The bed is really just a thin folding mat laid over the concrete and draped with a blanket. It isn’t anything like comfortable, but then right now comfort doesn’t much matter. Sure, you wake up aching everywhere and cold, but at least you wake up alone.
Of course, there’s always the spiders and rats, but they don’t really count- there’s a mutual reapect going on between y’all and you get along just fine. Still, you check the blankets every night, just to be safe.
It isn’t really a room, so much as a tiny partition of Geo’s garage that you’d been renting as an outside art studio. You’ve been living here since you and your fiance broke up, typically trading house cleaning services for rent. It’s the definition of not-much, but it’s home, for now.
Normally you pack up the bed but today you make it nice and leave it out, then text your friend and ask him what his ETA is.
The encounter is making you anxious. Back when you’d been living with your ex, there had been a number of times that you and Skylar had wanted to rendezvous- in particular, he’d always had a strong kink for people with kinks, and he was a top, and it seemed like pairing up with him could be pretty amaze-balls for the both of you.
The problem is that, now, there’s no kink. Not anymore. It shattered about two months agp and left in it’s place a gaping, horrible void. You’d spent your whole life dreaming of defeating the compulsion to regress (or of finding someone to completely validate it), but now that’s it’s gone you desperately want it back. Nothing has any intensity any more. And there’s nothing at all that seems to turn you on. Women never have, it’s just that being with guys doesn’t actually feel like it’s legal or something. And you’re already masculine enough for fifty men. Whatever.
And so you’ve been turning to drugs more and more. Adderall, Vicodin, Kratom, Valium, Weed- anything you can find with a few hard limits. You’re being a bit more reckless than usual, but the sensation of trying to edge around yourself just to find the motivation to exist at all is one of the most horrible feelings you’ve ever felt. It’s as though your identity has just... Died. You can’t recall a single period of your life that didn’t feel like some kind of internal or external torture, but at least then the pain of it was distracting. Now it’s just gone. Trying ti figure out what to do every day feels like creeping along the edge of a massive, bottomless crater. But at least while you’re high you can try to find some kind of solace in regression. It doesn’t actually work, it doesn’t feel good or comforting or fun. It’s no longer necessary. It’s just that the ritual of it at least helps distract from the emptiness. At least while you’re high, anyway.
You’ve been painting, too, working on something called “Focus”, which is this massive four-foot-high oil, but you can’t actually *focus* on it. You just force yourself. Life has become drab, and while you don’t actually want the compulsion back, you want something, anything.
Skylar arrives, full of mustachioed short-person gusto and there’s some friendly chit-chat before you get started. You doubt it’s going to work, but you get out kink stuff anyway and things begin. It’s ten or fifteen minutes of the same stuff that always happens in the beginning of sex, only now your cheat is gone. And truthfully, you’re just becoming frustrated and bored and want it to be over. You get up and sit on a ratty chair with a dirty steel frame.
“I don’t think this is going to work, Sky”, you say, feeling despondent. “I’m broken.” Sky looks at you, sighs, looks away. You look down, feeling ashamed at how inadequate, how totally sexually inert you are and always have been.
“Waaaait.” He says. You look up and he’s staring at you, his face slathered in mischief. It goes well with his mustache. Curiosity sparks in you. “You want to try something?” He asks.
“What?” Curiosity flares.
“You have to trust me. Have a blindfold?” He asks, standing and checking around the room. There’s no blindfold, so you hand him a shirt. Hopefully this isn’t going hurt too bad. “Okay,” he commands, “sit here and lie back like this.” You can’t see what he’s doing, but you let him guide you into it.
Vaguely, you wonder if you’ll have to do anything top-like to make up for this.
There’s a moment, an interminable spacial distortion of anxiety and excitement combined with a basic kind of boredom. And then he begins.
He starts on your thigh, gently, running his hands up the side of your leg, over your hips, and lightly kisses you on the stomach. You’d expected painful, but this is sweet, and gentle, and loving and utterly unexpected. And what’s more, your body responds.
You’re upright before you realize what you’re doing, ripping off the blindfold, eyes bulging.
“WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?!?”
Skylar smirks at you and lets the question hang for a while before answering simply: “Touching you as if you were female.”
“You weren’t responding to being touched like a guy so I was curious to see if you’d respond to...”
You don’t hear the rest of what he says. It’s jumped into full-bore panic mode inside your skull, and there’s no more room for outside input. Memories boil to the surface and pop back into blackness.
“Oh, that’s odd,” says the old guru, “your second chakra is pushed up and to the side, like a woman’s.”
“No! I’m not like her! No! I can’t be! I won’t be!”
“Im not trans, I’m just what you’d get if a girl wished she were a boy and then got that wish and sometimes kinda missed being a girl but is mostly okay with it.”
“Hey, you little faggot, what do you think you’re doing in a class like this?” The group of boys slam you against the lockers and hold you against them by your collar. “This is for men, not dirty little faggots like you.”
“I’m not trans. I’m not trans. I’M NOT TRANS!!!”
And on and on. Skylar has stopped talking and is staring at you. You can’t handle it. You try to make small talk, but your emotions are roiling. As nicely as possible for how you’re feeling, you kick him out.
When he’s gone you grab a stuffed animal and cuddle up and try to process.
What if being trans is a biological thing? What if it’s not been all in your head? What if it’s not a choice and never has been? Are you going to hell? Hell doesn’t exist, but what if it does?
You’ve always known you’re not wired the way every other male seems to be, but now you know that there is something you are wired like. And you really, really don’t want to have to face it.
You go over the same justifications that you always do. Transition means loss. Your family will probably reject you en-masse, and what would it solve anyway? Nothing much- except... maybe if you look like a female people will touch you in that way again. Maybe they’ll touch you in a way that feels right. Maybe they’d stop treating you like a guy, maybe the way you think and your talents would make sense? But that’s a lousy reason. And anyway, it’s impossible. You’re twenty-seven. Too masculine. Too ugly. Too tall.
As the weeks pass, you realize you can no longer find any reason to convince yourself you’re not trans. You are, you’ve always been, and beneath the justifications and lying to yourself you’ve always known it. It just hurts to think about so you don’t. Or try not to. Maybe you’re different than most guys, but that’s good, right? And you don’t hate your dick. You just don’t much care for using it. So you can’t transition. And you won’t. Most of all you can’t be so selfish! You can’t do this to your mother!
That works pretty well for about six more months, and then the illness begins.