Do you remember the activity you did with Gillian? The one where, one by one, you went through body parts to find things that you liked about them? Three each, nothing that was about how they looked. For arms, you said they could hug your friends. For hands, you said they could pet animals and hold pens to write in your journal. I can’t remember what you said about your thighs.
Now, you are eighteen, I hate to tell you. Now your thighs are home to nerve tissue damage, but it’s not so bad. The testosterone is just a bit acidic, pouring an inch into muscles through the needle. Yes, the needle does have to be an inch. I know it’s scary but I know you’ll get used to it. It’s not so bad after a year, but it still takes you twenty minutes every weekend to psych yourself up enough.
Here’s what you do – you find the spot that doesn’t hurt and every week, forget where it is and stick yourself six times before you find it. Take deep breaths as the needle, which looks thin enough to snap in half, slides in. Draw the needle back to make sure there’s no blood – an injection into a vessel could be fatal. Drawing back hurts and you will be surprised at how much air can come up from the muscle. Push in – it always takes too long, but going too fast will hurt, will burn. Your leg will feel bruised after, but a bruise has only come up once.
The first time, your stepmom will have to do your shot for you. You do it in the living room and make the mistake of wearing a light pink shirt. Don’t worry, the blood comes out and you don’t have a heart attack. She does it in your upper left arm, and you wear a smiley face bandage on it for three days.
The changes happen fast, but I hate to tell you that your doctor will find out CVS has messed up your prescription, giving you seven times the dose you should have been taking. Your voice starts dropping in three weeks when it should take three months at least. You learn to shave, but never do. You don’t grow enough hair to need to bother. Your face thins. You get incredibly hungry, but then it will even out. Your hair thins and you may think you are balding. It’s okay, your hairline just changes. Looking back at pictures, you cannot believe I was once you. And that’s a good thing, mostly.
You don’t recognize your voice. It’s okay.
Tyler Dalzell is a young writer from Birmingham, Alabama. He graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts and is planning on majoring in creative writing in college. In his free time, he is an amateur photographer and dog lover. He enjoys writing poetry, creative nonfiction, and learning how to make things with his hands. He has been published in Jenny Mag by YSU and Homology Lit.