Chapter 1: Chapter One
A reflection of deceit; how could the false of external identity, stare back at him through a looking glass? He was not who they saw. He was not safe within himself. The constant possibility of subjugation to the spitting taunts and haunts of them and himself. Childhood was considered the phase of insecurity, but now that he grew into his own physical enemy, what were they to say now? The ignorants and critics turned their heads once his hair fell to the ground in a violent episode of who he always felt he was. It was not confusion. It was not a flickering light within self-identity. It was him, in all his glory and splendor of a birth misinterpreted by the mechanics. They were supposed to build a baby boy, but the manual was absent, and somehow the package was delivered missing screws and bolts, in shiny gift-wrap, fooling doctors and cooing adults alike.
However, he refused to fulfill this feminine prophecy. He refused to accept the mistake his fetal architects bestowed upon his life-long battle between mind and body. He refused to let a missing chromosome rule his life. He refused the dictated Gracie he was forced to be recognized as since birth. He was now, and always felt as such, Adam Torres.
The pale-skinned boy glared into the mirror, disgusted with the protruding feminine labels formed at his chest. Adam lifted a roll of gauze from his desk, and began twirling the safety blanket around himself, flattening the blemishes that were considered breasts. He quickly placed a heavy flannel upon his torso, along with black jeans. Adam examined himself in the mirror, hoping his biology would be concealed.
After grabbing his schoolbag, Adam scuffled from his room and away from his looming reflection, to greet a distressed mother and tired brother. Adam quietly prepared himself cereal, sitting down next to Drew, who was busy reading the sports column in the newspaper. Adam's mother was handling calls, in which Adam was grateful for. He hoped she would rush out, without the usual morning banter of Adam's appearance and Drew's teasing laughs. Adam knew his family meant well, but their misunderstanding was sometimes the burn marks occasionally inflicted upon his arms.
A hot wave of shame washed over Adam as he pulled at his flannel's sleeves. Shame for his body. Shame for his scars. He wanted nothing more than to just be content in his own skin.
"Adam, you have such a small figure. Why wear such large shirts?" Audra Torres remarked, clapping her phone shut.
"He doesn't want anyone to figure out what's underneath," Drew commented sarcastically, wiping milk from his chin.
"Drew, be nice." Audra warned, as Adam cut his brother a menacing look.
"You should come to the gym with me sometime, Adam. I could build you up, so you can fill out those big shirts." Drew offered in a light-mannered way, as he always was. Drew Torres, who loved his brother very much, only teased to disregard the dark he knew his brother faced. Drew wasn't the brains within their family, but he had a much more tolerant heart than their mother seemed to have.
Audra loved her son very much, as well. She had difficulty accepted what she couldn't seem to understand. However, she recognized her daughter as a son, although her eyes saw him as Gracie most days. Since the sonogram proving Adam's sex, Audra couldn't seem to distinguish between gender and sex. How could her daughter feel like a boy? How could the girl she raised be absorbed into the masculine spectrum of gender? Audra's heart relented for her boy, but was restless for her girl.
"No thanks, Drew. I already smell you enough when you get home. I don't want to do it at a gym," Adam joked, subtly poking at his limp arms, thinking that maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to build muscle after all.
"You boys better be off to school," Audra said, glancing at her watch. The Torres boys grabbed their schoolbags and headed out the door. Casual banter passed between the brothers, until Drew said something that caught Adam's interest.
"So that new Katie chick is pretty hot."
This comment spawned a whirlwind of critters to flap within his insides. Katie Matlin, the sharp news editor of the Degrassi Daily, who was both sweet and tough. She was fairly new to Degrassi, but rose her way to the top soon enough. Adam talked to Katie a handful of time, yet still shied away from pursuing any close relationship. Even friendship meant a reveal of his secret, which caused those critters in his stomach to die into a sick sensation. But as Drew said this, a new emotion surged inside of Adam: a venomous jealousy.
"Yeah, I guess," Adam replied nonchalantly.
"Think I should go after her?"
"I don't know, don't you think she's a bit... I don't know, too smart for you?"
"She's smart, but I think she'd like me."
"Why would she like a guy like you? You're a jock-head who can barely do long division."
"Why are you being an ass? What? Do you have a thing for her?"
With that, Adam looked to the pavement they were walking on, without any retort.
"I knew it. Listen, man, there's nothing wrong with me. What I'm wondering is why would she like a guy like you," Drew spat viciously, walking ahead of his brother, as Adam stopped where he was, peering down at himself and feeling ashamed all over again.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
As Adam entered Degrassi, the school was bursting with bright campaign posters, half of them with protruding VOTE FOR KATIE MATLINs accompanied with her face, which made Adam's heart ache even further. As if it wasn't bad enough of what Drew had said to him, an evident reminder of his loveless plight was now plastered among the school halls.
"Torres," a smooth voice said, snapping Adam from his focus upon Katie's campaign posters for the school presidential election.
"Hey Eli," Adam replied, as they both began walking to their adjacent lockers.
"You think you can squeeze in an interview with me and Fiona for Love Roulette?" Eli asked, but Adam wasn't paying much attention. The school seemed to be thriving with upcoming events: Eli's play, the presidential election, and the fashion show- in which Katie was also apart of. These events meant interviews for Dave Turner and Adam Torres's radio show, which caused his stomach to flop at the mere thought of talking to Katie. He wanted so badly to be close to her, to understand her, for her to understand him, but he recoiled from any of that, in fear of her reaction his physical truth. He peered down at his body, clad in oversized mockeries. He subtly glanced to Eli's apparel, although his accessories and black nail varnish could be considered feminine, Eli's masculine body made Adam envious. It didn't seem to be fair. To be trapped within an exterior that wasn't even his own.
"Adam?" Eli blinked, once again snapping Adam from his trance.
"Uh, sure, of course."
Eli smiled, leaving his friend to discuss the Love Roulette production with his director, Fiona Coyne. Of course, Eli wasn't aware of Adam's feminine past. The only ones who knew Gracie were his family, and even their hardly suppressed thoughts and feelings about it were enough for Adam to handle. He couldn't imagine his life if the entire school knew the man behind the frumpy flannels. Adam closed his eyes, remembering life at his old school.
"Take it, you pussy."
Within the boys' bathroom of the Ontario high school, Adam Torres was bleeding upon the floor, as a group of boys unrelentingly kicked him in the stomach. Upon each blow, Adam coughed out salted blood, wheezing for the oxygen currently being beaten from him. The tile his cheek was pressed again was cold and tormenting; blue linoleum ridiculing his weakness.
"You call yourself a man?" one of the bullies taunted, pulling Adam's limp body from the ground, and throwing him to the wall, as two others pinned each of Adam's arms down, so that he couldn't struggle or make an escape.
He ripped Adam's shirt open, exposing his bonded breasts, as the group of bullies laughed. He suddenly produced a knife from his pocket, severing Adam's gauze and dignity that protected him. But with his womanhood revealed for all spectators to see, his protection was diminished.
"You're such a pretty girl," he whispered in Adam's ear, pressing his body against Adam's. Adam turned his head away from the bully, causing him to chuckle menacingly. The bully began stroking Adam's breasts, as he trembled violently underneath him. The bully kissed Adam on the mouth harshly, pushing his head into the wall further. Adam could only taste tobacco, as a roar of sinister laughter erupted around him, before the bully pulled off of him and then throwing him to the ground again. The bully then proceeded to climb on top of the weak boy, as he carved a large F-R-E-A-K onto Adam's chest with his pocket knife.
The bullies had then gotten bored of their abuse, and left Adam to shudder on the floor, laying half-naked with his body and emotions. The battered boy curled within himself and began to cry softly, wishing they had beaten him so bad that he would have died.
Suddenly, the first class bell rang, cutting through Adam's memory. He quickly closed his locker and went to his class, sitting next to Dave Turner.
"Adam, my man, how's it hangin'?" Dave asked upon Adam's arrival.
"Um good, good. Eli wants us to interview him and Fiona for their play," Adam responded, distractedly, for he was busy focusing on Katie Matlin, who was a few seats in front of him, as she giggled with Marisol Lewis.
Dave then turned to where Adam was looking, as a knowing smile crept to his face.
"You have a thing for Katie, don't you?" Dave asked loudly, as Adam punched him, hoping Katie didn't hear. Fortunately, she didn't even turn.
"Shut up, Dave," Adam scolded, pretending to be engrossed in a textbook, to avoid Dave's interrogation.
"You totally do!" Dave exclaimed in a whisper.
"So what? She wouldn't go for me anyway."
"Why not? You're a good dude."
"Yeah, well, Drew likes her."
"Drew likes anything that can breathe."
"It just wouldn't work."
"I'm gonna set you two up. On the radio show. We have to interview her for the fashion show."
"She needs an entourage thing for it. It's like a boy-girl thing."
"Can't you just drop this?"
"I will when you guys are together."
"You're going to thank me for it later."
Adam just groaned, thumping his head on the desk, because he knew there was no use changing Dave Turner's mind. Especially when it was about girls. Adam couldn't even imagine how terrible this radio show would go, with Dave blatantly playing match-maker on an unsuspecting Katie, as Adam merely cowarding behind his microphone. But then again, what if things went well? What if she didn't mind Adam as much as he assumed she did? She was always pleasant to him when they did talk, and all Adam had to do was be himself, and maybe that was enough to get her to like him.
But what if being himself is what pushes her away?