I stand at the top of a hill, overlooking the long stretch of gravel road that lays before me. The cows will come running this way as a herd, and it's my job to hoot 'n' holler as loud as I can to make them turn into the driveway and toward the pens. You can hear the thundering of their hooves on the dirt as they start to make their charge. I raise my arms and jump up and down.
"HYUP!! HYAA!!" These animals are much larger and stronger than me, and they outnumber me 30-to-1, but they're also not terribly smart. Make a big display and loud noise and they'll usually avoid you. Indeed, most of the cattle turn right where they're supposed to, and head down the driveway. Some mothers and their calves, however, break off in the opposite direction. One leaps the fence, or attempts to. Let's just say that certain nursery rhymes may have exaggerated bovine leaping capabilities.
"Are you even paying attention? What the fuck are you doing?"
Another Iowa day. This time, the weather goes from cold and windy, to sunny, to flash flood watch, and back to sunny. It's the kind of day where you drive to the store with the heat on full-blast, grab groceries, and head back with the A/C cranked and your face leaning up close to the vents to maximize cooling factor. My father is out in the machine shed, fixing up some old tractor wagon components, and tells me to grab him a 3/8 size wrench. Fractions are next year's math lesson at school.
I return with a wrench, surely some sort of workman apparatus, though I'm not sure of the size. It is, unfortunately, not 3/8.
"Do you ever fucking listen? Are you fucking stupid?"
It's a cold Iowa night. December. The snow is three inches, rising, and it only started a half hour ago. Mom and Dad will be late getting home from their party. My brothers, 10 and 9 years my senior, want to play a game. It's called "strip the youngest brother naked, throw him outside, turn off the lights, and scare him as he searches for his clothes." It's not one of my favorites, though it might be better than "boxing, but it's totally fair because the older brothers are on their knees."
I cry as they pull the clothes from my body. I scream and whine loudly, like an animal caught in a trap; because that's what I am. I'm shoved outside, and I stand naked, watching from the outside as one brother holds the door shut and the other scatters my clothes throughout the house. The brother holding the door releases his grip and runs into the darkness, folding into it, disappearing.
My eyes burn as I sob. I don't have enough hands to wipe away the tears and snot flowing down my face, search for my clothes, and cover myself. I huddle and crouch as I move through what once was my home, but is now a treacherous labyrinth, full of traps and monsters lurking in the dark. I never make it to the end of the maze. I give up, and cocoon myself in blankets. The minotaurs take some form of pity on me, and toss my clothes onto the bed.
"What a little pussy."
I'm not sure what the weather is like today. I'm in school. It looks sunny from my seat in Math class, but I've no idea how warm or chilly it is. Still, I'd rather be out there than in here. 3x divided by y to the 7th power = z; what is the square root of fish? Show your work. At least this is my last year. Next year I'll be off to college, and explore what I want, solve the problems I know. Just one more semester of math, of forlorn looks out a distant window, and listening to my cousin brag about his sex life.
He "fucked" her. It was awesome. It was amazing. She has the most amazing ass, and her pussy tastes like strawberries. He high-fives the friend I played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with when I was 7. He's fucked his girlfriend too. She is, if I am to believe his words, a "dirty slut" when she's in the right mood.
They ask me who I would fuck. No one, I say, and it's true: I don't want to fuck anyone. It would be nice if I could make love with someone, though. "Jesus," my cousin says. "You are such a fag sometimes." The question is irrelevant though; everyone knows who I glance at when she walks down the hall. My cousin points across the room. "Her?" I blush, but say nothing. "You really like her." Again, silence on my end. He smiles. "I'll help you out," he says.
"I'll fuck her and turn her into a slut. You can have seconds. It'll be easy. Girls always turn into sluts, they just need to be fucked good first."
You ask me why I considered giving up on living my life as a woman. I ask myself if I gave up on being a man. I ask myself if I could be stronger than bold-font words typed into a blog post exorcism. I ask myself if I've let those words define me and colored my perception of what it means to be a man.
I ask myself who I've become, and who I want to be. I don't have an answer yet.