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a gift, a curse, a sow's ear or a purse

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It’s like wearing a really thick glove.

Only you can still feel everything on the outside of the glove, and—

No, that’s not quite it.

It’s a little like wearing stilts sometimes. I tried that once, before, but I have a lot better balance now. It’s not really like that either, I guess.

It’s not like I’m still little-me just wearing bigger clothes. This is my body now, and it functions just fine. Great, actually. I still can’t believe it when I start running and my lungs don’t seize up. That’s kind of more what I mean: I keep expecting the wrong thing and being surprised—pleasantly surprised, but still—when something else happens.

Like, the first week after the procedure I would sometimes reach for things and knock them over because my hand got there before I expected it to. But that wore off pretty fast; it’s not like being a teenager and you’re growing too fast to keep up with yourself. I mean, it was a little like that at first, but I got over it quick. The serum enhanced my reflexes too, made me more agile, more coordinated. So it’s not like I have trouble using it or anything.

It’s like…

Okay, here. Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I—this is going to sound really weird, but I think this explains what I mean—sometimes when it’s dark and I’m a little sleepy but I’m not asleep yet I’ll lie really still and close my eyes and… And it’s like I’m little again. I’m still me, under all this muscle, nothing in here’s changed. I’m still Steve Rogers, the skinny little kid from Brooklyn, and when I close my eyes and don’t move, that’s what my mind thinks is still there. I know better, of course, and if I moved I wouldn’t—I mean, if I tried to touch my nose without looking, I’d be able to do it. It’s not like I’m not used to this body. But…

Well, there you go. I don’t refer to it like it’s mine, it’s—it’s not mine, not really. This mass of muscle, these—do you see these! I’m practically a B cup, I didn’t know men could be that—that big right there. Sorry. I shouldn’t have grabbed them like that. But they feel like... objects, not…

I’m sorry. Yes, of course. No, the last counselor told me about body dysphoria, and I read a lot about it. But I don’t really think most of that stuff applies to me. This really isn’t the body I was meant to have. I’m not saying I’m not grateful for it, and for what it means I can do for my country. I’m glad Dr. Erskine trusted me enough to have it, and I hope I’ve made him proud with what I’ve done with his gift. I just…

I know. Yes. I understand. Yes, ma’am.

Sorry. I just don’t agree. I—

You don’t—

I’m sorry. I don’t think this is working.

Yes, I know. I think I’ll be fine.

Thank you for listening. I’ll see myself out.