When John loved Jane is a short story by Filipino transgender writer Amanda Valentine Dela Cruz. Thank you Amanda for letting us post your story on our blog!
When John loved Jane
John, a college student recalls the very first time he fell in love. He takes everyone on a journey through how his life was geared towards making a girl named Jane truly happy for the first time in her life.
Jane, an atypical damsel in distress who is quite eccentric nonchalantly reveals herself to John. Beneath Jane’s seemingly perfect life colored with beautiful artworks and promises is an underlying sadness that John was in a battle to lift away from her.
John might just have all the answers through Jane’s unsaid prayers through this intimate narrative of first love.
I was eight when I first liked someone of the opposite sex. Her name was Jane, a young girl with overwhelming grace, beauty, and mystery. She had such promise and dreams that were comparable to a young Picasso. She was adept in arts, especially in painting. She was dressed unusually as when the little girls our age were covered with frilly dresses, she always donned a t-shirt and pants.
She used to tell me all the time how she’d love to be a famous painter someday. I’ve always assured her that she would if she kept her pursuit.
On a chilly day with a brewing storm, she glanced at me with her eyes welling just right after I told her that she could be everything she wanted to be. She shook her head whilst crystalline tears ran down to her cheeks with her beautiful side profile as my view.
She turned her back on me and faced her canvas again. She started painting a figure that seemed to be a long hair of a woman. She always painted women which always puzzled me. I asked softly as my eyes were glued to her short raven hair. “Why do you always paint women?”
“I don’t know… I really don’t know,” she replied with a blank voice without laying sight on me. Jane was filled with intrinsic passion and it was overshadowed by her sadness. I’ve always wanted to know why she always seemed lonely.
Eight was a very young age and I was supposed to be playing outside with my friends but there I was, by Jane’s side, wanting to give her happiness.
Jane molded my sensitivity. She unknowingly taught me not to only think about myself. Her femininity inspired me to be a better person. Her empathy, humor, and selflessness made me different from most of the boys my age.
As soon as she finished her painting, she turned her face towards me. Her face suddenly beamed as she told me “Her name is Madison, isn’t she beautiful?” while her brush was pointing towards a beautiful woman with long brown hair living on the canvass.
I nodded as she dropped her brush on the floor. She grabbed my wrist and looked out the window. “I love the rain, it smells so good!” she exclaimed as her eyes were closed whilst she sniffed the air from their lawn.
“Don’t you ever go out of the house to play?” I asked. She smiled at me and looked on the lawn again. “I feel safer inside the house. It’s a place where nobody can judge me.”
For a young girl to utter those words left me more wonder. “I never see you playing with dolls like the other girls I know. Why don’t you have toys?” I asked her again right before I pursed my lips.
– “I can’t. My parents would never allow me to have those kinds of toys.”
Her statement turned my wonder into total confusion. I started to think that her parents were cruel to her, but just before I was about to say something against her folks, she suddenly adds, “It’s my choice not to play with those toys. I… just don’t think they’re right for me.”
My confusion hastily turned into shock. “Don’t worry about me. I’m fine,” she assured. Even though she told me she was fine, I could see the lamentation in her eyes. I saw a girl who wanted to do the same things that girls her age would usually do but something’s stopped her from doing them.
Maybe her parents were forcing her to become a famous artist, or maybe she doesn’t have the time to play… or maybe, just maybe, there’s a deeper reason that I had to dig more.
Months have passed since the rainy season and it was almost time for Christmas. Just like Jane, I was also looking forward to it. It’s the time wherein my selfish little boy antics came out and I got excited by the gifts I would receive but somehow, that season changed the way I saw Christmas. Instead of wanting gifts for myself, I wanted Jane to be happy.
In the place I used to live in, Christmas was not as white as snow; instead, it was either scalding hot or showered by torrential rain.
t was a particularly rainy day and I was about to head home when I saw a beautiful doll displayed in a toy store.
Jane will love this. I hope she does…
I entered the store with brimming hesitation as I was a little boy about to ask how much a doll was. I was afraid that people would laugh at me right after they hear my query. Slowly, I sauntered towards the lady in green mending the chaotic shelves of toy cars.
– “Excuse me, miss?” I said softly. She turned to me and gave me a familiar smile, a smile that resembled my mother’s. “Yes, sweet boy? How may I help you?” she asked.
– “I was wondering how much the doll on the display costs.” she looked at me with wonder whilst her smile slowly turned into a grin.
– “Why do you want a doll?” she added. I suddenly felt a rush quickly enveloping my face.
– “I’m sorry for my question.” she quickly followed.
– “It’s a gift for my friend Jane…” her face suddenly beamed with enthusiasm.
– “Aww that’s so sweet.” she said as she gave me a hug.
Moments later, I was finally home with a doll wrapped beautifully in a box from the toy store. I kept staring at the box with the green wrapper and an empty card wondering what I’d write on it.
Merry Christmas Jane! No… that would be too simple. How about, to my dearest friend Jane, wishing you Happy Holidays, your friend… John.
Your friend? That doesn’t sound friendly at all.
After a myriad of greetings entered my head, I finally went with “For my beloved friend Jane, your best pal John.”
That Christmas taught me how to express my feelings for someone for the very first time.
Days later, it was time to hand the gift to my special friend Jane. I was wearing a green and red Christmas sweater given by my mom whilst I stood in Jane’s doorway. I kept brushing my hair up with my right hand out of anxiety right before I pressed the doorbell.
– “Ding–” Jane’s mother welcomed me with utmost glee.
– “Merry Christmas John!” she greeted while fixing her Santa hat.
– “Come and join us for lunch, Jane’s already eating with her father on the table.” she insisted. I greeted her back and walked towards their dining area.
– “Oh hey John! Merry Christmas!” Jane exclaimed.
– “Merry Christmas Johnny!” her father added. Right before I got seated beside her, I handed her my gift.
– “Oh thank you! I’m so sorry John. I wasn’t able to buy a gift for you.” she shyly said.
– “Don’t worry about it, Jane.” I assured. I could see the look of excitement from Jane and her parents whilst she tore the green gift wrapper of my present.
– “Oh! A doll! She is so beautiful!” she exclaimed. Moments later, her tears slowly ran down to her blushing cheeks while she brushed the doll’s hair. I couldn’t help but stare in awe from the first time I saw Jane’s face truly lit up.
Suddenly, her mother grabbed the doll and threw it on the floor.
– “I told you that you could never play with dolls!” she yelled while the veins of her neck popped out.
– “I think it’s time to go Johnny.” her dad said with a gentle tone as he led me out of their house.
I could still hear Jane’s screaming while I stood in the doorway. I couldn’t do anything but cry at that moment.
How could her mom be so cruel?
It was the last time I saw Jane… the face of a little girl crying for help from what seemed to be a hostage of her happiness. I kept recalling how much sadness can come out of an eight-year-old girl, but beyond sadness was something else… as her eyes emanated a million fold of emotions, emotions that a young girl like her should be spared from.
Jane’s parents forbade me to have any communication with her. I continued my life wondering how she was and not a day went by that I didn’t miss her. Maybe it was puppy love… it seemed so.
Years later and I was fifteen, a young man almost turning into young adulthood. My life became similar to most kids my age and I wished nothing but for Jane to be experiencing the same as well.
Jane had become my inspiration and I believed that someday, I’d meet her again…
My faith redeemed itself to me not long after when I saw a beautiful young lady with short hair walking on the school hallway whilst carrying a sketchbook.
My heart suddenly jumped out of proportion beating jolts in every fiber of my body. There she was… my dream girl.
– “Jane?” I softly said.
She slowly turned to me with the most innocent eyes I’ve learned to love and gave me a hug as her sketchbook and art tools hit the floor.
– “How’ve you been?” I asked. She shook her head and continued embracing me. My heart slowed down as her warmth pacified my anxiety and excitement.
– “I missed you…” she whispered.
I brushed my fingers through her hair as we continued being in each other’s arms.
– “I’ve waited for such a long time for you.” she added.
– “I’m sorry Jane… I’ll never leave you again.” I assured her.
After our reunion, I picked her things up and escorted her to where she was headed. Soon after reaching the gymnasium, she slipped her mobile number written on a piece of paper to me and told me to call her once I got home.
Moments later, she disappeared to the crowd of audiences watching a practice for a dance competition.
As soon as I got home, I took out the piece of paper she gave me to dial her number. Still in my hands was a white sheet stained with her number. I felt beads of sweat forming on my forehead quickly turning into a slow tide of sweat all over my body.
I’ve never been so nervous and excited at the same time.
I paused and kept looking at the sheet of paper whilst remembering her face. The moment we met again was the moment I saw her most beautiful, yet under all that beauty was sadness peeking through her eyes.
With the phone on my right hand and her number on the other, I finally had the courage to dial the first digit.
Here goes nothing…
– “Hello?” she whispered.
– “Hi Jane, it’s… ugh, mmm.” I replied while clearing my throat.
– “It’s me, John.” I followed.
She giggled making me more embarrassed.
– “Don’t be shy John. It’s just me. I am so glad you called.” she spoke with assurance.
We talked over the phone for six hours without a pause. I’ve missed her so much and I felt that she was the same way as I was.
The longing and loneliness suddenly turned into desire enveloped in optimism. I knew I wanted her more right at that very moment.
– “John, it’s getting late. We need to go to school tomorrow.” she uttered.
– “Goodnight John.” she followed right before she hung up.
I kept looking at the ceiling while contemplating my feelings for her. I needed to be with her.
She’s the only girl for me.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I stood awake thinking of ways on how I could make her happy.
Flowers? Chocolates perhaps?
My mother always told me flowers and chocolates always worked and it seemed that they always did in movies too. However, I was still filled with doubt.
But Jane was different from all of the girls I knew.
I didn’t want to settle for anything less to make Jane happy. I just wasn’t aiming for a horrid satisfaction. I wanted her to be genuinely ecstatic.
Time was a-ticking. I was wide awake yet barely slept. I guess it was all the excitement I felt from meeting her again. The feeling was very similar to whenever I was a little boy waiting to open my gifts on Christmas Eve.
My hands were empty and I knew that I wanted to give something to Jane to show her how much I appreciated her.
I started pedaling my way to school hoping to find a gift store that’s impossibly opened at 6:30 in the morning. My head was turning 360 degrees whilst riding my bicycle. My mind was filled with Jane’s image and I couldn’t be any happier.
I tried a different route just to see if there was a place open for me to buy gifts for her, but sadly I was getting late for school and I had to quit my quest.
Through the school crowd, I pushed my way to my classroom.
My focus for Jane suddenly swerved as I felt a tiny yet shocking jolt of a poke on my back.
– “Hey John.” Jane’s soft voice occupied my ear.
She slowly handed me a box of cookies.
– “I figured that I still owed you for the Christmas gift you gave.” she continued.
– “You don’t really have to but thanks!” I remarked with glee.
– “So I’ll see you around. Have to go, I’m late. By the way, I baked it so if it doesn’t taste right, don’t bother telling.” she quipped. She gently swiped her hair behind her ear and slowly walked away.
I have to tell her how I feel. I’ve waited for so long. The hunger already hurts too much.
Moments later, I was sitting in the classroom with my mind occupied with nothing but thoughts of Jane. I knew that very moment that it wasn’t puppy love anymore. I knew that I was too young to think about love in a major way but Jane made me feel that love isn’t trivial. Love is not a novelty to be felt just for experimentation. She obliviously taught me that love is an offering of something that is unexplainably necessary and can surpass every feeling of happiness that one person can feel.
I knew what love was and there wasn’t anything that I could think of but love… my love for Jane.
The class was dismissed and I hurried to Jane’s home to confess how I truly felt for her. I stopped by a nearby flower shop on the way to buy her some roses… red to express the passion I had for her.
Jane was a bit eccentric and I was anxious about my choice of gift for her.
I didn’t want her to think that I was clichéd but I guessed it was the only way I knew how to truly express my love for her.
At a quick pace, I cycled my way to her home.
Moments later while I stood in front of a very familiar place, the door I was once shooed away from on a Christmas day, beads of sweat suddenly rushed all over me. A sound of a clapping bouquet of roses from my shaky hands became the background music of my anxiety.
I was about to ring the doorbell when…
– “John!” Jane greeted. I was immediately drawn to her smile and could barely speak.
– “Are you alright?” she asked.
– “Y-y… yes, absolutely!” I replied with a distinct stutter.
– “He-her-here…” I continued barely knowing how to finish a word as I handed her the flowers.
Her smile became wider making me feel less uneasy.
– “I came here to tell you that…”
The smile she offered me quickly waned and turned into a look of curiosity.
– “I love you, Jane!”
Her curious look turned blank. She kept staring at me with a lack of expression making my heart race even harder.
Please say you love me too Jane, please…
Moments passed and I was finally warped into reality.
– “I love you too John.” I told myself while staring at my reflection in the mirror.
I was John and Jane all along…
I finally accepted to love myself for who I really am. I am a transgendered woman. It was a glorious moment of rebirth for me. I finally mustered the courage to realize and live the closeted truth.
The woman who I’ve always wanted to be who only lived through my artworks was finally alive. There was no painting that was more picture-perfect than the reality which I summoned from within me.
The feeling of casting the shadows away from me was the most priceless feeling of liberation I’ve ever experienced in my life.
There was still fear resting within me from letting the people I love, know who I truly am. But I figured that being my real self without being apologetic to my own soul was the greatest first step that I have managed to conquer.
I knew that there were many pending battles ahead of me but I also knew that I was protected with my newfound love and that there was no force greater that could make me unlove myself again.