Eventually, Jack got up. It felt unusual to walk around in this body, it was lighter and there were no unwanted layers of fat. But also, it felt better. No, no, no, this isn’t right. I’ve. Been. Through. This.
When he stepped outside of the back room, Tabitha was nowhere to be seen, and the only other door in the room was locked tight. It seemed the only thing he could do was leave the ancient house, and head into the public. Looking like this. It scared him, it scared him a lot, but he had to do it.
As he took the first steps outside, the early afternoon sun was shining down. Thankfully, there was not a single person in sight. He hurried on what he assumed was the fastest route home, left to his thoughts. He kept calling himself a liar, a fake, and he honestly hated it. The one time he was happy and–
“Jack? Is that you?” He looked forward, and saw a familiar top hat and suit. Jeanine ran towards him, excitedly grabbing his hands. “Jack, you trickster! I should’ve known that you lied to me when you said you had no time! Claiming to have done nothing only to pull off such a great outfit…” she pouted at him, but it quickly turned into a chuckle. So that’s how she saw it? Did he still look that similar?
“Umm, I, well… there were still some parts that needed some time, so I… couldn’t get it done by, well, the morning, I’m sorry for lying to you.” What was he saying. Idiot. Don’t dig this hole any deeper. Stop lying to people.
He didn’t know what he expected, but it certainly wasn’t Jeanine looking this surprised. “Oh my god! Your voice! How… did you do that? Okay, but for real, please tell me, I’ve got a friend and she would be delighted if you told her what you did! It just sounds really good!” Jack blushed.
Why was he blushing? Idiot. This wasn’t a compliment. He didn’t work for this. He didn’t do any training. He didn’t deserve this. Here he was, accepting praise for something that he hasn’t done. He was despicable. Awful.
Thankfully, Jeanine thought otherwise. “Awww, you’re so cute when you blush. I gotta say, I left early because I was tired of whatever nonsense it was the guys were doing, but you… You look legit. You look real, you know?”
He gave her a smile, but he knew he shouldn’t. He looked real? What a joke. He was fake, perhaps the fakest of all.
Should he just fake being trans now? Sure seemed like he’d be good for that role. What an idiot. Was he even listening to himself. He could never be as strong as his friends, with what they’ve been through. They needed so many things, and yet he just got for himself what they have wished for their whole lives.
Was it the wishing well? What an asshole he was, using that wish all for himself. He could’ve done something for them, or for the entire community of trans people. Get them immediate access to HRT or something like that. Eradicate all TERFs. Not… whatever this was.
“Ummm, hey, Jack, are you okay? You look freaked out.” Yeah, because he was. Before he could give her a reply to calm her down, he was stopped by her warm embrace. Although Jeanine was still a head smaller – his height didn’t seem to have changed much – it truly felt comfortable. There were still people around, but Jack didn’t care. He thought one would have to be small to feel that way, but something about this just felt good. It felt right. It just finally felt real. He might be a fake, but if he can fake being happy for just this moment, he’s damn well going to take that opportunity.
After a good 30 seconds of their hug, still standing in the middle of the street, Jeanine let him go. He felt good, relaxed even. Probably the best he had felt all day. “Oh, I’m sorry, you were probably on your way to campus, right? The thing’s still going on, I just left early because I was not a fan of what the guys were doing.”
Her also disliking the dudes’ act made him feel a little better about his earlier feelings. Jeanine gave him a sly smile. “But if you’re going there, I might as well join you. I wouldn’t wanna miss how the people will react! You look great, for real.”
This made Jack freeze. Should he go? Jeanine seemed to readily believe it was just a costume. Maybe he could even show the guys how to present properly without making a mockery out of it. He tried to ignore the thoughts telling him that he was not much more than a mockery himself. He could really do without another panic attack. “Umm, yeah, sure. Let’s go.”
Jack was already pretty close to his home when he ran into Jeanine, so the walk took quite some time. All the while, she asked him a lot of questions about his costume. He didn’t actually know where the clothes came from, so the excuse he came up with was that friends picked them out for him. It was still a lie, but he really couldn’t just tell her that a magic wishing well granted them to him. She’d think he was crazy.
“But, you know, not to be rude, but what did you do with your figure? Are you just pressing it all together under there? That’s really not healthy.”
Ah, dangit. He really needed a way to explain that, but he blanked. “Well, you see, I… I lost a lot of weight in the months before but I didn’t change up my wardrobe so you probably couldn’t really tell. I’m fine right now, I swear.” Another lie, but this seems like the one least likely to worry Jeanine.
She seemed lost in thought for a moment. “I’m really sorry for not noticing earlier! It’s great that you’ve been doing that, I really should have noticed earlier. I’m sorry!”
No no no. Don’t apologize. He’s done nothing of that sort. He didn’t change up his diet, he didn’t do any exercise, he didn’t deserve to have this figure. He should still be fat and unappealing and a guy he shouldn’t be praised he should be scolded for just taking the credit he should clear things up.
But he didn’t. All he did was give her a slight smile. “Well, haha, thanks for noticing now.”
He should’ve just gone home. This wasn’t right. He didn’t deserve any of this. He was just a fake and the worst part was, everyone seemed to think this was real. That he worked hard for this, that he reached this outcome by himself.
He was truly a terrible person.
As they reached campus, it took Jack most of his willpower to not freeze in place outside of the crowd, like he has done when he first came here this morning. But with Jeanine by his side, he couldn’t just abandon her. She approached her friend group, all people he has seen throughout the semesters. He never talked to them, so he didn’t know their names, though.
Jeanine introduced him to the others. “Hey, check out what Jack did for this event! Doesn’t he look great?”
A girl wearing a hoodie and plain jeans looked at him, investigating every inch of his being. Oh no oh no oh no please don’t look! Is she gonna expose him?
“Woah, I’m impressed! You could easily pass for a girl. That must’ve taken a lot of effort on your part.” He sighed. He was still not really used to his new voice, and even if his sighs didn’t sound as miserable now, they still counted. Eight.
“Haha, well, I mean, I got a few friends to help me out. I really don’t deserve that much credit…” The fact that he got help wasn’t a lie, at least, though he wouldn’t quite consider Tabitha a friend. He definitely did not want any credit for this, though.
The whole group, as well as a few people that were close by, looked at him with a surprised look on their faces. Jack was confused. The hoodie girl was the first to speak up. “Your voice… it’s great! How did you do that?”
“I know, right, Anna? I already asked him to explain how he did that to a friend of mine,” Jeanine added.
The girl called Anna seems to have taken an interest in him. She was further eyeing him from all directions. He tried not to let his discomfort show. “Did you get, like, actual breast forms or something? Most of the guys just seemed to have put water balloons there or something.”
“Well, excuse me, some of us have, like, stuff to take care of.” Jack turned around and saw the hot pants guy of all people, justifying himself in that stereotypical stupid girl voice. It seems his friends found that voice hilarious, though. They burst out into laughter immediately after.
Thankfully, the guy quickly turned his attention back to his group when he saw two of them trying to outdo each other’s girl voices. The rest of them slowly joined in, and the result was everything but pleasant to Jack’s ears.
The rest of the day was not much different. A lot of people gave Jack praise he didn’t deserve, and he was on the verge of another panic attack multiple times. Thankfully, someone else always wanted to talk to him about his costume whenever that was about to happen, momentarily distracting him.
He felt comfortable on his way to campus with Jeanine, it just felt natural. But now, people were dissecting every part of his appearance, asking him question he had to lie his way out of and just making him feel like he was being just as much of a mockery as everyone else.
And they were right, he was. That’s what his wish was for. He wanted to be with the others, to fit in. So why did that feel so wrong now?
As the day came to a close, one of the guys in an elaborate dress grabbed a megaphone to announce the winners. Jack didn’t even know that this was a thing, he thought this was just a day to have fun.
The winner of the women’s side was another girl he didn’t really recognize. She may have talked to him at some point during the day? Either way, she actually looked somewhat convincing. She seemed to be wearing a men’s suit and the fake mustache actually looked pretty real at first glance. She definitely put a lot of effort into this.
As he was thinking about that, the announcer continued. “And as for the best-looking ‘girl,’” he gave the crowd a wink, “I think we all know who really deserved this award. It’s clear he put a ton of effort into everything about his appearance. Please give some applause to… Jack!”