All We Are - 1



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A Sequel to You Are You
http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/fiction/51302/you-are-you



'Cause all we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful
And in the end the words won't matter
'Cause in the end nothing stays the same
And in the end dreams just scatter and fall like rain



Previously, from You Are You
Western New York State, late summer…

“My name is Dylan, what’s yours?” The girl held her hand out. He stared at it for a moment before taking her hand in his in greeting.

“Gary.” He smiled and a look of confusion crossed the girl’s face. She tilted her head and her eyes grew wide in recognition.

“Oh…I’m sorry. I thought you were one of us…” her face darkened.

“N…no…I’m ….my….” He stammered.

“What’s her name?”

Her name? Oh…. Hailey.” In a moment his face had grown hot in embarrassment.

“I’m so ...so sorry….”

The girl bit her lip. She looked down at herself, as if taking inventory. She wore a yellow skirt and a white tank top under a green pullover. Her legs were adorned with white and red striped tights and she had on brown leather sandals. She looked like she would have fit in at Kohl’s or Marshall’s sales flyer photo shoot but for her very short if somewhat pixyish red hair. He followed her gaze as she eyed herself. Even if she was a bit younger than him, she was cute, and he found himself staring at her until she looked up in question.

“It’s okay….I don’t ….I’m here for Hailey…that’s all. Who are you here for?” He smiled nervously and she half-frowned.

“What? Oh……No….I’m so sorry,” Dylan shook her head and her eyes began to tear up. Gary looked at her askance, wanting to know what he had said to upset her. She put her head down even as she began to speak.

“I…I’m not here….for anybody…..” She gasped.

“I don’t… I….what do you mean?” He asked nervously, as if the answer he expected was the worst possible thing he could hear. She looked up at him and frowned before blurting out,

“I’m here for me….sorry….I gotta go….” She turned quickly and ran across the courtyard. He shook his head as he saw her disappear in the crowd by the cabins. The look of confusion on his face gave way to awkward insight as he realized that Dylan was just like Hailey...



All We Are

I tasted, tasted love so sweet
And all of it was lost on me
Bought and sold like property
Sugar on my tongue

The Venturini home, Mid-September…

“Kids? Can you come here for a sec?” Gina called from the kitchen. Bonnie came running down the hallway from her bedroom and Gary ambled in from the living room. Gina looked up from her laptop and suppressed a grin.

“Where’s Hailey?” she asked as she looked over Gary’s shoulder. A moment later her older daughter appeared and stepped past Gary; sitting down at the table next to Gina.

“I’ve got some great news….” She paused, trying for some dramatic effect, but couldn’t help herself and just blurted it out.

“Your Dad is coming home!” She smiled and turned to each one of her children. Gary seemed almost nonchalant, but smiled back and nodded; not wanting to be too emotional. Bonnie ran to her mother and hugged her. Hailey put her head down without comment.

“Gar? You are glad, aren’t you?”

“Oh yeah…it’s just he’s been away for so long. I…. “

“I know, honey. But he’s proud of you. All of you,” she added as she tried to get Hailey’s attention.

“I just want…. You know…”

“You’re the best son any father could have, Gary.” She had barely gotten the words out of her mouth when she realized just what that meant.

“What…what does….What does that make me? “ Hailey stammered before bursting into tears. Gina tried to reach to grab her hand but Hailey backed away before standing and walking quickly down the hall to her bedroom. The door closed; not with a slam but deliberate enough.

“I don’t understand,” Gina sighed; speaking to herself.

“She wants to know what me being a good son makes her, Mom.” Gary shook his head; his words weren’t a rebuke but rather a reminder that everyone at home had met Hailey but her father only knew her as Gary’s twin brother Christopher.

“I…” Gina stammered as well before putting her head down on the table as she began to echo the sobs from Hailey’s room. She wasn’t being self-indulgent. Even though the family had done a great job in working through the changes wrought by the departure/arrival of newest member of the Venturini household, there remained doubts and even fears.

“Mom….what…why…” Gary stammered. Gina lifted her head up just enough to look down the hallway. She turned and faced Gary and shook her head.

“I’m….I’m so sorry…..”

“What…Mom?”

“I haven’t told your Dad….” She looked down the hall once again before cradling her head on her arms on the table as she began to sob. Gary backed away slightly; feeling completely at a loss for what to say or do. Bonnie stepped past him; rubbing his shoulder before sitting down at the table next to her mother. She grabbed Gina’s hand and kissed it, saying softly,

“It’s okay, Mommy…it’s okay.”

Being apart from Chris Sr. had its impact on everyone….mostly. Gary felt inadequate as a son and a brother. Gina felt she had let her daughter down in so many ways even though she loved and encouraged Hailey.

But Bonnie was the optimist who kept the Venturinis on an even keel. Looking up to Gary and being hopeful and grateful for her mother. She struggled with how to encourage Hailey, but in the end still managed a hug and a kiss every day accompanied by the words, “I’m so proud of my sister.” Enough doubtful and even needlessly shameful tears were shed, but were balanced on a nearly moment to moment basis by joyful tears shed by the youngest member of the family.


East Aurora High School, the next afternoon…

“Hey Gary, how’s your brother,” the boy said as he pushed past a few students mulling in the doorway. Gary turned around and glared at the boy; trying to keep calm. The boy compounded his ignorance by bumping rudely against Gary in a failed attempt to knock Gary’s books to the floor. A moment later a kind-looking woman tapped the boy on the shoulder and spoke in a western African near-singsong.

“Mr. Sipowitz? Would you mind accompanying me into the twenty-first century tomorrow morning? Our excursion will be departing in my office in the Guidance department. Your trip may or may not last more than a day or so depending upon what you and I discuss, okay?”

“Uh….yes, Ms. Okifor…” The boy put his head down; walking away.

“I’m sorry, Gary. How is Hailey doing?”

“She’s…. so far …”

“It can’t be easy; even with role models and support. I’d rather not send a note; just in case I don’t see her, please let her know we’re all thinking about her?” She would have added that some of the actually were praying for her; albeit as individuals. The idea of prayer in school, even as folks instead of educators, still remained understandably a questionable idea. And of course it was de classe’ to some as well. She smiled and patted him on the back in a non-threatening-within-guidelines manner before walking into the administration office.

“You okay?” another voice came from behind. The girl smiled and waved a wee bit nervously.

“Yeah… Eddie’s just a dick.” He laughed; his nervousness duplicating that of the girl. She stepped closer; cautious as always. Her face, usually a very pale pinkish-white, had gained the occasional darker pink hue owing to her shyness. The darker complexion seemed to compliment her red hair; red hair that up to recently had meant very little to Gary. He sighed as he looked at her. Uncomfortable feelings hovered around him as he recalled another red-haired girl he had met a short while ago. He backed away.

“You want to come over after school tomorrow? My cousin is visiting and we’re sorta having a party for her. You and Hailey, okay?” Cristyn Edwards smiled once again and walked away nervously without waiting for an answer. And Gary looked around; recently discovered hey-I-do-like-girls feelings had him wondering if anyone noticed just how anxious he was as well.


I wasted, wasted love for you
Trading out for something new
Well, it's hard to change the way you lose
If you think you've never won
'Cause all we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful

That Friday at Cristyn’s home…

Gary and Hailey stood anxiously on the landing at the front door; neither wanting to ring the bell. Gary felt like walking the nearly two miles back home; torn between wanting to get to know Cristyn more while feeling conflicted and confused into his full on venture into no-longer-a-boyhood.

And Hailey didn’t want to see anyone; period. She felt completely out of place in her own home, so visiting someone else was more than a scary thought; even when she already knew what kind people the Edwards family was. She was pivoting already on her left foot in a fear driven about-face when the door opened suddenly. A vaguely familiar face greeted her and Gary. The girl looked to be about their age and just as nervous.

“Hi…. H…Hailey?” The girl stammered her name before turning to face Gary. Her cheeks, already a bright pink in contrast to her very pale complexion, began to darken in embarrassment and even near shame. Nevertheless, she stuck her hand out in greeting.

“Cristyn went to the store with Aunt Mefus. Co….come in.”

Gary took the girl’s hand and shook it weakly; owing more to his confusion and needless embarrassment, but also in an odd this-is-how-a-boy-shakes-a-girl’s-hand response. She smiled weakly before backing slowly away from the door. At this point Gary hesitated. Odd and all too familiar feelings seemed to push him hard against the door frame. Somehow he knew the girl and it made him feel sadly ashamed and even more confused, which added to the girl’s own embarrassment.

As much of her own fear and shame had driven Hailey to seek flight, a curious wave of empathy drove her even more to grab Gary’s hand as she walked inside. And an uncharacteristic feeling of belonging pushed her gently as she hugged the girl who stood shaking, with head turned. The girl wore simple jeans and dark maroon Nikes. Her top was pink and mostly obscured by a long dark grey cardigan. Her face was still dark from embarrassment, but still pale enough to be set off by her very red and very short hair. And her blush did nothing to obscure the very cute freckles that covered her face.

“Hi…Hailey….” The girl said nervously. Her anxiety rose as Hailey kissed her on both cheeks before smiling; albeit as nervously as the girl. Hailey pulled back enough to give her another hug.

“Hi…..Dylan.


A short while later at the Venturini home….

Gina was in the kitchen pouring water in the Keurig when her cell phone buzzed.

“Chris? Chris? Oh honey….what? What? You’re at the airport? Where? Oh, damn it… I know… Yes…No….Have you….Hang on….we can stop on the way back…sure….Duff’s? Yes…. The …the twins are out at a friend’s for dinner and Bonnie is at a sleep-over….Yes….we do need to talk….What? No….when I get there….Yes…about forty….yes….I…I love you too….b…bye….”

She clicked off the phone and punched the button on the Keurig. A few moments later she was sitting in the living room. She wanted to rush out and get in the car and drive, but she needed time to think…to plan. A long drive home would be filled with conversation, but somewhere between the airport and home…dinner? Somewhere along the way, Gina Venturini would have to tell Christopher Ardo Venturini that he no longer had twin sons, but that his namesake somehow had been a girl named Hailey these past fourteen years or so. She sighed and looked out the window; almost seeking a sign from above; divine guidance? Her guidance came divinely but in a much more humble and earthly form.

“Mom?” She looked up to find Bonnie standing in the hallway; somehow missed in all the semi-drama that had unfolded only moments before.

“Steph had to cancel. Her brother broke his arm at football practice and they went to the hospital.”

“You heard?” Gina eyed the cell phone on the coffee table.

“Yeah…. “Bonnie paused in thought.

“I wanna come to the airport with you, but I think you and Daddy need to talk by yourselves.”

“Oh, honey, you can come.”

“No… it’s okay. Steph and I are going to Mei’s house instead when she gets back. You two need to do Mommy and Daddy stuff….” She blushed and immediately added.

“Talking, Mom….you two need to talk….about Hailey.” Gina put her hand to her face and began to tear up.

“Mom? You didn’t do anything wrong. Daddy’s been gone and you did what you had to do.” She walked over and sat down on the sofa. Drawing closer, she hugged Gina and smiled; her own tears mirroring her mother’s.

“Daddy just has to get used to having three of us….” She eyed herself and Gina up and down, indicating a recently expanded membership in the exclusive Venturini girls’ club. The two giggled at the same time even as Gina followed up with a gasp.

“We out number him and Gary now, Mom….no problems.” She kissed her mother and stood up.

“You can do this, Mommy.” Bonnie liked to go back and forth between endearments; owing to her own recent venture into the senior class of Venturini womanhood. She smiled and waved as she pulled her own cell phone from her pocket.

“Steph’s on the way over….I’m gonna go get ready, so give Daddy a kiss for me?” Gina nodded ‘of course.’

“And in between all the Hailey and Gary stuff, tell Daddy if he ever goes away again…..” The other elephant in the room slammed his foot down hard as Bonnie began to cry. Gina got up and ran over; her turn to console in the ever-present queue of disappointments in the Venturini home. She pulled Bonnie close and kissed her forehead.

“Never again, honey. I promise. But you’ll have to stand in line, since I’ll probably hit him myself…..” She felt guilty but they all needed to face how to pick up the pieces of Chris’ absence. It was honorable and a good thing that Chris served his country. But now it was time for him to serve his family. His lonely wife. His confused son. His younger new-to-womanhood daughter. And his new as a woman daughter. No longer his namesake, but still a child who needed her father now more than ever.


Meanwhile, at the Edwards home across town....

“D…Dylan?” Gary stammered. As much as he wanted to be a young man at that moment, fears and ignorance seemed to shove his maturity aside, and he saw a boy in girl’s clothing instead of an almost pretty if altogether brand new girl. And seeing in context made all the difference; meeting her over the summer at the camp meant with all the other kids who actually looked like they fit in as new or temporarily accepted girls. In the home of his best friend, it was sadly a reminder of how much more change had yet to take place between him and Hailey. He shook his head; reflexively if entirely unintentional yet still revealing.

“Y…esss….” It was all the girl could manage as she looked into his eyes. She wanted to believe. Hell, even Gary wanted to believe, but he was a confused and even scared barely-fourteen-year-old boy, and his expression told her all the things she didn’t need to hear. She burst into tears and ran out of the living room and down the hall. Gary turned to Hailey….his sister. She saw In his eyes the same lack of understanding that Dylan had just now felt. The same lack of understanding she hoped had departed.

“Gar? How could you….oh fuck,” was all she could manage before she walked down the hall as well. And Gary stood alone in the living room; feeling more confused and afraid as ever. But mixed in with that confusion and fear was a wee bit of increasing insight coupled with acceptable shame. Damned if he didn’t have a sister instead of a twin brother. And if…and since he did have a sister, what did that make Dylan. And if….and since Dylan was a girl as well, what did that make Gary Venturini? Was he ….gay? He was going to find out in very short order that it wasn’t what he was or wasn't that mattered, but rather who. Gay and straight were just someone else's labels after all. And learning who he was would prove to be a very good thing for him and Hailey and especially for Dylan Gwyneth Edwards.

And in the end the words won't matter
'Cause in the end nothing stays the same
And in the end dreams just scatter and fall like rain
'Cause all we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful, something real

To be continued...

All We Are
words and music by
Marshall Altman and the performer,
Matt Nathanson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRwjdJVyHkA



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