Note from Jerie: the story below is entirely fictional. However, three things described here did happen to me at some point in my senior year in high school, although in a different order.
I screamed and opened my eyes. I was breathing hard. I tried to blink and, for a split second, I thought I might have become blind because there was nothing in my vision. But soon, I saw a glimpse of red light in my vision from somewhere distant. Calm down. Breathe. Calm down. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and opened them again. The silhouette of my room appeared. On my nightstand, an LCD screen displayed a dim, red text: 3: 47 AM.
Was it only a dream? But it felt so real. Anyway, I shouldn’t think about it right now. I have to take my math test at eight this morning. Then, I forced myself back to sleep.
The next morning, my alarm went off at 7:30. I jumped out of my bed, changed to my school uniform, and rushed into the bathroom. The red eyes of my reflection in the mirror reminded me of the horrible dream last night. But somehow...I have a weird feeling of wanting it to happen in real life.
Ok, stop thinking about the dream, stupid g… you idiot. Think about math. What’s the arc length formula? L equals to the integral of… shit...of the squre root of dx over dt squared plus dy over dt squared dt. Now what’s the slope of a tangent line of the circle? Dy over dx equals to...
In a delirium, I hopped onto my bike and rode to the school. Before realizing what happened, I have handed in my exam. I don’t need to wait until the teacher to hand it back to know that I screwed up. Because of my disturbing dream, I couldn’t really focus and eventually left the last two free-response questions blank.
No, I wasn’t disturbed because I was abducted and tortured by two strangers. You don’t feel pain in a dream anyway. I was disturbed because, when my abductors chopped off my penis as an attempt to humiliate me, I felt a weird sense of relief that it’s finally gone as if I never want it. But why? A thought quickly materialized in my mind but I quickly shoved it away as being too improbable and nerve-wracking.
At the end of my math class the next Monday, when the dream and the test were completely behind me, I heard Mr. White calling my name just as I was about to leave the classroom. Oh, shit. The math test. I walked toward the teacher, preparing my self for the incoming scolding.
“Jason, it seems like you are having a rough time lately. What’s going on?” Mr. White asked warmly.
“I...No, nothing. I’m fine. Why? Did I do anything wrong?” I was caught off guard by the question.
“You know, I’m worried about you. You usually ask good questions every class, but you never said anything in class this week. And this...” Mr. White took out a bundle from the thick stack of paper on his desk. “As you know, you’ve been performing really well in this class so far. You never got a single problem wrong in all the assessments you have taken this semester, and the only point you got taken off was because you forgot to write your name on the test. But this time...well, see for yourself.” Frowning, he flipped over my test. My heart skipped a beat.
The big, red number 46.5 stunk my eyes. Holding my breath, I flipped through the test and was appalled by the number of mistakes I made. And, of course, the questions I left blank that were worth 30% of the test.
“I called your parents asking if you’ve been doing alright at home,” Mr. White continued. Seeing the sudden change in my facial expression, he added, “ Don’t worry. I didn’t mention anything about this test. I told them you were having an A+ in the class right now. Anyway...apparently you had a nightmare the night before you took the test and they heard you screaming at night.”
“No I…” I opened my mouth, trying to defend myself.
Mr. White interrupted me, “it’s fine. You don’t have to explain. Life can be hard sometimes. Considering everything that’s going on and your usual performance in this class, I will drop this one from your grade book. But if this happens again on your next test, which will be in two weeks, I’ll have to record it. Now go.”
“Oh god really? Than–”
“Yes, and save your thank you to when...if you get an A+ for your semester grade.” He interrupted me again, waved at me seemingly impatiently, and turned his back on me.
Naturally, I’m not going to give up on this opportunity. I decided to do some extra math practice every day. One night, after completing twenty extra integration problems, my brain was barely working. I changed into pajamas and jumped onto my bed in a semi-unconscious state. Right before I was about to fall asleep, a thought suddenly materialized in my mind: if my inner spirit has a gender, she must be a girl.
As a materialist, I never liked dualism, let alone believing in the existence of the inner spirit. In fact, I have once written an extended blog post discussing the absurdity of dualism because of its contradictions to the scientific method, which is the best way to interpret the world humans have seen. So far as we know, everything is the work of the complex network of neurons and chemicals in our brains. But that night, I was too tired to think about any of those before I fell completely asleep. Leaving only that thought echoing in my dream.
Somehow, a slept really well that night. I dreamed I was flying like a bird with the entire planet beneath me. I could reach any corner of the world with just a single thought. I might have screamed again at night, but this time was because of the joy of freedom.
As I was brushing my teeth the next morning, rejuvenated, I looked into the mirror. In place of my reflection, I somehow saw a girl brushing her teeth. Everything suddenly dawned on me. Everything, all my thoughts and dreams happened in the past week all made sense.
If my inner spirit has a gender, she must be a girl. No. There’s no such thing as the inner spirit. I am my inner spirit.
I must be a girl.
During commencement, I stood in front of the podium, ready to deliver my speech. I was graduating from my high school as the first student with a perfect GPA and was asked to give a short speech during the ceremony to my class about some secrets for my excellence.
“Good morning everyone. I’m Katie. Some of you asked for the secrets for my academic achievement. I can’t give you those, because there I only have one secret. That is, follow your heart. When I realized that I was actually a transgender girl...”