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Charles. (Adapted).

by laurafraser 

Posted: 30 May 2005
Word Count: 1414
Summary: A bit of silliness -all criticisms most welcome and encouraged.... x 2nd part to follow.
Related Works: Introduction To Short Stories. • 

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This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

As a child I knew all about the sea monster at the bottom of my pond, I heard him at night wailing to his friends in the ocean. How he got there had always befuddled me and was one of the many questions to which I had no answer. I named him Barry, for no other reason that I believed it suited him. My name is Charles and this is a story about me. Call me a egoist, I won’t mind. In fact I’d agree with you. Who else but a egoist changes their sex, because they feel that God got it wrong? Thereby placing their own intellect above that of the Almighty One. Who? Yes, an egoist. In other words, me Charles, who later became Tatinia and then latter reverted back to being Charles, though with a partiality towards being referred to as Charlie. For me, it has never been a case of who are we, the human race, but rather who am I? Who is Charles?

Though I admit I have spent disproportionate amounts of time mulling on the nature of myself, my mind seems to overflow with a curiousity about many other things too. Where does the flame go after being blown out? Why on earth do some people kiss like they do? What do clouds taste like? Was Maralyn a good lover? What did Buddha's voice sound like? and my faveourite, what the hell goes on in the minds of my Mother and Martha? Both women aroused in me a multitude of questions. The majority of which remain, as do most of mine, unanswered. As children, Martha and I we were never close. She was a girl. I was a boy. She liked climbing trees. I liked dressing dolls. I was of course terrified of her. She would often try and talk to me, I preferred to ignore her. I was, as I have already told you, a boy after all and this creature that looked like one of my dolls, unsettled me in a way that the other girls of my age, did not. Her hair was always soft, like the angel’s hair that my mother used to put on our Christmas tree, her skin never erupted any Mount Vesuvius’, nor did her nose ever break like mine, - a rather unfortunate event involving a doorknob, a soon to be pulled out front tooth and a rather strong looking boy called Michael.

But back to Martha. Now there are two types of fascination, the one that makes people actually act on it, and invest significant amounts of time to learning every single thing there is to know about it, such as a bird watcher might do, or a car racing enthusiast. Or, there are the types like me, the voyeurs, who prefer to watch from afar. To remain detached and yet stuck like a penny to a magnet. Inexplicably drawn. And besides I did not want to sully the fascination I had with Martha by intruding in her life. So I retreated from her, scared as I was that by conversing with her and becoming friends, I would be given a role to play, a character to adopt. No, I decided early on that we were not to be friends. What I didn’t realise though was the effect this was to have, for of course, my reticence fascinated her. So Martha came to observe me bumbling about in my life, comparing it perhaps, to her own. Over the years sprouted a curious relationship that my mother too observed, thinking me shy and in love. Talk to her, she’d say. Invite her over. Perhaps, I'd reply. Perhaps. I won’t be embarrassing, she say, smiling. She was often smiling my mother. She was never any good at what all other parents seemed to be good at: being serious. Smiling and laughter always seemed preferable to frowns and accusations. I am thankful for it. My father, one July morning, had decided somewhere in between walking out the front door in the morning and in his office later that day, that he had no inclinations to return through that door and so promptly set out to find a new door. A door where different, more serious faces resided behind. In a letter he wrote to me, which I kept like I did all letters and cards that I ever received, (from anybody, not just him), he had written that for him, laughter was like bullets in his heart, how when he woke in the morning and he could hear my mother laughing in the kitchen as she returned from her run, or as she chatted on the phone to a friend, or work colleague, (really, she laughed with everyone), he longed for a bit of misery. I like to think, in a nice way, that my father has found that bit of misery now, in his last letter, (I never write to him), his tone had splashings of the Scrooge about it, though I suspect there is a touch of the façade in it, I think in searching for his misery, he has found his own happiness and because of that, he is miserable.

My mother’s lack of misery meant that I was in the very lucky position of having a very unmiserable childhood. True there were moments when she pissed me off. Children are like artists in training arn't they? Treating their parents like blank canvases onto which they can splash and flick a multitude of colours and shapes. Creating, destroying, experimenting and playing with ideas that gallop in the wilderness of their imaginations. When they see something that they like, a particular shade of a colour that appears suddenly, they remember it, repeat it, relish it and become frustrated when one day that shade despite infinite-less attempts to try and recreate it, refuses to be made again. They become petulant, they scream and hurl abuse at the canvas, sobbing that they’ve been cheated let down, why is the canvas being so unfair, why won’t the canvas let him do what he wants. Yes. I was a brat. Denied the sex that I wanted I focused on metamorphosing into a modern day princess and oh how I excelled at that.

And my mother’s reaction? Never anger, sometimes sad eyes, silence and that would kill me. I wanted her anger, anger I could relate to but silence produces unsettling emotions in people, it reminds you of a time, or this is what I think now, when humans walked the lands naked and hairy, beast like and savage. With no television or mobiles, with no cars and walkmans, with no loud speakers and no commerce, silence was something that made its own noise. And so when I had let down my mother and she replied with silence, I was terrified. Like Martha, my mother could reduce me to something quite pathetic, a paltry being of a man. A thing with no balls, no belly, no stomach. This is part of the reason why I decided to become Tatiana. As well as the fact that I was obviously a useless boy- the proof? I could not and more importantly did not want to talk to girls. Even pretty ones with soft hair. If someone were to compile a list of all the stereotypical things that are meant to define an effete man, I would be able to tick all of them. I am slim, I am girly, and I love to gossip, read chick-lit, and bake cakes in frilly polka dot bikinis. Football involves a ball and men, screaming and hot dogs that are bad for you. So naturally I came to the conclusion that perhaps God had got it wrong, that when making me he’d got distracted, stuck a willy on me and Ta da! Gapeto I’m a real live boy. Oh fuck. How horrid. And so I became Tatiana.

My mother’s first reaction was to laugh hysterically when I arrived one day to take her out for lunch, dressed in a white mini skirt, and a blue t-shirt with “Aren’t I Pretty?” emblazoned across my protruding, (very expensive) chest. We giggled all through lunch and both welcomed my new life, with a glass of pink champagne. My mother said that she’s always wanted a daughter as well as me and that now I really was the perfect child, because I was both. That made us laugh even harder, causing my mascara to run.

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