Sailors sail on all night all day
I'm not lost I'm wandering your way
I know you're waiting
Carry me there

a Tales of Us story...

Just east of Delacour, Alberta, Canada…

Ike squinted against the glare of the sun off the worn gray asphalt of the road. Was it really that close? Compared to a trip to Neptune or beyond, the journey might indeed seem close at hand, but an eighteen-year-old boy walking on a hot day toward god knows where? Quite a stretch of the legs, as the old saying goes. And old sayings did little to assuage his fears.

A few weeks before, at the Robert’s home, Conrich, Calgary….

“Are you through?” Ike snapped as he put his dish in the sink. Nick was hardly through, but he was getting nowhere fast, and he believed any further argument would be lost on his older brother. Ike loved Nick; much more than just after a fashion, but still filtered through what Ike feared than what they both knew to be true.

“Dad is going to be home soon and…..” Ike walked over to the fridge. Grabbing a bottle of Keith’s Ale, he held it out.

“You want?” Nick shook his head no. Ike opened the bottle and took a swig.

“I know …. I know what Mom would say, but Dad? Fuck it, Nick. We can’t drop this on him after all this time. Not fair.” Ike scowled at Nick before turning his back. He continued.

“Like he doesn’t have enough going on? Come on….”

“I know, Ike. I wish… “ Nick bit the inside of his mouth and swallowed hard. He didn’t want to die, but the pain was almost too much to bear.

‘”No, Nick.” Ike turned around and sighed. No longer angry at his brother, but still angry…. He looked down at himself and over at Nick as if taking inventory.

“You…. I’m sorry, Nick…..I am so fucking sorry,” Ike plead as he walked over and stepped behind his brother; hugging him from behind.

“I can’t live like this anymore, Ike….. Please… I can’t.” Nick’s sobs were matched by the quiet reassurance of his big brother. If anyone understood pain and disappointment, it was Ike, since he felt every bit frustrated, frightened and sad about life.

The only thing that differentiated the two is that Nick was just now discovering the sad dilemma of being transgender, whereas Ike had known about it since he was six. Two kids trying hard to please a father when they all still reeled from their mother’s passing only months before. One barely afraid of discovery and one so ashamed for so long that even his brother didn’t know about their commonality.

“I know, Nick. Maybe we can talk with Lana about this together?” The two had been in therapy for awhile to deal with their grief, but their identities had almost been pushed back by necessity. To share their secrets together? Ike winced and quickly added.

“You know I’m here for you.” Maybe finally talking with his brother in the safety of therapy would get Ike to understand the need for someone to be there for him in real life. He smiled and Nick returned the kindness with sad frown.

“I wish Daddy would come with us. It’s like he won’t …. Like we have a problem but he’s perfectly okay with Mommy ….with…. oh, fuck….. Ike …..” Nick looked up and around. Ike was shaking his head in frustration. Their mother’s death did little if anything to change their father’s attention to his job at the expense of his family. He still was out of town a great deal of time and the boys were left alone in the grief that should have been at least tempered by a father who actually cared.

And Ike wasn't much of a substitute for their mother at that point from his point of view, but no one could be more like a mother to a child than Ike was to his younger brother. He kissed Nick on the top of the head; the gesture both longed for from Callie Roberts that always made it ‘all better.’ But Callie was gone and Nick was heartbroken and Ike felt like a useless failure.

It was a good thing and a bad thing at the same time as Nick stood up and clung to his brother and buried his face in Ike's shoulder to cry. Evan Roberts would not arrive home for another few hours, and both boys would be spared the need to explain why Nick sat in their kitchen wearing his mother’s favorite sundress. But then Evan Roberts would go yet another day believing he had two sons instead of two daughters.

Swirling horses throw you high
Carried on their tales the tide
Sailing on the seven seas
Suns & seven winds were we blinded

The office of Lana Petrova, LMSW…..

“Is there anything you want to tell Nicole?” Lana smiled warmly at Ike. He looked down and away.

“Ike? Is everything okay?”

“Ike?” Nick echoed Lana and put his hand on his brother’s arm. Ike turned and shook his head. Even the security of his therapist’s office and his sibling’s courage had yet to overcome the shame he felt. Their father had mellowed over the years, but still didn’t understand. Ike felt helpless to believe things would work out for Nick…for Nicole…after believing for so long that he had no hope. And when Callie died, she seemed to have taken all of Ike’s hope for him and Nick with her. No soft buffer between what little disappointments they had been to their father and his own inability to understand.

“Do you want to say anything to Ike?” Lana asked. She’d never violate his confidence, but part of her wanted to ask Nicole if she wanted to say anything to Glenys. While it remained frustrating to Lana that Ike was unable to speak for that part of him, she understood, knowing that Evan had confronted the boy years before about being a man, as if even a seven-year-old boy could possibly be that, much less a child with a heart and soul that belied her body.

“It’s okay, Ike. I…. I’m going to tell Daddy, no matter what, and I’ll be alright.” Ike smiled weakly at Nick and nodded; patting his brother/sister on the wrist. Lana breathed out a soft sigh; hoping that Nicole’s courage would finally draw Glenys out for both their sakes.

At the Roberts’ home that evening….

Evan put his bags down next to the sofa and looked around. The home was immaculate, which gave him an odd pause. It was as if Callie would come out of the kitchen in her usual manner; kitchen towel wiping busy hands and a beaming welcoming smile. He heard movement from behind and turned to find his wife’s image facing him, but not his wife at all.

“Dad?” Nicole said sheepishly as she wiped her hands of dish suds. She wore a grey blouse and white slacks and a tentative smile. Standing behind her, Ike nodded at their father. Ewan stared at Nicole and then glared at Ike as if to say ‘how could you let this happen.’ He walked out of the living room and down the hall and closed his bedroom door behind him with a near-slam.

“I…..I’m sorry,” Ike said with a tearful frown.

“I’m not,” Nicole said bravely before bursting into tears.

Take me where the camphor grows
Where the moon and freedom sigh
Caribou are crossing out
Mailing elk and where we found you a sunset
Sailors sail on all night all day
I'm not lost I'm wandering your way
I know you're waiting
Carry me there

The next day…

Ike looked in on Nicole, who had fallen asleep in Ike’s bed after hours of fitful rest mixed with sobbing. Ike shook his head, feeling very helpless and even more ashamed that he hadn’t confronted their father. Evan left early for work and likely would be home late even for a day where he didn’t have to travel. Travel….

“Hello? Lana? Yes… No…. he came home and Nick…Nicole…. Yes…. No, Lana…. He just walked out of the room and … “ He paused and looked back at Nicole.

“She’s ….yes, she showed him. But I didn’t’… No…. I’m …. I hate myself, Lana…. I know I shouldn’t, but you should have seen the look on his face. He broke her heart. Yeah…. Maybe next week? Yeah… Okay…” Ike clicked off his cell and took one last look at the girl sleeping finally with a measure of rest. Prayer and a big brother holding her hand helped. But who would ever hold the hand of the nervous, shamed girl named Glenys Roberts?”

Float on glass a mirror hot
With the universe above
Try to find a line connect
With a world that make no sense
I've a feeling

The surface of the road lay out ahead; mirage-like reflections of ethereal puddles almost felt cooling but for the hot summer breeze. The girl leaned over a bit; hands on knees that were beginning to tan instead of burn thanks to a last minute application of sun block. She sighed and stood up, again looking down the road.

“Oh fuck….” She said to herself. She wasn’t running away, but she wasn’t heading toward anything either. The journey is the destination? She looked back at the long stretch of road behind her. A good stretch of the legs? Why was she even there in the first place? She paused and thought of her sister; a big girl, so to speak, but left to face her father alone.

“Oh fuck…” she repeated. She turned and started walking back toward home. How far had she come? Not even a half-day, so she must not have gone very far, but the walk back was just as daunting as the walk she had intended to make. Where the hell was she going anyway?

“I’m so sorry,” she shouted at the top of her lungs as if Nicole could hear her apology. She shook her head and tears flew off her face in every direction. The mirage duplicated itself as she retraced her sojourn, and she trudged for what seemed like hours on the hot pavement. After a while her legs ached too much, and she sat down on a very large rock underneath a row of Hawthornes just off the road. She wiped the sweat off her legs with her bandana and covered her face.

“Ike?” She heard a voice off to her left and looked up to see the family Nissan parked about ten metres away. The tall figure stood over her; blocking the setting sun.

“We’ve been looking all over, Ike,” Evan said; ignoring his son’s apparel – turquoise blouse tied under a heretofore never seen bosom covered by a white sports bra with khaki knee-length shorts and pink Sketchers.

“I….” Ike stammered. He put his head down and began to weep. A second later he felt a soft touch to his chin as Nicole lifted his face and smiled.

“Daddy and I had a talk. I know Lana would never tell me anything, but I found your diary.” Ike’s eyes widened in fear, and he put his head down once again.

“We didn’t look in it. We just read the name on the cover.” Ike looked up once more and found that his father was frowning, but not at him.

“I’m so sorry. I couldn’t handle seeing Nick dressed the way he was the other day, Ike….” He paused and laughed softly.

“Ike? I guess that’s out the window as well? It seems like we’ve all been a little lost, but not as much as me. You tried to tell me so many times. Your mother tried to tell me about both of you, and I just wouldn’t listen. But seeing Nick…. Nicole? She looks just like your mom. I guess you favor my mother, eh?” He laughed again and offered his hand to Ike.

“Let’s go home, okay?” Ike nodded and tried to hug his father….their father…. The man who had Nicole and Glenys in his life all along. Evan pulled away ever so slightly, and Glenys winced.

“I’m sorry…. I’m just getting used to this,” he said and gave into the hug from his oldest daughter.

“No more time for wandering, Glen, okay?” Nicole said; grabbing her father’s and her sister’s hands as they walked back to the car.

Stream you babble in a rush
Busy river flow and wind
Always ask the lake it knows
Always ask the lake you'll get all the answers
Sailors sail on all night all day
I'm not lost I'm wandering your way
I know you're waiting
Carry me there

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

If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
125 users have voted.

And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks. 
This story is 2212 words long.