Copyright© 2011 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
Everyone had recovered from their spotty experience and the girls were back in school, and Julie was back in work. On the morning that she was eighteen, we left a whole pile of cards on the breakfast table. She’d arranged for the day off and I was taking her to the local spa for the works, facial, massage, haircut, manicure, pedicure, leg wax—as I said, the works. She didn’t know this until she sat down and opened her cards.
She tore open the envelope of mine first, she recognised the handwriting. “So where are we going shop...?” She looked at the appointments and then the date, “Oh wow, Mummy—that is so ace.” She hugged me nearly cracking my ribs and danced about the table. What would she have done if I’d got her something she really liked?
I’d arranged the cards so that the last one would really blow her mind. She opened those from the girls, Danny, Tom, even Leon had remembered—though he was at a horticultural college somewhere in Sussex these days—which was definitely better than doing porridge, so perhaps we had helped him.
She had a couple of cards through the post which were presumably from her friends, one turned out to be from her natural parents with fifty pounds inside it. She was very surprised at that given their original hostility, and she still bore a fine scar on her throat from the attack by her father.
Simon was sitting sipping his coffee when she got to the last card, she tore it open. It had a picture of a kitten on it compared to the dormouse which had been on the one I’d given her. She drew out the card and opened the sheet of paper inside it, which she opened and read carefully, her hand shaking. She shrieked and burst into tears. Composing herself a few seconds later, she got up crossed to Simon and hugged him half to death, “Thank you, Daddy, thank you so much.” She kissed him on the cheek and thanked him again.
“Well what is it, then?” asked Danny, seeing her still crying.
“It’s not a pony is it?” asked Mima who’d recently decided she liked horses more than dolls.
Trish picked up the letter, “Oh my,” she said a moment after reading it.
“Yeah—and?” said Danny getting frustrated.
“It’s an appointment with Mr O’Rourke for four o’clock this afters for a preliminary examination prior to gender reassignment surgery.” Trish read from the letter.
“That all,” said a bored Danny, “ thought it would be something nice.”
“It is nice you, numpty.” Trish scolded her brother.
“It’s wonderful,” sighed Julie.
“When you getting it done then?” asked Livvie.
“We don’t know until we discuss it with Mr O’Rourke, but you’ll need to stop your hormones until he tells you to start again.” I advised.
“Will we get a date today—for the op, I mean?” Julie asked.
“I hope so,” I said and she hugged me again.
“Are you coming to the spa as well, Mummy?”
“No, I’ll take you there and collect you in time for your hospital appointment.”
“Is this NHS?” asked Julie.
“I wish,” replied Simon, “The car was cheap compared to this.”
“I really appreciate it, Daddy,” Julie was still weeping a little.
“I know, kiddo, and I did promise it to you in front of your mother, so she made all the arrangements, including my murder if I didn’t pay up.”
“You didn’t did you?” she asked me.
“Don’t believe a word of it, we provisionally organised this months ago. The last bit was getting the second referral from a shrink, which was why Brendan was here the other night.”
“He did a referral?”
“I thought it was a routine thing, mind you he did keep going on about surgery and did I still want it. I asked if he had a penknife because he could have done it there and then.”
“Would have been cheaper,” Simon sighed.
“Messy, I think,” I suggested.
“Ewwch,” was Mima’s opinion.
Danny laughed, felt his own crutch and blushed then went pale. “Aren’t you like, scared?”
“Of what?” asked Julie.
“Well, like once it’s cut off it ain’t like, gonna grow back is it?”
“God, I hope not—not everyone is as squeamish as you over a bit of surplus skin—you know,” Julie told him directly.
“I gotta go to school, happy birthday, sis,” was his parting shot.
While Julie got herself ready to go to the spa, I took the girls to school then ran her to the spa and arranged to collect her at three. By the time I got home, it was ten and I realised I hadn’t had any breakfast. Caroline, who’d been having a lazy morning, was pouring some tea as I walked in, so I sat with her and Stella, Simon having gone out for some sort of meeting at the bank.
“I wish I’d known it was Julie’s birthday,” she said.
“Sorry, I assumed everyone knew.” I honestly did, mainly because Julie went round telling everyone.
“I’ll pop out later and get something for her.”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got a spare card you can have,” I offered.
“No, I’ll only be an hour—there’s a CD she wants, I’ll get that.” Caroline finished her breakfast while I buttered the toast I’d just made.
The rest of the day went in doing chores and writing Christmas cards. I don’t believe in all this reason for the season stuff, because even to a moron, it has to be obvious that the original pagan festivities were about the winter solstice, Wassailing, Yule, Saturnalia and so on. I bought some cards which wished the recipient ‘A Kewl Yule’ as opposed to more usual ones, the rest were mainly, ‘Season’s Greetings’ with a neutral message.
I don’t go a bundle on Christmas, ever since Rocky my hamster died when I was five. In those days I believed in gods and thought I was punished for wanting to be a girl—yeah, even at five I knew what I wanted—but no one believed me.
I got kicked out of Santa’s grotto when I told him I wanted a doll’s house, a tea set and a new dress. He thought I was a girl until my dad, asked for a blue wrapped present—it was some cheap and nasty plastic breakdown truck. I took it down the garden, shoved a firelighter in it and struck a match—burnt to a cinder. Dad never did work out what the molten blob was, but I knew. Then Rocky died and I was sure god was getting back at me. I lived in supernatural fear until I went to high school and began to see alternative theories and beliefs—especially Darwin—I never looked back.
Even religion seems to evolve in a Darwinian way, the strongest tending to prosper at the expense of the others. Unfortunately, it always seems the top dog is the most aggressive and ruthless and if there was a god, he’d be disgusted by it, by the slaughter of innocents be they the wrong sect of Islam, or some poor unfortunates caught by the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by some loony who thinks he can talk to the Holy Spirit while massacring innocent women and children—oh well, some things never change—just the names.
At three o’clock, I went to collect Julie who came out looking lovely and waving her newly extended fingernails at me. Simon had agreed to collect the girls after his meeting, using the Mondeo while I took Julie for a quick cuppa at the hospital cafeteria and then we walked down to the clinic where O’Rourke held court.
“What if he decides I can’t have it done for some reason, Mummy?”
“Then we get a second opinion.”
“London, wherever, even if we have to go to Holland or Belgium, if it’s appropriate for you to have it done, then we’ll do it.”
“Thank you, Mummy,” she said squeezing my hand—I felt like she was eight years old not eighteen, as we walked holding hands down to the clinic. “I feel ever so nervous.”
“It’ll be okay, just wait and see.”
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