She finally was given a new bedsit which she scrubbed and painted, saving to buy a few things to soften its previous neglected look. The housing association paid her to decorate it and by careful management of the money she bought a couple of pictures and artificial flowers as well. It began to look like somewhere occupied by a woman.

Now, she stood at the little cooker they’d provided and cooked her feast. After a long period of feeling despair, there seemed like light at the end of the tunnel. The hospital where she’d been a patient had offered her a job as a cleaner. It wasn’t the greatest job or pay but it was a start. A fresh start to enable her to become Laura as a living, breathing, working woman—not a dream but a reality.

Pity she couldn’t have a drink as well but as the doctor at the hospital said, “I’m afraid you’ve fucked up your liver good and proper, so no alcohol ever again.”

She knew time was against her, damaged livers eventually give up on you but that could be years away, live for the day for tomorrow may bring a new dress or whatever.

Anyway, those chips smelt delicious and today was a good day.



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This story is 1422 words long.