Friday, August 22, 2014

The Housekeeper - Chapter 61

By Karen Singer

Chapter 61

Blank!  That’s what he decided the final sum of his emotions were as he stood in front of the new mirror hung on his wall.  Blank! 
Nervous.  Scared.  Depressed.  Stressed.  Uncomfortable.  Angry.  Frustrated.  Shamed.  Self-pity.  Apprehensive.  Lost.  Resigned.  Confused.
And surprisingly…  Amazed.  Determined.  Hopeful.  Optimistic.  Anticipation.  Proud. 
And of course…  Worried.
There were so many mixed emotions that they could only add together to become… blank.  That’s what he decided he felt as he stood staring at his reflection… his new reflection… Candy’s reflection.  He was dressed to go to school… for the last time.  He was dressed to go to school… for the first time… as Candy.  Today, in just a little while, he was going to formally introduce Candy… to the world.  Today… would more formally mark the beginning of the rest of his life.
“Are you ready?” Janice asked as she poked her head into his room.
He took another look at his image… Candy’s image.  He was dressed in nice slacks.  The flowery blouse he had worn for the picnic. The heels he always wore to church.  His waist cincher was pulling his stomach in despite his ever expanding hips.  He was wearing a bra… even though technically for school he didn’t need to.  His makeup was done as well as he was able.  His nails were all a soft pink color.  The new gold earrings added a touch of sparkle just below the very feminine hairdo he now had.  His hand reached up to touch the necklace that Carol had loaned him… insisting that it would look great with what he was wearing.  He supposed it did.  He looked like a woman.  Even at this early stage in his transition, dressed as he was, he looked like a woman.  It was hard to see any sign of Roger there at all.  The sense of loss mixed in with all the other emotions came briefly to the fore. 
Turning away, he spotted his expandable case that he had carried to school every single day for so long.  The case stayed on the floor.  He grabbed a different case to carry instead – his purse.  He nodded to Janice and followed her toward the front door. 
“Smile!” Carol said excitedly from behind her camera as he reached the living room. 
He did his best to smile and endured another batch of pictures being taken.
“Okay you two,” Janice said quickly.  “Off you go!  Candy needs to be early today and if you delay any longer you’re both going to be late instead!”
With a giggle, Carol turned the camera over to her mother, kissed her goodbye, and followed Candy out to his truck.
Candy’s foot wasn’t as hard on the accelerator as it had been the day before.  But he didn’t drive slowly either.  He just drove… resigned.  Neither of them said a word.  He parked where he usually did and got out of his truck, his eyes already searching for anyone around.  He saw people… several teachers and a few students.  He took a deep breath... and took his first step.  He forced his feet to continue carrying him toward the building.  He saw a few heads turning in his direction, but nobody said anything. 
“See ya!” Carol exclaimed as she left him to find some friends. 
He didn’t reply.  Bracing himself for the worst, he forced himself to walk up the few steps, open the school door, and go in.  The hallway was quiet, but not deserted.  He walked forward, his heels now making a different sound on the hard school floors… a much louder and more distinctive sound. 
Very often he would stop in the office as he came into the building.  Today he walked right past it… and right past the man and woman… two other teachers, who were standing just outside the office door discussing something.
“Um… Ma’am!”
He heard the words, but kept going, certain that they weren’t referring to him.
“Ma’am!” the male voice called more urgently.
Could they be calling him?  He stopped and turned.
“Visitors need to sign in in the office,” the male teacher said as he pointed toward the office door.
“I’m not a visitor,” Roger replied in his best Candy voice.  He turned to continue on to his room.
“Ma’am!”  He turned again.  “Are you here to see one of the teachers?” the man asked.
Roger allowed himself to smile.  He couldn’t believe that these two teachers that he had seen countless times before, didn’t recognize him.  “I am the teacher,” he told them, feeling more than a little amused that they didn’t recognize him. 
“You’re…” the man started to ask questioningly.
“Roger?” the woman teacher exclaimed.  “Is that you?”
The emotions that hit him were almost overwhelming as he replied.  “Not Roger anymore.  It’s Candy now.”  He turned and continued his walk through the hallway to his classroom, purposely not turning back around. 
The word was out now.  He would just have to wait to see what would happen.
He turned the lights on in his room and headed for his desk.  He set his purse down where he always kept his expandable case.  He sat at his desk for a few moments, then feeling too nervous, he got up again.  People would be coming in to see him.  No use hiding behind the desk.  It was better if they saw all of him at once.  Instead, he sat on the edge of his desk, facing the door, ready to deal with anyone who might walk in… or walk by.  He didn’t know how long he would have to wait.  The student’s most likely wouldn’t be entering his room for another twenty minutes. 
His wait wasn’t that long.  But the person who entered his room wasn’t who he expected to see.  And the person who entered made him feel nothing but a brief sense of relief.  “Jennifer!” he breathed almost as a sigh of relief.
“Candy!” Jennifer squealed excitedly as she rushed into the room.
Candy stood as Jennifer rushed around to greet him.  She actually came up and hugged him.  “You look fantastic!” she exclaimed.
“Thanks,” Candy replied.  “Most likely I’ll be thrown out before any of the kids get here.”
“Let’s hope not!”
Nothing more could be said though as they were interrupted by two men rushing into the room – the school Principal and the Vice-Principal.  They rushed to the front of the room… and stopped dead… gaping in shock. 
When neither of them spoke for a few moments, Jennifer broke the ice.  “Surprise!” she exclaimed softly.
“What’s…” the principal tried to say, but couldn’t find the right words to complete his question. 
Candy smiled.  “This is the real reason I had to quit teaching,” he told them.  “I’m transitioning.  Changing my gender.  And it’s time to let everyone know.”
“But… but…” the red-faced Principal started to say.
“The kids!” the Vice-Principal exclaimed. 
“Precisely,” Candy replied as he now noted both of the secretaries who worked in the school’s office standing in the doorway, gaping in surprise.  “The kids have already been questioning some of the changes in my face and body,” he explained.  “I put off all their questions before, but it’s time now to answer those questions directly.”
“But… but… we can’t have this!” the Principal stated.
“Yes we can… and we should!” Jennifer replied, sticking up for Candy. 
“We what?” the Vice-Principal asked.
“We should!” Jennifer stated again.  “Look, what Candy here is…”
“Candy?” the Vice-Principal asked.
“My new name,” Candy replied.  “Very soon to become my legal name.”
“But we can’t have this!” the Principal said again.
Candy started to reply, but Jennifer spoke first.  “Look,” she said, “From what I’ve read recently, Candy is just one of many, many people who are now in the process of changing their gender.  It’s becoming more and more common all the time.  The kids are going to start coming across it more and more often… like it or not.  We owe these kids an opportunity to discuss this subject in a decent environment where they can get better answers than if they simply blunder into it in the wrong situation.”
“Good one,” Candy said quietly.
“Thanks.  I spent half the night thinking about it.”
“I appreciate it,” Candy replied.
“But…” the Principal tried again.
“Let me do this,” Candy urged.  “I’m not Roger anymore.  Very soon I’m not even going to legally be Roger anymore.  I’m going to be living right here in the area.  I’m not moving.  I’m going to continue working right here in the area too.  A lot of these kids are going to see me at one time or another.  They’re going to have questions.  It would be better for everyone if I answer those questions now instead of letting misinformation and hate take over later.”
“Good one,” Jennifer noted.
“Thanks,” Candy replied.  “I was up half the night thinking about it.”
Jennifer giggled.
“But…” the Principal said again.
“Look,” Candy said.  “If any of the kids are uncomfortable around me, then they’re free to leave the room.  Heck, we’ve got very short periods today and it’s only a half day of school.  I’m not going to hurt any of them.”
“But what will the parents say?”
“What does it matter?  It’s the last day of school.  After today, I’m gone anyway.”
The school Principal shook his head.
“Try it,” Jennifer urged.  “Just for one period.  And one of you can even stay in the room to monitor what happens.  Then if it doesn’t work out, you can always have Candy leave before the next class.”
The Principal and Vice-Principal looked at each other, trying to decide what to do.
“Do it!” one of the secretaries in the doorway called.
The Principal stared back at Roger with pursed lips, trying to make the decision.  He didn’t like it.  He had grave misgivings about the whole situation. 
“Let him do it!” the other secretary in the doorway called.  “He looks fantastic!”
Candy smiled his thanks at the woman… who smiled back.
The Principal continued to stare at Roger, then finally said, “Very well.  We’ll take it one period at a time.  And one of us will be here every period.  But at the first sign I see of any problems at all.  This is over and you’re out of here!  Is that understood?”
Candy did his best to smile.  “Perfectly.”
The Principal nodded.  “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” he said as he headed for the door.
“You better stop in the office and see us before you leave today!” one of the secretaries called.
“Don’t worry,” Candy replied.  “I have to turn in my student evaluations anyway.”
The office staff left, and their place was quickly taken by Stan.  He just stood in the doorway looking at Candy for a moment, an odd expression on his face.  Then he turned and walked away.
“He feels like he’s lost is best friend,” Jennifer explained.
Candy just nodded sadly.  “So do I.  But I’m still here… just in a different form.”
“But can he deal with that form?”
Candy shook his head.  “Thanks for all your help.”
Jennifer smiled.  “My pleasure.  And I’ll try to stop in when I get a chance today too.   Good luck!”  With that, she smiled and quickly headed back to her own classroom. 
Once again Candy was alone in his classroom.  He again sat on the edge of his desk waiting for whoever walked through his door to arrive.  The sound of students entering the hallways couldn’t be missed.  He saw a few kids walk past his room.  He saw one boy backtrack to glance in with a somewhat surprised look on his face before moving on.
And then his first student walked through the door.  He stopped dead in his tracks, his mouth gaping wide open in shock.
“Close your mouth or you’re going to get flies in it,” Candy said.  But by that time, another student had come in… and another right behind. 
The students mostly started entering the room quickly… then dropped into a very slow, shocked, walk as they each headed for their desks.  Not one of them could take their eyes off of their teacher… that more than a few didn’t recognize right away. 
The questions started fast, but each time, Candy said… in his Candy voice… “I’ll answer your questions after the period starts.” He simply stood in the front of the room, walking back and forth occasionally, watching the surprised looks on all the kid’s faces.  The Principal came back in and headed for the front of the room.  “I’ve got this,” Candy said to him, “if you want to just watch from the back.”
The Principal looked uncertain about it, but since he had no idea how he should handle the matter anyway, his simply nodded and headed for the back corner of the room.  Another woman teacher walked in.  “Can I stay?” she asked.
“Of course,” Candy replied.  He was somewhat proud of the way he thought he was handling it all.  Underneath, he was nervous and terrified, but outwardly he was doing his best to exude an air of total confidence.  He was trying anyway.  Brave!  That was it, he was doing his best to be brave and face this head-on!  And always in the back of his mind he had to remind himself that it was best to make people believe he really did want this transition.
The bell rang and all eyes were on him.  Roger noted another teacher standing in the doorway.  Didn’t they all have classes?  He ignored everyone and went to his desk where he opened one of the drawers and pulled out his attendance pad.  He knew all his students and usually just glanced down the list of names marking the ones who weren’t there, but not this time.  “Jimmy Apler?” he called.  When he got no answer, he looked at where Jimmy was sitting. “Are you here today?” he asked.
“Uh… yeah… I guess.”  The boy finally replied.
Roger marked his attendance list.  “Johanna Boyce?”  The girl quickly called out that she was there.
“You’re wearing heels!” one of the students exclaimed.
“Yup!” Candy replied with a smile before he called another name.
“And a bra!” another of the students added.  “You’ve got tits!”
“Yup!” Candy said again.  “I’m afraid I need the bra now,” he added before checking another student off.
“Your voice sounds funny!” another of the students noted. 
“Thank you,” Candy replied.  “It’s still a work in progress.  Christie Carlyle?”
“Are your ears pierced?” one of the girls asked.
“Absolutely!” Candy replied before calling another name on the list.
“How come you didn’t wear a dress?” another of the boys asked.
“Why should I?” Candy asked before calling another name.
And so it went.  The questions came, and Candy gave them each a brief answer as he went through his attendance list.  Surprisingly, despite it being pretty much a waste of a school day, most of the students were there. 
He finally set the list down on the desk and faced the class fully, looking all around the room.  “So,” he said.  “What do you think?”  The room basically erupted in a brief unrecognizable amount of noise as all too many things were said at the same time. 
Candy held up his hand to quiet the class.  With a brief glance at the Principal in the back of the room he said, “Before I go any further, is there anyone here who is uncomfortable seeing me this way and doesn’t want to sit through this class and talk about it?”  He looked around the room for a moment, but not one student showed any sign that they were interested in leaving.
“Okay,” he said, trying to find the words to begin.  “Guess what, I’m not going to be Mr. Brinkley anymore.”  His statement actually brought a bit of laughter from around the room.
“Are you going to be Miss Brinkley instead?” one of the students asked. 
Candy wasn’t sure if it was asked jokingly or not.  “Yes!  Exactly!  Well, eventually.  But as of now, I’m living my life completely as Miss Brinkley.”  It was the first time he had thought of himself as being… a “miss.” 
“Will you be teaching school next year?” someone else asked.
“No.  I’ve already started my own Handyman… I guess we need to call that a Handy-woman business instead.”
“But isn’t that something that only a guy would do?” one of the boys asked.
Candy raised his plucked eyebrows.  “Why?” he asked.  “I like to fish too, but I’m not giving that up just because I’m becoming a woman.  Women do all kinds of things now that… I guess… they could never do before.  Becoming a woman is a… gender choice.  It doesn’t mean that I have to limit myself with what I can do.”
“So are you gay?” one of the guys asked with a laugh.  His question brought a few other chuckles as well.
“No,” Candy replied as he spotted the Principal about to intervene.  He held up his hand to stop the Principal from saying anything and continued.  “I guess I’m technically nothing right now.  And as much as I’m sure you’d all like to hear about it, this isn’t the time or place to talk about that kind of thing.  But being one gender or another has nothing at all to do with your sexual orientation.  I’ll let you all think about that on your own and we won’t discuss it further!”  He figured that he especially couldn’t talk about it because he himself had no idea about it.  He was happy to see the Principal appear to be a bit more relaxed.
“So how come you’re doing it?” one of the girls asked.
Candy smiled.  “It’s about time one of you asked me that!  I would have thought that would be the most obvious question of all.”  He saw the girl actually giggle. 
Candy did his best to look serious… which he was.  “Look,” he said.  “Some people are born… and they just know that something in them isn’t right.  Some boys would rather play with dolls and wear dresses… and some girls would rather play with trucks and they basically want nothing at all to do with anything the least bit girly.  Not all of them have gender issues, but some of them do.  And sometimes as they grow older, those issues and feelings get worse and worse.  Many of them commit suicide since they can’t deal with it anymore.  But we’re lucky enough now to live in a time when science can do something about it… well, a lot about it anyway.  Science can’t make those who are changing perfect, but it can make them almost perfect.  For instance, I’ll never be able to have a baby, but in all other ways, I’ll basically be the same as every other woman.”
“So you liked to play with dolls when you were a kid?” one of the girls asked.
Candy had to figure out what would be the best way to answer that… keeping in mind that he had to make everyone believe that he really did want a sex change. “Mmmm…” he considered for a moment.  “I didn’t really get the chance to play with dolls since I didn’t have any sisters.  It wasn’t until I was a lot older that I began to have problems.”  Fortunately, the girl seemed to be satisfied with his answer.
“Are you changing your name?” one of the kids asked.
“Yes!” Candy replied.  “In fact, I’m going to be starting that process very soon.  My new name is going to be Candy.  In fact, my new business cards say, “Candy Girl the Handy Girl.”  His little slogan brought a few more chuckles from the room.
“So if we see you in the hallway,” one of the boys asked, “are we supposed to call you Miss Brinkley now?”
“Yes,” Candy replied.  “In fact, to be really proper, most people who are transitioning would much rather you call them by their “new” proper pronouns.  For instance, since I’m changing from a man to a woman, it’s actually more proper for you to refer to me as… she… or her, instead of he… or him.”  He did his best to smile again.  “Although in my case, I’m not worried if you get it wrong… at least for a while.  It can often be very confusing… especially with someone you knew before they changed.”
Candy looked around the room.  “Any other questions?”  But there was mostly blank looks on their faces. 
“I think you look pretty good!” one of the boys in the back said.
“Thank you,” Candy replied with a big smile. 
“Hot!” one of the other boys in the back added.
Candy shook his head.  “I don’t think I’d go that far!”  Most of the kids laughed. 
“But you do look pretty good,” one of the girls in the front added.
“Thank you,” Candy said again.  “I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel.  Coming out and transitioning like I am is very difficult.  Much harder than you think.  So when someone tells me I look even… okay… then that pretty much makes my day right now.”
“Are you dating someone?” one of the girls asked.
“Definitely not!”
“So you’re not doing this for some guy?”
“Definitely not!” Candy repeated.  “I’m doing this for me.  For my own well-being.  My own sanity.”
“What made you decide to do it now?”
Candy shrugged his shoulders.  “Life.  Problems.  Things I couldn’t get past.”
“So you felt you absolutely had to do this?”
“Let’s just say it was my best option.”
“Do you want to get married someday?” another of the girls asked.
That one made Candy pause.  “I… don’t know,” he finally said.  “Right now, I just want to get straight with myself.  One step at a time.  I guess though that if love ever does find me, I won’t exactly be disappointed.”
“Do you think you’re sexy?” one of the boys in the back called.
Candy’s jaw dropped.  “I wish!” he finally said. “No, there’s nothing sexy about me right now.  Maybe in the future, but not now.”
The boy laughed.  “I don’t think you look too bad at all!”
“Aren’t you the one who called me hot earlier?”
“Hell yeah!”
Candy shook his head.  “You need to get out more!”  His remark brought a ton of laughter and a red face to the boy.
With the shortened periods, the bell suddenly rang.  Candy quickly thanked all the kids and told them what a joy they had been for him all year.  He wished them good luck and assured them that they could come to him later if they had any more questions.  The kids all filed out of the room, most of them looking back at him over and over again until they were out of sight.  And as soon as the last one was gone, the next batch came in… and the process started all over again.
The questions were mostly the same every period.  Some kids were more lewd than others, but Candy handled them all fairly well.  At least he thought he did.  The Principal and Vice-Principal rotated monitoring his class every period.  And it seemed like every period there were more and more other teachers lined up along the back wall as well.  They seemed to ask more questions than some of the kids. 
None of the kids ever felt uncomfortable enough that they wanted to leave, and Candy was fairly glad about that.  It was a strange way for him to say goodbye to the kids… goodbye to the school… and goodbye to his teaching career that he had always enjoyed.
One of the later classes in the morning was the class that Carol was in.  Candy was somewhat afraid of any questions she might ask… but he was far more practiced by the time her class came in.  And as he was going around the room taking the class attendance again, he noticed Stan walking into the back of the room.  He took a moment to smile at him before proceeding.
Again the same old questions popped up.  Again a few suggestive comments.  One or two minor new things were asked.  And then Stan called out, “What do your friends think?”
Candy looked straight at Stan.  “I hope… my friends will be able to accept me for who and what I am.  I’m still the same person I was before, I just… look a little different.  If they can’t deal with me now, then I have to accept that, like it or not.  But I really do hope they’ll come around and at least try.  My friends are important to me.  I’m doing my best to try to not abandon them.  I hope they will at least try to give me the benefit of the doubt.”
He continued to look at Stan for a few moments.  But Stan said nothing and Candy could tell nothing from his face.  He could only hope his friend would stay his friend.
The Principal was back again for his last class.  There were more teachers in the back of the room than ever before… Jennifer among them.  As he started on the attendance, he noticed the doorway was packed with kids… and a few other teachers.  “Come on in,” he called to them.  The room got positively crowded as they all tried to find a place in the room.  There were still kids looking through the doorway as he continued on with the attendance… and started answering a few scattered questions along the way. 
As he had done with all his classes before, he did his best to explain what was going on as well as try to educate everyone as to some of the issues that were involved.  The questions were fewer this time… most likely because the kids had heard everything from their friends. 
As had happened in most of the classes, the girls were all concerned about Candy’s love life.  Was he doing it for love?  Did he ever plan on marrying? 
The boys of course wanted to know if he was gay.  Same old questions, same old answers. 
And then Jennifer in the back of the room put the question more directly, “Do you think you could you ever love another woman?”
Candy was stopped by that for a moment, mostly because it was Jennifer who had asked.  “I… I don’t know,” he admitted.  “I never thought about it.”  Jennifer just nodded and seemed satisfied. 
Candy looked around the room, looking for more questions to answer.  But it looked like the questions had strangely run out.  And that was when one of the more troublesome boys in the back of the room called out, “Steve Jordan thinks you’re hot!”
Candy did his best to smile.  “I wish!” he said.  “Maybe someday, but not yet.”
But before he could say anything else, Jennifer spoke up, “What do you think?” she asked the boy.  “Do you think she’s hot?”
“Me?” the boy asked.
“Yeah!  You brought it up.”
“I don’t think we need to…” Candy started to say to dismiss the issue, but Jennifer held her hand up to stop him from saying anything more.
“I want to hear what you think.” Jennifer told the boy.
The boy looked at Candy again.  “He’s… okay I guess.”
Jennifer nodded.  “Well I think that Miss Brinkley looks a lot better than okay,” she said as she left the back wall and started to head towards the front of the room.  “Miss Brinkley… or rather Mr. Brinkley has been a good friend of mine for a long time now.  I don’t think any of you know how difficult this was for her to do… to come here and stand in front of all of you like she’s doing… and try to explain it all to you.  And she went to a lot of trouble yesterday to get her hair done and make herself look as nice and presentable as she could.” 
She reached the front of the room and grabbed Candy’s arm.  “And just think, if she looks this good now… when she’s just starting out, how good is she going to look a year from now… or two years from now after her body has gone through more changes than you can ever imagine?”  She addressed the boy directly again.  “Candy may not exactly look hot to you right now, but give her time.  I have no doubt that by next year, if you didn’t know that she had ever been a man before, you’d probably be drooling all over her!  And I for one, think she looks great – right now!”
There was a small scattering of applause from around the room and Candy could feel himself blushing.  The bell rang signaling the end of the period, the end of the school day, the end of the school year… and the end of Candy’s teaching career. 
Most of the students left, but not all.  And while the crowd in the room seemed to thin out, it quickly soon grew crowded again as more people entered – the other teachers.  Some came because they were curious, and some came to say goodbye to a colleague that they had been friends with and had respected greatly.  The only one that Candy took particular notice of as not being there was Stan. 
Mostly, the reactions Candy got were good.  Some were more than a bit mixed and uncertain.  And some were blatantly against what he was doing.  But everyone there wished him well and said goodbye.  Whether they liked the fact that he was changing or not, so many of them taking the time to talk to him and say goodbye had his tears leaking constantly down his face.  But there was little he could do about it except to say tearful goodbye after tearful goodbye. 
The women mostly hugged him.  The men mostly wouldn’t touch him, but a few shook his hand.  The men were easier to deal with than the women.  Something about the embrace touched his emotions more than just a few words or a simple handshake.  By the time the room finally thinned out and only a few remained, Candy was sure his face had to look a horrible mess. 
“I got some pictures for you,” Jennifer told him.
“Oh dear!  I have to look awful!”
“You look like you’re supposed to look,” Jennifer said.
“I cried so much, my mascara is probably running all down my face,” Candy replied.
Jennifer nodded.  “Yeah, it is, but isn’t that the way most other women would look after something like this?”
Candy shook her head.  “I hope not!  I would hope that they would have more sense than I did and wear something waterproof!”
Jennifer smiled and hugged Candy again.  But that last statement had opened her eyes up more than she expected.  Yesterday at the beauty parlor had all been about how Candy looked physically.  But now Jennifer was starting to see the mental changes in Candy as well.  She was starting to act and think more like a woman!  Was Stan right?  Did Roger exist at all anymore?  Was Roger really totally gone?  She didn’t want to believe that.  Not at all.  But she couldn’t help but think, if Roger was totally gone, then who exactly was Candy?  Would she be a whole new person?  Or someone that remained totally familiar?  Only time would tell.  Only time.

Candy’s makeup was only partially repaired as he drove home.  And occasionally the tears still sprang from his eyes. 
“You okay?” Carol asked at one point.
“Yeah,” Candy replied as the tears came down again.  “It’s just all those people, even the ones who didn’t like that I’m changing, stopped to say goodbye.”
“I guess you had a lot of friends there,” Carol noted.
Candy only sniffed as she nodded and kept driving.
“You gonna miss them?” Carol asked.
Again, Candy could only nod.  Fortunately, Carol remained silent for the rest of the journey home.
Janice held the door for them as they came into the house.  “How did it go?” she asked, seeing the obvious traces of tears on Candy’s face. 
“Real good,” Candy said, her voice still full of emotion.  “So many of my friends came to say goodbye.”
“And how about the kids?” Janice asked.  “How did they take it?”
“Real good too,” Candy replied, her voice seeming to thicken up with emotion again.  “They all had great questions.” 
“Go on back to your room and get comfortable.  Wash your face.  I’m sure it will make you feel better.”
Candy only nodded and headed down the hallway to his room.  He noted Janice following closely behind, most likely on the way to her own room… or Carol’s.  But when he got to his room, he entered it, and stared in shock.  There was a bed in his room!  With real sheets on it and a real pillow!  There was even a small nightstand with a lamp on it right beside the bed.  His eyes quickly took in the side wall, There were three large pictures framed there… one of him from a year or two ago that had been taken by Jennifer, one from before he had had his hair done.  And the last picture must have been one that Carol had taken of him that morning!  The pictures were all arranged in a row, with lots of space for more pictures to continue down the length of the wall. 
His feet automatically took him to the edge of the bed.  A real bed!  He didn’t miss the dog cage still at the end of it, but he did his best to put that out of his mind.  Janice was allowing him to sleep in a real bed again and not on the floor!  He sank to his knees and the tears came full force again.
“I take it you like it?” Janice asked softly from just behind him. 
Candy could only nod tearfully. 
“I’m afraid it still needs a quilt,” Janice told him.  “And I want you to make that for yourself.  Carol and I are spending the summer making quilts for charity.  I see no reason why you can’t do the same.  But the very first quilt that you make will be all yours.  It will be something that you created, and every time you look at it, you can feel proud of it. 
Candy only looked up and nodded.  He was still crying too hard.  First saying goodbye to everyone at school, and now coming home to find a real bed for him to sleep in.  The more of a woman he became, the more human Janice was allowing him to be. 
There were tears of joy for Candy.  Tears of sadness for his friends.  And tears of despair over losing… himself.  Roger.


'Lil Melissa said...

What a nice chapter. You paint a wonderful picture of how we'd like it to be when transitioning. Sadly, it doesn't always work that way. There IS progress though, and therefore hope for a better understanding. Thank you Karen

sarah penguin said...