The Compassion

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #103, Fall 2003.

by Diana Hignutt

Gaius Marcus Pilate was as nervous as he had been in his entire sixteen years of existence. His heart beat furiously as he made his way through the bustling streets. His young face was flush from the excitement and his breaths alternated between short, shallow, and hyperventilation. He was aware that he was out of place in the seedy section of Jerusalem through which he walked. His rich, Roman robes were in stark contrast to the clothing of the other passersby. He hoped no Centurion would take particular notice of him. He most definitely didn?t want to have to explain this to his father. He wouldn?t understand. No one would.
He was a tall young man with a crop of dark brown hair, cut short and neat, as was the style. His thin face still possessed a flattering, boyish innocence. He tended to stoop, and rarely held his head high. He had earned his robe of manhood just the week before. He wore it now, though not with the pride felt by most young men his age. He wore it to make his family happy?but that was part of his secret. It was in fact his secret that brought him out on this day. It drove him like some wild creature. A passion raged in him, burning hotter almost every day, a crushing desire that could never be quenched. It was an impossible dream that left his young mind in torment, racked by theunattainable.

The sun had risen perhaps an hour before. Though early, the streets were already crowded. Merchants set up their wares. Fishermen reeking of their catch bartered vigorously with the fishmonger. Gaius hurried to put some distance between himself and their stench. He paused before a stand of dates. They were perfectly ripe. He thought they might make a suitable gift, so he bought a sack of them from the merchant, who was clearly curious as to why a young, rich Roman nobleman would be purchasing his own fruit. Gaius paid the man considerably more than the dates were worth, and made a comment about his family?s slaves being useless.

Gaius was getting quite near to his destination, if his sources were correct. They had better be?he had paid them enough. Down the next street, more an alley than a thoroughfare. Now he was really getting nervous. His stomach twisted and sent a surge of vomit up his throat. He caught it in his mouth and swallowed. To remove the foul flavor of his bile, he ate a date as he walked. The fruit was delightfully sweet and quickly worked to relieve his beleaguered taste buds.

Rows of narrow houses, built of stone and wood, flanked the alleyway. Most were in disrepair. Litter and refuse from animals and people made passage on the uneven road a task for skillful feet. Gaius kept his eyes firmly on the paving stones and his own expensive sandals. Poorly-dressed prostitutes called out to him from doorways. He ignored them and quickened his pace. Now he was really sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb. Ahead, there was a line of people waiting just outside one of the homes. Gaius made his way to the back of the queue.

Six people stood ahead of him. They were a diverse group, from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds. Gaius studied them. There were Greeks, Jews, and an Ethiopian girl of perhaps five years, who was so sick that she had to be carried by an old man. In fact, most had some visible infirmity. They tended to keep to themselves, lost, perhaps, in their own thoughts and troubles. Gaius felt ill-at-ease, standing there like some itinerant beggar languishing in the dole queue. Nonetheless, he knew they had all come for the same reason. They had come, against all hope, to see if the rumors could possibly be true.

Gaius stood as nonchalantly as he could. He ignored the
continuing calls from nearby prostitutes and the looks of inquisitiveness from those who walked by. His doubt worsened the longer he stood there. He knew in his heart that his was a fool?s hope. As his fear and doubt fermented in him, the old pain grew as well. It was crushing his soul with daggers of psychic torment. He felt as though he were playing a part, as he tried to behave and present himself as society and custom dictated. Yes, he looked every bit like a young nobleman, but that wasn?t what he was. Not really. He felt like? oh, how it hurt to think about it! The shame and guilt stormed in. His desire burned hotter inside him, even as he attempted to repress it. If only this fellow could really help him. He knew it was impossible, but he had to hope. He had to; there was nothing else.

Gaius didn?t allow his internal struggle to play out upon his countenance. He never did. His face was as calm and steady as ever. Presently, he noticed that the line had diminished and he stood before the closed door. His door, the door of the one person who might be able to help
him. Inside was this Jewish holy man. The fellow had been in Jerusalem only a few days, and already he was the talk of the city. Gaius had learned of his existence just two days ago, at the dinner table, from his father. As governor of the province of Judea, his father liked to say that he kept his finger on the pulse of things in the provincial capital. He had told Gaius about a
holy man who was said to work miracles. His father, of course, dismissed the man as a charlatan, but Gaius had sore need of a miracle. The next day, he went to question anyone who knew
of this mysterious cleric?s whereabouts. It cost him a fair amount of gold to obtain the information.
The door opened and Gaius? heart skipped a beat. A man with a long blond beard and a broad, friendly face addressed him. ?Good day, young sir.?

Sir. Ugh. How he hated that title. It was like a knife stuck in his ribs every time someone called him that.

?What can we do for you today. Is this an official visit??

Gaius stuttered slightly as he spoke, ?Ah, Oh n-n-no. It?s anything but an official visit. I was hoping to see, um, you know? I?ve been told he is staying here.?

?My, but word travels fast in this city,? said the man. ?Please enter, my name is Peter, and you are welcome here.?

The man Peter moved aside to allow Gaius entrance. Gaius noticed Peter casually examining him, as if to detect some deformity or sign of illness. He did so with such openness and honesty that Gaius didn?t mind in the least. But Gaius had no obvious external problems?at least, none noticeable to any but himself.
The outer room was modestly furnished with a small table with an oil lamp upon it, and a chair adjacent. Four people still slept on mats spread over the floor. Two others stood against the far wall, flanking an interior door. Despite Gaius? Roman attire, they nodded and smiled warmly at him. ?It will be only a moment, young master,? said Peter. ?Would you care to sit down?? He indicated the chair with a wave of his hand.

?No, thank you kindly,? replied Gaius. ?I would prefer to stand, if that?s all right.?

?Of course,? said Peter. ?May I give your name??

?My name is Gaius Marcus Pilate.?

A look of surprise and
consternation was reflected in Peter?s face. ?Pilate,? he repeated. ?You?re related to the governor??
?Yes,? said Gaius, almost embarrassed by the admission. ?I?m the governor?s son.? Son. Another spasm of internal pain. The word almost caught in his throat.

Peter took this information calmly enough, though his brow demonstrated concern and perplexity. He gave Gaius another quick scan from head to toe before returning the hopeful, friendly smile to his face.
Gaius saw the old Ethiopian man emerge from the interior room. His eyes glowed and a bright look of rapture marked his face. Gaius jumped back with a start as the little girl followed, skipping, and evidently in good health. Gaius was frankly amazed. He stood there, his jaw hanging open, as Peter excused himself to announce Gaius to his master. He returned in scarcely a moment. ?Gaius, if you would,? Peter said, gesturing for the youth to enter the other room.

Gaius was shaking as he crossed the floor. He accidentally kicked one of the people sleeping there. He heard a groan and hastily stammered an apology. He was so nervous at this point, that he was having difficulty breathing with any sort of regularity at all. He paused before the open door and looked back at Peter.

?Don?t be afraid, son,? Peter said encouragingly. ?He won?t bite you.? Gaius swallowed hard and went in.
There were four men in the room, two sitting on a bed, two others standing?but as far as Gaius was concerned, there was only one person there. He was a man in His thirties. His brown hair was quite long and He wore a beard which was neatly trimmed. His robes were
modest but presentable. These features were not as distinctive as His eyes, which seemed to glow with a deep light, like the light of all the stars, and the sun, and the moon, all combined and reflected in the blue pools of His irises. There was a peace in those eyes, and Gaius found himself put at ease.
?Welcome, Gaius Marcus Pilate. This is John,? He said, with an inclination of His head. ?This is Thomas, and this gentleman here is Judas. They are my friends. My name is Jesus.?

Jesus? voice was the essence of power and tranquility combined. Gaius stared at Him in blatant awe, much longer than he should have, then acknowledged each of the men with a bow. ?Hello,? he said absently, and then, remembering his manners, held out the sack of dates. ?These are for you, um, sir. A small gift.?
Jesus took the sack from Gaius and peeked inside. ?Yum, dates. Thank you.? He handed the sack to Thomas. ?Now Gaius,? He inquired. ?Most who come to me are broken in body or in spirit; some are lost and need guidance. But you look whole and healthy, and are too young to be much concerned with spiritual dilemmas. Yet I feel in you much sorrow and pain, hidden from the world and almost without equal among those who have come before me. Gaius, what would you have me do for you??

Gaius glanced nervously at the other three men and then back to Him, at those pure blue eyes. There was no need to hide from Him. He would understand. Finally. He would understand, even if He could not help. Even simple understanding would be more than Gaius had ever thought he could hope for. Gaius thought of his lifelong struggle, pretending to be what everyone expected him to be, when inside he was someone else entirely. He had always hidden his real feelings, kept them buried down deep, the secret self, the core of his being.

?I?m in constant pain, my Lord,? answered Gaius, being honest for the first time in his life. ?I suffer from an affliction from which I can never know freedom. I burn with a desire that has eclipsed all aspirations, all hopes, all dreams. It?s beyond all possibility, yet it screams louder the more I try to live as I?m expected to. I pray you, Lord, you who have healed the sick, made the lame walk, even raised the dead, can you heal my mind and end my suffering??

Jesus smiled at Gaius. Peace and love shown brightly in His eyes. He spoke softly, ?Child, your agony is plain to me. It wounds my heart to see you so distraught. Yet I cannot do what you are asking of me?for your mind is sound, your spirit wants only that which its natural inclination truly requires. But God loves all of His children and wants us to be happy.? He stepped up to Gaius and laid His hands upon his shoulders.

Gaius instantly felt himself wrapped in love. A white light enveloped him. It was as though all of the love in the universe was concentrated on his being and poured then into his very soul. His body thrilled and tingled with the brilliance of heaven itself. There was no time, only love and light.
Jesus took His hands off Gaius? shoulders. The white light gradually receded and the youth?s normal perceptions returned. Most of them did. Now everything felt different. Felt right. There was no pain. The conflict, the inner torment were gone. All that was left was a euphoric state of peaceful bliss and the new sensations of her femininity. Jesus was smiling at her. ?Be at peace now, Child of God,? He said.
Gaia?s brain was awhirl with happiness. She looked down at herself. Her long hair spilled down to her shoulders and her ample breasts were glaringly out of place in her robe of manhood.
?You?re going to need to get a new robe,? offered John.

?And he, I mean she, is going to have a great deal of explaining to do to her father,? said Thomas.
?So are we,? observed Judas.

Diana Hignutt is the author of the novel Moonsword, a faerie-tale thriller with a TG twist. She is a post-op transsexual woman and a proud member of IFGE. She lives in Southern New Jersey with her wife Elizabeth and their
two cats, Nox and Jasper.

Readers: Do you like transgender
fiction? You might check out:

?Our Own Stories,? (http://www., an online
literary magazine edited by Terri Main and featuring short stories, poems and essays on transsexual themes. And don?t miss Erin Swenson?s review of Moonsword in
this very issue of Tapestry.