Graduation

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Graduation

By Julie O

It was the last day of school, and I was busy in my classroom. I was entering the grades from the final into my computer. It was the end of my first year teaching US History and Economics at Eastview H.S. When I’d started, I’d been ecstatic about getting hired here. It was a brand new school in an upscale suburb in Southern California, but, after being here a year, I was debating on whether or not it was a smart move working here.

At the time, I was in my early forties and newly retired from the Air Force, and I’d decided to try teaching. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in the classroom and working with the students. However, it was the attitude of many of my co-workers that made the job difficult.

Many were a bit wary of me initially. There was a bit of liberal anti-military feeling in many of my fellow teachers; however, they eventually got over this when they saw that I wasn’t some warmongering barbarian. Next was the issue of being a single male. Most of the faculty were female, and many were married — not a lot of common ground for conversation. However, these types of issues would fade with time. What really bothered me was the attitude many of them had towards the students. Not all the students, mind you, just those who were, to put it one way, the “alternative” kids.

Like most schools, we had our punks, our Goths, and even some pseudo-hippies. I was amazed at how many teachers actively screened their classes so that none of these “freaks” ended up among their normal students. Of course, the students sensed this attitude and there were problems. While there weren’t a lot of fights, harassment was very common.

Being the new teacher, I’d ended up with many of these so-called outcasts in my classes. It really didn’t bother me as long as they did their work and didn’t cause any problems. Additionally, the overworked school counselors were too busy and burnt out to provide any assistance.

Soon it had made the rounds among these students that Mr. Olsen was the person you needed to see if you had problems. My room became a safe haven for them. I spent much of my after-school time counseling them. By the end of the first semester, I was “Mr. O” to many of them. This was one of the reasons why I had wanted to teach; yet not everyone was so enthused about my helping them.

One day after school, I was called up to see the Principal, Mr. Lee. He told me that I needed to devote less time to the “non-conformists,” as he called them. He may have been polite, but deep down I knew he wanted to call them “freaks.” I tried to change his mind, but talking to him about these kids was like talking to a brick wall. He was more interested in the star running back who was going to USC and the honor student getting into Harvard than in a few “freaks.” I still remember his words and how jaded they sounded.

“Mr. Olsen, you must accept the fact that this school’s job is to prepare students for life in the real world, and part of that is teaching students that they must conform to society!” He continued in his droning monotone of a voice, “After all, David, everyone knows personal expression is overrated.”

He was one of those types that seemed more formal and uptight when he used first names than when he addressed you by “Mr.” He then looked at me and said in a very calm manner, “After all, I would hate to give you a unfavorable evaluation.” Even though he said it with a smile, I knew it was a threat. I just nodded and walked out.

I found that some teachers gave lower grades to these students as a way of punishing them for not trying to conform. I had it out with several of my fellow teachers, and actually got them to raise some grades to where they should have been in the first place. This did nothing to make me more accepted. There were a few others who had the same ideas as I, but they were too few. I began to debate on whether or not I should stay here.

The reason for my concern was that I could fully understand the frustration of these students. The main difference between them and myself was that I didn’t have their courage to show my “difference.” I was a closeted cross-dresser and had fought these feelings my whole life. High school had been a living hell for me; I had been constantly on guard to hide my secret. Part of my reason for going into the service had been to push these feeling back and hopefully make them go away all together.

Of course that didn’t work, so I continued to battle these inner demons. Actually calling myself a cross-dresser wasn’t totally accurate; the more I researched the issue the more I began to suspect that I was actually a transsexual. But I didn’t want to accept this as a possibility; I wanted to be “normal.” I think that is one of the reasons I’d gone into teaching, as it was job that would prevent me from experimenting with my urges. So, I had a natural empathy for these students, and there was also some jealousy, as I envied their ability to show off their true selves.

Of course, I never told any of the students my secret. It would be very unprofessional and unethical to do so. Still, I found myself daydreaming after seeing a particularly stunning outfit on one of my students. How nice it would have been to be born a girl and to have the freedom to dress like that. I also checked out my fellow teachers to see what was in style.

I was caught in one of those daydreams one afternoon by one of my favorite students. Thinking about the outfit I’d seen Karen Ellis in that day. She taught English and was one of my best friends here. Like me, she also supported all students. Anyway, her outfit that day was lovely. It was a white silk blouse, long brown skirt, and high leather boots — earthy looking, but just my style

“Hello. Earth to Mr. O. Are you there?” asked Cassy.

I snapped out of it and looked up at her. “Oh, sorry, Cassy. I kind of drifted off there for a moment.”

She just looked at me and smiled. “ Hey, I do that all the time in math.” She handed me a folder and then asked, “So, can you proofread my application letter for college?”

I said that I would, and that I’d get it back to her the next day. She thanked me and left.

Cassy was one of my more interesting students. She was a senior, and I had her both in Economics and as a classroom assistant. Initially, she’d looked at me with distrust. She was wary of the way most teachers treated her; they couldn’t get by the way she dressed and failed to see a remarkable young woman.

She had been into the Goth style when I first met her, but recently she had begun to change her look. Her hair was naturally black, and for most of the year she’d kept it combed straight down. Now she was starting to style it and wear it in elaborate braids. She wore the most interesting jewelry; it had almost an unearthly look to it. She also began to wear different outfits. She had taken to long peasant skirts and blouses. Her blouses looked handmade, and many had elaborate designs stitched into them; some of it almost looked like writing — almost like the Elf language in The Lord of the Rings. I’d told her that once, and she’d just smiled and told me that anything is possible.

Cassy was a very attractive young woman; 5’ 6”, very shapely and, even when she was dressed down, she gave off a sense of confident sexuality. She knew she was naturally beautiful, and didn’t need to dress up to show it off. I knew there was a lot of jealousy of her by many of the other girls.

She’d also developed a new sense of confidence. I had seen a remarkable change in her schoolwork over the year. In fact, her senior thesis paper was the best in the class. I’d even entered it the school-wide competition, and she should have won. Initially, it was ruled the best; that was until the judges discovered who the author was. I was more upset that she was. She told me she appreciated the confidence I’d given her, and that she didn’t worry about pointless competitions.

Anyway, back to the last day of school. I was just finishing up the last entry when Cassy came in. She was wearing a lavender blouse and a multicolored skirt and brown sandals. I looked up and was just about to speak, when she put her hand up as if to say stop. I froze in place, unable to speak. “Mr. O, I just wanted to thank you for all the help and concern you gave me this year.”

She took out a small leather pouch and took out something that looked like sparkling powder and tossed it in the air over me. As it drifted down on me, she spoke again, “I wanted to give you a gift worthy of you. I think you will approve!”

I felt a strange tingling sensation drift over me. At first, I thought she had drugged me, but a feeling of warmth and comfort overwhelmed me. I instinctively knew everything would be all right. Then Cassy pulled her hair back. I was drifting out, so I can’t be sure if what I saw was real, but it looked like she had pointy ears. Her eyes also looked different — more narrow and almond shaped. She gave a knowing smile, as if she was letting me in on an inside joke.

She then leaned over and kissed me on the cheek and whispered in my ear, “Please don’t give up teaching, too many others need your compassion.” And with those words, I drifted out.

I awoke at my computer. I must have drifted off, and it all must have been a dream. I looked around and everything looked normal. I started typing again and reached up to brush my hair back out my eyes. I brought my hand down and looked at my hand. My nails were finely manicured and were a light shade of red. I felt as if something was wrong. I remembered getting my nails done this past weekend. Yet I was a man. Or was I?

I stood up and instinctively adjusted my skirt. I had a mirror in my locker and walked across the room to get it. I could feel my breasts bounce as I walked. I was aware of the sway of my hips. My feelings were perplexing. I was fighting off a sense of panic, but there was also a sense of confusion. There was a third sensation, growing stronger and slowly absorbing the others. It was one of acceptance that everything was normal and would be all right.

I looked at myself in the mirror. I saw a beautiful young woman looking back at me. She looked around 25. Her hair was a light auburn and seemed to flow around her face. Her makeup was perfect — very natural looking, but slightly sexy at the same time. Her outfit was simple but very pretty. She had on a flowing light brown skirt and a white cotton blouse. She had brown leather sandals on; they were open toed and showed off her toes, also painted the same color as her nails. I smiled at the mirror, and she smiled in return. Her smile was very soothing, and she gave off a sense of trust. It took a second or two until I accepted that I was this woman.

My hands slowly swept across my feminized body. I got a slight chill as my hands touched my nipples. My breasts looked like C-cups; then my mind contributed the fact that I was a 36-C. My mind began to supply me with all kinds of information. I knew that I was single, that I was bi-sexual and not seeing anyone presently. I felt a stream of memories fill my mind, everything from the kiss from my first boyfriend to the name of my cat. I also knew, without having to feel any lower, that I was totally female.

I didn’t panic; a sense of acceptance was slowly growing over me. I picked up my purse, and checked my identification. Yes, this was my purse, and the identification was mine. I was Carol Olsen. Everything else seemed OK. A wave of warm tingling swept through me, and suddenly there was no need to worry. I looked back in the mirror and saw myself smiling back. Everything seemed so calm and clear now.

Just then Karen Ellis walked into my room. “Hey, you have your grades finished? They’ll start the faculty party without us.”

“Yes, I just finished. Let’s get out of here,” I replied.

Everything seemed normal, even though I knew I had changed. Karen had just been promoted to principal of the school after the disappearance of Mr. Lee. I was very happy with the change, as Karen shared my views on the caring treatment of all students.

She then took a small wooden box out of her purse. “One of your students asked me to give this to you.”

I took the box from her. The workmanship of the box was beautiful. At first, I wasn’t even sure there was a seam.

Karen then spoke. “I just love the box. I asked Cassy where she got it, and she told me that her family makes them.”

I looked inside, and there was an enameled pin of a tree branch with a red apple on it. It was highly detailed, and I put it on without hesitation.
“Oh, Carol, it’s lovely! I guess you really made an impression on her.”

I could only nod, as I was moved to tears. Karen handed me a tissue and told me with a laugh that I was too emotional. There was also a small card in an envelope, but I saved that for later. By the time I got home, I was totally accustomed to my new life. I then read the card from Cassy.

Dear Ms. O,

I know that the gift I gave you may seem extreme, but I could sense that you were a human in conflict. Your dedication to your students deserves a great reward, and I can think of no greater one than to make you whole. Please continue teaching. Having you as a teacher was the highlight of my visit to your earthly world.

Love, Cassandra (Cassy)

I read the letter several times. I gave up trying to understand everything about what had happened and decided to get on with my life. It just goes to show that you should never judge anyone by their looks, and you should treat them as they deserve; and then you in turn will get what you deserve.

With that last sentence, I finished putting this all down on paper. Just then, my cat jumped up in my lap. I knew what he wanted, and I began to scratch under his chin. I knew I had the right spot when he began to purr like an outboard motor.

“So, do you believe this happened? Or is your owner mental?” The only reply was a continued purr. “OK, I guess you believe me. So, do you want your dinner now?”

Upon hearing the word dinner, he jumped out of my lap and ran to his bowl.

“Here you go,” I said, as I put his food in his bowl. “Bon appetit, Mr. Lee.”

The End

Editor’s note: This story was first published on 2/10/03. Edited and revised on 2/11/05 by Amelia R.

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What a great ..

last line ,  As Carol points out you must never judge a book by hits cover... I bet she is glad she didn't

 

Kirri