Standing at the bottom of the pool, holding the weight she’s stolen from her older brother’s dumbbells, she knew she could do it this time. She knew there were gills behind her ears, and she was waiting for them to open up.
Looking up, she saw the shadow of a tree dropping dead leaves onto the surface of the pool, sunrays slicing through the water and the murky outline of her mother, no doubt looking worried, at the edge.
She was only eight, but old enough to know there’d been some mistake. She’d watched the other kids throw balls and play dolls and the way her father drove to work each day and came home huffing. She’d heard about a man that was always supposed to be a man but was born a little girl by mistake, and she thought for sure that she was supposed to be a fish.
But her lungs were like lead at the bottom of the pool as she willed the back of her head to open up and take a breath. How wonderful it would be to breathe that chlorine filled water that was stinging her eyes and little drips of it leaking into her nose.
She needed so badly to breathe, but she knew if she just stayed down there long enough, her body would have no choice but to become a shark or an octopus or a minnow at least.