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Just a boy...by: Joan Banks
Some of the names in this story have been changed...because you already know the ending.
"Please God, make me a girl." Jon prayed every night as far back as he could remember. It was always after his parents had tucked him into bed and quiet enough so they couldnt overhear. Every morning he would wake up unchanged, just a normal boy.
Jon was a good boy. Every morning he would get up and work on his parents farm. Kansas was a hard land, but it always paid back hard work in dividends. Dutifully, Jon would put do all of his assigned chores. Although he knew he was adopted at an early age, Jon never felt as if he werent their natural child.
Jon was a good son.
Each night he would make the same prayer.
"Please God, make me a girl."
With no result.
"You cant play with us." The girl sneered, "Youre a BOY." When the temperature outside became too cold for recess, the students stayed inside. First graders wouldnt be able to handle such drastic weather. Playtime had a tendency to divide the classroom. The boys drifted towards one side and the girls went to the other. Jon kept trying to break that rule and change sides but the rules of his world conspired against him.
Disheartened, Jon went back to the boys side of the room. "Sissy wants to play with the GIRLS." The boys taunted him. Not welcome in either place, Jon went to a neutral spot in the center of the room.
Women and girls fascinated Jon; with all his being he wanted to be one of them. In his sadness at being rejected, he focused inward. He became more reflective, deeper. His insightfulness added one more brick to the wall he was building between him and his contemporaries. Day after day, Jon went to his rejected spot in the middle of the room. Over time his rejection became a function of tradition - of habit. When the weather grew warm enough to allow outside recess again, Jon saw that he was not welcome to play with anyone. Out of routine more than anything else, he was outcast.
"Your teacher called today, Jon." Jons mother said. She was a little older than other mothers of children his age. Jons adoption came late in their life, almost a surprise it was like a gift from heaven. She worried about her son; he was never like other children. "Yesm?" Jon said. He knew it wouldnt be good news. It was never good news.
"She told me that you dont play with the other children." "Is that true?" Jons father asked. The disappointment in his eyes was apparent to Jon. He didnt see the worry.
"I want to!" Jon said hopefully. His father simply stared.
"They wont play with me."
"Did you do anything, Jon?" His mother asked. "Anything...different?" His mothers question shot through him like an arrow. She knew. He said nothing. Maybe she didnt tell Dad.
His parents shared a knowing look. Jons father slammed his fork to the table and stepped away, his back to them.
"I think you should go up to your room, Jon." His mother said gently.
Silently and worried, Jon went upstairs to his room. He spread out on his bed and listened. His parents didnt know they could hear them, but he always could.
It wasnt a good house for secrets.
"If they find out, well lose him." His father said. "Hell be an outcast. A freak."
"I know dear. Well just have to talk to him. Hes a smart boy, hell understand."
"Theres no reason for it." His father slammed a fist against a wall.
"No reason at all."
When he heard his mother walking up the stairs, Jon rushed over to his desk and opened his textbook. His mother knocked on the door and turned the knob.
"Can I come in?" she asked. Jon nodded. His mother sat on the foot of his bed and folded her hands in her lap. Jon turned his chair and faced her, silently.
For a moment she appraised the boy. He was a handsome child, strong, smart as a whip but still with the frail look that all seven year olds had. What could be wrong with him?
"Were worried Jon." She started, "Were worried about how youre doing in school-" "Im getting all As!" he protested. Jon knew it wasnt about grades. "About how you are getting on with the other kids." She said calmly.
"It seems to us that youve stopped trying to fit in." "They dont like me, Ma." Jon said. His lip quivered a bit. She saw the inevitable and drew him into a hug. When the torrent of tears started, there was no stopping them. She let them run their course. "Jon. Look at me Jon." She said finally, "All we want you to do is try. Make one friend. Play ball with the other boys. Can you do that for us? For me?"
The child sniffed and nodded.
"Ill try." He said. His mother stood and appraised him proudly.
"I know you will, honey. And son?"
"Next time read your text book right side up."
He shouldnt have done it. He knew that. But in many ways it made him feel closer to his mother. It felt closer to being like her. Under his school clothes he wore borrowed a pair of his mothers underwear - bright red panties that were much too large for him. On some level, it would help him to follow his mothers wishes. On a deeper level, it just felt right.
Jon approached recess that day as he would have approached a battle. He had his goals. His mother told him to start small. If he could make one friend or play one game, then everything would be all right. His parents would be happy.
He walked to the basketball court where a bunch of the older kids were trying to get the ball into an impossibly high net. Not one of them had the strength to get the ball high enough, but that didnt stop them from trying.
The first graders were always trying to play but the best they could ever hope for was to be a ball chaser. When the third graders missed the hoop, like they always did, a first grader would run and get the ball. Hopefully, the first grader would stop the ball before it went down the hill towards the school. If he missed then the whole group had to wait until the little kid climbed all the way back up with the ball. The first graders lined up next to the basket, ready to run after the ball. Jon simply got into line. Stan Johnson stood in front of him in line and sneered when Jon got in behind him. "Whatre you doing here, sissy? The girls are down the hill jumping rope."
Jon ignored him, but Stan had started the taunts so the rest of the boys were obligated to continue them. Jon wanted to lash out at them, to attack. But Jons father had taught him not to fight unless absolutely necessary. In general, Jon didnt want to fight; he wanted to be down there playing with the girls. But that was the way to further exclusion and pain. The line moved forward.
One after another, the first graders sprinted after the ball. Suddenly it was Stans turn. When the ball missed and started rolling towards the hill, Stan took a step back and stood slightly behind Jon. He watched the ball roll towards the hill. Jon looked at Stan. "Come on, Jon. Its your turn, you little sissy!" Stan took a step back and stood beside Jon.
"No its not!" Jon said. The other boys joined in and made fun of him for missing his turn. The ball was still rolling towards the hill. Burning with frustration, Jon started after the ball. Jon was five feet away from the ball when it rolled over the lip of the hill. There was a feigned cry of disappointment and laughter from the boys that went silent as Jon jumped at full speed down the hill. Jon did not fall down the hill as the boys expected. He caught up with the ball when it was nearly at the bottom of the hill. Proudly holding it in his arms he started to climb back up the hill. "Stop!" A girl screamed. Lori, a pretty red-haired girl in his class was pulling at her school bag with all of her might, and losing. Her red hair had made her an object of teasing too, but nowhere near the level of Jon. A third grade boy was dragging her by the bag towards some unknown destination. Occasionally he would flick her painfully on the head and order her to let go.
"Its mine!" she yelled through her tears. Stubbornly, she refused to give in.
Jon stood for a moment and watched. What could he do against a third grader? When the older boy slapped the girl he decided he didnt care. With all his might, he lobbed the ball back up the hill and ran towards the struggling girl.
"Leave her alone!" Jon said, his hands clenched into fists. Laughing, the third grader turned to him.
"Or what?" the older boy asked. He was holding Lori with one hand and his other hand in a fist.
"Just let her go." Jon said. He tried to sound forceful. The third grader kept laughing.
"Okay, Jon." He said, "But now you gotta fight me." He released Lori and she fell to the ground.
"If I have to." Jon said.
"This ought to be good." The bully sneered. "Ill even give you the first hit." He held his arms wide to let the younger boy take a shot. Jon decided on a bold approach, and ignored the older boy. He walked around him and helped Lori to her feet. No kid would ever hit another with his back turned, he thought.
He thought wrong.
Jon felt a weak punch on his jacket. He ignored it it didnt hurt. A few moments later, Lori screamed in pain as the bully jerked her back by her long red hair. Jon turned and punched the older boy in the side with all of his might. The boy dropped his grip on Lori. Jon grabbed her by the hand and ran. When they were near enough to the classroom to be protected by adults, they stopped.
Jon looked at the tired, beat up girl beside him. She looked up at him and smiled.
It wasnt such a bad day after all. He had made a friend. In the basketball court, the boys wondered how the ball had made it all the way up the hill.
"Um...come in." Jons mother said. A woman stood at the door holding a pie.
"We just wanted to thank your son for saving our little girl." The woman said. Lori walked in quietly behind her mother. Jons mother took the pie gratefully and set it on the table.
"I hate to be rude but...for what?"
"Can I talk to Jon?" Lori asked. Jons mother smiled. "Hes upstairs, second door on the right dear." A little confused, Jons mother invited Loris into the kitchen. Tentatively, Lori knocked on the door.
"Just a minute!" came the rushed voice. Lori heard the rustling of papers and the sound of a closet closing. "Uh, come in." "Jon?" she poked her head into the room. The right side of her face had several small, dark bruises.
"Lori?" Jon walked over from the closet to the door and opened it all the way. She smiled and gave him a shy kiss on the cheek. "If you tell anyone I did that..." she threatened.
"No, no. I wont tell."
Lori looked around the room. It was remarkably clean for a boys room.
Everything seemed to be residing in a proper place.
"Wanna play?" Jon asked eagerly. She nodded.
Downstairs the women sipped at coffee at the kitchen table. "That boy has been hurting my little girl for months." Loris mother said. "But I only heard about it today."
"Well, if your son hadnt stepped in today....well...I shudder when I think about it."
"My son?" Jons mother was truly surprised. Jon was supposed to make friends, not fight.
"Your wonderful son. Lori is quite taken with him now. He saved her from a boy that was TWO YEARS OLDER." "I dont condone violence."
"Neither do I. But sometimes there isnt an alternative. I hear they arent letting that boy back into school right away even after his ribs heal."
The women continued to talk while the two kids played happily upstairs.
As time went on, Jon grew up (as children often do). Each month he would grow more muscular and each night he would still make the same prayer.
"Please God, make me a girl." He watched his body grow more and more manly every day.
He hated it.
When the boys at school realized that the little sissy might be good at sports, they invited him to play. But whenever he took the time to play, he lost time with Lori, his friend. Lori was completely accepting of him, she didnt care if he did act a little prissy. They were just friends.
To avoid recruitment into the games, Jon developed a persona. He would slick back his hair and wear clothes that made him look smaller. Occasionally he would wear eyeglasses that he stole from a traveling theater group. He felt guilty when he stole them but he did leave twenty dollars in the box where he found them. When he put it all together he exemplified the picture of a wimpy geek. Jon took to wandering quite a bit. For a weekend here and a week there, he would disappear. His parents were not concerned about his safety as much; Jon could take care of himself. They were more worried about knowing where he was.
Despite the sporadic disappearances, Jon did well in school. He always showed up for a test, and even wrote for the school paper quite a bit. Jon found that his travels gave him a better perspective on things. Still, he dreamed of becoming a woman like his mother, or Lori. He longed to be rid of the bulky muscles of his body to have the smoother shape of a woman.
On one trip to Kansas City, he found a shady doctor that would prescribe female hormones without a blood test. He took the pills religiously and they seemed to have no effect. The doctor told him to have patience. In the cities of Kansas he bought womens clothing, but everything he bought looked awkward on his manly frame. Most of the time he threw it away before coming home.
A year later Jon sat in the doctors office. He was larger and more muscular than ever. Jons legs itched. His first attempts at shaving his legs only succeeded in really messing up the razor. When he finally came up with a technique that worked, he found it more cumbersome and more trouble than it was worth.
"Your body is resistant. Well just double the dosage."
The family occasionally watched the news together. One evening a story came on; Jons uncle was in trouble. Right then and there, the family decided that Jon would go and help. Jons mother laid out his clothes she had made for his special occasions. He changed into them and they sent him on his way.
He came home when he could but his uncle needed a lot of help.
And every night he would pray.
"Please God, make me a girl."
With no results.
One day, he was running an errand for his uncle when he received a message from his parents.
"Lori in trouble. Come right away."
Taking any time at all was too long to get home. Still, remarkably soon after the message, he made it home.
"Where is she?" Jon asked his parents.
"We dont know." His father said. "The person who told us said shed be at Moss Creek."
Not bothering with a car, Jon ran to Moss Creek as fast as he could. A pretty blonde girl sat in the high limb of a tree. She looked to be about his age (seventeen) and she wore a short blue dress. The dress looked familiar. In many ways it was like his special occasion outfit. "Hi Jon." She said. She pushed herself off the limb and lowered slowly to the ground.
"Where is she?" He demanded.
"Lori? You have plenty of time for that. We need to talk." She walked up to him and put an arm over his shoulder. She led him to a large rock and had him sit down. Jon was anxious to find out about Lori but he could see that this girl wasnt going to give information easily. "Sit. Relax. Good." She paced in front of him, trying to formulate what she wanted to say.
"Life is pretty confusing, isnt it?" She asked. "Of course it is.
Duh." She slapped the side of her head.
"What I am saying is that life is pretty confusing for you, right?"
Jons eyes narrowed.
"Okay, youre gonna make me say it. Fine." She stopped in front of him and put her hands on his wide shoulders. "You want to be a girl." "What?" He stood and shrugged her off. "Who sent you?" "You wouldnt believe me." She giggled and tried to maintain a straight face. "Now, you have always prayed Please God, make me a girl. Every night. Am I right?"
"How did....no, no of course not."
"Relax Cuz. Im not telling anyone your little secret." She made a zipping motion across her lips and tapped a forefinger on his mouth. "Im here to help."
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Okay, Im your cousin. I wasnt supposed to tell you but there, I did." She reached behind her back and produced a small metal box. She handed it to Jon. He noticed that there was no lid, no latch, and basically no way to get it open.
"That is your key to womanhood." She said. She took a step back away from it. "Inside that box is a way for you to get over your....resistance...to change. Hormones will have an effect, surgery will work, itll even help you shave your legs!" Jon looked at the box and started to grip it as if to tear it open. "BUT!!!" The girl stopped him while taking another step back, "But if you do." She said more quietly, "There will be disaster upon disaster. People will suffer and people will die. The box will disappear in fifteen minutes, Lori will suffocate in twenty." Jon stared at the innocuous looking cube. So much terror in such a small package.
"You have a job to do, Jon. If you follow your dream, you wont be able to do it."
He looked up at her. Why was she doing this?
"It has to be you, Jon. If you open the box, you wont be able to help her. But its more than just her. Its everything. The world needs you, Jon." She turned and started to slowly rise away, flying under her own power.
"Wait, where is she?" He asked, still holding the box in his hand. "The bank vault. Shes trapped in the vault." The girl said. The girl was fifty feet in the air now.
He stared at the box and at the flying girl. His dreams were in the box, the key to them at least. Jon felt the frustration build in him. The world was on his shoulders, was it? He didnt care about the world.
He only cared about his friend.
Damn it! He thought. He took the box in a fist and threw it as far away as he could. And that was pretty far.
"Who sent you?" He asked before she left his vision. He could see her turn and smile.
"You did." She laughed. "Oh yeah, take these, you would have needed them either way." She tossed a small bundle of red fabric down to him. "Wear them to remember your sacrifice."
He unfurled the small bundle. It was a pair of red panties, just like the ones he had borrowed from his mother all those years ago. He slipped them on over his clothes.
"One more thing, Clark (the time for protecting names is over). You just made a decision that a world will celebrate. A decision that was made as an adult. You need to change something." "What?"
"You arent Superboy anymore. Now you are Super-MAN." She smiled a beautiful smile and flew straight up. The sonic boom of her departure echoed for a long time.
Wiping a tear from his cheek, he took a deep breath. "Please God...." His prayer was left in the wake of his mission. The time for wishes was over, now there was responsibility.
Miles above, Kara (aka Supergirl) intercepted the small box that her cousin had thrown, the Gold Kryptonite that would rob him of his powers. She sent the dangerous container on a course for the Sun and watched it vaporize.
Waiting for a moment before attempting the trajectory that enabled her to transverse time, she considered her powers. A true friend will grant wishes; she thought. But who is it that has to steal a dream?
The characters of this story and their correct names belong to DC comics. I claim no right to them. This story is an interpretation of fictional events and involve a different slant on the official version.
© 2001 by Joan Banks. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.