To Be a Different Someone: Chapter 5 "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing"

I sat in a couch across from Doctor London’s chair as she looked through my paperwork and then at me. I
changed a bit of my style that day: loose shirt, a short skirt, and a looped set of earrings.
“How long have you been thinking about this?” she asked as she stood up and walked over to a deep chair next to the couch.
“I couldn’t really tell you. I decided to do something about it and here we are.”
“I see.” She wrote something down as I continued.
“I’ve just felt that how I’ve been is wrong. I’ve looked in the mirror and I never liked who was staring back at me. Basically, I wish he was dead.”
“You wish you were dead?”
“Not me, him,” I replied as I adjusted my glasses.
“But he is you.”
“Only if you want to go by a plumbing standard. No one ever wanted him around. Not parents, people at school, or others.”
“What about friends?” Doctor London asked as she laid the paperwork in her lap.
“He never had any. Not real ones...not ones who shared his interests. So it’s for the best to have a mercy killing.”
“So, what if you saw James again? What would you say to him?”
“Everyone is better off without him. In a few years that will happen.”
“You wouldn’t miss him?” she asked with her left hand under her chin and her right hand resting on the chair.
“Hard to miss someone who’s never really there, you know? Under thumbs of others and not doing what he wanted? I look back and see all this—excuse me—shit.”
I had almost lost my temper and nearly laid back on the couch...which would have caused a bit too much exposure.
“No, go on.”
“And I have to wonder how he survived up to that point! Parents who didn’t—still don’t—care, no one to confide in except for a cousin... A cousin who did care, but how long could he hide under her skirt? Be saved by her from everyone who was against him? Pathetic!”
Doctor London looked at me as I moved several strands of hair from my face, which was beginning to be an issue. It was time to think about putting my hair up.
“So you think you’re better off as, Jennifer?” she asked.
“Jennifer is fine with being herself, yes. Physical issues aside right now, I’m okay with me.”
“Are you looking into changing everything?” She picked the folder up and jotted more notes.
“Of course. That takes a little time, I know. But I am fully content with myself. I have a terrific boyfriend who adores me,” I answered with a smile on my face.
“Boyfriend? Is he aware?”
“That I think the world of him? God, yes.”
“So he doesn’t know that you’re—” I leaned forward and put my hand up in an I’m only going to tell you this one time gesture.
“I don’t really think that’s an issue with us.”
Dr. London placed her clipboard on her lap. She moved her hands to her face and then looked at me.
“How long have you been with him?
“It’s been a few weeks,” I replied as I tried to count back to the day back at the library.
“And you wrote down that you haven’t been sexually active with him?” Doctor London asked.
“Well, we—” I abruptly stopped.
“Only tell me if you’re comfortable.”
“No, no we haven’t. Just a bit of exploring, that’s all,” I replied as I sat back on the couch in frustration.
“Exploring?” she asked and stopped writing.
“Kissing, touchy-feely above the waist, okay? No sex. He’s not constantly trying to get in my pants. Why does it always have to come to that? Some couples never have sex for their entire marriage.” I exclaimed. I felt like grabbing a pillow and screaming into it.
“That’s true, but they, most likely, went into that relationship together, without big surprises from their partner.”
“Are you saying that I’m lying to him?”
“I’m saying that you’re not being exactly honest to him or yourself. Truth is always the best.”
I was taken aback. Okay, so I wasn’t going to flat-out tell him. I had a bit of time to build my case. Besides, if I could hold back my own urges, then he would never know until several surgeries later. Lying to myself? I was being more truthful about, to and for myself, than I had ever been in my entire life!
“How truthful do you want me to be?” I asked as I stood up from my seat.
“That’s up to you.”
“Truthful? Fine, I still do not like my parents. They’re still worlds apart from one another and I could care less what they think about me now.”
“What would your father say about what you’re doing?”
“He’d be horrified,” I replied as I sat back down. “Of course, that’s just a tiny difference from what he usually felt about me, so no big loss there.”
The doctor picked her clipboard back up and wrote as I looked toward the wall.
“I’m not crazy and this isn’t something I’m doing because I hate my parents.” I looked back to the good doctor, writing away. “I just know that I’ve felt this way for a long time and it was time…it was time to just stop pretending being someone different.”
“Jennifer, your mother tells me that you’ve been, as she puts it, stand-off, um,-ish?”
“Towards her?” I asked, laughing at the idea. “Yeah. As I said, we don’t agree on how I’m living my life. She insisted I smoke some crack instead.”
“She wants you to do drugs?” She asked with a confused look on her face.
“Not going to happen. I’m not doing it her way. I’ve been through over fourteen years of doing it her, their, and his—whoever’s way—other than my own.” I threw my arms up in anger and almost struck the potted plant next to the couch.
“Do you have any friends that you talk to about your parents?”
“Just my cousin, well, I used to. It’s been hard to get in touch with her lately and since I haven’t really cared about what people have thought of me recently it hasn’t been an issue,” I answered as I sat back down.
I so wanted to backhand Doctor London across the face, walk out of that office, past my mom and into the great wild blue yonder without one iota of care to give, but I also didn’t want to be arrested or committed. So I remained on that couch, still sitting proper, and awaited the doctor’s response.

Dr. London spent the remainder of the session writing on her notepad and asking me the same inane questions— worded ever so slightly from the last one to avoid suspicion—and I answered them the same way right back at her. I was not going to be told there was something wrong
with me or that I was merely playing the daddy issues card. I informed her again and again that this was who I was and it wasn’t going to change.
“Oh yes you are!”
I informed Mom I was not going back to see the doctor again; her answer was not shocking.
“Go on, spend money on nothing. If you took me there to make me change my mind, it’s not going to happen,” I said as we walked to the car.
“Fine, then you’re grounded. No phone, no friends… no…no boyfriends.”
“Please allow me to grow my hair longer so we can act out Rapunzel in the proper way then.”
The remainder of our drive was in silence. There was so much I wanted to say to her, well, more like tell her…and maybe a few questions. At that point of my life, I was a little messed up, mixed up and running on raw emotion.

And that was what lead me to call Mike and ask him to meet me at the end of my road around nine o’clock.
I dressed in jeans and my flannels, turned off my lights except for a lamp, and locked the door. Grans usually took her hearing aids out and Mom… Well, I didn’t really care if she saw me or not as I slowly moved down the stairs and to the back door of the house. The door closed with an almost inaudible click and I was home free for the next nine or so hours.
Mike arrived shortly after I had reached the end of the driveway. The truck’s headlights were off.
“Secret mission?”
“Prison break, actually. Thank you for coming.”
“I’d do anything for you.”
I smiled at him as I closed the door to the truck.
“So what do you want to do with your newfound freedom?” Mike asked as he switched the headlights back on.
“We can go to your house if you like,” I replied.
“I would, but Monica has some friends over and I didn’t want to deal with them…so I am extra glad you called.”
“Your parents don’t know either, do they?” I asked.
“No, they think I’m over with Travis at the batting cages or the field.”
“Did you want to do that?”
“Do you actually like baseball?” Mike inquired as he reached out for my hand.
“No, but you love it.”
“I really do have the perfect girlfriend.”

We arrived at the same field as we had been to before; Travis and a few other guys were already playing under the floodlights.
I stood in the bleacher area as Mike stood at home plate, awaiting a pitch from Travis. Travis took not so subtle glances at me…enough that it would have been impossible for Michel to not notice.
“Here it comes, Preston!” “Bring it!”

Travis wound up and threw a pitch. Mike swung and clipped it, causing it to fly into the air, over the cage and into the bleachers.
I got up to retrieve the ball and had an unsettling feeling I was being watched by them, in a more than just aww, that’s cute, she’s going to get it for us, kind of way. Perhaps it was how I was walking…I wasn’t too sure, but all eyes were on me as I stepped down from the stands and onto the field.
I threw the ball back to Travis who caught it without effort.
“Thanks Jen,” Mike replied as he winked at me.
“You’re welcome.”
Travis again wound up and threw the ball. This time it sailed over Mike’s head and into the catcher’s mitt. I had no
idea who was catching since James was at first base.
The catcher threw it back to Travis. I walked to the other side of the bleachers and Travis looked toward me. I was officially creeped out by the unwanted attention.
Travis wound up and threw the ball. It went straight to Mike’s chest, knocking him to the ground.
“Mike!” I ran to him as fast as I could. He was on the ground with a pained expression on his face while he held his hands to his chest.
I got down next to him. “Are you okay?”
Travis and the other guys surrounded us. I hoped one of them was coming to see if Mike was okay, but their eyes had another look in them. Frightening gazes focused on me.
“What did you tell him?” I asked Mike.
Travis walked around Mike toward me and lunged forward. I dodged to the side and then to the other side. He moved closer and received a punch to the face. The other guys, except for James, moved to surround me.
“Michael” Mike was still on the ground and James took off into the darkness.
Travis grabbed my left arm and held it behind my back. “I hear you like being touched.”
I didn’t reply but tried to think of a way out of my situation.
My attempt to elbow him ended up with him locking my arm against his body as he held his hand around my neck.
“How old are you?”
“Fourteen,” I squeaked out.
“You’re very pretty…how experienced are you?”
“Not at all,” I choked.
“We can change that,” he said as he moved his hand to lift my shirt.
The other guys stood by, neither trying to help me or impede Travis. I looked to Mike who tried to get up but
was still dry heaving.
“What do I have to do to make you let me go?”
“Are you an adventurous girl?”
“No,” I gasped as I closed my eyes. Did Mike tell his friend everything? And did he know that his fiend—I mean—friend was a rapist protégé?
Without another word, Travis groped me. “I like ’em young.”
I really wanted to kick, punch or do something but I was getting light-headed. He was working like a boa constrictor to incapacitate his prey.
He then moved to unbutton my jeans. “Please…don’t….”
“We got to get you in the mood, right?”
At that moment, the adrenaline kicked in and I tried to break free while he was “distracted” but he clamped down farther on my neck.
Travis tugged on my jeans and grabbed my crotch. I tried to shout No, but nothing came out.
“What the hell?”
He spun me around and then threw me down.
I fell to the ground as Mike recovered and raced to tackle Travis.
Travis said, “She’s got a cock!”
“No way…” said another.
The group closed in on me like a pack of wolves.
“What?” Mike asked.
“Mike, help me, please,” I pleaded as he just stared.
“What are you, some kind of fag?” Travis asked.
“No,” I cried.
“Well you can’t be a lying bitch, you got a dick. But if you want to be a bitch, I’ll make that happen. Guys?”
The other guys, the props while Travis fondled me, were now the ones who held me down.
“Please!” I looked at Mike who was still in a state of shock. His eyes were empty and staring at something between us, but not at me.
I couldn’t fight back and I felt every kick and punch to my body as Travis started the beat down.
“Fucking asshole!”—maybe I said it to Travis, maybe Mike…I wasn’t sure.
“You’re a pussy. Don’t have one but….”
One of the others kicked me in the side and my legs. One brought a baseball bat and slammed it on my chest, then swung at my groin, making a direct hit.
The pain did not hit me for a few seconds, what with my brain going through all the futile steps I could have taken in order to avoid the situation I was in. However, when it did indeed hit, I screamed bloody murder—in hopes someone would come help.

I remember seeing Michel’s face in a mix of sadness, confusion and anger. Sadness that he may have helped in this situation or that his friends were perverts who should be in jail…or dead. Confusion in that why his friend would hit him with a ball and attempt to harm his girlfriend. Anger, because he was also holding a baseball bat but he didn’t whack Travis over the head with it.
He swung it at me instead.

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