What It Takes To Survive - Chapter 9

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"I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, I just want to know that this is something you really want" Mum said sitting next to dad across from Gaby and I.
"Your mother's right. Could this be some form of PTSD?" Dad chimed.
"Exactly. You boys went through God-knows-what on that island, especially you!" Mum followed
"Mum." I said weakly
"You said you dressed like a woman the entire time and then the things that boy did to you, this could just be a way for you to cope"
My father nodded.
"It's not a way for me to cope, there's nothing to cope with" I said "It's not a cry for help or PTSD or whatever!"
"Jo just feels more comfortably in women's clothes. I don't see what the big deal is" Gaby said. I smiled at her. She'd been holding my hand on the couch the entire time.
"What's next a boyfriend?" Mum asked incredulously. For some reason, I thought about Mikey and I that day and blushed.
"So?!" Gaby almost shouted
"I don't think the world is going to be as nonchalant as you, Gabriella" Dad said. "He's going to be a boy wearing girl's clothes.. my son"
"I don't want to be a boy wearing girls clothes!"
It was the one thing I knew. I never wanted to be that kid.
"You want to be a woman now?" Mum asked.
"I don't know, maybe"
Mum turned to Gaby. "I told you so many times to stop treating him like one of your girlfriends"
"Mum, if Jo wants to be a girl, it's fine" Gaby said
Mum sighed. We were all quiet for a while.
"We're going to be late for the appointment" Mum said finally "I assume you're going like that?" She said to me.
I had forgotten that dad and Gaby had both returned so we could go to the hospital.
I nodded. She sighed.
"We'll discuss this more when we get back"

I knew I passed as a girl. I knew I would before the island and I knew I did now, but sitting in the hospital waiting area, I couldn't help but worry that everyone who looked at me knew that I wasn't who I appeared to be.
It was still odd being around this many people. I had gotten used to our little group on the island and I think at some point, I had thought I would spend my entire life on that island.
I looked over from mum to dad and wondered what they were thinking. I knew they loved me but I couldn't help the feeling that I had disappointed them and somehow that they didn't love me anymore. Maybe it would have been better if I just ignored all these feelings and moved on with my life.
Before I could ponder any more, a nurse walked into the waiting room.
"Jonathan Fahey?" She called out.
"That's us" Mum replied getting up almost immediately. The four of us maneuvered through the crowd and met the nurse whom we followed passed a few doors until she stopped.
"Please go in. The doctor is waiting" she said as she walked away smartly.
Dad knocked and opened the door "Jonathan Fahey to see Dr. Clifford"
A young man wearing a white coat over a smart shirt stood up.
"Yes, please come in"
We all filed into the room. Dad stepped forward and shook his hand.
"George Fahey, this is my wife Barbara, my daughter Gabriella and my son, Jonathan."
There was a definite surprise in his expression when Dad gestured at me but he quickly regained composure.
"Nice to meet you all" He said taking all our hands. I couldn't help but notice how limp our handshake was "I'm Dr. Bill Clifford, please take a seat" He said as he took his own.
Dad and I took the two seats at the desk while Mum and Gaby took the ones by the wall.
"What's the problem?" He asked putting on a business demeanor.
"Well" Dad started "My son was rescued yesterday after being stranded on an island.."
"You're one of those kids?" He asked me interrupting dad which I could tell he didn't like.
I nodded.
"He was, and this morning we find that he was assaulted on that island. One of the boys..." Dad paused "One of the boys forcefully kissed him"
That look of surprise again.
"How old are you, Jonathan?" The doctor asked me.
"Jo, please" I said. He smiled and nodded "I'm sixteen in October"
"Have you informed the police?" He asked turning to my father.
"We uh.. we decided not to" Dad looked so uncomfortable "We just wanted to do a check up. Make sure there's nothing to be worried about"
"Did anything happen other than the kiss?" He asked turning again to me.
"No sir"
"Have you noticed anything odd?"
"Uh no sir"
"You probably have nothing to be worried about but I'll do a quick check up put all your fears to rest"
I nodded. I decided liked him. He was reassuring to talk to an didn't treat me at all like I expected everyone would treat me after they heard.
He took a small metal rod and walked up to me.
"Open your mouth please" I did. He pressed the rod against my tongue which was cold and had a metallic taste. He moved my tongue about for a few seconds before taking it out and walking back to his seat.
He put the rod in a small tray before taking his seat.
"Like I said nothing to worry about but I'll give you my personal number and you can call me if you notice anything."
I nodded. He turned to dad.
"You really have nothing to worry about although I'd recommend a post trauma group or a therapist. He's been through something very few people have"
"That's another thing" Dad said and the doctor turned to him. "This mode of dressing is a recent thing. Very recent."
"Dad." I said which he ignored.
"This morning to be exact. He's going on about how he wants to be a woman now and we're not sure what to do"
The doctor seemed to study me before turning back to dad.
"Gender Identity Disorder is nothing to be worried about"
"We're not worried." Dad added almost immediately "Just concerned that it might be as a result of what he's been through. You know, with the assault and the island"
The doctor was silent for a bit.
"May I speak with Jonathan.. Jo alone please" He said "There are chairs right outside"
Dad looked to mum and Gaby before standing up after which they all left. The doctor looked at me intently.
"Is this something you want, Jo? To be a woman?"
I didn't reply.
"You can be honest with me." He said looking into my eyes. His gaze piercing.
"Yes.. I don't know.. I think so" I replied
"Do you have any particular reason?"
"I just.. I don't know. I'm having feelings for one of the boys that was with me on the island" I hadn't admitted that to myself before this "I love the way I feel when I'm dressed like this! And if I'm being honest, I love being treated like a woman"
"Have you ever felt this way before?"
"I don't think so. I've always admired my sister and studied her but that's it."
"Why do you think these feelings are only showing up now? Usually, kids with this feelings say they've felt them for as long as they remember"
"I honestly don't know. It's just not something I can ignore"
He sat back in his chair.
"Say, I could snap my finger and all those feelings would be gone, would you want me to do it?"
I thought for a bit. I didn't want to go back to wearing those plain clothes. In truth, I'd wanted to pick skirt earlier but figured I better not overwhelm my parents.
"And if I could snap my fingers and you'd be a woman right now, would you want me to do it?"
I nodded shyly.
"Could you please call your family in?"
I walked to the door and opened it but didn't say anything.
When we had all sat down again, he said "It's not my area but I don't think we can ignore this. I'm going to have a colleague call you and schedule a meeting"
"You think we should let him go through with this?" Dad asked
"I don't think that's your call, Mr. Fahey. And you might want to get used to using female pronouns" The doctor told dad. "But either way, she's not sixteen yet so other than some therapy, nothing can be done anyway" it took me a while to realize he was talking about me.
I don't know if dad didn't catch that but he didn't respond to it. I couldn't tell how mum was taking it because she was behind me and I hadn't turned around yet. I was still taking this all in myself.
"Please write down a contact number on this piece of paper" He said slipping one forward "I'll have someone call you as soon as possible"
Dad scribbled something on the paper and slipped it forward.
"Thank you, that'll be all, thank you for coming" Dr. Clifford said as he stood up and stretched his hand. Dad took it but didn't say anything.
"Thank you, doctor" Mum said followed by Gaby saying the same thing. He nodded.
"Thank you for stopping by" He said finally "And good luck, Jo"

When we got home, there was a man standing outside our door.
Dad parked the car and got down never taking his eyes off him. He was dressed smartly, carrying a brief case and reminded me of one those TV salesmen
"May I help you?" Dad asked as he closed the gap between them
"Hello, Mr. Fahey?" The man asked.
Dad nodded.
"I'm Timothy Jameson, I'm with the airline. I was hoping I could have a minute with you and your family"
"What do you want?" I'm afraid he had caught dad on a bad day.
"I think it would be better if we discussed this inside"
Dad glanced at the rest of us standing there before he walked to the door, opened it and pushed it wide open "Please" he said.
The man walked in standing just inside while the rest of us walked past him.
"May I just start by offering our heartfelt apologies that such a tragedy occurred and say how overjoyed we are that your child has been found" He said looking from dad to me as soon as we had all walked in.
I thought the use of the word 'child' might have been deliberate but I wasn't sure.
"As are we." Dad said folding his jacket and dropping it on the chair before turning back to the man.
"May I?" The man said gesturing at the chairs.
Dad stretched his hand as if to say "go ahead"
The man took the seat closest to the door and dad took the one farthest from him. The rest of us just stood there waiting to see what was happening.
"Again we are so very sorry for what happened. I have been authorized to offer you thirty five thousand along with four complimentary first class tickets to any destination of your choice if you would only"
Dad stood up "Okay I think I'm gonna have to call my lawyer"
"I understand that Mr. Fahey but keep in mind that what happened was as a result of a lightning strike, something nobody could have planned for"
"I'll have my lawyer call you when we're ready" Dad said before walking to the door and opening it.
The man sighed, looked at all of us, his eyes lingering on me "Good say" he said before walking out.

"Hey sis" Gaby said as she barged into my room. I really needed to start locking it. The room was still a mess, littered with her clothes.
I lay on my bed still wearing the ripped jeans and off shoulder blouse.
"So we're doing this?" I asked as I sat up
"Best believe it" She said smiling as she sat on my bed "You okay?" her expression turned to worry.
"It's a bit mad, isn't it?" I asked
"What is?"
"Everything. You know I've been staring at your prom dress, Gaby. I don't know what's wrong with me." I looked at the beautiful long dress hanging on the wardrobe handle. It was quite the thing. It was a long A-Line pink tulle dress. The entire bodice of the dress was backless and a Deep V-Neck with the most beautiful beading.
"Oh Jo, there's nothing wrong with you" She held my hand. Suddenly a smile crossed her face "Wanna try it on?"
She pulled me out of bed. We maneuvered through the clothes to the wardrobe. She pulled the dress of the hangar and handed it to me.
"Step into it"
"Gaby." I said reluctantly
"Jo!" She said back smiling widely
I held the dress. Despite the beading, it was still a very light thing.
"Fine. Turn around."
"Why we're sisters" She laughed "And you know I bathed you once, right?"
"Come on, turn around"
"Fine" she said as she groaned and turned. I turned too.
I started taking off the clothes. I had just taken off the jeans when Gaby said "Ooh nice panties. Where'd you get them?"
"Gaby!" I shouted turning just my head to look at her.
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry" she said as she turned back around "Hurry up!"
I brought the dress up to my waist and slipped my hands through the straps.
"Oh my God, you're gorgeous." She said walking around to my front "It's so perfect you have no idea"
She led me up to a mirror. It was beautiful. I ran my hands from my ribs to my waist to my hips.
"I love it" I said simply with my hands still on my waist. I grinned.
"You should. You look amazing. Now all you need are some boobs and you'd have the perfect body for this dress"
I thought about having boobs and smiled even more.
"It's yours"
I turned to her.
"I can't. You loved this dress"
"Yeah and now it's your turn to love it. Besides, these babies won't fit in that dress" she said grabbing her boobs.
"I don't know what to say" I said looking back to the dress.
"Don't say anything. I already said anything you find that you like is yours"
I hugged her and started crying. Only this time, it didn't annoy me to cry, it felt right.
"Oh honey" she chuckled "Don't cry, you'll ruin your make up"
She broke apart from me holding my shoulder "Make up! We need to see what you look like with make up on. You're going to look so fabulous!" She said hysterically "And we need to get your hair done"
I just smiled.
"Take off that dress, we're going out"
"You sure?" I asked concerned
"Yeah. A salon. We never got to hang out like this. Please" She clasped both hands together and pleaded. She was the second person I could never say no to.
"Yay!" She jumped "I'll pick you something to wear"

"I don't think I can pull that off" I said as Gaby held a tiny dress to her chest. It was a feather weight dark blue dress with large flower petals. It only came up to Gaby's upper thigh when she held it but she was taller than I was. Gaby had picked out a tiny brown belt, brown sandals and a brown leather bag with very long straps that was more of an accessory than a functional piece.
"Your skinny legs are so perfect for this dress you have to wear it"
"Dad will have a stroke if he sees me wearing that"
"Stop being such a drama queen. It's fine. Now put on the damn dress"
I sighed and took it just to be wearing something other than panties if nothing else.

"We need to get you some fake boobies but tights will have to do for now" She said as she tossed me a very puffy bra from a pile "These should give you some nice boobs. How big do you want them?" She asked looking up at me.
I couldn't believe what we were talking about. If you'd told me we'd be having this conversation three weeks ago...
I hooked the bra to my chest like I'd seen Gaby do a few times and then spun them around when they were hooked before putting my hand through the straps.
"Very nice, Jo. You're a natural" She said smiling as she fished through the tights.
"Actually, you're a small girl. An A cup is probably best, right?" She fished out a pair of wool tights and handed them to me "Try these" She said.
I slipped the tights into the bra and readjusted them until they looked real enough. I grabbed them raising them slightly and then let them fall.
They were fairly small but they were perfect and gave me just the right shape.
"You like?" Gaby asked still smiling.
I nodded.
"Come on, let's get you in this dress.

I sat on the bed as Gaby brushed out my hair as best as she could when we were done.
When I sat, the dress came up to my upper thigh which I had to readjust every time I moved.
"I'd apply some make up but I want you to have the full effect"
Before we left, she handed me a small purse with a hundred dollar bill inside which I put in 'my' bag, a packet of wet wipes and some make up that I didn't know how to use.

Dad was watching TV in the living room when we came down. He turned and looked at us and I saw the color drain from his face.
"We're going out, dad" Gaby said as she made for the door. I followed her meekly.
"Gaby! Jo!" He called out getting our attention "I want you both back no later than eleven"
"We're not kids dad!" Gaby protested
"That's an order, young lady" He said. Dad was weirdly calm but I thought he would explode any second. I was wearing a dress and I even had tiny but definitely there breasts.
"Ugh fine. We'll be back before eleven"
"Good." Dad said before returning to his show.

It was a beautiful evening and the drive down was amazing but I was a still a mess. I felt like everyone was looking at me. Gaby told me to relax a few times but that did little to calm me.
As we walked into the mall, an exiting man stepped aside for us saying "ladies" and bowed as we passed. Gaby smiled at him and told me how nice of him that was later.

I wasn't afraid that I would be found out at this point, I'd seen myself and I was a rather good looking girl. What got me uneasy were the looks we got from all the men in the mall. Each one reminded me of how Ollie had looked at me that day. I could sense their gaze refocusing on my ass as they passed me. I felt even more self conscious in this tiny dress.
My uneasiness continued until we got to our destination. A very pink shop that smelled of flowers as we stepped in. It was very calming to be among these women in various states of service or relaxation.
"Gabriella" A woman walked up us and hugged Gaby "Nice of you to drop by. And who's your gorgeous friend?" The woman said turning to me.
"Donna, you remember Jo, right?"
I glared at Gaby.
"Jonathan?" She asked very surprised.
I smiled "Hi, Donna". I said meekly.
We had met many times before. When Gaby was a regular here, I'd sit in a corner and wait for her. Donna had even put highlights in my hair once.
"Oh my God, you're beautiful. I would never have recognized you if you'd just walked in here"
Gaby put an arm around my shoulder. "Jo here is trying something new and I was wondering if you could do something with her hair."
Gaby seemed to pick up on the pronoun of choice. She smiled.
"I sure can. I've wanted to do something with that hair since the first day you showed up here"
She led me to a reclining chair and told me to relax before she started washing my hair for what felt like hours. I had to admit, it was very relaxing and I think I dozed off a few times but I was awake when she led me over to a chair in front of a giant mirror that spanned the length of the wall.
I was still wearing the dress but I had a towel draped around my shoulder and another wrapped around my hair. I couldn't help but smile when I saw Gaby and Donna fussing about what they were going to do with my hair.

"So" Donna began "we're going to try to keep most of the length as we get rid of the split ends. We're going to add layers and maybe make parts darker for that sweet ombré look. How's that sound?"
I must have had a clueless look on my face because she added "Don't worry honey. You'll look just darling. Just try to relax"
I sat back in the chair.
"And maybe some makeup later?" Gaby asked
Donna smiled "Sure thing"
"Also do you mind covering the mirror?" Gaby asked again.
Donna laughed "Sure"

I don't remember falling asleep but before long, Donna was tapping me on the shoulder
"It's time for your makeup, sweetie. Can't sleep through this bit"
There was a large cloth on my side of the mirror so I couldn't see myself as I awoke.
I turned around sharply and instantly had a face full of hair. Donna used a finger and carefully put the hair back in its place.
"Careful. It's fuller than you're used to. I'm almost done, don't worry"
"Where's Gaby?" I asked settling back down into the chair.
"Uh she stepped out. Said she'll be back soon" Donna said as she spun the chair around "Now shh, I want to be done by the time she gets back"

"Oh my God, Jo!" Gaby said as she walked into the salon. "You are going to break a lot of hearts looking like that." She said walking up to me ecstatically
"Where'd you go?" I said tasting the lip gloss Donna had applied earlier.
"Relax, sis. I went to get you some panties of your own. Figured you'd want some more"
I was embarrassed she had said that so openly but glad she had thought about that. We had left all the stuff on the island.
I smiled.
"Oh you are just so beautiful. You ready to see your self, Jo?" Gaby said again
"As I'll ever be" I said as Donna spun the chair back around.
Gaby did a drumroll on the table as Donna held the cloth.
"Ta-da!" Gaby said gleefully as the cloth fell to the table.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I knew I sat there but looking in the mirror felt like a dream. The girl staring back at me sported the most beautiful wavy hair that came up to her shoulders. Her lips appeared bigger than mine and so did her eyes.
Her eyebrows were arched and her lashes were bigger and darker. Her cheeks shone and were very well defined. She looked like she was ready for a prom. Or even a wedding.
I couldn't speak, I just smiled while staring into the mirror.
"Somebody's in love" Gaby said and through the mirror, I saw they were both smiling.
"Well?" Donna asked expectantly
I stood up and hugged her. I felt my eyes get watery but I managed to hold it back.
"I love it" I said as I broke away. I realized the other women in the salon were looking at us smiling.
"Good" Donna said smiling "Here's your girl card, go have fun"
We all smiled. Gaby paid her and we hugged again.
"Don't be a stranger like your sister" Donna told me finally as we left.

We sat at the food court and I drank soda out of a straw. We were talking and giggling when two boys approached
"Hey" A boy I recognized as Clinton Sanford said. We had a few classes together. I knew he played American football and that he just might end up being captain this coming senior year after the current captain graduated but that was it.
"Whassup?" The other boy said. Mick Barrett. He had given me some grief in junior high but had mostly left me alone since middle school. He also played American football and I had seen him hanging around Doug a few times.
"Hi" Gaby said smiling widely at the boys after grinning at me.
I didn't say anything.
"We don't recognize you girls. Do you go to our school?" Clinton asked
"Yeah, I think I'd recognize you" Mick said leering at me.
I realized I hadn't moved the entire time. I took a deep breath thinking 'How the hell am I going to get out of this one?"

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