A storm was brewing and Charles Martin Thompson the Third knew it. It was not one that would sweep across the frozen lake he was looking at outside his living room window. No, this storm would be inside the massive house along Lake Minnetonka his family had called home for three generations. Taking a sip from the glass of Scotch in his hand he tried to prepare himself for the night that was approaching. A night where two distinct fronts would move in and change the course of this family for a long time to come.
On one front was his wife Marilyn. The term wife could only be used loosely these days, she was more of a housemate than a spouse. Once they had been in love. They had been seen as the ‘it’ couple within the upper society of Minneapolis. The children of two the wealthier families of Minneapolis who were both attractive and well behaved. Eventually they had married and a few years after that they began to raise a family. But after the summer of 2008 the relationship had changed. That summer marked the death of their youngest child, Abigail. No Marty, as he was known, could not point to that one specific event of his marriage’s down fall. It had probably begun before that, if the rumors he heard were true. But Abigail’s death had proven to be a milestone event in the disintegration of a marriage. Following that Marilyn had withdrawn into her clubs and charitable organizations. And her booze. She seemed to drink a lot and as time had gone on that amount had increased as had the difficult relationship with her husband and surviving daughter.
The second front of the storm was that said daughter, Jennifer. Jennifer had not handled the death of her younger sister very well. She had withdrawn into a shell following Abigail’s death. A shell which she never came out of until recently. The cracking of the shell is what was forming the second front. In October, she had started seeing a young man named Alex. Alex seemed to be a polite young man the couple of times Marty had met him, but as he had found out that was a shell of his own. Shortly after he and Jenny had started dating or simultaneously, Alex had begun transforming into Alexa. And Jenny had accepted it, not only that she assisted Alex in his transformation. Now the two were virtually inseparable. This had not gone over well in private with Jennifer’s mother. Marilyn thought the whole situation was an affront to ‘decent’ society. Marilyn had always been one of those “limousine liberals” as commentators liked to call her kind. Sure, she would stand up publicly for the rights of all people regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation but behind closed doors she was as big a bigot as Archie Bunker. And when the ‘Alexa situation’ had manifested itself, Marilyn was furious. Luckily for Jenny when Marilyn was made aware of everything, they were separated by almost two thousand miles. Tonight, was to be the first meeting between mother and daughter.
Marty for his part didn’t know what to think. His views were much different than his wife’s. Despite the wealth he had grown up with, he had been raised to believe that all people were equal. He had never had an issue with homosexuality, if that is what this was. That acceptance had been hammered home to him by his mother. However, the concept of wanting to present yourself as a different gender baffled him. He had always considered himself a man and had a fondness of proving that at times, which had included minor dalliances with other women. The idea of putting on a dress and heels was as foreign to him as calculus to a toddler. However, Jennifer’s attraction to this person was going to thrust the issue front and center with this family.
The interesting thing in all of this was that Jenny and her friend had an ally in the family squabble that was about to present itself. And if Jennifer was to have an ally, there was no better person to have than Marty’s own mother, Mary. His mother was the Eighty-five-year-old matriarch of the family who had seemed to get even feistier as she had aged. At eighty-five she was as sharp as she had ever been and was not afraid to state whatever opinion she held. One of those opinions was her dislike of Marilyn. His mother and Marilyn had never really gotten along and Marilyn’s actions over that last few years had strengthened that hatred. Mary had always thought her daughter-in-law had been raised with too much privilege. Mary on the other hand had not grown up with the privilege she had married into. She was the daughter of a policeman/bar owner and a stay at home mother who was working as a secretary at the Thompson Companies when she had met her future husband, Charles. Theirs’s was a whirlwind romance that Marty’s grandmother had a hard time accepting but one that was rooted in a deep love for one another. And when Mary had children she made sure they knew the ethic of hard work. Maids did not pick up after Marty and his siblings and one form of manual labor was always put before them by Mary. And it had worked for the most part. Even though Marty, his only sister and the one brother had all lived lives of luxury they also knew the value of hard work.
So, it was this set of circumstances that was about to create a firestorm in the home that had been built so many years ago by C.M. Thompson and had been passed down through his namesakes. Marty felt he should stay neutral in all this, but his heart and his head kept leading him to favoring one side, Jenny’s. He had grown tired of Marilyn and her drinking and when the rumors of her infidelities became louder his love for his wife had slowly eroded. Jennifer was his only child, a child he had somewhat neglected as he had thrown himself at the family business following Abigail’s untimely demise. He had abandoned the whole family after that and now as he was getting older those decisions were starting to haunt him. It was time for Marty to make some changes. Tonight was originally supposed to be a family chat about the future but the inclusion of Alexa into the mix had turned the evening of dinner and discussion in a new direction.
Marty took one final long pull from his glass, draining it off the last of the twelve-year-old Scotch that had filled it. A deep breath followed by a sigh of resignation. The world was about to change for his family tonight and as he moved to the liquor cart to pour himself another drink his thoughts of situation were still murky. As he returned to the window, the unmistakable sound of the family cook chastising his daughter announced she had arrived. For the first time tonight, he smiled. Looking out at the frozen lake he asked his father and grandfather for one final word of advice.
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