7 - Life Goes On
Ashley and I left the Rawlings with Bert glad to be out as Sophie. I was ready to go back to Ashley’s place and then back to my apartment. Ashley says we needed more shopping therapy which we were both happy to do.
We now have more packages than I want to carry on a subway train. I’m surprised as we come out of the store there’s a taxi driver calling Ashley’s name and Ashley calls him Jerry. He opens the passenger door in front; inviting us to put some packages there. Ashley introduces me to Jerry; it’s like he’s friend.
He took us to her house; he neither asked nor did she tell him where to go. Once we’re to the house, Ashley quickly says hello to Erica sitting on the step next door. She did not seem happy but she did say hello.
We got the packages from Jerry and Ashley paid him saying, “Keep the tip.” I was surprised that the cabby didn’t count it but assumed it was correct. Ashley told me she already knew the amount.
Once in the house, Ashley asked about Erica and her mom said, “Enrique mouthed off to his mother and won herself another two months in her apartment.”
Ashley says, “He didn’t get crazy and swing at her or you again.”
Bridgette said, “He won’t go back to that. I’m not sure if he just needed to test things or if he’s scared. Erica and I will visit after dinner.” She changes the subject, “So Cynthia will you be ready to go back to your apartment in a little bit.” She wanted to at least get there before rush hour traffic started.
Tanya and Ashley both rode with Bridgette as she drove me to Maggie’s. They all came up to see my apartment. I hosted them with bottled ice tea and we had a short visit. Tanya needed to nurse and I’m now getting used to Bridgette being open about it. It is now more beautiful than surprising that a woman would do that with me being present.
Once they leave, I sort through packages that Maggie put into my apartment. Two are new furniture I got. Another is a package from home that my family sent. That package is from Andrea’s Threads, a long blouse and a pair of leggings. There’s a note, “Sage suggests you do not wear these leggings without a long top or short skirt.”
A powder blue lace top and a new pair of leggings are in the package. I change into a fresh pair of panties and lavender bra that matches a major color in the leggings. With tags still in place, I try the leggings and blouse. I surprise myself liking the bra showing through the lace blouse. While it is not smack in your face obvious, it is more daring than this recent girl has been comfortable with.
I’m sitting down enjoying the last of my tea, when there is a knock from Maggie’s apartment. Maggie is no more than twelve years older than me and she has company that she is having come over. She asks, “Do you like where they set up your bed?”
I hadn’t really noticed, so I get up. This time I not only notice the bed, but the quilted bed spread. I said, “Yes, I like the bed but where did the beautiful bedspread come from. I love that rose pattern.”
Maggie says, “It’s a gift from Mason and me. He’s coming over tonight; I hope you’ll come down and meet him. And if you’re going out maybe you can come with us.”
“Where would I be going out to, it’s not like I’m comfortable in going out alone yet. Yes, I will be down but I won’t stay long that would be awkward.”
Maggie says, “That will be nice. Would you mind if his younger brother came, maybe we could out for a short while?”
Cyndi says, “I don’t want you to be setting me up with dates and try to be a matchmaker?”
Maggie giggles at me, “I’m not doing that, don’t be silly. If anyone knows you need time to adjust to being you, it would be me. Darius is quite a bit younger than Mason.” Maggie explains Mason’s a medic with the Red Cross. Darius is going to the Pratt Institute to be an architect. Mason and Darius have both been in the service and served overseas one or more tours of duty. Since then, one likes saving liives and the other building things.
Maggie went back to her apartment to get ready, hoping Cynthia would come down when the guys got there. She mutters to herself out loud, “What would it be like in Cyndi’s place; having been a guy and now looking as hot as she does? Have her juices as a woman kicked it?”
Cynthia’s in her apartment wondering much the same, except she’s begun to get feelings of attraction both for men and women. She’s not sure about going downstairs or out for the night, until she browses through her closet thinking what she might wear. Both what she bought with Ashley and the items she received from Sage get consideration. There was a skirt and blouse combination she received from her Mom that use to belong to her older sister. She had worn them before and it had turned her on. Now with her breastforms and the beginning of her girl’s body. She decided she had too see and tries them on.”
The outfit looked great to her, but that’s not proof. She showers, shampoos and conditions her hair. She put on a new yellow panty/bra set and starts to dress. She likes the outfit especially with the blouse having another button or two open. She wasn’t sure if she was doing it for herself or this brother. She did become sure that she likes the look. If she’s to be a woman; she wants to be a woman, not a little girl.
She doesn’t want to eat if they were to eat out, but neither does she want to drink much if she didn’t eat. There’s a Greek yogurt and she throws in some berries. It made a good tasting bowl of food and satisfies her cravings.
She could hear when the guys drove up and then came into the house. She hadn’t looked to see if two of them came, but she soon heard two distinct male voices. She felt good that there was another guy, but nervous that she’d soon be meeting him.
She buzzed Maggie’s number and asked, “Is it still ok if I come down and visit with the three of you?” Maggie told her to come down the steps joining their apartments. Maggie didn’t know if Cynthia knew how teasing her look was when she met Darius. Her head was tilted down and she peek up from the corner of her eyes. Maggie could hear Darius sigh as he saw her eyes.
He sticks out his hand, “I’m Darius, the young and good looking brother.”
Cynthia responds, “Is that a jealous younger brother, or do you really think that well of yourself?” Cyndi’s shaking her head, but it is Chad who can’t believe he gave it back to Darius.
Maggie asks, “Do either of you want to cool off with a drink or just a glass of ice?”
Cyndi apologizes, “I’m sorry, it just came out.” She says, “If we’re staying here I’ll take a drink, but I don’t want to drink too much without eating something.”
Mason introduces himself, and says, “I wouldn’t mind a beer to relax a moment with Maggie.” He sits in a recliner and Maggie straddles the arm of the chair as she greets him with a beer and a kiss. Cyndi goes to Maggie’s kitchen, where she sees Maggie’s glass of wine, the bottle and more glasses. He pours herself a glass of wine and calls out “Darius do you want a beer or a glass of wine?”
He says, “Surprise me.” A beer is expected, she thinks, ‘As he asked to be surprised.’ So she pours another glass of wine. Juggling three glasses is not a big deal, but it feels awkward to Cynthia. She comes reaching to Maggie with her glass. Then when she turns to Darius his face looks surprised that she has two glasses of wine. “Well if you wanted beer you should have said so. You asked to be surprised!”
He says, “That’s fine, I just wanted to give you a hard time. You deserve it.” He takes the glass of wine. “To Maggie and my brother, my best wishes to their happiness.” Cyndi looks on in surprise and then to see Maggie’s left hand. Mason’s hand is over Maggie’s hands.
Cyndi says, “Are you two engaged; show me your ring hand.” Maggie is raising her hand and saying, “Yes, we’re engaged. I didn’t dare think it would happen now.”
Maggie’s 5’ 8” and trim, Mason rises from the chair and sweeps Maggie into his arms and they embrace in a kiss as he swirls her around. “She’s made me the happiest person.” It is surprising to Cyndi to see Maggie wrap herself around Mason. With her arms wrapping around his neck and shoulders the kiss becomes all encompassing. One of Mason’s hands is under her blouse and it becomes obvious that her bra is undone.
Cyndi looks on as Mason takes her into her bedroom. Darius pauses and then asks, “Would it be possible for us to go up into your apartment?” Cyndi’s surprised, and caught by surprise. It makes sense that Maggie and Mason be alone, but she feels awkward inviting a guy she just met to her apartment. But she does, as they use the stairs to her apartment.
Cyndi’s unsettled, “I haven’t seen this side of Maggie.”
“Well Mas, Mason, is thrilled with her. Away from her job she likes to unwind. They’re great together and she’s great for him. He wasn’t thrilled when little brother followed him into the service. We both had experiences, Mas had two deployments. I had one and we both got up close to the ugly side.”
“Was he a medic then?’” Cyndi asks.
Darius and Cynthia can both hear the two lovers. Cyndi says, “Do you know someplace we can go to leave them alone? I really don’t want to hear all this.”
“Do we want to take goober, or maybe I can take Mason’s vehicle? You know if you put on a movie or some loud music…”
Cyndi says, “I need to buy a car, I’m not use to being helpless.”
Darius text and says a goober driver will be here soon. I get scarf to take with me and redo my makeup to be ready. He says the ride is here. He asks me, “Do you know any places?”
“Not for us.”
“Mysterious woman that has my attention. There’s Grady’s near here, it has enough food to temper what we drink. I suggest there.”
“Is there the possibility to dance as well as eat and drink?”
Darius just smiles as he snuggles in next to me in our ride as I scooted to the center. He says, “You don’t need to scoot away, I don’t bite.” We get to Grady’s and it’s a cross from being a neighborhood dive to being noticeably better.
Max Grady owns the place and seemingly the attractive bartender is Mary Lou, his wife. Tiffany is our waitress; she suggests wings that Darius is interested to eat. I order a Southern Comfort Manhattan and wings without the sauce. I’m too afraid of becoming a mess. I’ll nurse my drink as I dare not have more than a second drink.
It is nine thirty before we hear more than background music. It is the third song when Darius asks to dance. I got up without my purse and he says, “That’s a no, no.” I extend the strap of my purse and make it comfortable over my shoulder and neck. I’m not use to dancing on a small floor with people bumping into me. Soon I’m dancing close to Darius and we’re close enough to talk.
The second dance is slow. When I touch his left shoulder and he winces. He says he plays fast pitch softball and that he’s banged up. I ask if he plays third base and he’s surprised because he does. “How did you know that or was it a lucky guess?”
“It’s said to be the hot corner, you can take hard hit balls off your chest or have runners barreling down on you with a throw coming.”
Darius asks, “Very good, what third basemen do you like?”
Surprisingly I giggle, I had been a sports lover and played some but that all changed in my senior year in high school. “I don’t know anymore. Who do you like?”
Darius says, “Chase Headley for the Yankees is good, but not great. Kris Bryant for the Cubs is probably the best know third baseman presently in baseball.”
“Oh yes I know of him, I didn’t remember what position he played.” I change the subject asking, “Who do you think is the best female singer now?”
He says, “I like Kelly Greer, she plays in different clubs around here. The big names are good, but I’d rather hear someone live that I can afford and get up close with. If you want I could take you to the Briar Patch where she’s singing Saturday.”
Cyndi says, “I’d like that if you don’t mind. Will other friends be there?” Close to 11:00 Darius says, I better get you back and see if I have a ride home or keep my goober ride.”
We’re going up to the house and Cyndi feels the need to let Darius she appreciated the night. She kisses him on the cheek, “I want to thank you for tonight and I look forward to Saturday.” Darius smiles and said, “It was a good night and I’m glad we met.”
I go around to my entrance, Darius accompanies me. Before going back and waiting for someone to answer Maggie’s door.
It was shortly after they leave that Maggie knocks and asks, “Are you still up, I need to visit?”
She’s showing me her engagement ring and talking like it’s her dream come true and she’s sure that I’d understand. She apologizes about them going to bed and changing the night on us. After she talked a bit about Mason and why she likes him; she asked about my time with Darius. I talked about where we went and that Saturday we were going to hear Kelley someone at the Briar Patch. She tries to make it out to be more than a date.
Cyndi’s not use to talking so long, but is getting use to it. Maggie’s happy and remarks that I’m making a good adjustment. I begin to remark, “I don’t have much…” I stop and say, “Thanks, I’m to see my doctor and I think I’ll agree to the hormone therapy to be stronger and help my transition. I wasn’t sure I wanted this to happen.”
Cyndi’s up early and sure she hears Maggie is up. She grabs her cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese and heads downstairs. Maggie’s racing to get ready for work but sits down and relaxes with me. I looked for her cup and pour more hot water in with a fresh teabag. I ask to see the ring again and this time it sparkles. “It’s a beautiful ring, he must really love you.”
“We’ve been dating well over a year and while I was hoping he felt for me the same way. I didn’t expect him to ask me to marry him yet. We’re going to the jeweler after work to see if it can be resized.” I learn that Maggie grew up in Staten Island and wasn’t from money. She and Mason would be going to her folks Saturday.
I arrange to see Bridgette Riley Monday to talk about training to work with her. Friday late afternoon I visit where I was the afternoon before the incident with Kimberly. Sitting at the bar Bryant recognizes me. “I was wondering if and when you’d come back. You look different enough and to some you are a different animal. Some would have preferred you with your rod still there.”
Bryant says, “One officer did come around showing different pictures of you. I know, I didn’t acknowledge you being here and I don’t think others did either. We don’t easily give up our own Sweetie. When reports were mixed, I was pretty sure you weren’t one of the two in on raping her, I recognize a naïve college guy wherever.”
The bar was just getting busy and as Bryant said others weren’t recognizing me. That was until Joan asks, “So do you still see yourself among the guys?” I ordered potato skins to be delivered to a table as I go and sat down with Joan and Trevor coming to sit with me. Trevor and Joan both place different orders and our table grows by two more tables and a bunch of people. Several of us ordered salads, others sandwiches, finally I decide to call it a night early. I’m thinking it may not be my scene anymore.
Cyndi’s not sure to what extent she’s one of them though she danced with another woman. She liked that the woman took notice of how she looked and commented. Cyndi too found the woman attractive maybe more than she expected. Dana found a spot in Cyndi’s memory.
Come Saturday morning Cyndi went to a family indoor/outdoor restaurant to meet Ashley with Bridgette and family. Mama Giuseppe comes over to greet me saying any friend of Cathy and Bridge were warmly welcomed. Mama talks me into a plate of fresh fruit, cheese imported from Italy and some of her breads. She proudly says, “We a bake our own bread, you will like it.”
It was a nice change and breakfast for me is no longer eggs, bacon and hash browns. I hear that Ashley was a street kid, but it’s what they’re not saying. I have a feeling they need to know me longer and decide to trust me, before and if I learn more. Today it’s just about being friends with them. Erica is eating breakfast with us and it is Erica who outs herself as a bad tempered guy.
Bridgette halts talk about her situation at the restaurant. I think Enrique makes a good girl, but that doesn’t change things. Erica talks about some lipstick colors that would look good on me. She asks about going shopping with Ashley and me. Bridgette says, she’ll decide when they’re back home.
Marie Giuseppe, Mama’s Granddaughter is wanting to go with us and Ashley’s the one who says yes to that. Marie walks back to the house with us. I push Tanya in the stroller and they allow Claire the two year old to walk a little. She makes it half a block before we’re taking turns carrying her. I’m sure Cathy or Bridgette could carry her the distance. Marie and Ashley did well. Ashley took a picture of me pushing Tanya in the stroller. She posts the picture of FB and gives me the title of Aunt Cyndi.
Once we’re back to the house Bridgette asks me to go down to Erica’s apartment with her. “Cynthia, I want you to understand that Erica’s one of my clients. She can break the agreement, but I and if you’re working with me, have a greater standard to live by. Rarely will I talk with Erica in public like she’s my client. It is usually as a neighbor or friend.”
I say, “You said usually, does that mean they’re exceptions?”
Bridgette looks to Erica to answer. Erica says, “Yes, last year I got angry with my mom and Bridgette came to intervene. We were in front of my house and I wouldn’t settle down. Bridgette came close to talk to me and I got upset and swung at her. I had only meant to push her back, because she was pregnant. But I was too angry. I meant to get her off balance so I could push her and run away. She caught my arm as I lunged at her swinging my hand.”
“The next thing I knew I was on my back looking up. She kicked the air out of me and I was immobilized. One of her friends Hector took me to the apartment and I had the choice of going to jail or contracting with her for after when I turned eighteen.”
Cyndi says, “You could have hurt her when she was pregnant?”
“That was why I was going to push her hard, but she’s the one who caught me by surprise. I was supposed to be going home soon, but I blew it again. I think it is more that I feel safe from myself here.”
Cyndi asks, “Is it that you really want to be a girl, a woman?”
Its Enrique’s voice, “No, I don’t think so. It’s more that I don’t want Erica deciding how I’m going to live as Enrique.” I see Bridgette nodding in agreement behind her.
I say, “So it’s more of an internal image of your psyche that you’re fighting. I can appreciate that even if it’s stinking thinking.”
Erica speaks, “Ashley said her father was like that and I knew when my Dad drinks that’s what his AA friends said.”
I say, “So are you wanting to follow in your Dad’s footsteps? You know you don’t have too. My Dad wasn’t there for me when I had problems, is yours?”
Erica sat on the steps crying, right where I first saw her sulking probably a week ago. She sulks, “But if I could prove to him I’m a man, hopefully he’d then love and respect me.”
“I’ve seen Hector and Julio, friends of Bridgette’s and a couple of friends I made being better suited. They’re men I can respect. I’d respect you to be Enrique’s friend if you were a man like that.” Erica gets up and walks to me and gives me a hug. We stand there hugging for minutes before she regains her composure.
Cyndi says, “If Bridgette said you could go with us. You and I would both need to get ourselves cleaned up and changed. More importantly you’d need to be good if you come.”
Erica sits back down and looks through her purse for tissues. She waited before she went in to see Bridgette to privately ask if she could go.” I was surprised that Bridgette had left me alone with Erica. I went in and asked to use a bathroom to clean up and redo my makeup. I would have like to change my blouse, but I wasn’t going home to my apartment.
Ashley had changed and I could tell Marie was wearing one of Ashley’s blouses. Marie was thin but her figure fills out Ashley’s blouse. Even the bottom of the blouse sat nicely at her waist and upon her hips. Ashley giggles with her. “My friend says, I might not fill out that blouse unless I have children.”
Cyndi says, “I’m probably a year older than Marie. Hopefully someday I’ll develop my own girls. But I’m content with who I am for now.”
Cathy speaks up, “Maybe you saying it will get through to Ashley.”
“Ashley’s pretty good in my book. She’s beautiful like she is. She looks like her mother. I don’t think someone can ask to be better than that.”
Erica knocks at a door to the apartment and comes in. She has changed and has permission to come shopping with us. Bridgette whispers to Cyndi, “You and Ashley are to watch after Erica, but Ashley knows not to get in a fight with her. I don’t believe she’ll be any trouble. I think your impression on a healthy image has given Enrique something new to work toward.”
“But I’m sure she heard it before from you…”
To be continued…
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