By Sydney Moya
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Mr Devlin’s offer was too good to pass up, it wasn’t every day that someone offered you an all- expenses paid education in exchange for playing football as well as guaranteed employment after you were finished that education.
The more Ellen thought about it the more she came to realise she had nothing to lose after all; all she had was frankly a dead end job working in a sports shop. Sure Dave was a great boss but Ellen didn’t exactly see a future there in ten or so years.
This was a chance to get a university degree, something that wouldn’t hurt her in the long run. In fact it would probably widen her prospects in life. After all she was a woman and in the workplace she needed every advantage she could garner just to keep up with the guys.
Furthermore she had nothing in Britain, no family after her transition, no significant other or any close friends for that matter.
In the end her decision was a no brainer. Mr Devlin had returned a few days later and Ellen had given him her decision.
“So have you made up your mind yet?” he asked, almost impatiently. He was that eager to have her in his squad it made her smile.
“Well I thought it over and I’d love to go to the States with you,” she told him graciously.
Lance Devlin definitely did not look like a 50 year old granddad as he punched the air while Dave and Ellen smiled as they watched him.
Arranging the visas and passports was a lark and before Ellen knew it she’d packed up her meagre belongings, donating her furniture to charity and packing what she could ship off to the States. Two days before her departure Dave threw a farewell party at his house, all her teammates and colleagues pitched up and Ellen had a bit of fun carousing with the people she’d grown to appreciate in the time she’d been in London. A part of her couldn’t help but feel sad that her own family couldn’t share in her celebration let alone come to see her off. After what had happened with her father they had never been in touch, she supposed she was dead to them. She hadn’t bothered keeping in contact either, having gone the whole way her father would probably strangle her if he saw her let alone heard from her. It was better this way; she didn’t have to like it but that was life.
Another page was opened in her life as she boarded her flight to New England. It was Ellen’s first time on a plane which wasn’t at all surprising considering her lower middle class background and the fact that she’d never needed to use a plane either, after all the UK is a pretty small place, you can traverse it from North to South in a day and the few family holidays she’d taken were done using her dad’s old Escort and their caravan. All her school and football trips were by bus and train.
‘If they could see me now,’ she thought with a smile as she looked out of the window.
After an hour or so the novelty of being in the air had worn off and she’d dozed off watching an in-flight movie. Before she knew it a hostess was waking her up and telling her to prepare for the landing.
The immigration process went much too slowly for Ellen’s liking, it seemed that everybody and his brother had decided to use the airport at the same time as she had though she didn’t really mind being as excited as she was. She hadn’t felt this level of excitement since the run-up to her surgery; it was a similar kind of feeling rooted in the fact that she was building a future for herself. She was sad to leave Dave’s, he’d been very kind to her but other than that she was rather pleased at the unexpected turn her life had taken.
Having had to sacrifice a chance to play top-flight footie so she could be Ellen had been a huge ask and she’d resigned herself to never playing on a serious competitive basis again. A smile broke out on her face as she cleared customs and walked into the terminal where it widened when she saw Coach Devlin holding up a sign with her name on it. He was accompanied by a lady around his age a second after she spotted them they saw her and waved at her.
Ellen waved back as they moved towards her relieved her of the cart.
“Hello Ellen. Welcome to the USA, I’m glad you made it. Did you have a good flight?” Lance began.
“Yes sir, thank you for meeting me,” replied Ellen politely, burnishing that questionable British reputation for good manners.
“This is my wife, Sandy,” he told her.
“Hello ma’am,” said Ellen politely.
Sandy waved her off, “Please call me Sandy,” she insisted.
The Devlin’s told Ellen that she was to spend the night at their home as they didn’t want her to spend her first night in their country in a an empty dorm room. They also confessed to having an ulterior motive, that of having dinner with her so they could get to know each other better.
As you can guess Ellen had no objections to this, it wasn’t like she had anywhere to go as yet and as these were the only people she knew in the States at the time it made perfect sense.
The Devlin’s lived with their ten year old son Billy in a leafy suburban house that Ellen’s lower class background told her was much too big for a family of three. Billy hardly spared her a second glance as he was quite absorbed playing some Xbox game.
He only muttered a hurried greeting when pressed by his mother. Ellen was shown to the room allotted to her use while she was a guest of the Devlin’s. Dinner was quite nice they had a well-cooked Thai curry and the elder Devlin’s went out of their way to ensure Ellen felt welcome in their home.
Sandy asked about her life in the UK and Ellen responded as with a censored version of a childhood that didn’t include being born a boy or her father assaulting her. Sometime in the past year Ellen had decided that she was going to tell people on a need to know basis only. This was because she felt it would colour people’s perception of her if they knew she’d been a sufferer of GID.
She’d been upfront with Lance because he had a part to play in her life but she’d also let him know that she didn’t want anyone else in life to know about her before he’d left England. Part of her hoped that included Sandy. In this light she gave her hostess rather general answers as to her background which wouldn’t give her away as someone who’d had gender dysphoria and this seemed to satisfy Sandy somewhat.
“So what’s Norwich like?” asked Lance.
“It’s okay, not worldly but a nice place to grow up in and does have a few sights worth a visit,” she said.
“The churches?” he asked.
Ellen nodded, “I’m told their some of the loveliest in the country,” she told him.
“Hmm we should go there the next time we visit Alison,” decided Sandy before going off on a tangent and talking about her daughter which was a relief to Ellen as she didn’t want too much light shined on her past.
All in all it was a pleasant evening, instantly forgettable if it wasn’t for the fact that Lance was the catalyst for the sudden upsurge in her fortunes and when she went to bed she thanked her lucky stars he’d stopped to watch her that Sunday.
She was up early the next morning as was her wont for her early morning run. To her surprise she found her host was up too and he decided to use this opportunity to gage her fitness levels. They took a run together and before long he had her doing sudden sprints and stops, running at constant speed for certain lengths of time, in short putting her through her paces.
He was rather pleased with her fitness levels.
“This is pretty good Hayes, I suppose you do this daily,” he remarked.
“Yes sir,” replied Ellen.
“Well that’s good discipline, I don’t have to worry about you being behind the rest of the team,” said Coach Devlin.
“When is our first session?” Ellen asked the coach.
She still didn’t know much about the team she’d been recruited for and was quite nervous wondering if she still had it but though she would never voice it she was particularly worried about how she would fit into an all-female side.
Would her teammates quickly spot her as a tranny and ostracise her?
Though she’d transitioned, her life in London had not been in a female environment. There had only been three other girls in Dave’s staff of twelve and they’d just got along with her not that they’d been bosom buddies or anything. The guys at work had basically treated them as guys with boobs in her opinion. In the Sunday league there had been a few other girls around in different teams but it was an overwhelmingly male environment where she’d known due to lifetime of experience how to handle herself. Here soccer was just the opposite a female dominated sport and Ellen doubted her ability to fit in as she still didn’t have the slightest clue what girls her age were all about.
Were they princesses or tomboys?
Or were they ditzy WAGs or vain supermodels?
She’d never had a boyfriend or been kissed, her wardrobe wasn’t worth a second glance.
What would she talk about to them?
One thing she knew about women was they had seriously spooky intuition, she knew as she could always spot someone who was hiding something without too much thought. She hoped it wouldn’t work against her.
“We should start next week, I thought if you came across the pond earlier, a week would give you time to settle down some,” she heard the coach tell her.
Ellen spent that day with her hosts who graciously took her around the town. Dumont University was located in lovely New England town of Lyndhurst.
She found it a pretty relaxed place definitely not moving at the frantic pace of London but more like her home town, kind of homely. Dumont University itself was a on a sprawling campus with number of buildings some dating back two centuries and some as recent as the last decade. There were very few kids out and about and the ones that were there tended to be clad in sports uniforms. She guessed they had decided to get some early season training and the athlete within her yearned for some action as well. She was also eager to begin her lessons, after all that why she was here for, an education. Her classes were set to start in week too and she was enrolled for degree in Business with a specialty Sports Management thinking she might as well play to her strengths.
Two day later she moved into her digs, as a freshman she was housed in one of the dorms. At Dumont the residential halls were segregated via gender so she found herself in an all-female building. Boys were only allowed in up to 1900h and were not allowed upstairs were the rooms and showers were. Each person was allocated a room which they shared with another. There were communal showers on each floor. The dining hall was located in a building 800 metres away from her hall.
Most of the students began arriving that weekend which was when Ellen met her roommate, a fresh faced 17 year old Alison Hutchins straight off some Iowa farm. She’d just arrived from a stroll when she met a whole clan okay a family of four occupying her room.
“Hello,” she began uncertainly.
“Howdy,” replied a huge man who Ellen assumed was the dad.
“Hello,” said a much smaller lady.
“Hi,” said one girl shyly.
The teenage boys nodded at her before mumbling gruff hellos.
Here was an awkward silence for a few moments.
“How can I help you? This is my room,” she informed them.
“Oh, we’re the Hutchins’s,” said the apparent mom pushing her daughter forward, “Alison’s gonna be your roommate,” she added cheerfully.
“I’m Donna, that’s Robert and the boys are Trent and Teddy,” chirped Mrs Hutchins.
“Ted Mom, I’m not a bear,” protested the younger boy making Ellen fight to stop from grinning in wry amusement.
“Oh, welcome to Dumont I suppose,” Ellen said, “I’m Ellen Hayes,”
“Where are you from honey?” Donna queried.
“I’m from Norwich in England,” said Ellen.
“Really, Alison you’re in luck honey, getting an overseas roommate,” said Robert, cheerfully obviously chuffed his girl would expand her horizons just by being here.
She chatted with them for a while before excusing herself as she could see the family wanted some time to see off their daughter.
Some people have all the luck thought Ellen thinking of her own situation, they have loving families, bodies they like and enough money to go to schools like this.
She realised she missed her family particularly Trish who she’d lived vicariously through and had sponged of loads of info about being a girl and she wondered what it would have been like to be sisters.
Richie too, was he still seeing his high school sweetheart, Dinah? Though she’d never told him she’d always been fond of him, he was a good guy and she wondered what he was doing these days. Probably sleeping in she smiled or having a kick about with his mates.
She sighed at the thought of her parents; she hadn’t got over her father hitting her that had hurt more emotionally than physically. Her dad had never hit her until that day.
Why couldn’t people just understand what it felt like to hate the sight of your own body to long to be different? She’d spent her whole life wanting to be a girl, it wasn’t a sudden spur of the moment thing and now the people she would have expected to have unconditional love for her had reacted like she was an axe-murderer and despite all she’d achieved it hurt.
Nothing would have made her happier than for her parents to have accepted her as their daughter with open arms but this was real life and not a bedtime story. Most of the time she didn’t spend her time worrying about the past but seeing the Hutchins concern for Alison had touched a raw nerve. She hoped one day her parents would forgive her and maybe accept but that was as far-fetched as her pigs flying.
Self-reliance was the name of the game; you couldn’t trust anyone but yourself and if people like Dave and Coach Devlin showed up don’t think everyone was like them, they were the exception rather the norm she reminded herself.
to be continued
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