He grinned at me. “I must say, that you look very hot and sexy in that mini-dress”
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 Nineteen
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.”
And now as they say, read on…
After dropping the girls off, it was a short distance back up the South road to the hair salon. Once out of school lane we only had to go past St Bartholomew Church and the vicarage on the right before crossing over the bridge over the river Beck and straight after it turn right, down the narrow lane beside Rosemary’s Hair Salon. In a former life long ago the hair salon was a small grocers shop and in effect the front room of Rosemary’s house. Evie parked beside the salon.
Melissa took twice as long with my hair as Rosemary did with Evie’s. But I did have to have new extensions added and cut and dyed beach blonde again, and for some reason I think Melissa rather likes playing with my hair. I have spent too little time as a woman in the real world to object and stop her from letting her creative juices flow on my hair. But I do not mind. I like Melissa. Evie really had become even before I went into hospital my surrogate mother, Trish my surrogate Aunt, and Melissa and Zoey my friends. I think Evie came more so today so I did not think about the last time I was here, which was with Mother, than any other reason. She and Rosemary chatted away until her next client arrived.
When we left, Evie touched my arm. “Do you want to drive?”
I wondered why, and then guessed Evie was trying to attain as subtlety as possible if I was safe enough to be left to take and collect the girls from school. Which made me smile a little. I was not offended. She was only making sure her girls were safe. The lane beside Rosemary’s is quite narrow with the river bank on the other side. Rosemary has allowed for this by setting the gates back to her parking space at the end of her garden, so customers can pull in and reverse back onto the lane facing the right direction. After pulling out of the lane I had to stop by Dickinson Motor Engineers opposite Rosemary’s as we waited at the level crossing for the gates to open. A glance at my watch showed it would be the eleven a clock to Guildford and London that we were waiting for.
The Dickinson garage looks like one of those country garages that went bust years ago. Fading peeling paint on the wood work. They had two long disused petrol pumps against the building, both rusting away. One from the sixties and the other one must have been from either the nineteen twenties or thirties and one of the first ever made. It still had a worn wooden pump handle on it. The front of the wooden building had three pair’s domestic garage doors followed by a big glass showroom window. Except the glass window had such a thick coating of dust on the inside that made it hard to see it was now used as a parts store.
Glancing over at the garage. I told Evie.
“I’ll have to take my car into them and get her M.O.T. done. It was due a couple of months ago.”
Baby would need her m.o.t. too, but not at the Dickinson’s. I would be too embarrassed to take her there. The Dickinson’s business has two sides to it. On one part, they looked after the local cars and vans and farm pick-ups brought into them to have work done on them or have their m.o.t’s done. But they also have a busy trade servicing classic Lamborghinis, up to and including the early Murcielago’s.
And that is my problem. Baby, is an Mk2 Toyota MR2 with adapted bodywork to turn the outsides into a Murcielago. It is not that I wanted to pretend I had a Lambo. Just one second of hearing the engine with tell you it is a fake. But I just love the shape, especially her rear end, which is beautiful.
“They’ve already been done.”
“What!” I turned to look at Evie.
“When the council wanted the bungalow back, your sister had just had the road tax form for your Mercedes come in the post. Her husband found the cars paperwork and found they both needed to have their M.O.T. done. So John thought it would be easier for the time being to just put the cars on the farms insurance and sort out everything later. Your sister was using the Mercedes and John brought your sports car up to the farm and then had the Dickinson’s do whatever was required on both cars, so they would be ready when you woke up.”
Evie laughed. “John said the Dickinson’s asked if he had won the lottery when he drove up in your sports car.”
Evie giggled to herself. “What a pair you two are. He has an overpriced American electric car, and you have a fake Italian sports car.”
I looked at her and said my favourite movie line. “Well, nobody’s perfect.”
Which made her laugh, or though I bet she didn’t get the reference. Although I wasn’t, was I. I had been a girl all along. Even if I did not feel it. It just took nearly forty-seven years to find out truth, and even that was wrong. My birthday had passed while I was in a coma.
Even if everyone acted as if I was in my mid-thirty’s. My real age worried me. I had never paid much attention to my heath, but now I had three girls I had to be around for. When Em was twenty, I would just be in my sixties. All my grandparents died in their early sixties. So did my father. But mother was in her late eighties. So I would have to look after myself if I wanted to be a grandparent myself.
I pulled up at the farmhouse and turned to Evie.
“I don’t know what time John and Johnny come in for lunch.”
“Let’s ring them. It depends where they all are on the farm. There are three farm workers. Clive, Gerry and Barry. It depend where everyone is on the farms. They have a cabin at Apple Tree Farm where they have a fridge with bacon and milk in and a microwave. So if they are close enough they make themselves bacon sandwiches or heat up soup or pies and we don’t see them.”
We moved inside as she called Johnny. I filled the kettle and switched it on. Apart from knowing where the fridge, kettle and bread bin was, I did not really know where anything was in the kitchen. I fussed Henry who rolled over for me to rub his tummy. Nelson was nowhere to be seen. I wondered if he was with John.
“Ok, love. See you tonight.” She turned to me. “Well, that’s where they are. In the cabin.”
Evie went to one cupboard and took out grinning at me a Christmas biscuit tin, pulling the lid off and put it on the table looking in. “If they haven’t eaten them all ready.”
Nelson plodded in from the sitting room, clearly able to sniff out an open cake tin. Looking at us with sorrowful eyes, with his head laid on our laps in turn, before being given a cup cake by Evie. Which he took and flopped down happy on his bed to eat it.
Later Evie left after I promised to have a rest and checking I would be alright collecting the girls from school. Before I did that I went upstairs and made the bed, then checked the girl’s rooms. They were tidier than I had left the master bedroom in this morning. In Emily’s bed with his head on her pillow and her duvet neatly tucked under his chin was Fred. I rubbed his head.
“I think you have a new friend to look after, Fred. I would have liked to have held onto you for a bit longer. But I think Emily needs you more. I’m not abandoning you, but just look after her, will you?”
I got up and smiled at him and went to the twin’s room. John had his girls well trained. The duvets were neatly pulled up to their pillows on the beds. The girls had a floor standing mirror and seeing myself in it I realised I was wearing the same clothes as yesterday. That made me grin. What kind of woman was I wearing the same clothes two days running. I went back and opened my wardrobe to find all my clothes there. Draws in it had my underwear and tights and stockings. My shoes and boots were neatly lined up on the wardrobe floor.
When I went back down stairs I was wearing my suede faun coloured Cavalier boots with chunky four inch heels, sheer nude tights and a red wool knit mini-dress. Oh! and underwear as well, of course. The mini-dress was quite thick and I only ever wore it when the temperature had started to drop. So I hope it will be ok outside today without a coat. It is still warm for September. But you know it is no longer summer. I set the cow shaped kitchen timer for sixty minutes and lay down on the big sofa. Henry came and jumped up beside me purring and nuzzling me before laying down still purring. Nelson plodded in and after a fuss, flopped down on the floor in front of the sofa.
Except I could not rest and in the end got up with half an hour to go. In the kitchen is a key box with a photo of Me! With the twins and John around my bed at the hospital. Em was on the bed with me. Evie must have taken the photo. I did not notice it this morning, I must get her to take another one. Either here in the house or in the garden. So long as the girls are happy in it. As Evie was driving this morning, I did not pick-up any keys as John has put push button door locks on the house doors so the girls cannot lose their keys and lock themselves out. Inside I found the keys for Baby and E220, my 2003 Mercedes E Class station wagon.
The garage was the kind you see advertised in the back of Motor magazines. Rustic wood framed buildings with a long room above the cars with a couple of dormer windows to let the light in. Below was a log store, two open car spaces, and an enclosed garage for two cars. One of the outdoor spaces was empty, with my ageing E220 station wagon in the other. On the side near the house was an outside staircase up to the room over the cars. Under it was a door with another push button lock into the garage itself. Luckily John had stuck with the same number as the house doors so the girls only had one code number to remember.
Inside was Baby, and John’s Tesla model S hooked up to its charger box. Baby had been driven in nose first while the Tesla had been reversed in. which made me smile. Real or fake! It takes time to have confidence reversing a Murcielago. Sitting on the door sill to reverse is an acquired skill not many ever need to have. Baby shone, her dark blue polished to a super shine. I opened up the door and slide myself inside, catching my heels on the sill. I put the key in and turned it to light up the dash, but resisted turning it all the way to start the engine, I smiled seeing she had a full tank of petrol. I will have to thank John later. Then turned everything off and removed the key.
I went back outside and after making sure I had pulled the door closed and it had locked, went and got in E220 and fired her up. The dash clock showed it was time to go. A glance showed she had a tank full of diesel. That was a dirty word that nowadays, but when I got her the government was still encouraging you to buy diesel cars. The tank was full, as I might have guessed. I drove down to the road and for the first time turned left for Mid-Steeping and the school.
Emily had not seen me at first. Maybe at first she had looked for her gran who had always picked them up from school, but then she saw me. I was nearly bowled over by the nearly eight year old as she thudded into me and hugged me. Moments later two more arms enveloped me in a group hug. As I hugged them back and felt the warmth in their love I thought of the price of having this new perfect life. Mother had gone and joined Father. My parents’ home of the last twenty years, mine for the past near eight years was one. In my fantasies since meeting John and the girls, mother was part of the picture I created even if I did not believe it would ever happen. I never had the belief Evie always seemed to have.
Evie had insisted we all eat with her tonight. She had told me tomorrow was soon enough to start cooking for my family. So it was going to be just a sandwich when we got home. Em dashed up to her room to get Fred and bring him down. The twins were about to tease her about him when they saw my face slowly turn to say no. They gave me a rueful grin and stated to tell me about their school day, Emily followed on telling me about her day. I could see their delight in telling me.
I plugged my mp3 player into the speaker in the kitchen and had the Shadows playing as I made sandwiches for us. Which lead to a bit of in prompt dancing from the four of us to Dance On. As the girls sat down, Nelson came into the kitchen on the off chance of a bit of discarded sandwich. Which I am sure he got from the girls. After that the girls were off to the sitting room to watch Blue Peter* on the tv.
“We are going to eat with your Mum tonight. You get to suffer my cooking tomorrow.”
That had the girls laughing. John had just come in and they were crowded around him, wanting to tell him about their day.
“So I guess you want me to go and change, then?” He was looking at me with a grin on his face. “Can I have a cup of tea, first?”
“Go on up and change. I’ll bring you one up.”
He nodded, heading for the stairs, still with a little grin on his face. Quipping, “Slave driver,” as he passed me.
“Ha!” I screwed up the tea towel I was holding and threw it at him, but it unravelled in flight and fell to the floor missing him.
Laughing with a twinkle in his eyes, he looked at me and then as I made for the towel, hurried up the stairs before I could retrieve it and try again. Which had the girls laughing some more as they watched us.
When I went upstairs with his cup of tea, the girls had gone back to the sitting room and were watching the children’s tv programs. John was just coming out of our bathroom as I entered. He had had a quick shower and had put on some chinos on, but still had bare feet and was just putting on a shirt. He grinned at me. I must admit he smelled good.
“Yes. But add socks and shoes, or are you going sailing.”
He grinned at me. “I must say Mrs Farmer, that you look very hot and sexy in that mini-dress and those boots.”
Then he paused, not sure if he had gone too far for me. I hesitated too, not because he had, but because I saw him look unsure. So I was unsure. Then I thought for some reason of Bewitched and Samantha jumping into Darren’s arms in the opening credits. Well I was not going to do that. Instead I went up to him and kissed him on the cheek and gave him his cup of tea.
“Here’s your cup of tea, Casanova. Your mother is expecting us.”
I don’t know why, but as I turned to go away. I looked over my shoulder grinning at him and put a hand on hip as I moved away.
“Oh, no you don’t. If you’re going to walk away like that.” John was laughing. He must have put the tea down as he put an arm around my waist and gently pulled me back to him. I turned and was looking up into his eyes. It was strange having to look up at someone. But it was an exciting strange I had not known before.
“You know I love you very much. But if I ever go to fast for you. Say so, won’t you.” He told me gently. Brushing hair away from my eyes.
I nodded, and then he lent down and kissed me. And I let him.
“Coats, girls. Time to go to grannies.”
As I hustled them away from the tv as they attempted to watch to the last possible moment. I looked back to see John scoop up E220’s keys and head outside. I opened my month to say something and stopped. I was not the man now, was I. I had to get use to being the one who sat in the passenger seat. I was the wife. We went out to the car to find the car running.
As we got in he muttered “women” and sighed, while trying not to laugh. I had nipped up to the bedroom and got my suede car coat that almost matched my boots. I punched him lightly and the girls giggled behind us.
“Seat belts all on?” I asked them.
“Yes!” was yelled back by three happy girls. This was something they clearly did with John as well. They had done it with me when I picked them up after school today.
At Evie’s, the girls and John went to find Johnny in the sitting room. While I went to ask Evie if there was anything I could do to help.
“Get the girls to lay the table, they know what to do.”
I popped my head into the sitting room. “Hi, Pops.” I said to Johnny with a grin. Which the girls thought funny. “Okay, girls. Come and lay the table for Gran.”
Evie took a roast pork joint out of the oven.
“You will have to teach me to cook, Evie.”
She turned to me. “You can cook. I know you can.”
I laughed. “Roast a chicken and potatoes. Boil the veg. make the gravy. I can fry, but that’s about it.”
She looked at me, thinking. “Okay. Tomorrow afternoon we check what is in your fridge and go shopping and cook tea together. How’s that.”
I nodded smiling. “Thanks.”
Evie came over to me, giving me a hug, smiling. “Every mother teaches her daughter to cook.” Then looked at me wondering.
I knew why, like John she was thinking had she gone too far. I hugged her back. “Thanks, Mum.” I said softly. And hugged her tightly.
To be continued
*Blue Peter, is a long running children’s BBC tv program.
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