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With all the jaw dropping that has happened today, I like guess it was inevitable that mine would hit the floor at some time, too…
I look at Kim with an incredulous look on my face and ask with like an even more incredulous tone, “Why would you like even ask something like that? What on earth like gave you that idea? I like have the best parents on earth!”
Kim shakes her head and I can like tell that Day is bewildered, too.
Kim says, “Look Jacie, I’ve been mentally abused and bullied. I know the signs and you are showing them! Now, it was my…mother…that did it to me, so…it sort of is my go-to assumption. I’m like really sorry if I upset you—but I stand by my gut feeling that you are in our club. So…who’s abusing you?”
I shake my head and bite my bottom lip—like almost hard enough that it bleeds.
Day comes over and takes my hands. She forces me to look into her eyes and she says, “Jacie, while I never got the impression that your parents were abusing you, I did get the feeling that there is more to your story than you have let on. I have this tradition of sorts of paying a song for a story—while that may not mean as much to a musical talent like you, I would still like to offer a song in payment for your story—if you would like to tell us.”
Kim is nodding her head like so vigorously that I think it will rattle off her shoulders. She asks, “So I ask again, who is abusing you?”
I look back and forth between them with a sigh. It seems they’re not going to like lighten up…and what’s like one more time?
What? I’ve like told the story so many times that I think I could write a book about it?
What? I should? Like right! Get serious—or go away!
Anyway, I sigh and blush as I say, “You want to know who is abusing me—besides myself, that is?”
Kim sucks in her breath and takes my hand, “You’re not cutting yourself or anything, right? Please tell me you’re not!”
I giggle, “No silly! I like may be certifiably crazy enough to need two shrinks—but I’m like not that crazy!”
She gives me a hug and I sigh again, “You see there’s like this Klingon…”
And I like proceed to tell them the whole story—going back to the original repressed panty event, the bullying at school, and my current recurring nightmare.
I finish with , “I’m dreading going back to school—especially after the whole kidnapping thing. I’m still like not convinced some of the expelled kids weren’t somehow involved. Maybe even some of the kids there now. I have some pretty vocal enemies—like Haley. I like still don’t get it—like I can help how I was born!”
Kim is hugging me tight again and Day hands me a tissue to wipe away the tears that I hadn’t even noticed were flowing.
Day says, “I know how you feel about your fears of going to school, and all—although, Em would probably, again, be the better one to talk to. I wish we could get her out here… I was really lucky going to a music school. The kids there are generally liberal enough that they don’t care. It does surprise me, though, that you’re having issues in San Francisco. I thought that would be the best place in the nation to go to school for a transgendered student.”
I sigh, “I know, right? And by and large, Haley has only been able to gather a fairly small group compared to the number of kids that like support me. Just because we like live in a liberal city doesn’t mean that there like aren’t any bigots around. I just seem to be a magnet to them—and I’m like still not even sure that I am transgendered!”
Kim looks up from her phone where she had been texting and says, “That’s probably what makes it easier for them—you’re not really convinced yourself, so you project that insecurity. Bullies feed on insecurities!”
Day nods, “If you don’t mind my asking, Jacie, what are you not sure about? I struggle myself with whether this is the real me, too. I never considered myself a girl before—at least not that I admitted to myself.”
I nod—I can tell she gets it. I say, “It’s the same with me! I like mean, I must have known—or at least strongly felt—I was a girl when I was like five. But then I like squirreled that away in a galaxy far, far away. I like just…I don’t know…somehow feel more like…me…when I’m Jacie. Does that like make sense?”
Day smiles and says, “Perfect sense!”
I smile back—I now like know she gets it.
What? She’s in exactly the same escape pod as me on this one! We just have no idea what quadrant of space we’re in.
What? Just because I’m dialing back on my Star Trek/Wars for the sake of those that are ignorant in such important matters—including, it like seems, these two here in the room with me—doesn’t mean they’re not still very much a part of me!
A still smiling Day says, “Well, I owe you a song, Jacie. You just pick the place and time—and the song.”
I look at Kim and say, “Well, you heard it, too—so, you’re on the hook, too, right?”
A surprised Kim giggles, “Well, I guess if you put it that way! Why?”
I get a devilish grin on my face and ask, “How would the two of you like to play in the band on Friday. It’s Mitsi’s big Sweet Sixteen party and I’m like in charge of the entertainment. I’ve lost a week and I could sure use some help!”
Day giggles, “Deal! It’ll help pay of some of my debt to her, too!”
Kim yawns and says, “We better get some shut-eye, then! Kate and I plan on having a deep discussion on cosmetics and makeovers—we may even use you girls as our guin… err… subj… err models!”
I shake my head—I didn’t like think there could be anyone in the world as obsessed with makeup as Kate! It like must be a ‘K’ thing!
What? Kate and Kim—both ‘Ks’!
I cover my mouth as I like yawn wide enough to swallow the Death Star…
What? We may have like shut our eyes last night, but that like doesn’t mean we fell asleep right away! And Kim was like the worst chatterer!
Anyway, I look around the well-lit room at Jillie, Kate, Barbs, Sara, and Kim. We’re sitting in Kate’s ‘studio’ and Kim is trying to put her eyes back in after chasing them down the hallway.
What? Oh, she was like surprised to see Kate’s makeup studio. Her parents indulge her, since she plans on pursuing a career in doing makeup and creative cosmetic transformations for movies.
I like guess I was wrong about Kim—she’s like not quite as obsessed as Kate…
What? Mitsi and Day? Well, like Day wanted to catch up with John and Mitsi and they took her to a nearby ballet studio where she could do whatever it is that dancers do—then they’re like going to go to a coffee shop and talk.
What? Yeah, that like gives me the opportunity to plan more on Mitsi’s birthday party with the girls. It’s like a total win-win!
Err…except we’re like now in the mad hands of Kate and Kim!
I look at Kate and say, “Don’t make me look like a whore!”
Kim does a double-take and pales. I stifle my giggle and say, “It like was a joke Kim! What’s the matter?”
She says, “That was what Em said to me the first time I did her makeup—only she wasn’t kidding!”
I suddenly get it and nod, “Yeah… That would have a nightmarish meaning to her… OK, Kate, don’t make me look like a Klingon!”
Everyone giggles at that—including Kim. Somehow, mine is like very hollow, though.
The next three hours like go by in a mixture of giggling, rolling eyes, and frustration.
What? Kim and Sara, the nail queens in the bunch like insist that I learn how to do a ‘decent’ mani-pedi. I’m like not sure that Jillie’s nails will ever be the same!
What? Like, of course, I know they’ll grow back!
Anyway, we like get everything planned out for Friday night. The teacher strike like has no end in sight, so we’ll have plenty of time to get everything set up.
I call Dite and feel a flutter in my heart when she answers. I like don’t notice the hurt in Jillie’s eyes when I’m talking to her.
What? There’s like nothing going on between us!
Dite says, right before we hang up, “Oh, and do not worry, Hon. Uncle Apollo is making sure that there is a heavy security presence there. They will not be able to use this party to hurt us!”
I smile wanly into the phone and say, “Just like make sure that Aristoo leaves out the MSG!”
Dite says, “That is not funny, Jacie! But I will pass it along.”
I hang up and stare at my face in the mirror. Kim had done it and she like has a different style of doing things than Kate. I like can’t ever tell Kate, but I like it! I’ll like have to get Kim to show me more of how she does it before she leaves.
What? I can like mix it in with Kate’s stuff and make it mine.
What? Why do I need my own style of makeup?
Like O!M!G! Go away!
I look at Jillie as Kim finishes up on her and my heart like stops.
I say, “Jillie! You’re like gorgeous! I mean…you’re like always gorgeous, but you could like win Miss Universe!”
She blushes and Kim says, “Kate’s and my styles vary because she’s more into changing people’s looks. Mine is more about enhancing them, which is what’s needed in beauty contests. I think we’ve certainly learned a lot from each other today. I know I have!”
Kate nods and says, “Yes. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s just too bad you live across the country!”
Day walks in with Mitsi right at that moment and hears what was said. She says, “I don’t think that will stop us from seeing each other more often! I know I want to be able to spend more time again with John and Mitsi—and all of you. We’ll find a way to make it work!”
Kate giggles, “Like sure we will!”
She looks at Kim and winks, “More subjects!!!”
Kim giggles as they pull Day and Mitsi into chairs…
I look into Jillie’s eyes and wonder what just happened.
What? The kiss was like great and all—but my foot like didn’t pop!
Jillie knows it, too.
I lean in for another and she gently pushes back. I can like tell that she’s fighting tears.
She says, “Jacie, you know I love you! You know I do! The problem is that I don’t know where your heart is right now.”
OK, so I thought that the broken jaws were like a thing of yesterday. I like sweep up the dust from where it pulverized when it like hit the floor—after I like find my eyes in the next galaxy over.
I sit down heavily in a chair that like happens to be right there behind me.
What? We had snuck out into the living room while Day and Mitsi were having their makeovers.
Once I get my voice back…
What? Yeah, it was like completely gone! Like worse than when my cords were paralyzed!
Anyway, when I find my voice, I gasp, “Jillie! I like have no idea what you’re talking about!”
She shakes her head and can’t stop a tear from running down her cheek—leaving a single black trail behind.
What? Really? You’re worried about why they didn’t use waterproof makeup at a time like this? Really???
She takes a shaky breath and says, “I’ve seen how you like continue to look at Dite—and I heard how you talked to her on the phone just now. How you’ve like been talking to her.”
I go chase my eyes down again—they made it two galaxies over this time.
I also feel my heart get really heavy.
What? No, there really is nothing going on between Dite and me. Dite is way too old for me—and lives in Greece. But…
I like start to protest and Jillie raises a finger and puts it on my lips.
She says, “Look, Jacie. I know you like say there’s like nothing really going on between you. But, if there could be, you wouldn’t mind—right? Don’t answer that—it’s like rhetorical. But, I’m a one girl kind of girl. When you’re ready to commit fully to me I will be there for you. Just let me know when that is…”
And before I can say anything else, she’s out the front door in tears.
What? Why don’t I chase her down? Run after her!? Convince her she’s wrong!?!
I like can’t…
I feel my heart get cold and shatter. Somehow, I’ve like been transported into Frozen and my heart has been frozen in the process.
I don’t think I’ve like ever felt so alone and vulnerable as like right now. The Klingons, the Cardassians, the Borg—even Gio Franco—were nothing compared to my life-long friend, sister, and love sending that shot of ice into my heart.
I sit there and sob…
I look at Rita and sniffle, “Are you sure Jillie is OK?”
Rita smiles and squeezes my hands, “Mitsi and the girls are with her. Now, do you want to tell me what’s going on? This seems more than just a lover’s spat.”
What? Oh, the girls found me sobbing in Kate’s living room and Mitsi called Rita who came straight over.
I shake my head, “It’s your day off, Rita…”
She squeezes my hands, like hard!
I flinch and she says, “Listen to me, young lady—there is no day off when it comes to my patients. There is twice no day off when it comes to my friends.”
I smile, in spite of myself, and then the coldness in my heart brings me back to reality.
I take a deep breath and say, “Jillie thinks I’m in love with Dite instead of her.”
Rita like just nods.
I pick my jaw back up off the floor and almost like shout, “What? You think so, too?”
She smiles and gently squeezes my hand, “It doesn’t matter what I think, Jacie. What do you think?”
I like really dislike her right now!
What? No, not Rita, the person—Rita, the shrink!
I sigh and say, “I…I…I don’t know what I think!”
Rita nods, “OK, that’s a good start, Jacie—admitting that. When did this confusion start?”
I tell her about how the feelings really started growing when we were trapped and wound up having to sleep naked next to each other for warmth.
Rita nods, “And you didn’t feel that way before?”
I shake my head, “No. I always like thought Dite was really cool and nice and all. But I never would have any sort of like…romantic…thoughts about her. I mean, like no more than maybe dreaming about a movie star, or something. That’s like normal, right?”
Rita giggles, “Yes, Jacie. That’s perfectly normal. Infatuation and little day dreams are normal. There are a couple of things here that I need to talk to some others about. There are also some things that I want you to think about.”
I sigh and nod.
What? Here comes the shrink crap!
She smiles and says, “I want you to think hard about if you had to make a choice today or tomorrow about hormones—which would you want? Boy or girl? Think about it like it’s a life or death choice and you have to make that choice.”
I pale and she shakes her head, “It’s academic, Hon. I just need to know how you would choose in that situation.”
I start to answer and she shakes her head, “No! Think about it for a bit. I’ll get back to you later today or tomorrow on that.”
I sigh and nod.
She then says, “OK, then I want you to think about when you started feeling like you do with Aphrodite. I want you to focus on what those feelings are like. I want you to think about how you feel about Jillie. I want you to focus on which feelings are real—and matter to you. You don’t need me on this one, Hon. You just have to be honest with yourself.”
I start to protest again.
She pulls a Jillie and lays a gentle finger on my lips and says, “Be honest with yourself, Hon. Just give Jillie some time to think—until the party, at least. Use that time yourself—and be honest with yourself. I know the answer, Hon. But it won’t help if I give it to you.”
Once again, I scrape my jaw up off the floor.
She smiles, “I know that doesn’t seem fair—that I’m not a good ‘shrink’… You’ll just have to trust me on this one, Love.”
She gives me a hug and motions for Kate to come. She is waiting just outside the door. Rita says, “You need to get her cleaned up. Her Daddy is coming over to pick her up. Something about lessons…”
After I find my eyes and can see again, I scrape my jaw up off the floor again and Kate quietly takes me back to her studio where she strips my face and redoes it—using a lot of Kim’s techniques.
I love the look and the fact that she doesn’t press me. A million thoughts are swirling in my head—but none of them like make any sense, at all. Jillie has abandoned me, Rita has betrayed me, and it’s all my fault when it like comes right down to it.
I can’t get Jillie’s question out of my head, “But, if there could be, you wouldn’t mind—right?”
I also can’t get Rita’s answer out, “Be honest with yourself, Hon.”
Kate breaks through my stupor when she whispers, “I could tell you like the look that Kim gave you.”
As I jump with a new round of guilt, she hugs me from behind with a wink in the mirror, “It’s OK, Jacie! I like it better on you, too! We’ll practice later. I find that doing it gives me a chance to think. Maybe it helps you, too?”
I fight the tears that are threatening to start up and Kate says in mock anger, “Don’t you dare make me do this again, girl!”
Umm… At least I think it’s mock anger!
I like stare out the windshield.
The thoughts are like still swirling in my head. The cotton candy fibers are as scrambled as my thoughts and there is no clear pathway for anything to travel and get somewhere that like makes sense!
What? Like maybe Jillie froze the cotton candy when she froze my heart? Like I don’t know!
I jump as Daddy says, “Jacie! Are you even listening to me?”
I look at him and fight more tears. I take a deep breath and say, “Sorry, Daddy. I guess I like wasn’t really.”
He nods and says, “It will work out with you and Jillie, Hon. You two are way too tight. Taking things beyond ‘just friends’ is always a risk, but being friends when you do can get you through anything. Trust me, Hon, your Momma and I are friends first and lovers second—that makes a huge difference in being able to get through things.”
I sigh and I can like tell that he’s worried that I didn’t even really like react to his reference of him and Momma being lovers.
What? Of course, it’s like gross to think about! What kid wants to like think about that! Like, ewwwwww!
Anyway, he continues at my nod, “OK, like I was saying—if I have your attention now?”
He glances over at me and when I nod again, he says, “Special Agent Jones said they’re still tracking down leads on Gio Franco. Chuck and Rock are chasing down leads of their own—and I actually trust them to come up with something before the FBI. I have no idea what Apollo’s ‘friends’ are up to. All I know is that all of them will be coming together to protect you at Mitsi’s party.”
I quietly nod. I still can’t fully focus on what he’s like saying, but I get enough of it to ask, “So, what’s that like got to do with these mysterious lessons you’re taking me to? And like—for the hundredth time—what are these lessons?”
He smiles, “It’s got nothing to do with the lessons and—for the hundredth time—you’ll find out when we get there.”
I whine, “Daddy!”
But, I can’t help but like to start to focus more on this than my brooding thoughts when I see us enter an unfamiliar part of town.
Daddy pulls up to a house…
What? It’s like just a normal house…
What? Yeah, it’s a nice house and all, but like it’s just a house…
He gets out and motions for me to follow him.
I follow him to the front door where I see a plaque that reads, “Madame Marie Clark – San Francisco School of Voice”
I give Daddy a confused look as he shrugs and rings the doorbell.
The door is almost immediately answered by a middle-aged, very pretty, red-headed woman. Her hair is like curly and to her shoulders and very striking.”
She smiles and says, “Hello, you must be George and Jacie Alexander. Grace Levine has recommended you unheard, other than a cell phone recording, so I have to say I’m intrigued—she doesn’t just do that!”
Daddy says, “Thank you for seeing us Madame Clark. I know your schedule is very full.”
She smiles, “Nonsense! Grace and I go way back—we went through school together before I joined the opera and came out here.”
She ushers us into a nice-looking room that’s set up like a music studio with a piano and sheet music everywhere.
She says, “So, Jacie, I understand you just went through a very traumatic experience that has resulted in some surgery on your vocal cords?”
I nod and say, “Yes, Ma’am. I…seem to have a rather higher voice now.”
She smiles and says, “I’ve had a quick chat with your doctor who has said I should take it a little easy on you for another few days, but there is really no reason not to test your range. Do you mind?”
My heart is like beating a mile a minute! I have no idea what this woman thinks I am—or can do! I don’t know Madame Levine—other than she’s Day’s adoptive mother and the head of the most famous K-12 music school in the States. Even I have like heard of it.
I shrug and say, “Madame Clark, I’m not sure what that like even means, to be honest. I was pulled into singing for a band a while back—even though I like don’t really think that I’m all that good. Sure, I used to like sing in the shower, but that’s like all there is to my singing!”
She smiles and pats me on the hand as she says, “Why don’t you let me hear you then we’ll go from there?”
I feel my face turn red—my heart may like still be frozen, but I feel a heat start to burn in it.
What? I like hate being patronized!
She seemingly ignorantly smiles and asks, “So… Is there anything you would like to sing?”
Daddy looks at me harshly and says, “Jacie, let’s not waste Madame Clark’s time, OK?”
I feel the heat get hotter.
“What about my time?”
Wait! Err… I didn’t say that out loud? Right?
There’s like no reaction from either of them, so I guess I’m like OK.
I sigh and say, “They’re your ears, Madame. I don’t care what I sing—what would you like to hear. Assuming I know it?”
She nods and says, “Do you know ‘Angel of Music’ from ‘Phantom of the Opera’?”
I chase my eyes out the door!
She wants me to sing opera?
What? Of course, I know it’s not really opera—but…
I sigh, “I like know of the song, Ma’am. I like mean I’ve heard it, but I don’t know it—not enough to sing it!”
She nods with a smile, then hands me some sheet music.
I stare at it like it’s a snake ready to bite me.
What? I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with it! That’s for like the musicians!
She gives me a look and like states more than asks, “You don’t read music? We’ll have to remedy that. If I play the music, do you think you could sing along—you have the words on the sheet music. Here, let me play you a version with Emmy Rossum singing it…”
She starts the music on an expensive surround sound system and I’m immersed in the sky-high notes of the song.
My heart softens as I think of Jillie while the music is playing—it envelopes me. Suddenly Christine is Jillie in my mind and I want her more than the Phantom. I know that I would never think of Dite in that way.
The music stops and I take the tissue that Madame Clark hands me to gently wipe the tears from my eyes.
She smiles, “Yes, it’s very powerful music. From what I’m told, you should be able to do it justice.”
I feel myself like shivering and blurt out, “I could never sing like that!”
She takes my hands and says, “Look, Jacie, I know you’re thinking I’m being patronizing, but you really need to let me judge that, OK?”
I feel my face like burn again, but then deflate and say, “OK. Like I said—your ears!”
She smiles and nods. She takes me into a recording booth and hands me some of those big studio headphones. She says, “Here, put these on and pretend there is no one else around. You’re just in the shower singing to yourself, OK? I’ll pull the shades and you won’t be able to see us. You’re not claustrophobic, right?”
I sigh and shake my head. I place the headphones on my head as she pulls the shades and closes the door behind her. I listen as the music starts and pretend I’m floating in space—all alone. It’s peaceful—only the sweet sounds of the music coming through the speakers in my helmet.
I look at the sheet music and like know that I can’t rely on it to tell me when my cue is, since I can’t read it—the guys in the band always like take care of that for me.
I just let my instincts take over and when it feels right, I start singing. I start out low and as I like get more into the song, I sing with more force. The headphones make it hard for me to judge just how soft or loud it is, though. I just have to go off of experience from singing in the band and what it feels like.
When the music fades out, I stand there for a moment—still totally lost in the memory of it.
I reach up and take the headphones off, then come out of the booth. Daddy is sitting there with a stunned look on his face and tears in his eyes. Madame Clark has a smirk on her face.
I shrug—knowing it must have like been terrible!
I sigh, “I like told you I’m no good!”
Madame Clark just shrugs and says, “Jacie, I want you to listen to a different recorded version, then I want you to tell me if you can’t maybe do it more like that rendition, OK?”
I like do my best not to storm out of the room in a huff! What is with this woman! I can’t sing like that! There’s like no way!
So, when I like find myself running home screaming the whole the way, they can’t be like surprised, right?
I blink my eyes and see Daddy looking at me with some sort of strange look in his eyes.
What? Of course, I didn’t like really storm out and run home! Like O!M!G! I have 4-inch stiletto heels on!
I sigh and say, “I’ll like listen, but like Daddy said, I like shouldn’t be wasting your time!”
She smiles, “Humor me!”
She starts the music and I hear the slow, sweet build-up of an angelic voice. It starts out low—almost timid—and builds to a force that I’m sure could shatter glass if pushed a little more. Then it slowly lowers and fades out with the music. It’s like utterly beautiful!
And it’s like utterly preposterous to like even think I could do anything like that!
I shake my head and say, “That was like beautiful. I could never sing anything like that.”
Madame Clark smiles and says, “What if I told you that that girl is as untrained as you—that she hasn’t even begun to reach her potential.”
I shrug and say, “Then I would like feel even more like an idiot for like wasting your time—or that I could ever sing like her. Like if I mean she’ll only get better…”
Madame Clark looks at me and says, “I promise you that you can, Jacie! Do you know how I know that—other than it’s my job to know?”
I sigh. This is like totally bogus! I don’t like know what she wants from me! It’s like Rita—I never know…
Then it hits me! ‘Be honest with myself.’ I know that I could never feel like I just did for Dite—I could only think of Jillie! I feel a weight come off my shoulders. It really is—no was—an infatuation! I’m like sure Rita will put some psycho-spin on it. Something like to do with the kidnapping…
What? I don’t like care! I love Jillie—I know I do! I can look her straight in the eye and say it! I like just have to give her some time to cool off…
I look up in shock. I had like totally zoned out!
Madame Clark asks—I guess again, “Are you listening, Jacie? Do you know how I know?”
I sigh and shake my head. It like doesn’t really matter. I can fix things with Jillie! That’s like what matters!
I feel the familiar bone-numbing dizziness descend on me as I see the black curtain fall before my eyes when it registers what she just said.
What? No, not the question! Duh!
She said, “I know because the girl you were just listening to was you, Jacie. I just recorded…”
That’s all I hear before the total quiet and darkness of space quickly embraces me and I feel myself floating to the floor.
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