It was two days before the math final. Even though he had studied harder than he had ever studied before in his life, Peter didn't feel he was any closer to completely catching on to the subject. He found that his problem wasn't really not knowing how to do a problem, but that the time it took him to figure out how to find X, took longer than it should and later in the test he would need to hurry just to answer all of the questions and have any hopes of passing.
“Hey, sport,” Mr. Connors said as he walked into the kitchen where his son had an open math text book and was surrounded by handfuls of math worksheets that Mr. Johnson had given the class to help them study. This was the forth time Peter would be going through these problems.
“Hey dad,” Peter looked up, the stress could be seen in his eyes.
“Still at it, huh?” His dad peered over his son's shoulders and he hated to admit it, but the math problems all looked foreign to him.
“Yep, still trying to find x and y,” Peter said as he pushed the piece of paper he was working on to the side so his dad could see.
“I'm sure you're doing fine.”
Peter slumped in his chair. “I just takes me to darn long to find x and y, dad. I hate x and y. My life is ruined by x and y. If I had two Xs half my problems would be over.”
Mr. Connors laughed. “If you had two Xs, you would be a girl.”
Peter looked at his dad in confusion.
Mr. Connors rubbed his son's thick, bushy hair. “It's a biology joke, Peter. Trust me, its funny.”
“Sorry Dad, when I'm around math nothing is funny.”
“Don't study too hard, son. It's almost time for bed. Besides don't you have another test tomorrow you might want to prepare for.”
Peter gathered his papers and tried to make as neat a pile as he could out of them. “Tomorrow is language arts,” he stated. “That's easy. All you do is read some short stories and then answer some questions. Nothing to it.”
“Good to hear you are so confident in at least one subject.”
“Ya, but it isn't going to do any good if I fail math.”
Mr. Connors squeezed his son's shoulder lightly. “No matter how you do, I'm proud that you're trying so hard and in the end all this hard work will pay off.”
“I hope it pays off in Hawaii.”
“Me too, son. Me too.”
Mr. Connors left the boy to clean up the mess that had become the kitchen table and joined his wife in the living room.
“He still at it?” Mrs. Connors asked her husband.
“Yep. I have never seen that boy try so hard at something in my life. It would be a shame if he didn't get passed, no matter how poorly he did on that damn test.”
Mrs. Connors frowned. “There's not much more you can do, though. You already talked to his teacher and there didn't seem to be any wiggle room.”
Mr. Connors sat down in his Lay-Z-Boy and put his feet up on the ottoman. “I can't fault the guy. He made a valid point. Math is only going to get more and more difficult and if he just passed Peter, he really would be doing a disservice to the kid. If we had the money I would simply get a tutor.”
“I know.” Mrs. Connors put a sympathetic hand on her husband's forearm. “Maybe he will pass.”
“Maybe, but a thirty point increase is a lot for a kid. That and he doesn't seem to be catching on any better. It looks like he knows what he is doing, but his mind moves like molasses.”
“It's a shame. He really does have his heart on going to Hawaii with Veronica and her family.”
Mr. Connors let out a sigh. “Yeah, and I had my heard on redoing the house while he was away for the summer. Can't really put on that needed addition with him hanging around. I would just send him and let him repeat the grade.”
“We already discussed that.”
“I know. It would make him even more miserable to leave his friends behind and have to do the whole year all over again just because he flunked one subject. It would be torture for the poor guy.”
“We'll figure out something when the time comes. He really wants that trip to Hawaii.”
“I know,” Mr. Connors said. “If he isn't talking about math these days he's talking about the tropics.”
Mrs. Connors laughed. “He really wants to see Veronica in one of those coconut shell bikinis.”
Mr. Connors smiled. “That's my boy. At least now he's wanting to see them instead of wearing them.”
Mrs. Connors playfully slapped her husband on the shoulder. “Oh, hush. He was a little kid back then and he's outgrown that little phase.”
“Except for being a cat for Halloween and putting on tights and a leotard.”
“You know he and Veronica do practically everything the same way. The year before they were superman and supergirl.”
Mr. Connors rolled his eyes. “Yep, more tights.”
“You should be thankful. Right now they are interested in dressing up,but part of me thinks that boy is picturing more of Veronica dressing down.”
Mr. Connors looked at his watch. “Yep, thirteen years old. Right on schedule.”
“Let's just hope he passes and we can work on that schedule next year.”
Mr. Connors took a deep breath. “Knowing the two of them they are hatching some sort of plan. It isn't like Veronica not to help Peter out of a jam, and vice-versa. I just hope they don't do anything stupid that gets them into trouble.”
“You mean like cheat?”
“Desperate times calls for desperate measures,” Mr. Connors said.
“I don't see them going that far. I think their earlier plan was to put each others name on the top of the test because their handwriting is practically the same, but they gave that up when they remembered that the teacher collected the test in order and the room is arranged alphabetically.”
Mr. Connors laughed. “Wasn't a bad plan.”
“Hush, don't encourage him.”
“I wouldn't tell him that. But he seems to be willing to do whatever it takes in order for him to pass. I hope whatever he chooses is something he could live with.”
Mrs. Connors frowned. “And something we can live with too. I noticed him looking up magic spells online. I don't feel comfortable with him playing with stuff like that.”
“What's he going to do, conjure up the test answers.”
“The latest stuff seemed to be body swapping stuff.”
Mr. Connors laughed. “I don't see Veronica enjoying being a boy.”
Mrs. Connors gave her husband a serious look.
“Hey, I'm a realist, we both know Peters stand on being, you know, tender.”
“That's not very nice and I'm being serious.”
The smile left Mr. Connors face. “I don't think our son has the ability to cast some sort of spell that is going to make him and Veronica switch bodies.”
“He gave it up, he didn't understand half of the spell and some of the ingredients for the concoction aren't for sale anywhere on this continent.”
“So problem solved.”
“You guys talking about math too,” Peter said with a groan as he entered the living room.
The adults looked up at him and let out a nervous chuckle.
“No, we were talking about you and your little scheme at passing math class,” Mr. Connors said.
“I found you looking at those black magic websites, you know we don't approve of that sort of thing.”
Peter did his best not to roll his eyes. “I know. I wouldn't really do that stuff anyway. You do one thing wrong and a demon might eat you or something.”
Mr. Connors put on a serious looking face. “You know if I don't allow you to have a dog, I certainly am not going to let you have a demon.”
Mr. Connors laughed.
“It was just a thought. Like fun to make believe that me and Veronica can swap places and she could take the test for me.”
Mrs. Connors raised an eyebrow.
“Back to this again,” Mr. Connors said plainly.
“Back to what,” Peter said as he stood between his parents two seats.
“Nothing,” Mrs. Connors comforted. “When you were a little kid, you wanted to be just like Veronica so you two could be sisters.”
“But I'm a boy,” Peter injected. “I'd have to be her brother.”
“Exactly,” Mrs. Connors said pointedly.
“Oh,” Peter said in an elongated manner as he caught on.
“But those days are behind us,” Mr. Connors said as he patted his son on his back. “But we'll always have those fond memories.”
Peter smiled, though he had already forgotten half of those memories to begin with. “I'm ready for bed.”
“Okay, go brush your teeth and I'll be in to tuck you in,” Mrs. Connors said and then watched as her son left the room.
“I hope this isn't going full circle,” Mr. Connors said as soon as he felt his son was out of earshot.
“I don't think it is. I think he is more interested in Veronica's body the way you're interested in mine. That was just a little phase he went through when he was little.”
“I don't want to hear him crying for us to make him a girl like all we have to do is wave a wand or something.”
“He fell for the wave of the hand, 'poof, you're a girl' trick that time. I think he knows better and he seems happy to be in the body he has. Once the hormones kick in, he'll really appreciate it.”
Veronica was kneeling by the side of her bed, wearing her Power Girls nightgown that was a gift during Christmas from her best friend next door. She had grown a considerable amount and it wouldn't be something she would wear in front of company, but it did have sentimental value to it. Mrs. Appleton stood at the door and stifled a laugh at seeing her daughter's bare bottom stick out from the bottom for all the world to see. It was bed time, underwear wasn't required when a sleepover wasn't in effect.
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” Veronica began to recite the only bedtime prayer she knew by rote. “And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Dear God, please bless my Mommy and my Daddy and me tomorrow. Help me to do good on my language arts class, and help Peter learn math so he can come to Hawaii and not have to be sad in summer school. Amen.”
Veronica got off of her knees and tugged the hem of her nightshirt to see if she could stretch it just a little bit further down so it could last her just a little bit longer. She turned down the pink blanket of her bed and crawled in. She sat with her back against the white headboard that was in the shape of two giant hearts that were interlocking; without looking she knew that on one heart was her name and on the other was Peter, something they had done a few years ago and were surprised that they didn't get in trouble for. Maybe writing on beds were different than writing on walls.
“That was a lovely prayer, baby,” Mrs. Appleton said as she walked to the side of the prayer. “I am sure that Peter would appreciate knowing that you are praying for him.”
Veronica smiled. “I just hope it works.”
Becky pulled the blanket over her daughter's leg, returning to the young teenage girl the decency that she was unknowingly lacking. “He certainly has been trying very hard. His nose has been in that math book constantly.”
“He knows all the work, but, I think his brain is afraid of math test.”
Becky laughed. “It could be. He wouldn't be the first little kid who had trouble taking test. Maybe he can still figure it out in time, but, without doing good on test, no one will really know how much he knows his stuff.”
Veronica pouted, partly at her friend being called a little kid, meaning her mom still thought of her as a little kid also, but also thinking that there was little chance for her friend to get a B on the test. “Maybe I could help him with the test.”
“I think you've been a great help. You've studied almost as much as he has and I hear you explaining things to him all the time when he gets stumped and giving him little hints.”
Veronica's pout turned to a smile at being complemented. “No, Mom, I mean really help.”
“In what way?” Becky sat on the side of the bed. She didn't want the children to do anything that would get them in trouble, or that was in some way cheating, even if they would somehow get away with it. She knew both the kids very well, they were both good children. They might cheat and get away with it somehow, but their consciences would make their lives miserable, and even though they would get what they wanted, they wouldn't be happy about it at all.
“I was thinking...” Veronica said and then paused.
Becky could see the wheels in the young girl's mind spin. Yes, her daughter had been thinking, evidently been thinking very hard about something. But, whatever she was thinking must be a little bit out there for her not to just come right out and say. She always knew when Veronica was afraid of some sort of objection when one of her suggestions might border on the fringe on what would be considered acceptable in their family. “Out with it, young lady,” Mrs. Appleton said lightly. “What were you thinking?”
“Okay,” Veronica said and her face lit up as she played the scenario through her own mind before actually spitting it out. “What if I gave Peter my secret math test taking lucky charm that would make sure that he would pass the test?”
Becky eyed her daughter suspiciously. “You mean...”
Veronica's smile could get no larger. “Yeah. I mean that,” she didn't have to mention what that was, they both knew. “Remember before I found out I had a secret weapon I was doing just as bad as Peter was on test. It hasn't let me down yet.”
“I don't know,” Mrs. Appleton said suspiciously.
“But I know if he uses it, he will pass for sure.”
Becky shook her head. There was no way to deter her daughter from this particular idea, no matter how crazy it sounded. The worst thing yet was that there was actually some logic to it and it just might work. “Peter might not agree to it, honey.” At least there was that out, Peter might not agree to using the particular lucky charm that her daughter would suggest to her friend. “I mean, it's something that boys kind of don't do in public, even Peter. Besides, he wouldn't want you to give up your lucky charm and then have you do bad on the test.”
Veronica's face turned serious, as she tried to figure out a way to get her friend to go along with her idea. “I'll just tell him that even if I don't do as good as I normally do, I still will pass and we can go to Hawaii and do the hula dance together and watch the fire eater and eat a pig with an apple in its mouth and everything.”
“I'm just saying that its a long shot, and don't get offended if Peter says no.”
“I won't. I just know he'll say yes, I just know it.”
“Okay,” Mrs. Appleton conceded. “Anyway, it's time for bed. You got another big test ahead of you tomorrow and you wanted to be well rested.”
“Yes mommy,” Veronica said, reverted back to her little kid ways because her mother always appreciated that and she wanted as much bonus points she could get just in case things went bad when she got her grades back. She leaned forward and gave her mother a kiss on the cheek before receiving one back in return. The little girl then scooted her body down, placed her head on the pillow, and allowed her mother to bring the light blanket over her shoulders.
“Your dad will check in on you when he gets home,” Becky told her daughter. With the upcoming trip, her husband had to put extra hours in at work, not so much to make some extra money, but to be ensured that he wouldn't be bothered while on vacation.
Peter had just gotten out of the bathroom from brushing his teeth and scrubbing his hands and face. It was a nightly ritual that he could do without, but he knew that his parents wouldn't let him get away not completing his nightly task. He had put his shorts, shirt and other dirty clothes in the hamper and was already in his bed clothes as he walked back to the living room where his parents were.
Mr. Connors was the first to see his son. Though he didn't ever say anything, he was always perplexed as to why his son just wore a long white t-shirt to bed. 'At least this one doesn't have kittens on it,' he thought to himself of the shirt his son use to wear to bed a year ago that had finally became so worn and ill fitting that Peter had given up on wearing it. This shirt was a little better, another gift from the boy's little friend next door, it had a picture of a tiger's head on front. Even though the picture of the tiger was done in a sort of silverish glitter, it was still a tiger nonetheless and it was at least a step in the right direction. “Hey slugger.”
“Hey dad,” Peter said as he stood between the two easy chairs of his parents. It was their nightly ritual and was just the way things were.
“Did you brush your teeth?” His mother asked him.
“Yes,” Peter said, trying not to sound like an annoyed teenaged brat.
Mr. Connors eyes narrowed as he looked on his son with a suspicious look on his face. “Do we need to check?”
Peter smirked. “No.”
Mr. Connors could always tell when his son was lying and this was not one of those times.
“Okay, come get your kisses,” Mrs. Connors said.
Peter walked first to his mother, leaned down, and got a big sloppy kiss on the cheek before giving one in return. He then walked over to his father. Unlike other boys his age, he didn't mind being close to the man or the tenderness that they shared. In fact, he never even gave it a second thought. Though he had heard about other kids in class brag at how they didn't get hugged or kissed by their parents, especially their fathers, Peter didn't understand why anyone would want to give up the affection. He leaned down, he could feel his dad's stubble rub against his cheek and he received his goodnight kiss. He tried not to but he giggled. He then kissed his dad in return, but couldn't find a spot on the man's cheek that didn't need to be shaved.
“Good night, prince,” his dad said.
“Good night king,” Peter said with a smile. “Good night queen.”
“Good night, Peter,” his mom had said. “Don't forget to say your good night prayers before going to sleep and I'll come to tuck you in in a few minutes.
“Okay mom,” Peter said and then walked away.
Mrs. Connors waited for her son to get out of earshot. “He really is a good kid.”
“Yeah,” her husband agreed. “Too bad he's going to be a high schooler and that might change.”
Mrs. Connors frowned. “It doesn't have to change.”
“It doesn't have to, but its the natural order of things. I don't know how it is with girls, but with boys, high school is a constant battle to break free from your parents.”
“But Peter isn't like other boys,” Mrs. Connors objected.
Her husband rolled his eyes, he knew that was the truth. “The more and more time passes by, the less and less he is going to be like his little friend next door. Sooner or later he is going to discover that he likes girls more than he likes acting like a girl and their relationship will change. They'll probably start dating and kissing and having make out sessions behind our backs.”
“Hush,” Mrs. Connors objected. “And he doesn't act like a girl, he just acts like himself.”
Mr. Connors smiled. He had given into the fact that his son acted a certain way and even accepted it for what it was, knowing that one day biology would take over and his son would be powerless to stop it. “And himself currently acts like a girl. I'm not saying its bad or wrong, but let's face it, he's surrounded by estrogen most of the time. Outside of school he hangs around you, Becky and Veronica, he's out numbered. In the summer he acts even more girly because he doesn't even have school to get some testosterone floating in the air around him Didn't you hear the way he giggled when I kissed his cheek, that wasn't the most manliest of sounds.”
“Then maybe you should shave,” Mrs. Connors countered, realizing that her husband had one this mini-argument and there was no reason to continue. She stuck her tongue out at him for good measure, just to show him how much of a brat she thought he was being. “I better go check in on our daughter.”
Mr. Connors chuckled. “I'd watch that,” he said playfully. “Part of me has always suspected you wanted a little girl and if Peter ever heard you say that he'd rebel, shave his head, wear black t-shirts and listen to loud rock music that you would hate.”
“Oh, he would not,” Mrs. Connors said out of frustration.
Peter was on the side of his bed. His bare knees were on the carpeted floor and his hands were clasped together. “Dear God and Jesus,” he began his prayer, he never prayed anything by rote but viewed prayer like a kind of phone call where he talked and someone in Heaven was listening. “I want to thank you for my Mom and Dad and Mrs. Appleton and Veronica, it is nice having them in my life so I can be happy. Tomorrow I have a test in language arts and I pray that you help me remember what I need to do in reading comprehension and that I pick the right answers. What I really need help with is the math test on Friday. I will do whatever it takes in order to pass the class and I have been doing my best to get ready. I could really use your help, so if you could make me smarter or send a math angel to help me do the problems quicker so I can finish the test on time that would really be neat. Whatever you want me to do in order to pass the test I would do it, just tell me what it is. Amen.”
Mrs. Connors was standing by the door, she would do anything to ease her son's concerns but didn't know what she could do. “I don't think there really is anything more that you can do in order to prepare for that silly math test.”
Peter got up from his knees and sat on his bed. “It isn't silly, Mom. It might be the most important test that I've ever taken in my whole life.”
Mrs. Connors sat down next to her son. “In the end, no matter how good or bad that you do, it is still just a test. Making yourself sick over it isn't going to make the questions answer themselves.”
“I know. I just don't know what else to do.”
“I think you've done all you can do. I doubt the whole class together put as much time in studying for that exam than you did.”
“But isn't there anything else I could do?” Peter said as he leaned his head against his mother's arm.
“There's nothing I can think of at the moment. Maybe Veronica knows something, she seems to do well on those test and you two do most of your studying together.”
“I'll do anything to pass,” Peter said as he mother eased him towards his pillow.
“I know, I heard.” Mrs. Connors put the blanket over her son's legs. “I think the best thing you could do now is not worry about things and get a good nights sleep. You have your English test tomorrow...”
“Language Arts,” Peter corrected.
“Language Arts, English, six in one hand, half dozen in the other.” Mrs. Connors smiled at the son, knowing that the only reason he corrected her was because he got some sort of perverse joy in doing so; probably because she always corrected him when he called jam jelly. “Either way, you still have to take that test tomorrow and its a half day so you have plenty of time to think of something for the math test.”
“I know,” Peter said as he felt his eyes grow heavier and heavier.
“Just go to sleep now, things will be all right once these next few days are over.”
“I hope so mom.” Peter closed his eyes and felt his mother kiss him on the forehead. He let out a contented sigh and was soon fast asleep.
Mrs. Connors left the room and joined her husband in the living room. “All tucked in, probably wore himself out all day worrying about that dumb test of his.”
Mr. Connors frowned. “It's a part of life. I think he'll do fine.”
“It's a tall order, but don't you think God or Fate would reward his hard work and just let him get just enough answers correct.”
Mrs. Connors sat on her husbands lap. “I hope you're right.”
“I hope so too.”
“Now, about that daughter I've always wanted,” Mrs. Connors said with a sparkle in her eyes.
Mr. Connors smiled. “Let's get right on that, and if I fail we still got Peter and for a while he can still be close enough.”
His wife laughed. “Oh hush.”
Author's note: Yet another story that was suppose to be a stand alone that is getting away from me. Would people prefer if I just cut to the chase and got to the transgender or transvestite action, or do you enjoy all this background into the characters' psyche. I sort of enjoy playing things out so the reactions are understandable, but I might really be pissing people off.
BTW: If you find my work enjoyable, or worthwhile, or would otherwise like to reward my efforts. I would like to remind people that God Bless the Child is available at Amazon for Kindle HERE and is also available in real life book form at Create Space Here
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