Sometimes, you can just about convinces yourself that life seems to be going alright, that maybe things will get better-and keep getting better. But then the shadows you've almost escaped come creeping back in, and before you know it, you're on the verge of being swallowed up again.

Curled up inside my cave of bedsheets, a hand slid into my hoodie pocket and turned up volume of my iPod, even though my eardrums were beginning to throb. I didn't care. Something had to distract me from the aching of that time of the month. But this time it was worse than ever, an utter sense of wrongness that dully lay inside of my stomach- inside of every organ and every thought.  It was more than just the usual reminder of what I had been born as.

The words of one of the emails came to mind: die dickless dyke.

Yet the thought of the anatomy that I didn't possess  had no effect on the sensation inside of me. Neither felt quite right.

'Maybe you're not quite right.'

My breath caught in my throat along with a sudden urge to retch. I exhaled, letting the air float out of my lungs and carry away the thought, just as Amanda had taught me. But there were still so many other thoughts left.

Like the fact that someone knew about me.

Considering they'd gotten hold of my email, I had a few suspects. Whoever it was, they weren't going to keep things behind a screen forever.  They knew I could delete away emails and change my address. But they also knew I couldn't delete away the truth. So much for hoping that Rochdale high would be survivable for at least a year.

'All you have to do is get through the Spring term, then you'll be on study leave and can go to college after your exams,' I reminded myself, releasing another long breath.

Something else welled up inside of me, a different kind of pain, one that burnt rather than simply left hollowness. It was more than wanting to actually manage a school year without anything going wrong, to be at a school long enough to make friends. I wanted to stay on at Rochdale, wanted to stay on and be with Lily.

A weird noise was competing with my music, and I thrust my head out if the covers with one earphone pulled out, praying that it wasn't Matt come to check in on me. But the noise was coming from somewhere in my room: a glockenspiel noise that chimed over and over (I remembered then that Toby had been playing jukebox with my phone ringtones).

Forced to crawl out from my sanctuary, I lent each side of the bed, sliding around with my hands wading through the piles of stuff until I found my phone, hidden under a open X-Men comic.

The second I unlocked the phone, a hushed voice poured out into my ears. For hours I'd been searching for a sound to truly distract me from the tangle of thoughts that occupied my mind. Now I had found it. Lily's voice was was the antidote to every worry, every fear.

  "Hey, Taylor-basically, Mum's really getting on my nerves, and to get her off my back I promised her I'd go see Dan and talk things through. Obviously, I'm not going to go see him, and we might as well make the most of the snow-I was thinking did you wanna go sledging?"

'Wait, it's snowed?' My cramped limbs clambered across my room and I tugged back the curtain with a flash of bright light and the sight of a winter wonderland outside. Or at least as much as a winter wonderland as you could get in Britain during a mild winter and global warming (read a mere six or so centimetres)

An anticipating inhale whispered through the phone to me, and with a start I realised that I hadn't replied.

"Uh, yeah, that sounds great," my voice scratched back.

MisgenderedRead this story for FREE!