“Nial. We talked about what feelings you may have. I asked you to think about that, so can you tell me anything today?” Dr Gray uncrossed his legs and was leaning forward a little. I copied his pose, shuffling to the edge of the seat so I could plant my feet on the floor.
“Um, yeah. Och, I think about girls.” I wanted him to blush. He didn’t.
“That’s normal. At your age. What else? How do you feel when things go …dark?”
“Er, och, ah” I stuttered because I’d thought about this but I couldn’t say it. Not aloud. Not to him. Boys of my age thought about girls, the books made it clear. That’s what he should focus on. He should say it’s hormonal, pubescent, tell my parents it’s a phase. That’s what supposed to happen.
In the car I can tell my Mother is not happy. The doctor will have told her what happened and that there was no progress. I am starting to think of a plan. I will phase out the ‘incidents’ – that will make them all happy. If I am careful, I can hide it. They already think they know everything – they don’t.
In my room I check that my things are still hidden behind the drawers in the tallboy. They are. I flick through both books, not reading any pages just feeling their weight in my hands. I practice with my marbles then go back to get the feather. I gasp as I hold it, feeling a tremor run up my arm. It is dark but not completely black – there is a purple tint. I place it gently on the floor and stare at it.
I pick the red book up and open it. I will use whatever I find next. I read carefully and nod – adolescent personality formations – perfect! I use the feather as a bookmark and replace my things and the drawers.
During the night I feel a scratch against my palm, a twinge. I get them sometimes, worse – cramps up my legs. Mother says they are ‘growing pains’ and everyone gets them at my age. But I know mine are different. I can almost hear the bones stretching, cracking – changing. I climb out of bed. I am supposed to ring the bell on my bedside table, I am supposed to let them know.
I strip and stand naked. It is late summer so my window would normally be open but since all this began my parents locked it. It wasn’t a worry to me though I tried to look sad about it. I learn quick. My mind works puzzles out fast, I have always been smart. It was easy to make my own ‘key’ from bits of wire. They didn’t fit a padlock because they still think of me as a child. The ‘key’ isn’t even hidden and I simply sweep it from my shelf of other things I have made (figures, origami shapes, carved wood). Carefully, quietly, I unlock the window and edge it upwards.
I place the key back onto the shelf and wait before the window. A pleasant breeze lifts and touches my skin. I can already smell grasses and other animals. My senses are sharp. An ache that is more of unwinding begins at my neck, down my spine, across my shoulders. There is pain and I wince but it is bearable, almost welcome. I close my eyes because I get too dizzy as my body twists.
I am changed, I am free.