A Blank Page - Chapter 5


A Blank Page
Chapter 5
By Flummox


A feeling of awkwardness permeated the air as Raymond entered the school. People pointed at him, and whispered about the prior day's events in muted voices. Apparently, the rumor mill had started, as several students questioned Ray mercilessly. The whole scenario had been blown out of proportion by the gossip chain. Some students claimed that Ray had attacked Mr. McMan, others claimed Mr. McMan had tried to kill him. Ray tried to quell the rumors whenever he could, but few were interested in the truth, as it was much less interesting.

Ray hated the undue attention the incident brought him, but ultimately couldn’t do anything about it. So, he just tried his best to ignore the eyes that followed him and the whispers that came in his wake. By the time Art class finally arrived he had become a bundle of raw nerves.

Art class brought the relief he so desperately needed, and when class ended he found himself in the right frame of mind to talk to Ms. Mira.

“Hey Ms. Mira,” He greeted as he approached her, “I have those papers you needed.”

“Excellent!” She proclaimed, “So I trust this means your parents are okay with it?”

“Well, I needed to convince them about the whole…” He looked around to see if anyone was listening. Convinced that they were focused on their work, he continued in a whisper, “the whole disguise thing.”

“But they agreed in the end?” she asked for confirmation.

Ray nodded, pulling out the papers. He hesitated for a moment, before holding them out.

Ms. Mira took them gently, mistaking his guilt at forging his parents’ signatures for nerves.

“Wonderful.” She said after a brief inspection. “I’ll head over and submit these tomorrow after school. Assuming everything checks out, and that your work is of satisfactory quality, the first showing is next Friday. Whatever disguise you use will need to be ready by then.”

“First showing?” Ray inquired, unfamiliar with the process he’d be going through.

“Yeah, here’s how it’ll work.” She explained. “All the entrants will submit their 5 piece portfolio to the art gallery. The directors of the event will eliminate any student’s works they don’t believe to be of the level of skill they’re looking for. From my understanding, they won’t be too harsh, they’re just going to be eliminating anyone who is obviously below the level of the rest. I doubt you’ll have any issues here. Next there’ll be three showings, each more cutthroat than the last. All the entrants will be attending the showings to see the other pieces and show their own. Their will be a panel of judges inspecting all the pieces as well. They will eliminate more entrants at each showing until only the best students remain. Those students will have their work featured in the art gallery, will have a chance to meet and impress the influential attendees to the gallery, and might even have a chance to sell or auction off their work if they so desire.”

“Wow, this whole thing is a lot more serious and complex than I thought.” Ray said after she finished her explanation.

Ms. Mira laughed and told him to be on his way to his next class.

Nodding, Ray turned to leave, only to see his sister at the door.

“Hey Eva, what’s up? You need something?” he asked.

She just laughed.

“What make’s you think I’m here to see you?” she teased.

At his baffled look, Ms. Mira explained, “Evalyn told me she needed to talk to me. I told her now was the best time. Have a good night, and I’ll see you next class Raymond.”

“Oh, okay. Bye Ms. Mira, bye Eva. See ya after school.”

Raymond took his leave.

“So what was it you needed to talk to me about?” Ms. Mira inquired.

“Well,” she began, “Ray told you about my idea for the art gallery, right? About using an alias?”

At Ms. Mira’s nod of confirmation Evalyn continued.

“It’s about that. I told Raymond I’d have his disguise ready, but in order for this to work he needs to enter under a different name. It would defeat the purpose if on his application he was still listed as Raymond Danahy right?”

“Are you suggesting we should lie about his identity on the official application as well?” Ms. Mira asked, an edge creeping into her voice.

Evalyn didn’t let the comment deter her and plowed forwards.

“Yes.” She said certainly, “If our parents’ signed off on it, it shouldn’t be an issue, right? I’m assuming you had Ray get out parents’ permission, right?”

“Well I suppose,” Ms. Mira admitted, “It still doesn’t sit right with me though.”

“And I totally get that,” Evalyn assured her, “But Ray needs to do this. He REALLY needs to do this. I haven’t seen his work yet, but as his teacher you have, right?”

“Well, yes.”

“And he’s really good, right?”

“Incredible for someone his age.” Ms. Mira answered honestly.

“If he does this,” Evalyn explained patiently, “And people love his work, to him it will mean the world. It will validate him. This could be the only way for him to gain the self confidence he desperately needs. And the only way for this to work is to use an alias.”

Ms. Mira was convinced. “Okay.” She agreed, “So why are YOU here to see me? What do you have to do with all this?”

“It’s just like I said. I’m helping Ray with his disguise, which is just about ready. I’m here today to give you the name he’s going to enter under.”

She handed Ms. Mira a folded piece of paper. “Spell it just like that.”

Evalyn prepared to leave as Ms. Mira opened the note. Her eyebrows raised in surprise.

“Uhhhh, are you sure about this Evalyn?” She asked, “This doesn’t seem like a very masculine name.”

Evalyn looked at her, “It’s not supposed to be.” She said with a wink before leaving.

Ms. Mira just shrugged and went about filling out the necessary papers, changing any entries of ‘Raymond’ to the name he would be bearing for the event.
 

~o~O~o~

 
The rest of Raymond’s day went peacefully with the exception of the nagging guilt over lying to Ms. Mira and forging his parents’ signatures. He was leaving the school and heading down to his sister’s car when he was suddenly pulled backwards by his backpack. Balance lost, he collapsed to the ground.

Groaning, Ray started to push himself up, looking around for the cause of his fall. It didn’t take long to find it, as a pair of strong hands grabbed him by the collar and dragged him roughly to his feet.

Before he could do anything, his back was slammed against the wall, “Not so tough now huh?” Gregory Pilsing spat venomously.

Gregory Pilsing was a tall, muscular boy. He was in grade 12 with Ray’s older brother Sebastian, although they weren’t friends as far as Ray knew. The main thing Ray knew about him was that Greg was the older brother of Derek Pilsing. The boy who had ruthlessly tormented him the previously year.

“What’s the matter you little bitch?” he seethed, “You incapable of fighting your own battles? Well you’ve gone too far this time. Getting Mr. McMan suspended was a mistake. Are you such a little girl that you can’t take a bit of good natured teasing?”

The scene was causing quite the commotion. Everywhere around them, students were watching. As the school day had just ended, more people kept flowing out of the school, each stopping in turn to watch the encounter unfold.

“Let go. You’re hurting me.” Ray said in a small voice. It was all he could manage at the moment. With everyone watching he was surprised he even managed that. He felt the familiar feeling of his chest tightening, his breathing becoming short sharp gasps, his mind going blank.

“Good. You should be hurt.” Greg continued, “It’s only fair after you hurt my little brother and Mr. McMan. You cried and ran to Mr. Michaelson when Derek made a little joke. You got him detention. For TWO WEEKS.” He said, as if his little brother had actually been sentenced to death.

“And Mr. McMan? You’ve went out of your way to damage his livelihood. Just because he tried to help you get healthy.”

Tears were streaming down Ray’s cheeks. It wasn’t like that. It hadn’t been his fault. That’s not how it went. There were so many things he wanted to say, but no words would come.

“Huh?” Greg asked, as a small hand tapped him on the shoulder. He turned to look at the source.

The sound of flesh on flesh snapped through the air. Greg’s head flew to the side. All around them, students were cringing and wincing just at the sound.

Ray looked over, blinking away the tears and confusion.

Evalyn stood next to them. Eyes closed in pain, cradling an obviously throbbing hand.

Ray realized what had happened.

Evalyn had slapped Gregory. Hard. She had practically ripped his head off.

Greg gritted his teeth and looked at her with unbridled fury.

Then, unexpectedly, he laughed. Finally getting a hold of himself, he turned to look at Raymond again.

“Wow! You really are pathetic. Even little girls are stepping up to fight your battles and protect you.”

“As for you,” he said menacingly, taking a menacing step towards Evalyn.

Oh God no. Not Eva. Ray tried to move. He had to protect her. But he couldn’t. He was still petrified. The eyes were everywhere, and the three of them were the center of attention.

“Hmph. Idiot.” Evalyn scoffed at the large boy, completely un-phased by his advances.

“What?” Greg said, eyebrows furrowing in confusion, not understanding.

She shook her head slowly, as if she were explaining something to a particularly slow child.

“You said that Ray was pathetic for needing a little girl like me to protect him, but you’re wrong. He doesn’t need me to protect him. That’s what the two of us have him for.” She said, nodding over Greg’s shoulder.

Greg turned to look behind him in confusion. He turned around just in time to see Sebastian bull rushing towards him, a split-second before he was blown off his feet.

Sebastian landed on top of him, and while Greg did outsize him and was an athlete himself, Sebastian was in the more dominant position, and was not a pushover by any means.

Moments later Sebastian had Greg’s arms pinned to the ground with his knees and his fist poised to strike down at the boy’s face. Pure fury was written all across his face.

Finally, Ray managed to breakthrough his self-imposed prison.

“Stop. Stop Seb.” He said, stumbling over and grabbing his brothers readied arm. “He’s not worth it. Don’t do it. Let’s just- let’s just go home.”

Sebastian licked his lips. Finally, after staring down at his prisoner for another second, he slowly nodded.

“You listen, and you listen carefully.” Sebastian said, rage barely held in check, “I’m gonna tell you the same thing I told that piece of trash you call your little brother last spring. You fuck with my family, you fuck with me. And Like Eva just said, I’m their protector. You DON’T want to fuck with me.”

With that, Sebastian slowly rose to his feet.

He turned to look at Ray and Evalyn, cold fury still raging in his blue eyes.

“Let’s go home.”

He stopped to take one last look at Gregory, just now climbing to his feet.

“One last thing,” Sebastian called out, “Next time, not even my little brother will be able to talk me down.”

When the three siblings finally made it to Evalyn’s car, Ray couldn’t help himself. He threw his arms around his big brother and big sister, drawing them into a big hug.

Finally, he pulled away, “S-sorry,” he said, suddenly embarrassed by his actions, “I just don’t know what I’d do without you guys.”

Sebastian just nodded, “Well you don’t have to know. Cuz you’ve got us. And we’ve got your back Ray. No matter what.”
 

~o~O~o~

 
Apparently, someone had reported the confrontation to the school, who had in turn reported it to the parents of the involved parties. Catalina and Jameson were not impressed that their kids had gotten into such a conflict on the third day of school, but they heard them out, and afterwards they found it hard to be angry. Someone had been attacking Ray unprovoked, and his siblings had looked out for him, as siblings should. It didn’t seem right to punish any of them for that.

The last two days of the week passed uneventfully. Ms. Mira submitted Ray’s entry with his 5 piece portfolio to the art gallery and informed him that they should know by Wednesday if he had made it to the first showing.

The days crept by slowly—too slowly for Ray. Barely containing his excitement, Ray passed the time by running with Sebastian, gaming with Bunny, and reading. He knew that Evalyn would mention the art gallery at home if he couldn’t convince her not to, but he also knew she could read him like a book. So he decided he’d just tell her the truth, that their parents didn’t know yet, and he wanted to keep it that way. He left out the bit about forging their signatures, and thankfully she didn’t ask.

Finally, Wednesday arrived. Ray could barely sit still in class throughout the day. He ate his lunch outside the art room so he could be there the moment Ms. Mira showed up, and finally she did.

He leapt up to meet her when she came around the corner.

“Good afternoon Ms. Mira!” he said excitedly.

“Good afternoon Ray.” She returned, smiling at his excitement.

She unlocked the room and entered, him following behind her like an overeager puppy.

Finally he couldn’t wait any longer.

“So?!” he asked.

“So what?” she asked back, feigning ignorance.

“So did I make it to the first showing?!” he asked.

She just smiled and continued to watch him.

“C’mon Ms. Mira.” He whined.

“But I’m having so much fun watching you squirm.” She teased with a laugh.

He groaned.

“Yes.” She said, looking all too pleased with herself.

He looked up in shock. “Yes? You mean I made it?!”

“I mean you made it.” She said with a smile, “I don’t know why you’re so excited though, I told you didn’t need to be worried about this part, so I don’t know why you’re acting like a giddy school girl.” She teased.

Ray laughed, “I dunno, I guess this is just my first time doing anything like this.”

Ms. Mira smiled, when Ray was happy his smile sure was infectious.

“Well you had better be ready. You and I are going to the first showing this Friday.”
 

~o~O~o~

 
Ray was in his last class of the day when his phone buzzed. With as much subtlety as he could muster, he pulled it out of his pocket and glanced at the message. It was from Bunny.

Can u go online?? We need 2 talk!

Glancing at the teacher, and believing he could get away with it, Ray typed back a quick message.

I’m in class. What’s up?

He went back to paying attention until his phone buzzed again.

I just found out where I’m moving. When r u home???

Ray’s heart stopped for a second. He had been wondering when this news would come.

Where? Just tell me.

The reply came almost instantly.

No Just go home asap

Oh God. If Bunny wouldn’t tell him it really must be serious.

Fine. I’ll be on as soon as I get home.

Now his imagination was going wild. Where could he be moving to? What if it was on the opposite side of the world? Ray would always be sleeping when Bunny was online. What if- Oh God. What if he moved somewhere worse? Somewhere with no internet access?! They’d never speak again!
 

~o~O~o~

 
Ray ran to his room the moment his sister pulled up to their house. He threw his door open and closed again, grabbed his controller and booted up the game system. Bunny Immediately invited him to a chat.

“Hey Rayny! Ho-

“We’re still gonna be friends, right?!” Ray interrupted him, skipping their usual joke greeting.

“Rayny-

“Even if you move to the other side of the world and one of has to get up super early and the other stay up super late.”

“Rayny, you’re over-

“Even if you go somewhere without internet access, like the middle of the desert, or something, we’ll find a way to stay in touch, right?!”

“Rayny! Calm-

“Even if-

“I’M MOVING TO VANCOUVER.”

Silence.

“Y-you’re what?” Ray stammered, sure he had misheard him.

“I’m moving to Vancouver Rayny! We’re gonna be able to meet in real life you big idiot.” Came Bunny’s voice through the headset, laughter following shortly afterwards.

“Whaaa?” Ray slurred, not comprehending.

Slowly the story came out. The reason Bunny’s father’s company had taken so long was they highly valued him and wanted to give him some options to keep him and his family happy. When Bunny’s parents saw that one of their options was Vancouver they jumped at it. The way they saw it, it would make for an easier adjustment for the whole family as they wouldn’t be shifting time zones. In addition to that they would only be a few hours away from their old home in Seattle and would be able to make visits to their old friends and family.

Meeting in real life had been something Bunny and Ray had discussed before as they had always only been a 5-hour drive apart. The main thing that had prevented the meeting was that Ray didn’t drive, and while Bunny did, his parents weren’t exactly okay with allowing their underage son to make a 5-hour drive across international borders just to meet a friend from the internet. A friend who could really be anyone.

“I can’t believe it.” Ray said, still stunned, “When’s the move?” he asked.

“I dunno the exact date.” Said Bunny, “Maybe a month?”

“Wow.” Was all Ray could say.

Bunny just laughed. “Anyways, I gotta go Rayny, lots to do to prepare. See ya soon.”

See ya soon. Those were words he never expected to hear from Bunny when he woke up that morning. It had been an amazing day.
 

~o~O~o~

 
Thursday came and went uneventfully, Evalyn told him that she would meet him at the art room after school on Friday with his disguise, she’d would help him get ready. Then he’d catch a ride with Ms. Mira to the showing. They would tell the family that he had a date to keep them from wondering where he was, as he might not get home until later.

Ray’s excitement kept him awake later than he would have liked that night, but eventually sleep did claim him.

The next morning when his sister gave him a ride to school she had a duffel bag in the back seat that was not normally there. He didn’t have to ask—he KNEW it held his disguise. After arriving at school, they stored the duffel bag with Ms. Mira in the art room to be easily accessible later.

The school day passed uneventfully, and much too slowly for Raymond’s liking. Finally, it ended, and Raymond rushed to the art room. He beat his sister by a few minutes, and just stood around waiting for her, unsure what to expect. At last, his sister arrived, moving along at a casual pace.

“Shouldn’t we be hurrying?” he asked her as she walked up.

“Nope. It’s actually important that we don’t.” she explained, “We need to do this without anyone noticing.”

Ray nodded and the two of them sat down to talk for a bit. Once the halls seemed clear, they grabbed the duffel bag and Evalyn led him down the hall. Ray didn’t know where they were going, and knew not to ask, completely sure that Evalyn knew what she was doing.

Or at least he was sure. His confidence waivered when Evalyn entered the girl’s locker rooms. He hesitated for a moment, until Evalyn turned and waved him in quietly.

After the door closed behind him he asked, “Can’t you just give me the bag and I’ll change in the boys room?”

“Trust me,” she said, “You’re gonna need my help.”

She sat the bag down on a bench and unzipped it, “Besides,” she continued as she pulled out an article of clothing, “What’s gonna look weirder? A guy walking into the girl’s washroom? Or a girl walking out of the guys?”

He then realized that the article of clothing she held was a long blue dress.

“No. Nonononono. I can’t do that.” Ray said, waving his hands.

“C’mon Ray, it’ll be fine.” She said with a smile.

“No it won’t!” he exclaimed. “I should just go drop out. This isn’t gonna work.”

He turned to leave, but she grabbed his hand.

“Ray! Yes it will!”

Ray’s eyes had filled with tears, “Everyone’s gonna laugh at me. They’ll think I’m disgusting.”

Evalyn pulled him into a tight hug. Finally, after he had calmed down she brought him to arms length. Staring intently into his eyes she asked him, “Ray. Do you trust me?”

Ray slowly nodded.

“Then trust me. No one will know. No one will think you’re disgusting.”

“Promise?” came his quiet voice.

“I swear it. Now lets get to work.”

She handed him some clothes, “Go into that stall,” she said, pointing, “strip, and put these on.”

Ray looked down at the clothes she had handed him. It was a pair of panties and a training bra. He blushed furiously, “I-is that really necessary?”

“If we’re gonna do this we’ve gotta do it right.” She said firmly, “Now go. I need to get set up.”

He hesitantly walked into the washroom, and, as he had been told, stripped himself of his clothing.

After he was naked, with a deep breath, he slowly stepped into the panties and pulled them up. He was surprised by how soft they were, he didn’t know what he had been expecting, but it wasn’t this softness. He attempted the bra next but couldn’t figure it out.

With a heavy sigh he stepped out to ask his sister for help.

“E-Eva?” he squeaked.

She turned to look at him. She didn’t stare or laugh like he was expecting her to, she just calmly asked as if it were a common thing, “Trouble with the bra? They can be tricky at first. Let me help.”

Moments later the bra was correctly positioned over his chest, and Evalyn was inspecting his body for any hair that might need taking care of.

“Hmm, for once it’s a good thing that you’re a late bloomer.” She said, “We don’t have to shave you.”

He didn’t say anything, just sort of looked at his feet.

“Let’s get you dressed.” His sister said, noting his discomfort. She handed him the dress and watched as he pulled it on. With some guidance from his sister, he got it positioned correctly. It had a modest neckline that showed no cleavage, Ray realized this may have been a factor in his sister’s choice, and the hem came to his shins. This whole time he had pointedly been avoiding looking in the mirror, and was thankful when his sister drew him over to the bench and had him sit facing away from it.

He blushed furiously as his sister applied the makeup—explaining each step of the process as she went along, in an attempt to relax him.

“Ugh, I’m so jealous of you sometimes, Ray. Your skin is so nice that you don’t need any foundation. Your eyelashes are naturally long and beautiful, and your hair—Oh man! Your hair! It’s soooooo healthy and pretty. I wish I hadn’t gotten Mom’s curls.”

He figured she was trying to reassure him, but it wasn’t working. He had too many nerves. He still didn’t think this was going to work.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, she got up and moved behind him to work on his hair. Taking out the ponytail he had hastily thrown in that morning, she began to brush his hair out. After several minutes of brushing, she began to part it into a few separate strands, which she then braided.

From her bag, she pulled out some clip-on earrings, fastening them to his ears. A simple necklace, some bracelets, and a ring followed.

“We’re not going to paint your nails,” she explained, “Because leaving them as they are adds to the character. Why would an artist paint her nails when they would be getting covered in paint anyways?”

Ray gave the smallest of nods in understanding.

A short time later Evalyn clapped her hands together, finally, they were done.

“Okay, close your eyes.” She said, taking his hand and guiding him to his feet.

He did as he was told, and allowed her to lead him over to the mirror. When he was standing in front of it she had him stop.

“Open your eyes.” She said.

He slowly opened them, heart hammering in apprehension.

He expected to see a guy in a dress. A guy in drag. Something ugly. Something people would make fun of.

He expected to be scrubbing the makeup off. Tearing off the dress.

He expected tears.

Staring back at him, eyes wide with shock, was a young girl. She wore a light blush that Ray suspected was not from makeup, of which there was little. Her earrings were stylized metallic drops of water. Her long braid of reddish brown came over her shoulder and ended on her chest.

Ray rose his hand to his lips in amazement. The girl copied his movement perfectly.

“Ray?” His sister spoke, drawing him from his trance.

“Let me introduce you to Rayne Danahy.”
 



 
Hiya!

Flummox here.

First of all, I hope this message find's you in good health, and that you enjoyed this chapter.

I'm not going to beg for forgiveness for being late again, (Although I am sorry!) Instead I'm just going to adjust the schedule of releases so I won't be constantly apologizing in the future. So here's how it's gonna go: I'll be continuing to post one chapter every week, but life is too hectic to be able for me to lock down a set date to post on like I initially planned. I'll just post when I can, but always at least once a week. I hope this is acceptable!

As always, I would absolutely love to hear from you, whether it's through a comment below, or a private message. It means the world to me to read your comments, and I never get tired of hearing good advice on my writing or opinions on my story. If you find something hard to believe, let me know! I may disagree with you but I'd still love to hear your thoughts. If you find a mistake I made, factual or technical, hit me up! I'll try and fix it in the future.

Anyways, thanks for reading. I love you.

Until next time,

Flummox.



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