Endless Winters


When you dream you only dream you're Annabel
All the secrets there inside you Annabel
Born beneath an emerald sky sing Annabel
Nothing that they did will stop you Annabel

a Tales of Us story...

The Daniels home, Gates, New York, early February…

The girl sat at the small desk next to her bed; a bright, multi-colored crocheted throw lay draped across her lap against the winter cold.

Dear Diary…. I was surfing on Youtube. All those girls who have help….you know….with the makeup. Sisters who actually know? Ginnie sorta knows, I think. Maybe? She was in the room the other day and I just barely got my bathrobe on. I think I covered up enough… oh fuck. Maybe she’ll tell mom and I’ll get to go to a nice doctor who thinks I’m crazy.

Anyway, I found this video of a girl singing…. Older maybe as old as Tony? She was singing and they showed a boy on a bike and he was riding in his house and then outside. He was kind of cute…oh fuck…..

He ends up in the woods and he’s got this place like a fort where he keeps his stuff. The girl is singing and she looks also like she’s his mom. Packing a lunch. He ends up opening the bag she gave him and there’s this sparkly dress. He puts it on and he’s all happy and they go back and forth and he looks sad and then he looks happy. I can’t remember how it all fit together but I think he’s sorta trans? I don’t know. All I know is I wanted to be him…her….you know? Like that’s ever gonna happen? Oh fuck I hate myself…. I’m such a fucking loser. I can’t even talk like a girl…….

Teddie practically slammed closed his lap top; shoving it off onto his bed. He closed his eyes and sighed before putting his head down on the desk. He was so tired for so many reasons and he fell asleep on his folded arms after crying for nearly an hour….

Land of the lines tangled there in porcelain
Under the stars you'll be-gin
When you dream you only dream you're Annabel
Sleep reminds you takes you there oh Annabel

The girl seemed to beckon him to follow. Teddie got close enough to see the girl’s face. It was him or someone just like him. He reached out to grab her hand as she was walking away, but a voice from behind snapped him out of his dream….

“Teddie? Honey” The voice was familiar but something felt odd. Not wrong, but just out of place. He raised his head from the desk to find his father sitting on his bed. Honey?

“We should talk, but you need to wake up. Your mom and I will be in the kitchen when you get the cobwebs out. Okay?”

Ted Sr. reached over and squeezed the boy’s arm before walking out. Teddie stared at the doorway; shaking his head. Something was more than odd. He sighed and stood up. Walking over to the mirror on his closet door, he eyed himself up and down. A girl of fourteen stared back at him. She was dressed in a black knee length skirt and a hot pink wide-neck tee over a magenta sports bra. She wore leggings; pink and yellow floral motif on a black background. Her feet were bare, revealing magenta colored toenails that matched her fingernails He and the girl nodded in approval before he walked out of his room and down the hallway.

“There you are,” Ted Sr. said with a big grin that was matched by Teddie’s mom’s smile. Lissa waved and pointed. Teddie walked in and sat down in the large wooden rocker in the middle of the living room; almost a place of honor. His sister Ginnie walked over and handed him a package wrapped in bright paper. Tony was home from college and was standing behind Ted Sr. holding Lissa’s hand.

“Open it, Tee, okay?” Ginnie pointed to the package. Teddie gently pulled the paper off the box and opened it; revealing a leather-clad book… a Bible. Teddie looked up at Ginnie and her face had changed from glee to fear as everything in the room began to spin, and then everything went black…...

“Ted?” The voice was urgent and abrupt. He lifted his head off his arms on the desk and came face to face with his step-father Jack.

“Meet me in the living room.” Jack punctuated his command with a playful slap to the back of Teddie’s head before walking out. Teddie stood up and walked over to the mirror on his closet door. The same clothes as the dream, but disheveled and worn; castaways by Ginnie that he rescued from the bag of clothing destined for the donation pile in the garage. The leggings were a bit baggy and pitted and the skirt was almost threadbare. The boy in the mirror wore a stretched out hot pink tee shirt over an old gray bra filched from the same pile of her mother’s giveaway clothes. Both boys shook their heads in disappointment and walked down the hall.

Jack stood in the middle of the living room along with some men from church. He pointed to the metal and vinyl chair from the kitchen with a shake of his head. Teddie hesitated before sitting down.

“Dad…please.” Ginnie pleaded. Tony grabbed her wrist and shook his finger at her. She backed up and put her head down. Lissa sat in the kitchen, crying.

“No more, son. We’re here to pray for you,” the pastor said gently but firmly. Teddie went to stand up and his brother walked over and stared at him; leaving him to sit down once again.

“It’s going to be okay, Teddie. You’re just confused.” One of the other men eyed Teddie up and down; shaking his head at the boy’s attire.

“God doesn’t make mistakes, Teddie. You’ll see. “ Jack smiled; earnest if ignorant about his step-child. He stepped closer and produced a hair clipper. Teddie went to stand up once again, but strong hands held him in the chair as his step father set the clipper to his head. A few moments later all of his dark brown hair lay on the floor, leaving him with a military cut. Tears streamed down the boy’s face. Ginnie sat in the corner and wept; echoing the sobs coming from Lissa as she stood at the kitchen door and stared at her youngest child.

“It will be okay. You’ll see.” Jack said once again. Teddie looked up and away; his gaze finding the sole place of comfort as he eyed his late father’s picture on the hallway wall. Jack noticed the boy’s look and walked over; pulling the picture off the wall.

“I’m sure even your father would agree with me that this is the best for you and the family.” He smiled in ignorance once again before placing the photo face down on the coffee table next to where Teddie sat.

“No…..” The boy barely even whispered as strong hands lifted him from the chair. He stood as they handed him a pair of sweat pants and a green tee shirt with “Faith Fellowship” printed on the front. A moment later he was down the hall and in his room…..

The girl stood up; confused She shook her head as feelings of fear and doubt seemed to be fading away. As she looked around she found that things had become almost hazy, but with a cool, welcoming breeze that hugged her. A moment later she felt a hand tap her left shoulder. Ted Sr. smiled and took his daughter’s hands in his; almost inviting a dance of sorts as he spun her gently around to see the home she had always known even if she had only just arrived. He smiled once again and kissed her forehead.

“No more winters, Teddie,” he said and he grabbed her left hand; leading her down a rose-lined path toward a bright place just over the next hill…..

He was flat on his back in the floor. Two people in uniform, a man and a woman, knelt beside him. Everything sounded loud and soft at the same time…

“He’s responding….” The woman turned to Lissa and half-smiled before focusing once again on Teddie. The boy turned his head to the side; vomiting onto the floor.

“Mom….” Teddie spoke in a raspy whisper. Lissa knelt down and grabbed Teddie’s hand.

“It’s okay, baby. I’m here,” she managed to say between sobs. The EMT nodded to her partner and he slid the gurney next to Teddie. A few seconds later they had transported the boy to the ambulance. Lissa grabbed the handhold and went to climb in next to Teddie. Jack went to put his hand on her shoulder but she shrugged it off.

“No…please, Jack. NO….” Lissa said. She pulled up into the ambulance and the woman closed the door before walking around to the front. A moment later the ambulance pulled away, leaving Jack standing in the driveway. One of the church elders placed his hand on Jack’s back.

“We’ll be praying, Jack…..”

At the hospital…

Teddie had been moved upstairs. Jack and Lissa stood outside his room and faced the closed door. A moment later a kind looking nurse walked out, closing the door once again behind her.

“You’ll be able to see him tomorrow. He’s resting now. He’s past the worst part of it, but he’ll be evaluated by the doctor tomorrow morning.” She smiled warmly; placing her hand on Lissa’s arm in encouragement. Something in her look seemed to tell Lissa that she understood. A look that also seemed completely absent in Jack. As the nurse walked away, Lissa shook her head.

“This is your fault.” She paused in thought before continuing in weepy gasps…

“No, Jack. This is my fault. I should never have let you do what you did… I’m so ashamed….”

“It had to be done. He’s better for it.”

“No, Jack. He’s not better for it. You ...we just gave my child no hope. You and everybody else just condemned her for being who she is.

“That’s a lie from hell, Lissa. He’s a boy….just as God created him.”

“No, Jack. You have…. What the hell have we been going to counseling for? You’re so stuck on what you believe that we nearly let our child kill herself. I’m so fucking…. I’m so angry at you and me right now.” She blushed in shame. Jack went to grab her hand but she pulled away.

“We…. I….” She wanted to be angry at Jack alone, but couldn’t help but see much of herself in his ignorance. And sad and almost ironically sweet at the same time, she realized her husband loved Teddie even if his love was misplaced and confused. Their choices for their child had grown forced and desperate out of a sense of obligation rather than a search for understanding.

She couldn’t have picked a nicer if more stubbornly stupid replacement for Ted Sr. if she’d tried. She could only hope they’d both get better at being less ignorant. Shaking her head, her tears flew off her face as she buried herself in his chest. He looked down at her and then up as if in prayer before kissing her forehead as tears streamed down his face as well. It might not be good, but things had to get better, didn’t they?

Words and Music by Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory.
As performed by Alison Goldfrapp

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