Take My Life, Please?
by Andrea Lena DiMaggio
I don't care, I'm still free; You can't take the sky from me...
(Score to go along with story)
Previously...at the Pasquale home...
Both Frankie and Stella sighed at the same time, almost a duet since Stella’s sigh almost sounded mezzo to Frankie’s deep alto gasp. Frankie was relieved. Stella wasn’t. The doctors would give Georgie just what he wanted but take away what she had hoped for all along.
“Dear God in heaven, I hate myself,” she thought.
“I am so fucking selfish…okay…whatever…I’m letting go.” She bit the inside of her lip hard enough to evoke a painful bleat; ‘owwwww.’
“Nothing…just a cold sore…I’m okay.” She blinked back her tears after turning away quickly, fumbling awkwardly in her purse for a small tube. She did have a cold sore, but it wasn’t half as painful as watching the boy she dreamed of marrying since she was twelve just simply fade away.
River sat on her bed, her legs pulled close and hugged. She wanted to be safe but she felt she wasn’t.
“Two-by-two…hands of blue…Two-by-two…hands of blue…..”
“What to do???” Georgie stared out the front window of their home; the first snow had begun to fall and she shivered from the cold breeze blowing through the cracks in the window insulation. Her mother came up from behind and draped a crocheted blanket over her shoulders.
“What do you mean, honey…What to do?” She asked as she set a mug of hot cocoa on the window seat next to her daughter. It felt odd and unfamiliar but right as rain, as her mother used to say, to refer to Georgie as her daughter, even if the shrinks still hadn’t come to any conclusion. What was there to decide?
“I’m not so sure; he seems awfully unstable to consider such a life altering operation.” One had said.
“Not very bright, is he,” the first psychologist in the long line of referrals had said; her lack of experience with non-linear thinking coupled with her absolutely obtuse views on gender dysphoria made it near impossible to get the required okay for a real life test followed by gender confirmation.
“Mom?” Georgie put her hand over her right shoulder and Marie grasped it.
“What do they think I’m going to do; do they think I’m stupid? That I’m retarded” Sadly, some of the doctors had little experience with autistic kids, and a near-twenty-year-old gender ‘confused’ male threw them for a loop, as the expression goes.
“I’m sorry, Baby…but yes…some of them do. I’m so sorry. If I hadn’t taken that medicine when you were…you would have had it so much better.”
“No, Mother!” She said almost robotically.
“Some researchers and people with Asperger's have advocated a shift in attitudes toward the view that it is a difference, rather than a disability that must be treated or cured,” she quoted.
“It hurts when they refuse to fix the things that really are wrong and try to fix the things that are me…”
“I know, honey. But Nancy is confident that she will get you the support you need for the go ahead. Oh… I forgot to tell you. M.I.T. called today to set up an interview. I know it’s hard to think of school at a time like this, so why don’t you work something up to be included for the Fall semester next year. This way you can attend as yourself, okay”
“Mom… I’ve got to get this sorted out.”
“Sure thing. Oh…your sister asked you if you wouldn’t mind spending time with Stella until she gets home from class. We’re just having dinner together, and I’ve got to run a few errands.
“Sure. I should help her with her wardrobe; she dresses horribly!” Georgie winced at the sound of her own words as her mother playfully slapped the back of her head.
“Georgie…you didn’t tell Stella that, did you?
“Give me some credit, Mom. I did learn some things about being honest at the wrong time. But her taste in clothes is appalling. I mean she’s such a pretty girl.” She stopped talking abruptly and looked out the window.
“You ever tell her that? You seem to have no problem with telling the truth at other times…” Marie laughed at their inside joke. If there was something to be said about Georgie, it was that she could be too honest; even with the schooling and prompts she still rehearsed, she still had the tendency to say the right thing at the wrong time. She never intended to insult or hurt Stella, and the girl had come to a place of understanding that Georgie’s ‘honesty’ might be a part of her temperament and personality for a lifetime.
“She’s too nice for me. And she likes boys…I’m not a boy….Never have been.” Georgie sighed and stared at her mother as if some magic solution for her loneliness would emanate like a spell from her mother’s mouth; a real life version of her online games.
“You owe it to yourself to be honest with her. Imagine you not being honest. That’s a first!” The two of them both began to giggle. Marie had learned long ago that Georgie was light hearted in regard to her ‘condition,’ and that while they worked hard at helping her cope, neither of them took things too seriously.
“Honesty…hmmmm. Not a bad idea. Maybe I’ll try it sometime.” The two of them started laughing when they heard a third voice from behind echo their laughter.
“What are you two laughing about?” Stella asked as she walked into the living room from the kitchen.
“Oh, hi, Stel…we were just talking about honesty.” Marie smiled at her and rose to give the girl a hug.
“Never in short supply around here. Don’t I know?” She said and plopped herself down on the window seat next to Georgie.
“You gonna babysit me while Mom’s out and Frankie is getting back? I promise I won’t give you any trouble at all.”
She laughed but her heart wasn’t in it; the seeming levity her only way of trying to keep things at ease in what was a very tense and painful situation for her. She loved the girl enough to be with her and hated to be with someone who would never return that love at the same time. She sighed and Marie noticed the expression on Stella’s face; something to talk about at another time, she supposed.
“Yeah…we can watch Hitchhiker’s Guide or LoTR if you want?” Georgie smiled at her. The girl seemed amiable to the suggestion until Georgie announced,
“I’ve got it…let’s watch Firefly…” The girl beamed with a smile before hopping off the window seat and over to the TV. Stella sighed and frowned before turning to see Marie staring at her with some intensity.
“Stel… we should talk, maybe after dinner? Just you and me; mother to daughter?” Marie treated Stella like her own; Frankie’s best friend had become a part of the Pasquale family long ago, and her presence was not only welcome, but had become a necessary and vital part of the family the older Georgie got. She was like the objective voice in an otherwise hugely subjective household, and her matter-of-fact attitude was almost a mirror of Georgie’s candor.
“Okay, Mom…” Stella nodded her head and started to walk away until Marie added.
“There’s a box of Kleenex on the top of the DVD player, honey. Okay?” Stella nodded once again as her hand unconsciously wiped her nose.
A short while later...
“Why do I even care?”Stella thought to herself.
The girl sat in the bathroom; the only privacy she could expect since she had no way of getting away from the boy she loved.
“It’s not like anything could happen. He was never going to stay a boy. And I’m such a fucking ditz….I’m not even in his league. And the stupid way I stare at him….Mom must think I’m a fucking….I hate this. It’s not fair….” She was practically praying at that point. A knock came at the door.
“Stella? I’ve started dinner. Would you like potatoes or rice with the chicken?” Georgie called from the hallway.
“Uh…I don’t mind either. Potatoes I guess,” She said half heartedly.
“I don’t care about fucking potatoes. It’s you, you fucking …I don’t even know what to call him.” She thought. She grabbed some tissue off the roll and blew her nose.
“Fuck….this hurts. I wish sometimes something would take my life…please.” She looked down at herself; her top obscuring the view of her abdomen; the womb that would never bear his children….little Stella and little Georgie would never see the light of day…would never even come together…the dreams she dreamed since she was twelve would evaporate into thin air.
“I don’t mind making rice. It’s no problem at all.” Georgie called once again. Whether or not it was fate or an accident or just a slip of the tongue, Stella said out loud what she meant only to voice in her head.
“Georgie….I don’t fucking care. It’s you I want!”
Later that afternoon...
“What’s for dinner?” Frankie asked as she put her backpack on the kitchen table.
“Apparently I am,” Georgie said, ignoring that Stella was sitting right there. The girl looked at her once and got up and ran down the hall to the bathroom, sobbing all the way.
“What did you say to her?” Frankie asked, ignoring the immediate context of tears and slammed doors and awkward stares.
“Nothing…it’s what she said. Don’t get mad at me. I don’t know what the fuck is going on.” Georgie said even as she sighed and sat down at the kitchen table. She rested her head on one arm while drumming her fingers on the table.
“What did she say?” Frankie had an idea just from Stella’s reaction, but the need for clarification superseded any speculative version of twenty questions.
“She said she wanted me. Instead of potatoes.” Georgie pointed to the pot on the stove and sighed once more.
“Stovetop Georgie…huh?” Her fingers stopped drumming just in time to coincide with the beginning sobs that came from her mouth. The cheap laminate door did nothing to deaden the sound of Stella’s sobs, and her crying, coupled with Georgie’s sobs, sounded like a very bad duet.
“Oh shit…” Frankie turned at the sound of a voice from the door to the garage.
“They talked...didn’t they?” Marie said as she placed a few bags of groceries on the counter. Frankie nodded. She looked at Georgie at the table and down the hall once more before saying,
Next: Heart of Bold!
Compilation from the Score to
the Motion Picture, Serenity
composed by David Newman
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