A Wee Bit More O' Seasonal Fluff


A Wee Bit More
O' Seasonal Fluff

by Kelly Blake


to our fondest dreams...



 

Nobody told me about the snow. I was warned about the winds and the summer heat and the fall chills. Oh…they did tell me it would snow and the cold could be beyond frigid…but…this snow? Really! It began rather mildly as a sprinkling on the twenty-third. But now? Dear Lord! It was the afternoon of the twenty-fourth and one couldn’t see one’s hand before one’s own eyes!

The driveway was a distant memory and the road…what road? I looked out back earlier and the snow was threatening to obscure my birdbath and feeder beneath a pure white shroud. There was no end it site. This was a full-blown blizzard! Fortunately I had a good supply of firewood for the fireplace and kitchen stove; my only two sources of heat in this old four room farmhouse.

Perhaps I should have taken up the offer of the preacher and his young, and overly fertile, wife. I could have joined them and their brood for Christmas Eve and stayed over. I could have guested with the Jensen’s, who all but begged me to join them. I could have feasted with any one of the other families that had invited me. But I wasn’t in the mood; the spirit of the season had not touched me.

I was isolating even further than my accepting the job of teaching in a small community of farmers, farm hands, and shop keepers in the heart of Iowa. This was an enormous change from my cosmopolitan life in San Francisco for sure. But I had to leave the city. The memories were too…strong and way too…recent? The pain was overwhelming and the cuts too deep. My soul bled out taking my spirit with every drop of inner strength. I needed to leave.

My lover, my soul, my heart, my mate forever, had decided that I was simply no longer a fitting companion for an account executive of a major computer software design company. He had taken to drink and long hours away from our home; a nest I had painstakingly feathered to his approval. One night he arrived home drunk and reeking of another woman’s scent and, in the midst of one of those arguments in which he said things designed to hurt me, his hand finally struck me for the last time.

To be quite honest…indeed brutally so…he called me a freak. He prefaced several comments with; ‘A REAL woman wouldn’t…’ A ‘REAL’ woman; what did I need to do? What was not real? My cosmetic trappings certainly met, and vastly exceeded, the mental image I had of myself. I had little difficulty affecting the feminine airs because those airs permeated my soul and being since early childhood.

Of course I played no small part in this melodrama of Hitchcockian proportions. I was his enabler…to the max! I forgave everything all the time. No wound was too deep. No hurt too painful. No insult too demeaning or humiliating. Of course he was going to take advantage. Isn’t that what a user does? I was the ultimate disposable lover. I had only one demand; love me for who I was and he couldn’t even do that.

So here I am; gazing out into the whiteness in what little light existed as this day fades into Christmas Eve. In spite of my melancholic mood, I am determined to capture at least the most modest touch of the spirit of the evening. I took a leisurely bath in herb-scented water. I donned my comfiest flannel pajamas and fleece lined mocs. I finished my luxurious ensemble with my snuggliest wool sweater; classy, huh?

As the haunting voice of Jane Monheit came wafting through the door of my bathroom singing ‘Misty’, I proceeded to ‘put on my face’. I found no surer way to begin to feel myself faster than applying the colored powders and stains of my cosmetics. I could affect also any mood I desired with a few swipes and dabs of color. It was the right paint to do the canvas entitled ‘me’.

In keeping with the spirit of the evening I went somewhat conservative. I chose an ash grey for my eye lids with a slate grey liner. Black mascara was never a mistake in my book (short as that book might be). A bit of berry color on my cheeks to highlight a frosted light berry pink lipstick plus a berry lip liner and I was done enough for this solitary evening.

I pulled my blond hair back into a ponytail and cinched it with a scrungie. As I looked into the mirror and smiled I thought; ‘What the world is missing in you!’ Out of routine I reached for my scent and dabbed a touch on the pulse of my neck. God…we are such creatures of habit and routine!

I still had a bit to do before my fabulous feast for this evening would be ready. I needed to keep busy. Busy was my only salvation least my own sorrowful existence eat whatever remained of my heart. The electricity had gone out sometime during the previous night so I tended the various storm lamps and candles that warmly lighted my home. Once assured that I wouldn’t be left in the dark unexpectedly, I threw another log into the warmly glowing hearth’s fire.

I love this old house. I can’t say I did upon my first visit. The old clapboard needed painting badly and I instantly thought the inside would require enough work to constitute a second job. But upon my entering it for the first time, I was immediately struck by its cleanliness and its sparse functionality.

I stood before the hearth of the fireplace and felt the spirit of the house. I know this sounds silly but this small seven hundred square foot two bedroom house had a definite center; that special something that could anchor a family on this prairie. I smiled with the knowledge that if any place…any home…could offer me the shelter to find myself…my true self once again, this was it.

I attacked the job of feathering my new nest with zealousness reborn to me. The late summer-early fall offered opportunities to rummage through yard sales, flea markets, and ‘antique’ auctions to find the appropriate feathers for my new nest. Each purchase was attended to with an energy and fastidiousness that I could only describe as religious and ritualistic in nature.

I remember sitting and mulling over some crystal and beaded old fashioned shade pulls for nearly an hour before finally deciding that they did indeed fit into the image I had in mind. I discovered that I had an eye for detail that I never took advantage of before. My eye was always more interested in pleasing ‘him’. Now that there was no ‘him’; I was free to please only myself.

This place actually belonged to Agricorp, Inc. They were the largest landholder in our tri-county area. Technically I was an employee of the corporation that also ran the charter schools in our county. Evidentially this house, and the forty acres it sat upon, was the original home of the founder’s parents. They received the land as a government homestead in the late nineteenth century and the founder of Agricorp built it into a huge super farm.

I was luck to have this place become vacant with the departure of the last English teacher. Housing was defiantly sparse in this part of the world and most of the others rented apartments, and houses, were located in the same small town as our school.

I didn’t want to be in town. People asked too many questions there and I didn’t feel the answers would properly define who I truly was. I didn’t want my being reborn (I hate the word trans or any of it’s…other forms) to define me as it had back in San Francisco. I didn’t want to live in a segregated society based on my gender orientation any longer.

I am many things in this life but first and foremost I am a teacher. I did not want this overshadowed by being reborn as being reborn often does. I don’t know if I would have even been hired in this community if that fact was known. Others have not been hired, or lost their jobs, for less. The fewer questions I had to answer, the more secure I felt. I wasn’t going to lie about my past. I simply wasn’t going to offer up the truth.

My kitchen, with its wood-burning stove, was the most spirited part of the house. I smiled every time I entered. The room was normally well lighted with windows on three of the four walls. The cupboards had old-fashioned glass fronted doors. The double porcelain basins once did the dishes as well as the laundry. The one concession to modern living was a propane system to pump and heat the water.

I always smile and hum when I work in here. I love every little detail from the wooden wainscot to the tin covered walls and ceiling. The oil storm lamps provided a warm, almost sensual, glow to the space and the feel of the chopping block worktable as I cut veggies, or whatever, took me back to another, simpler, time.

My ‘feast’ for this evening wasn’t anything special or unusual. The components were donated by several of the families whose children were in my charge. One quarter of a stuffed goose made up the bulk of it. There was a small plum pudding and a freshly baked apple pie. Several small vegetable dishes made up the balance. My addition would be a salad.

All needed to be warmed and my wood burning stove was already up to the task. Once the salad makings were finished, and the dressing prepared, I placed them out the back porch door. I felt like having a bit of wine to ease myself into the night. Although the town shop’s offering was limited, the storekeeper was able to order me a decent bottle of white wine for my meal.

I poured myself a glass and walked back into the main room. I quickly glanced at my tiny tree, which sat upon a small reading table in front of the front window. What a giggle buying it was. And I needed to make my own ornaments small enough to decorate the thing. It brought a smile to my face as those small decorations glittered in the light of the lamps and the fire. I was actually beginning to feel like it was Christmas. Looking out the window briefly, I could see no letup in the snow fall as the wind beat against the glass pane making a slight rattling sound against its frosted and iced surface.

I looked over at the hearth’s glowing warmth and the couch that sat adjacent to it. That couch looked oh so comfortable and it truly was. I often laid down upon it to close my eyes briefly on a Sunday afternoon. It looked rather inviting at this moment with its colorful throw pillows and the two knitted wool comforters resting on the arms.

I couldn’t believe this place came fully furnished and in the flavor of a rustic farm house. But the extras were, once again, my feathers. I have this thing about buying from the local craftsmen and women. They were mostly the wives of the farmers and farm hands who picked up a few extra dollars at flea markets and such. Frequently those dollars were mine.

But I was that way back home…well…what was home in Frisco. I loved buying things from people who lived locally. It kind of offset the many things that had to be purchased from other places and countries. And crafts were so very personal in flavor and taste. I could really let my inner vision go at last. My only restrictions were the meager square footage of my present home though I really felt cozier rather than confined?

I always feel so comfortable…almost snuggled…as I lay on this couch. I tended to clasp one of the throw pillows in my arms as I do now. Glazing at the flames of the fireplace through the wine glass, and its pale yellow contents, always tended to make me sleepy; not to mention the wine itself. I have to smile…life is sooo good…even in my isolation...
  


* * *

What is that sound? Is somebody knocking at my front door? In this God forsaken weather??? My mind must be playing tricks on me. It must be the wine. No? There it is again! Somebody is at my door! I really hate to get up. I am feeling sooo relaxed and comfortable but… And anybody out in this weather must be crazy.

Oh God…the fire’s burned down a bit. Thankfully my moccasins are at foot. Who could that be at the door? It’s so very horrid out. Oh God! The window has a solid coating of frost on it. I can’t see who it is. I can see that it’s a he and he’s too hunched over to even tell if he’s young or old or what he’s even wearing.

Oh God! I need to open the door…to a stranger no less…on such a frigid night! I wish these doors had a security chain on them. No telling who’s out and about on such a night…and especially on Christmas Eve. At least I could button up my sweater. No doubt he’s lost and needs directions. Well…here goes…open it just a crack.

“Can I…oh my God!!!” Oh my God!!! He’s coated with snow and ice! And he has blood on his fore head! I’m more frozen in action than he is in person.

“Please…” His voice is quavering and he’s shivering with cold. He can barely speak. “…can you help me?”

My shock must have showed on my face. It took several moments of looking at his wretched condition before I am prompted into action. I open the door wide and, one hand clutching my sweater closed the other on his arm, I pull him in out of the blizzard. I close the door to have a better look at him.

“You poor soul! You’re frozen and drenched!” Drenched wasn’t the proper word. His clothes were soaked through and actually partially frozen. “Let me take your jacket.”

He was wearing a suit, shirt and tie. I tugged his jacket off and dropped it to the floor. He was trembling and too cold to assist or resist me. I took both of his cold hands and led him into the main room to stand in front of the hearth.

I knew enough to get him out of his soaked clothes. I instinctively began to loosen the laces on his shoes. They appeared to be very fine Italian leather shoes; ruined no doubt from becoming wet in the snow.

“Stay here…don’t move.” As if he was able.

I rush into my bedroom to retrieve a large bath towel and my former lover’s large terry cloth bathrobe. It was the only thing he owned that I coveted. It was one of those overly large soft fluffy robes that I loved to lounge in. Now, unfortunately in this case, I had a practical use for it.

I remove his shoes and place them on the side of the ledge in front of the hearth. I hope that not being directly in front would dry them without destroying them totally. I begin to unbutton his shirt after loosening his tie. It appears to be an expensive hand painted silk tie. I once bought two of them…for what’s his name.

I remove his shirt and quickly take the robe and begin to help him get his arms into the sleeves. I notice that he was now cognizant enough to watch me. I smile as I gaze into his powder blue eyes. He seems to be somewhat stunned, his mouth slightly open as if he was struggling to breath. I only could hope he didn’t have frost bite.

I loosen his belt and open the button and zipper. I lower his soaking wet pants to the floor and lift his still cold legs and feet one by one to remove them. Boxers…hmmm…good access. Oh dear God!!! What am I thinking??? This poor man is half dead with cold and here I am checking him out.

‘What’s his name’ always wore Jockey’s. He had such a cute ass and, what was worse, he knew it. But with Mister Mystery here…I can’t tell. I don’t know why I’m thinking such things anyway. I’ve not been with anyone in some time. Not since before I left. We hadn’t been sleeping together in some time. I have been scrupulously avoiding…involvements? At least until I get a grip on myself…my needs and desires and…requirements?

Hmmm…let me move this chair up in front of the hearth. There…now let me tie the sash of the robe and help him sit. He does have beautiful eyes. I need to wrap his feet in the towel. Off with his soaking socks. My God…look at the water drip out of them as I wring them out! Let’s see…I could hang them off of the fireplace tool stand. Now I can wrap his feet and place them on the ledge of the hearth.

“Thank you.”

His voice was soft but oh so very deep. The sound of it resonates throughout my body. It is a man’s voice for sure. I feel color coming to my cheeks and I coyly smile. I look at his forehead and gently touch his scalp and hair hoping to find the source of the blood.

“You have a nice touch…very gentle.”

Again that voice. I smile again but still say nothing. Ah…there it is…just up into his hairline. God…he has the blackest, thickest, and straightest hair I’ve ever seen.

“I need to get a few things. The cut isn’t too bad but it does need tending.”

I go and retrieved alcohol, some cotton balls and a washcloth from my bathroom. Upon returning I find him massaging his hands and arms.

“Still a bit cold?” He smiles and nods his head as I walk up to him and gently wipe the dried blood from his forehead. “What happened?”

“Well…I was on my way back to Sioux City. I wanted to drive by this old place to see how it was fairing. I veered off the road and into the irrigation ditch…I think. There was so much snow…” His voice trails off as he watches me wet the cotton with the alcohol. “I knew the new teacher was living here but I didn’t think anyone would be home tonight; especially this far out of town on this night.”

“I could have been but…” I take a deep breath and exhale slowly as I gently swab the cut and surrounding area. “…I wasn’t in the mood for company.”

“I could go back out I you wish.” He looked up at me with sincerity in his eyes.

“Oh no! Good heavens no!” I am somewhat shocked. I believe him. But he laughs. I like the sound of his laugh.

“I’m really glad you were here. I might have died out there. It’s a blessing that I even got to your front porch and I am surely blessed with your kindness. You are quite the angel.”

Oh my!!! An angel…now there’s a concept.

“Well…” Take another deep breath girl. “…you’ll live.” I turned and placed the first aid things down on an end table.

“I like what you’ve done to the old place.” He glanced around the room stopping to take in a longer view of one thing or another. “You have an excellent eye; especially for detail. Interior design a second livelihood?”

“No…” I also gaze around the room and smile. “I guess this place sort of called out to me? That sounds silly, doesn’t it?”

“Not really. There is a…certain spirit to the old house.” He understood. “Those who came out here had very strong and willful spirits. The life was quite harsh and the land was not very unforgiving. Do you know whose place this was?”

“No…well…sort of. I know that the founder of Agricorp was born here. I often wondered what the entire story was but I would forget to ask when I was in town.”

“This was the original Devlin homestead.”

“The Devlins?” I looked at him with curiousity. I had heard the name before but often not with kind words. “Who were the Devlins?”

“The Devlins?” He chuckled. “The Devlins became Agricorp. Old Cahill Devlin was born in this house. So were his sons. Oh…by the way…” He extended his hand toward me. “My name is Gabe.”

“Gabriel…like the arch angel.” Gabe…I like that. Oh God…there was such a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. My hand grasps his. He holds mine gently; cushioning my fingers in his large and strong hands. “My name is Laurie.”

“It’s very good to meet you Laurie.”

I noticed him rubbing his feet together. I instinctively unwrap the towel and, placing his feet in my lap as I sit on a stool by the hearth, I begin to massage them. They are still so very cold.

“Mmmm… You have such a gentle touch…lovely hands…warm hands.”

Oh God!!! I had ugly hands. Quick dummy…hide them. They are way big…a man’s hands in spite of the nails and the polish. That’s the one thing surgeons couldn’t fix.

“What’s wrong? Did I say something?” He looks truly concerned.

“It’s simply that…” Its ‘deep breathe’ time. “…it’s that I think my hands are ugly.” Okay…go ahead and laugh. I can take it. Lord knows I’ve heard far worse from ‘what’s his name’.

“Please…” He’s holding his hands out toward me palms up. “…let me see. I challenge you…no…I defy you to show me anything ugly about you.” I gaze into his eyes. He seems so…so very sure of himself as he calmly smiles back at me. “Tell ya what…let’s make a deal you and I…”

A deal? A deal? What kind of a deal? Why should I make a deal with him? Who is he anyway? Just a good-looking stranger named Gabe? Show him my hands? What for?

“What kind of a deal?” So I’m curious…so kill me.

“If you are really so frightened to show me your hands, then don’t. I certainly won’t insist. But if you do? Well…I promise not to make comments about you…or your hands. I only want to see what could possibly cause such wonderous comfort with the kindest of touches. Please…”

He once again holds his hands out toward me palms up. I look into his eyes… again. I don’t know why but…I slowly bring my hands out from behind me…slowly…carefully…without taking my eyes from his. My fingers touch his. I feel a jolt of electricity pass from Gabe’s fingers into mine and then up my arms and throughout my body.

The sensation is sooo intense that it frightens me at first and I feel like swiftly removing my hands and breaking the connection between us. But I hold myself fast. Gabe notices my reaction.

“Something wrong Laurie?”

I smile but, in truth, I hate the way I love the sound of my name on his lips. What was wrong with me? Why should I be so quickly taken with this…this stranger?

“I…” Oh my God! I’m fumbling for words. I suddenly feel like I’m back in high school speaking to the star athlete or something. I blush with that thought and smile…like the fool I am! “…I felt something odd when we touched…I mean our fingers touched.”

Gabe smiles gently and laughs. His eyes never leave my face. Gabe’s thumbs closed over my fingers holding them snuggly. His gaze switches from my face to my hands. Rubbing a fingertip along the tip of my index finger nail, he looks up at me.

“Your nails look like glass…so smooth and perfect.” Okay, so I have a nail polish fetish, so kill me. “But it’s your hands that are…special.” I try weakly to pull my hands back but Gabe holds them firmly.

“They’re big…and ugly.” I feel myself becoming emotional…exposed. I really hated my hands. I tried to distract from them by having a perfect manicure.

“No…” Gabe shook his head and softly crooned. “…these are the hands of a healer…strong and sure.”

“A healer?” A healer? I’ve heard stranger lines but not that I can easily recall. “I’m a teacher; not a nurse.”

“The worst sickness is that which cannot be seen.” He continued to look at my hands.

What an odd thing to say. But I did think about what Gabe said.

“The worst sickness is that which you inflict upon yourselves.”

What an even odder thing to say. ‘You inflict upon yourselves’ is such an odd way to express a thought. What an odd man. Oh Lord no! He’s kissing my fingertips!

If I keep speaking I won’t be able to scream. His touch…his lips on my finger tips…how totally exciting? No…more than merely exciting…ecstasy maybe? I sense such power in this man and yet such gentleness.

“Would you like something to eat? I haven’t prepared much but please…you’re welcomed to join me.”

“Yes, thank you. That would be quite delightful.”

“So…” I need to break my physical contact with Gabe as much as I would like to amplify it. But the longer he holds my hand, the greater my urge to…well…

He lets my fingers slide slowly from his grasp as I stand up. Gabe gets up as well. Thankfully he is taller than me. I certainly am not very tall but at five feet and ten inches I do have a tendency to top most women and a good percentage of men. But Gabe could easily rest his chin atop my head and perhaps then some.

“Please…let me help with whatever you need to prepare.”

“No…” I giggle and smile graciously. I think I need to keep my distance from this man. I think I trust him…but not myself!!! “…there’s really nothing to do other than serve.”

“May we eat in this room? It’s very…comfortable and warm.” He laughs and I tremble…with excitement.

What is wrong with me? Why do I find him to be so very attractive…and…well…sexy!!! I have never felt this…attracted to anyone before. Not even to what’s his name. It’s as though everything he does is to excite me. I mean…I love to window shop men? And I do so enjoy gazing at a guy who is physically…beautiful? But this goes way beyond that.

“Certainly. How about right here? I could move that table and if we conserve dish space…”

Gabe moved the small end table before I even finished speaking. He brought over another chair as well. I went to the kitchen and fetched our simple holiday meal. I felt good…even right…in bringing this ‘feast’ to the table. This is what I should have been doing for my own kin…not a stranger. But a stranger is all I have so I am going to derive the most from this ‘feast’ and his company.

“What is this?” Gabe asked as he bit into the goose I placed on his plate. I told him. Then he tried the plum pudding. “Ahhh…this tastes like one of Cora Jensen’s concoctions.”

“Good guess! How did you…”

“I know her style.” He smiled so brightly in the dimmed room lighting. “In fact, the Jensen’s and the Devlin’s once were very close. There is even blood shared between the two clans.”

“What happened to change that?” A mystery…how totally intriguing!

Gabe went on to tell the tale of two families on the plains. The Jensen’s arrived here a year or two before Connor Devlin. They helped one another during those first few very difficult years. Even after Connor married and he and his wife began to raise a large family, the Devlin’s and the
Jensen’s remained very close. Even a difference of faiths played no part in creating a rift between the families.

But, over the many years, the Devlin’s proved themselves to be not only extremely durable, but also extremely lucky. Connor Devlin, and his sons, acquired much of the land around them from less fortunate farmers. Eventually, during the great depression and the dust bowl draught that ensued, the Devlin’s acquired all the land of the Jensen’s.

The Jensen’s were forced to move to the city. They found their lot to be even worse in the city and went out west to California seeking a better life. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that one of the Jensen’s came back to Iowa to purchase a small farm on the boundaries of the Devlin’s holdings, now called Agricorp.

I listened completely captivated by this story. I feel so hypnotized by the sound of Gabe’s voice. My imagination ran a bit wild visualizing how terribly difficult life must have been for the Jensen’s.

Cora Jensen was perhaps the sweetest woman I have ever met. She immediately adopted me when I first came to town and often showered me with homemade treats and other delicate and fine things. She was quite gifted with her abilities to knit, needle point, sew and cook.

A woman in her early sixties, Cora’s daughter passed away at a young age…about my age actually, and she, and her husband John, continued to work the farm with the help of two younger cousins. I was often a guest at their home and sort of looked to them as the parents I wasn’t blessed with. I adored them and they adored me.

“I guess that’s why the Jensen’s don’t speak well of the Devlin’s? I mean…that is one subject that never comes up without a few harsh words and a quick change of topic.

“Well…over time these things become much clouded. But, truth to tell…Old Jimmie Devlin gave the Jensen’s more than a fair price for their lands way back when. They were able to pay the bank what was owed and they survived those harsh years. But…as I said…these things do become a bit confused over time.”

I don’t know why but I felt bad for both families. To have shared so much early on and to not even acknowledge one another today seems to be…a waste? I mean…so much history becomes so very lost with time as Gabe said.

“What a shame.” Ooops…a maudlin thought slipped in. But who wouldn’t feel bad?

“Ahhh…but perhaps there is grace in it all. Perhaps you will be the one to unite the two families. You have that healing power within you.”

I looked at Gabe for a moment. Then I had to laugh. I didn’t even have the power to keep myself whole let alone unite what has been apart for so long. And I knew nothing really about the Devlin’s, except for those very rare occasions at the Jensen’s. I certainly never even met one!

“Do you doubt me?” Gabe smiled…but this time it was a knowing smile. That irked me a bit.

“Only myself, Gabe. How do you know so much about the goings on in this obscure part of the world?” Misdirection usually works. I see no need to review my short comings any more than I already have.

‘Ohhh…I do visit from time to time. Like when the farmer’s co-opt was formed for the local farmers to compete with Agricorp. It was young Jack Devlin, of all people, who assisted in the organization of the co-opt. In fact I was visiting with one of the founders just before my little incident.”

Okay…so he visits on occasion. So he knows the locals. He even knew I moved into this place. This should spook me but…I don’t know…I feel…safe? And secure? And…oh God…even happy…or at least content?

We finished our simple meal and I cleared the dishes. Gabe gave me a hand in the kitchen after I gave him a pair of woolen socks. They were mine and, much to my dismay, they fit him, albeit snuggly. We settled on the couch with a glass of wine. I tucked my feet beneath me and, nestled in the corner with a throw pillow propped up behind me and one clutched to my breast, I sat back to allow myself some leisure.

“When the Jensen’s moved to California, they settled in Oakland with the assistance of some cousins out there. You’re from…?”

“San Francisco…but my grandparents grew up and met in Oakland.”

“Do you know much of your family’s history?

“I haven’t been very close with my parents or my brother and sister for…” Oh dear Lord! It’s been long enough that I have to think? “…some time now.”

“That is a shame.” Gabe actually sounded sad for me. “You do have much to offer. I would guess it is more their loss than yours.” All I could do was nod. I mean…I would like to think of it as their loss but…in truth…I do miss that ’family thing’.

“So…dear Laurie…how is it that you aren’t married and with a dozen children. To teach you must have some calling of sorts. And I would guess that you do love little ones.”

Boy!!! An arrow right through my heart on the first attempt!!!

“Well…”

“Forgive me if I’m being too personal.”

Yeah…sure…right!!! I wanted NOT to forgive him but I did anyway…and almost instantly. He hit two giant sore spots with one attempt!!!

“I’m…unable to have children though that would be my fondest and wildest dream.” I felt tears welling up in my eyes.

Control and contain yourself Laurie. This too shall pass…for a while anyway. Oh God!!! There’s that…that look of pity…and sympathy, which is even worse. ‘Oh poor Laurie!!! No functioning tubes and no eggs to sit upon and hatch.’ I could see it in everybody’s eyes that heard my sad and rather lame excuse…my half-truths.

If they only knew the real truth; reserved for the very few in my life. Indeed I saved that for people who wanted an excuse to be rid of me; like my family. My sister at least sent an occasional card berating me for my selfishness. What a sin I committed? Was wanting to have a real life of my own and with the accoutrements of the proper gender so terribly selfish? How dare I have a life not under someone else’s control; is that the problem?

“Anyway…” I looked off into the hearth and the lively fire that danced. “…I haven’t found the right one…yet.” I looked back toward Gabe, knowing that the ‘yet’ was a subtle hint; perhaps too subtle a hint?

Men can be sooo thick sometimes. Why am I sooo attracted to this…this stranger who will no doubt move on once morning comes and the storm breaks. I should tell him the truth of the matter. What the hell…why not test him? He’s somebody who simply came in out of the storm and will be gone soon enough. Anyway, I haven’t had THAT stare in quite some time; I’m due.

“I’m glad you added the ‘yet’.” Gabe leaned forward as if to impart some deep dark secret of his own. “You…” He’s taking my hands in his again. Oh God…his touch!!! “…you are not one to give up hope. I’m sure there is much you’ve overcome before coming here. This place…” He’s looking around at the walls? No…he means this desolate place I would guess. “…is like the ancient desert.”

Now I looked at him a bit askance. The ancient desert; what does he know of that?

“In ancient times…biblical times…the great prophets would always go into the Judean desert before entering Jerusalem to give prophecy and insight. They entered the desert to rid themselves of the dirt and filth we all accumulate amongst other people. Once their minds were free of the confining ways of society, they were able to see the Divine plan and tell others of it.”

I am listening as if I’m hearing a holy mantra. Gabe’s words are sooo…compelling. This did make a sort of sense to me. I did isolate myself from the old life in Frisco…and tonight even from the sparse life out here on the prairie.

“In fact, our Lord entered Jerusalem for the last time from the desert. So it is with you. You didn’t come here for the view, did you?” I laughed with Gabe. As if… “And you didn’t come here because of the cultural life.” I giggled this time. “You came into this wilderness to find yourself.”

Maybe he’s right. And what if he is? How do I find myself? For sure I am feeling a little bit lost.

“I…” I felt I should say something even if I didn’t know what. But Gabe held his index finger to my lips silencing me.

“You must first cast off the dirt of others…if that’s what you were going to ask.” He laughed and I blushed, smiled, and nodded. “And they have so tried to cover you with it, haven’t they.”

“Yes…” My voice trails off even with this one short word.

I feel all the emotion well up into tears. Everything I had been through; especially the past three years with what’s his name. All the innuendos, the slights, the humiliations, came to the fore front of my heart. I mourned our break up but I never had closure. And I couldn’t think of any way to put that part of my life to rest.

Gabe is hugging me as I quietly weep. I hate to cry over this crap…and in front of a stranger no less. I know it isn’t worth the trouble…but…I simply couldn’t help myself. The wounds have festered for way too long.
“It’s poison…what you’re letting out. It’s only a thorn that has gone septic. Let it go…let it all go. Let it all go.”

Gabe’s soft crooning of his mantra in my ear seemed to reach very deep inside me. I wept for a few minutes and then I suddenly knew what I had to do. What’s more…I knew I had to do this for me…not for him…us…or anybody else in the universe. I must sit upright. I must look him squarely in his eyes.

“My…” Come on Laurie…clear your throat. “I was born with the name Laurence. I was born a boy.”

It was as if an enormous weight had lifted from off my shoulders. I watched Gabe closely to see what his reaction might be. His gentle smile never changed but his eyebrows did arch in surprise. He’s taking my hands again…oh my!!!

“I really never would have guessed you know. Not in a thousand years. But…that’s not really what is ailing you…is it?” Gabe’s penetrating stare causes me to avert my eyes.

“No…it’s not.” I could barely whisper my response. I looked back into his blue eyes. How honest…how naked…need I get? “I want someone in my life.” My tears fell again. “I want someone I can share with. Is that too much to ask?”

“No.” Gabe smiled that knowing smile of his. “It’s not too much to ask for. That is what anybody would want.”

“Then why am I having so much trouble finding someone…anyone!” I burst into tears. My deepest of deep wounds opened…again. I hate to cry on anyone’s shoulder but at least Gabe’s is sooo…comfortable?

“You are not like the others…the ones who live in town. Your spirit is that of the people who first came to this place. You must surrender to that spirit; the independent and free self that resides within you. You must open your heart and push away from those in town…and the people like them. You must pull closer to those out here on the prairie; those like yourself. They are your people.”

I have to look at Gabe a bit askance. I really couldn’t see what he was getting at. There was no doubt in my heart of hearts that I did feel something strong for these people. I felt comfortable among them in spite of myself. Maybe I was too emotional at this moment to understand? He must have been reading my mind as he continued.

“If you open yourself completely to these good people, he will come from them. He will be one of them. And he will see you, as you really are, not as who you might have been. You must have faith…in yourself.”

Sure…easier said than done…maybe. But it certainly couldn’t hurt to open up a bit to the Jensen’s and some of the other families that have approached me in the past. But I’ve yet to see anyone…any man…who might be…available…let alone amenable?

“He never really saw me as a woman…what’s his name. I’m not really sure how he viewed me. I do know that for some weird reason he continued to live with me. I am truly glad it is over; with closure or not.”

“It really was the weakness in him that appealed to the weakness in you.”

“What?” What? What weakness? Which one? I was wide eyed in…shock. Was this really my own fault?

“Your weakness is that you would give up control for the sake of approval and acceptance. It probably wasn’t until you had your final…change that he really began to reject you. You would mother the world if you could. The only thing you didn’t count on was having a big baby instead.” Gabe laughed. I knew instinctively that he wasn’t laughing at me but at what’s his name. “You grew up but he didn’t. It’s that simple.”

Hmmm… Maybe? I mean…I’ve heard all this before in one way or another. But I don’t know…hearing this from Gabe is like…it’s like I’m hearing it for the first time. It all seems to make sense.

“In your classroom…when you teach…you help your children but yet you still demand a certain amount of work they must do for themselves. It’s okay to wash his socks if he gets your dry cleaning. It’s wonderful to make him a meal if he does the dishes. I would guess your man never did any of those things.”

I hung my head and looked down at my fingernails. I often did this when…well…when I knew that what I was hearing was right and have no excuse for really thinking otherwise.

“You have a great power within you.” Gabe took my face in his hands as he spoke. His touch was warm, and gentle. “But you must heal yourself first. You must truly learn to feel good about yourself. You must embrace the control you have over your own life. You have given it up to others for too long. You have always been female and seeking your true self has been a positive thing…has it not? If anything…you were always a girl trying to pass for a boy!”

Gabe smiled broadly as what he said sank into my self-absorbed mind. I was a girl trying to pass as a boy. What a novel idea. It was true. I remember trying to act like the other boys when I was younger and having little, if any, success.

“You are very beautiful…in here…” He’s touching his finger to where my heart is. It’s a soft touch. I barely feel it. “But…you must allow that to show. It’s not what you are…or were. It’s who you are that is important and that person is very beautiful. You will find someone who can see that. And he will be blinded to everything else. I can help you if you’d like. But the work must be yours.”

Gabe has his hands on my cheeks; gently holding my face. The way he held my face…the way he gazed into my eyes…I knew he was very serious and I believed him completely. He could help me.

“What would be your greatest wish…your greatest desire? What do you want more than anything else in this world?”

“Oh my God…” I knew instantly what I wanted more than anything. “Happiness…and I want to be content…with myself. I want to feel…serenity!”

Gabe looked at me and smiled. I think I can see a tear or two forming in his eyes. His hands are still on my face.

“So shall it be.”

Is that all? You say, ‘So shall it be’ and it is? Oh God. He’s leaning further forward. He’s kissing my forehead. Now his lips are directly in front of mine. I want to kiss him so badly. But his lips just touch mine. I felt…I felt something I have never felt before. I don’t know what it is. I am sooo frightened and yet I’m so thirsty…for him…his touch!

It’s over now. He leans back still holding my face in his hands.

“I must go now. In the morning, you’ll know what to do.”

“Go??? Go??? Where are you going to go??? There’s a snowstorm raging and your car is stuck in the snow!!! Please…stay till the morning at least.”

I was begging…I know. I wanted him to stay sooo badly that I would have given almost anything to have that happen. Where would he go anyway? Was he totally crazy? Oh God NO!!! He’s getting up and gathering his things!!!

“No!!! Wait!!! Please wait!!! You can’t go out in this weather!!! WAIT!!!”

“WAIT!!!”

Oh God!!! Where am I??? I must have fallen asleep! Let me look around…everything is in place. The end table is in its spot. His clothes are all gone. Wait! Let me look in the kitchen. Oh my God! The food is all there! It was a dream…only a dream. But it was sooo real. I must be going crazy. Maybe it’s the wine?

What time is it? Oh dear Lord! I’ve slept nearly four hours! It’s only a few minutes until midnight. The entire evening is almost gone. Wait…let me check… My bathrobe is still in the spot where I keep it. He wouldn’t have known where so it must have been a dream. I need some wine.

What an intense dream! Imagine…someone that perfect. It had to be a dream. Nobody like that exists…and certainly not for me. Let me sit and have a sip…no…a gulp! What is that sound? Oh no…it’s someone at the door! This better not be deja vous all over again! Okay…maybe it’s somebody just coming to see how I am. But in this weather? I’d better get up and see who it is.

Let me peek through the curtain. Oh my God!!! It looks just like Gabe…from the back anyway. I’d better open the door. Okay girl…here goes. He’s turning to look. Oh dear Lord…those blue eyes!

“Gabbie? Is that you?” His voice goes right through me! He looks sooo cold…almost frozen. “Gabrielle?”

“Uhhh…no. My name is Laurie. Gabe? Don’t you…”

“My name is Jack…Jack Devlin. Have we met?”

My heart simply melted and tears came to my eyes. It was now seconds after midnight. It was morning. I felt…I felt powerful…and whole…and so very strong. This is what Gabe meant. This is what he said would happen. I took this new, not so much a, stranger by his half frozen and drenched jacket sleeve and pulled him into my home as I spoke.

“My name is Laurie Olsen. Maybe we met…in a dream?”


Merry Christmas-Happy New Year-
And May We All Know Peace and Serenity!!!


Author’s Notes:

I haven’t posted in quite some time due to an insanely full life complete with many little ones, several big ones and assorted multi-sized other ones. I have also been consumed with writing the great American T.G. novel. This is a tome hopefully worthy of resting alongside of ‘The Old Woman and the Sea’ by Ernestine Herringway, ‘The Drapes of Ruth’ by Johanna Steinbeck, and ‘Trout Cooking in America’ by Rachel Brautigan.

This ‘wee bit o’ fluff would not have been…fluffed (?) without the immeasurable assistance of DiMaggio and Associates, my literary agents and representatives extraordinaire. Of particular mention are Drea and Alison Mary for their patient and insightful advice, and Belle Mead for her artistic eye. The editing, proofreading, and tidying up chores were performed by their talented staff.

My sincere apologies to Diane Kruger whose picture I glommed off the web. Ms. Kruger’s cosmetic stylist is yours truly using the Estee Lauder Virtual Makeup Tool on their official website. I must confess that it is one of my favorite toys. The colors are, of course, exclusively by Estee Lauder.



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