Second of a four-part series
The first one up was Lacey - or so she thought. “LACEY!” was the exuberant yell from Rhonda, who bearhugged her cousin. Both fell to the ground in fits of laughter.
“How you been, cuz?”
“Good, good! You?”
“I’m living the dream, and oh my God.” Rhonda stopped and looked over her cousin. “You look absolutely incredible!”
“Stop.” Lacey was modest but secretly relished Rhonda’s compliment.
“Maddie must still be asleep, I had to come down early to help Mom with dinner.” Rhonda scratched her head and set about working in the kitchen. “Maddie was really excited yesterday. She just got a new tutu, and she wants to try on about five billion other outfits with you.”
“I’m so stoked,” Lacey grinned. Aunt Ida appeared. “How’s my little Lace?” she exclaimed, hugging her niece. “This is for you.”
Lacey inspected what she had been given, a black box tied together with ribbons. She opened it and found a cute pair of Converse shoes. She slipped them on with her cupcake pajama bottoms.
“Aw, these are so cute! Thanks Aunt Ida!”
“Just a little preview of Friday morning,” she winked. “Now can you help Rhonda and I with dinner?”
“Absolutely!” Lacey set to work. Gradually the family rose, first Kelly, then Mrs. Baker, Lily, and finally Maddie.
The minute Maddie and Lacey laid eyes on each other, they screamed.
“You look so hot!”
“You do too!”
They embraced, all while in their PJs. Both had been short when they were boys, but as girls, they fit right in.
“I have the cutest top I wanna show you!” Lacey shrieked.
“I wanna show you my tutu first!”
The two girls scampered upstairs to Maddie’s room. It looked 180 degrees different from the last time Lacey had seen it. A room that was once a shrine to football now was painted bright pink, with a giant teddy bear in the corner. Bras were draped haphazardly over several chairs, and a makeup station dominated what was once an empty desk.
Maddie opened her closet, which was riddled with blouses, skirts, dresses, leggings, and dance outfits. Her hand migrated to a leotard, which was revealed to be attached to a frilly tutu. It was pink and looked a little like a pageant dress. Sequins dotted the ends of the tulle.
“This,” Maddie said as she admired the outfit, “is why I became a girl.” Lacey was out of her PJs in ten seconds and soon was twirling around the room, curtsying and pirouetting all the while.
“Oh my God, Lacey, I almost forgot!” Maddie said as she tried on Lacey’s top with a pair of leggings. “My teacher says I’ve really progressed quickly, and I might be in the running to be Clara in the Nutcracker next year!”
“Wow!” Lacey was ecstatic for her cousin. “I wish I were as advanced as you at ballet.”
“Well, it’s cool, because I wish I had your cheer and majorette skills.” Maddie smiled, and the girls decided to put on a fashion show later on that day.
Lunch rolled around, and Aunt Ida asked Maddie if she wanted to go get the family some takeout from the local diner.
“Maddie, you can drive now?” Lacey was incredulous.
“Yeah, I’m old enough now! I got my license! Come on, I’ll drive, you and Kelly can come.”
Mrs. Baker nodded her approval. The girls, dressed in overcoats, leggings and Uggs and looking ready for winter, were in the car at the drop of a hat. Soon, they were singing along to the radio, when Kelly began laughing uncontrollably.
“What is it, Kel?” Maddie asked.
“Yeah, what’s up?” Lacy was curious.
“It’s just so weird, I’m not gonna lie. Seeing my two boy cousins as girls! It still gets me.”
“It still gets me too,” Maddie said after a brief silence. “But I’m used to it. This is the way that I was meant to be. Just like you, Kelly.”
“Do you have lipstick?” Lacey asked at a red light. Kelly laughed some more as Maddie produced a half-dozen shades, and soon they were all giggling and having a great time.
“I can’t wait for our fashion show,” Lacey told Maddie as the family sat down to their brief lunch before the preparations for Thanksgiving continued.
“What’s this about a fashion show?” Aunt Ida inquired.
“Lacey and I thought we’d try on a few dresses, you know, have a little modeling session, practice makeup, that kind of thing,” Maddie said.
“Well, we need a little help first, so your little fashion show can wait,” Aunt Ida said, a wry smile on her face. “Now can you put some dishes away...” and with that, at least in their teenage minds, Lacey and Maddie went from princesses to maids.
“A little help” quickly morphed into an hour, and it was 3 o’clock in the afternoon before Lacey and Maddie were able to flop down onto Maddie’s bed, exhausted.
“Who knew Thanksgiving could be so much work?” Maddie asked.
“You and me both, girl.” Lacey felt like going to sleep, but quickly changed her mind when she saw the pretty dresses peering out of Maddie’s open closet.
“Ready for the show?” Maddie asked her cousin.
“Let me get out of these leggings first. I’m so hot.” Lacey peeled the leggings off her legs, and replaced them with a comfy pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt. Maddie did likewise.
“I haven’t brushed my hair at all today, I look like a mess.” Maddie vocalized what both girls were thinking. They were soon perched in front of the bathroom mirror, brushing their hair out and soon giggling as only girlfriends can.
“So Mads,” Lacey said as she brushed, “how are things with you and boys?”
Maddie beamed. “Lacey, you wouldn’t believe all the hot guys at my school!” Maddie had transferred to a private school over the summer, while Lacey went to the same school as before.
“You’re so lucky you get to go to a private school.” Lacey’s face reddened a combination of makeup and envy. “All the guys at my school are about average for the most part.”
“For the most part?” Maddie saw right through Lacey’s ruse. “I may only have been a girl for ten months, but I know a girl in love with one guy when I hear one.”
Lacey relented, spilling her guts about how she kind of liked (read: was head over heels in love with) this cute (read: dreamy) guy, Tevin Brantley, and she kind of hoped he would ask her out sometime (read: already had picked out the outfit she would wear for their first date).
“See, this is what I was looking forward to,” Lacey told her cousin when the girls were finished. “Just the girls, hanging out! This is so awesome. I love you, Maddie.”
“I love you too, Lacey!” The girls hugged, and skipped into Maddie’s room to survey her closet.
Lacey was just about to try on Maddie’s school uniform when the doorbell rang. Lily ran to open it, as Aunt Ida and Mrs. Baker were occupied. Maddie and Lacey peered over the loft to the front door, and neither were pleased with what they saw.
Grandpa had arrived. Maddie and Lacey were suddenly thrown into panic.
“Why is he here?”
“I don’t know!”
“This was supposed to be girls’ weekend.”
“I know! Remember, he lives just a few cities away...”
“This is great, now we won’t be able to have our fashion show!”
“Of all days...”
Grandpa was alright in the girls’ book - he’d accepted their transitions unflinchingly, for one thing, although he did still enjoy cracking wise when given the chance - but he was also an extreme nuisance. Both Lacey and Maddie knew that their plan for a pink, frilly weekend had just been blown to smithereens.
“Lacey! Maddie!” Mrs. Baker called to the girls. “Come say hello to your grandfather!”
Heads hanging, the two girls marched down the stairs, putting on smiles as they enveloped their Grandpa in hugs.
“Aren’t you the prettiest young ladies? You look exactly like your mothers!” Grandpa gushed. Both Lacey and Maddie blushed.
But, Grandpa quipped, “You’re still Logan and Matt, ex-football players, and you still have the muscles to help carry my bags in, is that right?”
“Your bags?” Aunt Ida was taken aback.
“I thought I’d drop by for Thanksgiving, if it’s not too much of a problem...”
“No, no, that it’s not,” Mrs. Baker cut her father off, with the same faux smile her daughter wore. “And I’m sure Lacey and Maddie would love to carry your bags in.”
“Alright, come on, muscles!” Neither Lacey nor Maddie had the heart to lecture their grandfather on the pitfalls of hormone therapy, and thus they obliged, panting and wheezing while moving Grandpa’s suitcases into the kitchen.
Moving Grandpa’s belongings around the Baker household became a full-family affair, and before the family knew it, it was 6 o’clock and time to eat. Lacey’s plans for a fashion show had evaporated. She was crestfallen.
“After dinner we can still try on some stuff,” Lacey elbowed Maddie just before they sat down for dinner.
“You bet,” Maddie nodded.
Oh, how naive they turned out to be. “I brought Monopoly,” Grandpa announced. “Who wants to play with me?”
It was unavoidable. Grandpa made a beeline straight for Lacey and Maddie. Thinking quickly, Maddie tried to stop him.
“Grandpa, we’d love to play, but we’re gonna help my mom clean up.” Lacey nodded along. Grandpa’s face fell.
“We got it, guys, go play with your grandfather.” Aunt Ida destroyed the girls’ hopes and dreams with one statement.
And that’s how, at 9 pm, instead of shaking her bubble butt in Maddie’s dreamy strapless blue dress, Lacey was still sitting in her gym shorts, rolling the dice and trying to get out of jail for what seemed to be the umpteenth time while Grandpa talked about his billiards league ad nauseam.
“And then I stared down the nine-ball, and I whispered into Larry’s ear...” Grandpa trailed off when he saw Maddie nearly asleep.
“You know, I feel like I’ve been hogging the conversation this entire time,” he said as he tried to jostle Maddie awake. “Why don’t you two tell me about what you’ve been up to? Maddie, I hear you’re a ballerina now?”
“I am!” Maddie blushed, thrilled Grandpa was keeping up with Aunt Ida’s news.
“I bet you look tutu cute on stage!” Grandpa roared at his own pun, and then turned serious. “Why don’t you show me some of your moves?”
“Yeah, why not? We’re at a lull in the game, show me something.”
“Okay.” Maddie stood up and immediately went into first position when Grandpa stopped her.
“Why don’t you put on your tutu? I’ve never seen you perform before. Give me a recital!”
Maddie, elated, disappeared and emerged ten minutes later with her hair in a bun, dressed in tights, a leotard, and a pink tutu Lacey had seen strewn over a chair. She put on a CD, danced a selection Lacey recognized as Swan Lake, and curtsied. The whole family stopped to watch, and applauded.
“You’ll be Clara for sure!” Lacey yelled as her cousin waltzed gracefully upstairs to change.
Now, Grandpa turned to Lacey. “And I hear you’re going to be a cheerleader! Good for you!”
“Thanks!” Lacey swelled with pride. “Do you want me to show you some of my routine?”
Grandpa, who’d seem energized to see Maddie dance ballet, now looked tired. “Maybe tomorrow, little Lacey?” He smiled. “I’m gonna get to bed. These old bones need some rest. Good night.” Grandpa pecked his granddaughter on the cheek, and she feigned a smile.
Inside, Lacey’s rage grew to a breaking point.
“Can you help me clean this up?” The leotard-clad Maddie gestured toward the Monopoly game. Lacey glowered.
“I’m going to bed.” She skulked off to her room, and buried her head in her pillow, taking stock of the past two days. The car had broken down, Grandpa had shown up, and now Maddie and her’s dream weekend seemed more a pipe dream than anything. Still, she held onto hope things could turn around.
Chances seemed slim, though, and Lacey fell asleep, wanting to text Tevin or dress-shop online but being too worn out to reach for her phone.
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