Listen to this story, narrated by Victor Ramos:
Deborah smoothed out her skirt, scratched at the wiry hairs on her chin, and prayed for the wind to die. The midsummer moon’s reflection rippled and danced on the waves. If only the lake would still. If it didn’t, she would never receive her heart’s desire. How could she endure another year like this? More facial hair, more mockery, more groping hands eager to prove that she was no girl. How would she survive to sixteen if the wind kept swirling?
A rustling from behind her. She turned to find Amanda carefully making her way down the hill. Amanda, who moved with effortless grace, who had a dancer’s instincts and kind eyes. All the boys chased her but she wasn’t interested in boys. She was Deborah’s oldest and now only friend, the only one who’d stuck with her once she told everyone she wasn’t a him.
Amanda settled in beside her, put her hand over Deborah’s — how Deborah’s heart quickened — and whispered, “No stillness yet, Deb?”
Deborah shook her head, not wanting the deep, unwelcome tones of her own voice to spoil the moment. They sat for some time, the wind lapping at the waves.
“You’re sure this will work?” Deborah finally whispered.
“Aunt Zelda said so,” Amanda said, “and she’s never wrong about these things.”
That was true. When Deborah’s dog ran away, Zelda had told her to go look for him at the abandoned farmhouse out on 61st Street. Sure enough, Ranger had been there, valiantly guarding a momma cat and her babies.
“What if the wind never dies down?”
“I have faith it will,” Amanda said. “The magic will work.”
They sat together. Sometime after two, the wind stopped. Soon the lake was still. Not even daring to breathe, Deborah crept to the edge and looked down at her reflection, at the blocky lines of her face, the patches of dark hair on her chin, the short hair her mom wouldn’t let her grow out.
Make me a girl. How could her heart’s desire be anything else? She scrutinized her reflection, willing it to change, for the lines of her face to soften, the bristles to drop away. Nothing.
She stared until the wind returned, and then it was over. She was unchanged. Amanda wrapped an arm around her, held her close as she cried.
Words tore at Deborah’s throat, the worst words, until they at last forced their way from her lips.
“I’ll never be a girl. Never, never.”
Amanda gasped, tensed up. “Deb,” she said firmly. “Look at me.”
Deborah did. Amanda’s eyes were unreadable in the dark. Silently, she leaned in, pressed her lips to Deborah’s. Deborah slipped her arms around Amanda, and they held each other in the wave-scattered moonlight.
When they broke the kiss, Deborah blinked tears from her eyes.
“Oh,” Deborah said. Nothing had changed. She was still herself. The water’s surface was ever-changing, but the lake remained.
Later, the two girls went up the hill together, hand in hand.