8 – And the Beat Goes On
Teri was at first just Terrance who jumped at an opportunity to model as a girl with his twin sister Hattie… Now he’s caught up in being a known model… They’re now the Slade Sisters caught up in a mystique of their own creation…
Mom waited until both Hattie and I woke as we were exhausted when we got home from the prom and the long night. Sunday dinner is usually around one in the afternoon but today we finally ate around five. We have done this on special occasions but today they waited so the five of us could eat a home cooked meal together. Hattie and I told an abbreviated version of the prom and then kept asking the family what they did. Dad did not want to hear about me and was afraid of hearing something he didn’t want to hear from Hattie.
Hattie had begun teasing Dad ever since we began modeling. She did start off by telling him, “Any rumor that I’m pregnant isn’t true. It would be much too early to know anyway.” She said, “I’m sorry, I even joked about that Daddy. I just couldn’t resist, though I know I should have. I did enjoy dancing with him. Teri got the praise of many seniors for bringing Josh out of his shell. Teri even contrived a way to get someone who had a crush on Josh to dance with him.”
I watched Dad’s eyes to see if he was disgusted with me, or what. My soiled panty was from me and not Josh. I had a shield and it helped but not completely. Hattie thought I went further than I did and likewise I was pretty sure she had. I had been alone with Josh but I had my dress off only to make sure it didn’t get wrinkled. And I was lucky because I had gotten Josh way too excited. He spurted all over for a moment and inadvertently I got a taste of him. I thought it would be grosser than it was. Oops, I’m daydreaming at thetable.
Once dinner was over, Leah volunteered to clean up the kitchen. That was the first warning that Mom would be talking with us. The good news was it would be only Mom talking to us. The bad news was she wasn’t smiling when we got together.
She began, “You two are going to have a short leash when you’re in Boston for the 4th of July and likewise with Chicago. Rumor has it when you go to New York City, you’ll be way too busy to get in much trouble. Leah says, you’ll have extra modeling jobs in the Big Apple. She asked what you’d be doing but all they’d tell her. You weren’t to schedule anything beyond what Jenna asks and two days of modeling. They are to schedule that when we get to New York.”
“Now with the nice stuff said. I am upset by what you didn’t say this morning and again since you woke up. Teri, the next time you should be rinsing out your own delicates and not putting them in the laundry.”
She turns to my sister, “You did take care of yours. I’m hoping the residual was the beginning of girl stuff. There was enough evidence that both of the boys got closer than I had agreed to.” Mrs. Henshaw had called before I had woke up. “Teri, she wanted to thank you for what you did for Josh. She didn’t have details, but as happy as she was, was too much for your poor mother.”
Mother said, “Among other things you are very lucky that his attempt to leave his mark on your neck was dismal. You’re now a professional model and losing an assignment or doing B grade work. Well that is not acceptable for your sister and less so for you, young man.”
“I am glad you both hung up your gowns properly. I guess Leah thankfully helped you.” The conversation continued over an hour and a half and was still cut short. We confessed that we were both surprised about how aggressive both boys tried to become when they were excited.
There was a time all four of us were in a bedroom together and on blankets on either side of the bed. That was when we both thought worse of the other. Even now we’re not quite sure the other told everything even when it’s just the two of us. Mom says. “Don’t be planning anything next weekend. We’re going to your Grandparents and one thing you’ll be doing is modeling you prom gowns for her.”
I spoke up, “Mom our friends want us to go out with them on Friday. We hope we can do that if we promise to cooperate during the visit to Grandma’s.”
Mom asks me, “You’re not planning to go as Teri are you?”
That’s when Hattie should have kept her mouth shut but didn’t. “Mom, Terrance’s friend Pete is wanting to be in our group Friday with Teri.”
I said, “That’s okay Mom it will give me an excuse not to do it.”
Mom replies, “Well I’m not going to give you that excuse. We’re going to your grandparents and showing off your prom gowns. I would rather have you in girl mode so that you show your gowns better.”
“If you go on the date, it is to be as a group; not a date and nothing romantic between you and Pete. You’re friends and please keep it that way.”
It is actually fun going to our grandparents, taking the long gowns in bags stretched across the backseats. I remembered not too many years ago having to sit in a seat with Leah’s long gown stretched across my lap taking the same ride to and from grandmas. It causes me to smile as tis time one of the gowns is mine. Hattie is next to me whispering, “This time the gowns are ours. We’re growing up and like Hattie imagined these gowns are now ours.”
Mom saw us whispering when she looked in the rearview mirror. “What are you two talking about?”
Hattie simply said, “Nothing Ma. It’s just that this has always been Leah’s time with us riding in the back with her fancy dresses.”
Mom says, “I’m kind of glad your father didn’t come along. He might not be as happy to see Terry smiling about such an occasion.”
I asked, “Do you think Dad will get over his hang-ups Mom?”
She slightly turns her head to speak to us and yet watch where she’s driving. “Either when this is over or you decide who you are?”
Hattie asks, “What do you mean ‘or when Teri decides who she is?’”
“Just that Hattie, you said it. If Teri decides she/he’s going to remain modeling; your Dad will come to fully accept it at that time. There is no doubt he loves you as much as I do. It’s the image he has trouble with sometimes.”
“Do you really think, I’d continue on as Teri? And you wouldn’t mind?”
Mom slows down ever so slightly, “What do you think, are you choosing to be Teri? It’s not my decision that counts.”
The car turns silent with Leah and Hattie giving me their full attention while trying to act like they’re not fully interested. I took a deep breath. It was my habit to follow Hattie and to wait for someone else to compliment and kind of define what I’m doing. Mom set me up to claim for my own intentions. I’m waiting hoping someone will bail me out again. Mom’s not having it, “Okay Teri what is it?”
“I like modeling and being Teri. I’m not stopping being myself, but I like who I’m becoming. It’s just that I’m afraid this is a dream and soon it will be gone. Will people then say I was being foolish and embarrassed my family?”
My mother says, “I’d be very surprised if it were a dream that would vanish quickly. You and Hattie have worked hard to make this reality come true, it’s not a dream.”
Hattie says, “It’s true that we lucked out and got a great break, but we worked our butts off to make it pay happen. I think the prom may cause us to think we didn’t think of.” We continued talking until we pulled up to Grandma’s place.
Grandma quickly walked out to greet us and she held me at arm’s length to take a good look at me. She gave me a hug. “I thought the pictures of you ready for the prom were darling. I hope you don’t mind me speaking of you like I do Teri. You aren’t the Terrance I’ve been use too.”
“I am glad you two are continuing to be regular teens. So how did you two like going to your first prom?”
I get both gowns from the car and walk toward the house. Grandfather has already greeted the others, which is unusual enough. He usually remains in the house watching golf or baseball. He smiles at me and says, “I’m glad you’re here, it’s nice to see you.” He pauses, “Looking more like your sisters and mother, I want you to know I’m proud of you.”
Grandpa followed me as I hung up the gowns and then he asked me to stay and close the door to the room. We sit down and I’m worried a little, but Grandpa’s smiling. “Hey Terry, I’m older than your other grandparents. You might think I’m an old fuddy-duddy. The truth is along with being stubborn, I’m old enough not to worry about what others think. I know it took a lot of guts to do what you’re doing when I grew up. I suspect even now it took courage and a lot of dedication on your part.”
He smiled and pat the bed for me to sit close to him. He asked, “Can I trust you with a secret?” I nodded yes and he gave me a hug saying, “Thanks. I grew up having two older sisters that I looked up to, kind of like you. I was close to them and liked being around them and their friends.
“The difference was, when I got hassled, my father, grandparents and even my uncles told me to fight back or get used to it. They hoped I would give it up. Needless to say, I didn’t go down the exact path you’re traveling for now. But I thought it might be helpful for you to know my secret. That I looked up to my sisters and mother and like feminine things. You might have some things you’re uncomfortable to share with most. If you want you can always talk with me. Grandpa would even come and take you out and we could a visit as long as that would be helpful.”
I know I’m sitting there looking goofy with my mouth open. I’m not sure what to say. I never expected to hear anything like what I just heard. Shaking my head, I finally ask, “Is that true, you’re joshing me to make me feel good aren’t you?”
Grandpa says, “It may sound unbelievable, but the truth is, it’s true.” We talked a while before going back out to the others.
Grandma came up to us smiling, hugging the both of us. She said, “We’re not pushing you Terry, but we’re proud of you.” She hugs Grandpa, “And I’m proud your grandpa talked to you.”
Grandma asked, “Hattie and Teri can you pin up your hair to get it look special like it was for the prom, or would you like help from the salon? I really want to see you two in your prom gowns all nice and fancy if you don’t mind. ”
Hattie decided on going to the salon for what she called being brushed out. It was nice since Grams was publicly showing us off in her community. Irene, who I got, worked off pictures from the prom. The salon did it for free and promised another time since the got to hang a picture of us in the Precious Times Salon.
Mom was a little down when we got back to Grandma’s but wasn’t saying anything until after the pictures and dinner. When we were finished with pictures and I was alone changing out of the gown, mom came to speak to me.
She knocked and came into the room when I was ready for her. “Terry did you know Mrs. Miller, your old Sunday school teacher died yesterday or the day before?”
I confessed I did and mom was surprised I hadn’t told her. “They’d like some of her previous Sunday school students to help at the funeral dinner on Tuesday of next week.”
“Mom, I’m open to go going to the funeral service but it would be awkward because I don’t want to help at the funeral luncheon. It will be mostly girls after all.”
Mom says, “I find that sadly ironic since you don’t mind being a girl. She after all was one of the first people from the church to send you a card. It celebrated you modeling as a girl. Not many women from the church did that right away.”
“I told Joyce on the service committee they could expect you and Hattie to help out.”
“But Mom, what would it look like if Hattie and I as Teri helped and others teased me. That would be awkward.”
Mom said, “It would look like you didn’t forget where you came from or how important Mrs. Miller was to you. You might as well know up front I won’t let you turn your back on those who were as nice as she was. You can quit modeling before that happens.”
I got a little upset and was talking back to my mother when Leah and Hattie came into the room. I figured they were going to take Mom’s side. Hattie and Leah said, “It’s not just about Mom being right. You had Mrs. Miller in fourth and fifth grade and she helped you out of your shell. We think you’ll be upset with yourself later if you don’t do it. She was also your teacher at school. You two were friends and you even tried to behave for her.”
Hattie says, I know you’re starting to worry about what friends like Pete are going to say. I even worry about what modeling people might say about our friends here. You better decide now not to be afraid. You better be deciding to be who you want Teri to be.”
Hattie seems a bit upset with herself. She hugs me and holds onto me. And I feel my shoulder become damp; Hattie’s trying to stifle her tears. I softly ask, “What gives? Why are you to tears?”
Hattie says, “I know what you should do, we’re twins I know, but it’s harder for you than my simply saying it.” Hattie quietly continues leaning on my shoulder. We’re hugging and we’re both weepy eyed. Hattie’s voice cracks, “Mrs. Miller was there for you. I bet you still have her handkerchief that she lent you. You know, she allowed you to keep it because it became precious to you. I think she knew even then.” I’m standing there taking in what Hattie’s saying, hoping it’s true.
I smile, “I know what everyone is saying is true. She’s still special to me. I knew I need to do it as well. You could have given me some time and room to come to my own decision.”
I dressed casually in the morning as Teri and went to breakfast. “Mom, do you think Ms. Miller’s daughter Hannah would understand if I went to visit her after school. “I’d like to offer her, her mother’s handkerchief back if she’d want it.”
Mom says, “You’re wanting her to know you have one? I’m sure she has more than enough.” Mom asks, “Wasn’t Hannah there once when you visited with her mother?”
“There were two times. Mrs. Miller knew I looked up to Hannah and went to watch her daughter sing in concerts as well as when she played basketball. I was in her mother’s class when she was in twelfth grade. I’m afraid she’ll think I’m being childish.”
Mother said, “I know for a fact that she’s very proud of you and think you’ve growth up a lot lately.” Changing the subject Mom says, “You might want to call Hannah’s house now and see if she’s going to be home after you’re out from school. Please do that as you need to concentrate on your exams once you get to school.”
I was nervous and partly prayed that Hannah wouldn’t answer. The phone was ringing the third time when she answered. “Is this Ms Hannah Trout? I’m Teri Carsten and I’m sorry if I’m disturbing you.” I’m afraid what she might say.
Hannah says, “Relax and just talk to me. I know who you are and I’m glad you’re calling. Someone said, you’ll be one of the girls helping Saturday.” I can hear her lightly giggle; there’s a warmth to her voice. “I’m delighted you called, what would you like to ask?”
I say, “Would it be okay, if I stopped by after school to show you something?” We agreed on 3:45. Hannah said it would give us enough time for a good visit.
When Hattie comes down ready for school; she asks, “Why are you still going to school as Teri”. Mom says, “Because I don’t think she has enough time to change over to Terrance.” Mom and Hattie lightly laugh. Mom hands me a note. “Hopefully this will suffice as an excuse for today. You were to be back to being Terrance after the prom. It says you need help from the salon to change your appearance back… It is partly true.”
Mrs. Miller’s celebration of life had been delayed to Saturday so other family, teachers and special friends could be there for the funeral.
My math exam and my history exam were both today. It required enough attention that it made being Teri easier. I hurried home to drop off school stuff and then Mom gave me a ride to Hannah’s home.
I had hand washed the handkerchief last night and gently ironed it. Hannah smiled when she saw that I packed it in a small box with pink tissue paper. She gave me a hug and showed me where to sit in there den.
She asked, “You look very comfortable, remembering to whisk your skirt under you and to sit up straight. I hope you know my mother was very proud of you. She knew you don’t intend to become a girl. But to be honest with you; she wouldn’t be surprised if that changed.” Ms. Hannah said my eyes became as big as saucers, when she said that.
I told her, “Your mother gave me the handkerchief when I was in fourth grade. Other boys were teasing me and she wanted me to remember I didn’t need to be like them. My twin sister, Leah and I had been close until then. When I decided to change that I started to get into trouble and fights. I was sent to your Mom once as my detention and we talked. She said I didn’t need to change unless I wanted to.”
Hannah said, “Do you remember when I sang in the choir or played basketball? …”
I smiled and interrupted her, “I sure do, my sister and friends started coming to watch you high school girls sing and play games like volleyball and basketball.
“When you played for a championship; I imagined you were a beautiful warrior. You gave both your boyfriend and me a kiss on the cheek before the game.”
Other boys became jealous and
I said, “Others said I was stupid to do it because you were a girl. You were smart and good in sports and singing. I knew you had a sprained ankle and that it hurt. I thought that took a lot of courage.” I thought and spoke again. “Your mother said you lost a scholarship, because you played through your injury and stopped you from playing as good as you usually did. I was surprised because you still scored twenty points.”
Hannah looks at the delicate handkerchief, “I can’t believe that you kept it all this time. You have clean, nicely folded and tied in a ribbon. I would be happy to borrow it from you until after the funeral service, then I’ll return it.”
Hannah heard her baby cry, saying, “Let me get her up and I’ll be right back.”
She had no sooner left the room and the doorbell rang. She said, “Would you get that for me and see who it is?”
I went to the door at it was my friend Patti. I opened the door and asked Patti what she wanted. Patti said, “I am a friend of the Trouts’ and I’ve come to talk to Hannah about babysitting their daughter Megan. So can I come in?”
I call back to Hannah, “It is Patti Draper and she wants to talk to you… If you want I can go and leave you two alone.”
Hannah comes back into the room carrying Megan who is half a year old. Hannah smiles as both Patti and I walk close to see Megan and make a fuss over her. While Hannah says, “I’m sure you two know each other; is it okay if we all visit together.”
Patti says, “I’d like that but he… she might not. Terrance and I are real close friends. But somehow she’s now has trouble talking to me. She’s friends with Hattie’s friends and being a model. I’d love a chance to be close friends with Teri.”
I know I’m blushing red; I know it’s true but I still feel awkward around her since I’ve come in touch with me feelings. I say, “She’s my best friend, but I always get very shy around her. I told another girl Carmen, She said more than tell Patti that I should show her how much I like her. But I am especially uncomfortable like now when I’m dressed as Teri. I’m sure she’d be embarrassed if I hugged or kissed her.” I can see Patti’s surprised, stunned is more like it and then she smiles and comes to give me a hug and I gave her a kiss.
We turn back to Hannah and she has covered herself and the baby. It soon becomes obvious that she’s nursing Megan. Hannah’s talking to us when Megan kicks off the blanket and we can both see everything. It is so beautiful like paintings and pictures I’ve seen. Hannah brings Megan up her shoulder to see if she’d burp and to change breasts. Like Patti, I was watching too closely and Hannah sees me looking.
“I’m sorry!” I quickly said. Hannah giggles, “Dressed as you are and knowing you’re a model. I see you as another girl, welcome to the club. Patti is already a member. She has been since I brought Megan home from the hospital.”
Patti speaks up, “Hannah, can you tell Teri that goes for her and me as well. She might be embarrassed about liking me a lot, but girls have no problem being a good friend to someone they love as a best friend.”
Hannah says, “Nicely put Patti; did you hear that Teri. If you like being a girl feeling like that should become normal for you and Patti.” Hannah turns to Patti, “Patti see this pretty handkerchief Teri returned that my Mother gave to Terrance.”
Patti says, “Yes, she, he showed it to me then and several times since. For a boy, he’s very sensitive and your mother became a special friend to him as well as his favorite teacher. I’m surprised he brought it back, it had been special to him.”
We were done our visit at Hannah’s and we leave together. Patti asks, “Would you be open to coming over to my house, my mother might even invite you to stay for dinner.” I hadn’t done that in over six weeks and never as Teri. One possible problem is I’m too excited, but I do say yes.
It is now different to be at Patti’s. We’re at her closet and she is showing me what she has new. Pattie initially thinks I’m teasing when I compliment her new clothes. “It isn’t special like what you model, so don’t act like you like it.”
“I’m being honest with you. I think that skirt and top would especially look fantastic on you,” I say to her. Patti takes the skirt off the hanger and lets her slacks drop. She puts on the skirt and then takes off her top and puts on the top.
“Patti, how dare you, your Mom would kick me out if she knew you changed in front of me.”
Patti says, “You didn’t mind seeing Hannah. Am I too small for your liking?”
I… I try to speak but it’s a moment before I can say or think of anything. “I wasn’t attracted to Hannah like I’m attracted to you. I don’t want to finally say how much I like you or ask you for a date. And then have your parents say I can’t see you anymore.”
Patti says, “My Mom and I already talked about if you came out of your shell with me… I’m not going to become your girlfriend, girlfriend now, only to lose you to so many others. We can date if you want. I do have the hots for you; but I’m just going to be a best friend. Girls can do that and still be friends. I think you’re in danger for becoming my best girlfriend for life.”
“You’d do better deciding what you’re going to do with Peter and other guys like him.” I pause and stare like what is she talking about?
Pattie explains, “If you become more girly with hormones or people taking interest in you as a girl. You’re going to get caught up in liking boys and the attention they give you. I know it feels good to kiss them and have them liking you. You should go out with Peter and see how you like his affection for you.”
I say, “We’re friends Patti, he and I aren’t going to like each other like that.”
“He’s asked you out once, and I’m sure he’ll ask you again. What are you going to do when you let him kiss you?” I can’t believe she’s asking or I’m taking it seriously.
When I got home after dinner from Patti’s; my Mom and my sisters all knew something was different. They were sure there was more than I said about meeting with Hannah Trout. It was Hattie and Leah who teamed up on me. Hattie and I we studying for exams with Leah asking us questions. Now and then Leah would ask a question about this afternoon and other times Hattie gave an answer guessing at what was happening.
When we were done studying Hattie asked, “Is it true, you’re going out with Peter Friday night as Teri?”
Story to be continued…
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