Fratricide

FRATRICIDE

By Rhayna Tera, copyright 2020

Warning: If you don't like reading transgender or related fiction, then stop reading now.

Author's Note: Many inspirations but especially the following gems: "In Blood Only" (2019) and "I Am The GOAT" (2017), both by Sarah Goodwoman, and "The Prodigy and Me" (2019), by Commentator. And a curtsy to Jennifer Adams.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

RT

JULY -- SUNDAY MID-AFTERNOON

Paul sat at his usual place, at the head of the dining room table. His wife Claire sat to his right, and his daughter Kim to his left. His son Greg sat at the other end of the table. It was 2:30 pm, too late for lunch and far too early for supper.

All eyes were on Kim; she had summoned them to a family meeting.

Everyone in Paul's family had the right to summon the others on the condition that the matter was significant and merited the participation, contribution, or knowledge of everyone. Paul and Claire had been philosophy and political science majors at university; they had encouraged involvement and teamwork within their own home.

They had just taken their first ever week-long vacation without their children after 18 years of raising them. Mature and sensible Greg had turned 18 a month ago, and Kim was a clever albeit immature 14-year old. Their parents had felt confident in their children's ability to manage one week without parental supervision.

Paul and Claire had come home happy. They had not been home for more than two minutes when Kim had rung the singing bowl to summon them all. Not yet unpacked, not yet freshened up in the bathroom, not yet having a tea in hand, Paul and Claire were somewhat anxious about Kim's insistence that the family meeting occur immediately, without any delay. Kim's parents looked at her with inviting but puzzled faces. Greg's expression was grimly blank.

Paul started. "Well, Kim. You called this meeting, and your mom and I have to assume that you have a good reason to do so. What's up?"

-----000-----

Kim's face suggested only one adjective: serious. Kim sat staring at her hands, which rested on the edge of table. Her fingernails were bright pink and matched her lipstick. Kim began in a soft, measured voice. Her parents and their curiosity leaned toward her.

"Dad. Mom. I will never talk to Greg again. I do not and will never trust Greg again. I will never be left alone with him again. Not for a week, a day, an hour, a minute. Never."

Paul and Claire's eyes widened as Kim slowly spoke. They glanced at Greg, who was frozen in his chair. The parents scrutinized Kim, who displayed focused calm. This announcement wasn't the sweet homecoming they had been expecting.

"I would ask that you please immediately arrange for him and me to live apart from each other. If you don't, then I'll find my own way to live apart from him; I'll leave this house and never come back. I want nothing to do with him ever again. I am not going to speak of any of this anymore. My position is unchangeable."

Kim sat back, put her hands in her lap, and stared at them.

Claire was horrified.

Paul seemed both angry and confused.

Greg merely glared daggers at his sister.

-----000-----

Paul studied his daughter's face. This was not play-acting. She showed genuine sincerity and honesty as she spoke. Her eyes betrayed a wound, a deep wound.

Claire was stunned. "Kim, where is this coming from? What happened this past week that gets you saying stuff like this?" Claire glanced at her son. He did not move; he simply stared at Kim. "Did Greg do something to you?" she asked Kim carefully.

Paul remained silent; his eyes narrowed as they now bore onto his son's face. "Greg," Paul said very quietly, "come with me." The devoted husband and father walked out to the backdoor, turned back, and waited for his son.

Greg slowly got up and backed toward Paul. Greg's eyes hardly left Kim's face. He suddenly turned and walked out the backdoor. They went into the backyard.

-----000-----

Claire stared at her daughter who looked fine, healthy, and, well, normal. "Kim, they're gone now. It's just us here. Tell me, please, what's wrong, sweetie?" Silence.

Claire moved next to Kim and wrapped her arms around Kim's shoulders. "Please, sweetie, speak to me." Silence.

No: a whimper; then another; and then more. She's scared, Claire thought. And the collapse began. Claire saw Kim's eyes turn red and teary, and could feel her faster, shallower breathing.

"Look at me, sweetie," she said more forcefully. Kim looked at her.

"Kim, did Greg touch you?"

Kim's body started to tremble. More tears. More whimpering. But no answer. Claire breathed deeply. "That's it. Upstairs to my bedroom."

-----000-----

Paul cornered his son between the shed and the cedars. Greg was a strong, growing 18-year old young man. But his father was a 45-year old muscular construction worker, much bigger and much more powerful than his son. Paul was also a firm believer that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line.

"What happened?" Paul's tone was unmistakably aggressive.

"I dunno."

"What fucking happened?"

"Like I said, I don't know. You and mommy went away. Kim and I stayed here. TV. Games. No one came over. Tanned in the yard. I dunno what's with her." Greg's eyes darted to and fro, everywhere except into Paul's eyes. Greg's voice wavered and was rife with diffidence.

Paul knew his son was uncharacteristically squirming. Paul took a bold step toward him, into Greg's personal space. Greg backed up nervously and hit the shed; he could not run away. Paul persisted in his interrogation. But Greg continued his equivocations and deflections.

Paul now knew that Greg was lying, and now believed that Greg knew of the cause --- or himself had caused --- Kim's obvious stress.

"Go to the basement TV room, sit down, and don't you dare fucking move." Paul's stern order was coupled to the most menacing look any child had ever seen or could dread.

-----000-----

Claire took Kim by the hand and, once upstairs, closed the door. She led her daughter to the bed, and they sat.

Claire tried and tried to get Kim to explain herself. Kim remained emotional but would not speak; she stayed silent. Claire asked about the entire past week. No responses. Kim wept, her body shaking. But she said nothing. Claire was becoming frustrated and angry, not at Kim, but at the mystery.

"Kim, I want to look at you naked. Now. Take all of your clothes off."

She had to help Kim undress. Kim awkwardly unbuttoned her blouse. Her fingers fumbled over the pants' belt, button, and zipper flap. She almost lost her balance dropping the pants. She removed her bra after several clumsy attempts. Claire wondered whether Kim was suffering some diminished motor control. Drugs?

The child stood naked in front of her mother. No bruises, no welts, no markings: nothing.

"Let's get you dressed, sweetie," Claire instructed. "I'm going to go downstairs for a moment. I want you to stay here on my bed." She left and closed the door.

-----000-----

Claire and Paul stood by the kitchen fridge. She grabbed a glass of water, hoping it would imbue her with some insight into her children's tension; she desperately wanted a stiff drink. His eyes scanned left, scanned right, looking for something, some clue, that would shed light on Kim's ultimatum and Greg's evasion.

They spoke freely, comparing their children's stories. Understanding eluded the parents. They recognized the immediate imperative to continue investigating. Claire would take Kim to Kim's bedroom. Paul would take Greg to Greg's.

"Greg!" Paul shouted down the stairs. "Come up right now!" His son came and they went upstairs into Greg's room. Paul closed the door.

Claire was already upstairs to lead Kim into hers; Claire closed the door.

-----000-----

"Sit on the bed." Again, Paul's tone was unmistakable. Greg immediately sat. Paul looked around the room. Greg looked nervous. "What's that shit? Paul asked, seeing several plastic bags under Greg's bed.

"Nothing!" Greg said far too hastily.

Paul emptied the bags onto the floor. An infant girl's pink romper. A toddler's floral T-shirt with a suspender skirt, and some other toddler clothing. Some young girl's skirts and various shirts, suitable for elementary school. Diapers, several packages of diapers. And lots of clothing that appeared to be Kim's.

Paul's eyes bore into Greg as though his son was a freak or a monstrosity. Paul spied a couple of receipts. They were for the several purchases of the things on the floor; all the purchases were made during the past week.

"What the fuck were you doing when we were gone?"

Greg's face showed pure fear; given Paul's dark face, Greg's fear was understandable. But he still remained silent.

-----000-----

There was a knock at the door. Claire opened it: Paul.

"You'd better take a look at the stuff Greg has gotten this week. Some of it he bought. Some he seems to have gotten from this room. Do you mind if I talk to Kim for a minute, please?" Puzzled, Claire went down the hall to Greg's room. Paul sat next to Kim on the bed.

His daughter was normally a cheeky little brat. Juvenile. Crafty. Cheery. But not serious, not deliberate, and definitely not terrified of her older brother. He smiled at her. She looked up at him and tried not to cry.

Claire's clear scream --- "What the fuck???!!!" --- streaked from Greg's room, down the hallway, and into Kim's room. Greg's bedroom door then slammed shut. Consequently, Paul could hear his wife's loud but muffled cursing and his son's occasional muted replies.

"Kim," Paul gently said, "there's quite a bit of girl's clothing in your brother's room. Do you know anything about it?" He stroked her hair.

Kim nodded and wept.

"Tell me, Kim." Paul smiled and raised his eyebrows to encourage her.

-----000-----

There was a knock at the door. Claire opened it: Paul and Kim. Paul nudged Kim toward Claire: "Stay by your mom". Husband and wife exchanged glances. She was curious. He was incredibly determined. She deferred.

"Greg." Paul's voice cracked across the room. Greg got off the bed and stood next to it; his breathing was rapid and shallow. "Greg, Kim's told me an incredible story. It's all about betrayal." Claire's eyes widened; Paul's face was super-grim.

"Greg, you and I went backpacking a month ago. What happened the second night, when we tented at Sawyer Pond?" Silence.

Paul pursed his lips. He turned to Kim. He warmly smiled at her. "Tell me, Kim, what happened at Sawyer Pond the second night?"

A whimper, A tear. An answer: "A chipmunk got into your pack. You'd forgotten to take the trail mix out. We shared mine the rest of the trip." A sniffle.

Claire's jaw dropped.

Paul stood inches from Greg and calmly, given the circumstances, asked him a question:

"Kim, where's the fucking magic necklace?"

JULY -- SUNDAY EARLY EVENING

Only Paul's threats of brutal, physical violence instigated the confession.

And the magic necklace, in a plastic bag, now lay at the centre of the table.

A week ago, the family had sat at that table and had enjoyed a meal together.

Now, a horror within had been exposed, and the family --- as once it had been --- was destroyed.

-----000-----

Kim (Kim-in-Greg's-body) had confessed.

"I'd found a cheap looking necklace in a gutter by a garbage can at the mall several weeks ago. I discovered that it could alter my body, like larger breasts, better teeth, be taller or shorter, and stuff like that. Then I had discovered that it could completely change my body; I could look like mom just by using her clothing. I could even look like a nurse on the wrapping of the Halloween party costume. It was cool." Kim sniffled as she told her story.

"I made a mistake. I hated, resented, Greg being in charge. I loathed always being compared to him; you always compare me to him! Yes, I was jealous of him and his relative freedom."

Paul and Claire sat astounded. That Kim would eventually grow out of these emotions (and that Greg would soon depart for university) was beyond the 14-year old's limited vision. Accordingly, Kim had planned to be the one left in charge when their parents went on vacation.

"When you left Saturday, I put two of mommy's sleeping pills in his supper. Once he passed out, I switched bodies with him." Kim then recounted how, Sunday, Greg had awoken startled: a) he was a 14-year old girl (Greg-in-Kim' s-body); and b) his old face (Kim-in-Greg's-body) was sneering at him.

Kim sniffled again. "I made him do stuff." She said nothing after "stuff".

Paul pressed her hard to explain what she meant. It had gotten worse. Bigger, strong, faster male Kim immediately started making smaller, weaker, slower female Greg's life an abusive hell. Cleaning the house and doing miscellaneous chores that first day was tame. And Kim had kept Greg busy, too busy to calm himself and too busy to rationalize his ordeal.

And then Kim had used the necklace again, and Greg had become a 7-year old schoolgirl. More abuse. Then Rapunzel. More abuse. Then a baby. And it continued: Tiana, Mulan, a baby again, a 5-year old ballerina, and so on. As did the abuse. Each change throughout the week contributed to Greg's utter terror of his sister. Kim reduced Greg's confident, young male psyche into blithering mush.

"I told him that if he told you, then I would turn him into a baby and drop him off at an orphanage and throw away the necklace." Under further pressure, she confessed that, alternatively, she would change Greg into Maria, their neighbor's Mexican cleaning lady, and cause him to be deported.

And Kim had admitted --- to her father, to her mother, and to her brother --- that she had enjoyed watching and imposing Greg's subordination and humiliation.

The family might have survived all of the above.

-----000-----

But it could not survive Kim's most despicable, callous, vicious act.

"Friday morning, I transformed myself into Heavy Helmut, the WrestleMania brawler. I turned Greg into Mary." Mary was their cousin, a petite, blue-eyed, 18-year old brunette.

"I had intercourse with him." Kim spoke quietly. Shame filled the room.

Claire sat back, shocked into silence. Paul pressed for more. Kim had raped Greg. Repeatedly. Vaginally. Orally. Anally. All day Friday and Saturday. And Sunday morning too. Just hours ago. Here, in this house, in these three bedrooms.

"To see what it would be like," Kim murmured in explanation to her astonished parents.

Claire wailed, grabbed her son (in Kim's body) who was now sobbing uncontrollably, and led him upstairs.

-----000-----

Paul stared at Kim. How could this have happened, he wondered. Where had he and Claire gone wrong?

There had been love under the roof. The kids had never wanted for anything. They had seemed to get along, subject to the normal brother-sister banter and teasing. What had they not seen, not known, of Kim? Impetuous occasionally, yes; she was but 14. Emotional? Of course, for hormones raced through her young adolescent body. But so vindictive, abusive, sadistic?

His wife and ... Greg were upstairs.

Claire, Paul thought, would be forever devastated that her pride and joy could commit such a shocking crime against a woman. Kim had but a year ago walked with Claire in protests against systemic misogyny, against racism, and against fascism. Claire, with his support and from time to time Greg's, had nudged and guided Kim into modern womanhood: to consider oneself empowered and to combat oppressive gender norms. Paul did not consider it conceivable that Claire could have failed in this instruction.

Paul wanted a smoke.

Greg, Paul thought, had just cause to insist upon separation. Paul could not envision any circumstance in which Kim and Greg lived under the same roof --- or even associated with each other in any way. No matter the skin Greg lived in (which Paul now knew could occur), it would require super-human effort to the point of god-like ability for Greg to forgive Kim. Paul was honest with himself; he probably wouldn't be able to either.

Paul was honest with himself; he wanted to smash the fuck out of Kim.

He was also pragmatic; there had to be a better solution.

So, Paul thought, were could Greg go from here? To stay in Kim's body, a constant reminder of his torturer and rapist? Impossible. To return to his body? Unlikely given that Kim had inflicted significant trauma upon Greg while she was in that body. To live under this roof and daily see the rooms in which he had suffered a nightmare of sexual assault?

He continued to stare at Kim.

This one, Paul thought, was no longer part of the family. It would not matter how she looked; the three others had seen the monster within. Paul shook his head in the immutable knowledge that his daughter had already died, after killing in many intangible ways his son, her brother. And a little switch went off in his head and he would never look at Greg's body as being a family member ever again.

Paul knew that Claire would linger in constant anguish, haunted by her self-perception of her failing as a mother.

Paul knew that Greg would live with the scars of the violations for years to come. Such memories could not be undone by sunshine and rainbows, nor hugs and kisses.

Paul felt this unjust. Accordingly, he came swiftly to the conclusion that Kim would pay. He stared at his daughter in his son's body.

"I'm gonna make you an offer," he began.

NOVEMBER -- THANKSGIVING

The new house still smelled. Off-gassing from the carpets and the oil-stained oak flooring. And the paint; don't forget the paint. The developer guaranteed satisfaction, and there was little cause for dissatisfaction. The kitchen was spacious and well-windowed. The large living space accommodated the new dining room table. Each generously sized bedroom had its own walk-in closet and 4-piece bathroom.

After careful reflection and much discussion with his parents, Greg had decided to remain female. To return to Greg's body was not an option. To be any other male would remind him that he had once been Greg. A radical difference, a bold new start: these were necessary and sensible. Not in Kim's body. Not in Mary's body.

Claire had spotted a pretty 15-year old girl trying on a dress at a store. The girl put the dress back on the rack. Claire had immediately purchased it and taken it home. Greg trusted his mother and closed his eyes. He woke up in the body of an attractive, somewhat athletic-looking, tall girl with raven hair. He instantly felt more peaceful; this was a measurable new start to his new life. So was his new school, and his new friends.

Paul and Claire applied to change their daughter's name from Kim to Darlene. Greg had picked it. Thus, Darlene went to her new school with her new friends. And Paul and Claire could cogently argue that Darlene was simply Kim after the early onset of puberty: Kim's body and Darlene's were 'same, same, but different'.

Greg before becoming Darlene had sat expressionless when his parents informed him that Kim --- in an 18-year old male body --- had run away. "I don't care," he said. He and later Darlene never spoke of Kim again.

Claire had cried for days upon learning from Paul that Kim had vanished, run away. Kim's farewell letter was filled with apologies. It also plainly stated that Kim had judged herself unworthy to remain in the family. It also expressed that, should she, Kim, one day, ever return, it would be in a most penitent, humble manner.

Kim's farewell otherwise exuded finality. So, Claire resolved to remember the good Kim, the cheery Kim, her precious Kim. The monster Kim had been eventually receded into the to-be-forgotten crevices in Claire's memory. Such emotions assuaged her mind to contemplate welcoming, one day, Kim back should she ever return.

-----000-----

"Mom, this turkey is delicious!" Darlene said as she finished a piece of dark meat.

"It's your stuffing that puts it over the top, my dear," Claire replied.

Paul took a mouthful of garlic potatoes. He spread some butter on the remainder on his plate. He had never found mashed potatoes to be appetizing until he had tasted Claire's laden with garlic. "They taste great, Claire," he said. He looked at her with as much love as he had when they married. And he glanced at Darlene with the same degree of fatherly love that he had accorded Greg before the summer and Kim before...

He snapped his fingers.

Claire chided him, "Stop it. Don't do it at the table."

He grinned back at her, took a piece of chicken breast, and gave it to the Maltese dog sitting obediently at his feet. The dog very gently took the meat from his hand, ate the meat, looked up to him, and slavishly licked Paul's lowered hand.

"Good girl," Paul said affectionately to the dog, "my beautiful little girl."

END

By Rhayna Tera, copyright 2020



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