Literary Magazine

Sagging Pants | Kem Smith

“Nah Partnah,” Tyler said. Then he took his thumb and wiped it across his nose, a sure sign of eminent danger.

Sean, with his jeans sagging over his sweats, the latest brand tennis shoes loosely laced, and hoodie securely tied around his unkempt hair, mimicked the style of the three boys who surrounded him, their backs to the urinals. The room smelled of missed pissy toilets, hamburger, and pizza farts. The testosterone dripped from the walls and energized his treacherous days in the junior high jungle.

Now, though, he was being punished for his only sin; being born a girl. While the school said no to his manly transition, the law said yes. “I have my rights.” Sean stood— all five foot, four inches of him— in defiance. His case had been passed through the system until finally, the highest court gave the nod of approval.

“Rights don’t matter here,” Nell said. He was the biggest, standing at five foot eight and only thirteen years old, he towered over Sean.

“Chicks don’t piss with us,” Tyler said. He wasn’t smaller than Nell, not smarter either. He played center for the junior football team.

The crowd closed in on Sean. He had known Tyler, Nell, and Dequan since grade school. The shift in their relationship went from mild flirting when they knew him as Amanda to a tsunami of hatred and misunderstanding in the summer of fifth grade when he slowly became Sean.

“Quit kidding around.” Sean pushed past Tyler who stood about six inches taller and three times as wide.

“You not pissing in this room with us,” Tyler responded. He blocked the stall. A puny boy, who must have been a sixth grader, wandered into the bathroom. His eyes bucked at all the action. He grabbed his beltless pants by the loops and ran out of there as quickly as he had come in.

Sean wanted to shout, “Send help.” Yet, he knew how cowardly that would make him look. He stood his ground. “I can and I will.” Lately, he had taken to drinking protein and kale smoothies like Popeye. He stood a mere 28 pounds lighter than his all-time favorite football player, Michael Irving. He could take Tyler down, he was sure of it, if they were alone.

“Get her,” Tyler barked to his football goonies.

“No,” Sean said, falling back. They surrounded him, surged about, grabbed him up amid his protests and pleading. All of his efforts simply ignored as the burly athletes hoisted him into the air and carried him inside of a stall. The three big boys craned inside and barked at him. There he sat in the tunnel, caved into the porcelain torture chamber. Tyler flushed and the water sprayed upward, wetting the back of his pants.

Laughter vibrated across the walls and bounced to his ears, turning them red hot with anger. He jumped up. His prison guards pushed him down again.

“See, she couldn’t be a boy if she wanted to,” Dequan shouted as he laughed at Sean’s efforts to protect to himself.

“Take her panties off,” one of the boys said. “Let’s see if she has girl parts.”

Gripped by the dirty claws of hatred, freedom escaped Sean, his strength, useless. He threw punches. Some hit air while others cascaded into the brick muscles of Tyler’s toned body. The boys rammed their way around the stall. Sean fought a mental battle, unsure of his next move. He went limp. Playing dead. The school was a prison and he was about to be raped, forced to confront the sexual phobias of the predators who failed to see that life for him was its own penitentiary.

What he wanted more than anything else was to be accepted by the boys who stood before him, rejecting what he had become. Pinned onto the toilet, he felt his pants being ripped off, the baggy shorts underneath coming down.

The mob of boys, voices taken over by years of hatred, exposed him. He wanted to fight back, to scream. No sound came forth and his arms were heavy as steel.

“Ahhhhh,” he heard them scream collectively.

“See she ain’t a dude,” Nell shouted.

“Quit tryn’ to be a shem,” Dequan said.

“You still a birl,” Tyler said and scowled.

“Beep. Beep. Beep-beep.” The sound of the bell tone meant the start of 5th period.

“I gotta get to class,” Sean pleaded.

“You nasty, birl!” Tyler shouted. “You made me late to shop class. I should kick yo’ a—”

“What are you boys doing in there?” a female teacher asked around the corner.

“Get  her clothes back on,” Nell whispered.

Feet scrambled across the linoleum. Sean was cast onto the floor. He elevated his pants to their original position. Clumsily, he tied the string on his sweats.

“If you don’t come out, I’m coming in.”

“That’s Mrs. Williams. You know she crazy.” Nell’s voice was rushed.

“Look man,” Tyler said. “Everything is good, right?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sean said. He walked calmly to the sink. Those boys had seen what he’d only allowed the doctors to examine. He didn’t know how he would face them again. He turned on the hot water. Splashed it on his face and hands.

The other boys exited with slight harassment by Mrs. Williams. She waited outside the door.

“Sean…you look frazzled. Everything okay?” she asked when he walked out of the restroom.

“Yeah, it was us guys…hanging out,” he mumbled.

He walked past Mrs. Williams and then stopped. “Would you mind if I hung with you? I want to finish my clay project.”

“Sure…but only if you promise to pull up those sagging pants.”

Sean complied. Her approval was more important than those other immature, sloppy excuses for men. Mrs. Williams was the kind of woman he wanted to marry when he grew up. For now, he hoped the initiation was over.