The Gender Fairy
"So the books were right. Fairies are real, then?" The boy—Clark Auriel, judging by the art on the walls of his bedroom—dangled his feet off the edge of his bunk bed. His hair was cropped almost militarily short, and there were the beginnings of a mustache on his lip, but incongruously, he wore a dress.
"I—well, I'm not sure what books you've read, by now our tale's been so diluted and reinterpreted that you'd need a thorough cross-cultural analysis to make any headway is—"
"Stop." Clark held up both hands, all ten fingers extended. "Try again, but use only ten words."
"Ten words?" I spluttered. Clark lowered two fingers. "Fine. Fairies are real. And you caught one."
Clark smiled sadly. "Didn't think it would work."
"Well. You got me. I've no idea what you want with me—as fairies go, gender fairies aren't exactly the most wanted. But you've got me."
Clark sighed. "Guess I have, huh? Okay. Guess it's time." He took in a deep breath. "I... I want you to make me a boy."
I frowned, looking him up and down. Aside from the dress, he definitely looked male. "Uh. Maybe you could swap out the dress for—"
"I'm being serious!" Clark said, pleading, "I—I don't understand. I'm a boy, I am, I just—I just keep getting these urges to—" He gestured at himself.
Oh. "You're trans?"
"NO!" Clark buried his head in his hands. "I am not transgender! I'm a boy, my—my mind just doesn't agree."
"If your mind is telling you that you're a girl, then... maybe you should listen. Try it out, at least."
"Tried that." He pulled at his dress disconsolately. "My aunt doesn't like it. Really, really doesn't like it. When she found out, she... she made me cut my hair, and grow out my mustache, and told me that if she found me wearing her clothes again she'd... hit me."
"I just want to be normal!" Clark roared, "I read it in the Fey Libram. You can change people's genders, right? Whether they think of themselves as a boy or a girl? So change me back! Make it stop! I—I don't want—I—it—" In his frustration, Clark slammed a fist into the bed, right next to my jar. The resulting rebound catapulted me off the edge of the bed, and my jar shattered on the floor.
I was free.
Clark looked up at me, despondent. "Wait. Please. Don't go. Don't leave me here—"
"I'm not going anywhere." I floated up to Clark's eye level and put a hand on his cheek. "I—I mean, I'm not exactly the most qualified to talk about, uh, gender dysphoria or abusive relatives, but I—I can try my best. I just... do you really want me to change that part of you? You'll be losing something, you know. Something I couldn't put back."
Clark swallowed, and said nothing.
"Here." I sat down by his side. A child and an immortal, a giant and a dwarf, we dangled our feet over the edge of his bunk bed together. "How about this." I held up both my hands. "Give me ten words. Just ten words on how you feel."
Clark stared at me incredulously. Then he giggled. "Really?"
I lowered one finger.
Slowly, Clark's smile faded. He rested his head on his palms and looked out the window, at a cloudless, starry night, and thought. I waited for him. Five, ten, twenty minutes passed.
Then, slowly, he said, "Being a girl makes me feel... powerful. Whole."
I lowered all my fingers but one.
Clark sighed. "Don't."
I nodded solemnly, and patted Clark on her arm.
Clark curled herself up into a ball. "I just... it's going to be hard, you know? I don't even know where to begin."
"You can talk to me," I said. "I'll be back, okay?"
Clark's eyes widened. "Back? You're... you're leaving?"
"Well." I chuckled ruefully. "You did imprison me. I'll have to make sure the Bone Fairies don't give you a visit tonight."
"Bone fairies. You're—you're joking, right?"
I winked. "I am if I move fast. I'll see you around, kiddo. Stay strong for me, 'kay?"
Then I soared into the night, leaving Clark behind.