SG: Ch 2 Shopping

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The Secret Gift
By Teek
© 2021

Chapter 2
Shopping

After breakfast, Jill and I were told to get dressed in something nice for our visit with Grandma and Grandpa. With her favorite stuffed Koala Bear, Rosie, in hand, Jilly went running off to her room. I followed behind at a much slower pace, but I certainly was excited. Entering my room, I shut the door and locked it.

I got out my school backpack and the box with the dress. I started putting everything from the box into my backpack.

Looking at my teddy bear on the bed, “Just one day with the dress, then I will never wear it again.”

I went over to my teddy bear and turned her upside down on my pillow, “Don’t give me that look. I can to do it. I have to give up the dress so I can stay with Jilly. Otherwise, Mom and Dad will kick me out of the house.”

I had my pajamas off and was halfway done getting dressed when I heard the doorbell ring. Looking over at the backpack and then at my teddy bear, I took a deep breath.

“Jilly, Lewis,” Mom yelled out. “Grandma and Grandpa are here.”

“Lewis,” I heard about five minutes later. “Grandma and Grandpa are waiting for you.”

Coming out into the living room, I instantly heard Jill scream, “Suzy!” As she ran up and hugged me.

“Suzy is it,” Grandma questioned? “My, don’t you look absolutely lovely, Suzy.”

“Lewis Jefferson Morris,” Dad said in his dad voice. “What are you doing in one of Jilly’s dresses. Go get that thing off this instant.”

“That’s not one of Jill’s dresses,” Mom observed.

“No!” Jill said with glee. “It is the dress she got for Christmas. Doesn’t she look so pretty in it? Just like a real princess.”

“Dress he got for Christmas,” Dad questioned? “Lewis didn’t get a dress for Christmas. Lewis, I told you to get that dress off this instant. Get moving or get a whipping.”

“Benjamin Franklin Morris,” Grandma stated loud enough that everyone looked at her. “Your DAUGHTER finally got up enough courage to show you who she really is, and you threaten to give her a whipping. Stop acting like an idiot and go give her a hug.”

“Mom,” Dad retorted! “Lewis is wearing a dress. He is not my daughter. He is my son, and boys do not wear dresses.”

Grandma smiled, “Suzy looks very nice in the dress I gave her for Christmas. Doesn’t she?”

The room was silent, with both Mom and Dad looking right at Grandma.

After a minute of no one saying or doing anything, Grandma took charge, “Suzy and Jilly, go with Grandpa and get in the car. I have some things I want to say to your Daddy.”

As soon as we were out the front door of the house, “Ben, I don’t know how you couldn’t see it, but it was clear as day that Lewis wasn’t a boy. I questioned it before Jilly was born, but there was no question in my mind once she came along. I have given you enough time to figure this out on your own. I have dropped hints for years in hopes that you would see it on your own. Apparently, you are too much of a dunce to get it without someone saying it straight to your face. You have two daughters. I don’t know who named her, but Suzy is a lovely young lady who deserves your love and respect.”

“I named her,” Jilly proudly said to Grandpa as we were ushered into the car.

“I am taking the girls now for a day out shopping and playing. I will bring them back after dinner. When you see Suzy again, I expect you to be the loving, respectful parent that I raised you to be. . .” I was unable to hear the rest of Grandma’s comments because Grandpa shut my car door.

“Grandma was mad,” Jilly said as she buckled herself into her booster seat.

“She sure was,” I replied as I looked at Grandpa get into the driver’s seat and strap himself in. “I’ve never heard Grandma yell at Dad like that.”

“Oh,” Grandpa said with a smile. “If you ever do anything wrong, she will let you know it. Your Dad did something wrong, and she was letting him know it.”

“Suzy,” Jilly said. “That is a really pretty dress.”

“Thanks,” I said, blushing and looking down at the dress.

“She is right,” Grandpa said, turning around and looking at the two of us. “You look very beautiful in that dress. You both are gorgeous girls.”

When Grandma entered the car, she turned to us girls, “Okay, that is taken care of. Now, let’s have some fun. Suzy, nice to finally meet you.”

“Hi, Grandma,” I smiled at her.

“That was very brave of you to come out of your room wearing your dress. I am very proud of you.”

“I named her Grandma,” Jill stated. “Susan Morris, Suzy for those that know her.”

Jill reached over and squeezed my hand.

“It is a very nice name Jilly,” Grandma praised. “Does Suzy have a middle name?”

Both Jill and I shook our heads.

“Good,” Grandma responded. “Jilly gave you your first name, your Dad gave you your last, so I think your Mom should give you your middle name. That is for later, though. Today, we get a girls' day out, with Grandpa along as our chauffeur.”

“At your service, ladies,” Grandpa said, bowing his head.

Everyone but Grandpa giggled.

“Where to first,” Grandpa inquired?

“Hmmm,” Grandma pondered. “You remember that little shop in Salmon Creek?”

“That one that you used to take Jessica to when she was little?”

“Yup, that’s the one. I think these two girls definitely need something from that shop.”

I could see Grandpa in the rearview mirror get a big smile on his face as he started the car.

“Where are we going? Where are we going? Where are we going,” Jilly asked, practically bouncing in her seat?

“Now that is a surprise,” Grandma said as she turned to face forward.

It was a bit of a drive, but finally we found ourselves in front of a doll shop.

“You used to take Aunt Jessica here when she was our age,” Jill asked as we headed for the front door?

“Yup,” Grandma smiled down at the little one holding her hand as they walked. “She loved this place. I think you two will too. You can each get one doll and one outfit.”

“Each of us,” I inquired?

“Why certainly,” Grandma replied. “Every girl needs at least one special dolly. Even big twelve-year-old girls.”

I blushed with a growing smile on my face.

When we got in the store, Jill went running off exploring everything. Grandma turned to Grandpa, “Why don’t you go stay with that one. I will stay with this one.”

“Okay, but I’m not as young as I used to be.”

“She’s only eight. You’ll survive.”

“Maybe,” Grandpa said as he went off after Jilly.

I slowly walked through the store, looking at things, but not touching anything. I had learned a long time ago that boys were not supposed to show any interest in such things: no touching, no expressions of emotions, no looking at something too long. Pretend I didn’t like anything. That is what I had to do in stores like this.

Grandma leaned in next to me and whispered, “It is tough letting Suzy out after all these years. No one in here sees a boy. They just see a cute young girl out with their grandma. Now, let that cute girl find a doll she really likes.”

I snuggled up next to Grandma as we wandered around the store. As time went on, I slowly started to show more and more interest in the things on the shelves.

We turned one corner, and I stopped, “Oooooo, look at that one, Grandma.”

A smile was growing on Grandma’s face when I looked at her, “Which one, Suzy?”

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“The ballerina,” I said as I approached it.

Sitting there on the shelf, I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

“Princess Odette from the ballet Swan Lake,” Grandma said. “She certainly is a lovely doll.”

“Swan Lake?”

“It is a very famous ballet. Have you ever been to a ballet performance?”

I shook my head no.

“So,” Grandma said, looking at the doll. “Is that the doll you want?”

Doll2.jpg I nodded my head up and down, and Grandma took one of the boxes next to the display. Then we kept looking around the store. We went over to where they had various outfits for dolls like mine. I picked a set with more ballerina outfits.

“Pretty,” Jill said, coming up to us and looking at my doll and the accessories we found. “She’ll have fun playing with my Barbie Dolls.”

“Remember Jilly,” Grandma said. “This is Suzy’s doll, not yours.”

“I know. I know,” Jill said as she grabbed Grandma’s hand and started dragging her across the store. “I need your help. I can’t decide which doll to get.”

We followed Jill over to a collection of Our Generation Dolls. While Jill explained the problem to Grandma, I looked at the various outfits on the dolls. I tried to imagine myself going off to school in some of the outfits. I knew I would never be able to do that, but it was fun dreaming of such things.

Doll3.jpg Jill and Grandma finally decided on the cooking doll since Jill always liked to cook cookies with Grandma.

During this exchange, Grandma kept looking over at me. She was always smiling at me, but I couldn’t tell what she was thinking about. Jill noticed Grandma’s constant glances over at me. She pulled Grandma down to her level and whispered something in her ear.

“Oh, that is very nice of you Jilly, but no, you can get your dolly. I think you’ll like her,” Grandma said, standing back up and looking at me. “I do like your idea though.”

Doll4.jpg Grandma leaned over and whispered something in Jill’s ear. Jilly responded by jumping up and down and saying yes, several times. I tried to ignore the two and just focused on the dolls in front of me. There was an Our Generation Ballerina Doll that I kept going back to. If I hadn’t already picked a doll, she would probably be the one I would pick.

Grandma came up to me. Wrapping her hands around me as she stood behind me, she said, “Jilly thinks it is unfair that Suzy only got one Christmas present.”

With my eyes still on the dolls in front of me, I replied, “I got a lot more than one present for Christmas.”

“You mean Lewis did,” Grandma corrected.

“Yeah,” I acknowledged. “Lewis got a lot of presents for Christmas.”

“In fact,” Grandma continued. “Suzy got no toys for Christmas.”

“I got this pretty dress, and now I am getting that doll,” I pointed at the doll that Grandpa was now carrying.

“Jilly doesn’t think that is enough. She has offered you her new doll so you can get two dolls instead of one.”

I smiled at my little sister, “She shouldn’t do that. She loves cooking, and she found a doll that loves it too.”

“I agree with you,” Grandma said. “That doll is perfect for her, so she will get it. We both agreed with one thing though. Jill and I agree that you should have more than one doll in your collection.”

“I’m too old for dolls, Grandma.”

“Yeah, right,” Grandma retorted. “I have seen you ever since you walked into this store. You are definitely not too old for dolls. You like that ballerina?”

“Uh-huh.”

“She wasn’t the only doll you were looking at, though. Was she?”

Doll5.jpg I looked over at the other two dolls that I had been looking at. Well, that one has an outfit I really like, and this one has my hair color and the way I would like my hair to be. But holding that bunny and in her pajamas like that, she looks to be six. The Ballerina and the other one look to be more my age.

“So, this is how you want your hair,” Grandma said, going over to the doll holding the bunny. Looking back at me, “Yeah, that would look good on you when you grow out your hair. You still sleep with your teddy bear, so that doesn’t make her a little girl.”

I smiled, thinking about Teddy. I had left her upside down on my bed. I would have to apologize to her when we got back.

“Having a doll that looks the way you want to look is a special treat, so this is a definite possibility for a second doll.”

“No, Grandma,” I objected. “You said Jill and I could get one doll and one accessory. I picked the fancy Ballerina.”

“Okay,” Grandma said, looking over at Grandpa. “I will buy you only one Doll, just like Jilly. I wouldn’t want to go back on my word. But, no one said anything about Grandpa buying his new granddaughter a doll for Christmas.”

“But . . .”

“Do it, Grandpa,” Jill jumped up and down. “Do it.”

Grandpa squeezed his lips together and shook his head back and forth a few times before looking down at Jill, “Okay. How could I say no to such a cute little girl? I will get my new granddaughter a special Christmas present.”

“Jilly,” I huffed. “Mom and Dad always says we are not supposed to take advantage of Grandma and Grandpa. They said one doll each.”

“Did your Daddy say that,” Grandma considered her options? “Then I have a solution. The second doll will be from your Mommy and Daddy for being so mean to you this morning. Yup, that sounds like a great plan. A new dolly is a good apology gift.”

“I’m not going to win this,” I rolled my eyes and faced reality. “Am I?”

“Nope,” Grandpa confirmed. “I learned a long time ago that when Grandma makes up her mind, you will never win.”

Jilly smiled.

Doll6.jpg Grandma went over to the other doll I had been looking at, “That is a nice outfit she is wearing. Yeah, I could see you wearing something like that.”

Looking at the three dolls and then over at me, Grandma smiled. She came back over to me and leaned down to whisper, “Dolls can change clothes.”

I jerked my head towards Grandma as a smile grew on my face.

“What she say,” Jill asked? “What she say?”

I looked at Jill, “Dolls can change clothes.”

Jill nodded her head up and down with a massive smile on her face.

“Now,” Grandma turned back to the dolls on the shelves. “These dolls all look a lot alike, except for their hair. Which hairstyle do you like best?”

I looked over to the doll holding the bunny. Grandma went over and picked it up off the shelf. Then with the help of Jill and Grandma, I picked an outfit pack that had ten changes of clothes for the doll. Grandma also grabbed a one outfit pack that had a ballerina outfit.

After the doll store, we went over to the mall and visited the Claire’s store. Jill and I each got a necklace, bracelet, and hair accessory. After that store, we went back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for lunch.

“Now, Jill,” Grandma said halfway through the meal. “Poor Suzy here has a problem.”

I looked at Jill and then Grandma in confusion.

“She is the only girl I know that has only one outfit to wear,” Grandma explained. “Even her dolls have more outfits to wear than she does.”

“Not good, Grandma,” Jill said with food still in her mouth.

“Grandpa,” Grandma asked? “I do not feel comfortable sending my granddaughter home, knowing that she only has one outfit to wear. I think we need to go clothes shopping.”

“Do I need to take a loan out against the house?” Grandpa said with a chuckle.

“It has been a while since I have had to replace a whole wardrobe at once, but I think I remember how to do it without totally clearing out the savings account. Jessica did have a habit of growing like a weed, causing us to replace most of her wardrobe at once. What was the name of that store, Children 2nd Time Around?”

“I think it was just called, 2nd Time Around,” Grandpa said between bites. “Between there, Walmart, Burlington Coat Factory, and hand-me-downs from older cousins, we managed to get through Jessica’s growth spurts.”

“Older cousins,” Grandma smiled. “Mary is just a little bit taller than Suzy.”

“Do we get to go see Cousin Mary,” Jill asked with added enthusiasm?

“No, not today Jilly,” Grandma said. “Mary went to see her other Grandparents, so she is not in town. But, when she comes back, Suzy might be able to get some hand-me-downs from her. You have gotten a few hand-me-downs from her.”

“Yeah,” Jill said with a smile. “My Christmas dress this year used to be hers.”

“It was a beautiful dress,” I acknowledged.

“Jill, I am taking Suzy clothes shopping this afternoon. You can stay here with Grandpa or you could come with us. If you come, just be aware I am buying Suzy new clothes because she doesn’t have any, not you.”

“Shopping! I’m in.”

“She’s a girl,” Grandpa said. “Did you really think it would go any other way?”

Grandma tilted her head and shrugged her shoulders.

“I’ll help you pick out some cool clothes, Suzy,” Jill beamed.

“Ummm, I don’t want unicorns or princesses on my chest. I’m too old for puffy sleeves and frilly dresses. I’m not six.”

“I’m not six either!” Jill objected. “I’m a big girl. I’m eight!”

“You are a very big girl Jill,” Grandma attempted to stop an argument. “Suzy does have a point, though. This is her shopping for clothes, and she gets to decide what fashion she wants. She’s almost a teen, and they want a different look than kids in 3rd grade.”

“Okay,” Jill dropped her shoulders. “I still want to come. It's clothes shopping.”

“Someone wanted to make cookies,” Grandma interjected. “Why don’t we do that before we go out shopping.”

Jilly bounced in her seat, clapping her hands.

By the time we were done shopping, if I include the outfit I got for Christmas, I had five tops, three skirts, three pants, two sweaters, three dresses, pajamas, some socks, panties, and two pairs of shoes. I wanted new winter gear, but we ran out of time. Grandpa promised me that Mom and Dad would buy me new stuff for the snow. I wasn’t sure about that. I wondered if they would let me keep anything we got today. When I expressed this concern just before Grandpa paid for a bunch of those clothes, Grandma assured me that they would. She said they loved me, and it didn’t matter if I was a boy or a girl. I didn’t believe her, but I wanted to.

Since I got all the new clothes, Jill got to pick where we went for dinner. She wanted a Happy Meal, so off to a McDonalds we went.

I looked in my Happy Meal box and smiled. I didn’t take anything out, I just sat there looking into the box with a smile.

“Suzy,” Grandpa asked? “Something wrong?”

“No, Grandpa. It’s a girl toy! It’s my first girl Happy Meal,” I said, pulling out the toy and just looking at it with a smile.

“Oh, phooey,” Jill stated. “I already have two of those.”

“Yeah, but I don’t,” I said, releasing the toy from its plastic cage. “Hi there. Don’t be scared. You and my dollies will be the only girl toys in my room, but hopefully, I’ll get more. We’ll have fun. You’ll see. Yeah, Daddy may try to throw away all my girl stuff, but you’re small. I’ll hide you when he does that.”

Grandma and Grandpa looked at each other, communicating without saying a word.

We were halfway through the meal when Grandpa interrupted the conversation, “Girls, when we get back to your house, I want you to take all the stuff back to your bedrooms, and I want you two to stay in the bedrooms. Grandma and I will talk to your Mom and Dad.”

“Why,” Jill asked?

Jilly could be so stupid at times. Well, maybe not stupid, but . . . innocent? Yeah, I think that’s the word. She still doesn’t get it. Maybe there really is truth to the statement, ‘You will understand when you’re older.’

I closed my eyes for a second, took a deep breath, and then looked at her, “Jilly, we need to introduce our new dolls to all of your older dolls and stuffies.”

“Oh, okay,” Jill said before stuffing some more fries in her mouth.

I looked at Grandma and Grandpa. They both gave me a weak smile. I knew the end of all of this was approaching fast. I watched Jilly take a few bites, play with her toy a little, and then take a few more bites. Then, it finally hit me. The Christmas gift wasn’t the dress, the dolls, the jewelry, or even the clothes. It was this day. One day as a girl. The only one I would ever get. A tear started to fall. I wiped it away fast before Jilly saw it. Looking around, I realized that Grandma and Grandpa did notice. Grandma reached out and squeezed my hand, giving me another weak smile. I looked at Grandma and mouthed, ‘Thank You.’

Looking over at Jilly, I watched her playing with her Happy Meal toy. She looked more like a little kid than a big 3rd grader. She didn’t understand what was about to happen, and I would do anything to protect her from it. I just couldn’t come up with any way to shield her from it. My baby sister, that word ‘baby’ stood out more as I watched her. She had her new doll on her lap and occasionally fed it a fry before taking a bite. Then she would play with the Happy Meal toy. Unaware of the storm she was about to be in the middle of.

I looked at Grandma, then at Jill. With a jerk of my head and a look over at the play area, Grandma got the message.

“Jilly,” Grandma said. “Why don’t you go play in the play area when you finish eating.”

Jill’s slow eating pace picked up. She was quickly done and running off with her dolly in hand to play.

“She doesn’t understand,” I stated once Jill couldn’t hear us.

“No, she doesn’t,” Grandpa confirmed. “She is just a little girl who still gets lost in make-believe worlds of her own creation.”

“Today’s the only day I get as Suzy, isn’t it?”

“We don’t know that,” Grandma acknowledged. “I watched a girl today have a lot of fun. Not a boy pretending to be a girl, but just a girl. That girl deserves a chance to escape her cage, but your parents hold the key to that cage, not us.”

“We will do what we can,” Grandpa tried to assure me. “We know you are Suzy, trapped in the body of a boy named Lewis. Most people in this world are only going to see the boy. Even among those that see Suzy inside you, many will not accept her.”

“Like Mom and Dad.”

“Don’t give up on them yet,” Grandma said. “They both love you dearly, and I am not going to let them forget that.”

“They love Lewis Jefferson Morris,” I stated. “Not Susan Morris.”

“They technically are the same person,” Grandpa pointed out. “I don’t know why such a sweet girl as you was given the body of a boy, but that does not change the fact that you are a girl. At least, that is what I see. A doctor will need to make the final determination, but I certainly see a girl.”

I looked over at Jill playing on the play structure, “I wish I could protect her from what is coming.”

Grandma reached out again and squeezed my hand, “She is your sister and lives in the same house as you. She is in the middle of this, and nothing can change that. The two of you have a very tight bond for sisters that are four years apart in age.”

“I’d do anything for that little pip-squeak,” I said, looking over at Jilly, who had her dolly in her lap as she went down the slide.

“I suspect she would say the same about you,” Grandma commented.

Grandpa pulled out his phone and started tapping away at it.

“Who you texting Grandpa?”

“Your father, I’m asking him if he is ready to act civilized if I bring his two girls back.”

“Thank you for this one day, Grandma, and you too, Grandpa. I will always cherish these memories.”

Grandpa’s phone pinged.

“What does it say,” I asked?

Grandpa looked at me and then at Grandma.

“She deserves to know,” Grandma said. “Show her.”

Grandpa passed me his phone, and I read the screen, “I am ready for my daughter and my SON to come home.”

After I read it, I passed the phone over to Grandma.

“Well, I guess that says everything,” Grandma said. “Sorry, Suzy. This is not going to be easy.”

The three of us sat there looking at each other in silence. After a few minutes, Grandma’s phone pinged. She took it out of her purse and looked at it.

“And we have the other side of the coin. This one is a bit more promising,” Grandma said, laying her phone down on the table so Grandpa and I could both see it.

The message on the screen said, “I want to meet my daughter.”

“Is that from Mom,” I asked?

“Yes, Suzy.”

“She’s talking about me?”

Both Grandma and Grandpa nodded their heads, yes.

“Well, one of them is at least willing to meet Suzy,” Grandpa commented. “It doesn’t mean she is ready to accept her, but at least this is a step in the right direction.”

“So, what do we do,” Grandma asked?

“That is an excellent question,” Grandpa replied.

Grandma picked up her phone and typed a message into it.

“What did you tell Mom,” I asked?

“Nothing yet,” Grandma said. “I sent a text to Jessica, asking her when she gets back in town.”

By the time Grandma finished this explanation, her phone had pinged again. Looking at it, she said, “Jessica gets back late tonight.”

“Go ahead,” Grandpa said. “It would open up a few options.”

I looked at the two of them in confusion. Grandma looked around and then pressed a few buttons on her phone and put it up to her ear. I also looked around. There was no one else in our corner of the restaurant.

“Hi, Sweetie,” Grandma said into her phone. “There have been some changes in the family, and your stubborn brother is struggling to accept them. . . Lewis appears to be transgender. . . She goes by Suzy. . . Yeah. . . I’m tremendously worried about that. . . Would you be willing to watch Jilly and Suzy tomorrow?”

I looked over at Jilly and then back at Grandma.

“Thanks, Jessica. Sorry to interrupt your visit with the in-laws,” Grandma chuckled at something Jessica said. “She’s right here with me. . . Sure, I’ll do it as soon as I hang up. . . Thanks, see you tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Grandma said, hanging up. “She will watch the girls tomorrow. She wants a picture of you. Is that okay, Suzy?”

I shrugged my shoulders. Grandma held up her phone and told me to smile. After taking the picture, she sent it off to Aunt Jessica. Before deciding our next action, Grandma’s phone pinged, and then it pinged again.

One message was from Aunt Jessica. It said, “She is absolutely adorable.”

The second message was from my Mom, “Can you keep the kids tonight? I am not sure Lewis would be safe here tonight. Ben is mad.”

Grandma looked over at Jill playing and then to Suzy, “Your Mom wants you to stay the night with us. I agree with your Mom. You should spend the night with us. I also know your Dad will not be happy about that decision. Part of me feels there is one more person who deserves a say in all of this. Suzy, what do you think we should do?”

I looked down at the food in front of me. Looking up at Jill, I suddenly didn’t want to be a big kid anymore. Last week I couldn’t wait to be a teenager, but now, I wished I could just go to Mommy and have her make everything all better. In this situation, though, Mom might be part of my problem. Jilly running around the play structure with her dolly looked more appealing than being a big kid. I had no idea what to do.

“I think that may be a bit much for a twelve-year-old,” Grandpa looked at me, concerned. “Maybe we need to ask the question a different way.”

‘Thanks, Grandpa,’ I said in my head.

“Suzy,” Grandpa continued. “What do you want? Tomorrow, who do you want to be, Suzy or Lewis?”

I smiled, “That’s easy, Grandpa. I want to be Suzy tomorrow. Lewis is just a costume. You know how Jilly likes to play dress-up. Lewis is just a costume like the ones she puts on.”

“Well, that settles that. The girls stay with us tonight. We’ll stop at Walmart and get Jill some pajamas, an outfit for tomorrow, and anything else we’ll need, like toothbrushes, as soon as the three of you are settled in for the night. I will head over and talk with Ben,” Grandpa stated before staring straight at me for a bit.

Grandpa picked up his phone and typed a few things into it. It took less than a minute to get a text back. Grandpa had a text conversation back and forth with whoever he was chatting with. Finally, he put his phone down and looked at the two of us, “Actually, prepare the girls for a sleepover with Cousin Mary. Jessica thinks they can be back by 8 pm if they leave now. If things go sideways, I’d prefer Ben not know where the girls are.”

“Ben wouldn’t . . .”

“He has already threatened to give his transgender daughter a whipping just for putting on a dress. I did not teach that boy to whip children. None of our kids were spanked and certainly not whipped. He has had all day to calm down and accept the facts. Instead, he is still mad and refuses to accept that Suzy is a girl. He isn’t even open to a conversation on the topic, so don’t tell me that Ben wouldn’t show up at our house and try to get Suzy,” Grandpa corrected Grandma.

“Okay,” Grandma relented. Turning to me, “Suzy, how hard will it be for Jilly to go to sleep tonight without her favorite stuffed animal?”

I looked over at Jilly, “That will be a challenge. She has done it a few times when her stuffy Rosie got lost. It will be hard, but I think I can get her to sleep. I will need a few things. The PJs we get her will need to be footed blanket sleepers. If I read her a bedtime story, that will help. It would be best if it is the one I started last night. Could we get the American Girl Molly book?”

Grandma picked up her phone sent a question off to Aunt Jessica. The reply was that Cousin Mary had all of the Molly books, and we could use them tonight.

“Jilly will need some sort of stuffed companion,” I said, looking over at Jilly running around with her new dolly. “And I think that will work very well as a replacement.”

Grandma looked where I was and then smiled, “You will make a good Mommy someday.”

“Thanks, but I will be happy to just be the big sister for now.”

We all finished eating and then called Jill over. An excited Jilly jumped up and down when she heard we were having a sleepover with Cousin Mary. At Walmart, Jill got all excited about a blanket sleeper that made her look like a unicorn. The outfit she picked for tomorrow also had a unicorn on it. I was picking up on a particular theme, so I was not surprised when she passed a unicorn headband and begged Grandma to get it. As soon as it passed over the scanner at the register, Jilly put it on her head.

Not once did Jilly ask why we were having a sleepover. She didn’t question why we bought pajamas and an outfit for tomorrow. We lived in the same town, but she didn’t ask why we weren’t going home to get stuff from there for the sleepover. One phrase kept coming to mind, ‘You’ll understand when you get older.’ I am not sure I like understanding. Part of me would prefer to be like Jilly and just accept stuff like this without question. Walking around holding tight onto her dolly and wearing the unicorn horn, I just had to smile at her. I had often been envious of Jilly, but this time, I was jealous that she was still a little kid, living in a world where you can trust the grown-ups to always do what is right.

Back at Grandma’s house, all the new clothes were put in the washing machine. We got to have one of the Christmas cookies we made earlier and packed a few for Cousin Mary. Grandpa had been gone a while, and I wondered how things were going at my house. If I had just waited to put the dress on until we were at Grandma’s house. . .

Grandma had this weird board game called Othello. Jilly and I liked to play it whenever we visited. Jill was good at getting the corner positions, which meant that she won a lot. I sometimes let her win in other games, so it was nice to play a game where I didn’t have to do that.

At 7:45 pm, Grandma came in and told us to put the game away after someone won. It was time to go over to Aunt Jessica’s house.

I was winning, so Jill said, “Okay, game over.”

“Wait a minute,” I objected.

“You heard Grandma. She said we had to put the game away because it was time to go.”

“No, she said AFTER someone wins.”

“Fine,” Jill huffed. “But I still won more games than you.”

“You sure did squirt. You sure did,” I said with a smile.



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