Thanks to Djkauf for the edits
Continuing once more, this time we say goodbye to an old friend.
Also, due to not wanting to give away the good parts, there is no teaser this time.
More of Tracy, the Girls, The Parents and the rest.
They had decided to walk to the Turners farm and see the sheep while they were out. Tracy had worried about being seen in a skirt at first, but then she remembered how much she wanted to just get rid of Troy. A part of her hoped that no one would know her, so she decided to just blend in with her friends. It was when they were on their way back that Tracy decided to ask a question that had been bugging her since she heard her mother arguing with her grandmother. “Mom?” Tracy stopped and looked at her. “Who is Alyson?”
Maggie sighed. She had guessed that Tracy had heard, since she had been in the house when the argument started. The was another part of her past that she tried to hide from. Unlike her infidelity, this wasn't something she was ashamed of, instead this was something that tore her heart out every time she thought about it. She had decided to stop hiding things from her daughter. Her father looked at her, then patted her shoulder. “We'll give you two some space. Come on girls, let's go back and look for the turkeys.”
“Thank you, Dad.” Maggie said and they watched him lead the girls away. Maggie was quiet for a few minutes, as she tried to get the strength to talk about her past again. She led Tracy over to a tree that had a low hanging branch that stuck mostly straight out. She helped her daughter up onto the perch and then leaned against the tree. “When I was just fifteen, I met a guy that I thought was the one. This was a couple of years before I met your father.”
Maggie shut her eyes for a moment, not wishing to look at her daughter who was no doubt rethinking her thoughts about her mother once more. “He told me all the things I wanted to hear. I melted each time he looked me in the eyes. I just loved how he made me feel, but I always stopped him before we got too far. I used to sneak out of the house to see him and that drove mom crazy. Then one night we had gone off to a popular make-out spot. Things got hot....and as much as I wanted to, I couldn't say no.”
“Did he rape you?”
Maggie sighed.“No. By time we we were undressed I was willing. But then it was over so fast that it wasn't worth the problems that happened after that.”
“Like what problems? Grandma?”
Maggie opened up her eyes and saw her daughter was still watching her. “The next day at school he had spread around the rumor of how easy I was.”
“Easy how?” Tracy said.
“Easy means a girl will let anyone have sex with her.”
“He told lies? That's not right.”
“Yeah, but that's how guys are.” Maggie said. “But things went downhill from there. About six weeks later I started to get sick. After two weeks of that, I managed to get the nerve up to tell my mother what had happened. After a really heated argument, She took me into the doctor and we learned I was pregnant.”
“Alyson?” Tracy asked. Maggie nodded.
“Yeah. We ended up moving to LA after we found I was pregnant. I was going to start my junior year of high school when school started, and the baby was due to be born in the end of August. See back then, unwed teen mothers were usually shunned, so we moved to save me from that.” Maggie had began to cry and Tracy hopped off the branch and put her arms around her mother. “In the middle of July, a month and a half early, I went into premature labor....there were problems....She...when she was born....” Maggie began to cry harder.
“It's okay, Mama.” Tracy said as she held her mother. She had begun to shed her own tears. “It's okay. You don't have to say anymore.”
“You...you deserve to know....” Maggie said as she managed to stop the sobbing. They stood there for several minutes, as daughter held mother. Finally Maggie continued her story. “When she was born she had a birth defect....There was a problem with...with her lungs...” Maggie's sobs came back as she sagged to her knees from the weight of the old torment. “I n-n-never even got to h-hold my little girl.”
Tracy held on to her mother as the two of them ended up on their knees in the grass. Neither of them said a word for several minutes. Maggie rested her head against her daughters shoulders and just cried, while Tracy held her head and just tried to soothe her.
“Mama, it's okay.” Tracy said after almost five minutes had passed. “I'm sorry she didn't make it. I would have loved an older sister.”
“I bet you would have made a wonderful little sister.”
“Mom, is this what you meant by you knew how people would treat me if they thought Peter and I did something?” The last words brought a deep blush to Tracy’s cheeks.
Her mother let out a sniffle as the wiped the tears from her eyes. “Yes. I was labeled a whore to that school. I was the reason we had to leave. Hell, my sister hated me because of it, but things worked out in the end. I found your Father in LA.” Maggie began to stand up, then she helped her daughter up and brushed off her knees. “Tracy?”
“I know this is like two massive secrets I've dropped on you in the last month and I got to know....do you love me any less?”
Tracy thought about it for half a second, then she wrapped her arms around her mother again. “No Mama. I still love you. Like Dad said the other time, we all make mistakes, right? And If I can't forgive, what type of person am I?”
Maggie wiped at the tears running from her eyes, but she gave her daughter a proud smile. “What did I do to deserve a great daughter like you?”
“Lucky, I guess.” Tracy said, smiling back, then the smile faded. “But what if Grandma is still mad?”
“Honestly, if she can't accept you, then it's her loss. You shouldn't live your life to make someone else happy.” Maggie replied, wiping at the last of the tears on her cheek. “But for now let's go catch up with your grandfather so he knows we're okay.” She held out her hand and Tracy took it, then the two ladies headed back to the house. They saw Marion pointing out birds flying off in the distance to the girls.
They stopped by them and Marion looked, taking quick stock of them. “You both okay?”
“Yeah. Just skeletons from the past.” Maggie replied. They started walking towards the house. Then only to find that the truck her parents owned was gone. Tracy began to cry again. Persephone was walking over to where they were
“None of that now.” Persephone said.
“She left?” Tracy asked, looking from her mother, to Grandfather to Persephone. “She hates me?”
“Tracy, I can't answer that, but she said she had some things to think about and she will be back.” Persephone said.
Marion nodded slowly. “I've known your Grandmother long enough to say we need to let her think about this. Trying to push her into liking you will just make her hate you. So please, don't concern yourself about the hows and whys. Just come in and we can talk if you want.”
But Tracy didn't hear him, she was more focused on her grandmothers absence. Tears started to fall once more and before either of them could stop her, she bolted for the house. Maggie shook her head. “Dammit. This is my fault.”
“No. You know how your mother can be.”
Maggie looked at him, then gestured to the house. “Dad, I basically told her to either like Tracy, deal with it quietly, or leave. This is my fault.”
“She told me that.” Persephone admitted. “But I talked to her after you all left. I think I gave her some food for thought.”
Her father was quite for a moment, then he nodded again. “But you were in the right. This is your house, and as guests, we should be respectful to the people who live here. But I think she needs to come to a decision on her own. Besides, she won't leave the trailer here, and I hope she won't leave me here.” He tried to joke, but it fell flat.
“Girls, can you go check up on Tracy, please?” Maggie asked. The girls nodded and headed for the house.
Bernice pulled her truck to a stop in a parking lot that overlooked the river. She had been driving for more then two hours and her mind was busy going over everything she knew. Her grandchild, the next to the eldest, was dressing as a girl. Everything she knew said it was wrong. But she kept thinking about Persephone's child and how if one child could be born differently, why couldn't two?
She started to think of the past and how the little boy was when he was a child. She slowly recalled each time that she had been around him. Each time she realized something. What her husband said was right. Troy had always hung out with them, and rarely with her husband. Then she began to think of little Troy and how at one point, she had noticed his girlish actions. Or how easily he had gotten along with his cousins who were both girls.
Bernice turned off the motor and she leaned back in her seat, just starting out of the windshield. She wasn't sure what she should do. She knew that if she left, she could ruin her marriage, by forcing her husband to lose contact with one of his daughters. She could crush her daughter at the same time and just acting nice for the sake of being nice never worked out. She had to figure it out. She needed an answer and she needed it soon.
Tracy and her friends followed Stacey and Casey to their father's truck. He had offered to take her stuff, but the arrival of her Grandparents meant that she was going to stay, to at least see her Grandfather, since her Grandmother left. Plus, Maggie wanted to be the one who took her daughter down.
“Thanks for coming up.” Tracy said as she hugged Stacey. “It was good seeing you.”
“Hey, don't sound like this is goodbye. Remember, we'll see you in a few days.” Stacey said “Maybe not the day you get there, but next weekend, We got plans.”
Rachel smiled. “I think Stacey asked her dad to use their place.”
“Yep.” Stacey replied. “You'll love it. We got a surprise or two there.”
“Thursday you’re mine, though.” Brooke stated with a smile. “I think Grandfather wants to take you to the school and see how good you skills are and what class you'll be in.”
“Yeah, your Grandmother will be my teacher, at least that's what he said.”
“Yeah, she does the Tai Chi, he's more of Wing chun.”
Stacey tapped Tracy's arm to get her attention. “You give those letters to Vance?”
“Yep. He put them in his pack and he'll give them to Mary Beth and Emily May tomorrow at school.” Tracy answered.
“Good.” Stacey answered. Casey came over and simply hugged Tracy, then Harvey stopped by them, after checking up in the trailer. “Well, little lady, I'll see you in a few days, along with the rest of these trouble makers.”
Tracy hugged Harvey, aware that her parents had come over to them. She watched as her friends climbed into the back seat of the truck, and Mooney who had school the next morning got in the passenger seat She gave one last wave as Harvey pulled out. The girls all started walking to the house.
An hour after their friends had left for home, Tracy was at a card table playing a board game with her friends. Her father headed out to get more wood for the fireplace and Marion was with Conner and Lok looking over tools in the sheds with Vance. She had told Peter she was leaving, but he was busy till later that afternoon.
“Hey.” Sage said as they watched William walk out of the house. She had seen him give Brooke a sad look, this being the second one she had seen, and she finally wanted to know what was going on. She was unaware that William was only on the side of the house, going over to the shed to grab firewood, and could hear then through the thin windows of the house. “Tracy? Is your Dad okay with us being here?”
“Yeah, why?” Tracy asked.
“It's weird, but he keeps giving Brooke strange looks.”
“Looks like how?”
“It could just be my wheelchair.” Brooke said.
Sage nodded slightly. “That could be, he does seem to look sad when he looks at you.”
“I saw that too.” Brooke stated. “But then I get the 'Oh the poor little crippled girl' look so much that I just try to ignore it.”
William had gone and grabbed an armload of wood and when he came into the house, the girls had all gone quiet as he gently put the wood down. When he stood up he had convinced himself to let the girls know his secret, “Brooke, Girls, I heard you all through the window a few minutes ago and....well, you're right Sage. I have been a bit strained around Brooke.” He went to his chair and sat down.
“You have seemed a bit sad.” Brooke answered.
“There's a reason to that. It's nothing that any of you girls did. In fact having a house full of kids has turned out to be rather fun. But there's a sad story involved with why I've been sad.” William said. “I was in Vietnam for the war and almost adopted a young baby there in Nineteen seventy. But as we got the paperwork settled, a group of enemy soldiers attacked the city that held the orphanage she lived in. In the attack she was killed.” He purposely gave them a watered down version of the story, not wanting to tell them the whole story and upsetting them. “Another month or two and I would have adopted that child and sent to her Maggie to live a good life. The reason this concerns you is that she would be about your age about now.”
“Oh.” Brooke said and now the sad looks from him made sense. “So I'm reminding you of her?”
He nodded. “Yes. You're reminding me of that wonderful little angel. It's nothing you did, nor do you need to change anything. Just keep being yourself and I'm sorry if I made you feel bad the past few days.”
“It's....” Brooke thought about something for a moment, then she looked up at him. “I kinda know the feelings. Mom told me my father died in 'Nam. He was in the Marines. He was an orphan so we never knew his parents, and his adoptive parents have died years ago. Plus when I got hurt...well, see my mom had a son and a daughter, not just a daughter.” Brooke stated. “My Uncle Lu was driving the car and Li, my brother, was in the front seat when we were hit. I was the only one who lived.”
“I'm sorry, I didn't know.” William said. Tracy had been surprised by the news too, having never heard Brooke tell the whole story of the accident.
“Mom and I don't talk about it much. It still hurts after all these years.”
“I can understand. I don't talk about it much either. I mean, Maggie knows, but the kids didn't, not till now.” William stated and Tracy wondered if he knew about Alyson.
Brooke gave him a little, sad smile. “Mr. Patterson, if she had lived, she would have had a wonderful father.” Brooke held her arms out, waiting for a hug. William got up and complied and as he let her go, the young girl looked up at him. “To be honest, if I could pick a father for me, I'd want a cool guy, like you.”
“Thank you, Brooke.” William said. “I'll let you girls get back to hanging out. I want to get some more wood in here for tonight.”
Maggie picked up the phone and dialed Chris's home number and waited for him to pick up. The more she thought about it, the more things she figured she had to do with Tracy and the faster she did it, the quicker she could be home and working on getting moved herself.
“Chris Wright, Can I help you?”
“Chris, it's Maggie and I need to talk to you.”
“Problems? You normally don't call on a Sunday.” Chris stated.
“You remember how I said I was going to be sending my youngest away if things kept happening and move ourselves?” Maggie asked, but she didn't wait for an answer. “We've caught the guilty parties, but the Church lady is still out there, so we're thinking she's going to stop at nothing. So I'm going to work on Monday, but can I get Tuesday through Friday off, then work my final two weeks?”
Chris sighed. He had been hopeful that she could stay, mostly because of how nice the family was, but he knew that this was how the world could work. “Okay. You sure you don't want tomorrow off?”
“Let me think about it, okay?” Maggie replied.
“Maggie, take it off. You've got things going on. Just take the week off and come back the next week, okay? If you got to move the kids, then that means getting stuff taken care of legally, like school and making sure the new place can take her to the hospital.”
“Good point. Thank you Chris.”
“You're welcome and good luck in whatever goes on.”
“The way things are going, I just may need that luck.” Maggie said with a forced chuckle.
“I'll see you next week Maggie.”
Tracy and her friends all headed over to her grandmothers place. She had stayed in her skirt and nice shirt, instead of changing for the fifty foot walk. When they got to the porch, she was slightly confused to see Lok, her father, her Grandfather Marion and her Grandfather Conner standing on the porch, watching them. When they stopped, Lok spoke up. “Girls, could I ask you to go inside? Mister Patterson would like to speak to Brooke for a moment.” The girls shrugged and all went up the steps, followed by Marion and William.
Conner stepped off the porch and dropped to one knee by Brooke. “Young lady, I don't know if you've noticed, but in the past couple of days, I've been rude to both you and your grandfather. Not openly, but I have ignored you and been treating you badly. I have apologized to him already and I want to apologize to you as well.”
Brooke shook his hand. She wasn't sure if he had a story like William's, but she was now understandably curious. “I get it all the time. People judge me from the chair, not who I am.”
Conner let go of her hand. “No. It's not the chair. I will admit, seeing you in that chair and hearing from Modine and Persephone what sports you do is nothing short of amazing. What I mean is my own stupid small minded bigotry. I've always been harsh on Asians and I used to blame it on the war, but the fact was I was just a hate filled man. I hated Tracy when I heard about the dresses, till I watched her defend her grandmother. And I needed to see that lesson again, that I shouldn't hate someone for how they look. You are a good kid. Persephone says you are a gifted student and a great athlete, and Tracy says you’re a great person and that's all that should matter.”
“Thanks.” Brooke said. “But it's okay. I know how some people can hate others for no reason at all.”
“But it's still wrong.” Conner said. “And hiding behind excuses is also wrong. So can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
“Yeah. No harm, no foul.” She stated. “You want to be nice, then we can be nice.”
“Thanks.” He bent down and gently hugged her. “Now would you like a hand up the steps?”
“Yes please.” She said. Without being asked, she turned her chair around and waited for him and her grandfather to lift her up the stairs.
“Maybe we could talk about some of the sports you do.” Conner said as they put her chair down. “I hear you play basketball.”
“I do. We were near the top of our age group this year. Next year we want to be number one.” Brooke stated.
“That's a good goal to keep. No shame in trying to do the best you can. But I must admit, I've never heard of someone in a wheelchair playing basketball.”
“Oh? Well, then I should tell you everything I can do.” Brooke said with a chuckle. “Prepare to be surprised.”
Tracy stood on the porch, her hands in her pockets to keep them warm from the winter wind that was blowing. Peter had come over to hang out for a few hours, and she had wanted to say goodbye to him one last time. Of course she knew her friends and her parents were watching. She knew her father was behind the door, waiting for them to kiss. He was waiting for his mother to get done talking with her parents, before the two friends were separated for good.
"I'm sorry I have to leave." She told him, doing her best to not cry.
"It's better this way." Peter replied. "That crazy lady is still out there, plus how many people took pictures home. I can understand why your parents are doing this. I don't like it, but I can understand it."
"Yeah." Tracy said and she leaned against him. He put his arms around her as she looked up. "You can always have Vance send letters to me."
"I could. I don't write much, but for you I can."
"Thanks. And thanks for being cool about this."
Peter smiled at her. "Tracy, I want you safe, that's all that matters." With that, he bent down and kissed her on the lips. At that exact moment, the door handle wiggled slightly and they broke off the embrace.
"Dad." She muttered.
"I know." The door opened up and Peter's mother came out, wished Tracy good luck and went to the car. She was aware her father was out there with them now. Peter hugged her once more as his mother started her car.
"You need to get going. You got school tomorrow."
"It isn't the same without you." Peter said. "But I'll manage." He turned and headed to his mothers car, afraid to try another kiss with her father on the porch. Tracy watched as Peter rode away, going out of his life for what she figured would be forever. As that thought hit her, she began to cry and William pulled her into a hug.
"I'm sure he feels the same way Baby. No one ever likes to leave a friend."
Marion was starting to worry about his wife. It was just past nine in the evening, California time. She had yet to return from her soul searching. He breathed a sigh of relief as he heard his truck pull up. It took a few minutes for her to get out and come around the trailer, then climb in. She noticed him sitting at the tiny little table by the door, a glass of water in his hand. He waited till she was in before he spoke. “You okay?”
Bernice nodded her head. “Yeah. I just needed to think. You know how I get.”
“I know. You still angry?” He asked she she pulled off her shirt and slipped into her night clothes.
She shook her head. “No. Is Maggie?”
“No. She's not sure how to do this, though. She is regretting giving you an ultimatum.” Marion stated.
“But she is right for defending on her children.” Bernice said. “I recall giving one to my grandmother after Maggie got pregnant.”
“Your family has been quick to anger, and you recall how long it took to get your grandmother to talk to you again after that?”
“Almost ten years, and then that was just a few months before her death. So many things I could have said in that time.” Bernice sat on the edge of the bed, to face him better. “Troy was never here, was he?”
“The more I think about it, the more I have to say no.” He got up, and began changing for bed.
“Yeah.” Bernice nodded as she pulled back the covers and lay down. “I've been thinking and I just can't remember him ever being a boy. Every memory I can recall, he seems so girly.”
“Same here.” Marion admitted.
“And Maggie.....I should have never thrown Alyson in her face like that. I know how much that hurts her.”
“She hurts, but a hurt like that never goes away, we both know that.” Marion said.
“I'm going to talk to them in the morning.” Bernice stated. “First thing.”
“Good.” Marion said. “They may be up now, if you wanted to go in.”
“I should, but letting Maggie calm down is as important as me calming down.”
“Well, I won’t push you.” He stated. “Get some sleep and we'll talk to them in the morning.”
“Okay. Night, Marion.”
Maggie was up and in the kitchen as she saw her mother slip into her trailer, unaware that she was being watched. When Bernice hadn't returned home that evening, Tracy went into a fit of crying again. As the door of the trailer shut, Maggie shook her head, aware that Tracy was looking out the living-room window and she started to cry again.
“Dammit Mom.” Maggie whispered. “Of all the times to be pig-headed.” She muttered, before moving to the living-room to try and soothe her child.
A couple of hours had passed since she had returned to her daughters farm and Bernice couldn't sleep. She lay in her bed, thinking about her grandchild in the house, and of the past. Finally she figured she had to do something. She had to apologize. She got up and grabbed a robe from the time closet in the trailer and headed out of the door and to her daughter’s home.
Bernice stepped into the house as quietly as she could. To save from filling up their septic tank on the trailer, William and Maggie had allowed them to use their bathroom anytime they wanted, which meant the front door was unlocked. Two night lights were plugged in to illuminate the living-room, just slightly, one near the kitchen and one near Maggie and William's bedroom. She could make out the wheelchair by the pullout bed and the form of the Chinese girl lying there, plus one other figure, the redhead. Two other forms were huddled together, using two sleeping bags, zipped together. She went to that one and dropped to one knee and she studied the two faces, unaware that the Chinese girl and redhead were now both watching her.
Bernice touched Tracy's cheek and the girl woke up, flinching slightly. Then her eyes looked around as she startled to see the person standing there. “Grandma?” Tracy asked. Bernice put a finger over her mouth to signal her granddaughter to be quiet for a moment. She was now aware that the other girl, the bigger of them, was also awake.
When Bernice spoke, it was in a whisper, but in the silence of the house, the girls all heard it. “Tracy, you must think I'm a mean, vicious woman. But I was wrong. I've been thinking and even when I got back here, I couldn't stop thinking. The truth was always there. The times you'd place with your cousins, Cheryl and Heidi, the times you hung out with your Aunt and Mother, and your cousins and myself. Or that time in Wyoming. You really are a girl. It's been there all this time, hasn't it. And if a girl like your friend can have parts of both sexes, why can't a girl be born as a boy?”
Bernice bent down and kissed Tracy's cheek and as she pulled back, Tracy moved out of the sleeping bag, showing a long light colored nightgown. She sat up and held her arms out and Bernice took the hint. She hugged her granddaughter for several seconds. As she stood up she whispered again. “We can talk more in the morning, I just had to say that I'm sorry now.”
“Thank you.” Tracy replied.
“Now, get back to sleep young lady. And sorry for waking you too, young lady.” Bernice stated. Rachel just nodded and put her head back on the pillow and waited to Tracy to slide back into the sleeping bag.
It was when Bernice looked up, she noticed that Maggie was standing at the door to her bedroom, smiling. She walked over to her mother and hugged her. “Thank you Mom.” She whispered. “I hoped you'd come around.”
“We can talk in the morning too. Right now I need to powder my nose and get back to sleep.”
“Okay.” Maggie said, hugging her mother just once more. “And thank you for proving me wrong.”
Almost done with that weekend. So close......
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