Chapter 3: Jamian the Mirror

After a brief breakfast, Jamian faced his first class with something resembling excitement.

The class was History of English Literature, with Dr. VanderLinden, who was a laid-back, affable man, too tall, too blonde, and too young-seeming to fit Jamian’s view of a professor. After a brief and uncomfortably-familiar introduction, however, he dove into Beowulf with the small class - Jamian and twelve others - with enough expertise that, despite himself, Jamian warmed to the class.

After Dr. Vanderlinden’s class, he had North American History, just across the hall. The thickly-carpeted halls of Addergoole seemed eerily quiet after the jostling crowds of his last school, and he found himself loitering, looking around at his fellow students as they moved between classes. It wasn’t that there was any less noise from any single student, he decided, just that eighty-some students made a lot less noise than two thousand.

“You must be Jamian.” The husky voice broke his reverie, and he jumped, turning, to see what had to be the teacher smiling at him.

“Uh, urm, yeah,” he stuttered. “Sorry.” He hurried into the classroom and shoved himself into the first desk that came to hand.

“Now that we’re all here,” the teacher smiled, “I’m Laurel Valerian, and I will be your history teacher. In this class, we’ll be covering the history of North America, especially the United States and Canada. There’s a lot of history, so this will be a very intensive course.”

As if to prove that, she dove into the subject matter immediately, beginning with pre-Columbian American civilizations. She attacked the material with both hands, gesticulating vividly, used six colors of chalk on the board for her diagrams, and paused frequently to ask questions of her small class. Jamian, who had expected to be bored, found himself intrigued.

Although she was delving into sections of history that his previous teachers had either ignored or glazed over, Jamian occasionally got the feeling that she was leaving something out here or there, glossing over something; her hands would pause in the recitation, and she would make a dismissive gesture and move on, usually without her monologue missing a beat.

As the class went on, and he was able to relax into Valerian’s rhythm of lecturing, he began to look around at his fellow students. He had sat down behind an arrogant, sandy-haired boy - Melchior - who liked to argue with the teacher; to his right was a pretty redheaded girl - Kailani. He’d noticed her sitting with the returning students at dinner, and again at breakfast. In class, she seemed more intense, as if she were vigilantly storing every morsel of knowledge, and her answers to Valerian’s questions were careful and precise.

Behind her was Alexander, who had to be the tallest teenager Jamian had ever seen, probably nearly seven foot tall, dark-tanned, and muscular. He lounged in his desk as if half-asleep, and, though Valerian seemed to pick on him more than on anyone else, he answered all her questions with the same bored lassitude.

All in all, there were sixteen students in the class - which had twenty desks in a loose grouping near the front of the classroom. Thirteen in the first class, sixteen in this, and only maybe eighty students in the entire school. It was going to be weird.

After History, his schedule showed geometry and Russian before lunch. There’d been a note clipped to his paperwork telling him he had an appointment with the doctor then, but, since he hadn’t willingly been to a doctor since he was 11, he saw no reason to start now. Instead, he headed to the math classroom.

He’d just sat down and gotten his book open when the “porter,” Luke, and another one of the same sort, came into the classroom and flanked his desk, looking serious and official.

“Can I help you?” Jamian asked acidly.

“You have an appointment with Doctor Caitrin this morning, Jamian,” Luke replied officiously. “Did you lose your way?”

“I don’t need a doctor. I’m not sick.” Of course they were making their scene in the middle of the classroom where everyone could hear.

“Didn’t you hear Doctor Regine mention that these things aren’t optional?” His voice was slickly sarcastic, and a sense of impending doom hung over Jamian. They were really going to stand here and shout at him until he cooperated. “Now, you have a choice, kid.” Hope bloomed for a half-second, until Luke continued. “You can walk on your own to Doctor Caitrin’s, or we can carry you.”

He sighed. “Fine. I’ll come.”

“I knew you’d see it my way.” He and his silent partner flanked Jamian and led him down the hall to the Doctor’s office, while he tried to look as if this wasn’t horribly mortifying. A couple students in the halls stopped and stared, but, thankfully, there really weren’t that many around to see his humiliating forced march.

Once they got him into the office, Luke and his crony left Jamian alone with the nurse – who, against all reason and reality, was actually wearing a little white nurse’s dress and the absurd little cap. She smiled brightly at him and led him into the examining room, where she did all those silly things – weight and height and blood pressure – with a brisk efficiency that gave lie to the impractical costume-like uniform.

“All done,” she said, tucking the paperwork into a folder, and, once again, Jamian felt a moment of hope. “Now, if you’ll just take your clothes off and wait here, the doctor will see you soon.”

All his hopes crashed into a miserable train wreck. He’d been avoiding taking off his clothes in front of other people – anyone else, even his parents – since he was old enough to dress himself.

There was only one door out of the examining room, and this stupid underground hole didn’t even have windows. Even if he managed to sneak out of the office, he had yet to find the exits to the outdoors.

With a feeling approaching terror, he took his shirt off and hoped it would be enough.

Just as he was folding his shirt, the door opened, and an older woman in a white lab coat walked in, looking at a chart. She glanced over the clipboard at him. “Good morning, Jamian. Please take off your clothes.” Her tone was both friendly and no-nonsense, and she was standing between him and the door. Slowly, he turned his back to her and took off his pants and boxers.

“Now turn around,” she said patiently. “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, you know.”

“Want to bet?” he muttered, turning around slowly.

She studied him for a minute, her gaze clinical. “Aaah. Is that what you’re so worried about?”

He flushed angrily. “You think?” he snapped at her.

“It’s really not that big of a deal. And I have seen it before. Try to relax please, and sit up on this bench here.”

“Uh…” He did as she asked, remembering to close his mouth as he did so. “But…”

“True hermaphrodites are very rare out there, yes. But, as you may have gathered, ‘in here’ is not quite the same as ‘out there.’ Put your feet here, and here, please.”


She stopped, and looked directly at him, a measure of sympathy in her face. “I’m sorry, Jamian. No matter what you’ve been told, you’re not a horribly deformed monster.” His face flushed again, and he opened his mouth to retort, but she talked over him. “I’m a doctor, and a tad bit more experienced in these matters than those who you’ve encountered, I dare say. Put your feet in the stirrups, please. When’s the last time you had any sort of exam?”

“Urm… I was 11?” He stared at the things she’d called stirrups in horror, his knees clamped firmly together.

She tch’d softly at him. “Butchers. Come on, Jamian,” she coaxed, her cold hands resting gently on his knees. “I’d strongly recommend that you talk to Dr. Mendosa sometime soon – and to Ty as well.”

“Ty?” As she distracted him, her hands slipped between his knees.

“Another hermaphroditic student. I believe this semester, he’s choosing to be male. He may be able to give you another viewpoint on this situation.”

“Choosing to be…?” She’d managed to spread his knees apart, and she had amazingly strong hands; he couldn’t force his legs closed.

“Indeed.” She smiled mischievously. “I believe what he said was ‘why bother to have all the attachments if you’re not going to try them all out?’ Put your feet in the stirrups please, Jamian.”

Reluctantly, he did as she asked. “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to examine you,” she responded with a little exasperation. “That is why people visit doctors – to be certain they’re healthy. You may dislike the way you’re arranged, but an infection of any sort would still be rather unpleasant.”

He cringed, pulling his knees back in, but the doctor was in the way, standing between his legs. “Please, Jamian. Don’t make me use the restraints.”

That froze him in place. Slowly, he made himself open his legs again. “That’s good. Now scoot your butt towards me a little… there. Lay back.”

He had never felt so exposed in his life. He lay back, staring at the ceiling – someone had hung a soothing nature scene on the ceiling above the examining table – and tried not to think about what she was doing. He’d had years of experience not thinking about what was between his legs, except to hide it.

“This is going to hurt a little…” It did, like an immense stomach pain, but the threat of restraints kept him holding stock-still. “You seem to be all in healthy working order. If you want to remain as you are, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to function perfectly well.”

“It’s not like I have a choice.”

“Of course you do.” She sounded surprised. “Our medical technology is a little bit more advanced than that ‘out there;’ we can reorganize you any way you wish. At the very least, we can help you be comfortable with what you are.”

“Reorganize?” He grabbed onto that thought in an ever-increasing swirl of unfamiliarity.

“Yes, dear.” She patted his inner thigh in a friendly manner. “You can be a boy, or a girl, or you can choose, like Ty, to be a Swiss Army knife.”


This is an updated, edited, revised chapter. For the original, click here

Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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