Chapter 5 Jennifer Carstairs POV Tuesday morning.
I woke up naturally. It was almost strange to not have an alarm clock disturbing my rest. As I rose to full consciousness I felt a niggling unhappiness with the knowledge that both of my girls were absent from my life. I put that aside as best I could and tried to work out what I needed to do today. I had spoken to the priest on Sunday. Unfortunately, he did not have a ready answer and said that he would have to do some research and get back to me. On the plus side, I had recorded my conversation with my father, with his permission, and to my ears at least, it was very damning. I had an appointment this afternoon with a family lawyer. They had advertised that the first hour was free. Of course, I didn't tell them that I would not be able to afford their services, I was just hoping that I got some good information in the time allowed.
I hadn't been taking the medication very long, but already I felt a lessening in my cough. I hope it was not just my imagination. I didn't wake up extra early to take it like the doctor suggested. Instead, I took it as soon as I woke up and then made sure not to eat or drink anything but water for 3 hours after. I think it was working. I certainly hadn't felt any noticeable side effects. I had read the book he had provided and after hearing about all these survivors it did give me hope. I already had made some changes to my lifestyle. Twice a day I was doing a meditation and my eating habits had changed dramatically, completely cutting out sugar. I found another book in the library called 'The Truth about Cancer' that was a lot more controversial and suggested a lot of other alternative health type avenues for me to try. I was definitely not giving up. I wanted to be around to help my daughters with their children.
I took my pill, noted the time, and got myself ready for the day. The weather was beautiful again, so I drove the short distance to my local beach and walked barefoot where the sand meets the sea. Enjoying the sea air, the calm waters, soft sand between my toes and the early morning sun, warming me with a gentle caress. My tranquil moment was disturbed by the buzzing of my phone in my pocket. The number was not one I recognised.
“Hello, is this Jennifer? It's Father Jerome speaking.”
“Oh, Hi Father Jerome.”
“You put to me a very interesting question on Sunday and I have been doing my best to work out what the right answer is. You have to understand that our main aim as a church is the salvation of souls and everything has to be considered in that light.”
“OK. So what is your opinion.”
“Before I answer that, the reason for the delay was that I needed to find out if the church had an official position. I think you can understand that I did not want to say one thing and then have to explain that the church was officially different. Can I just ask a couple of questions to make sure I understood what you were asking?”
“We are talking about a case of a child who appeared male, but actually was completely female internally?”
“Yes, and those aspects that appeared male were not true, err... male bits. But the plumbing was male orientated.”
“I believe that comes under the heading of intersex. Very much on the female side of intersex, but still intersex. The church has remained silent on the issue. Questions have been asked, but as yet, the church has not responded. What that really means is that they do not have any moral certainty on intersex cases. When the church is officially silent, then you have to resort to your own conscience and that of your spiritual director. I can happily say on a personal level that I believe that Jesse should consider herself as a normal woman. I would be delighted if she was to join our community as such.”
“And about speaking to Father Geffory and my father?”
“I can speak to Father Geffory. Since he is the spiritual director for you father, I can't skip him and talk directly with your father. All I can tell him is my personal opinion, if his opinion is different to mine, I'm not sure there is much I can do.”
The sun was still shining, but my heart was sinking. “If you could do that, I would be grateful and is it possible that you could let me know how the conversation goes?”
“Absolutely. I can discuss it with you after service on Sunday, if you like? You are coming to the service on Sunday aren't you?”
“Yes father, I'll see you there.”
Jesse's POV Tuesday morning.
Bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. I think someone had invented the perfect torture for me, give me nothing to do. I had already been for my morning run. I read for a bit, but I am not a great reader. I don't mean I am not capable, it's just that it is such a sedentary past time and after a while I want to get up and do something. Same with the TV. It has to be something riveting to keep my attention.
I didn't want to disturb Mark or Jean, but I really needed something to do. I had been up since 6 am, been for a run, read a book for a couple of hours, flicked through the TV channels and was now contemplating going for another run just for something to do. I had already offered to do some housework. I didn't want to become their live in maid but I was getting desperate. Jean turned me down. She had a service that she liked and, if she cancelled them, when I was no longer with them, she may not be able to get them back again. I couldn't do any more cooking. We already had lots of meals ready in the freezer from when I got bored yesterday.
I went up to the studio to inform Jean that I was going out for another run. I didn't like to disturb them when they were working, but I felt the responsible thing to do was tell them I was going out. When I cautiously entered the lions den I found Jean not really painting, more giving her painting a thorough inspection.
I edged into her peripheral vision trying to play the game, I am not here to distract you, but I am waiting patiently for you to notice me. After a few minutes, she looked up from her inspection.
“Hi Jesse. What can I do for you?”
“I just thought I would let you know that I am going out for a run.”
“Haven't you already been on one this morning?”
“Yes. But I am feeling a bit restless so I thought I would go out for another one.”
She laughed. “The energy of youth. Well I have some good news for you. I have noticed that you need more things to do than I have here, so I have arranged for you to help Marie at the salon. I don't know what tasks she has planned for you. She can't employ you officially. I think you are too young. A bit of cash in hand work if you fancy it.”
“That sounds great.”
“She has a spare bedroom, so when I don't need you for modelling or dinner parties, she is willing for you to stay there.”
“We have dinner parties with fairly important guests. It is an opportunity to mingle and network with influential people and we promised your mother that we would try and help your career. Nothing may come of it, but you never know. Tomorrow we are going to the salon for the works, then we are going to do a modelling shoot. In the evening we are having a small dinner party with the Petersons. They commissioned this painting and are coming to inspect it. Incidentally, Jim Peterson is an agent. I think he mainly works with movie stars. He would be a good man to know and I would listen carefully to any advice he offers. Then on Thursday I will take you to Marie. How does that sound?”
“That sounds great. Thank you for your help.”
“It will be mutual. I can't wait to start painting you. Now, I am guessing you want to go on a run because you are bored?”
“I hate to say it, but yes.”
“Well I have another idea if you are interested.” She paused for my head nod. “How about I set you up a canvas and you can try to paint?”
“I'm not very good.”
“That's alright. A lot of painting technique needs to be taught. I just want to see if you have any talent.”
“I would love to give it a go. Please don't expect too much.”
She set me up with a view out the window and suggested I paint the tree. I was so engrossed in trying to paint that I didn't notice the time pass. She tapped me on my shoulder to indicate it was time to wash up and have lunch. I was welcome to come back after to continue.
Lunch was, of course, already prepared, I just had to heat it up and make a side salad to go with. As soon as lunch was finished, I went back up to the studio and continued with my painting. I spent a lot of time mixing different greens for the different coloured leaves. The overall look was fine, but it did not look anything like the tree outside. I just couldn't make it look realistic. By nine O'clock I gave up. Anything else I did to the picture was not making it better.
Jean came up to inspect it after I had told her that I was finished.
“You have a great eye for colour. There are so many different greens in the leaves. Painting may not be your thing, but anything that relies on the subtlety of different colours, could be. Like fashion, or interior design. It looks like you do have an artistic bent. Well done.”
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