When Your Tabula Is Not Rasa: 7
Since I was locked out of doing any Fred business, I spent Thursday taking care of Dexie business.
First of all, I applied for a name change.
Now that my funeral was out of the way, my schedule was suddenly wide open.
Unless you've had to deal with the aftermath of a family member's death, you have no idea how much there is to do. It seems like every time you turn around, there's a detail you hadn't considered that needs some sort of adjustment, some kind of paperwork, or at least a number of phone calls.
I knew all about that. I was the executor after my father's death, and despite my best efforts, it was two years before I finally closed the book on it.
My death wasn't going to be as complicated. In the case of my father's estate, the problem was my brother, who argued over everything and delayed decisions for no reason. Now, it was all in Kristy's hands.
I wanted to help! I'd done it before, and I didn't want her to bear the burden alone, but Kristy kept me out. "You need to let me be the adult here," she told me. "You're nothing but kind and helpful, but you're holding me back. You're not letting me grow."
There were also my belongings to sort through. I wanted to bundle up pretty much everything and give it to Goodwill, but Kristy pointed out how cold and unsympathetic that would seem. "It would make it look as though I couldn't wait to get rid of you," she said. "Just wait a while, okay?"
Since I was effectively locked out of doing any Fred business, I spent Thursday taking care of Dexie business. First of all, I applied for a name change. Dexie was an odd name, but it was a name I could live with. Ur-Dexina, on the other hand, was just plain wrong, and that's what my birth certificate read. Now — before my life really began — was the best time to get all my documents lined up with the same name.
It turned out that I'd have to wait at least 30 days for a court date, and that I'd have to announce my intention by posting notices in the newspaper during that time. With the help of Irene, the woman at the courthouse, the name I requested was Alexandra Lane Martineau. I didn't want to stray too far from "Dexie," but as the woman said, "Everyone can still call you Dexie. It'll be your nickname instead of your real name. And with Alexandra, you can be Alex, Allie, Lexie, Xandra, ..."
The judge, who happened to be there, chimed in. "Oh, and, uh, what's that name... the warrior princess name... you know—"
"Xena," Irene and I chorused. I added, "I will NOT call myself Xena."
"You'll always be Xena to me," the judge said with a smirk and a wink. Irene swatted him with a rolled-up magazine, as if he were a naughty pet.
"Don't tease the poor girl," she said. "She's already trying to get rid of one odd name, and you want to throw her from the frying pan into the fire! You know what? If you want to help this girl, go ahead and grant her petition now."
"I can't do that," he said, shaking his head. "Rules! Thirty days!" Then he joked, "But I'll tell you what I can do: If in the meantime you decide that you'd rather be Xena, we can amend the petition."
Irene rolled her eyes. I smiled and left.
From there I went to the Social Security office, because the Lanes had never gotten Dexie a social-security card. I was hoping to get everything in my new name: social-security card, bank account, cell phone, drivers license, birth certificate, high-school diploma, but all of that would have to wait. In the meantime, I was Ur-Dexina Martineau pretty much everywhere that counted, except for my drivers license. I had to come up with three new signatures: one for Dexie Lane, one for Ur-Dexina Martineau, and one for Alexandra Martineau. It would be thirty days before I'd be signing anything as Alexandra, but I wanted to have a nice signature — not the scribble I used as Fred, so I'd be practicing.
In any case, by 1:30 on Thursday I had a cell phone and a bank account. I deposited most of the money from Lane, along with a check from Kristy.
"You need money for your trip," she said. It was a pretty gentle hint. "If you need more, give me a call and I'll make a transfer to your account."
"I'll try not to ask," I told her.
"It's your money," she reminded me.
There didn't seem to be anything more for me to do at home or around town. And so, as Kristy pointed out, there was nothing keeping me from going to visit Arrow and going on from there to visit Dexie's mother. I didn't tell Kristy that I had no intention of finding Dexie's birth-mother. I just wanted to get out of Kristy's hair for a while.
I called Arrow. He sounded terrible. I'd never known him to be moody at all. Certainly in all the years I'd known him I'd seen him angry and down, but never so... crushed. Depressed. It can't just be my death, I told myself. There had to be something more.
When I asked if I could come in the next few days, he perked up. "Yes, absolutely! Come whenever you can! The sooner the better!"
"I won't cramp your style, will I?" I asked.
"You like to tease me, don't you?" he asked, laughing.
"No, it's an honest question," I replied.
"You just come on ahead, Dexie," he told me. "Don't worry about my domestic arrangements. Why should you care who I'm sleeping with?"
Why indeed? I'd visited him several times as Fred, and each time he had a new sleeping partner, but during the day he ignored her for the most part. He and I would talk, and she would pad around in the background. Sometimes she'd sit and lean into his arms until she was bored and walk away.
I say "she" even though it was always a different woman, but they all behaved the same way. I don't know why or how.
Now that I was young and female, I had no idea how the visit would go, but even if he was having regular sex, he was still obviously depressed and feeling alone. And regardless of who I am now, Arrow is still my best and oldest friend.
So, Thursday afternoon I found a rideshare on Craigslist. A woman named Diane was heading to Seattle, and looking for another woman to share gas and driving. On the phone she sounded like a nice, normal person. "I'm moving up there," she told me. "I'm a nurse; I just got a job at the Swedish hospital up there. Why are you going?" When I told her I was visiting a friend, she asked, "Can you leave tomorrow?"
Friday morning at 5:30 I was standing outside my house, blinking sleepily, my backpack and suitcase at my feet.
The sun would officially rise in fifteen minutes, but everything was already lit with soft pre-dawn light.
A dark green Mini Cooper pulled up and a young, cute, wiry brunette jumped out. "Hey," she said with a grin. "Ready to roll?"
Before I could answer, she loaded my luggage in the back. I was yet to move a muscle. "Wow," I said, "You're way more awake than I am."
"No problem," she replied as she opened the passenger door. "Just park your tush in here and I'll do the rest. In two hours we can stop for coffee and see if you feel like driving."
"I figured I'd take 99 and get on 5 at Red Bluff. How's that sound?"
"Yeah, that's how I'd go," I replied.
"Cool! I'm going to Capitol Hill," she said. "Where do I need to drop you?"
"Drop me?" I asked, my mind still foggy from waking up so early.
"Yeah, in Seattle. I'm going to stay with a friend who lives on Capitol Hill. That's where I'm going. Before I do, I have to drop you some place, right? Where are you going?"
"Right, right. Sorry — I'm still waking up. I have to take the Bremerton Ferry. Do you know where that is?"
"Hell, yeah! It's right downtown. Easy peasy."
Diane's little car shot like a bullet down the highway. There were a few trucks and tractors on the road, but she passed them almost as if they were standing still.
"Were your foster parents good to you?" Diane asked. Inevitably, we told each other our life stories.
"I guess they weren't bad," I replied. "They weren't affectionate at all. They didn't pay me any attention. I was like a stranger in their home. I had to get my own food and do my own laundry."
"But they didn't hit you or shout at you or tie you up or anything, right?"
"No, none of that."
"Well, you know... you don't need to be a foster child to have bad parents. But at least they didn't scar you. You seem pretty normal and happy and hopeful."
"Yeah," I agreed. I wondered what her assessment would have been, had she met the real Dexie.
"And so... why don't you want to meet your birth mother? Aren't you curious?"
I sighed. "I don't know how to explain..."
"Think about this," she said. "Right now you have a little window of opportunity, before you get a job. It'll be easier to go there now than, say, a year from now, when you have a job, and a boyfriend, and a social life."
"Oh, boyfriend," I echoed. "I hadn't thought about that."
"Have you ever had a boyfriend?" she asked. "No? Hard to believe. You'll find one in Seattle, believe me."
We talked about Arrow. Once I started, I just poured out pretty much everything I knew about him. I didn't mean to... it's just that one memory led to another, and Diane was such a good listener. She'd prompt me with questions, and often dug into the why of things.
"Sorry!" I said, "I just realized I've been talking for two solid hours!"
"It's okay," she said. "I'm surprised you know so much about the guy."
"Yeah, I've, uh, heard a lot of Fred's stories."
"There's one thing you didn't say, though."
"Why is he called Arrow?"
I laughed. "It's kind of a long story, but one day he stole some amazing amount of soda from a supply closet at school and sold it. The teachers knew that he'd done it, but they couldn't prove it.
"One of the teachers was asking him about it in class, in front of everyone, and Arrow said, I'm as honest as the day is long, and the teacher said — full of sarcasm — Oh, yes, Mr. Adams, you're as straight as an arrow. So people kept repeating that straight as an arrow bit, and eventually started calling him Arrow."
Diane gave me a strange look. She was driving, but she was staring at me with her mouth slightly open.
"Hey! Hey! Eyes on the road!" I told her.
She turned her eyes back forward, then glanced at me a couple of times. "That was seriously weird," she said. "The way you told that story, it's like you're remembering it."
"Yeah, I'm remembering hearing it," I said.
"No," she shook her head. "No: remembering seeing it. You talk like you were there." She shivered. "It's creepy."
"Okay," I said slowly, realizing my mistake. "Let's talk about something else."
She waved her hand dismissively. "I have one more question... or something. You know this guy is a horndog. You said that he's a chauvinist, and Fred's wife — what's her name? Kristy? — can't stand the guy for that reason."
"And you're going to stay in this guy's house."
She was silent for a little while, expecting me to respond, but I didn't say anything. Finally, she said it herself: "You know how men will say that a woman was asking for it?"
"Usually it's bullshit. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time it's just a stupid thing that men say so they can pretend they're not responsible. But... and I'm sorry for saying this, but I think that if a woman stays at night in a man's house... well, already that's something... but if you add the fact that she KNOWS that he is the kind of guy who sees women as sex toys for his amusement... You have to know that he's thinking that there is only one reason you're there, and that is that you're asking for it."
I was silent. She glanced at me a couple of times.
"Are you going to say anything?"
"I don't know," I replied.
Diane scratched her eyebrown and pressed her lips in tight, straight line.
"Sex is fine," she said. "People should have sex. I'm just saying. You KNOW he's going to try to jump on you, don't you?"
"I don't know," I replied.
"I do," she said.
My brain was blank. I couldn't think about it.
"How about this?" she continued. "IF... let's say IF he jumps your bones, are you going to be surprised?"
"Is that what you want to happen?"
I took a deep breath. "Yes."
"Ah," Diane said, relaxing. "Now we're getting somewhere." Then, suddenly getting it: "Oh! Oh!" She punctuated her cries by thumping the steering wheel. "You're a virgin, aren't you!"
"Yes," I said. "Technically, yes."
"Technically?" she repeated, laughing.
© 2014 by Kaleigh Way
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudo!
Click the Good Story! button above to leave the author a kudo:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.