A Tale of Colliding Lives

By Casey Chapman
11th grade, New Tech Academy @ Wayne High School, IN

With lines from "A Tale of a Trans Man in Pakistan" by Ikra Javed, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

I wake up and roll over to look at the green
Regretting the pink I chose all those years ago
I am scared.

The sun peaks into the opening flap. 
I listen quietly to the rhythmic breaths.
Of my partner next to me.
Of the person, I call home.
You gave up your family for them.
It is too late to go back now.

The words "You and I will never have a relationship" rattle in my brain.

I walk around the piles of clothes I will never wear 
For I know the pain they will bring
I stare in the mirror and take deep breaths
They are not a girl.
I brush my teeth.
You are not a girl.
I do my hair.
I pack my bags then unpack, repack, unpack, repack, unpack.
I walk into my closet then walk out, I walk in, walk out, walk in, walk out.
I sit on my bed defeated. 
No one's opinions matter.
I resort to the clothes that I always wear.
Don't draw attention to yourself.
I pack my bag again trying not to bring much thought.
I go downstairs as I listen to see where my mom is.
When I am sure that I am clear of being caught, I walk up to the mantle.
I miss you guys so much. I would give everything to see you one last time. 
I am sorry that I didn't do more.

I go to the kitchen and stare at the medicine cabinet.
No one knows you take these to make yourself normal.
You could do it right now and no one would know.

I pour the entire bottle into my hand,
The big white pills that are supposed to make me better.
I stare at the dangerous choice before me.

Too soon I start my day.
Dreading my day at work.
You don't have enough money as it is.
Getting a mastectomy will never happen.
Even the plastic surgeon did not understand.

I eat little of our food leaving over half for them.
Because keeping them healthy is my number one priority.
I would do anything to make sure you are safe while I go to work every day.
I wrap the bandage tightly around my chest hoping it's enough to keep me safe for today.
We need to make more money. I will never be able to get on hormones.

If I die today I will forever be remembered by the wrong name.
I swallow one pill and disappear.
I go out to my car before anyone has a chance to see, 
a chance to talk, 
a chance to force me to see the glass. 
Will I always be invisible?

On my walk to work, I stop and drink water from the well at the end of the dirt road.
Don't be afraid of what people might say.

I drive for a while but the silence becomes too much.
I scream, I catch my breath, scream, breathe, scream, breathe, scream.
I am scared.

I walk away from the suburbs I call home into the city following the traffic backup that has become expected by everyone in this town.
I am a hypocrite for not taking part in the blockade.
As I walk past the Khawaja siras protesting for trans rights, I look the other way.
You have to take care of yourself.
It is okay if you are invisible for now.

I sit staring at the doors that have the power to change every thought in my head.
I breathe in, I breathe out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out.
Would anyone notice if I don't go in today?
Would anyone even care if I don't show up today?

Too soon I find myself staring up the stairs.
Grimacing with every step I take,
My muscles cramp,
my bones shatter,
my body crumbles,
under the weight of the fight within my brain.
With every step up this never-ending staircase,
the pain gets worse.

When I walk past a corner store, someone says "No woman should be walking around like that"
You cannot cry in front of them.
Do not show them that you are weak.
Do not trap yourself behind the glass.

I walk the never-ending miles in front of me.
I can feel my soul leaving my body with every step I take.
I steadily breathe in sync with my steps.
Right, left, in, out, right, left, in, out
Keeping in mind the happiness that will come with my future.
So many thoughts rushing through my head,
With no possibility of paying attention to the world around me.

Disappearing at the speed of sound when I hear the words, "Good morning Sage."

My world calms as I approach the safe haven of the police station.
"Good morning Mani."

I am not invisible today. I have come out from behind the glass for now.

I am not invisible here.

Casey Chapman
Casey Chapman

Casey Chapman is a student at New Tech Academy at Wayne High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They are an athlete who enjoys developing their passions more deeply. They have taken on many leadership positions on sports teams and in clubs. They are committed to being a leader everywhere possible in life. Casey is honored to be included with a group of people bringing change to the world.

Read more winning entries from the 2019 Fighting Words Poetry Contest