Stolen Wallpaper

Words but a whisper, deafness a shout

My Photo
Location: Zeeland, Michigan, United States

Hi. I wish I had a job selling squirrels. They're so furry, and give you toothy grins. Unless they're rabid, in which case they will eat your face off and then find the rest of your family. That's not so good, I guess.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I Could Never Be Your Woman

She was the first truly hot girl who'd ever shown interest in him, and damn near the last. They met at a book discussion for incoming freshmen that he was leading during the first week of school as part of the honors program; he was a sophomore, at the handsomest point of his life, and she was incoming. She wore no bra, because of a bad sunburn. The book was Richard Wright's Native Son; they were both white people from white towns, though they fancied that they were recovering nicely from that. She hung back afterwards, to keep arguing. He was trying not to stare at her tan lines. They went to his room. Single, one of only two at the end of a long hall. There was sex: the best of his life, only his second ever, though she had a long and troubled history there already. There was the pounding of a metal dorm bed against a thin wall, heard only by the occupant of the other single room, who unfortunately was the dorm president who promptly announced the ongoing carnal action over the building PA, effectively ending it in a cloud of mortification.

Somehow he managed to hang onto her as a friend, though she never really touched him again. They hung out, studied; she was smarter than he, though neither pointed this out lest he get spooked, since his supposed intelligence was the tiny piton driven into the cliffside anchoring his only remaining connection to the outside world. She settled into a relationship with a man, six years older and ugly as a barn cat, while he watched appalled and envious. But they still did things together: movies, concerts, trumped up college social "events," often with her friend and roommate or his crew of wacky Lutherans. When he flamed out of college, she was the first one he told the truth to. When she was raped, she called him, scared and furious, to take her first to the hospital and then to the police. (The fat frat bastard went away for a good long while.) As she worked toward her honors degree and he went back home tail between legs, they kept up phone calls, then e mails, then Christmas cards, eventually tailing off into silence when he was unable to keep up his end. The one that got away, who was never even corralled for more than a few minutes, who more than anyone made him think of getting out of bed just to be worthy of his hazed memory of her.

Now, he dreamed.

They were driving back from Toledo in his car after a night at the dollar movie theater, laughing and throwing popcorn, him and her and the roommate. The radio played Beck at full blast, as he sang, "I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me?" Okay. Time speedsupzoooooomSLAM the car goes into an embankment while he was watching her laughing at him, not looking where he was going AAAHAAAAH then time stops, the air swallows all sound as the bones break but there is no pain for some odd reason, then it snaps back with an almost audible TWANG and then the pain arrives and it's wearing brass knuckles. He suddenly realized he was dead. He was looking at the two girls from somewhere over his own shoulder, now missing its arm. But his brain, the only part of him worth a damn, was still working, processing his thoughts, pushing time forward like an ant with a grape. She was alive: her chest rising, her heart beating, her skin still pink with circulating juices. But there was a piece of rebar sticking into her brain and out the other side.

So the doctors had themselves an opportunity. The Medical College Of Ohio was looking for something to put them on the map, and here it was a quarter mile away, scraped off the freeway: a chance to pull off the first transgender brain transplant. He saw them trim him away from his body, lift him from the cradle of his skull, dripping wetly, and place him inside her, hotwiring the links together. Male and female plugs indeed. He was now the girl he loved. Did this make him a better person than he'd been? Or was it a reminder of his shortcomings every time he looked in the mirror? A man can become a pretty girl, but he cannot become a better man unless he puts in the work. Friends, his and hers, visited, but didn't linger; he could see the fear and disgust in their eyes. Their parents had no clue how to go on with their lives: whose child was this? You can save a life, but is the life ever worth the effort as the years ooze by? He held his head in his bizarrely tiny hands and sobbed.

He woke up. Cheeks damp, clothing free in front of three fans set on high in a tin-can trailer, slightly left of the middle of nowhere. He couldn't help feeling that if that dream had been reality, he still would've had a better life than the one he'd had.