Penny goes to White Gate Farm with John and the girls
This is the story of Penny. A closet Transwoman thrust into the outside world 24-7 when she would rather go and hide away. Perhaps the title should be Welcome to Penny’s Paranoid World…
From part eighteen
I was kept in another two weeks before they decided to let me go. Evie and Jenni André had come in to make sure I was dressed how they thought I should be. The weather was fine they said, and super glamorous was the order of the day according to them. So my white dress with red roses printed on it. Was to be worn. Legs had sheer stockings and high-heel sandals and freshly painted red nails on hand and foot. My hair needed their attention for far too long. I will have to visit Rosemary and Melissa at my soonest opportunity when home.
Make-up was chiefly Jenni’s province.
Eventually three excited girls and one man appeared mid-afternoon…
And now as they say, read on…
The girls bounced around excited. John came in behind them smiling and hugged and kissed me and told me I was beautiful and looked stunning. Then he said hi to his mum and Jenni. The girls crowded round me for hugs too, with everybody talking.
Then it was time to go. My meds to take home arrived from the hospital pharmacy along with an orderly with a wheelchair. Until they threw me out the front door, I was still officially under the hospitals care and as such travelled by wheelchair. So there I sat with Fred in my lap doing a passable impression of mother in her wheelchair.
The nurses that cared for me the three months I was in a coma had been in to wish me well and say goodbye yesterday and this morning. John slipped away and brought the car to the entrance, so after having said further goodbyes to everyone. We left. Evie was going to travel home with Malcom. Jenni I would see when I came up for my weekly appointment with Adam, so he could check I was coping. Malcom said he would pop in at White Gate Farm later on in the week to check on me.
And then before I knew it. It was just me and John and the girls in the car on the way home. I had a few butterflies in my tummy. I had left home as my mother’s carer, expecting to be home caring for her the next day. Now I was leaving hospital months later, mother had slipped away to join father. Carol had finally had to go home to America, and I was going to a new home as the mother of three children I adored, but in truth hardly knew. And as well as, sort of being John’s wife. Their home, would now be my home. John put on the radio and tired out I fell asleep as Natalie Imbruglia sang ‘Torn’ on Smooth Radio.
I woke up hearing John talking to the girls, “…if mum say ok, then we will stop. Otherwise we go straight home. Ok, girls.” And their reluctant agreement. I twisted in the seat opening my eyes and looked back at the three of them in the back seat and smiled. “What do you want me to agree too?”
“Can we go to the Kentucky, mum? Please.”
I glanced at John who grinned and gave a slight nod of the head.
“O’ kay, then. If you ask daddy nicely, I’m sure he can find one.”
There was a big cheer and the girls promptly asked their father very politely to stop at the next KFC he came too. Then they stared intently out of the windscreen looking for one to appear. When one came (and I am sure John was planning to stop there all along, as it only took ten minutes to get to one), he was already pulling off before they spotted it.
With orange juice for the girls and cups of tea for us, we settled down in a booth with a big cardboard tub of fried chicken and French fries. Every now and again I would catch one of the girls looking at me and they would giggle furiously with pleasure with the other two joining in.
This was the first time I had been out of the hospital in four and a half months and I was aware that I was flagging a little already. But it was nice to see everyone happy. John seemed to grin non-stop. He asked how I was doing. I told him the truth, tired, but ok. I know how everyone has watched me most carefully since waking up six weeks ago, while trying not to be noticed doing it. Due to my memory lapses everyone I think has had orders to not jog my memory, but let it come back naturally by itself.
John had brought me a tablet that let the girls talk to and see me every evening during the week. He would bring them up to the hospital on Sunday. I would talk to and see him during the week when he popped up to see me. Otherwise we dated by skype in the evenings.
The girls had made little videos to put on it of their bedrooms and showed me their favourite dresses and shoes and toys. John let then film what they wanted to, so I had a house tour by Evelin (Eve), a garden tour by Elizabeth (Lizzy), including an enthusiastic trampoline demonstration with the camera held by her bouncing up and down (headache inducing), and shown the outdoor swimming pool with the cover over it at the bottom of the garden. I also got a tractor cab ride around the farm with Emily being chauffeured around in one of the JCB Fourtracks by John. I watched them avidly over and over. I would be able to almost walk around the house and garden and farm blindfold because of them.
I closed my eyes, after the perfectly cooked and heathy hospital food. Sinking my teeth into a piece of Kentucky fried chicken was fantastic.
The girls laughed and immediately copied me. “MMmmmmmmmmmm.” And giggled.
I do not remember ever being a boy. I hope I never do. My memory has holes in it all over the place. Or shall we say, grey bits, misty bits. Adam is the top shrink at the hospital and a pilot. He tells me not to worry, some or all of it will come back over time. I do not think he wanted me to leave just yet, but decided all things considered, maybe it was best time for me. He had asked me how old I was early on and I could not say. He said to guess. I said, ‘I didn’t know, thirty-three, thirty-five?’ It was another two weeks before he told me the truth and I was shocked how old I was. He told me to forget it and be the thirty-three year old woman I thought I was. It was an easy thing to do. He just said to keep my real birth date at the back of my mind in case I ever needed to use it. I found Evie had told John and he told me my life starts when I leave hospital and just have fond memories of the past and live for today, not yesterday.
Back on the road I dozed again, till John gently nudged me as we past Great Steeping with its few houses. Most burnt to the ground during the Great Plague and never rebuilt as the families were all dead. And who wanted to build on the remains of a plague house. So it was a strange little village with a church too large for it that was never used.
Then we were passing where I would normally have turned off. The turn-off at Lower Steeping at the Waggon and Horses Pub. And then a few minutes later we slowed to turn in between the thick white painted wood posts of the entrance to White Gate Farm. My new home.
Except of course there was no white gate. Susan’s father had bought an old railway Level Crossing Gate back in the sixties to put there when Beeching closed all those country branch lines. Then one morning he got up to find during the night some swine had lifted the gate off its hinges and stolen it! Except today there was a bunch of balloons tied to each of the posts.
“Did you and daddy do that?” I said to the grinning girls who were giggling away while nodding their heads vigorously. When leaving the KFC they had been behind a car with a nodding head Bulldog on the rear parcel shelf, and doing impressions of it had kept the girls amused for the rest of the journey home.
When we reached the end of the farm driveway and turned left into gravel area in front of the garages and house, I was surprised to see two banners hanging from the Twins bedroom window and the upstairs hall window. One, the sort shops sold, said ‘Welcome Home Penny,’ the other one was handmade and said, ‘Welcome Home Mummy’.
I turned to the girls and holding back the tears said “It’s lovely. Thank-you, girls.” And saw them beam with pride. Then out of the porch door I watched my friends come out. Evie, with Johnny. Jenni and Trish. Zoey and her little girl April. They all gathered round me as I got out to welcome me home.
Johnny gave her a bear hug. “Welcome Home lass. But, by god. You gave us one hell of a fright. So don’t you dare do that ever again. Young lady.” He was grinning. I promised not to. Emily had glued herself to my side, so I put an arm against her, and she took hold of my hand.
“How.” I asked Jenni and Evie. “How did you?” How did they get here before me was the question in my mind. Then the penny dropped.
“Oh, Mmm. I get it.” I nodded slowly looking at them. “You zoomed past us while we were at the Kentucky. Yes?”
I turned to John and the twins behind me.
He leaned in grinning, the twins around him. “They went past us as we were getting out the car.”
The Twins adding. “But it was great, wasn’t it.”
I grinned back at the girls. “Yes it was.” Then smiling, added, “Finger lick’in, good, it was.” Making them laugh.
I moved to Trish and hugged her with one arm. “Your husband is an awesome doctor and surgeon. Mrs McDonald.”
“That’s why I married him. Welcome home. Ready to be a momma, kiddo!”
I grinned. “Now or never.” Then turned to Zoey who had made the journey up to London a few time to see me and chat.
“Hi, Zoey.” I said warmly, and then bent down to April. “Hello April.”
“Are you. Let’s go inside, then.” I stood back up and hugged Zoey. “How are you?”
Zoey shrugged. I knew she thought husband Donald was playing away from home with not being at the office. From her first meeting of the Piranha Club. Penny knew the other women thought Zoey was seeing things that were not there. But Penny was pretty sure he would have tried it on with her, if he had got the chance from the few times they had met, so she believed Zoey.
A car pulled up and the driver got out.
“Hi ya, trouble.” Melissa grinned looking down at Em. Who giggled back. Then Melissa looked back at me and ran a hand over my hair.
“Mmm, you need a hair appointment Mrs Farmer.”
I said “I know, I do.” To cover what she had said, more than anything. It was something my mind was busily avoiding.
“Good, as you’re booked in straight after you’ve dropped the girls off at school tomorrow.”
Evie clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention. “The girls are getting cold. Let’s move inside.”
We moved as one and I did not notice while we moved as I was talking with Melissa that I gradually went from being at the back of everyone to the front of our little crowd.
So I was the first one through the hall door into the kitchen.
I made a sound, I guess it was a girlish/womanish shrike. And was instantly embarrassed by doing it as John came up behind me and put his arms around my waist. The house may have looked Elizabethan. With a thick oak wood frame and overhanging first floor. The porch had a roof of old clay tiles, as were the tiles on the roof of the house making it look old, but I knew it was built only ten years ago by John and Susan. Even inside they had carefully decorated to make it look cosy and old and not new. But in the kitchen, it had an ultra-modern kitchen with build in units in a modern sleek dark blue.
When talking with Evie while in hospital in casual conversation she had asked me what I thought of the kitchen at White Gate Farm and I had told her the fittings were fantastic. The waist high ovens with disappearing doors and all that stuff were a treat for cooking. But I like the look of her farmhouse kitchen with its wood and glass door wall units. They were much more homely and cosy. And I loved her battered old leather sofa with its cushions that just said to you, ‘Please sit on me’.
My shrike was because all the hi-tec glossy look was gone replaced by the warm wood farmhouse look of Evie’s kitchen. John had changed the fronts form warm wood and the wall cupboards now had glass doors in wood frames. The girls danced around me happy opening doors to show me everything. John bent his head and spoke softly in my ear.
“The old look was the kitchen Susan wanted. It was her kitchen and she loved it. But this is your kitchen, the one you would have wanted. Yes?”
I nodded like an idiot and turned to face him still in his arms. “Yes, but you shouldn’t have. But thank-you.” And without thinking kissed him, and everyone went “Arrr.”
Nelson got up from his bed by the round cowboy saloon table as I thought of it and plodded over to us for a fuss from John and me. Over on the kitchen counter by the garden window Henry had taken one look at me and got up and turned around to put his back to me. I broke free from John and went over and lent down putting my arms around him and bending down close to his head and whispered in his ear.
“I’ve been very ill. Henry. But I missed you and I’m back now. Want a cuddle?”
Henry made a cross snort, then purred as if trying not too, made himself more comfortable ignoring me, then got up and turned around to me purring loudly rubbing his face against mine. I picked him up and held him like a baby. And his little face watched me, then he closed his eyes purring, looked like they cat that got the cream.
Trish and Zoey had made lots of finger food, little sandwiches and small sausages on sticks, sausage rolls, fairy cakes for children of all ages. We all sat and stood and eat and while Henry stayed snuggled up like a baby in my arms looking extremely pleased with himself. In the end I let everything go on around me and just sat tired. Evie saw and I found myself being moved to the sitting room and onto the big comfy four seater sofa. Henry just snuggled up against me and a blanket appeared over me. Moments later I was asleep.
Later I woke to find Em curled up against me under the blanket with Henry curled up in her arms. John was quietly playing monopoly on the floor with Eve and Lizzy in front of the big log fire in semi-darkness with just a couple of floor lamps on.
“Ok.” John asked me. I nodded, yes. The twins grinned at me and said perfectly together. “Hi, mum.”
“Hi, girls. You ok?” they nodded back.
“Want a drink?”
I shook my head and watched them playing and thought of mother. She would have loved this. She loved children. She had missed seeing Carol’s children growing up as they were in America.
“Hey there, time to wake up.” John called to me softly. I opened my eyes to see him gently rubbing my shoulder. “Here’s a cup of tea. Then it’s time to go to bed.”
I nodded. And sat up. The Twins, and Emily and Henry were gone.
John sat on the sofa beside me. “All gone up to bed and fast asleep. Henry as well. He sleeps on the end of Em’s bed. Has done that from the first night.”
This was cosy, sitting here the two of us with the logs on the fire burning in the big old brick fireplace.
When we were finished. John took our mugs back to the kitchen.
“You go on up. I’ll just check we’re all locked up down here and I like to check the farm cameras in the office before I come up.”
“Okay.” I nodded, this was it. This was the first time I had shared a bed with anyone, let alone a man who at some point was going to make love to me.
I got up and carrying my shoes went up the stairs and paused at the top. Just across and to my left was our bedroom. I had agreed to this, John had offered me the spare room over the sitting room. But I…
I turned right and went down to Emily’s door, which was wide open and went in. she was asleep with Henry sprawled out at the end of her bed. He lazily looked up at me and rolled on his back and I gave his tummy a gentle rub, feeling the quiet purr coming from him.
“Night-nite”, I said to Henry and gently put Em’s arm back under the covers.
I carefully opened the Twins door, and went to check on both of them. Both fast asleep in identical beds.
“Good night girls I said softly and headed back to my own bedroom. Correction. Our, bedroom.
I had seen the bedroom in Eve’s video of the house, so it was that strange, you know where you are feeling. On the bed with his head poking out was Fred. On top was a long black satin chemise nightie and little panties. At home I use to sleep in the nude. But that was not happening here!
I took it into the en-suite bathroom and closed the door and undressed. At some point I would do this with John around, but not yet. I took off my make-up and went through my night time regime and put on my new nightie, and then. Listening at the door, went back into the bedroom. John was not up yet and I popped into bed on the left side holding Fred, so I could lay on my left side and not be facing John.
John was standing in the doorway. I nodded and said I was. John slipped into the en-suite and closed the door. When he came back out he had only the bottoms of his pyjamas on.
“You don’t mind do you?” He asked quietly. “I can’t sleep wearing the jacket.”
“No, it’s ok.” I told him looking over my shoulder to him.
He nodded and got in the bed.
“I didn’t know which side you sleep on, is that side ok.
No. this is fine. I sleep this side.”
A gentle poking woke me in the small hours. When I opened my eyes I saw Em slowly pulling her hand back. She looked a little frightened. Without thinking I pulled the duvet back and moved across to the centre of the bed, trying not to jump when my back came up against John’s back. My satin chemise nightie had two straps crossing my back leaving it mostly naked and now I could feel his warm naked back against mine. I prayed he did not wake up.
Em needed no other invitation and scrambled in up against me, and I pulled the duvet back over her.
“Here, why don’t you give Fred a cuddle. He’s feeling a bit lonely.”
I reached over and put Fred in her arms and felt her embrace him in a cuddle. My left arm was under her waist. I wrapped my right arm over her my right hand holding my left. I felt Em snuggle back against me. Soon I could feel her breathing settle as she fell asleep while I stayed wide awake hyper sensitive to John’s back against mine.
Sleep seemed to be a long time coming, but after all that time in the hospital and early morning starts with cleaners starting at six. I was awake at that time to find Em still in my arms cuddling Fred. The space behind me was empty and our bathroom door open to show John was not in there. Sometime during the night Henry had joined us too and was curled up against Em. I stroked him getting a purr and sleepy eyed look before he closed his eyes and settled back to sleep.
I slid my arm from under Em, careful not to wake her and got up and put my nighties matching robe on, as well as my black high-heeled mules that I use to live in at home. They were under the chair my robe was on. I had seen the robe last night, but not my mules under the boudoir chair by my side of the bed. But I was tired and nervous at the time.
John was at the round table, dressed and eating toast. He looked up surprised and smiled
“Hello, you’re up early. It’s only six.”
“Well, hospitals, you know… early starts and all that.”
I bent and fussed Nelson who was keeping a close eye on John’s toast. John gave him half an unfinished triangle. Which Nelson wolfed down.
“Yes, of course…Do you want some toast?” He said nodding and started to get up. “
“Sit, I can make toast. Tea or coffee?”
We sat down, John with a fresh cup of tea, me with tea and toast. I asked what time the girls got up and what they had for breakfast.
“Well at the week-end I do a fry-up for us. To be honest, mum gets here at seven and I go off to the farm with dad. She gets the girls up and feeds them. Toast and cornflakes, I guess.”
We were talking when Evie pulled up outside.
“I thought I would come and not drop you in at the deep end. Tomorrow you can decide if you want this old lady to come up.”
“I’m glad, as this one is not sure when or what his girls have for breakfast.” I said grinning.
“Men.” Evie said back, “And I know what you are doing, John Farmer.” Knowing her son was pulling a face behind her.
It was one of the pleasures of life, when I went up-stairs and went into the bedroom and gently woke Em up.
“Time to get up sweetheart.”
The look of wonder on her face at seeing me was like the suns rise on a summer’s morning. She shot up and hugged me.
We sat for a moment.
“Come on missy. Time to get up and I have to wake up your sisters.”
I got up and Em bounced out of bed. I kissed her head and she bounced off to her room. The Twins were half wake, or Lizzy was. She got up and gave me a hug, then raced across the bedroom to jump onto her sister’s bed.
“Wake up, lazy. Mum says it’s time to get up.”
“Whha. Mum? Mum!”
Eve struggled out of bed, pushing her sister off and came and hugged me too.
“I could get use to this every morning.”
The girls giggled.
Evie looked at the three girls round the table eating corn flakes with cold milk just the way I had them. Which made me smile as I put a pile of buttered toast on the table for them.
“Normally it is grizzles and grumps and not wanting to get up in the morning.” She turned to me pleased. “Shall I drive us in today. I have a hair appointment as well.”
I grinned and gave her a hug. “Thank-you. Please.”
Evie stayed in the car as the girls dragged me through the school gate to meet their teachers. Who they proudly told I was their mum. I was surprised they did not seem surprised until I found out they were both new to the school that term and only knew I had been seriously ill in hospital.
To be continued
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