There was a cloud of smoke wafting over the heads of the audience. Unseen by the masses was another cloud billowing around the house, a cloud of shame and angst. But only he knew of its existence. Only he knew that between male and female lay a darkness that no one should have to suffer. He had suffered in the past, but he would suffer no longer. With the transformations came peace and a sense of righteousness. Bringing the gift of womanhood to the gender-confused washed him of his sins and the guilt that was so deeply rooted in his childhood.
The familiar pain hit him like a bolt of lightning to the eye. The pain of remembering. He often had flashes of his youth, accompanied by a chain reaction of headaches that traversed the landscape of his entire skull, before he approached a patient. Each memory struck him through the heart and threatened to stop its thumping. He held his hands to his head. Everything and everyone around him drizzled into darkness and was replaced by a memory.
His fourth birthday. Cakes and clowns and children. His mother had yet to bring the birthday boy out to make his big entrance. It was always a spectacle for the adults, but now the child was of an age that he could begin to appreciate the attention and affection. But this year, the attention would most certainly be unwanted. This year, the mother would finally have the little girl she had always wanted. She brought the birthday boy out to his cake and presents clad in the prettiest pink ruffled dress, patent Mary Janes, and lace bonnet. All of the children screamed at the prospect of getting cake, and all of the adults looked on in embarrassment.
The memory flashed to the mother and father, vehemently arguing about the incident. Father, face blood-red with anger, swings his arm in contempt and strikes the mother. Mother falls to the floor. Father turns and leaves. Mother remains on the floor. Child cries. No one hears. No one comes to the naked child’s rescue. The child cries, tears falling on the naked boy’s belly.
Without warning, the memories stopped. The pain, however, remained for a curtain call and received a standing ovation from the roaring crowd in his head.
The glass in his hand had shattered from his grip during the fugue. There was blood pooling on the table in front of him. He knew that sight all too well, and would know it again and again until the pain and suffering ebbed away.
A waiter swooped by and noticed the accident. “Oh my, God! Oh my God! Here, take my towel. I did…I mean…I know a doctor. Really handsome, très rich, and well en…well…you can imagine! Oh silly me, thinking with my…I mean…He’s here. You want me to get him for you?”
“What I would like is for you to leave me a glass of water and go away.” The voice was obviously straining for composure. The waiter had no idea how lucky he was that the victim had already been chosen.
“One water.” The boyish imp set the bottle down and held out his hand. “One dollar.” The tab was silently paid. “One less waiter.” And he hurried away just in time for the lights and sound to begin.
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