Author’s note: This story contains frank discussion of suicide. Please read with care.
From the moment I saw the bridge, I knew it was destined to be an important part of my life.
It dominated the area, so everytime I went for a walk around my neighborhood I found myself looking in awe at it,
Then I would shake my head, to try and get on with my life.
Unfortunately, that was becoming much harder than I would have liked.
Mostly because of a struggle I’d dealt with all my life - I’d rather be a girl.
Or maybe I am a girl, forced to live a boy’s life.
Either way, it sucked.
I failed at school so I was working a dead-end minimum wage job trying to pay off my debt, and when I wasn’t working I was hiding in my tiny apartment, without a friend to my name.
So I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I started to think about that bridge, not as a way across the river, but as a way out of life.
But I decided that if I was going to go out, I wanted to do it in style, as a girl.
So I started figuring out how I could manage it.
I started going to bridal shops and formal wear places, only to realize such an outfit was far beyond my means.
Then I tried a costume shop, only to find out that with such an outfit required either a large cash deposit, or more often, a credit card number as a damage deposit. both of which I didn’t have.
I downgraded my dreams, and looked at regular women’s departments, and then started looking at thrift shops and consignment stores.
Finally, I found a skirt and blouse I could squeeze into, and I prepared for my trip.
I didn’t bother with a note, I was going to let my outfit do all the talking, as I didn’t really know what to say anyway.
I was able to find a dollar store that sold panties, bras, and hose, and bought one of each, and slipped them on before putting on the skirt and blouse.
Not having any women’s shoes, I just put on my runners, and went out to meet my appointment with the bridge.
I took back alleys as long as I could, but a block from the entrance to the bridge I had to come out into the sidewalk beside a busy street, and so I tried to move quickly without running.
I made it onto the bridge, I walked to the halfway point, and looked down at the river far below.
I tried to make myself go over the railing, but I simply couldn’t. My fear of heights crippled me, I couldn’t help thinking of how much it would hurt if I somehow survived.
So I sat down and sobbed instead.
I was still crying when I heard a voice call to me “Miss? Are you alright?”
I looked up, and there was a female police officer standing a few feet away from me.
‘No. I’m not alright. I can’t even die properly.” I sobbed.
“Maybe you should try living instead?”
“I can’t live. I can’t be the girl I think I am. I can’t survive as the boy everyone thinks I am. I ... what’s the use.” I stood up, and took hold of the railing that was the only thing separating me from a fall into the river below.
“There’s plenty of use, hon.” The policewomen said.
“What use?” I cried.
“How old are you?”
“Nine ... Nineteen.”
“The use is what might happen when you’re twenty. Or forty, or sixty, or however long your lifespan turns out to be. There could be something amazing right around the corner, but you have to make it to the corner to find out.”
“But no one will ever see me as a girl!”
“I did. In fact, I still do.”
I looked at her hard. Part of me thought she was just trying to get me to not jump. But I ached to be seen as I really was, and wanted desperately to believe she was being truly sincere.
“Realy ... but ... but my body, ... my ... my face ...”
“You might be surprised what the right hormones could do for your body, and a little makeup would do wonders for your face. But those are not what make me see you as a girl, Its your body language that practically screams ‘girl’ to me.”
“I’ve tried so hard to hold it in. I can’t anymore. It hurts ... it hurts so much ...”
“If you will let me, I’ll help you find someone who can help you bring her out.”
I sank to my knees, breaking down completely.
She came and held me until my sobbing stopped, then she helped me to my feet.
“Come on, its getting cold out here. Lets get you somewhere warm.”
She started leading me across the bridge, and I asked her, “You really think they can help bring the girl out in me?”
“Sure they can. They did it for me.”
I looked at her in shock. Then I smiled for the first time in forever, and let her lead me towards the end of the bridge.
Towards help, hope, a future I hadn’t even dared to dream of.
One baby step at a time.
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