A Hopeless Case
rating: +46+x

Jude remembers the first time he smoked so vividly.

Maybe that's weird. All the stuff he can do, all the stuff he DID do, not as important as weed to his shitheap of a brain.

He still didn't know if it was something he’d changed. He didn’t really do stuff on purpose, except of course the big one.

The kid he bought from, some high schooler, was known for selling oregano to younger kids, he found out later. Passed it off as weed to middle class white boys who didn't know any better. So how Jude ended up getting stoned off his ass is really a mystery, but it sure as shit happened.

It was the first time he'd ever really felt present in his body. For his entire life, the part of his brain that wanted to check in on how his body was feeling had been trained like a lab animal in some horrible experiment from the 70s, getting shocked until it was cowed. He had spent so many years just floating through the world. Even over the past month, living in his new body, the training was still sticking with him. And it was weirder now, cuz he could never in a million years explain it to someone, since they’d now only known him as Jude. Not that he had anyone to explain it to, really, but weed helped with that little fact too.

As he coughed out his first clumsy hit, smoke slowly rolling through the air in his parents' basement, he sank into his body at last. He felt every muscle, every nerve. He really was Jude, in more than just name.

His name never bothered him, as such. It was just some sounds that told everyone “Hey look at this person”. Really, the issue was that it told people, especially people who knew anything about Ukrainians, “Hey look at this gal.” His name was just one more reminder of who he wasn’t.

It was the first gender thing he changed on purpose. He wasn’t ready to try anything serious, especially with his body, because fucking hell those are complicated. He didn’t wanna end up in the hospital and have to come out as both trans and some kind of fucked up magic user.

But if he knew about this magic shit and didn’t try it for this, he would be agonizing over it every day for the rest of his life. So he just stuck with his name. Jude Kriyot. Jude Kriyot. Jude Kriyot.

St. Jude, the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. He had always felt drawn towards a few saints over the course of his years studying that shit, and St. Jude was one of them. Maybe because his name sounded like Judas, but he was so different. Maybe because Jude liked the idea of a saint for fuckups like him.

Jude Kriyot. Jude Kriyot. Jude Kriyot.

He repeated it until the familiar feeling of his mind twisting came, and he was frozen in one spot for a second, the world rushing through his head so fast that he didn’t have time to process a single image. And then all was still. He was breathing hard, brain tingling, way worse than it had when he did smaller shit like summon up a bag of chips.

He pulled up Facebook.

“Hi Jude, what’s on your mind?” the faceless corporate overlord greeted him.

He breathed out a long sigh and continued to stare at the name. Jude. No one was ever going to call him anything but Jude, ever again. His eyes got damp, but he didn’t let himself cry. He’d done it. He’d made it happen.

He laughed to himself, tears still sitting in the corners of his eyes, for a second wishing he’d chose a some ironic name, but names were special enough for him to drop his shtick and make something that mattered. Chatroom nicknames were where he went full meme. And after all, there was still beautiful irony in being named after the fuckin' patron saint of lost causes. God. Maybe he couldn’t drop the shtick. Forever ironic and loving it.

Every time someone asked “what would your magic powers be”, every time for his whole god damn life, Jude felt the pit of his stomach drop. He knew that what he wanted wasn’t gonna fly, not even close. But his mind always went there first. How could it not? He was no emo shitbag, but the times he did cry, it was something about his gender. He’d broken down and punched the wall of a changing room at a Macy’s once when trying on bras. That sort of thing. Those desperate hot tears and the deep, painful knowledge he had no way out.

He didn’t blame the kids at school and their games, they had no way of knowing, but “would you rather”, “truth or dare”, “what would you be like if you were born the opposite gender” “what would you do if you could do any magic spell ever”… so many questions that were just fun for other kids always made him feel confused and pissed off at the same time. All he could do was stumble out some response, he was good at bullshitting, but he felt like they could tell something was up. It didn’t help that he was the “funny girl” who was invited to lunch, sometimes, because they felt bad for “her” and “she” was fun to laugh at. He felt like he’d been on the fringe of groups for as long as he could remember.

So all of this was on his mind when he realized, holy shit, I do have magic fucking powers. Or whatever it was. It’s bitterly amusing how fast his mind went to “change my gender right now let’s fucking get on this, dog!” after he discovered it. Gender thoughts were always lurking in his brain, in the emotional mess part, he supposed. Luckily, his intellect kicked in, and he figured that he’d need to practice on small stuff first. Like that thing with the extra cookie at the back of the oreo box. He had been looking forward to those oreos all day at school, ignoring class as usual to daydream about food or internet forum drama.

But when he got home and opened the bag, it was totally empty. His stomach sank. He was never any good at handling disappointment. Then he felt… something… happen, his mind twisted, his vision blurred, and then he snapped back into his brain so hard it felt like he’d been punched. He stood shakily, confused as hell, holding an open container of oreos. When he gathered himself and looked around, he saw one oreo sitting right at the front of the box.

What the hell just happened.

It was a pretty good oreo, though. Pretty much factory standard.

He started smoking more after that. In between all of his “spells” or whatever, he smoked and lazed around and skipped school. The nuns were used to his behavior at this point, and only half bothered scolding him. His uniform skirt chafed and he much preferred sweatpants and home and spacing out staring at the wall. Or on better days, spending time with his… friends? Bros? Acquaintances? He smoked with them almost daily, even knowing that they saw him as some goblin of a girl. It was easier to rest in these semi-tolerable uncomfortable zones than to push for something new.

“Oh dude I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m such a fuckin' dumbass-” Jude rushed to right the bong he’d knocked over, staring in horror as the nasty-ass water sank into the carpet of his friend Tom’s attic.

“Chill, hey, man, hey.” Tom reached over with a wad of paper towels and tossed them on the wet spot. Jude quickly patted them down, soaking up as much bong water as he could. Tom lazily stood up and shook his head, reaching out to rest a hand on Jude’s shoulder. Jude tried his best not to jerk away, even though inside he was screaming that’s how you comfort girls, isn’t it.

“This place is nasty anyway, like c'mon. You don’t need to let that Catholic guilt get to you.” He said with a chuckle.

Jude whipped his head around. “Don’t-fuck, I mean. That’s not how- Like- I have guilt, but who doesn’t? It’s not about Catholicism, it’s- well it is, but-”

Tom backed off, arms up, projecting defenselessness. “I didn’t mean it like that, I thought… you make jokes like that all the time.”

“It’s different when I make 'em, okay. It’s reclamation, or something. Fuck, I dunno. Forget about it. It’s not a big deal.”

“Alright, hey, I’ll forget about it. You need to roll another, you’re too damn tense, lady!”

It was finally time. Finally time. Jude’s heart was beating out of his chest, he could barely think straight. He stared at the joint in his hand, smoke spinning up through the still air of his bedroom. He stared for what felt like hours, anxious thoughts spinning so fast he could only catch fragments of them.

This was the hardest thing he’d ever done. And fuck, he did not like Doing Things. As he watched the coils of smoke, face blank, his mind rolled a reel of all the times he’d let things slip through his fingers. So many essays he could have done well on, so many games he could have beaten, so many people he could have spent time with, so many Sundays he slept in, losing touch with God. From petty stuff to his goddamn Grandmother’s funeral, Jude could only be counted on for one thing: fucking it up by being a lazy scumbag.

But this was important. It really was. Everything in his life had built up to this moment. He’d managed to practice for it, for fuck’s sake. He could do this.

He took a deep breath and pinched the lit tip of the joint, extinguishing it. The slight pain in his fingertips helped him focus. He cracked his knuckles and sat down on the edge of his bed, finally ready.

I am a boy, he thought. I am, I was, I always will be. I am a boy, who will be a man. Jude Kriyot. A dude. One of the guys. As he repeated this, the world started to twist. OH MY GOD ITS FINALLY- and the world re-centered. Fuckin' idiot, he thought to himself. Can’t even focus on the most important thing in your stupid life.

He flopped backwards down on his bed and stared at the slowly circling ceiling fan. Thoughts of self-doubt and self-hatred swirled in his mind. They were so familiar he barely registered them. But. God dammit. He’d been so close to finally, finally being free of- of all of it. All the things he didn’t even want to name, because focusing on them for more than a moment would sink him into a well of self-hatred and disgust.

After probably far too long watching the fan, fighting with his own mind, he managed to sit up again. He did the stupid breathing thing that he’d read on some lifeprotips site, in for 7, hold for 7, out for 7. He hated that it worked sometimes, but he relied on it anyway, because he needed something that worked in his life.

He focused.

Boy. Dude. Guy. That’s me. Jude the dude. No, that sounds stupid. Okay. I am named Jude, I was born a boy and I stayed that way. I am a guy. I will grow into a man. I will have a flat chest and I will fucking finally have a god damn dick. I. Am. A. Boy.

His view swirled, the edges of his vision being pulled into some visual vortex in front of his eyes, spiraling up. His body shook but he remained focused. He stared straight ahead as the world around him spun so fast it started to blur. All his muscles were tensed. Then it snapped back to normal suddenly enough to give you whiplash, and Jude Kriyot, the man the myth the legend, passed out.

“Ayyy, Jude, my man,” Nate leaned backwards, head falling over the edge of the couch so he was meeting Jude’s eyes upside-down. Clutter surrounded them, Nate's basement was always cluttered, but Jude barely noticed. They came over after school to smoke almost daily at this point.

Jude forced a grin. “Oh you want some more, huh?”

“FAG!” Chris yelled from across the room, laughing hyenalike. Nate joined in and Jude laughed hollowly. He’d always thought that the worst suffering a human could endure was this. Was having to laugh with a boy hating who you were, a boy you once, foolishly, thought was cute. Tom watched from his seat next to Jude, letting out a small nervous laugh.

“But yeah though,” Nate said, regaining his composure. “Roll me up another one, my dude. We need it.”

Jude stared at the tray in front of him, the pile of weed swirling in and out of his vision. Isn’t this what he wanted? Smoking as one of the guys? Guys who’d never known him as anything but Jude? And yet he still couldn’t focus, his chest still hurt, he still had to put on a face that wasn’t really him.

He tugged a paper out of the package and began rolling it between his fingers.

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