Date: - Words: 4665
Content Warning: suicide, transphobia
I stood on the edge of the cliff, eyes closed and arms spread, the rain soaking my clothes and the cold wind cutting at my flesh. I was tired, so tired, all the time. Tired of suffering, tired of people, tired of life. I just wanted to sleep, forever.
And so I jumped. "This is the end," I thought. I fell, rapidly gaining speed as I covered more ground, until I hit the underlying rocks, splattering. There was pain at first, and then everything was black.
But it wasn't the end. I woke up, aching all over, the next day. The sun was high in the sky and seagulls were circling overhead.
I shakily sat up, cracked my neck, and looked around. There was a lot of dried blood on my ripped clothes, and on the nearby rocks, but I wasn't wounded.
Like a robot I stood up and started walking, but after a few steps it hit me. I was still alive. I should've been dead, but I was still alive. Something, somebody, robbed me of my rest. I was so furious I was actually shaking.
It didn't last long before I collapsed in a crying, blubbering mess on the gritty sand of the shore. I was still alive, and I hated every minute of it.
Some say that, when jumping to your death, your last thoughts are about how you can't stop it anymore. That you repent in the last instants of your fall. It wasn't like that for me. I was looking forward the darkness, to the very end, but something brought me back.
Some would be thankful for such a second chance. I wasn't thankful in the least. I looked at the ocean and considered trying to drown myself into it, but my determination faltered. What was the point? I couldn't escape this.
I laid on the sand for what felt like hours, staring at the blue sky but not seeing it. I think I fell asleep at one point, because the sky was turning red and the sun was nowhere to be seen.
I laboriously got up, my body still sore. I ignored it with practiced ease and started walking up the road to the cliff. My parents wouldn't be too worried about me, but the few friends I still had would probably be.
I walked slowly, taking my time. Night fell, again, as I made my way back home, dodging the lights of the few cars that barreled down the road. I couldn't be seen like this - covered in blood, wearing ripped clothes - or there would be problems. I couldn't tell people it was my blood - who would believe me?
I lost my clock in the fall, and I left my phone home, but I think it was three in the morning when I got back home. Well. "Home" - it's no home for me. Just a place where I live.
But it seems I have no choice now. I looked under the vase on the porch - that's where my mother keeps her backup key. I unlocked the door and slipped inside, hoping not to find anybody awake.
It was not my lucky day. My father, it seems, was waiting for me. He woke up as soon as I switched the lights on, and stood, shaking with barely suppressed fury.
"Where have you been?" he asked me through gritted teeth.
"Out." I struggled to answer. I hate talking. I hate my voice.
"Out where?" he asked again, a vein pulsing in his forehead. "Whose blood is that?"
"Why do you even care?" I snapped out. I already knew how this would end.
It took him a second to cover the ground between us. He slapped me, hard, and I fell to the floor holding my cheek. It hurt everytime, more than it should - I was still hoping he would understand, that he would hug me again like he used to do when I was ten. Before this nightmare started.
"We looked for you everywhere! You wouldn't answer your phone, your mother was worried sick! We were about to call the police!"
I was silent, prodding my teeth with my tongue. There was blood in my mouth, but luckily they were not moving.
"Why can't you just man up and stop being... a sissy?"
"I'm not a man," I spat out, blood staining the carpet.
"Yes, you are! God make you a man, and He doesn't make mistakes."
"You can take your god and shove it wher-" But he was faster, and slapped me again. Like the last three times we had this "discussion".
You would think a doctor would be more understanding about this. You'd be wrong. The thing that really gets to me is that he loves me, in this weird, twisted way.
But I couldn't take it anymore.
I stood up and, without looking at him, started walking towards my room. My mother was in the corridor, crying.
I got inside, swiftly changed my clothes and started packing my things. Phone, charger, some money I had stashed away, my clothes, my documents. I threw them haphazardly in my bag, zipped it and slung it over my shoulder.
My father was at the door, still shouting at me. "Are you going to run away? Don't ever come back if you do it, do you hear me? Don't bother to come back!"
I stepped around him, ignoring him as his shouting followed me down the road.
I didn't turn back. Going away was painful, but after attempting suicide to escape my situation I couldn't stay there a day more.
After getting away from my old home I wandered the city, aimless, for hours. There I was, a 17-years old transgender girl who still looked very much like a man, with only two hundred dollars to her name, no work experience and no titles whatsoever.
Morning came, and the people started to come out of their houses. I was exhausted and hungry, and thus I ducked into a cafè. I stood there, still shivering as I ordered breakfast, parting with a little of my money. I sat down and dug into it - I was ravenous - polishing my plate in little time.
I needed to find a way to earn more money. I needed to find somewhere to sleep, I needed to find a way to get on hormones. I needed a lot of things, and I had almost no resources.
But one thing at a time. I enjoyed my breakfast thoroughly before connecting my charger and turning on my phone. Sure enough, there were a dozen missed calls - from my parents, from my friends. A few SMS, someone tried to get ahold of me on Telegram.
I answered them as best as I could - I was fine, I just had to get away from people for a bit, I just needed some space. I was always a good liar.
I sighed, and leaned in the chair as I looked around. I wasn't too out of place, and I relaxed a bit as I idly browsed the web on the cafe's wifi.
I had to live. As hard as it was, I couldn't escape it. And so I planned - made outlines, and lists, and brainstormed, and asked questions on the net. I found a place to stay for a few days thanks to an LGBT support network, but I still needed to find work.
"Excuse me, may I sit here?"
I snapped my eyes up from my phone and looked at the owner of the voice. She was a young woman in her twenties, brunette, beautiful. That old mixture of envy and attraction made itself heard, and a little voice in my head piped up. "You'll never look like her. You'll never look as you should."
I resolutely ignored it, and managed to stammer out my agreement.
She put down her cup and sat down, looking at me. I looked away and tried to busy myself with my phone. She took a sip of her latte and, still looking at me, casually said: "I saw you cross over."
"It's my gift and my curse, I'm afraid. I saw you die yesterday night."
"You-you are crazy!" I said, backing away from her and starting to gather my things.
"Sadly, not." she sighed. "Don't be afraid! I just want to help you."
"Help me? What do you know about me?"
"Quite a bit, Natalie."
I was gaping by then. Did she guess at my name? She couldn't possibly know it, no-one ever knew me as anything other than Nathan.
"H-how do you k-know that?"
"I saw your soul - I barely scratched the surface, but... I know enough."
"And what do you want to do about it?"
"Do? I simply want to help you. You... you fascinate me." she said, tilting her head to look at me.
"And what would be the price?"
"Not a trustful girl, are you? To be honest, I'm quite alone right now, and some help in my research wouldn't come amiss."
I almost smiled at that. She was the first person to acknowledge me for what I am, but then snapped my attention back to her.
"Yup! If you agree to come with me I'll tell you more. And I know you'll just die of curiosity otherwise."
I looked at my phone - 54%, and paid for the next month. I thought about what she was saying - or rather, not saying - but I needed her, and she knew that.
"Ok," I said, finally. "I'll bite."
"Then, if you are finished with that," she said, pointing at my breakfast tray, "let's go for a walk."
We walked in silence for a while, until I couldn't stand my curiosity any longer. "You never told me who you are," I said.
"You may call me Rose. And I'm simply a woman who knows things."
"What kind of things?"
"Oh, the real shape of the universe, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, the colour of magic... It's sort-of bluish, by the way."
"You are not making any sense!"
"I'm a witch, Natalie. Just like you now."
"I'm not good at this, but I'll give it a try. Ahem," she cleared her throat and began talking. "Magic is real. Spirits are real. Most people don't know about us, and we like to keep it that way. There are not many of us around, and most are holed in another universes or things like that. And you are a witch now. You awakened. You got the gift."
"Gift? What gift? The inability to die? It's a fucking curse, that's what it is!"
"Language, Natalie," chided her.
"Oh, please," I drawled.
"In any case, I'm a witch. And you are one, too. And if you'll just wait a bit I'll prove it to you."
I snorted, but kept my mouth shut and followed her down the road and to a rather new-looking building.
She entered, motioning at me to follow her, and so I did. She walked up the stairs and unlocked a door. "Please, come in," she said, walking inside.
I followed her, looking around. It didn't look in the least like the house of a witch - or, for that matter, a crazy woman. It was very neat, with tasteful furniture and thick carpets covering the floor. A dog came out of a room to greet us, jumping on her and licking her face. "Down, boy," she said, laughing.
I almost smiled at the scene, and then backed away slowly as the dog came in my direction. I do like dogs, but from afar. She noticed this, whistling and patting her leg to call the dog back to her side.
"Thank you," I said. "It's not that I hate dogs, but..."
"Don't worry about it. Now, where were we?" she said, tapping her chin and looking pensive. "Oh, right, I need to show off!" she smiled widely at this, and unlocked another door, still scratching the dog behind his ears.
She got in and I peered inside. Bookshelves absolutely loaded with old-looking books and weird jars covered the walls, and an heavy work table stood in the middle of the room, a chemical laboratory worth of glassware on it.
She walked to a bookshelf and pulled a book from it, then another, putting the first book back. She browsed through it, nodded once and then snapped it closed. "Right," she said. "I know what to do."
She twirled on a foot and, arms spread wide, bowed. "Madames and monsieurs, take a seat! I'll show you wonders the like of that you never saw before!"
She picked up a jar from another bookshelf and opened it, pulling a frog out of it and placing it on the table. The frog made to jump but she grabbed it again, dangling it by a leg.
"Why do you have a-" I began.
"Shush now, dear."
She took a scalpel from the table and, with a swift movement, she decapitated the frog. I gasped and retched as the smell of blood filled the room, and, eyes wide, I asked: "Why did you do that?!"
She only smiled and started chanting, fingers dancing on the still-twitching body. "Rise," she said to it, and the body stood on his four legs. "Jump," and the body jumped forwards, once.
I stared in horrified fascination as she made the headless body make a circuit around the room, still dripping blood from its neck as it hopped from place to place. After a few minutes of this she turned to look at me, still smiling widely, and asked: "Uh? How's that for a performance?"
"How? Why?" I asked, looking from her to the zombie frog and back at her again.
"As I said, magic. Even if it's frowned upon I do dabble a bit in necromancy. But shush, don't tell anybody." she said, her smile turning impish. "And why what?" she tilted her head.
"Why did you have to kill that frog!"
"You are up in arms about a frog?" she tilted her head back and laughed.
I crossed my arms on my chest and just looked at her. "Yes!"
"You are so so hardened and yet so soft..." she said, almost in wonder, then trailed off. "Please, forgive me, but I'm not good with overt magic, and I couldn't think of anything else."
"Just... don't do it again."
"How do you know I'm a witch too?"
"Well. You came back from the dead."
I looked down. "And this makes me a witch?"
"This makes you one of the most gifted people I ever laid my eyes on, yes."
"So... what now?"
"Now we'll find you a way to go back to school, of course. And you'll probably want to get the ball rolling on your transition. You can stay here, by the way."
"Why are you doing this? You barely know me." I asked, suspicious.
"I saw your soul, remember? I know a lot about you. But mostly..." she looked away at this. "Mostly it was because some years ago I found myself in the same situation as you. Alone. Without a family anymore. And I try to help."
"Ah, don't worry!" she said, perking up again. "Why don't I show you where you'll sleep?"
I was busy messing around with my phone while waiting for my friends to show up at the cafè. I had skipped school today - I probably couldn't go back there anymore. Maybe it was for the best - my coming-out last year wasn't well-received, at all, but there were some people I cared about.
"Nat," said someone, sitting down at my table. "Hello."
It was Hannah. She looked at me up and down as John and Samantha took a seat at the table. I smiled and greeted them, and silence fell. I kept on fiddling nervously with my phone, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and after a few minutes Hannah sighed and began talking.
"What happened, Nat? Where were you?"
"I... I ran away for a while. I couldn't stand the situation anymore."
Technically true, and I couldn't tell them I killed myself and then pulled a Jesus, but I still hated lying to them.
"Then I went back home, grabbed my things, and left."
"You ran away?" gasped her, John shaking his head. "Where are you going to live now?"
"Yeah, I couldn't stay home anymore. And I was lucky, I found a person that helped me."
"A random person off the road offered to help you? You know, that sounds very, very sketchy."
"It's not! I mean, I don't think it is. She runs a small shelter for LGBT people, and she's nice. Offered to help me."
"Still..." she trailed off. "I'd feel better if I knew this person."
"You could look her up on the 'net, she's called Rose Webster."
"I think I heard of her," said Samantha, looking pensive. "Her shelter is not too far away from my home, people were all hyped-up when it opened."
"That's good, I suppose." said Hannah, looking dubious.
"I'll keep always in contact with you." I assured her, and she relaxed a bit.
"Just... don't put yourself in danger. Please."
"Would I do that?" I asked, mock-offended.
"Yes," they replied drily. "You would." continued Hannah. "You did. You have a death wish, Nat."
I laughed a bit at that. If only they knew.
"Well, it's good seeing that you are safe, Nat. Will you come back to school now?"
"I... I don't think so. It's not really safe to me there, not anymore."
"So are you just going to drop out? Are you going to flee?" she asked, bitingly.
"I don't want to! But Kim and his friends... they'd make my life a living hell. And who would help me?" I said, gritting my teeth.
"We would! We could!"
"I don't want you to!"
"Why not, Nat?"
I just looked down at that. "I don't deserve it," I mumbled.
"What was that?"
"I don't deserve it. There."
"Yes, you do. We already talked about it. Let us make our choices, won't you?"
"But your parents..."
"I can handle them just fine, thank you."
I dropped my head in my hands. "What would I do without you?"
"Oh, I wouldn't know. Probably something very silly." she said airily.
I got out of the bus and walked the short stretch to my school, getting there just as the bell rang. There were still some people outside milling about, but they were too trickling inside.
I pushed the doors open and entered the building. I went down the corridor until I reached the door to my class and opened it. Most of my classmates were already inside, but the teacher was nowhere to be seen.
I sat down, preparing to ignore the jeering and jesting that usually started when my very own squad of "admirers" saw me, but it never came. In fact the whole class seemed somewhat subdued - and some people looked like they were crying.
Having my own problems to deal with I resolved to ignore them and pulled out my notes to review what we learned so far. After a few minutes Mrs Brown entered the room, looking unusually somber, and began her lesson.
Time slowed down to a crawl as we tackled calculus and integrals, and after only an hour I was ready to doze off. Thankfully for some reason Mrs Brown decided to take a pause, murmuring something about "giving us some time".
I stood up from the chair and stretched, turning towards one of my neighbours to ask what was up with the class.
"You don't know? Jack died." he replied.
I shook my head in answer, and he continued. "He went out camping two days ago, and they found him dead yesterday. He must have had some condition."
Jack was one of my torturers. A bully through and thorough, since I was outed at school he loved to make my life hell - he was the one who drove me to suicide in the end. I fantasized more than once about killing him, but I never really wanted him dead. Only very far away from me.
Still, I couldn't bring myself to be sad about his passing. I wasn't happy about it in the least, but the sadness just wasn't there. I just nodded and sat back, browsing through my notes and trying to make some sense of them.
The rest of the day passed without anything noteworthy happening, and as the bell rang again I stood and tried to make my way towards the exit, when somebody bumped into me.
I looked up, and lo and behold - what remained of the trio was back in action.
"Say sorry, queer."
"Fuck you, Ethan. Get out of my way."
"That's no way to talk to your betters, freak. Even if Jack is not with us anymore, don't you dare forget it." he said, pushing me slightly.
"I said. Get. Out. Of. My. Way."
I was clenching my fists, ready to punch him. Two against one wasn't good odds, but way better than my old three against one. Luckily I didn't need to, as Mr. Jones passed by, greeting us.
I sidestepped the two and walked behind Mr. Jones, making small talk until we got to the exit. I ducked into the crowd milling outside and made my way to the bus stop, where I sat down and waited.
My schoolwork done for the day I padded to the living room, plopping myself down on the sofa, browsing reddit on my phone. My need for cat pics sated I switched the TV on and, almost dozing off, started watching some kind of Spanish soap opera.
I jumped up a bit as I heard the door click closed, and poked my head outside to greet Rose. She smiled at me in response, put the umbrella in the stand and doffed her coat, before walking to lab.
"On a second thought..." she said, peering at me from the door. "Why don't we start your training?"
I shook my head to wake up fully and thought about it. On one hand I was tired, true, but on the other hand... performing magic? Real magic? This wasn't something I could pass on.
"I'm game." I replied.
"Wonderful!" she said, clapping her hands. "Let's go, then!"
I stood up, stretched and followed her to the laboratory, a spring in my step. Rose started to pull books out of the bookshelves as soon as we entered the room, proceeding then to dump them in my arms.
"Uh... what do I need to do with these?" I asked, trying to squash the growing suspicion.
"Read them, of course! You need to learn some of the theory before you can start doing anything that's not related to your gift without hurting yourself."
"Of course I need to." I sighed. I knew it. "Where do I start from?"
"This booklet here will do fine." she said, pointing at Magicks: a brief introduction by some Samuel J. Hess.
I sat down crosslegged on the floor and pulled Magicks out of the pile, starting to read it while Rose chanted something under her breath.
Every aspiring mage should know the nature of his craft, what little is known. It's no simple conjuring or illusion, but the universe itself bends to the will of the mage, focused through his gift.
Family and heritage play a big part in it, but there is a random factor that is still not understood. Mostly, gifts are different - sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly - for everyone.
I kept on reading as the author longwindedly introduced what little was known of magic, with a lot of cautionary tales and anecdotes that made the book anything but a brief introduction.
After the fiftieth page he finally started to get to the meat of the question - how it should be performed. Which apparently involved a lot of meditation or the mage being in extreme danger, and I really couldn't say that any one of the two things really appealed to me.
I said as much to Rose, who chided me for interrupting her and went back to her work, ignoring me completely.
Well, in for a penny, in for a pound - I wiggled around until I was more comfortable, closed my eyes and tried to empty my mind. Tried being the keyword, as thoughts raced through my mind all the while, unstoppable.
After ten minutes of trying and as many attempts I opened my eyes and swore. It wasn't working, I had no idea how to make it work and Rose was busy with... whatever she was doing - something that involved silver and a bunsen burner, I realized, peering up at her.
I got up and, without bothering to pick up the books, left the laboratory to go out for a walk.
I strolled down the rapidly darkening road, keeping myself to the lighted areas as I walked towards the city park. Maybe the silence there would help me with meditation, but mostly I wanted to stretch my legs a bit.
There was no doubt my situation had improved, at least a little bit, since Rose took me in. She never hit or swore at me, and, when she was free - which, between her work at the shelter and her magic happened very rarely - she was always ready to listen.
But I couldn't get a handle on my magic, and when we talked to a doctor she knew he made it clear I could only start my transition with parental consent. Which wasn't forthcoming.
Even if puberty didn't hit me too hard, I still had a beard, broad shoulders, and that thing down there - which led to many a crying jag under the shower. I was still changing, albeit slowly, and not for the better.
Of course this left me with another road to pursue, one I didn't like in the slightest. If the doctor was amenable to, at least, check that I wasn't hurting my health I could start to self-med. At least to stop the changes, at least to give me some peace of mind.
Shaking my head at the absurdity of the world I crossed the road when a car that was idling at the semaphore suddenly shot forwards. I tried to jump out of the way, but I was too slow by far.
The car slammed into me and I fell to the ground to be crushed by its wheels.
Once again, pain wracked my body and darkness enveloped me.
Once again, I opened my eyes to find out that the pain was no more.
But my scenery had changed. Darkness enveloped me, the only light coming from the mouth of the alley I was lying in, and the smell of trash from the nearby dumpster made me wrinkle my nose in disgust.
As I stood up I noticed someone stole my shoes. And as I patted my pockets I realized that someone took my wallet and phone, too.
I walked to the mouth of the alley, looking down to avoid stepping on the needles that were littering the ground, and looked around. The streets were empty, but at least I recognized the area behind the park.
I trudged back home, my feet hurting all the way, until I was at the door. I knocked, and after a few minutes a bleary-eyes Rose answered. "I saw you die again!" she exclaimed as soon as she saw me, her eyes widening.
"Yeah, a car hit me. And then someone dragged me into an alley, stole my shoes, my wallet and my phone." Something about that broke me, and I started crying. Rose quickly grabbed me in an hug, patting me on the shoulder as she guided me inside.