As published in Other Voices, October 2008.

Julian always thought it would get easier to start over. It never did. A few days ago, he had been the youngest female executive ever to be promoted to Creative Director at Fiston Jennings Agencies, and now he was back to being an awkward teenager late for art class. He walked through the open door and took an empty seat at the back of the room while the class stared interruptedly. The woman who looked like she might be the teacher – if only because she might be two years older than the rest of the class – smiled politely and said nothing.

“We’re drawing what we’re feeling today,” the girl with the green scarf told him, leaning over so she didn’t have to speak loudly. “I’m using lots of red.”

“Oh. Thanks.” Julian spilled his satchel open onto the table, put his sketchbook and pencils to the side, then shoved the other things back in, among those things, his lipstick.

“Nice colour,” she said. “Not many guys keep lipstick in their purse, you know.”

“Yes, I know. Thanks.”

“Not many guys have a purse at all, you know.”

“Yes, I know,” Julian said. And not many guys used to be a twenty-seven-year old woman. He stared at the blank page in front of him with an equally blank and expressionless face. He didn’t know what he was feeling today, except that he definitely didn’t feel like himself, whoever that might be. Maybe he should draw July, the woman he had been up until a week ago. She had already finished with this high school nonsense a decade earlier, found a very well-paying job at a prestigious firm, and was even about to marry a successful doctor. Yes, July’s life was full and promising, until one morning she woke up and found her shell had once again cracked open, and out of it stepped Julian, who now sat in some art class in some high school, and was being asked to draw what he was feeling. Like it was that simple.

Julian turned around suddenly, startled by the teacher’s annoyed sigh.

“Just draw what you’re feeling,” she said. “It’s simple, just… draw… what you’re feeling.”

“Yes, I know, thank you. I just don’t really know what I’m feeling at the moment.”

“Then just draw anything, I don’t care. I’m only marking participation on this one. And technically you have to draw something to participate.”

Julian nodded. He began by drawing an overweight man with long dark hair and a deep purple beret. This is who July had been before she was July. Then he drew a middle-aged housewife, a burly Statesman, an old gypsy woman, a young prince, an elegant actress, an archeologist, a fisherman, and a hobo; all people that Julian had once been. He drew all these people in no particular order, all over the page. It wasn’t easy to remember them all; it had been several hundred years of this nonsense. And all because of a slight misunderstanding during a wish. Julian shook his head.

After class, Julian went to the boys washroom, locked himself in a stall, and checked his waist carefully for cracks. No sense going through all this work for nothing, he thought.