A year went by and I slowly got the hang of being a girl.
Who am I kidding? I still had no idea what I was doing. But at least I got the basics down. I could change my pads all by myself, I found my right bra size, and I got braids put in so I didn’t have to worry about mowing that lawn on top of my head every day. But I was still figuring out how to shave without cutting myself and how to keep myself from wanting to kill someone whenever those cramps hit every month. But Jina was having a blast, climbing up the popularity chart on the football team. And she was the reason I was still waiting on the school bench at 5:25.
“‘Practice won’t be long.’ she said. ‘I’ll be right out.’ she said.” I scoffed then looked up at the stars starting to come out. I was tired of waiting. I wanted to go home.
So I shot her a text, letting her know that I was going home, then went off. It was a twenty-minute walk usually, but with these chubby legs, I was probably gonna make it in forty.
By the time I was a couple blocks from school, the Sun was completely down and the moon was out. There weren’t that many people out now, but when I looked over my shoulder I noticed a guy was behind me. He wasn’t too far away so I could see his face and I recognized him—he was the school janitor. He probably lived around here.
I turned the corner and kept walking and halfway down the block I noticed the janitor was still behind me. Hmmmm. I turned another corner and he followed me again. A third corner and he was still behind me. Okay, this guy was officially following me. And now he was within earshot.
“Ey shawty,” he called behind me. “Lemme get a piece of that booty.”
“Ey bro,” I said, turning to him. “I’m a crossover. That’s gay.”
The janitor shook his head as he came closer and looked me up and down. “I don’t care. How ‘bout you cross that behind over here?”
“Ill. No thanks.” I turned and kept walking.
But he kept walking too and kept talking. “C’mon, baby girl. Lemme get a piece of that.”
“I said no,” I shouted without slowing down. “Leave me alone.”
“But you look so fine, baby girl. I been watchin’ you.”
I spun around and got in his face. “Bro, you need to stop. Please.”
“So you got some hot sauce on you, eh?” he laughed. “I like that.”
“Then you gonna like this!” I swung my fist at his face, hoping to bust his lips wide open. But he caught my wrist, grabbed me by the neck, then pinned up against the telephone pole.
Everything in me froze. This man was bigger than me. He was taller than me. He was stronger than me. And there was nothing I could do. But somewhere deep inside my body an instinct kicked in and I screamed. The sound echoed through the streets, but the guy smacked me across the face and cut it off. I dropped to the ground and the next thing I knew, he was climbing on top of me and covering my mouth with one hand.
“Just let it happen, baby girl.”
And all I could do was lay there and stare up into his wild eyes. Nothing in my body was working anymore. I couldn’t lift my arms to hit him. I couldn’t lift my legs to kick him off. It was like all the power in my body got shut down in a blackout of fear.
“Hey!” someone shouted.
We both turned and saw Jina running out of the shadows straight towards us.
“Get off my brother!”
The guy stood up and laughed as Jina came. “What you gonna do, little man?”
Jina screamed and threw himself onto him, but the guy caught him in mid air, socked him some good punches in the stomach, then threw him back to the ground.
I watched as Jina lay there, coughing up blood and holding her stomach.
The guy laughed then turned and came back to me. “Where were we?”
And the instincts kicked back in again. For a brief second, I was alive again and I screamed again—as loud and as long as I could. He threw himself onto me and smacked me across the face again.
“Yo, whatchu doin’?!”
Suddenly a group of guys were running out of a house nearby and screaming at the janitor. He jumped off me and ran off and the guys chased him down. One of them stayed behind and bent down to help me up.
“You okay?” he asked me.
I wasn’t. And I couldn’t speak. I didn’t want this before. But now I really wanted out. I looked over at Jina still coughing on her back. She had been right. Being a girl wasn’t fun. It wasn’t fun at all.