The Lioness

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the lioness
by Andrea Lena DiMaggio


The boy lay on the bed, leaning against the window pane. His cat hopped on his back and began treading; her claws digging only a bit through his pajamas into his back.

“Honey? Did you take out the trash?” His mother called from the hallway.

“Yeah, Mom.” He rolled over, sending the cat hopping onto the desk next to his bed. He pulled his ear buds out and tossed his Zune onto the bed as he sat up.

“I’m going to head for bed, honey… Do you need anything?” His mother leaned into the room, holding onto the door frame.

“No…I’m okay.” She walked over and kissed him lightly on the cheek.

“Don’t stay up too late. Did you take your meds?”

“Yes, Mom,” he said with a frustrated sigh.

“Come, on, hon… I’m just worried that you’re wearing yourself out? You know how much I worry. It’s going to be okay, honey. I promise.

“I don’t know that, Mom. All I know is I’m tired of being tired. And I’m tired of trying.” He blinked back some tears.

“I know, honey, I know.” She stepped closer to the bed and drew him into a soft hug, kissing the top of his head, the hair finally grown out just a little.

“You know I love you, right?” She said as she stepped back and shrugged her shoulders and smiled.

“Yes.” He remained discouraged, causing her to shake her head. She sighed once and then started walking out the door.

“Mom?” He said, almost in a whisper and she turned around quickly. She waited for him to continue.

“Will I ever be okay?” He shook his head slightly and put his head down. She walked back and lifted his chin gently.

“Honey? As far as I’m concerned, you’re more than okay, you’re perfect.” She smiled and he smiled back, feeling only a bit more strength than the moment before.

“It’s going to be alright, I promise. Okay? I love you.” She smiled once again and walked out of the room.

“I love you too,” he said. He lay back once again on his bed, looking down at his body. He never quite understood why people liked what they liked. But he liked pewter for some reason. And satin and softness. He sighed once again as he noted the lack of his chest.

“Honey?” He looked up to see his mother’s smiling face once again.

“Yes, Mom?”

“I’ve decided. I really never cared for Rocco… your father’s father? The name, not your grandfather. And you don’t strike me as being hard anyway.” He frowned at the words until she added,

“You’re a lioness, as brave as anyone I ever knew. I’m so proud of you. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re almost there. I see it in your eyes. Like a prize, you know. And I can’t be any clearer on this….you make me very happy…maybe the happiest I’ve been in a long time, and I’m glad that you finally are able to be who you want to be, okay? So, what about a name. Lindsay? Ashley? Tiffany?” She actually giggled.

“I…I think I’d like… something stronger?” Her eyes flashed with a new-found sense of confidence. Her mother tapped her head in thought before saying finally,

“Well, Rocco can be Rochelle,” She teased. The girl shook her head.

“Listen, I’m not trying to be funny here, but that character you like? The one in those stories you read online? You know which one I’m talking about?”

“I…” She paused; she had read a lot of stories about her other ‘condition,’ and almost all of them were appealing and entertaining and helpful. But one character stood out; one who made her feel braver and more sure about who she was. The stories were enlivening for her; she felt like she heard every word of encouragement that was spoken; every glance of acceptance; the ‘can do’ attitude that seem to translate into her own self-discovery and jump off the page!

“Mom…the name doesn’t quite fit…” She shook her head in disappointment; it was a great idea, but it really didn’t quite fit, as she noted.

“Well, then, I suppose we’ll just give up…would your friend in the story give up?” She nudged only a bit.

“No…not at all.” The girl looked away in thought before answering,

“What about….Tamara?” She shook her head no.

“You…you’re really becoming your other half…bravely, I might add. So how about twin? It matches the character, and you can shorten it if you like?” Her mother smiled.

“Tammy? No…that’s okay, but I rather like Thomasina…it sounds better to me.”

“Thomasina Di Leone….I like that…I love that, actually. Twin of the Lion. Thomasina Di Leone it is.” The girl beamed at the mention of her new name. Not just a name, but identification.

“Now, let’s see if we can both get to sleep, okay?”

“Okay…and Mom?”

“What, honey?”


“I love you…Thomasina Di Leone! Good night, my lioness.”

“I love you too, Mom! Night!”

Her mother walked out of the room. It would be a big day tomorrow and she had a lot to be thankful for. In fact, there was one more to thank…actually two. She pulled her laptop off the desk and went online. Finding the site, she scrolled down until she found the author she was looking for. Hitting the link, she pulled up a list of stories and went to her favorite series. She had commented on all of them, but she hit the link to the last story and hit add comment.

I wanted to thank you once again. Your stories bring me a lot of comfort and encouragement. I’m going to be having surgery, and I’ve been afraid. But when I read your stories, especially these, they gave me hope and courage. I'm here, and now I have the strength to be me. Thank you once again for helping me get stronger and thank you for Tommy Browder.

Millie Grazie, con amore’, Thomasina

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This story is 1056 words long.