A Real Girl
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When I woke I was immediately struck by how cold everything felt. I immediately began shivering as I sat up, and opened my eyes to try and take in my surroundings.

Unfortunately it seemed my glasses were missing, and I could barely see a foot in front of me. All I could really tell was that I was in what felt like a hospital gown and alone in a metal room. I knew something else was different about me, but without vision I wasn’t about to get my hopes up in regards to the spell’s effectiveness. 

I tried getting off of the metal counter or bed I was sleeping on, but the moment I touched the ground I collapsed with a yelp. My voice sounded hoarse, and for a terrifying moment I wondered if testosterone had affected it in my sleep. I forced myself not to think about that, or think about why I was so afraid when I wasn’t even sure I wasn’t a boy. Knowing my yell would attract attention I laid in silence on the somehow even colder floor, waiting for a nurse or doctor to come in and help me up.

A few minutes passed before I realized nobody heard me, and suddenly the panic was back. Where was everybody? Where was I that nobody heard me yelp? Where was my mom, why wasn’t she here? She never would have left me alone. Did anyone know I was here? How long was I unconscious? 

My jumbled thoughts became more and more terrified with each passing second, and within half a minute I was barely keeping myself from hyperventilating. Was I supposed to be dead? Did they think I was? 

That thought finally helped snap me out of it, and I forced myself to think through the panic. Nobody knew I was awake, obviously, but why? I wasn’t dead, I’d be in a coffin or cremated. No, but there was something my mum talked about when she left work, I just couldn’t remember what they were called. They were rooms comatose patients were kept, where their bodies weren’t supposed to age. They were meant for families who didn’t want to pull the plug, but didn’t know if their loved ones would ever wake. 

Okay, good logical thinking. Obviously I must have been in one of these rooms. They had to be monitored, but I obviously got unlucky and my monitor was on break or something. Good. Good. The obvious solution to this issue was to leave the room and get their attention, but how? I couldn’t walk, and screaming wasn’t helpful. I could barely see the floor in front of me, let alone an alarm to sound. My only real option was to crawl until I found a door.

So, pushing down how uncomfortably cold and humiliating it felt, I began to crawl. I pulled myself by my arms as far as I could, taking breaks every few pulls because they were barely in better shape than my legs.

It took time, an agonizing amount of it, but finally I reached a part of wall that moved as I pushed it. I used what was left of my energy to shout for help through the small crack in the door I was barely keeping open, and breathed a sigh of relief as I heard an adult woman shout a series of super surprised swears. I closed my eyes as I heard her footsteps approaching, the urge to rest suddenly growing unbelievably powerful.

*****

I woke to what sounded like a heart monitor and hushed conversation. I couldn’t pick out the words spoken, but I relaxed as I recognized one of the voices. I didn’t open my eyes, there was no point, but I did visibly stir on my much warmer bed. Why couldn’t I have woken to this the first time? It would’ve been so much nicer.

It was a few minutes before my mom’s conversation died, and within seconds of it ending I felt a warm hand brush a strand of hair behind my ear. As soon as I knew she was close I lunged at her with all of my limited strength to pull her into a feeble hug. I cried as I felt my mom’s arms wrap around me, and heard her calming hum. “It’s okay, sweetheart, it’s okay. You’re safe now.” Sooner than I wanted our embrace ended, and I felt her hands gently move my head to face what I assumed was hers. “I’m guessing you can barely see now, huh? Let’s fix that real quick.” 

I opened my eyes the moment I felt the familiar presence of my glasses returning to my face, and was met with my mom’s eyes. Instead of the beauty I expected, the looked bloodshot and barely held open. Her face didn’t look much better, and I felt a deep guilt riding from my gut. I had to know how long I made everyone wait. “How long was I..?” I couldn’t finish my question as my guilt brought out a new wave of tears. I tried finishing my question, but all that came out was unintelligible sobbing.

I heard my mom softly hushing me as she worked her hand through my hair. “It’s okay, baby girl. You’re safe. That’s what matters. It’s only been a month, and I don’t want you to feel any guilt for that. None of this is your fault, I promise.” I barely had time to comprehend what she called me before I learned how long I was gone. A month? Thank the Goddess it wasn’t longer, but I couldn’t stop myself from collapsing into a tear filled mess again. How could I have left them for so long? How much were they worrying about me? All because I couldn’t make my stupid mind up over something so simple.

Eventually, with my mom soothing me, I found myself calming down. I still felt close to tears, but I was no longer shaking or sobbing to the point of being unable to speak. Once I was at something akin to emotionally under control I decided to finally look at myself as best I could. It only took a moment to realize that the spell definitely worked. I hadn’t seen my face yet, but it wasn’t hard to figure out that I was now physically a girl. I almost relaxed at that, it might feel nice to not have to work so hard to be a boy for a week. Or for however long I decided to stick with this.

Probably just a week, of course. 

I looked around for a mirror for a moment, but it seemed there weren’t any in my room. I let out a disappointed huff and gave up, having no desire to try walking to the bathroom. I imagined walking in my current state would end the same way it did earlier, only this time with people to watch. 

It seemed my mom must have clued in to something about my actions, and gave me a look over before realization hit her face. “Oh gosh! You haven’t seen yourself yet, have you? No, no you haven’t. You didn’t have your glasses when you woke in that fucking freezer. Don’t worry, I’ll be right back.” She said goodbye with a kiss on my forehead and headed out of the room without another word, leaving me alone again.

Thankfully it wasn’t long before she returned to the room with a small mirror clutched in her hand. “Thought you might want this, borrowed it from one of the nurses. Go on, take a look-see at the beautiful girl you are.” She beamed as she passed the mirror off to me, her exhaustion replaced by what must have been excitement. It felt a little contagious, as my own excitement was building as I looked at the girl I’d become. 

The first emotion I felt upon looking at my new face was painful familiarity. She looked like me, the me I for so long denied that I wished I could be. The slight curl in my barely-longer hair, the tiniest change in facial structure, the lack of small black hairs sprouting from my chin, it was all a dream come true. I may not have changed extraordinarily much, but I felt an increasingly agonizing level of joy the longer I stared at myself.

I couldn’t deny it any more. I wanted to, I was sure I’d have to by the end of my promised week, but for now I could say it.

“I’m a girl.” I uttered, barely above a whisper. Tears of joy at the realization of who I was merged with tears for the me in a week, the girl who promised herself she wasn’t actually a girl. The girl who had to go back to being a boy, because she wasn’t actually a girl like her sister. 

But if I wasn’t a girl, why did the idea of going back sound like dying?

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