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I Felt Alive and I Can't Complain

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Natasha had gone to Canada, to the coast.

She stood on the pebbled shore with the surf foaming at her feet, a cold, salty wind thrashing her thick red hair that was growing larger and larger with each day she allowed it to be her mane, her headdress, her crown.

Her face was her own, entirely and utterly. Her skin was scarred, a tiny line underneath her eyebrow, a dot under her lip. Spots along her right temple. She took her earrings out before the drive but now she put them back in, one small stud that looks like gold but isn’t because she had no desire for jewels or riches anymore. She never did in the first place, really. The other earring was a ring, it dangled and she liked to tug at it, run her fingers over it for a moment, pulling at the lobe. She took the earrings out after a moment and slipped them into her pocket, pulling out gloves instead.

She loved jewellery; she loved the odd necklaces from charity shops, the bracelets mae from bits of string and bead, the rings from antique shops that are scuffered and were mass-produced twenty years ago, supermarket earrings. But she only loved wearing it for a little while, having a few brief moments of splendour and shine. She loved wearing things that many would consider worthless; she liked to instill worth in things herself. Be the determiner of how important and wonderful and precious something was.

The wind was cold and bitter and biting. She pulled her hood close around her neck, her hair billowing loose and brushing against her neck and her jaw. Her face was cold but the rest of her was not; her hands were snug in purple gloves she made for herself with a single, simple cable on the back of each. She was exceptionally proud of them. Underneath the coat with its fake fur trim around the edge was a dark green hoodie with a fleece lining and a dark brown zip on the front.

Her clothes mattered a great deal to her now. They always did, since she left the Red Room, but that was because clothes had always been a crucial part of missions, of the characters she had to play. Now that she had no more characters to play or missions to fulfil, clothers were only for her. She got to pick what they looked like, how they made her appear, why she chose them, Her priority was comfort. Warmth, fit, size. Practicality was also important but she had learnt that it didn’t have to mean she compromised on happiness.

Her boots were one of her favourite things. She’d always worn combat boots when she wore boots before, but now she had wellies. They were cheap and dull green; they also made her socks fall off her feet so she wore leg warmers underneath; pink and fuzzy from being washed too many times.

She made her way down to the shore, jumping from rock to rock until she was standing on one just beyond the waterline. Surf and foam crashed around her feet, waves went rolling past her. One jump backwards and she was on shiny, slippery pebbles.

The sea was grey and brown. The sky was grey and white. The land was green with pants and brown with tree trunks and grey with rock.

Natasha was Natasha.

Natasha was herself and by that she meant that she was neither a girl or a boy but she/her pronouns fit her better than anything else, were the words that she liked most.

She’d always been told that she was a girl; she’d grown up in the Red Room where they were all girls and the few that made it through were women. Then she was the woman. A woman. Dresses and high heels and make up and wigs and flirting and lingerie and missions to seduce people, because women weren't sent out to operate in the same way men were sent out to oprate, which was stupid.

Not she had never been a woman.

Not in her soul, which was where it counted. She liked her hips, her chest, her face. She liked her body and her name. Natasha. It wrapped around her like the first scarf she’d ever made, the one sitting on the passenger seat of the car she'd bought second hand- or maybe fourth- from a neighbour with her own money and the promise of a jar of jam when she grew strawberries next summer.

But none of thse things, no matter how hard they tried, could make her soul a woman. Her body was, and that was something she was happy to say, but her soul didn’t quite line up with the rest of her.

She spread her arms out and sang into the wind in a wordless, exuberant language all of her own spontaneous creation. When her eyes dripped tears from the cold air and her cheeks ached from smiling and her throat burned from singing, she beamed and trudged back up the beach.The beach was her favourite place.

She didn’t have many worries anymore; most of them surrounded the cows at the farm she worked on. And her newest radiator, which she was still convinced hadn’t been fitted properly by the plumber. She’d decided not to worry about her past.

Life was better that way.

Canda was also very alive, just like her. There were wild animals every other metre- though that was probably largely to do with the fact that she was living somewhat on the edge of the wilderness. Canadians didn’t consider it wilderness; they laughed and told her she had no idea what real wilderness was.

Natasha felt alive in Canada, with wild weather and land and people. She felt alive in her identity and her life and her existence.

She spread her arms and spun and smiled.

“My name is Natasha!” she screamed to the wind. “My name is Natasha and I am not a man or a woman and you can’t have me!”