Revenge: A Love Story

For the purposes of this story, only time will help the adhesive come off.

In the hallway of his dorm Todd Rhodes saw the flyer about the party on the Quad and decided to go. He was never that great at socializing, but thought this could be a good opportunity to try, try again. Maybe this time he’d even meet a nice girl. Girls generally did not take much notice of him, and he got very nervous talking to them, but hope springs eternal. He was a pretty nice guy, and could be categorized as mildly nerdy. He was not very large or manly, but, he thought, a girl could certainly do worse than him.

He ambled out to the Quad. The weather was beautiful, the band was playing, and plenty of people were there. To his delight, while he was standing there listening to the band, a pretty girl approached him, stood near him for a bit, and then started a conversation.

“Hey,” she said. “Pretty good music, isn’t it?”

“Oh, uh, yeah,” he said, surprised she had actually talked to him.

“They remind me a little of the Screeching Leeches.”

“I think I’ve heard of them, but I haven’t heard their music.”

“Oh, you’d like them if you like this! It’s so cool that the college puts on parties like this, isn’t it?”

“Yes! It gives people a chance to get outside and, um, socialize. It’s great.”

After a little more small talk, she said, “Hey, I could use a drink. Let’s go over to the drinks table.”

Todd, who would have followed her anywhere, trailed her over to the table, where she got a can of soda. Being very frugal, he asked for water from the pitcher there, and they moved away into the shade of a tree.

“I’m Judy Smythe, by the way,” she said.

“Todd Rhodes.”

She was so engaging and seemed so interested in him that before he knew it he’d told her his major, what his favorite games were, and where his dorm was.

“Hey! Look over there! It’s Cindy Walker!” She waved at someone way across the Quad.

For a while Todd looked where she had pointed, but he couldn’t see anyone waving back, and didn’t know Cindy Walker anyway. He took another drink of his water.

“I guess she couldn’t see me,” said Judy.

Not long after that he told her he had to sit down.

-o0o-

When Todd woke up, he found he was curled up on a couch in the common room of his dorm. He felt really lousy. His head ached, feeling like it was being squeezed in a vise, and his body just didn’t feel right. When he sat up he discovered part of the reason. Looking down, he saw he was dressed in a black, very short, shiny vinyl dress, and he found he was peering down at a realistic-looking cleavage. What the hell? The last thing he recalled was walking to the party on the Quad, and that was it. He had no idea how he’d gotten back to the dorm. The clock on the wall showed 9:35. He’d been asleep for more than twelve hours!! People passing in and out of the room stared at him, but didn’t say anything.

He got up to go to his room and found he was laced into four-inch stilettos. Not equipped to deal with removing them now he tottered into the stairwell, leaning against walls on the way, and somehow made it up to the second floor. At his door he started to pat his pockets for his key, but there were no pockets. Instead there was a tiny clutch purse dangling from one wrist. The key was inside, along with his wallet and a couple of tampons. He attempted to hurry in to use the bathroom, but almost turned an ankle. When he entered the bathroom and tried to take care of business he found his manhood missing, and a vagina in its place. The headache wasn’t helping him process this, and he almost passed out from panic. He was able to pull himself together, drag down some lacy black panties and sit down on the toilet. Somehow, in a way he couldn’t understand, he was still able to pee.

When he was finished and got up to look in the mirror, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The girl looking back at him looked kind of like how he imagined a hooker would look. The makeup wasn’t overdone, exactly, but with the short black sleeveless dress, dark hose and exposed cleavage, the entire picture—to him—said Hooker. He saw his long hair had been cut and styled, his eyebrows had been plucked into delicate arches, and he now had pierced ears and earrings. He looked much more like a girl than he was willing to admit to himself.

This was all giving him a headache on top of the original headache, and he lurched back into the room and sat down, with his head in his hands. After wrestling the stilettos off, he gradually lay down and fell asleep again, hoping this would turn out to be a nightmare.

-o0o-

When Todd woke up again his head felt much better, but he was disappointed to see he was still dressed as before. Deciding the first thing would be to get out of the tight dress he searched around for an opening on the front, belatedly remembering many dresses had back zippers. Contorting himself in ways he didn’t know he was capable of, he managed to get the zipper down enough to grab it from below, got it the rest of the way down and peeled the dress off.

Now he looked down to see realistic-looking breasts in a black bra. He was able to get the bra off, but to his shock and horror found that the breasts would not come off. Pulling on them just hurt his chest. And they were big, maybe a D cup.

“This cannot be happening!” he moaned.

Pulling the panties down a bit, he tried to look past the breasts and examine his groin, but they really were in the way. He could see there was some sort of garment under the panty, but it, too, was glued on, and presented a very flat front.

“How can I go to class like this?” he asked himself.

Getting up he went to his closet and discovered all his clothes were gone. In their place were one sexy pink blouse with a very plunging neckline, with a micro-miniskirt; a kind of sissy dress, for lack of a better word; and a blue nineteen-fifties housewife dress with a full, frilly skirt in a polka-dot print, short sleeves with white cuffs, and a floppy bow at the neck. On the floor was one pair of blue two-inch pumps with a bow at the pointy toe, which color matched the housewife dress. He stood there looking at all of it, his mind spinning in place.

A thought came to him, and he looked in the dresser drawers, only to find the same story. All his clothes were gone, and in their place were panties, a couple of bras and a cincher.

“Who did I piss off? I can’t believe this…”

Since he was starting to feel a little exposed and cold, he managed to get on the fifties dress, as it seemed the least terrible of the choices. The bow at the neck wouldn’t come off.

He had some candy and crackers in his room, so he ate those rather than appear at the dining hall looking as he did. He was just on the edge of a real panic attack, but managed to keep it at bay.

When he finished the crackers he booted up his laptop and looked in horror at the desktop picture, It had been replaced with one of him in his finery, seated next to three other girls, who all had masks on. In the picture he looked dazed, and they were holding him upright, their arms around his waist. This really was not good. Pictures had been taken. Who knows where they could be by now?

Opening his e-mail he found one from his parents. They had apparently been sent pictures, were shocked at his behavior and put the final nail in his coffin.

“You are no son of ours anymore. Our son would never dress like that or even contemplate the sick act depicted. As of this moment you are cut off.”

Todd just sat there, staring at the e-mail. In just hours his life had changed…been destroyed, in ways he wouldn’t have thought possible. He was adrift. His college education was over. His home life was over. He had very little cash on hand, so once the college threw him out, what was he supposed to do?

-o0o-

Megan Novak was sitting in her apartment with her three girlfriends, Mary, Joyce and Lisa, and they were happily recounting to her how they had fixed up the creep, Todd. Joyce, using a fake name, had approached him at the Quad party, slipped a drug into his drink, and then the three of them had gotten him out of there, to Mary’s apartment, and gone to work, having a good time changing him into a not-bad-looking girl. They’d used industrial-strength glue for the breasts and faux vagina, plucked his eyebrows, shaved everything, styled his hair, pierced his ears and painted his nails. While Mary and Joyce worked on him, Lisa took his sizes and met Megan at the local thrift store, where they picked out the clothes for him. Megan really wanted to be involved in that part! They should be as humiliating as possible. They entered his dorm and had taken all his clothes and tossed them into a dumpster. They took a series of pictures of him, including a risqué one involving a sex toy, then had gotten into his laptop and mailed pictures to his parents, and as a parting gift, used one picture for his desktop background. Once that was all done, they left him in the dorm’s common room.

Megan was pleased. This was all her plan for revenge on Todd for raping her. Somehow he’d gotten off with just a warning, and she wanted to punish him. Her peace of mind and sense of security had been shattered. Why not his? She wasn’t ordinarily a vindictive person, but this attack just went too deep, and humiliation seemed like the best course. Her girlfriends assured her they would take care of carrying out the plan. She’d be in the clear. Joyce, the only one he had seen, was heavily made up, and they doubted he’d ever be able to identify her.

“We thought he’d be a lot bigger, from what you said. But he was pretty easy to handle,” said Mary.

That statement gave Megan pause; she remembered him being good-sized, but maybe he had just lost a lot of weight since the rape.

-o0o-

Todd stayed in his room the rest of the day, in a daze. He could barely think. He needed to form a plan for what to do, but his brain refused to work. Who could he report this to? Did it even matter, since his parents cut him off, and he wouldn’t be attending classes anymore? He could use some good advice, and he looked in the student handbook to see if there were any counseling services.

Above all he still wanted to know why this had happened. He was aware that Barry Fox, his high school nemesis, also went to this college. He’d hoped he would be rid of Barry when they finished high school, but sadly, Barry was going to this school too. He had been very careful to avoid him. Barry, for no reason he could figure out, had always had it in for him, and mercilessly teased him and bullied him. Could he have had anything to do with this?

What was the last thing he remembered? Umm, he had gone to a big party on the Quad. But that’s all he could recall until he woke up at the dorm.

Two days later the college sent him an e-mail informing him he had to be out by the end of term, which was three weeks away.

He had no idea what to do. Where could he go? How could he get the boobs off? How could he buy new clothes? He really needed help. Thinking about any of this was overwhelming him, and he cried a number of times.

-o0o-

Todd wanted to go to see a counselor, but he chickened out each time he went outside. It was one thing to be outside, but quite another to talk with someone looking as he did. With the few dollars he still had he bought a little food at the nearby convenience store to bring back to his dorm room. It was so hard to make himself go out the door and face people, but he steeled his nerves and walked out wearing the pumps, which were much easier to handle than the stilettos. The dress attracted some attention, just because it was so retro-looking, but this was a college campus, and students do sometimes experiment. No one stopped him, no one pointed and stared. One “other” girl wearing a retro dress gave him an approving look, but otherwise no one at all seemed to realize he was a boy.

As the days passed he stayed in his room, eating almost nothing, and spiraling into depression. Finally, just to get out of his dorm, he began to go outside and just walk around, not caring where he was going, but just wandering around campus. He wore the 1950s dress all the time, because the others were just not acceptable. And as soon as he had started coming out of the dorm he’d realized he needed a bra to stop the bouncing around, so he’d been alternating between the two they left for him, choosing not to wear the black, lacy one. It was just too…feminine.

-o0o-

A week and a half after the attack on Todd, Megan happened to see a very thin girl on campus, wandering around in a daze. Megan’s attention was drawn to her because she was wearing the distinctive housewife dress and matching shoes she had helped pick out to humiliate Todd. There couldn’t be two dresses like that. How did this girl end up wearing it? This was too odd. She approached her.

“Excuse me. Do you mind me asking where you got that dress?”

Todd looked at her blankly; his mouth opened and closed but nothing came out. Not one person had spoken to him since this had started. Megan started to think that possibly something had gone wrong with her revenge plan. ‘If this is a guy, it’s not the guy who raped me. If it really is a guy, he’s a little, scrawny guy who looks totally lost,’ she thought. ‘If this is who the girls worked on, we have made a really awful mistake.’ With a feeling of dread building in the pit of her stomach, she took his arm and led him, unresisting, to a bench. By now the makeup had worn off and he’d scrubbed it off too, but he still looked like a girl.

She looked into his lost, sad eyes and played her hunch.

“Is your name by any chance Todd Rhodes?”

“Y-, yes. How did you know?”

Her heart sank. And she was a little confused because he pretty much sounded like a girl.

“A terrible mistake has been made, Todd.”

“A mistake,” he said, uncomprehending.

She didn’t really want to admit to her plan of revenge, but it had obviously affected an innocent party, and now she felt as if someone had punched her in the stomach.

“My name’s Megan Novak. Todd, will you come with me? I’d like to hear your story, and I may have some things to explain to you. Have you eaten today?”

He just shook his head. His meal plan was cut off days ago. Besides, he hadn’t felt hungry anyway.

She took his hand and led him to her apartment. Being well off meant she could afford an off-campus dwelling. She kept looking at him. He looked so much like a girl, and even seemed to be moving like a girl. They entered the apartment and she sat him at the table and made him a simple meal. Todd pulled the pumps off of his aching feet.

“I don’t understand why you’re being nice to me,” he said.

“Let me tell you after you’ve gotten some food into you.”

He slowly ate the meal in a sort of stupor, thanked her, and then they went to sit on the couch.

She smiled at him encouragingly and asked, “Will you tell me what happened to you?”

He was a little more alert now, though still a bit numb, and answered, “Well, okay, um, I went to that party on the Quad the other week, and that’s the last thing I remember about it. The next thing I knew I woke up in my dorm, I was dressed like a hooker, and I was all made up. My clothes were all gone, and three pretty bad outfits were left in their place. Then I found out someone had apparently e-mailed my parents pictures of me in the dress, and as a result they disowned me and cut me off. (They’re very conservative.) The boobs and a fake vagina are glued on, and I have no way to get them off. I’m just… I don’t know what to do.”

She looked down, horrified at the results of her plan, and then back up at him. She had broken this person’s life. How in the world could she repair it? She took a deep breath.

“Todd, let me tell you how this happened. A few months ago I was raped, and the rapist’s name was Todd Rhodes. He violated me and took away my sense of security, and I wanted to punish him, because he really only got a slap on the wrists—I don’t know why.”

Todd looked at her sympathetically. “I’m so sorry to hear that,” he said, and laid a hand on her arm for a moment.

She gave him a sharp look; he seemed completely sincere. She wasn’t used to guys being gentlemen anymore. And she was a bit confused by the feminine gesture.

“I decided to make him suffer, and I hatched the plan that, unfortunately, was unleashed on you by mistake. My friends did the dirty work, so they didn’t know what he looked like. We discovered a Todd Rhodes was going to this school, and the name seemed unusual enough so that we all assumed you were him. So this is my fault. I am so sorry this happened to you, and I’ll do whatever I can to make it up to you. If you want me to talk to your parents…”

“You’d be wasting your breath,” he interrupted. “They have made up their minds about me. They won’t listen to anyone once they’ve decided something. I know. I could cure cancer and it wouldn’t change their minds. I’m really screwed. I have less than two weeks to vacate my dorm room ”

“Then you’ll stay here with me. It’s the least I can do for ruining your life.”

“I couldn’t do that! You don’t even know me!”

It was against his nature to take advantage of people, even if it meant he’d be on the streets.

“What will you do otherwise? I take it you have no other place to go.”

He hung his head, and she patted his hand.

“It will work out somehow, Todd, while I try and figure out how to help you out of this mess I created.

“There’s some more bad news, though. The glue that was used on you is industrial strength, and we didn’t bother to find a solvent for it. You may have to wear the breasts and vagina until new skin grows and they come off.” She bit her bottom lip, looking for his reaction.

He stared at her for a few moments. “You know what? I don’t care anymore. I’m not going to class anyway, so what does it matter? My life is over.”

‘My god, I’ve screwed this up so bad,’ she thought. ‘How am I going to make this up to him? I can’t give him back his parents, and I can’t exactly pay for his education.’

While she was thinking, Todd had leaned back to relax, and had almost instantly fallen asleep. She thought he looked sweet, and so much like a girl. This eliminated much of the unease she usually felt around men since the rape. The girls had really done a nice job on his hair and eyebrows. She found it interesting that the earrings were still in place. She put an afghan over him and went to her room to contact her three friends.

She texted them all that they had “pranked” the wrong Todd Rhodes, and that the guy they had drugged was innocent. She was aware that Todd could take them to court over drugging him and what really amounted to an assault, although she didn’t mention that. The rest of them were as horrified as Megan over this.

-o0o-

When Todd woke up an hour later he was disoriented and didn’t know where he was. Looking around he started to recognize Megan’s apartment.

“Megan?” he called out, uncertainly.

“Here I am,” she said, appearing in the room.

“Could you please show me where the bathroom is?”

“Sure, it’s just down this hall, on the right. Are you okay?”

“You know, I actually do feel better. A lot of this last week I spent wondering why this had happened to me. It was just so, so… out of the blue. I couldn’t imagine what I had done to piss someone off this much. There’s a guy here who was at high school with me, and he sometimes made my life a living hell. I thought maybe he was behind this.”

“I’m so sorry, Todd. As you know, it was nothing you did.”

He went into the bathroom. By this time Todd knew how to deal with the full skirts when sitting on the toilet. When he was finished, he came back out and asked if he could have some tea.

“Of course. Come in to the kitchen and I’ll show you where things are.”

She gave him a whirlwind tour of the kitchen, and then put the kettle on.

They sat down with their teas, and she asked him about his life.

“Uh, well, as you might have guessed, my parents are very strict, but at least until now they didn’t seem that unfair. My older sister and I weren’t abused or anything, but there were a lot of rules growing up.”

“What were you studying?”

“Oh, computer science. What about you, Megan?”

“My parents are pretty well off, and I have to say I was spoiled growing up. Oh, like you I have an older sister. I’m studying business, and hope to land a job with the multinational firm my father works for. And I’m a junior.”

“I’m a freshman. I mean… I was a freshman. I like computers, but I don’t know what I was going to do with my degree.”

“Will your sister still be friends with you? Or will she do what your parents tell her to do?”

“She’s out of school and on her own. She’s pretty independent. I think she’ll still talk to me, but I don’t want to make trouble for her either, in case they tell her she can’t communicate with me.”

‘He seems like such a thoughtful guy,’ Megan mused, though she was also having a kind of disconnect between what she was hearing and sensing from him, and thinking of him as a man. He just didn’t seem like a man at all.

“Listen, Todd, there’s no reason to wait until you’re kicked out. Why don’t we go get your things from the dorm room and bring them back here?”

“You’re really serious about letting me stay here?”

“Of course I am. I’m not going to let you suffer any more from my mistake if I can help it. Are you game?”

“Well, yeah, I guess so.”

“Oh, first, we should find some different clothes for you. That dress really sticks out.”

He was almost as tall as Megan, but so thin now that she couldn’t see her pants fitting him. They went into her room and she looked in the closet.

“Sorry, Todd, but I don’t think my pants are going to work for you, so let’s try a nice top and skirt. Turn around and I’ll unzip you.”

He turned around. A skirt and top was certainly no worse than this old dress. When he pulled off the dress, she saw he had the cincher on. He noticed her eyes on it.

“The dress wouldn’t zip up without this on,” he mumbled, embarrassed.

“You’re already so thin; I was just surprised you had to use that too.”

He gratefully took it off, and she handed him the top, a light blue boat neck, long sleeved one, and an almost-knee-length skirt. He didn’t seem the least bit embarrassed to be there with her wearing only panties and a bra. He put the clothes on.

“You look pretty nice in that. Those clothes really suit you much better than that dress. I hesitate to say it, Todd, but you’re very pretty.”

Blushing, he said, “Thank you. Um, you are too.”

-o0o-

On the way to the dorm it suddenly occurred to Todd that he wasn’t having any trouble talking with Megan. Ordinarily he’d be tongue-tied one on one like this, especially with someone so pretty. He mused about this until they arrived.

At the dorm, without his clothes, Todd didn’t have that many possessions to gather. After they had packed his cases, he packed all the girl clothes in too. “So they don’t find them and start thinking how weird I am,” he explained.

They drove back to her apartment and each took a case.

Leading him through the hall, Megan said, “This spare room will be yours, Todd, for as long as you need it.”

She heard a kind of sob behind her, turned and saw tears coming down Todd’s cheeks.

“Sorry. It just kind of got to me,” he sniffled.

Putting down the case, she turned to him and opened her arms. Hesitantly he stepped forward and into the hug. She tightened her arms around him, and he cried on her shoulder.

“We will get you through this,” she whispered.

-o0o-

Hugging Megan felt very wonderful to Todd. He felt so wrung out, and she was being so nice to him. The “prank” seemed like an honest mistake on her friends’ parts. He couldn’t imagine how awful it would feel to be raped, and it was hard to blame her for wanting the guy punished. He hadn’t yet fully examined how he felt about his parents. Their mistake was a lot more about an error in judgment and about intolerance than Megan’s mistake. And she was trying to make it right. His parents were never going to back down, even if they were proven wrong. They really didn’t like being wrong.

What was he going to do, living here with Megan? Was he going to find a job until the glue let go? Then what? And, oh my god! The job would have to be as a girl. He had looked in the mirror once the makeup was off, and he knew he still looked like a girl. The hair and eyebrows just emphasized what turned out to be a feminine face, and of course the big boobs didn’t help him look any more masculine.

“Todd?” she said, bringing him out of his thoughts.

“Yes?” he said into her shoulder.

“Are you okay?”

He took a deep, trembling breath and said, “Yeah. I’m fine. Thank you.”

They let each other go, and brought his things into the room. She handed him a tissue to wipe off his tears.

“I’m going to leave you to put your stuff away. We’ll need to get you some clothes, but that doesn’t have to be today.”

He nodded at her, and gave her a smile.

‘How can he even smile at me after what I’ve done to him?’

She left for her own room and sat there for a while, thinking. They’d have to get him clothes, but they’d have to be female clothes, until he didn’t have a bust anymore. She needed to feed him up somewhat. What was he going to do all day while she was in class?? She didn’t feel it was right to put him to work, but she also realized he couldn’t just sit there all day doing nothing. Was he one of those guys who sat and played video games all day? That couldn’t be healthy.

-o0o-

Sighing, she called Mary and told her what had happened since they last talked. Mary said all the girls wanted to come and apologize to Todd. Megan told her it was probably a little too soon for that, and that he was still very fragile. She then lowered her voice.

“Mary… I’m having trouble thinking of him as a He. He’s so natural as a woman. I don’t want to offend him, but it’s hard not to treat him like a girlfriend.”

“Hmm,” said Mary, who was studying psychology. “Maybe this is actually an opportunity for him.”

“What do you mean?”

“If he truly is that natural, he may be gender dysphoric. This is a huge chance for him to see what living as a woman would be like.”

“I see. Well, unless someone comes up with a solvent, he is stuck with the breasts and vagina for at least a month if not longer. I was trying to think about what he could do during the day. Whatever it is it will have to be as a woman.”

“I wish I could help with that, Megan, but you’ll have to talk with him and see if he has any ideas. It also might not be a bad idea if he would see one of the counselors, like at the LGBT Center on campus. But you can’t force him into it. And there’s the problem of, what does he tell them about why he’s wearing that stuff?”

“Yeah, you’re right, Mary. O Lord! I wish we hadn’t done this.”

“So do I, but you can’t go back…”

“Right. Thanks Mary.”

-o0o-

Megan made dinner for the two of them that evening. She knew they’d have to start discussing hard topics.

“Todd, do you have any idea at all what you’d like to do while I’m at class during the day?”

“I’m sorry, but I really don’t. I’ve been having trouble thinking straight. Um, if your computer was broken I could probably fix it,” he said, half joking.

“You know, Todd, that’s really not a bad idea. Fixing computers, that is. You could do it freelance!”

“Oh, I don’t know, Megan. I mean, I can probably do it, but I’d have to do it as a girl.”

She reached over and held his hand.

“Todd, I want to tell you something, and it’s not to hurt you or make fun of you, okay?”

“Okay.”

“You look and behave a lot like a young woman. In fact I’ve been having trouble thinking of you as a guy. And, confidentially, ever since the rape I’ve been very nervous around men, but I’m very comfortable with you. Listen, you’re not going to be able to get rid of the, um, secondary sexual characteristics any time soon, so I think you’ll find that presenting as a woman is going to make life a lot easier than as a guy with boobs.”

He turned red and looked down at his plate.

“I know I look like a girl. Do I really, like, act like one?”

“I don’t know how you acted before, but it just seems you do it naturally. You have a very gentle manner, you’re graceful... Even the way you sit and some of your gestures. If you were to use a girl’s name, I don’t think anyone would question you at all. Since you have no choice about the breasts, this will give you a unique opportunity to see how the Other Half lives.”

“Oh, wow. This is not how I imagined my first year at college.”

“Todd, I’m going to make a suggestion to you. Why not go see the counselor at the LBGT Center on campus? Maybe they can give you some help dealing with living like this for a while.”

“I guess it couldn’t…hurt,” said Todd. “But what if they ask me why I’m in this kind of odd situation? I don’t want to get you and your friends in trouble.”

“That’s so incredibly sweet that you want to protect us, Todd, after what we did to you. If you don’t want to tell the truth about that, we’ll cook up some story to explain it. Maybe… an accidental use of an industrial adhesive while you were getting ready for a costume party. Um…and then some girl wanted to see how you’d look, so they did your face and hair. And now you’re, say, wondering about your sexuality. Something like that?”

He kind of giggled at that (which Megan did not fail to notice).

“It sort of holds together.”

“Todd, while you were walking around campus, did anyone at all accost you and accuse you of being a guy?”

He reddened again.

“No. No one. You know, that bully I told you about used to tease me about being a fairy, and girlie. I never knew why he thought that, but I’ve looked in the mirror once or twice since this happened. I can see how girlie I look even without that makeup on.”

Still holding his hand, Megan nodded. “Yes, you do. When I first saw you I didn’t have any doubt you were a girl. I couldn’t understand how a girl had gotten hold of that dress that was meant for the other Todd. Would it be okay if we thought of a name for you? If we happen to be out near people, I don’t want to embarrass you by calling you Todd.”

“Okay.”

“So do you have any preferences or ideas? Was there a girl who you had a crush on, or whose name you liked?”

“Uhhh, you’ve been the nicest to me of any girl I ever met.”

She looked at him sadly. “Oh Todd.”

-o0o-

Three months later Todd, now Terri, had just finished up installing a new hard drive for a client. Many of her jobs were for the extensive network of friends of Megan. Terri was working out of Megan’s apartment, and had been thinking of herself as female for about a month. The LGBT Center counselor had helped her realize she was actually more female than male in her brain, though that took a while to accept. Growing up she did admire her sister, Gayle, greatly, but had never had dreams of being her.

“I don’t really understand this. I thought I was a normal boy until this happened to me. Now, suddenly, everyone is telling me I’m so natural as a girl that they can’t even tell,” Terri said to the counselor, recrossing her legs in a feminine way, adjusting her skirt and examining her fingernails, palm down.

“It seems that there had to be a girl hiding in there somewhere, Terri. Just from my observation there is nothing about you that says Boy or Man. I wish I had prior behavior to compare with. You seem very comfortable with this, and I understand you aren’t here for me to talk you out of or into anything, but for you to understand more about how this happened.”

“Right. The only thing I can imagine is that I’m kind of like that Woody Allen character, Zelig, who adapts himself to any person he meets.”

“There could be something to that. Some people often unconsciously mimic an accent when they spend time with someone different than they are. You could have a personality that’s somewhat like that.”

Nothing was put down in stone at these sessions, but Terri came to understand that this was who she was, and she was coming to enjoy it. Men and women treated her with more politeness.

Once she committed she was amazed at how easy she found adapting to life as a female. She reveled in her newfound femininity. Going outside still made her a bit nervous, and she did her best to always be with a friend.

The glue had finally released the breasts and vagina, and she was truly surprised at how much of a sense of loss she felt without them. She just didn’t feel comfortable at all without breasts now, so Megan bought her prosthetics, but a C instead of a D. Since she didn’t like seeing the bulge down below, Megan also got her a replacement gaff.

Terri hadn’t contacted her sister, not wanting to put her at odds with her parents, but she did miss her. The parents had cut off Todd’s phone right away, so her sister couldn’t have called her. She was still sad that she hadn’t even gotten an e-mail from her. Gayle must have taken their parents’ side against Todd, and it made her very sad to think that.

Megan had been nothing but kind and helpful to Terri. She’d bought her clothes, fed her, and gently helped her modify her actions whenever she displayed male behavior. She was endlessly patient, and Terri had fallen in love with her, but wouldn’t have dreamt of acting on it. She was sure Megan would prefer a strong, manly man.

Though she didn’t know yet how far she wanted to go in her transition, after a year she legally changed her name to Terri. She thought about changing the last name to Novak, but thought that might cause some kerfuffle with Megan’s parents.

Megan’s friends, Joyce, Lisa and Mary, had made friends with her, and they all supported her. She was accepted as a member of their little group.

-o0o-

Behind the scenes Megan had contacted Gayle. They spoke on the phone and Megan explained to her all that had happened to Todd, how he was unfairly cut off by his parents, and that he had now realized he had a very strong female side and was living as Terri. At first he hadn’t had much choice, but had ended up really embracing it.

“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me, Megan. He was never like the other boys in the neighborhood, and he always wanted to hang around with me. I’ve been going crazy worrying about what happened to him. My parents never explained the problem to me; they just warned me to stay out of contact.”

“She was worried about coming between you and your parents, Gayle. She didn’t want to cause you any trouble with them. And maybe she was worried what you’d think of her. She’s one of the most considerate people I think I’ve ever met.”

“That poor kid. Of course I love her! It may take me a while, but I’m going to come visit, and we’ll surprise her. The heck with my parents. I’m so glad you called and told me what was going on!”

“I’m so happy to know that, Gayle. I’ve hurt her so much, and I’m so glad she still has a sister.”

“And I’m glad she has a friend like you, Megan. But from what you tell me, it sounds like this whole experience helped her discover who she really is, and you can’t put a price on that.”

“That’s kind of you to say, but I still feel bad about this, and it certainly showed me that revenge isn’t worth it.”

-o0o-

Three weeks later Terri was at home with Megan. The other three girlfriends were there for a dinner. When the doorbell rang, Megan asked Terri to get it.

Opening the door she found herself face to face with her sister. Tears sprang from her eyes; she lunged forward and threw her arms around her.

“Oh my god. Gayle!! I can’t believe you’re here! I didn’t know if I would ever see you again,” she sobbed.

They just stood there hugging for what, to the other girls, seemed like hours. They all had big smiles on their faces. Finally they got up as a group, circled the two and slowly walked the still-hugging siblings into the room with tiny little steps.

“You can let go of me now, honey,” said Gayle. “Let me get a look at my pretty sister.”

Terri reluctantly let go and stepped back. She had on a white embroidered peasant blouse over a flowing knee-length skirt, both of which were given to her by Megan.

“You hardly look like the same person, Terri! You look lovely, but you might want to go fix your panda eyes.”

“Oh!” She ran into the bathroom and cleaned off the steaks of her makeup. She decided not to apply anything new because she felt like she might cry again at any moment. Todd hadn’t done much crying, but Terri found it much easier to cry when the occasion called for it.

She went back into the living room and sat next to her sister, just staring at her as if she might disappear, while she talked to the others. Gayle reached for her hand and held it while she chatted.

“You can sure tell they’re sisters,” observed Lisa.

“I’ll say. There’s a real resemblance,” agreed Joyce.

This gave Terri a very warm feeling, making her smile.

The others saw how she couldn’t keep her eyes off her sister.

“Well, ladies, let’s eat, shall we?” said Megan, and they all adjourned to the dining area.

Terri sat next to Gayle, wanting to be as close as she could. It meant far more to her than she could express to know that Gayle still loved her. She was no longer a hundred percent cut off from her family.

-o0o-

After dinner the others let the two sisters have some time to talk and become used to each other. They sat together on the couch, turned toward each other. Gayle noted the female behaviors, and compared them to what she remembered of Todd. She had never thought of it that way before, but he had acted in a sort of feminine way. Not enough to draw negative attention, but it was there, at least in retrospect.

“Megan told me all about what happened to you, Terri. It all sounds very traumatic. Do you think you’re going to stay as Terri?

“At this point, I think so. When it first happened I thought it was the worst thing that could ever have happened to me. I really thought my life was over. Now I feel more comfortable, or at least more natural, this way, even though I don’t think I ever felt I was that uncomfortable before. Strangely enough, now I don’t have any trouble talking to girls!”

Gayle smiled. “Well, I’m happy to have a little sister. You seem more outgoing now.”

“It’s strange, Gayle. Mom and Dad judged me for something I didn’t really do, and cut me off. Now that I’m doing it on my own, I’d still be “dead” to them. I was really afraid they had manipulated you into hating me too.”

“Not a chance, sis. I’m so happy Megan got in touch with me. I was really worried about you.”

“And I missed you so much!”

Terri teared up, and the two hugged.

“So, tell me what your plans are.”

“I don’t have much of a plan, really. I’ve been fixing peoples’ computers out of the apartment. That will never make me enough money to go back to school. But I’m not really sure what kind of job I would have gotten with a Computer Science degree anyway. So maybe, down the road I’ll take some more classes. I don’t know.”

“Both of us should try and think about this, Terri. Hey, how is Megan treating you?”

“Oh, she’s wonderful! She’s incredibly kind to me, and so patient. She’s bought me clothes and things and… just helped me.”

From the stars in Terri’s eyes, Gayle could see she was smitten with Megan, and wondered how that would turn out.

“So you don’t hold it against her about how her plan changed your life?”

“No, not at all. It might be the best thing that could have happened.”

Gayle’s eyebrows rose. “That’s saying a lot.”

Terri nodded emphatically.

“So you want to stay here with her? ‘Cause you could come and live with me.”

“Thanks, but I’ll stay as long as she’ll have me.”

-o0o-

Before Gayle left for home she had a private talk with Megan.

“You know Terri’s in love with you, don’t you?”

Sighing, she said, “Yes, I know. I love her too, but I still feel guilty about how I changed her life.”

“Megan, she told me that what you all did might have been the best thing that could have happened to her!”

“She said that?? Wow!”

“By harming her you gave her a precious gift: the gift of finding out who she really is.”

“Thank you for telling me, Gayle.”

The two hugged and parted.

“Take care of my little sister!”

“Count on it!”

-o0o-

During Megan’s senior year they kept up the same routine, with Terri fixing computers now and then. Megan taught her to cook, and she assumed most of the meal prep duties.

She was considering applying for a scholarship to go back to school, but when Megan graduated, she didn’t want to be separated from her. The plan would be to apply for a college in Megan’s hometown. One evening she decided it was time to broach this subject.

“Megan, are you still planning to go back home and work for your dad?”

“Yes, I am.”

“I, I want to come with you,” Terri blurted.

“Are you sure, Terri? You could go live with Gayle. You know she gave you an open invitation.”

“Yes I know, but, but…I love you, Megan. I don’t want to be apart from you.” Her eyes were brimming with tears.

“Oh, Terri. I love you too. I’ve loved living with you and teaching you stuff. I was kind of hoping you would want to stay with me.”

Happy tears ran down Terri’s cheeks, and she moved closer to Megan to give her a big hug.

“You really love me? I thought you would want some manly guy.”

“Welllll, to tell you the truth I haven’t felt quite the same about men since, well, you know…”

“Oh, but what about your parents. What would they think about me? You know I wouldn’t want to cause any problems for you.”

“Terri, honey, they will just have to understand.”

“Well, this makes me very happy. I think when we move I may try and go back to school, and apply for a scholarship. Are there any colleges where you live?”

“There are one or two, yes. What do you want to study? Still Computer Science?”

“No, I think I want to go into Gender Studies, to help me understand more about myself.”

“Sounds like a good idea.”

-o0o-

When graduation rolled around, in May, Megan’s parents came to town to attend. They were very proud of Megan, who was an excellent student with excellent grades. They arranged to meet Megan the day before graduation and to take her out to dinner. They weren’t expecting her to arrive with another young woman, whose hand she was holding.

“Mom, Dad, this is my partner, Terri Rhodes. Terri, my parents, Richard and Diane Novak.”

They were a bit shocked, but her mother more than her father.

“Um, lovely to meet you, Terri,” said Diane.

Terri, who was scared to death, and feeling a whole new depth of shyness, shook hands with her, and the dad.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Sir, Ma’am.”

She stepped back, close to Megan, and grabbed her hand again.

“Well!” said Richard, trying to break the tension. “Why don’t we head for the restaurant?”

They all piled into the Novaks’ car, with the girls in the back. Diane desperately wanted to corner her daughter and question her, but now was not the time, so the ride proceeded mostly in silence.

After they were seated at the restaurant and had ordered their meal, Diane contemplated the best way to find out what she wanted most to know: was her daughter a lesbian? It certainly looked like it, and that wouldn’t be good for the Novak name.

“So, how long have you two been together?” was her opening question.

“Oh, a year and a half, don’t you think?” Megan said, looking at Terri.

“Yes, I think so,” she replied.

“Why didn’t you tell us, sweetie?”

“Oh, there was just way too much going on at the time, Mother. Sorry. I did mean to. The truth is that Terri and I lived together for almost a year before we acknowledged our feelings for each other.”

Megan wasn’t very anxious to tell her parents the real story behind her relationship, even though she knew that there was a chance it would eventually come out. She knew exactly what her mother wanted out of her now though, so she cut to the chase.

“Mother, I know that you want to know if I’m a lesbian,” she said quietly. “Well, truthfully I haven’t really been interested in men at all since the rape, so I suppose you could call me a lesbian. Terri is very dear to me, and I’ve been very happy with her,” she said, looking at Terri, who blushed and smiled.

“Well, I must say, dear, that this surprises me. You never showed any tendency in that direction growing up.”

“Let’s just say that circumstances changed the way I felt about that.”

Her mother sensed that there was more to the story than she was saying, but now wasn’t the time to go into it. The rest of the meal was filled with much more general and lighthearted conversation. Terri didn’t speak much, still not sure of how she was being perceived.

-o0o-

Once Megan and Terri had made the move back to Megan’s hometown and found an apartment, they found themselves dining with the Novaks on a regular basis. Diane still wanted to know the story behind the two young women being together. She considered hiring a detective to find out about Terri’s past, but she thought she just might be able to find out on her own.

“Richard, Megan and Terri are coming to dinner tonight. Do you think you could invite Megan into your study to discuss the idea of purchasing that plot of land in Michigan we discussed earlier? With her business background she might be able to come up with some really good ideas of how to go about it, or if it’s even a good thing to invest in.”

“I suppose I could. It’s not really her area of expertise, but I wouldn’t mind her input.”

When dinner was over, Richard asked Megan to step into his office, leaving Diane and Terri alone. Megan was a bit reluctant to leave Terri with her mother, but assumed the talk wouldn’t take long.

Terri helped bring the dishes into the kitchen, and Diane asked her to sit down at the table.

“So, Terri, how did you meet my daughter?” asked Diane.

“Um, we met at college.”

“You had a class together?”

“No, it was… actually at a party,” she said, hating to have to lie about this.

“Oh, a party. So you saw each other across a crowded room and…?”

“No, not that sort of party. It was on the Quad.”

“And? Then what happened?”

“Well, um, I needed a place to stay, and she said she had a room.”

“You weren’t in a dorm?”

“No, I mean, yes, I was, but I couldn’t afford it anymore.”

“So Megan offered the room and you moved in.”

“That’s right. And, like she said, we lived together for a year before we decided to get together.”

“But she was never a lesbian before.”

“Well, you know, she said she’s had trouble with men since she was raped.”

“Yes, she did say that. But I can’t help thinking that you somehow influenced her into a lesbian lifestyle.”

“N- No, I didn’t. But I did love her for being so kind to me.”

“What I think is that you pushed her until she caved in to your pressure and decided to give you a whirl.”

“No, that’s not true.”

“Terri, I didn’t raise my daughter to be a lesbian. She comes from a good background. You are obviously a bad influence on her. What I think is that you need to break this off and leave her alone. You don’t really belong in our social set, and I have ways of putting pressure on you until you will find yourself happy to leave.”

Diane smiled as Terri got up and rushed out of the room, grabbing her coat and hat, and left the house in tears. It was now snowing and she wasn’t really dressed for it, but she kept going.

When Diane finally came out of her dad’s office, and found Terri gone, she asked her mother where Terri was.

“Oh, she said she had to leave.”

She said it in a nonchalant way that raised Megan’s suspicions. Megan knew there was no reason for Terri to leave, nowhere else she had to be. Her suspicions crystalized when her mother followed that with, “You don’t really want to have a relationship with another woman, do you? What would our friends think?”

“What did you say to her, Mother?”

“Oh…not too much. I just asked her about how you two met, and told her you are from a respectable family. That kind of thing.”

Megan could see very well how this line of questioning could have easily led to Terri being guilted into leaving.

She leaned over and got in her mother’s face and said, with controlled anger, “I’m going to try and find her. And don’t expect to see me again until you’re ready to apologize for your poorly thought-out actions.”

She threw on her coat and dashed out to the car. The snow was coming down heavily now and it was hard to see pedestrians through the windshield, the wipers working furiously, especially while trying to drive at the same time.

Two miles down the road she finally spotted a woefully underdressed Terri, trying to plod along in shoes not designed for snow and ice. As Megan drove up she slipped and fell, but just sat there on the snowy sidewalk as Megan pulled up and jumped out of the car.

“Terri!”

Terri barely looked up. She was covered in snow and had obviously been crying. Megan helped her up and got her to the car. She turned the heater on full blast and drove them home.

Once inside she got Terri’s snowy coat and shoes off and wrapped her in a heavy quilt. Then she made hot tea and sat next to her on the sofa and held her. Terri’s fingers and toes tingled like mad as the blood flowed back into them. Holding the tea mug felt good and bad at the same time.

When Terri had warmed up enough to talk, she said, “She was so mean! No one has been that mean to me since Barry Fox, the bully. What did I ever do to her?”

“She’s just Lesbophobic. I’m sorry I left you alone with her, honey. I had a feeling that sooner or later she’d try something like that. Actually, now that I think of it, I’ll bet she asked my dad to have me in for a private talk in order to get you alone. I don’t think he was aware of what she had in mind. He doesn’t seem to have any problem with you and me. Anyhow, I told her she wouldn’t be seeing me again until she apologizes.”

“Megan, I don’t want to be the cause of trouble between you and your parents.”

“It’s not you, Terri, it’s her.”

“Huh. That doesn’t make me feel much better.”

She was quiet for a while.

“Megan, it’s kind of funny—well, not exactly funny—how my parents cut me off due to not having all the facts, and your mother wants to do the same, also not having all the facts. Oh, not that I think she would change her mind just because I’m physically male.”

“Oh no. Not Diane Novak! It looks like a lesbian relationship, and that’s all that matters to her.”

-o0o-

Later that day her father called to ask what had happened.

“Mother was very nasty to Terri, manipulating her until she had almost no choice but to leave. I found her in the snow, practically frozen. She’s already been hurt enough that I’m not going to let some Lesbophobe hurt her any more, even if that person happens to be my mother.”

“I’ll talk to her, Megan, and see what I can do.”

“I hope you can get through to her, because I told her I won’t be coming back if that’s the way she’s going to treat Terri.”

“I hope so too, honey. I’ll do my best.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

After she hung up the phone she had a little talk with Terri.

“Terri, honey, you have to stand up for yourself. Don’t let my mother bully you. She knows how to easily manipulate someone as nice as you. I don’t think she’s going to give up.”

“I’ll try, but I’ve never been very good at it.”

-o0o-

Even after Richard talked to Diane, explaining that her attitude could well cost her her relationship with her daughter, she wasn’t quite ready to give up. She made a show of apologizing so she would again have access. She didn’t wish to actually harm the girl, just for her to leave. She felt now that her only option was to hire that detective to dig up some dirt on Terri.

Initially the detective was unable to find out anything, any history at all for Terri. It wasn’t until he dug deeper and found the change of name that things became clearer. Now, how was Diane going to approach this? Megan must already be aware that her girlfriend was just a tranny. Diane did admit to herself that she had no clue that this was the case, but still, she didn’t want to be a laughingstock with her social set when they found out her daughter was in love with such a person. She’d have to expose him, but in a way that wouldn’t be publicly noticed.

Diane acted at modifying her behavior around Megan and Terri, appearing to be accepting, but she started asking questions to find out when she might be able to confront Terri alone. Terri, who hadn’t started school yet, was home during the day, so Diane showed up one afternoon, unannounced. Terri met her at the door.

“Hello Terri. I brought over some fresh fruit for you two.”

“Oh, thank you, Mrs. Novak. Won’t you come in?”

The two of them went into the kitchen.

“Can I offer you a drink?”

“No, Todd, I don’t think so.”

“Excuse me? My name is Terri.”

“I think we both know what you are, Todd. You’re a little tranny who is trying to go after my daughter’s money and prestige.”

Remembering Megan’s advice, she attempted to not cave in to this attitude.

“You know, Mrs. Novak… you are… a bully, and you have no idea what you’re talking about. I think you should leave.”

“I’ll go, but one way or another, you will leave my daughter and this town. I won’t have my family disgraced by someone like you.”

“Let me show you to the door.”

Once she was gone, Terri sat down and cried. She was shaking, even though she had stood up for herself. Why did there have to be such nasty people in the world?

-o0o-

She decided not to tell Megan about this visit, and spare her the misery of knowing what her mother was trying to do. Without Terri’s knowledge, however, Megan had installed Nanny cams in several rooms, anticipating a visit like this. She was her mother’s daughter when it came to deviousness. When she arrived home she could tell Terri was upset, although she claimed nothing was wrong. Megan brought the memory cards from the cams into her home office, and sure enough found the whole exchange between Terri and her mother. Her anger spiked.

She phoned her mother.

“Hi honey!”

“Hello, Mrs. Novak. I think you must know why I’m calling.”

“‘Mrs. Novak’… Oh, your little tranny friend tattled on me?”

“Actually she didn’t, but I have ways of finding out, and I suspected you’d pull some crap like this. You may consider yourself cut off from me. That stunt was the last straw. Goodbye.” And she hung up.

-o0o-

Megan was still steamed up from that exchange, and she waited until she was calmer before coming out of the room to join Terri in the kitchen. She hugged her from behind, nuzzled her ear, and said, “You know I love you, right?”

“Of course I do. And I love you.”

“I don’t think my mother will be bothering us anymore, at least I hope not.”

Terri turned to face her.

“What… what happened?”

“I know she came here and threatened you. I had warned her not to try any of that, so I have cut her off.”

“How did you… well, it doesn’t matter. Oh Megan… I feel bad for you. I know what it’s like to be cut off. I hope your dad doesn’t join sides with her.”

“I’m pretty sure he knows what kind of person she is. I’m not expecting him to take her side.”

“I sure hope not. It would be too sad if you were cut off from your parents too. Um, should you call him and tell him your side before she tells him?”

“She’s probably already talked to him. If I know her she’ll try and think of something she can use as leverage to get him on her side. I’m afraid your secret will be out. We’ll just have to see how my dad will react.”

“One thing I don’t understand,” said Terri. “I thought if you stood up to bullies they were supposed to back off, because they’re really cowards. That’s not working with your mom.”

“She hasn’t felt threatened yet. We have to show that we’re stronger.”

-o0o-

In the meantime Megan phoned her older sister, Melody, to inform her about the situation.

“Hey Mel.”

“Hi Megan. What’s up?”

“I hope you have a few minutes. I have a situation I want to tell you about.”

“Ooh. Sounds interesting! Yeah, I have the time. Heather’s napping.”

Megan told her that she had been living with Terri, a transwoman, that they had fallen in love, and that, due to her mother’s interference and threats, she had cut her off.

“Oh wow. That sounds exactly how mom would react. I don’t blame you at all, sis.”

“I’m glad, Melody. Terri’s parents disowned her a couple of years ago, and I’ve always felt awful about that,” she said, leaving the impression that the Rhodeses had cut Terri off simply because she was transgender.

“Poor girl. A situation like that is exactly when you’d need your family’s support. Oh! What about dad?”

“So far I haven’t heard from him, but I don’t think he’s going to side with her.”

“Well, if you need my help, let me know.”

“Thanks, Mel. You’re the best.”

Talk turned to Melody’s baby, Heather, and the call was over shortly after that.

-o0o-

The next day Megan received a call from her father.

“Megan, your mother told me some things about your phone call to her, which I took with a grain of salt. I had warned her she might lose you if she continued to harass Terri.”

“I warned her too, dad. I’m sorry if this is going to make things awkward between you and me.”

“I’m sorry too, honey. We’ll just have to work around her. Is what she said true? Is Terri really a—do you call them Transwomen?”

“She’s transgender, yes.”

“I really had no idea. But! Don’t worry! This doesn’t change my opinion. I can easily tell you two are devoted to each other, and I like her.”

“Thanks Dad. That really means a lot.”

-o0o-

From time to time Richard would meet Megan and Terri, usually for a meal. All three studiously avoided Diane as a topic.

For her part, Diane could get no sympathy from her husband or elder daughter, and she was beginning to feel left out whenever Richard joined them. He never said, “I’m going to dinner with Megan.” He’d just tell her he had a dinner engagement. But she knew. It was taking a long time for her to realize she had lost the battle, but one daughter had cut her off, and the other treated her frostily, which meant she had hardly any access to her granddaughter. That hurt, especially when her social set were gushing over their grandchildren. In a show of solidarity with Megan, Melody never came to their house, and never allowed her to visit. She would send a photo from time to time, and that was all.

Richard was still civil to her, but they didn’t have quite the warm relationship they used to enjoy. He wouldn’t speak about either daughter to her.

One day on the phone she asked Melody, “How long is this silliness going to continue?”

“Well, mom, I suppose as long as you continue with your bigoted attitude. There’s no room in my family for someone who treats other human beings so poorly. I certainly don’t want my daughter exposed to that kind of thinking.”

Diane wanted to huff and puff and argue, but she knew it was a lost cause.

“I just don’t understand how you can treat someone like that as a regular person!”

“Until you learn that we’re all human, and we’re all different, but we all deserve to be treated with respect, I guess you won’t be able to understand. Terri is a fine human being, generous, caring, extremely considerate, and that’s more than I can say for you, sorry to say. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to attend to Heather. Bye.”

And just like that she hung up.

Diane sat there with her mouth open. Her own daughter was talking down to her as if she was a teenager! Like there was something wrong with her!

When Richard came home she was still miffed. After their dinner she told him what Melody had said to her.

“To be perfectly honest, Diane, I see her point. You seem more interested in your social standing than in how you treat another human being. And she’s right about Terri; she is all those things, and I really like her.”

“It’s not a HER.”

“Stop right there, Diane. You really have no idea what you’re talking about, and I won’t have you running her down in front of me. If you are unable or unwilling to adjust your attitude, I’m afraid our marriage might not last much longer. I thought I had married an open-minded, live-and-let-live woman, but that’s not who I have been seeing, and it has been very disappointing. By your words and actions, you are tearing this family apart.”

This was the first time Richard had ever mentioned the possibility of divorce, or spoken to her like that, and it was a rude awakening. It was also a little unpleasant to be reminded that she wasn’t as liberal now as she had been.

-o0o-

During the next few days Diane found several books on gender issues appearing in their house. Due to the shock she had gotten from Richard, she begrudgingly picked one up and began to read. She read through several case histories where the person involved had a parent, or parents, who acted the way she was acting, and they either killed themself or were forever estranged. Either way both sides lost. It didn’t make her feel very good. As she kept on reading, she started to imagine a flow chart in her head. Such and such happened, and that would lead to this, which would lead to that. The way she was handling this situation the flow always led to unhappy endings. Things were already heading in that direction. While reading the third book, she unexpectedly found her Empathy gland coming to life, and her heart opening up a crack. There was an awful lot of suffering for these people, who didn’t seem like they really wanted to feel the way they did, because it meant such a hard road in life. She wanted to insert another arrow into the flow chart, which would lead to an outcome that would straighten things out and make everything better.

Over several days she had a very long think about all of this, and had to admit to herself she really was in the wrong, as well as very ignorant. The fact that she had made threats and treated someone else like that did not make her proud of herself. She did not want to be exiled from her daughters and granddaughter anymore. It looked like the only way forward to a satisfactory conclusion was for her to apologize and really mean it.

Once she had decided on this course, she spoke to Richard.

“Thank you for leaving those books for me. You were right—I really didn’t know what I was talking about. I realize I owe the girls, and Terri especially, an apology. It never occurred to me how hard it could be for someone like her. From what I read she’s very lucky she passes so well.”

“It’s refreshing to hear you talk this way, Diane. I didn’t really relish the way things were going. However, I warn you that if this is another of your tricks, I really don’t think our marriage will survive.”

“I know I deserved that, Richard, but I’m not sure how to demonstrate to you how sincere I am. I guess that probably goes for the girls too. They’re probably not going to believe me either.”

“I think we’d all like to believe you. What if I contact Megan and Terri and explain what you’ve said, and see if they might have something in mind. How far are you willing to go?”

“As far as it takes to get both my daughters—and my granddaughter—back.”

-o0o-

“Megan, your mother says she’s had a change of heart, wants to apologize, but understands that you may not believe she’s sincere.”

“Why would she suddenly change her mind, Dad?”

“I left some appropriate reading material for her, and apparently she’s absorbed it and is feeling bad about her behavior. I told her I’d ask you what you and Terri would like her to do to show she really means it.”

“Terri probably wouldn’t demand anything; she’s just too kindhearted. I’ll talk with her, though, and see what we can come up with.”

“Good. Maybe we can finally put this behind us.”

“Amen to that!”

-o0o-

“Something to demonstrate her sincerity? Really? How about, umm, she has to lick a whole splintery old picnic table with her tongue?”

“Terri!!”

Terri giggled like mad. “I was KIDDING! She’s your mother. You would know better what would show us that she means it.”

“I just don’t know. There may not be any test to really show someone’s sincerity, which means we’d have to just let her back into our lives and see if she tries again to sabotage us.”

“Megan, I have a feeling we’ll be able to tell how sincere she is. We’ll be sensitive as to her behavior, and don’t you think we’d be able to tell if she was being genuine or not?”

“I would like to think you’re right, honey, but I just don’t trust her.”

-o0o-

Another dinner invitation was extended, and this time Megan’s sister, her husband and daughter were invited. Everyone was on a sort of alert, waiting to see if Diane would act up. However, Diane was the most relaxed of them all. She offered what sounded like sincere apologies to everyone for how she had acted, and especially to Terri. She told them she had learned a lot by reading those books, and she said nothing at all which might be construed as a subtle jab. She really enjoyed being able to see her granddaughter again.

As the meal wore on everyone relaxed. That was the first of many meals the whole family shared together. Diane actually tried very hard to be a friend to Terri. Terri was leery of her advances for a couple of months, but could by then sense she was really trying to be friendly, like a normal human being.

Diane had relaxed and was happier inside now. She realized the attitudes she had held before really did not make for inner peace. She had come to like Terri, who turned out to be everything Melody had said she was. One day she asked about Terri’s family.

“I have a sister, Gayle, who I’m very close to.”

“Have your parents passed away?”

Terri squirmed. She didn’t really want to answer that, but she didn’t want to lie either. Diane sensed the inner struggle.

“They disowned me,” she finally said.

“Was it because you’re transgender?” she gently asked.

“Yes, it was.” She looked down, not really enjoying thinking about this part of her life, even though it had led her to where she was now.

Diane’s reading about gender issues had given her an insight into what Terri might have gone through. She put a hand on Terri’s. “I’m sorry, Terri. That must have been awful.”

For some reason Diane’s sympathy triggered tears. She had never cried over this particular issue before. Diane actually held her while she let it out.

“Thank you,” she said, when she had recovered, and was wiping off her tears.

“I’m sorry I added to your burden before, when I was so nasty.”

Terri gave her a grateful little smile.

-o0o-

When Megan and Terri got married, Diane was the proudest parent around. Gayle was Terri’s maid of honor, and Melody was Megan’s matron of honor. It was a small wedding, but beautiful.

“Now that we’re related, Terri, please call us mom and dad. We’ll try and fill in as your parents,” Diane said.

“Thank you… mom. That means a lot to me.”

The End.



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