I’d been thinking about her a lot lately. That long auburn hair that came half way down her back, that cute little button nose and those amazing amber eyes that gave her an almost otherworldly appearance. Her name was Josephine Baxter and she was my very first crush way back when I was eleven years old; she was in the same class as me but was only ten years old as she had skipped a year. I had been bitten by the love bug big time. I’d stare at her from across the classroom and my heart would go pitty-pat, I’d watch her from afar in the playground, I’d even started drawing little love hearts with ‘I love Josephine’ written around them; then just before turning thirteen puberty hit and my pure love for her turned into a major lusting.
Why have I been thinking about Josephine so much lately? At the age of sixteen, I’ve come to the horrific realisation that I’m gay; Lord knows I don’t want to be. I have been thinking about Josephine because I wonder if I had told her about her my crush, would we be together right now, would I be straight; please God tell me I’d be straight. I don’t want to be gay and put up with all of the shit that comes with it.
The other reason I’ve been thinking about her, as bizarre as this sounds, I was visited by the Angel of Destiny two days ago with an offer I couldn’t refuse. She offered me the chance to go back and change something from my life. I could change any one thing I liked, but I would have to live with the consequences produced by the butterfly effect; Destiny done, would not be undone. I could change who and what I am, I could tell Josephine how I feel about her and not be queer anymore.
So when the Angel of Destiny reappeared to me I didn’t even hesitate to tell her when I wanted to go to and what I wanted to do.
I woke up in a strange-feeling bed. My bed was one of those huge king size beds and I can’t remember the last time I woke up with my feet dangling off the end of my bed. I could feel a plastic shape on the side of my bed, and that’s when it hit me, this was my Batmobile bed; but I’d had that when I was eleven. I then remembered what had happened. The Angel of Destiny had sent me back to change my past, and change it I would.
After a hurried breakfast, I went to school. I got there a little early, hoping to catch Josephine before the school day started as I didn’t want to chicken out of doing this; I couldn’t . . . I mustn’t chicken out of doing this. A few minutes later Josephine arrived and she looked absolutely heavenly. I walked over to her.
“Taylor, good morning.”
I kind of stared at her for a few seconds and could feel myself blushing. How could I be so shy around her? I knew what my life would be like without her, and I refused to live that life.
“Taylor, are you all right?”
“I like you,” I mumbled.
“I didn’t catch that Taylor.”
“I like you Josephine.”
“I like you too Taylor.” She turned and was about to walk off.
“Josephine, I mean I like you, like you. You know I’ve . . . I’ve . . . I’ve got a crush on you.”
She turned back around and her long hair bounced from the sudden movement. “Oh. Are you asking to be like my boyfriend or something?”
I blushed even deeper and let out a little giggle. “Yes. Would you like to go out with me sometime?”
Well, I did it. I asked her out . . . sort of . . . in my own cack-handed way. I hoped that would be enough to break the queer curse.
We had a nice enough first date. We went to the cinema with her dad acting as chaperone. When we said goodbye I gave her a kiss on the cheek as I blushed.
We took it slowly, we eventually started spending the entire day together instead of just a few hours, and we even started playing together at school, Of course, we started getting flak at school; lots of ‘Taylor and Josephine sitting in a tree’.
Once we’d been together for about a year, by which time I had just turned twelve and Josephine was a few days shy of turning eleven (and getting prettier by the day), I overheard a snippet of conversation between Josephine and her dad.
“Sweetie, you need to think about telling him.”
“Dad, how can I? I think he may be the one I want to spend my life with.”
“Josephine, that’s why I think you need to think about telling him.”
“Dad, what if he reacted badly to it? I’m not sure I could take it.”
“Honey, when you began this relationship with him, you must have known you wouldn’t be able to keep your secret forever.”
“I can’t tell him Dad. What if he doesn’t understand?”
“Then honey, you’ll know he isn’t really the one for you.”
I never told Josephine I’d overheard this conversation, and just waited with baited breath for her to bring up whatever this ‘secret’ was about.
I ended up waiting just over a year to have that conversation. By that time Josephine was twelve and I was thirteen. We were in the living room sitting on the sofa watching some film, when I leaned over and kissed Josephine.
It wasn’t our first kiss, but I was the first time I tried to slip my tongue into her mouth. She accepted my tongue and we kissed deeply for a few seconds before she pulled away from me.
“Taylor, we need to talk.”
“About what Josephine?”
“Give me a minute.” She disappeared and came back in with her dad and my mum.
I was very confused as to why she had brought our parents with her, but I thought this must be to do with the conversation I’d previously overheard and thought this could not be good; she must be really worried about I’d react.
“Taylor, I’m not really sure how to begin.”
I took her hands in mine and looked into those amazing amber eyes. “Just begin at the beginning.”
“Taylor what I’m about to say will come as a shock. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, or than I don’t care about you, or-”
“Josephine, calm down. Whatever it is it I will never stop loving you.”
“I really hope you mean that Taylor. I had planned on waiting until we were a little older to have this conversation, but it’s becoming clear to me that we are both falling in love and I can’t wait any longer; I can’t carry on like this.”
“Just take a deep breath and relax.”
“I was about five or six years old when my parents started noticing some odd behaviour in me. I wasn’t acting like normal kids my age, I’d become withdrawn, maudlin, and would spend my days playing with dolls.”
“What happened Josephine?” I moved closer to her and wrapped an arm around her.
“After a couple of months I was taken to see a psychiatrist. It took a few months but I was finally given a diagnosis.” At that point she broke down crying, so I wrapped her in my arms and kissed her on the lips.
“Josephine, if this is too painful for you, you don’t need to continue.”
“Yes Taylor, I do need to continue. As I said I was given a diagnosis. I was diagnosed with GID.”
“What’s that Josephine? I’ve never heard of it.”
“It stands for Gender Identity Dysphoria. It meant that I was born one gender, but I felt more like the opposite gender. I started doing things that I felt comfortable with like wearing dresses and playing with dolls.”
“Well those sound like normal things for a girl to do.”
“They are normal things for a girl to do, but not for a boy to be doing. You see Taylor I was born a boy and my name was Joseph. Once I was diagnosed with GID, I embraced the girl I wanted to become. I’ve lived as a girl ever since that day; that’s why I started at a new school. Dad wanted me to have a new start, to go somewhere I could be Josephine everyday out in public, somewhere where nobody knew about my life before her.”
I was in a state of total shock. How could Josephine be a boy! I mean she’s beautiful, we’ve kissed . . . oh God I’ve kissed a boy! I’ve been dating a boy for the last two and half years! Jesus Christ!
“How could you do this to me? I thought you were a girl!”
“I am a girl. I’m the girl you fell in love with.”
“You’re a boy! At best you’re a weirdo at worst you’re some kind of freak. What the hell gives you the right to put me through all of this! I trusted you! I loved you!”
“Taylor, I’m the person you fell in love with. I love you as well.”
“Stop saying that! I’m not gay like you.” I ran into my mum’s arms and hugged her.
Josephine’s dad held onto his crying daughter. “I’m not gay Taylor,” she said through her tears, “I’m a girl and I’m love with a boy.”
“Stop saying that, you are not a girl. I’ve always wondered why you never ever used the toilets at school and now I know.”
Josephine left her dad’s comforting embrace, she approached me and tried to take a hold of my hand, but I recoiled from her. “Don’t you dare touch me you freak!” I jumped from my mum’s arms and ran out of the house.
I couldn’t be in there any longer. The girl I loved was a boy! That is just sick! Why the hell did he allow me to fall in love with him? I'm not gay. She was a boy, and I was in love with a boy. What kind of sicko freak is he to get off on making a boy fall in love with him?
I stayed at home for a few weeks. I told my parents I just couldn’t face going to school. How could I face all of my friends? My mum knocked on my bedroom door.
“Come in,” I said.
“How are you doing honey?”
“How do you think I’m doing! What he did to me was unforgiveable.”
“Taylor, however you may feel, Josephine has chosen to live HER life as a girl and you will refer to Josephine as SHE not as HE.”
“If HE was born with a penis, then HE is a HE.”
My mum handed me an envelope. “This arrived just now. I recognise the handwriting; it’s Josephine’s.”
I took the envelope and as I started to open it, my mum left. There was a single page letter inside.
January 13th 2012
My dearest Taylor
I am sorry you feel the way you do. I never, ever meant to hurt or embarrass you. I can’t help that I was born a boy any more than you can help that you were born a boy. I’ve just always deep down felt like a girl. I’m sorry that I fell in love with you, and I’m sorry that you feel you now can’t return that love. You fell in love with Josephine, and I’m sorry that you feel that Josephine is some kind of a lie; she’s not. Josephine is who I am, and Josephine is the girl you fell in love with.
I hope you can someday forgive me.
All my love
For now and forever
After I’d read his letter I screwed it up and threw in the bin. Why is he still plaguing me! Doesn’t he just get that I’m not interested in being with a boy! I’m straight. For the love of God, I want to be with a girl, a real girl.
Time slowly passed and it had been about six months since my ‘break up’ with him, and my life was slowly getting back to normal. I’d gotten a girlfriend called Marcie; and she is a real girl. I hadn’t seen anything of Josephine at school, I guess he figured he’d move on to another school so could try and rope in some other poor sucker.
I was sitting in my living room with my mum one evening when there was a knock on the door. It was Joseph’s dad and he looked awful. He threw a newspaper clipping at me, told me to read it and left.
As I read it, I collapsed on to the floor, crying hysterically as I felt my heart shatter. After my mum finally calmed me down I handed the clipping to her so she could read it.
It is with great sadness that on this day, 7th July 2012, the death of twelve year old Josephine Baxter is announced. She had been in a coma for the past six months, following a deliberate drug overdose on January 13th of this year. The life support machines were finally switched off early yesterday. She leaves behind her loving father.
Everyone is always saying that if they could change just one thing, everything in their life would be perfect. The opportunity came only instead of better, your life became so much worse. What did you try to change and why?