Watch Your Step | Teen Ink

Watch Your Step

December 16, 2021
By Anonymous

Author's note:

When I went in to writing this, I knew I wanted to write about a trans boy. Being trans myself, I really wanted to encapture how it feels to be trans, and also to make it normal and not so overly dramatic. When the two of them meet and realize both of them are trans, not much changes. They simply acknowledge it and move on. This is how it should be in real life. Being trans should not be such a big deal, and I hope this piece helps show that. 

The author's comments:

This chapter is the whole story. 

Sometimes, it feels like I’ve lived two different lifetimes throughout my one. The first eleven years of my life feel like they’ve been completely separate from my last four. The first eleven feel like a blur of doubt. The twelfth and thirteenth feel like confusion. The fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth so far feel different. They feel like light after a dark tunnel that lasted for a long time. Like breathing fresh air after a year of being inside a cavern. 

I’ve said all of these things, but I still haven’t explained to you what I really mean. Up until the age of twelve, I lived pretty much as a girl. I never was a girl, but I lived as one. I knew I wasn’t a girl, and it was always something in the back of my mind. I never knew what it was until one day I went online and one of my friends was trans. 

Once it was brought to my attention, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I knew there was something up, and I needed to figure it out. I couldn’t run to my parents for support, because I wasn’t sure if they’d support me at all. All I could do was hide in online spaces and places I knew it would be safe for me to talk about. 

Eventually, I did end up telling my parents, and they weren’t fond of it at first. My mother was shocked, and slightly scared she would “lose her little girl”. I reassured her that nothing would change, other than my emotions and happiness, and although it took a lot of convincing she eventually understood me. My father was a slightly different story, because he couldn’t care less about “losing me” or anything of that sort. He simply was confused, and too ignorant to care or listen. After trying to crack his shell many times throughout the years, it eventually worked and he understood me to the highest degree he could. 

I love them always, and I appreciate them for trying to understand to a degree. It just makes me angry when they do things like this. 

“Oliver!” she called, in an out of breath voice. Must be on the exercise bike. 

“Yes, mom?” I sighed back, tired of her constantly yelling. Even when she doesn’t mean it. 

“When are you thinking about,” she paused, which he knew was for her doing a flexing gesture, “becoming active again?” 

I sighed and said, “Mom, it’s been a month and a half since the surgery. I’m scared.”

I’m not really scared, just too lazy to step foot outside. I mean, I go swimming, and that’s good enough in my brain. Just not good enough for her. 

“It's been a month and a half, Ollie! You need to do something. We live in Texas now, I’m sure there's a ton of natural things to do.”

Right. Another reason I don’t go outside is because I have a grand total of one friend, which is my dog Tanner. We just moved to the middle of nowhere in Texas, with the only thing near us being a mountain and houses stretched far apart from each other. We used to live in New Jersey, but at least that felt like there were other people around you! Everyone around here is from the country, and it's so scary. I feel like every time I walk into the store, I see at least five men with neckbeards. Not a good look. 

“Mom, don't rush me! I just went through a surgery, I’m dying!” I waltzed into her workout room to collapse on the bean bag, showing that I truly am dying from my surgery. She rolled her eyes, but stayed silent. There's not much she can say against me, seeing as though I just had a major surgery. Give it at least 3 months before she can use it against me, but until then it's my only leverage.

“But, I’m really bored right now so I might actually go outside.” I said, and she began to smile. I added on, “It’s not because of you though, don’t get your ego up.” 

Hoping she would realize I was joking and not get angry, I laughed afterwards. She began to laugh too and said, “Okay Ollie, so what are you doing? When are you going? Are we doing it together? Is this a son and moth-” 

“Mount Ebott, I’m thinking. Hiking. Going right now. By myself, because I want to do the easy trail and I know you hate that.” I blurted out. I had to cut her off, because I have never seen someone ask so many questions within a 15 second span.

She nodded, knowing that I’m right and that she would complain the entire time. She waved her hands as a signal that I could go, and I left her room to get my things on. 

There's a lot of questions that I have about living in a place like this, and a lot are about the way I think about how people will see me. I mean, from the outside I look average. I’m 5’10, which I’d say is pretty average for a boy my age. I have blonde hair, which is slicked back. Not in a greaser way, more in a surfer way. Brown eyes, which is basic. My looks aren't the point, though. All of these people in Texas are, for lack of a better word, hillbillies. I’m not sure how they’re going to feel about all of this regarding me being trans, but I could care less. 

The only thing making me sad is that now I probably won't have any other trans kids around. Back in NJ, I had my fair share of friends who have gone through similar experiences as me. Here, I’m not too sure. 

Enough about me being trans, since now my hiking shoes are on and I’m ready to go. It’s been a while since I’ve worn anything other than flat shoes to skateboard, but today I’m being all nature-y. 

The walk to Mount Ebott isn’t that far, especially considering that everything is far around here. The fact that I can walk there is a marvel. It only took me about 25 minutes to get there, but I also ran a lot of the time. 

“Oh my god,” I said to no one. My hands found their way to my knees. I was already panting and I had no water, so I decided to take a break in the shade.  

A family passed me, and when they were out of sight I decided to stand up. Just as I stood up, some random boy ran straight into my shoulder. 

“Watch where you’re going!” I yelled. I heard a groan come from the ground, meaning he clearly took the hit harder than I did. I brought my view towards the general direction that the voice came from and stuck out my arm. 

There were a few things I noticed at first. One, he has split dye hair, blonde and black. I’ve never been one for dyed hair on myself, but I like the way it looks on other people. Two, he has very prominent cheekbones. This seems like a weird thing to notice about someone, but if you saw him you’d understand. Three, he’s probably the only person I’ve seen since I got here who doesn’t look like an absolute hillbilly. I’ve decided to just use the word, because who am I harming? 

“I’m so sorry,” he paused and tried wiping water off of his shirt, “but could you please fetch me that water bottle?”

The accent. I always forget about the accent. Once I processed the Texan way of speaking, I ran to go ‘fetch’ the water bottle. When I returned it we finally looked at each other, except he looked incredibly confused. 

“Why do you look like your brain is about to implode?” I jokingly questioned. He blushed and awkwardly looked away. 

“It’s just, I’ve never seen you before. I don’t think there’s anyone I haven’t seen before ‘round here.” His hands began to pull at tiny little strands of hair in the back of his head. An anxiety response, I’m off to a great start. 

“I’m new, just moved here from Jersey.” I paused to let him process. 

“Oh.” he said, running his hands through his hair. Although since he has a buzz cut, there’s really nothing for his hands to run through. 

“Yeah, I’m Oliver. It’s nice to meet you…” I left a pause, trying to indirectly say that now it’s his turn to tell me his name. 

“I’m Elliot.” he reached out and shook my hand, “So, you going to the highschool?” 

We both began to walk towards the mountain, I guess with a mutual understanding of the fact that we’re both going hiking. 

“Yeah, I’m going to be a junior next year.” I responded, kicking rocks as we walked. 

“Wait, I’m a junior next year too! We can be friends!” he stated, waving a finger up in the air as if it was a declaration of friendship. Suddenly, something in his brain clicked. His hand rushed down from the sky and got put into a fist position. 

“Fist bump me.” He stopped in his tracks, looked at me dead in the eyes and repeated his last statement. The second my fist hit his, you could see the joy radiating off of his body. 

“Yes!” he yelled, jumping up into the trees. I smiled due to how endearing the whole scene is. 

“That is my token of friendship. Normally I don’t give it that early, but you’re special.” he said in a proud voice. 

I smiled and said, “Thank you.” and we continued walking. 

As we walked, I realized that I really don’t know anything about this mountain. All I know is that the name is Mount Ebott. 

“Wait, are we going on the easy trail right now?” I asked, slightly panicked. 

“Yeah, for sure! Don’t worry about it.” he responded in a chill voice, but he didn’t seem the most sincere. Obviously, I am not going to say anything though. Who would do that? 

After forty five minutes passed, I knew I should’ve questioned him. If this was the easy trail, the hard ones must be Mount Everest. At this point, we’re climbing up this mountain. 

“Elliot, this is not the easy trail.” I complained. 

This whole time he’s been telling me to not worry and that he knows his way around here. I don’t trust that one bit. 

“Oliver, I’m gonna be honest with you.” he paused, looked at his shoes and said, “I have no idea where I am right now.”

I just sighed and pulled myself up the mountain again. The faint song of a waterfall rang in my ear. The smell of moss in my nose, and in my touch. 

“We’re going to the waterfall,” he declared, “since I know my way home from there.” 

I nodded, but in reality I really don’t trust this boy. I mean, with every step he’s tripping over his own feet. Although it’s endearing, it’s not ideal to hike with someone who can’t even walk straight.

When we reached what I thought was the top of the mountain, I promptly removed my shirt. My scars are hardly visible, so I knew I shouldn’t be concerned about that. 

“Sorry, is it okay if I do that?” I asked right after since I saw him freaking out. 

“Yeah, that’s great. Not in a weird way, in a do what you want way.” he sputtered out. I laughed, making him go even more red. 

“Alright man.” I responded, and he turned his gaze towards the ground. 

I followed him as he seemed to look for the waterfall. I heard it getting louder, so I guess he wasn’t bluffing with that one. I looked at him while he walked, and noticed a few things about him. 

He’s not tall, but he’s not tiny. Maybe 5’6, I’d say. He has a nice side profile, which I caught onto quickly. He has light sanpaku eyes, so I see some of the white under the pupil. When he sees something he likes, there’s a different look in his eyes. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s there. He’s also not muscular in a six pack way, but you can tell he can hold some strength. 

“Hello?” he said, waving his hand in front of my face. “Earth to Oliver?” 

I spaced back into reality and looked at Elliot again. His face was right in front of my face, maybe 10 inches away. He quickly scooted back, excusing himself. I laughed, patting him on the back. He laughed and smiled. 

He has a nice smile too. Simply observations, though.

When I centered back on the world, I suddenly became incredibly proud of my top surgery. He hasn’t mentioned a single thing! 

“Can you see my scars?” I blurted out, but then I slapped my hand over my mouth. 

“Scars?” he questioned, with a concerned look on his face. 

“Yeah, like on my chest.” I paused to find the area, “like here.” 

His face neared my chest and he analyzed it for a bit. 

“I can see them if I pay a lot of attention to that area in your chest, but otherwise.” he cut off his sentence there and jumped over a log. 

“Ah, okay.” I was internally cheering, but he didn’t need to know that. I’ve never been ashamed about the fact that I’m trans, but I do not want to have those scars. 

“If you don’t mind me asking,” he pulled himself up the mountain, “why do you have them?” 

“Top surgery.” I responded. Quick and simple. He doesn’t need to know my whole entire life story. 

His eyes lit up. He looked like he wanted to say something, but whatever it was he didn’t say it. 

“Okay. The waterfall is in this direction. I know my way back from here, but can we go to the waterfall?” he questioned. I nodded, but had to pull out my phone just to check if Mom had texted me a specific time to come home. 

The only text I had was a simple “be home in an hour and a half, latest.” that was sent just as I opened my phone. I’ll be fine. 

Oliver waited for me to get off of my phone and then made a hand motion to tell me to follow him. I hopped after him just to realize that there was a huge steep downhill. 

We climbed down and got to the base of the waterfall. There was a standing/sitting area, and a little pond type of thing. 

“I’m allowed to swim in here, right?” I asked Elliot who was staring mesmerized at the waterfall. 

“Yeah, ‘course,” he responded. I was wearing basketball shorts, so it wasn’t ideal to swim in but at least I’m not wearing jeans. 

“Get in!” I yelled jokingly, splashing water onto his clothes. 

He smiled and laughed, watching as I swam around the area. The smile didn't reach his eyes, though.  

“What’s wrong man?” I asked, wondering why he won't come in.

“I’m trans too,” he said, “I’m not sure why I didn’t tell you before when you told me you had top surgery, but I guess I’m telling you now.” 

I quickly understood why he wouldn’t swim, so I smiled at him and got out of the lake saying, “That’s great man! I didn’t think I’d find other trans guys in Texas.”

He smirked and said, “There’s not a lot of us, at least around here. Dunno about the cities.” 

“That’s so wildly funny that the first person who I meet is trans.” I commented while getting back into the lake. 

“Yeah, it’s funny.” he said, looking at me. 

After a pause, I got out of the lake and dried off. I put my shirt back on, and decided to propose an idea. 

“How about, since it’s almost sunset, we go to the top of the mountain and watch the sunset?” I suggested. I watched Elliot’s eyes light up, and he quickly nodded. 

We ran up the mountain, wanting to see as much of the sunset as possible. We found a rock to sit on in the direction of the sunset and just chilled there. 

The sunset was a beautiful mix of oranges, pinks, and yellows. How the light from the sun manages to turn pink, I don’t know. It’s beautiful nonetheless.

I turned to the side and saw him watch the sunset. I’ve already mentioned this before, but he has a nice side profile. He also has that mesmerized look in his eyes. It’s endearing. He turned to look at me and suddenly I was obsessed with the sunset, staring at only it. He noticed that my head jerked, though. He laughed.

As we sat there, our hands found each other. I’m not sure how, but once I really noticed that they did, a blush grew on my face. He scooted a little closer towards me and rested our hands on both of our legs. 

The sun got lower and lower, and once it finally went past the trees we got up. 

“Follow me,” was the only thing he said. I grabbed onto his hand again and we went. 

The way back was the easy trail, because it was like a simple walk down a mountain. When we got to the bottom, neither of us wanted to separate. 

“So, can I have your number?” I asked, blushing. 

He didn’t respond and just pulled out his phone. I inserted my contact in his phone and he spoke up. 

“So, where do you live?” he said, but continued on with, “Not in a creepy way.”

I laughed and said, “435 Palmer Ave. I don’t know my way around here, so don’t try telling me where you live unless it’s close.” 

His jaw dropped and he said, “I live on 44 Redwood Lane.” he paused to wait for a reaction but I gave him none. He remembered what I had just said and followed that with, “So like, down the street. Three minute walk.”

We both smiled and he said, “So I guess we’re walking together!” 

“Race you there!” I yelled, breaking into a sprint. 

He laughed and yelled, “You started before me, you cheater!” 

We raced all the way to our houses, slowing our pace at times and picking it back up at others. My house came before his, and so we said goodbye to each other and I went inside my house.

We promised each other that now we would hang out every day of the summer, and that I’ll teach him how to skateboard if he teaches me how to BMX bike. 

“Mom, I’m home!” I yelled, “I have to talk to you!” 

“Oh no, what does that mean?” she yelled back. 

“You’ll see!” I sing-songed. When she came down the steps, I started to tell her everything. 

Starting on how he bumped into me, continuing on how we got lost, then the waterfall, the sunset, and last the running back home. The final thing I had to explain to her was that I’d be out every single day and night for the rest of this summer hanging out with Elliot. 

“Well, I’m glad you have friends now. Or, friend. Is there anything else you need to tell me?” she said, wiggling her eyebrows.

“Mom! Shut up.” I said, running away to my room. 

She laughed and called for me saying, “When you two start dating, I won’t be surprised.”

“Stop!” I yelled jokingly. I closed the door to my room and flopped down on my bed. I exhaled, but not the kind of exhale that makes you want to cry, the positive kind of exhale. The kind of exhale that makes you want to start dancing around your room like a maniac. 

Nothing could compare to this, and the funniest thing is that it all started from a boy who couldn’t watch his step. 

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