Solitude and Salvation Part 1

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This is my first attempt at complete fiction. I know I'm not the best storyteller but please give this a chance. I don't know if/when I'll finish it but if it's not going well it'll fall silent and forgotten.

He had spent decades in denial about his true self. He was trying hard to fight his feelings but the battle was lost. He couldn't take it anymore, he had to be true to himself.

He was a woman inside. He was a she. His whole life was a sham, one desperately covered up in a false veneer of masculinity and dangerous actions.

The feelings started when he was young. At first it was just a few odd sensations, urges to play with the girls and even out the numbers. As school went on, the urges grew.

By high school he had to shut himself off from the world. He tried everything possible to mask his feelings. He played football and basketball and baseball, all in attempts to keep his mind occupied and be the man everyone saw him to be.

After graduation he enlisted in the army. It was his only real option, he couldn't trust himself to stay away from women and gay clubs. They called to him, subconsciously trying to get him to become the woman he should have been.

The army was a constant battle of focus and concentration. The urges subsided for a long time, giving way to the need to be there for his fellow soldiers and the civilians they worked with. It was what he needed most and despite having a battlefield in his mind the real world battlefield was what made him into the person he would become.

He was a natural leader. He learned quickly and adapted his education to help others. It earned him respect and admiration, making him a sought after soldier among his colleagues.

His branch of service was artillery. He learned every job in the field with his subordinates being forced to learn the same, just in case they had to replace a fallen or injured soldier in the midst of battle. It caused anger among some but the revelation that it was actually a smart thing to do and gave them a chance at advancement smoothed over most ruffled feathers among the crewmen.

His own primary job was that of a surveyor. He was always great with maps but he used the solitude to quell his ever present internal struggle. He spent endless hours studying the layout ahead of him, picking up hidden changes in terrain that others missed, and helping plan routes for both advancement and retreat for his battery and many others.

When he wasn't out in the field he was always in his room reading. The men would kid him about finding a girl for himself but his reply was always an irrefutable "I'm not looking for a good time girl, I'm looking for Ms. Right and I don't like the choices locally." The ones who made the jokes saw others laughing at them with knowing nods at the jokers getting the worst woman all of the time.

It was actually a smart move on his part to stay away from the women, he simply didn't trust himself. They weren't too bad, but he was constantly struggling with jealousy over them being able to dress as themselves while he was stuck as a man. He loved women, but he couldn't make love to them.

Rumors were abound about him being gay causing a lot of anger and frustration from officers. The truth won out all of the time, the instigators were exposed as being jealous of his work and offering no facts. He shrugged it off, confiding in his superiors that he would rather save his money and spend his time devoted to the Army than waste it getting laid.

The wives loved him as he was reliable and respectful. He never attempted to seduce them, he never saw them as anything except wives of his brothers. Whenever one of the husbands tried to get him to come clean about how he got so close to the ladies he happily told them the truth, getting the men to groan at the simplicity of it as well as the genius of it.

The kids all saw him as an uncle and several older sons and daughters seeking his advice whenever their parents couldn't or wouldn't listen. He was honest and guided them, working with them through their troubles and trying to see things the right way. It worked well with at least one child saving herself from her inner demons and getting much needed attention before she did something horrible to herself.

Time passed slowly. He was the constant in his battalion through the years. He trained his soldiers well and sent off many to become commissioned and warrant officers while himself staying behind. The command staff knew not to force him out, he was one of the stars of the battalion and his actions were praised by the regimental and brigade commanders.

Once the army went to war he volunteered for deployment. His reasoning was sound, they needed experienced soldiers and he was expendable with no dependents and few connections. It was a tough call but he wouldn't be dissuaded, he opened up a spot for advancement and the division commander wanted every experienced soldier out there fighting.

The truth of the matter was simple: he needed to be there as his feelings were starting to grow stronger. He needed to be masculine, the masculinity was quelling the femininity. His feminine side wouldn't take over if it was always being forced down by vigilance and need for survival.

His abilities as a surveyor were put to use by the division as the information they had was faulty and out of date. Satellite imagery was spotty, sand dunes were mistaken for buildings and vice versa. He and his crew were used in a new way by the military- their skills would help special forces and the infantry more so than the artillery as they had originally intended.

Combat suited him just fine. He had no problem dying. If it saved the lives of fellow soldiers then he would gladly give up his life for the others. The fact that his ever growing urges would be forced to die down was a bonus.

Days were spent out in the field as he and several others mapped the terrain. They coordinated with ground forces and avoided obvious traps and hazards. Mortar positions were destroyed, large gun emplacements were wiped out in air raids, and infantry camps fell before the might of his own gun battery.

The group were lucky for a month until they encountered the worst thing possible- enemy armor. The intelligence had failed them badly, the group were forced to flea while he stayed behind to radio for help as well as distract the enemy from their primary purpose. He dug in, using every weapon he had to keep the enemy pinned down until air support arrived to take out the tanks.

He was wounded several times from shrapnel as well as gunfire but wouldn't leave until the column made it through safely. He went above and beyond the call of duty but refused to allow himself to get nominated for major medals. He was forced to accept a silver star, it kept him out of the spotlight but was noted in his records that he refused higher honors.

The artillery brass were unhappy that he was upstaging them and tried to have him sent back home. This caused the infantry and intelligence branches to see to it that he was kept there officially as a liaison as he had been doing that already without recognition. It didn't matter to him, so long as he was there and not stuck back home facing his internal demons what his job title was didn't matter one bit.

In total he spent five years deployed. His field work was exemplary and his mapping skills were the difference between life and death for hundreds of soldiers. The fact that he had won respect of those on the ground actually doing the fighting and resupplying as opposed to those who were in a cushy air conditioned office held a lot of sway, he could do no wrong in their eyes and nobody dared disrespect him with the amount of support he had.

When he finally was forced to be relieved he was sent to a training unit to help the next generation of soldiers. He understood why he was being put where he was, he didn't need to do anything else to help the military as his actions were near legendary. It was time for him to settle down for a bit, a year at home was needed and the three classes he would teach would be needed especially his surveyors.

The year was exceptionally tough on him. Being older, single, and without any family he was always the one stuck doing the worst shifts on base but doing so without a complaint. The inevitable rumors started again but this time they were that he had a death wish and was doing what he did so he'd one day die alone.

The medical department thought there was something wrong with him but he had learned long ago how to hide his true self and his true feelings. He passed all mental health screens and passed every physical test giving little heed to the rumors. There were some that felt he was hiding something but without evidence he was let go and ordered to remain away from the battlefields.

That was key. He chose to take the first open assignment in Korea and acted exactly as he did in battle but with more control from officers. The fact that they were always under the constant watch of North Korea and faced dangers that many never knew about drove him to be vigilant which drove his fellow soldiers making his time there one of the most beneficial for the army.

Day in and day out he kept at it, working from dawn until dusk to map out the lands and expose inadequacies in their old maps. The land was tough but it was easier to maneuver for his teams than the war zones had been. Despite constant oversight he excelled and won praise and respect from the brass.

He opted to remain there another year, helping train South Korean soldiers which in turn helped his fellow soldiers as they picked up slack allowing them more free time. The national pride and sense that their work was vital drove the South Koreans and allowed them to see that even the boring task of map making and surveying was important for the military especially when coupled with real stories from someone who had endured battle. The fact that he chose to be there helped as well, they saw him as a true colleague and not a temporary one who moved on when their tour was done.

He took another overseas assignment, opting for Europe this time. It was meant to be an easy assignment but to him it turned out to be something worse The temptations were overwhelming him as he saw the red light districts of the major cities especially Amsterdam.

It hurt immensely. The feeling was so strong that he considered deserting the army and seeking asylum but he couldn't do that to his soldiers. He forced his feelings deeper, avoiding the major cities as much as possible and throwing himself in smaller projects to pass the time and help the locals.

His actions caught too much attention. He was always working and trying his hardest to help others but it brought the wrong attention from the brass. The fact that he was never dating and never partook in the local prostitutes rang alarms that he may be one of the "undesirables."

This came to a head one day as he was confronted by several officers. He sighed, asked for their evidence, then countered everything they had. What was worse for them was he had the backing of several generals who actually encouraged his behavior as he had done more for the US military in a few short months than hundreds had for years prior.

He avoided any disciplinary action, instead he received commendations for his actions. He was a model soldier with support from above, the truth showed that the officers were angry and upset over having to do more work because he found training to be lax and their oversight next to nothing. It was even more damaging when he exposed them as being frequent users of brothels, with two being married men making them both adulterous.

His time in Europe came to a sad end as he saw the duo sent home in disgrace with their wives seeking divorce. He simply shrugged it off, he had enough of the continent and while it was easy work he chose to instead to return home and live out the rest of his current enlistment and put in for retirement.

He had spent 20 years in the army. 20 long, hard years on him mentally. He had finally had enough, the army had changed and his kind wasn't needed anymore. The days of the caring, tough sergeant were over and the smart, tech savvy sergeants was starting and he felt it was time to pass the mantle on to the next generation as his sergeants had done to him.

But where to go now that he was retired? His immediate family was gone. His parents long dead and he had no siblings. He was alone in the world and without a home.

He had a few cousins thanks to his aunt. They were all clustered in northern Vermont and New York, up near the Canadian border. His eldest cousin, the one family member who had always known his secret and who vowed unending support, offered him a job in his county as a surveyor.

It was a dream job for him. He could continue what he loved while living as he saw fit. He could finally become she, he could become the woman he was born to be.

His cousin smiled as he took the job, adding a happy "you will make a beautiful woman. Please stop pretending to be what you aren't. You are my cousin, you are family, and you need to be yourself. Be the woman you truly are."

Those words melted his, no her, heart and brought tears to her eyes. She was a woman, she was was always a woman. Even when she spent her life as a man she really was a woman. It was hard to refuse that offer, she accepted it and signed the paperwork as soon as it arrived at the base.

Her next problem was where to live. She had accumulated a lot of money from her 20 years in the army thanks to wise investments and thrifty spending. She always lived in the barracks and never wasted money on frivolous items like TVs or stereos or computers.

It was a lot of money. It was meant originally for her cousin but it accumulated and compounded and was now ready for use. She would have her dream home, isolated from others but all her own.

The day her enlistment ended she packed up her belongings and headed north to her cousin's home. She made several stops along the way though. The first and foremost was a stop to buy new clothes as her old army fatigues were no longer of any use to her and as much as she loved the army it was time to put away the uniform for good.

Her cousin greeted her as soon as her rental car parked. Years of pent up anger and frustration evaporated as his smile shone brightly as he saw her exiting the car. She was crying into his shoulder as she saw him, her cousin happily telling her that she was beautiful.

His wife happily hugged her, giving her the once-over and smiling at how well she looked in her true form. She introduced their kids with her older daughter snubbing her while her younger daughter clung to her mother's side in fear. Their son simply shrugged it off, it was cutting into his playtime with his friends and he didn't really care about the mini-reunion.

The family entered the home and at once she was inundated with questions. Her elder niece was shocked to hear that she was becoming a woman, she thought she was crazy and immoral for doing something like that. Her younger niece saw the sincerity and sat in her lap, allowing her affection that she badly needed as only a child could bring.

Off to the side her nephew listened as she told why she felt the way she did. He understood her, he could relate to the isolation and depression that she suffered from. He didn't show it but his parents saw his reaction and had to suppress their fears that he was becoming like his aunt.

The talk lasted several hours with her eldest niece leaving in disgust. When she was out of earshot her parents confessed that she was acting the way she was due to friends' pressure and her real feelings were suppressed and sadly until she realized that they were wrong she was going to give her aunt the cold shoulder. It didn't faze her, she simply accepted that not all would accept her as her true self even if they were family.

Over dinner plans for her new home were discussed. Her sister-in-law was eager to help, in fact she knew of a lot of land for sale including several plots that had homes already built. That saved her a lot of trouble as it eased her burden and she trusted her to help find the right place.

The issues regarding her transition were discussed with her cousin insisting that she get her transition down on paper legally so there were no issues from her new job. He called a friend and got an appointment for the next day, with her sister-in-law whispering "she's a former classmate of his from college, she is a psychologist who is used to transgender patients. Our state is very lenient and our county and town are conservative but not so out of date that they will refuse you a job when nobody in 500 miles is as qualified as you."

The visit the next day was a success. She was given the go-ahead to transition as it was felt that she had suppressed a lot of feelings for far too long and continuing to further suppress them would cause suicidal thoughts if she hadn't already had them. Her military actions alone were tantamount to suicidal actions as she had gone out of her way to be in harm's way even if it was part of her job.

Her next stop was a physician who agreed to take her on especially as she came highly recommended and whose family was known to her as being good people. She even got a referral to an endocrinologist for hormone treatment, a shock to her but a pleasant surprise. The explanation was simple- she had a need and she had the proper backing so there was no need to delay the referral.

Her last stop was the courthouse to apply for a change of name. She met a little bit of resistance but when shown the fact that she had support from medical professionals and had the law on her side the clerk gave her a court date for a hearing with the judge. The judge simply granted the request, she wasn't trying to hide and she was doing so with the full knowledge that it would be public knowledge as the county was small and everyone knew everyone.

The judge just grinned as he added "your parents would be pleased with you for being true to yourself. They may not have accepted that you needed to become a female but they respect that you were doing so for yourself. They raised you to be independent, and this is the ultimate mark of independence."

When she arrived back home her cousin-in-law was eager to show the properties. The two spent several hours going over them with one being chosen, one that happened to be adjacent to the cousin's property. She smiled at the thought of the kids coming by to spend the day swimming or hiking, the 500 acres included a hill, lake, stream, and a house.

The house was rundown but livable, it was perfect for her to ease her time before her job began. The fact that it was at the end of a road with state-owned land behind and her only immediate neighbor was her own family made it perfect for her. She agreed to buy it, paying in full for it.

The paperwork was made official in three days. She was a landowner, recognized as a woman by the state, with a new name, and family who loved her. It was the start of her new life.

She enjoyed her isolation for the next month. She met with town and county officials and showed her stuff by showing how incompetant the previous surveyors we re. The fact that several were related to key landowners and public officials didn't sit well with the state and led to them taking direct action to ouster several.

Her impact trickled down to the community as the town's bills were actually much less than they should have been as the proper assessments on multiple large tracts of land and proper boundaries were established leading to large landowners paying more of their fair share and the smaller owners paying less. She was slowly winning people over, simply be doing her job right.

Her past was well known. She didn't hide it, in fact she openly acknowledged it and made fools of most who tried to use it against her. Wars of words broke out as several bigots were laughed out of town and several town and county officials getting reprimands or outright fired for their behavior.

Outside of earshot her reputation was more than just telling it like it was. She was a loner and her isolation was accepted as her keeping her privacy for her gender change. The reality was simply that the ladies of the town were all heterosexual and she couldn't get any of them to fall for her and after a failed attempt that ended badly for her she stopped trying to flirt.

Her isolation irked her elder niece. She hated that she had to endure questions about her aunt and when she refused to call her her aunt endured punishment from the school for offensive behavior. Her friends tried to stand up for her but were shown to be much worse than she was.

The two finally butted heads when her niece came over to demand that she stop her charade. She was in tears, she couldn't stand being all alone as her so-called friends abandoned her for continuing to allow her "uncle" to live a life of sin. She didn't want to be alone anymore.

Her aunt sat her down and told her the truth about her life. She then turned things around and showed just what kind of people her so-called friends really were by showing their online activities. The boys were frauds, they were openly flirting with any girl in a skimpy skirt and loose blouse while the girls openly mocked anyone who wasn't part of the inner circle of friends.

She sighed then told her niece "they are classic bullies and snobs. They use people like you to do their dirtywork then abandon you when they no longer need you. Your real friends stayed away from them, I know they want you to push away from those people and embrace who you really are. You are your mother's daughter, you are a beautiful and smart young woman who is destined for greatness if you just allow yourself to see it."

The two were in tears as they reconciled. Aunt and niece were speechless for several minutes as they dried their tears and embraced. She had won over her biggest critic and had set her on the right path.

At her cousin's home her niece apologized to her parents while her younger sister and brother just shrugged. It was a poignant moment, with both smiling at her being the aunt their daughter needed. When the trio were asleep they confided in her that they feared they might lose their daughter to religious zealots but her actions had undone two years of brainwashing and intimidation.

She just shrugged it off, happily admitting "I dealt with people worse than those boneheads and could see the conflict in her eyes. She is a good person, she just needed someone to tell her. You are her parents, sometimes I guess it takes an aunt or uncle to uncover the truth. She is so much like you two it's scary, just give her a chance to move away from this and restart her life."

The drama died down and she became entrenched in the community. She started hormones and slowly but surely she developed breasts. Her youngest niece giggled at her wearing a bra and seeing for the first time that her aunt had boobs, it made her feel like her life was affirmed now- she was a woman.

Her isolation was short-lived. After a few months alone she woke up one winter morning to the sound of ice breaking and people running through the woods. She was fearful that someone was finally going to harm her after months of living in peace, even with friends and support not everyone approved of her being there.

What she found scared her. A woman and a young girl shivering and bleeding. They were freezing to death and needed help.

That wasn't the biggest surprise. The young girl wasn't a young girl. What she saw shocked her- she was a young boy.

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