I think we all remember where we were when the wave hit us. At least, I definitely do. I was in the kitchen, halfway through making my lunch. In fact, I think I was halfway through walking from the fridge back to the bench, where my half-made sandwich still sat.
I couldn’t have told you what the wave actually was. I don’t think anyone knew. The only thing we had to go off of was what people were saying, about when it hit them, and what happened. I don’t even know if it made the news. Not that any news outlets would have believed such a story.
I can only guess that there was a reason the wave chose the people it ended up hitting. At least in my case, I think it was because… I had a secret. Something that I wanted to tell people, that I wished I could have shown off to the world.
Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best way to say it. Still, though, it was something I had to keep to myself, as much as I wished I didn’t have to. The thing is… though I was born a boy, I was meant to be a girl. Deep down, I knew I was meant to be like that, and my body didn’t match who I was inside.
It might not have been that interesting of a secret. I knew I wasn’t alone, at least. There were plenty of people like me, out there. Those who were categorised one way when they were born, but were actually another way. Maybe this was why the wave hit us.
Regardless, it did hit us, and when it did, it felt like an earthquake of shivering – it was a very strange sensation, looking back on it. I had just gotten back to the bench, with tupperware containers in each hand. The moment I placed them down, my whole body started quivering. It was good that I hadn’t yet picked up my knife, because I don’t think I’d have been able to hold on to it!
As quickly as the shaking started, it disappeared, leaving me staggering backwards as I tried to regain my balance. At that point, I honestly thought that the ground had been shaking. I considered pulling my phone out, to see if an earthquake had hit, but I was still halfway through making my lunch. It could wait until after, right?
I didn’t realise that anything had changed at first. One… aspect of my secret was that I wasn’t particularly comfortable with my own body, so I often moved in a way that meant I didn’t have to look at it. Since I shaved my arms, as well (though no one else in my family realised this), nothing that I could see actually seemed any different.
That was, until my hair started to fall in front of my face. For a lot of people like me, haircuts were the bane of our existence, things to dread and panic about. And for most of my life, I couldn’t escape them either. It had only been recently, after I had finished high school, that I actually managed to try and grow my hair out.
Because of that, it wasn’t particularly long yet, stopping at just above my shoulders. I knew some girls had shorter hair than I did even at that point, but long hair still felt important to me. Even at this length, having it, and feeling it sway about when I moved my head – it was comforting, somehow.
That was why I initially didn’t think much of it when my hair fell in front of my face. That would happen sometimes, it would slip out if I moved my head too fast, and I’d have to tuck it back behind my ears to put it out of the way. This time however, something seemed just a little bit off.
I reached up to brush it aside as I usually did, but it just fell back down again in front of my eyes. A hairpin of some kind might have been useful but, well, it wasn’t as if I could ask for one. And if I picked one out online, I’d end up with a hairclip so cutesy and feminine that I wouldn’t be able to wear it anywhere. Not unless I made a lot of other changes, at least.
In my frustration at how my hair was constantly falling in front of my eyes, I started bundling it together, intending to stick it down the back of my shirt. It would have tickled a little to do that, but in a pinch, I thought it would work, until I could figure out a solution. However, as I started to clump it together, I slowly realised why things seemed odd.
Normally, my hair wouldn’t be long enough to do that. It didn’t reach my shoulders yet, which meant that it was barely long enough to tie back – well, tie back in such a way that made me feel good about myself. It wasn’t anywhere near long enough for a satisfying ponytail yet.
Now, however, my hair was many times longer. As I pulled it together, it dangled out of my hand in a bundle, almost reaching down to the bench. And it was… red. Well, a sort of reddish-orange kind of colour. And I wasn’t a redhead. As least, I wasn’t before.
That wasn’t the only thing, too. As I brushed my hair aside, away from my face, I happened to look down at myself. That was when I happened to notice something else that seemed, at least initially, very out of place. My chest was no longer flat.
At this point my lunch had been completely forgotten, the ingredients sitting untouched in front of me, as I very nervously lifted my hand, poking one of the… lumps that pushed my shirt forward. It was soft, and definitely attached to my body… and that was when the situation started to hit me.
These, at least as far as I could tell, were boobs. Like the ones that girls usually have. And as much as I was meant to be a girl, I still wasn’t… right? I didn’t tend to feel comfortable with my body, though I honestly couldn’t describe why other than that… it just felt wrong, somehow. Now, however, I felt none of that. Had I mysteriously turned into a girl?
Pulling my phone out of my pocket, I spun around to lean against the bench. Or, I tried to. As I did so, something on my lower body felt like it hit against the cupboards below the bench, and as I leant back, I felt a sharp jab at the base of my spine.
My empty hand shot behind me, reaching down towards what felt like a joint that tried to bend in a way that it couldn’t. That would turn out to be a far more accurate description of the feeling than I was expecting, but I didn’t quite realise it yet, as my fingers slowly began to touch very soft fur.
Why could I feel fur? I twisted around in the middle of the kitchen, trying to look at my back, when I started to feel a weird, swinging sensation, coming from a place I couldn’t figure out. Something on my lower body was moving from side to side, in the same place as where I had felt something hit the cupboard before. And I soon found out what it was.
Dangling from my lower back was a big, very fluffy, very red – the same colour as what my hair had changed to – furry tail. And it was slowly swishing back and forth. Not only had I mysteriously turned into a girl, at least as far as I could tell, but I had also suddenly sprouted… a big fluffy tail?
It looked like the kind of tail a fox would have, only on a much larger scale. What… happened to me? I unlocked my phone and quickly opened up one of the chat rooms I was in. Did this happen to anyone else, or was I the only one? What about my family? Questions swirled around inside my head, ones that I didn’t even know where to start looking for answers to.
“Did anyone else just get like crazy bad shivers just now? Or was that just me?” I sent, not expecting much of a response.
Maybe I was the only one this happened to. Maybe I was the only one lucky enough to have my body changed… to exactly how I wanted it. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, if I was the only one. But… soon after I sent that message, the replies started pouring in.
“Yeah, I got it too! It felt like someone zapped me with electricity or something.”
“Same. I was in the middle of class, too! I hope no one noticed me shaking.”
“Me too! I think I spooked my housemates.”
I let out a sigh of relief and slumped back against the bench, pulling my tail to the side so that I wouldn’t be leaning against it. I wasn’t the only one who felt it… the weird shivers that hit me.
“Wait, that happened to all of you, too?”
More messages began to roll in, faster than I could keep up with.
“Yeah, it did, just like a few minutes ago.”
“I’ve been talking to a few other trans people, and they all say that they felt it too.”
“Yep. It’s like an earthquake hit all of us or something.”
“Hey, did anyone else get any of the uhhh… other effects… from this?”
I wasn’t the only one who changed, either! What happened to everyone else? Did they… transform as well? I quickly typed up a message back, my heart racing. “I know I certainly did!”
“Wait, I wasn’t the only one whose body like… literally changed when it happened?”
Suddenly, the chat was awash with people’s stories, as they shared what happened to them.
“Yeah, my body just suddenly changed. I was in front of like three people when it happened, too!”
“Mine too! My shoulders aren’t anywhere near as big anymore, for one.”
“I just blinked, and suddenly I was way shorter!”
“My binder felt like it had so much less pressure, so I’m not sure I’m going to need it anymore!”
“Hey… did anyone else end up with a tail?”
I jolted upright as the last message appeared. Someone else had a tail, too! As I leaned forward, my hair slipped in front of my face again. Again with my hair! I really needed to find a hairpin… as I tried to move it out of the way, I felt a twitch from the top of my head. Something was… moving?
I nervously reached up towards the strange sensation, though by now I already had a guess as to what it was. I couldn’t tuck my hair behind my ears, and I had a fox tail… did I have fox ears too? I… my face began to heat up at the thought of that.
I mean, I had liked – or felt drawn to, I guess – characters like that in fiction. Ones who had animal ears and tails. It always looked like so much fun… I sometimes imagined myself as a girl, with the tail and ears of a fox. And now, I was actually a foxgirl. I turned my attention back towards my phone, trying to ignore the distracting feeling of my new ears twitching and the fuzzy happiness that was slowly building inside me.
“Yeah, I suddenly like… sprouted one, or something.”
“I have a long, sleek cat tail, and these absolutely adorable cat ears now!”
“I somehow ended up with floppy rabbit ears, which I love.”
“Speak for yourselves, I have wings now! They feel great, but I need to cut up all my clothes just to make them fit!”
“This is everything I’ve ever wanted. It feels like a dream, my body being like this.”
“Same. My progress had stalled, in my transition, but now it’s like all my daydreams have finally come true.”
“I feel comfortable being myself, I have a tail and ears… it’s amazing.”
A few tears formed in the corners of my eyes. They were right… it was like I had gotten everything that I had ever wanted. My secret, the way I truly felt that I was meant to be… the body I was meant to have… and I had ears and a tail, too! It was like all my fantasies had come true. I could finally be myself! I… my heart stopped for a moment as I heard footsteps approach the door to the kitchen. Wait, how was I supposed to explain it to my family?
“We should have enough for a few days still, but I’m planning on going shopping tomorrow. Can you think of anything to put on the list?” My mother’s voice floated through the closed door, as the distinctive click of the door handle echoed throughout the kitchen. “We need more bread, so that’s already there, and…”
Mum trailed off as she walked in, standing stock still and staring at me.
“...Who are you?”
“I…” I hesitated. After all this, all my dreams coming true… if I had to use my… my old name… just the idea of it made me recoil. Even before I realised who I was meant to be, I had hated that name. But… if I didn’t say it, how was I meant to tell her what happened? “Mum–I…”
She narrowed her eyes, slowly moving closer as she carefully inspected me, muttering all the while. My older sister Faye, on the other hand, had taken one look at me before a knowing smile jumped on to her face. She knew my secret, didn’t she… I think I had let it slip to her when I was younger.
“You’re wearing those clothes… and you look an awful lot like a younger version of Faye, and you called me Mum…” After an excruciating few moments, she relaxed, a slight smile on her face as she continued. “I did have a hunch that… this was the case, so to speak. But I never thought this would be how I’d find out.”
“Y-you knew?” I squeaked. She knew?! Since when? I couldn’t see myself, but I was pretty sure I was blushing very hard.
“I didn’t know for sure, but I definitely suspected it,” she said, looking wistfully at the ceiling. “Just because of some of the things you said as a kid, the toys you wanted… and there was the way you looked around when we went shopping. When we passed clothes shops, you’d often stare at them, looking like you were so envious.”
I curled inward out of embarrassment as she spoke, reaching for my tail and hugging it without thinking. It was so soft… and felt so nice to hold… I buried my face in it, trying to hide how red I was.
“I suppose we’ll have to make a shopping trip for clothes, then.” Mum glanced up and down at my body, trying to peer around the tail I was currently hiding behind. “Your old ones are too big–the comfy shirts will still be fine for wearing around the house. I mean, half of my home clothes are guys shirts anyway… but you’re definitely going to need new clothes that you can wear out and about.”
"And they gotta be cute clothes, too!" Faye interjected, rushing next to me. “I mean, have you seen what you look like now? You're so cute!”
“N-no, I haven’t,” I squeaked, nervously lowering my tail. I knew I was a girl now… and had these ears and tail, but what did I look like? Unease began to creep in. What if I still looked the same? What if only my body had changed, and my face was still the same… stubbly mess that it was before? What if…
“C’mon–” My sister suddenly grabbed my hand, pulling me out of the kitchen and down the corridor– “you haven’t got a mirror in your room, do you? Come and look in mine.”
It would be okay, right? Both my sister and my mother were fine with… how I looked now, but a little niggle of doubt continued to gnaw away in the back of my mind. What if I still looked… like my old self? Or what if it wasn’t permanent, and I suddenly woke up one day to find that everything had been undone? Or that it was all a dream? What if… The worries continued to pile up inside my head, as my sister pulled me through her open bedroom door, and up in front of her mirror.
“There, see?” she said, her arms on my shoulders as she stood next to me. “You are cute!”
Taking a few deep breaths to try to calm my racing heart, I braced myself, and looked in the mirror.
“I…” A girl I had never seen before was staring back in the reflection of the mirror. As I tilted my head to the side, so too did she. “This is… me?”
“Yep!” Faye beamed, looking over my shoulder at the mirror. She was a little bit taller than me now – had I gotten shorter? And looking between her face and my… new one, the family resemblance was strong. We definitely looked like sisters.
It took me a few moments to start recognising pieces of myself in the girl reflected in the mirror. Her eyes were wide as we made eye contact – only for the briefest of moments before we both looked away, embarrassed. In that moment we shared that look, I noticed that her light brown irises were the same brown shade as my own, though they seemed more vibrant and alive than they ever had for me.
Her hair was a striking red colour, a far cry from my previous brown. It caught the light from the nearby window, almost glowing as it draped along her shoulders. Near the top of her head were two large, fluffy, triangular ears. Using the mirror as a guide, I reached up, trying to move my ears around with my hands so that I could get a better look at them.
The fur on the back was the same red colour as the hair, though it faded to black towards the tips. Inside the ears was a bundle of cream, almost-white-coloured fur, and at the ends was a short tuft of black fur, which waved back and forth as the ears twitched.
As I ran my fingers along the fur, the situation slowly started to sink in. This was real, wasn’t it? I really was a girl now, with almost no trace of my old… masculine self left, that I could see in the reflection, anyway. These ears… really were my ears now, and I could feel my fingers running along them. And this tail, that dangled down behind me…
I looped my hand around it, bringing it in front of me. The reddish-gold fur that draped along it matched the colour of my hair, save for the white tip at the end of it. As I held it, I could feel my hands sinking further and further into the fluff, and I wrapped my arms around it, hugging it tightly again. It felt so soft… and warm, too.
“Actually,” Faye chimed in, her eyes roving along my tail, “come to think of it, we might have to modify whatever clothes you end up getting, just to make room for this giant thing.”
“That shouldn’t be too hard, actually,” my mum said, as she stood in the doorway. “Your current pants are… riding a little low, but I’ve got a few ideas of how to tweak clothes for it. I’ll teach you how to sew, as well, so you can change them yourself.”
“Um, th-thanks, Mum.” My voice sounded almost unfamiliar to me, clear and vibrant.
“How nice…” Faye pouted a little as she looked at my tail. “I want a tail too… it looks so soft and fluffy.”
“Let her have her big moment, okay?” My mum slowly walked into the room, standing next to the two of us in front of the mirror. “I’m sure she was really scared, telling us about something like this.”
The two of them wrapped their arms around me, and I felt my tail swish back and forth, brushing alongside their legs. This was real… I was a daughter… a younger sister… a few tears began to roll down my face. I wouldn’t have to deal with the discomfort anymore… I could just be myself.
“How about tomorrow we go shopping for some new clothes?” my mum asked, before raising her head up as if she had forgotten something. “Oh, but before that, there’s something important. What’s your name?”
“I-umm…” I stammered. I had agonised over a name for so long, in the past. Could I… finally throw away my old guy name? Would I finally be able to go by a name that felt like mine? I took a deep breath, as my heart pounded in my chest, and spoke.
“It’s… it’s E-Elise.”
“Elise…” my mum repeated the name… my name. “It sounds wonderful.”
“Cuuuuuuuute!” Faye exclaimed, hugging me tighter.
“Then, Elise, do you want to go shopping for clothes tomorrow?”
“Yes please!” I couldn’t stop myself from smiling as my mum repeated my name. Everything I had ever wanted, I had finally gotten. I was who I was meant to be.
“For now, though,” Faye started, hopping aside and looking towards the door. “I want to go find food, because it’s lunchtime.”
I jumped forward with a start. My lunch… I had just left it out on the bench! A loud gurgle emerged from my stomach, echoing slightly around my sister’s bedroom.
The two of them stared at me in silence for a moment, their eyes wide.
“Yes, how about we go and make lunch?” my mum asked, heading out into the corridor with a chuckle. “One of us is clearly in need of some food.”
I followed along behind her, my ears folding back and my tail curling between my legs out of embarrassment as my sister playfully rubbed my shoulders.
“It was a cute noise, though,” she said, patting my head as I pouted.
Even if it was, that didn’t make it any less embarrassing!
So… that’s where I was, when it happened. What about you? Where were you, when the wave hit?