Chapter 1: Finding your True North

Chapter 1: Finding your True North

A Chapter by Mika Franolich

Chapter 1: Finding your True North Hello, my name is Samantha Reese, and I’m a fifteen year old attending Montgomery County High, a tiny place in Ailey, Georgia. Although my name is Samantha, and tha


Chapter 1: Finding your True North

Hello, my name is Samantha Reese, and I’m a fifteen year old attending Montgomery County High, a tiny place in Ailey, Georgia. I’m Samantha- that’s how I introduce myself, that is who I am. My real name though, technically speaking, is Samuel Avory Smith. My name could hardly be more white, but I suppose the one I picked for myself couldn’t be, either. By all accounts I was a normal kid. I had cried when I’d come into the world, I’d gurgled and laughed at the appropriate moments. I played like other kids did, I talked as they did. I was also somewhat developmentally advanced. When I was four I’d taken up piano, and my parents couldn’t have been more proud. I was their little protege, their rising star. That didn’t matter to me, though- the only thing that mattered was the feeling that filled me as my fingers danced across the smooth keys. I found that, even at such a young age, I’d always been able to pour my heart into piano, expressing myself in ways I never could with words, even despite being quite verbose.

At the age of five I found a love of anything and everything girly, especially pearls, dresses, and heels. The first time I dove into my mother's closet to find all three my parents had laughed and called me cute. When I did it again at ten I was reprimanded and told I was too old for dressup, that it was strange and inappropriate for a boy. When I did it in front of them once more at thirteen, I was punished for the first time. They had finally come to understand that slipping on girls clothes or applying makeup was so much more to me than a simple game of dressup. It was an expression of a deep, hidden part of myself that had yearned for release for the longest time. At thirteen, I went from being their one-and-only to a disappointment and, eventually, to their shame. That year I stopped playing the piano, skipping the concert I had been meant to perform at. It was a huge honor for someone my age to be given such a chance, yet I blew it off. I was done. Why make my parents happy, why give a damn about them and their desires, when they didn’t have enough of a whole heart between the two of them to care about me? As for myself- piano had made me happy, once, but I found that nothing made me happy anymore. Now here I am with so little left to me at fifteen and all I am is achingly alone.

I snapped out of my reminiscing and pulled off the raven wig I’d been modeling in the mirror, glancing at the clock on the adjourning wall. 8:10. I should be leaving, but not yet, not now. I stood up, nervously brushing my hands over my green leather skirt that I had put on for only a moment. A bit unusual, and I don’t usually like to stand out so much, but… a friend had given it to me. Someone who always stood tall, building a wall between her and the outside world. She was the type to make the sun bow to her each night, who would watch the entire world break against her will before she ever bent. When I wore the skirt, it seemed to imbibe me with her strength. Striding across the room, carefully picking my way between scattered clothes and discarded bits of store-brand makeup, I made my way slowly to the coffee machine. It is possibly the one luxury in this otherwise barren apartment. I got the coffee prepped, knowing my roommate would need to have some immediately upon her return. I quickly slipped on my other clothes, the masculine ones. I didn’t feel like dealing with the people in my school today, and my disdain for the plain jeans and plaid flannel I threw on was still far lesser of an evil than the physical pain my other clothes would bring me.

Finished, I slung on my backpack and headed towards the door, my foot hitting a lipstick tube along the way. It brought me some small amount of amusement. I tried to keep the apartment clean, as a way of showing gratitude to my roommate for all she had done, but more often than not it was trashed the next morning.

I stole a glance at the clock that hung above the doorway before I left. 8:21. I would be plenty late.


When I finally arrived to school everyone else was already in class, which is the way that I like it. It’s why I made a point of arriving late, something that directly contradicts my otherwise annoyingly punctual personality.

“Hello there, Sam.” Mr. Morrany, my science teacher, greeted as I walked up to the table they had set up for people, such as myself, who arrive late.

“Hey,” I mumbled, quickly jotting my name down onto the piece of paper before me. Usually I’d just ignore people, but he was alright… I had noticed he used the neutral Sam, not Samantha, and adamantly avoided using my pronouns, but I tolerated him. I tolerated him because, outside of one secretary in the office who always makes a point of talking to me when I go in, and normally sneaks me a few snacks, he’s the best thing I have in this school. It’s sad when I consider that, out of six hundred and thirty three students with who-knows how many additional staff members, they’re the only two who come close to accepting me; for my own sake, I don’t think about it often.

“Sam, wait!” calls out Mr. Morrany as I began walking away. I stopped, slowly swiveling my head to face him.


“It says on this list here,” he brandished the paper he’d been holding, “you’ve had another ten tardy’s again. I’m supposed to write you up for detention, but I… I...”

He hesitated, biting his lip thoughtfully. “You’re free to go this time. Just try not to arrive late again, okay?”

“Mmmm,” was the only non-committal reply I deigned to give as I trudged off. I slid into first hour silently, grabbing a seat at the back of the class. My psychology teacher, Ms. Woods, was explaining the Freudian therapy technique. An interesting enough subject, but still, I already knew everything about Freud and his methods of study were flawed, anyways. Regardless, I pulled out my notebook and jotted down her words, ever a dutiful student, if not a prompt one. Eventually, it turned to other topics.

“Lee Ross, a social psychologist, built on the works of Fritz Heider and Gustav Ichheiser to create a theory of human behavior. This theory suggested that humans prescribe certain characteristics to individuals without taking into account any external factors. Can anyone tell me what this claim was called?”

I wrote down the answer as, around me, the students hesitated. Finally, Alex, a slip of a girl, slowly raised her hand into the air, like to do so was to offer herself up for sacrifice.

“Alex?” Ms. Woods called.

“Freud?” I gritted my teeth as most of the class tittered behind hands at her answer. They would have laughed outright, but, well, she was popular. That would have flown directly in the face of the unspoken but well established Laws of High School.

“I’m afraid not. Jodie?” Ms. Woods called as another hand shot up.

“Relation error?” she seemed to ask more than tell.

Closer- fundamental attribution error.  I thought as I rubbed my head, suddenly exhausted. I could feel a migraine coming on, no doubt owed entirely to this class.

“Oh, so close, but I’m afraid not. Anyone else? Well, then, it’s referred to as fundamental attribution error.”

Everyone looked at Ms. Woods blankly when she said this, like she had suddenly started speaking Mandarin, and her smile became strained. The bell rang out sharply, breaking the silence, and I’m not quite sure who was more relieved- the class, or the teacher. I picked up my stuff, which I’d already had packed, and rushed out the door.

I had used to sit at the front of the class, where people, too fearful of drawing the teacher’s attention, would leave me alone. But that meant I was almost always last out the door, and that in turn meant that the hallway would be swarming with students by the time I made my escape. I had learned those few seconds mattered. Sitting near the door, I was always the first one out, and I would sprint unimpeded down the hall to my next class. Most of the time it would work and I’d reach the classroom safely.

It didn ‘t always.

A hand reached out and grabbed my collar as I darted by, shoving me up against a locker.

“Hey f*g, where’s your skirt today, huh?” Michael, a typical jock on the pre-evolution end of the scale, sneered as he pressed closer in, trapping me against the cold metal of the unforgiving locker.

His friends, Tony and Xavier, gave out cruel laughs.

“Maybe the freak finally realized he’d never be a girl.” Michael taunted.

I glared at them, seething, hell’s fire in my eyes, but I didn’t say a word.

“Aww, little f*g’s gone quiet. Tell me... “ here, Michael pressed closer still, a sinister look entering his eyes, and lowered his voice, “do you know why freaks like you are called f**s?”

“Ahhh, s**t, light him up!” Tony cackled as he pulled out a lighter. Michael grabbed the lighter from Tony and flicked it open, holding the flame before my eyes. I didn’t let any of the fear I was feeling show. He wouldn’t actually do it. He started to bring the lighter down to my hair, and I cracked.

“Wait!” I croaked out.

“Woah, you guys, Coach T is coming! Let’s get out of here.” Xavier said suddenly. Michael released me like I was already on fire, hurrying off after Tony and Xavier.

“Next time, Samuel.” he gave one last parting threat, and a feeling of dread settled over me.

My heart racing, I clutched the books I was holding closer to my chest, like they were a wall that would steadily guard me, keeping all my enemies away. I kept my head bowed on the way to English. I didn’t need to look to see the judgement and contempt in people’s eyes, after all; I could feel it, each stare sending sharp, unshakeable tingles over me where they brushed against my skin, like ants I couldn’t shake off. It pierced right through me. No, I didn’t need to look to feel any more hated or unwanted than I already did. The feelings transmuted quite nicely without being directly given.

Throughout the rest of the day, I kept my mind on my studies but my eyes peeled for Michael. He was psychotic enough to make good on his word. Finally, the last bell rang, signaling my freedom. I ran to work- a cozy little coffee shop called Niche in Cedar Mall. It is the one place I can feel comfortable. In a place where people are scouring the menu, trying to decide what coffee they want, they don’t notice if someone with a man’s haircut is wearing makeup. At least, if they do, they don’t have enough caring, time, or energy to comment on it.

“Hello, Samantha, have an alright day?” Jorge, the proprietor, asked me gaily as he gave me his 100-watt-smile that always worked to make even the worst of days a little bit better for me.

“It wasn’t bad.” I responded sincerely as I went into the back and tied on a dark red apron. My roommate was good friends with Jorge and had gotten me the job here. I had always liked the guy- he was an easy going person with a sharp wit and a delicious accent- but that connection my roommate gave us is what allowed me to feel so comfortable around him.

I went up to the cash register, lightly tapping Miranda on the shoulder so that she’d know she was free to go. I took the money a person offered and handed them their change. The line surged forward as they stepped quickly to the side.

“It’s quite a busy day.” I commented to Jorge.

He let out a heavy sigh. “Wooo, you’re telling me! Already we’ve had a vanilla macchiato with 2 percent foam, light water, non fat, two and a half pumps, skim milk, extra hot, with some ice order. I tell you what, I was tempted to tell that customer, ‘I’ll be lucky to macchiato here sane!’” I burst out laughing, enlivened by his good humor, and the peals of sound echoed throughout the cozy shop.

“Ah Jorge, you’re a whole latte crazy!”

“Yeah, yeah, don’t milk it.”

We continued swapping stupid puns like that as we bustled about, a typical day at work. It took me five more hours before my shift was finished. When I was done, I slipped into the bathroom to change into the dress and wig I’d had in my backpack, throwing on makeup. I said a final good-bye to Jorge and left the coffee shop, heading towards the nearest exit. When I made it out of the mall, I heard shouting. Curious, I wandered towards it to see a group huddled around two people, though I couldn’t make them out in the low light of the setting sun.

“What’d you say to my girl?”

“I don’t know what you mean!” shouted a familiar voice. I began shoving through the crowd, needing to see the person who had spoken. I finally broke through and was confronted with the sight of Xavier, tall and bulky, being pinned by someone taller and bulkier. The guy looked like he drank testosterone for breakfast.

“How about you stop denying it and say you’re sorry, punk!”

“Man, get off of-”

That was when his hand came crashing across Xavier’s jaw. At first I stared, stunned, as the people around me threw out jeers and word of encouragement like knives. I had been the victim of words all my life, and knew they could flay open your skin even more so than the knuckles that were pounding into Xavier’s skin now.

“Say you’re sorry!” the meathead roared.

“I would if I had anything to apologize for!” Xavier sputtered. Another punch met his bold denial.

“Say it!”

“F**k you!”

Yet another punch. “SAY IT!”

I hadn’t been going to do anything. I had been going to sit back and get some twisted sort of pleasure as I watched this entertaining show. But there was nothing to derive from this display but an overwhelming sickness that churned my stomach. Seeing Xavier being beaten up with people clustered around him, cheering on his attacker when they could be helping, reminded me too much of this morning when I was shoved against the locker. Not just this morning- it was like a replay of most of my life.

Without realizing it, I began walking forward. “Oh my gosh, stop!” I cried out dramatically as I threw myself in between Xavier and meathead.

“Sweetie, are you okay?” I fussed as I brought my hands up to rest lightly on either side of Xavier’s face, stroking my thumb soothingly along the cuts and swells. “Come on, we have to get you home!” I worried as I pushed him along ahead of me. I ran through the crowd with him, not giving any time for the aggressors to collect themselves and decide they didn’t care about proceeding to beat up Xavier in front of his supposed girlfriend.

We broke through and I grabbed his hand, rushing towards the mall.

“Where are you taking me?”

“Just shut up! We’re going to Niche. We have to be around other people.” I snapped at him, opening the door and ushering him in. I looked at his face as he walked past me. “Gosh, are you bloodied up. We have to get you to the hospital.”

“No!” he shouted, his voice cracking. I looked at him questioningly, raising one eyebrow. “I- I don’t want to go to a hospital and then have my parents contacted.”

He seemed to realize what he had sounded like and lowered his voice so it was nothing but a husky mumble, barely discernible above the voices of the people around us. “Please.”

A droplet of blood hanging from his trembling chin fell on that plea, splashing to the white, checkered mall floor. His eyes were downcast so I couldn’t see them, but I didn’t need to to realize how truly desperate he was. I gave out a long breath of air, not quite certain what to do but, eventually, I relented. I grabbed his hand and began pulling him along after me once more.

“Fine. Come with me and I’ll take care of it,” I promised him as I pulled him along, and I meant every word. It may have seemed odd, that I was helping one of my most impassioned and persistent bullies, but Xavier Southern had mentioned one thing I would always empathize with and never be able to ignore- needing protection from poor excuses of parents.

“Julio!” I hissed as I leaned across the counter. He looked up from the peppermint something-or-other he was making.

“Yes?” he said inquisitively, his accent trilling, and I had to force myself to focus as shivers ran through me.

“I need a ride back to my place. It’s important.”

“I can’t just take off, Samantha, even if I am the owner.”

“Please! Someone got beaten up and they need help.”

He hesitated. “Maybe call 911-”

“I can’t! He won’t go to the hospital, but he needs to have some sort of medical treatment. It’s bad.”

“If he’s refusing to go to the hospital then he can’t be that ba…” Julio began protesting, but he trailed off as Xavier chose that moment to walk up to the counter. I’d shoved him in a corner before coming to talk to Julio so he wouldn’t scare off the customers, but I guess he’d gotten tired of waiting. Typical. I shook my head in disgust as Julio went pale, turning as white as me, before blustering about. “I- I’ll just go get my car then, mmm? Charlie, you’ve got the run of the place! I need to leave.” he called to the manager before grabbing his keys and rushing out of the door.

Fifteen minutes or so later, we were at my apartment. Julio walked with us up the three flights of stairs to make sure we arrived okay and then, with a quick good-bye, he hurried back off to work.

Unlocking the door, I helped Xavier into the apartment.

“Wow, this is…”

“Don’t say it.” I snapped as I stepped over the tube of lipstick I’d kicked earlier. Or maybe it was a different one- I don’t frickin know.

“I was going to say beautifully decorated.” he responded in a light-hearted manner that surprised me- I didn’t know he had a funny side to him. I’d only ever seen the brute.

His efforts at attempting a joke earned him one hell of a sexy snort as I strode towards the bathroom. “Aren’t you a bit too vulnerable right now to be making jokes like that? Grab a seat on any clean spot of floor you find.”

“So stay standing.” he muttered, which I graciously chose to ignore.

I grabbed the Hydrogen Peroxide and cotton pads out of the bathroom cabinet then strode back out, suddenly all business.

“Alright, ya scallywag. Head turned towards the light, or ay won’t be able to see to make me stitches.”

“Stitches?” he gasped, horrified.

I rolled my eyes. “I’m just kidding, honestly. Some peroxide, a little bandaging, head removal- that’s all I have planned.”

Xavier seemed to relax upon hearing me say that, if only minimally. It was enough for his good humor to be restored.

“Head removal?” he chuckled, a little grin taking over his face, causing him to wince.

I nodded. “I’m afraid this one is quite destroyed.”

“Well, if it’s only head removal.” he responded grandly.

I plopped down on the ground beside him. “This is going to hurt,” I warned, “Just try to keep the screams low enough that my neighbors DON’T think I’m in here performing some ancient Aztec sacrifice.”

“Will do. Screams set to nine, not ten.”

“That’ll do.” I told him briskly as I gently dabbed the peroxide soaked pad against his skin. I’d had him wash his face while Julio got the car, so his skin was nice and clean. He winced as the pad made contact with the cuts. “Is it too painful?”

“What, this?” he queried, gesturing at his face. “Nah, I’ve had worse from my coach.”

I let my face relax into a tiny smile at that one. I didn’t find it funny, but he needed to feel good in some small way. Might as well be his ego that’s given a boost. “You may want to report him. I’ve heard it’s illegal to beat up kids these days.”

“Well, I would, but you see he sends me cookies and flowers whenever he’s done.”

“Oh, well that changes everything. Everybody knows cookies and flowers make everything alright again.” I noticed his eyes were scouring my face as I spoke, and I grew uncomfortable, shifting nervously. I was used to open criticism, but I wasn’t used to the type of look he was giving me now.

“Exactly my thoughts.” he murmured, still gazing intently at me. Suddenly, “You look beautiful. Like this, I mean. It suits you much better than, well…”

I’m not sure which dropped sooner- my mouth, or the pad I was holding. I could feel myself turning ashen white as I stood up, my fists clenched and my body shaking. When I spoke the words came out wobbly and weak, but my tone was firm.

“If you’re going to mock me while I’m trying to help then you can just go. I wasn’t expecting us to be the best of pals, but you could have the decency to wait until I finish and, until that moment, not be such a di-”

“Samantha, I wasn’t trying to mock you, I was being sincere!” he interrupted my tirade and I could tell he meant it by the stricken, shocked look on his face. Besides, his voice before had been undeniably sincere. The pad in my hand fluttered to the ground and, a second later, I followed it. My knees hit the hard ground with a thud and I sat there, staring numbly at the wooden floor. After what felt like an eternity of me sitting there silently, Xavier staring just as quietly at me, I reached down for the pad and picked it up, wringing it in my hands.

“Sorry.” I mumbled brokenly, realizing as I did it that there was no need for me to apologize but feeling I had to.

“There’s nothing for you to apologize for.” Xavier gently consoled me.

“I realize,” I told him without preamble as I resumed my administrations, a new pad in my hand.

“Then why did you say it?” he asked curiously, head tilted so his black hair brushed endearingly over his brown eyes.

I couldn’t help it. I wanted to shock him- to see how much I could crack that cold exterior that, for the longest time, I thought I knew.

“Probably because my parents criticized and beat me so often I no longer know how to be anything but submissive, which includes saying ‘sorry’, even when I’m not. I guess, in the end, you’re not the only one who has bad parents.” I informed him frankly, staring him straight in the eyes. He just gave me a grim sort of half-smile, not at all shaken.

“No. I guess not.”

We stared at each other for the longest time until he finally broke contact, looking down. He gave out a dry sort of laugh at something.

“I think the cotton pad enemy has been sufficiently vanquished.” he told me as he grabbed what was now nothing more than a ball of fluff from between my picking fingernails.

“Look at that. Meathead had more than five syllables in one sentence.”

“I thought that guy today was a meathead.”

“I thought the same thing!” I squealed before bursting out laughing.

He grabbed me roughly by the shoulders. “What’d you just say? Say you’re sorry! Say it!” we exploded into peals of laughter at the thought.

“What did you say?” I asked as I brushed tears away from the corner of my eyes.

“Nothing.” I gave Xavier a disbelieving look, and a sly grin slowly stretched across his face. “I told his girlfriend she had a nice rack.” he finally admitted.

“What! Was she in the crowd?”

“You bet she was.”

“Which one was she?”

“The carrot top standing right next to you.”

“Well, I may be straight, but I must admit- you’re not wrong.”

“So you only like guys?”

I looked at him, totally astounded. “Are you, Xavier Southern, admitting I’m a girl?”

He shifted side to side, either from guilt or nervousness, I couldn’t tell, and tore his eyes from mine. “I know I gave you a hard time in school, but that’s just because… it’s because…” now he began picking apart the cotton pad he’d taken from me.

“Because why?” I gently prodded. I sensed we were on the edge of a precipice, about to go over, and neither of us really knew why lay beneath.

“Nevermind. I should go.” he said abruptly as he stood up. He began striding quickly towards the door.

“Xavier, wait!” I called out, and he stopped. Rushing to the shoebox sized closet outside of the bathroom that was nearly as tiny, I grabbed a rag and quickly rushed to the kitchen. I soaked the rag underneath the faucet so it was dripping wet with icy cold water, then wrung it out and shoved some ice in it. Twisting the ends of the rag together so it formed a pouch around the ice, I brought it back out to Xavier.

“Here,” I told him as I placed it into his hands, “Press this against your face and it will help the swelling.”

He accepted it but didn’t make another move towards the door. He stood there staring at it before swallowing, almost painfully. “You’re such a nice person, and… and one hell of a lady.”

He stood there a moment longer before seeming to come to a decision. “You don’t have to worry about me anymore. I won’t bother you. I never wanted to in the first place.” I nodded mutely.

He turned to go, one hand on the doorknob. He pushed open the door and stepped out, but gave me one last look before he left, the small-half smile that I now know is his signature look when he’s not hiding himself affixed firmly upon his face. “You know that Coach T wasn’t really there this morning?”

“I know.”

He left.

© 2017 Mika Franolich

Author's Note

Mika Franolich
What do you think about the characters and the dialogue?
What could improve the quality of this work?
Also, I made their ship name "Savior", so feel free to call them that :D

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Featured Review

8:21 ... 8:21 a.m? or 20:21? Joking about the use of clear time of day aside, I read a good bit of this and found it pretty good, a bit cliche, but I mean, that is not a bad thing. Tells a story, which is important. Characters seem believable enough so that is good. All in all, a nice little story here. Hope you keep at it. ^-^

Posted 11 Months Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


I love all the cute and funny comments the characters exchange in the dialogue. I was smiling or laughing through most of Samantha and Xavier's conversation. The conversations felt very realistic too. I love it, can't wait to read more.

Posted 11 Months Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

8:21 ... 8:21 a.m? or 20:21? Joking about the use of clear time of day aside, I read a good bit of this and found it pretty good, a bit cliche, but I mean, that is not a bad thing. Tells a story, which is important. Characters seem believable enough so that is good. All in all, a nice little story here. Hope you keep at it. ^-^

Posted 11 Months Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I'm so glad there is more to read clearly a gifted author and poet you have some great imagery really bringing the school life to fruition I can't wait to read more

Posted 11 Months Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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3 Reviews
Added on November 5, 2017
Last Updated on November 8, 2017
Tags: Transsexual, trans, woman, womanhood, female power, woman power, LGBT, bullying, harassment, abandonment, themes of violence


Mika Franolich
Mika Franolich


Just a 20 year old college girl with... a plan? What plan? Review me and be warned... I will review you >:) haha, jk, I promise I'm nice. more..