(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
This is a work of fiction any mention of real people, places or institutions is purely coincidental and does not imply that they are as suggested in the story.
I sat looking at Henry with almost bated breath, what was it he was hesitating to tell me? Had my dubious gender history caught up with me? Was he going to tell me they no longer needed an ecology expert or that some of the directors had complained that I was besmirching the board? I was a big girl, I could deal with it now. I wouldn’t like it, none of us do enjoy rejection but I should be used to it now. It’s happened all my life from football teams to good friends, as soon as they find out, it’s over. At least I had some fun and made a few quid and let’s face it, nothing lasts forever, even if misery might feel like it does.
“Cathy, you’re not listening to me, are you?”
I blushed, “I’m sorry so assumed it’s bad news, what with Brexit and the EU claiming we owe them sixty billion euros or something like that, that you want me to resign from the board or as your ecological advisor.”
“Why did you get that idea from?”
“Why else would you ask to speak to me in private rather than in front of Simon?”
“I can think of many, but you’d say no anyway so I have to keep my love unrequited.”
“You are so full of ox manure, dearest father in law, I don’t believe a word you say about all that. You know perfectly well my history and that alone should put you off desiring a tryst with someone who used to be a boy.”
“Do trans people ever grow out of that stigma?”
“I don’t know, I’m just used to defending myself against innuendo and gossip, most of which was actually as well as factually, wrong.”
“Cathy, I am going to say this just once because it’s becoming an old record. None of us believe you were ever a boy, we see you only as you are now, a lovely young woman who happens to have the misfortune to be married to my ditzy son. You have an impressive academic record and career...”
“Only because your bank has funded it at.”
“Hardly, you’d pretty well got yourself two degrees before we even met, which was over my son’s idle body in the QA if I recall correctly.”
“He’d been shot, Henry.”
“So have I and if you remember it was a bit more serious than a few shotgun pellets.”
“Did the scars ever heal up?”
“What scars? My healing angel didn’t do half a job, I’ll have you know.”
“Glad to hear it,” I blushed.
“I never really thanked you for that, did I?”
“What? Doesn’t buying me a nature reserve here and up in Scotland constitute a nice thank you?”
“That was partly a tax fiddle and a commemoration of our lost granddaughter.”
“Thank you for that.”
“Including Billie in it.”
“Puir wee soul, she deserved better than she got.”
“I’m sure that applies to millions of children worldwide.”
“But they’re not my grandkids.”
“They’re somebody’s grandchildren.”
“Let them pay then.”
“Why d’you pretend to be so hard hearted?”
“I am, it’s just you I have a soft spot for.”
“And all my children.”
“Cathy, if they’re your children, they must be my grandchildren.”
I pecked him on the cheek and it was his turn to blush. “I can see where Simon gets his generosity from.”
“Damn, I thought I’d had it extracted when he was a boy—and unlike you, he was one. I’ve seen those photos of you as Lady Macbeth in the local paper, even they thought you were a girl, didn’t they? I also heard you’d played the Blessed Virgin Mary in primary school.”
“Where did you hear that?” It was my turn to blush.
“I heard it was to great acclaim.”
“Well there can’t be many boys with that on their CV.”
“You weren’t one, were you? I heard your own father didn’t recognise you at the nativity play.”
“The only one who could have told you that was Simon, I’ll kill him.”
“The first sensible suggestion so far.”
I glared at him and he just chuckled back at me like some demented goblin.
“He’s the only one I told about that.”
“It’s like that boy/girl racing cyclist Trish likes to read about, you destiny seems to have landed you in skirts or the female role despite your efforts to hide from it.”
“Does Simon tell you everything?”
“No he doesn’t, nor does Stella. No, I have a feeling we were talking about how abused you’d been for trying to be a girl when you were young and he told me about the two plays—no boy could have pulled those off.”
“My mother was furious when the school rang and asked if she minded if they switched my part to a more important one because of sickness.”
“So you got promoted from shepherdess to BVM in one fell swoop.”
“I still can’t think why they had to use me, but I’m glad they did, I had fun once I stopped pretending to be a boy and just played the part.”
“How old were you?”
“And you can remember feeling that?”
“Yes. I didn’t want to play Mary—well, yes I did—but I was trying so hard to be a boy so I played hard to get with the teacher.”
“But once you relaxed you let the girl inside you show?”
“Yeah, I suppose I did.”
“Playing a girl wasn’t your greatest acting role, Cathy; pretending not to be one for so many years was. I’m so glad for you and all the rest of us that you stopped and that you met Simon. We all love you to bits, you know and those kids would die for you.”
I felt a tear slip over the edge of my lower eyelid and it dripped down my cheek.
“Hey, don’t cry.” He drew me into a massive hug and held me while I wept for several minutes. “Let the pain of all those times when they told you, you weren’t a girl, out and never ever doubt that’s what you’ve always been and ever will be, and we all love you.”
Eventually, I pulled away and felt completely stupid—fancy showing all that emotion in front of my father in law. I was blushing and dabbing with tissues at my red face and even redder eyes. What a fool, what’s he going to think of me now?
“Sorry, I don’t know what came over me,” I said blushing when I felt able to talk.
“We all need to offload these things from time to time. You seem to spend your entire life accepting everyone else’s pain but never having time to deal with your own. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything but I’m glad you trusted me to hold you while you let it go.”
“Thank you, Henry, but please don’t tell the others, they think I’m neurotic enough now.”
“You’re not neurotic, you care so much that they don’t quite understand and thus mislabel it. Don’t stop being you, we all need a bit of contact with saintliness to remind us do the decent thing—in my case—once in a blue moon.”
I smiled at his fib.
“So if you aren’t going to sack me, what did you wish to talk about?”
“Oh that, yes, well it’s like this...”
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