A Blank Page - Chapter 10


A Blank Page
Chapter 10
By Flummox


Hello, there!
 
 

Glad to meet you!
 
 

Welcome to the world of Pokémon!
 
 

The old man went on a long spiel, explaining what Pokémon were. Then he asked a question.
 
 

Now tell me.
 
 

Are you a boy
 
 

Or are you a girl?

Raymond’s eyes snapped open. It was early in the morning. 9:00. Awfully early for a Saturday. What a weird dream. He tried to roll over and go back to sleep, but it just wouldn’t come. With a heavy sigh, he climbed out of bed, and stretched, realizing he was still wearing the bra and panties from last night. Lightly blushing, despite being alone in his room, Raymond smiled and got dressed. While he was sorely tempted to leave the lingerie on, he wasn’t willing to take the risk with his whole family home. He put on his boring boy underwear, dull boy clothes, and was about to tie back his long hair into a ponytail when he remembered his earrings.

He reached up and fiddled with one idly while he contemplated what he should do. He thought back to his dream, wondering why he would dream of that scene of all things. He hadn’t played a Pokémon game in years. It had, however, served to remind him of all the questions that he had been asked over the course of the previous week. It seemed like whenever he found the answer to one question, two more popped up. He gave a heavy sigh, pulling his hair from the ponytail. After spending a few minutes in the washroom ensuring his earrings were sufficiently hidden, he descended the stairs to the kitchen.

His mom and dad looked up from their book and newspaper respectively. It was rare for one of the kids to get up this early unprompted on a Saturday. He went to grab a bowl for cereal but his mom stopped him.

“I’m going to make breakfast today sweetheart,” She said cheerfully, “I just wasn’t expecting you kids to be up for another hour at least so I hadn’t started.” She came over to give him a hug.

“G’morning Mom.” He said, returning the embrace. He was the only member of the family that didn’t have at least a few inches on Catalina. “Dad.” He said nodding to his father.

“Good morning son.” His father said, looking back to his paper and taking a sip of his coffee. “Any plans for the day?”

“No, not really.” Ray said, taking a seat at the table with his parents. “How about you guys?”

“Nothing so far.” His mother said with his father nodding in agreement. “However, we will be going to your Grandma and Grandpa’s for dinner tomorrow.” She informed him, “So if there’s anything you need to get done, get it done today.”

Ray nodded.

Upstairs they heard the shower come on.

“Well, I suppose that means I should get breakfast started.” His mom sighed, taking a sip of her coffee.

“Can I help?” Ray asked, the thought striking him out of nowhere.

His mom looked at him. Ray had never really expressed interest in helping her cook before.

“Uh, I, uh, don’t have to if I’d get in the way.” He stammered.

“Oh nonsense. I would love your help Raymond.” His mother insisted, waving his comment away with her hand, “I just wasn’t expecting it.”

Catalina got to her feet as Raymond began pulling ingredients from the fridge. Bacon, eggs, and with his mother’s guidance, all the ingredients for homemade pancakes. Working together, it didn’t take long for them to have everything ready. Sebastian came down the stairs just in time to be told to go wake up his sister.

He groaned, “Can’t I have a coffee first?”

Raymond laughed, “Sit down Seb, I’ll go wake sleeping beauty.”

Sebastian ruffled rubbed Raymond’s head. “Thanks, lil’ bro. You’re the best.”

Raymond laughed and fixed his hair before leaving the room.

Catalina watched him leave, eyebrows knitted together.

When Sebastian had rubbed his hair, she could have sworn she saw a flash of metal in Raymond’s ear. Had he gotten his ears pierced? She shrugged the thought away. She was probably imagining it.

Upstairs Raymond gently knocked on his sister’s door.

“Come in.” she replied, almost immediately.

He gently opened the door to see, to his surprise, that his sister was up and sitting at her desk on computer.

“Morning Eva,” he greeted, “Mom and I have breakfast ready downstairs.”

Evalyn turned to look at him. “Great, I’m starving! But first, close the door and come sit down.”

Ray did as he was told and took a seat on her bed.

“I figured out how we can find out Mom, Dad’s opinions on transgendered people without tipping anyone off!” she said excitedly, “And the best part is that you don’t have to do anything! I’ll handle all of it.”

“Really Eva?!” Raymond asked, this could help solve his biggest problem. “How?”

“I’m taking an intro to psychology class this semester,” Evalyn explained, “The final paper is going to be on any topic of our choosing, as long as it’s related to psychology!”

“Okay.” Ray said, not seeing how this helped.

“Anyways, tomorrow night this documentary on transgendered people is going to be on TV!” she explained, “I just have to put it on under the justification that it’s for school, then I’ll just ask mom and dad’s opinions.”

“Eva, that’s great!” Raymond said with disappointment in his voice, “But I don’t think it’ll work. Mom just told me we’re going to Grandma and Grandpa’s for dinner tomorrow.”

“Psssh,” Evalyn said, waving her hand at his concerns, “Do you really think Mom or Dad – or Grandma and Grandpa for that matter – would object if I told them it was for school? I’ll even take notes to make it extra convincing. This is actually better! This way we can get everyone’s opinion!”

Ray put his hand in his chin thoughtfully. She had a point. The whole family knew how passionate Evalyn was about her studies. This just might work.

“Okay.” Raymond agreed, “And if their reactions are good, then I’ll tell them everything. Monday night maybe? After I talk to Mrs. Reid at lunch.”

Evalyn squealed with joy. “Of course their reactions will be good! Mom and Dad have never said anything bad about LGBT people, have they? I mean, Uncle Noah on Mom’s side of the family is gay, and Mom and Dad have always been really close with him, right?

Once again, Raymond couldn’t deny that she had a good point. Maybe all of his fears had been just that? Fears. Maybe he had been blowing the whole thing out of proportion this whole time.

“RAAAAAAY, EVA” Sebastian’s voice called out. “COME ON. I’M HUNGRY.”

Ray and Evalyn rolled their eyes simultaneously.

“Boys.” Evalyn said dramatically, eliciting giggles from Ray.

A short time later the family sat around the dining room table.

“It’s nice to have a family breakfast every once in a while.” His father said thoughtfully, digging into his eggs.

“Did you really make all this, Ray?” Sebastian asked, impressed.

“Oh, it was mostly Mom.” He said, shaking his head and downplaying the meal.

“What!” Catalina exclaimed, “I barely helped at all!”

The whole family laughed. “That’s our ever-humble Ray!” Evalyn chipped in.

“So.” Jameson began between bites, “Raymond, Evalyn tells us you were out with friends last night?” His father raised a curious eyebrow.

“Oh, uh yeah.” Ray said, taking a big bite of a pancake to stall for time to come up with a story.

The whole family was waiting for him to speak. They couldn’t remember the last time Raymond had gone out with friends.

Swallowing his food, Raymond continued, “Do you guys remember that friend I’ve told you about? The one I always play with online?” The closer he could get to the truth the better.

“Yes.” His mother said slowly, not liking where this was going.

“He moved to Vancouver. Me and some of my other friends met up with him.” He saw the look of his shock in his parents’ eyes, “Before you freak, we did it in a public place, and there were three of us and one of him.”

That calmed them down a bit. “And?” his father asked, “Who is he? Is he who he claimed to be?”

“Yeah Dad.” Ray assured, “His name’s Logan, he’s 17, just moved here with his parents.”

“17?” his mom questioned. “Isn’t he a bit old for you to be hanging out with him?”

“Relax Mom, it’s not like I’m dating him.” Ray teased sarcastically, “Besides, the other two friends I was with were 17 and 18 as well.”

His Mom rolled her eyes at his retort.

Now Sebastian was surprised. “Wait, what? Really? Who were they?”

“Two art students from school. You probably don’t know them.” Ray replied.

“What makes you say that? I know lots of people.” Sebastian insisted, “C’mon, what are there names?”

Raymond shrugged and replied. “Cynthia Gnoll and Ryan Deartz.”

Sebastian stared intently at his bacon for a long moment. “Damnit.”

The whole family laughed. “See, I told you!” Raymond said, taking another bite of pancake.

“Ryan’s that really quiet kid.” Evalyn said, “His paintings are absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Some guy tried to give him a hard time for it once to impress his some of the older boys. Ryan knocked the crap out of him.

Woah. Raymond hadn’t heard about that.

Sebastian looked up thoughtfully, “Oh yeeeeeah. That guy. I was one of the people the boy who got beaten was trying to impress. I remember because I thought he was pathetic for thinking such a thing would impress us and was about to step in myself. It was Ryan who impressed me.”

He turned to look at Evalyn, “Well what about Cynthia then?” he asked, trying to stump her.

“Cynthia’s the super crazy happy girl.” Evalyn went on to elaborate, “But, supposedly, she does really dark disturbing drawings. I guess one time one of the guys from the football team asked her out, and when she politely turned him down he said something about how he was ‘the only guy who’d show interest in a ditzy nerd like her’. So, rumor has it, she drew a pretty detailed picture of him making out and having sex with other members of the various athletics teams. All the guys who had ever made a sexist comment to one of the girls got a place in that picture. The resemblance was uncanny. Then she scanned it, printed off a bunch of copies, and they somehow ended up in the lockers of all the grade 12 students.”

The whole family was shocked. Even Raymond. Cynthia was a badass. Raymond was suddenly very relieved to have won her over the previous night.

“CYNTHIA DID THAT?!” Sebastian asked in absolute shock. “I was only in grade 11 at the time, but I still heard about that. Wow.”

“That’s why it’s a rumor. We don’t know for sure. She never got caught.” Evalyn explained, “They didn’t even have enough evidence to connect the drawing to her. I guess all the work she does at school is a lot more toned down, I only know about her real work because she showed me a peek inside her personal sketchbook one day.”

“She showed you her sketchbook?” Raymond asked, suddenly curious.

“Oh yeah!” Evalyn exclaimed, “Me and Cynthia are tight. I adore how happy she always is, and wherever she goes, Ryan isn’t far behind. Those two have been best friends since before I came to the school!”

“Is there anyone you DON’T know at school?!” Sebastian asked in amazement.

Evalyn laughed. “Of course there is! I just haven’t met them yet!”

The family had to laugh at that. Sebastian was popular and had a lot of friends, but of the three of them, Evalyn was definitely the social butterfly of the group.

“Anyways, back to this Logan boy.” Catalina said, changing the subject, “If you met him online and are going to be spending a lot of time with him, we would like to meet him.”

“Okay sure, maybe he could join us for dinner tomorrow?” Raymond asked, “He does live in Vancouver after all.”

“I don’t think your grandparents would appreciate you inviting him to their house,” Jameson said, shooting down the idea, “but perhaps we could meet them for coffee beforehand?”

“Sure. I’ll text him now.” Raymond agreed.

After shooting Bunny a quick message – Ray still wasn’t sure whether he preferred calling him Bunny or Logan – the meal continued.

“So, what does everyone want to do today?” Jameson asked, now that the whole family was together.

“I dunno.” Evalyn said, “But I do have a question about tomorrow. A documentary is coming on at 6:30. It’s important for my final assignment in my psychology class. Do you think it would be okay for me to watch it at Grandma and Grandpa’s?”

“I’m not sure.” Jameson replied, frowning, “You know family dinner is supposed to be family time. Not TV time.”

“Come on Dad!” Evalyn said, exasperated. “It’s not like I’m watching it to get out of spending time with the fam! It’s for school! Everyone is more then welcome to watch it with me even!”

Catalina laughed. “Honey,” she said, looking at Jameson, “The whole family knows how Eva is when it comes to her studies. No one will mind. Besides,” she continued, turning to look at Evalyn, “we also know how mopey she gets when something come’s between her and her studies.”

“AW! I do not!” Evalyn exclaimed, then she blushed lightly and continued defensively, “And even if I did, you should feel blessed to have a child so dedicated to her education.”

“Sometimes I feel a little too blessed.” Jameson replied sarcastically

Their banter brought a fresh round of laughter.

“Well as for today,” Sebastian said, returning to the original topic, “A light burned out in my room, so I wouldn’t mind visiting the hardware store.”

That piqued Raymond’s interest.

“Well we’re there do you think I uh, could maybe get a lock for my room?” he asked hesitantly.

The family turned to look at him.

“A lock?” Catalina asked, one eyebrow raised. “What do you need a lock for?”

“I dunno.” Raymond said, blushing lightly, “I just thought it might be nice to have some privacy every now and then. Eva’s room has one.” He pointed out.

“Just close your door son.” Jameson said, assuming Raymond had just reached that age when all teenage boys needed a little… privacy.

“Oh, as if Dad!” Sebastian chipped in, “You and Mom may knock, but you’ll immediately walk in afterwards if you feel the need.”

Jameson nodded, a rather awkward memory of doing something similar to Sebastian coming to mind.

“Okay.” He said, convinced, “Lightbulbs and a lock for Ray’s door. Anything else?”

No one had anything to add, so after breakfast the family went about getting ready. At Catalina’s insistence Jameson, Sebastian, and Evalyn cleaned up after breakfast since she and Raymond had cooked it. Another hour later and the family was ready to go, Catalina and Evalyn electing to pop into the mall while the boys went to the hardware store. Even though he had asked to go to the hardware store, Ray couldn’t help but feel a bit of envy at his sister for getting to go shopping with their mom.

The shopping trip was uneventful, Sebastian got his lightbulbs, and Ray got his lock, his father promising to help him install it when they got home. Afterwards, the three of them met up with Catalina and Evalyn. To the exasperation of Jameson and Sebastian – and the feigned exasperation of Raymond – they had to follow Catalina and Evalyn around the mall for another half hour. The mother-daughter duo was on a roll, snatching up several of the best deals and cutest items. Raymond slowly growing more and more depressed, desperately wishing he was on the other side of this small division in the family. All he could think about was the test he and Evalyn had planned for the next day. He tried to stay hopeful. Maybe next weekend he would be on the other side.

He could just imagine it. Catalina, Evalyn, AND Rayne. The three of them on a girls’ day out. It was a nice dream.

Finally, the girls gave in to Jameson and Sebastian’s nagging and agreed to call it a day. The family headed out, the guys being enlisted to carry the bags. It didn’t bother Raymond though. It helped him to imagine what it would be like.

When they arrived home, true to his word, Jameson went upstairs with Raymond and helped him install the lock. After testing it to make sure no one would be able to walk in anymore, Jameson took his leave.
No one felt like cooking that night, so Sebastian suggested they order a pizza. With no opposition, he called up a local pizza place, and soon the family was pulling apart a large ooey-gooey deluxe pizza.

Tired and still a bit bummed out after the mall, Raymond headed up to his room. He sat down, preparing to message Bunny to see if he was free, when a knock came on his door.

“Come in, it’s open.” He called out, happy to have a say in the matter for once.

Evalyn opened the door and walked in, hands behind her back. She closed the door behind her with a foot. “Sorry about today.” She said, “I could tell it bothered you a bit.”

Raymond smiled sadly. “Yeah, but who knows? If everything goes well tomorrow maybe it’ll be better next time.”

Evalyn nodded, “Well, hopefully this will cheer you up. I got you something.” She said, pulling a bright pink bag out from behind her back.

“H-how?!” Ray said excitedly, “Weren’t you with Mom the whole time?”

“Yup! I just said it was for me!” Evalyn explained, “So it may be a bit big, but because of what it is that shouldn’t matter.”

“Well what is it then?!” Ray asked, more excited and curious then before.

“I’ll just leave it here for you.” His sister said slyly. She turned to leave, but before she closed the door she stuck her head back in. “Oh, and Ray?”

He had been about to pick up the bag. He looked at her.

“Before you try it on,” She teased, “Just make sure to lock the door.”

Ray blushed and nodded, closing and firmly locking the door behind her.

He slowly picked up the bright pink bag and looked inside. A pale blue garment was the sole content. He slowly picked it up, hesitating when he felt the silky softness. He drew it out and held it in front of him.

It was a pretty, light blue silk night gown. His heart fluttered as he held it. His sister must have gotten him this specifically because of the new lock he had gotten. His first article of female nightwear. Blushing lightly, heart still light, Ray quickly got undressed. Not before double and triple checking the door was locked, however. Trembling, he slipped it on.

Evalyn was right, it was a little big on Rayne, but since it was basically just pyjamas – really pretty, comfy pyjamas – that didn’t really matter. It looked like it would have come down to around Evalyn’s mid thigh, which meant for Rayne it was right at her knees. It had short sleeves so Rayne’s arms didn’t get lost in the fabric. The neckline was mercifully high. It wouldn’t be exposing any of Rayne’s nonexistent cleavage. Sitting down in her chair, Rayne signed on, and was joined by Bunny moments later.

“Hey Rayny! How’s the weather?” came the usual greeting.

“It may not be raining, but the weather couldn’t be more perfect.” She replied, all of Raymond’s fears and apprehension temporarily forgotten.

The two of them didn’t play for long. Just long enough to solidify plans for the next day and have a bit of fun. Bunny noticed that Rayny was using the slightly higher voice of Rayne, but he didn’t mention it. After signing out, Rayne collapsed into her bed, and drifted off into what just may have been the most peaceful, relaxing sleep she had ever had.
 

~o~O~o~

 
Rayne woke up to a knock at the door.

“Raymond?” came her father’s voice. “It’s time to get up. If we’re meeting your friend and his Mom for coffee I want to be gone in an hour.”

“Kay!” She replied, sighing heavily.

“Ray?” came a confused voice. “You feeling okay?”

Rayne’s heart seized as she realized she had called out in her voice, instead of Raymond’s.

“Yeah Dad!” He called hastily, Raymond once more, “My throat was just dry from just waking up.”

He closed his eyes and prayed his father would believe him.

“Oh, okay.” His father called back, “See ya downstairs.”

Raymond released a huge sigh of relief and went about getting ready. As he grabbed a pair of briefs and the clothes he would wear, he thought longingly of the lingerie hidden away in Evalyn’s room. He would have liked to have worn some, but oh God. If anyone in the family found out? That was not a confrontation Raymond was ready for yet. No matter how well the test ended up going tonight.

He quickly ducked into the washroom, and after showering and doing everything he needed to do, returned to his room to dress. He took the nightie from where had left it under his covers, and after caressing it one last time, tucked it away in a pillowcase. He left his room, pausing at the top of the stairs. He turned around and walked to his sister’s room.

Knocking gently, he called out, “Eva?”

“Come on in lil’ bro!” she called back.

He opened the door and quietly closed it behind him. He turned to look at her. She sat at her vanity, doing her makeup.

“What’s up?” she asked as she carefully applied mascara.

She had to stop, however, as Raymond pulled her into a huge hug.

“Thanks Eva.” He whispered.

“No problem lil’ sis.” His sister whispered back.

Raymond blushed as he got up to leave, “See ya down there.”

He left her to get ready and descended to the dining room.

Using his phone, he brought up the address of the coffee shop he and Logan had agreed upon. Over breakfast he showed his parents, and after breakfast the family piled into the van, ready to get the day underway.
 

~o~O~o~

 
The van pulled into the parking lot shortly before 12:00. They had made good time and were a few minutes early. Walking in, they took a seat. After confirming it was okay with an employee, Ray and Sebastian pulled another table over so as to accommodate the whole group upon Logan’s arrival.

They didn’t have to wait long, Logan walked in right at 12:00, a middle age woman right behind him.

“Logan!” Ray called excitedly, waving his hand.

Logan smiled and, after placing an order at the counter, led his mother over to join them.

“Oh wow!” his mother exclaimed, “I wasn’t expecting so many of you!”

“I’m sorry, we’re going for dinner at my parents’ after.” Jameson explained, “I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.” She said warmly, “I think that’s wonderful.” She extended her hand, “I’m Katelyn. You can call me Kate.”

Kate was of average height, with long curly black hair. She had light grey eyes over which she wore a pair of black glasses.

Catalina and Jameson each shook her hand warmly, “I’m Catalina, and this is my husband Jameson.”

“A pleasure.” Jameson greeted.

Catalina continued, “These are our children, Sabastian, Evelyn, and our youngest, Raymond.”

“It’s wonderful to meet you all.” She said warmly, after shaking each of their hands she placed a hand on her son’s shoulder. “This is my Logan.”

More hands were shaken.

“Will Logan’s father be joining us today?” Jameson inquired after everyone had been introduced and had shaken hands with everyone else.

“Oh, Jack won’t be joining us for another two weeks.” She explained, “He has a few things to wrap up in Seattle first.”

“So, what do you think of Vancouver? Of Canada?!” Raymond asked excitedly.

Katelyn laughed, “While we have only been here for two days, Raymond.” She said light heartedly, “But so far it seems beautiful, and the people seem nice.”

Raymond blushed lightly and felt silly. Of course. He should have known that.

They spent the next hour lightly conversing. Jameson and Catalina told Katelyn about themselves and what they did, and Katelyn what she and her husband did in turn. Both parties found it incredible that Logan and Raymond would form such a strong friendship without ever having met in person until two days earlier. The adults all exchanged phone numbers, just in case the ever needed to get in touch. Finally, Jameson declared it was time to go. After more hand shaking, the two parties went their separate ways, all of the parents feeling much more comfortable about their respective child’s friend. Raymond and Logan promised to hang out for real – in person – some time soon.

The Danahys piled back into the van, and were soon on their way to the children’s grandparents.
 

~o~O~o~

 
It wasn’t much longer before Raymond and his family stood outside his grandparent’s door. Evalyn had already rang the doorbell, they were just waiting to be let in.

The door slowly opened, but to everyone’s surprise no one seemed to be on the other side. At least that was how it seemed until Lizzie’s little head peaked around the door.

“RAY! EVA! SEB!” The little girl screamed joyously before running into Ray’s arms.

“Sorry,” Olivia greeted cheerfully, appearing from behind the door, “Lizzie insisted on getting the door herself.”

“Nothing to apologize for Mom,” Jameson said with a smile, he turned to look at the little girl. “I would, however, like to know where my hug is?!”

Lizzie giggled happily, before jumping into Jameson’s arms. “Hi Uncle Jamie!” she said happily. “Hi Aunty Cat!”

Lizzie always called everyone by their nicknames. If they didn’t have a nickname she would make sure to give them one. If Raymond wasn’t mistaken, Lizzie was the only person in the world who could get away with calling his father ‘Jamie’.

Jameson and Catalina each gave the girl a tight hug, and slowly everyone managed to file into the house. They took their shoes off, and from the pile of shoes already present, each of them came to the conclusion that they were likely the last to arrive.

Sure enough, they entered the living room to see Jameson’s siblings, Lisa and Frank, engaged in conversation. Off to the side, Lisa’s husband, Johnathan, was surprisingly present for once. He was, however, busy typing away at his computer. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call the man a workaholic.

Through the window, they could see the twins, JR and Billy, wrestling in the backyard. Grandpa Frank stood nearby, watching and laughing. Lizzie’s big sister, Mackenzie, sat on the patio furniture, texting away on her phone. Nothing unusual there.

Lizzie ran up to her father, “Daddy! Daddy! Everyone’s here now!” She said excitedly.

Johnathan looked up from his computer, “No. Way.” He said, feigning disbelief. “EVERYONE?” He asked dramatically.

Lizzie giggled and nodded, “See?!” she said, pointing at Ray and his immediate family.

“Hmmmm, I dunno.” He said doubtfully. “You had better list them off for me.”

Lizzie giggled again and slowly went around the room, pointing and naming off everyone in it. Finally, she finished. She looked up at her father with her ever-excited eyes.

“Wow.” He said, as if he couldn’t believe what she had just done, “That was incredible.”

She giggled happily.

“How about,” he began again, “You go show Grandpa? I’m sure he would love to see that.”

“Okay!” she squealed excitedly, running off to the backdoor as Johnathan stood up to greet his newly arrived in-laws.

As was the standard, the woman received hugs, the men a firm hand shake. After some idle chatter, however, Johnathan returned to his work.

After greeting his aunt and uncle, Ray exited to the backyard to say hello to his Grandfather and other cousins. He did this only after Sebastian had gone first of course. Otherwise he was liable to be tackled by JR and Billy. Sure enough, it was just as he thought. Sebastian was immediately dragged into the wrestling match, the twins barely acknowledging Raymond’s presence.

“Hi Grandpa.” Ray said quietly. Not sure if his Grandfather had even noticed Ray and Evalyn’s presence between the wrestling boys and the 5-year-old girl rambling on in front of him.

His Grandfather held a finger up to Lizzie’s lips. Pausing her temporarily. He turned to Evalyn and Ray, looking them both up and down.

“Evalyn,” he opened, “You’re looking more and more beautiful with every passing day.”

He pulled her into a gentle hug before turning to Raymond.

“And Raymond,” he paused, “My, your hair is getting long. That’s much too long for a young man, too long for any man for that matter. We’ll need to get that taken care of one of these days.”

Ray didn’t know what to say, it was true his hair was much longer than most guys, but Raymond had grown to love his long hair. He didn’t want it ‘taken care of’. On top of that, he needed it if he wanted to be Rayne.

Once again, Evalyn came to his rescue.

“I disagree completely Grandpa!” She said adamantly, “I know that may have been true when you were a boy, but it’s soooooo different now! Lot’s of celebrities and musicians have long hair! Even a lot of pro athletes have long hair!”

He looked at her, unconvinced. He started to open his mouth, but Evalyn wasn’t done yet.

“As a matter of fact,” she continued, “A lot of woman like a man with longhair, I know some of my friends sure do.”

Grandpa Frank grumbled to himself. “I suppose it’s not really doing anyone any harm, but I still don’t like it.”

Evalyn forcing their Grandfather to back off had bolstered Ray’s confidence. “That’s totally okay Grandpa,” He said with a small grin, “And you don’t have to like it, because I do. And that’s all that matters.”

His Grandfather’s eyebrows raised and Evalyn beamed. “Well, uh, okay then. I just think it looks girly.” He teased, not really sure what else to say.

Ray rolled his eyes, feigning annoyance. Secretly, however, the remark had made his heart swell.

Grandpa Frank turned to re-enter his house and say hello to his youngest son.

Evalyn and Ray turned to greet their last cousin, although they weren’t expecting much from it.

“Hey Cuz!” Evalyn said enthusiastically, “How’s it hangin?”

Mackenzie glanced up from her phone, “Hi. Fine.” She returned to her phone.

Evalyn and Ray just looked at each other and shared a grin and a small giggle.

Mackenzie looked back up, “Ugh, whatever.” She muttered, rolling her eyes.

Evalyn and Ray giggled some more at that before sitting down on the patio, watching Sebastian and the twins wrestle. It wasn’t long before Lizzie came running back, crawling up into Raymond’s lap.

“Will you read to me again later Raymin?!” she asked hopefully.

Ray couldn’t help but giggle at her big hopeful eyes. She was just so adorable. “I would LOVE to read to you again Lizzie.” He emphasized, “What should we read?”

“Really?!” She said, her eyes getting bigger then Ray would have thought possible. “I brought my all time most favorite book!”

“Really?!” Ray asked, mirroring her excitement, “What book is that?!”

Evalyn giggled to herself throughout the entire exchange

“Green Eggs and Ham!” She said, surprisingly dramatically for a five-year-old.

“No. Way.” Evalyn chipped in, “Lizzie! That’s my favorite book too!”

“REALLY?!” Lizzie asked, in absolute amazement.

“Really.” Evalyn finished.

Lizzie jumped up and ran off to tell someone. Anyone who would listen really.

Ray and Evalyn shared another laugh. The two of them sat there chatting idly until their Grandmother stuck her head out the door to call all the kids in for dinner.

JR and Billy blasted across the yard and into the house immediately. Ray and Evalyn stood around for a few seconds to wait for Sebastian to join them.

“Jeeze, those two never run out of energy.” He said, breathing slightly harder than usual.

Inside the house everyone was slowly taking a seat as Olivia and Catalina brought out the food. At Lizzie’s insistence, she sat between Evalyn and Ray. Their Aunt Lisa and Uncle John must have asked them about five times each if they were okay with it.

Finally, everyone was seated. Everyone except Mackenzie who was still seated outside on her phone. With an annoyed sigh, Johnathan stood up, and stepped outside.

A moment later they heard Mackenzie’s scream of annoyance. “HEY, GIVE IT BACK.”

Johnathan walked back inside, Mackenzie’s phone in hand, his daughter hot on his heels.

“Dad, give it back.” Mackenzie said quietly, suddenly embarrassed to be having this scene in front of the entire family.

Johnathan whirled around. “If I can close my computer and take a break from my job, something that’s actually important, to make time for a dinner with our family. Then you can put down your phone, something unimportant, for that same meal. You can have your phone back when we leave.”

She opened her mouth to say something but he cut her off, “And if I hear ONE more word of complaint, I’ll keep it for a week.”

Her mouth clamped shut. With fury written all over her face, she took a seat.

Soon dinner was fully underway, people engaging in their own conversations with whomever was nearby. On one side, Ray had Lizzie of course, but on his other his Uncle John had sat down, saying that if they needed to, he and Raymond could easily swap seats so he could attend to Lizzie.

“So, Raymond,” His Uncle John began between bites, “I have to say, you look great. I didn’t even recognize you at first.”

“Oh, uh, thanks Uncle John.” Raymond said, realizing it was the first time he had seen his uncle since last Christmas. He had changed a lot since then. “I worked really hard to get in shape. Both Sebastian and Evalyn helped me a lot.”

“That’s great to hear.” John said, he looked like he was about to say more but was cut off.

“I think he looks like a giiiiiiiiiiirl.” JR taunted from across the table.

The comment didn’t phase Ray in the slightest, but his Uncle John spoke up for him none the less. “Nonsense! Ya know who has long hair like Raymond? Rock stars.”

Ray just laughed, JR didn’t know what to say about that.

By now most of the family had taken notice of the conversation.

“So, does this mean you’ll be on the football team this year Raymond?” his Uncle Frank inquired from next to Billy.

Ray shook his head as he chewed his food, “No, uh, football isn’t really for me. I’m not really into sports at all actually.”

“Bah,” Came his Grandfather’s voice from down the table, “What young man isn’t into football or at least some other sport?”

“Young artist men.” His Aunt Lisa piped up. “You were more of the artist type. Weren’t you Raymond.”

“Is that so?” his Uncle John said in surprise, “I wasn’t aware of that.”

“Eh, I dabble a bit I guess.” Ray said, echoing the line he had used several months earlier. When he had last used that line to describe his art Evalyn had refused to let it go. This time he looked at her with a glare. Silently demanding she didn’t say anything. She giggled, but thankfully remained silent.

“Still into that silly art stuff?” His Grandfather scowled, “Where is that gonna take ya in life?”

“It doesn’t need to take me anywhere.” Ray replied slowly, suddenly self conscious, “Right now it’s just something I enjoy. Like how Sebastian enjoys football.”

“Huh.” His grandfather huffed, “The difference is that Sebastian can actually go places with football. You need to man up, and start taking life seriously Raymond.”

Sebastian bristled, “That’s going too far Grandpa. How can you say Ray won’t go anywhere with his art? You haven’t even seen his art! No one here has! And maybe there’s a reason for that! Our whole family has never encouraged that sort of thing. It’s always all about sports. Even Mom and Dad,” he paused and looked at his parents, “I’m sorry, but it’s true. When we were little kids you always told us, we could do or be anything. But now, whenever Ray’s art comes up, you just say something along the lines of, ‘oh well it’s fine as a hobby.’ Why can’t it be more?”

Everyone was completely taken off guard by his Sebastian’s outburst. He was usually such a relaxed, ‘go with the flow’ kind of guy, that no one had expected this. Ray was on cloud nine from his brother’s defense, and Evalyn wasn’t surprised in the slightest. Anyone who knew Sebastian should know that the one time he wasn’t relaxed and easy going was when it came to his siblings. He would do anything for them.

Jameson awkwardly put down his fork. “Sebastian, you’re absolutely right.” He began slowly, “There is no reason why it cannot be more. But you have to look at the facts. Very few people can make it as an artist, and it’s important to have a backup plan-

“Okay.” Sebastian interrupted, “Let’s do that. Let’s look at the facts. The amount of high school football players who go into college football? About 1 in 17. The amount of college players who make it into the NFL? About 1 in 50. Ultimately, only 9 in every 10,000 High school football players will make it to the NFL. Now, keep in mind that these statistics are for the NFL, and not the CFL, but that’s a 0.09% chance of me making it. You don’t need a head for numbers like Raymond to realize my chances aren’t great. And yet, none of you have ever had a doubt in your minds. Why can’t you have that same confidence in Raymond? If you all have so much faith that I can make it as a pro football player, why is it so damn hard to believe he might be able to make it as an artist? WHY?!”

He looked around the table. Even Ray and Evalyn were surprised now.

“Sebastian, honey,” Catalina began, trying to de-escalate the situation, “We have never once ever said we didn’t think Raymond could make it as an artist, we’ve just always told him to have a backup plan.”

Sebastian took a deep breath, and let it out as a heavy sigh. “That’s not the point Mom,” he said, regaining his calm, “It doesn’t bother me that you think he should have a backup plan, on the contrary, I agree completely. What bother’s me, is that while sure, it’s true that you’ve never said you didn’t think he could do it, I’ve also never ONCE heard you say you believed he could. When he was recommended for that art competition last spring, you didn’t even mention it again after you found out. Not to mention that we didn’t even find out from Raymond. It was Eva who told us. I wonder why that was?” He finished rhetorically, sighing heavily and looking down at his plate.

A silence fell over the room. Jameson and Catalina had nothing to say. They hadn’t realized it until now, but Sebastian was right. They had always told Raymond that art was a hobby, that he should have a backup plan and not get his hopes up. While at the same time, they told Sebastian that if he tried hard he couldn’t fail, that if anyone would make it, it’d be him. They ensured he had a backup plan, but they always encouraged him.

The silence went on for a long time, everyone just quietly eating their food.

Finally, Evalyn piped up, “So, uh, kinda an awkward time to ask this,” Everyone turned to look at her.

Jameson gave an exasperated sigh, “Evelyn, now really isn’t the time.”

“It kinda has to be Dad,” she replied, “It’s 6:15. It starts in 15 minutes.”

“What starts in 15 minutes’ dear?” Grandma Olivia asked, eager to change the subject.

Jameson rubbed his forehead. After Sebastian’s outburst there was no way anyone would refuse her and risk another conflict.

“There’s a documentary on at 6:30.” Evalyn explained, “It might be invaluable to my final paper in my Intro to Psychology class.”

“Psychology?” Their Grandfather inquired.

“Yeah, Grandpa!” Evalyn exclaimed excitedly, “It’s the study of the human mind and how it develops! I’ve been thinking lately that it might be something to study in university!”

All the adults smiled at that. It was well known that Evalyn changed what she wanted to study after high school on a weekly basis.

“Well,” Olivia began, “I think everyone’s done or almost done eating, yes? Why don’t you and your Grandfather go see if you can’t get it set up. Everyone who wants to watch can join you after we tidy up a bit, and then I’ll bring out tea and dessert.”

Everyone went about getting ready, the confrontation at dinner slowly leaving their thoughts.

It turned out that over the course of dinner a heavy rain had begun to fall, ruining any chances for an after-dinner football game, or for the twins to go wrestling in the backyard again. So, a short time later, the entire family of 14 found themselves cuddled up in the small living room. More people then the couches were intended to hold squeezed into them, a few chairs pulled in from the dining room held others. Johnathan sat on the floor with the twins, Lizzie sitting in his lap. Everyone had just gotten settled as the documentary began.

The title showed up on the screen

She’s a Boy I knew

While everyone else was watching the TV screen, Raymond was watching everyone. They all had one almost unanimous reaction. Their brows scrunched up in confusion at the contradictory title.

“Evalyn dear,” Oliva asked hesitantly, “What’s this documentary, uh, about exactly?”

Evalyn didn’t hesitate at all. “It’s about transgender people, gender identity, and coming out. It was actually made right here in Vancouver! It even won the People’s choice Award for Most Popular Canadian Film!”

“O-oh, um,” Olivia began, clearly taken aback.

“Before you ask,” Evalyn said confidently, “There shouldn’t be anything inappropriate for the little ones. I made sure before even considering asking.”

Just like that, the family couldn’t get out of it. When Olivia had suggested they join Evalyn, she had said it would do them all good to learn something new. She could hardly get them out of it now, just because the topic made her uncomfortable.

“What’s a tranjunder?” Billy asked innocently.

Once again, Evalyn answered immediately, not giving anyone the chance to give a wrong answer and potentially negatively influence the young boy’s thoughts. “Transgender people, are people who weren’t born the right gender. So, that could mean boy’s who want to be girls, or girls who want to be boys.” She explained it as simply as she could, trying to make it so the young boy could easily wrap his mind around it.

He made a weird look, but he didn’t say anything else.

The family sat there together, watching the documentary silently. A few time’s people shifted uncomfortably, but Ray couldn’t be sure if that was because of the content or the confined space. Evelyn, true to her word, took notes throughout the whole thing. Finally, when it ended, there was a short silence.

Evalyn turned in her seat to look at the family. “Alright,” she said, breaking the silence, “I didn’t plan this, but if you guys don’t mind, I think it could be really useful to get your opinions on the documentary. After all, we have both men and woman from three different generations all gathered under one roof. Would that be okay with everyone?”

No one specifically said it would be, but they also didn’t say it wouldn’t, so Evalyn just plowed straight ahead, deciding to go from oldest to youngest.

“Grandpa, Grandma?” She asked, “What did you think?”

“I uh, I certainly thought it was…” Olivia paused before continuing, searching for the right words, “Interesting. But that boy’s poor family.” She continued, “Their son put them through so much.”

Ray noted that even though the ‘son’ in question had become a ‘daughter’, his Grandmother still referred to him as a ‘boy’ and a ‘son’.

Evelyn made some notes before turning to their grandfather.

“I thought it was clear that the boy wasn’t right in the head.” He said adamantly, “No one should ever wish to be a different gender. It’s damn unnatural.” He declared.

Ray stiffened, but thankfully everyone was looking at either his Grandfather or his sister. Not him.

Evelyn kept her cool effortlessly, made another note, and moved right along.

“Uncle Frank?” she asked.

I think they should have gotten the boy professional help from a young age. There must’ve been signs.” He declared, “That’s what psychologists are for right? Maybe in a few years you’ll be able to help straighten boys like that out.”

This wasn’t going well. Ray’s chest felt like it was getting tight.

“Aunt Lisa? Uncle John?” Evalyn continued, “Your thoughts?”

Aunt Lisa went first, “Well, if it didn’t hurt anyone or he kept it private it wouldn’t bother me, but like Mom said, that boy – girl, I suppose – that girl’s poor family went through so much heartbreak because of his- her selfishness.”

Oh God. Is that all he Raymond would bring to his family if he really became Rayne? Trouble and pain? Would he be being selfish if he carried on down this path?

“I don’t know,” Jonathan began, “I feel like she couldn’t help it, just like how they say homosexuals are born that way, maybe she was too?”

Evelyn nodded, continuing to take notes.

“Mom? Dad?” she asked, “What do you have to add?”

Okay. Moment of truth. No matter what everyone else says, they were the ones that mattered.

Catalina hesitated, “I feel bad for.” She paused, looking for the right words, “The person. Clearly, they were suffering, but how did they know this is right? How do they know their problem was they were the wrong gender and not just, I don’t know, depressed? Regardless, it’s good they got help. Makes me wonder how this works in the legal system.”

Evelyn nodded, noted, and turned to their father.

“It uh, certainly is a bizarre world we live in.” he began, “Honestly I don’t really know what to say. I’ve heard of transsexuals before, but I always thought they were just perverts. I never thought they honestly believed they had been born in the wrong bodies. It’s a shame. This documentary has been very enlightening, however. Very educational. I think we all learned a lot.”

Raymond trembled. No. No. No. How could that be their reaction? He had been so hopeful.

But it wasn’t over.

“Sebastian?” his sister asked.

He took a deep breath, “Alright, so I’m not trying to play devil’s advocate or anything like that, but I don’t think one documentary is enough for anyone to form a real opinion. You saw a video about a trans woman. You didn’t meet the real thing, right? Maybe they should be given the benefit of the doubt.”

There were some shrugs of acknowledgement around the room. His sister made another note. They were almost done. Just a few more.

“Raymond?” she asked.

Shit. It didn’t even occur to him that he’d have to give his own answer. Hold it together. You just have to get through this.

“I, uh, I don’t know.” He managed to choke out, “L-like Seb said, it’s hard to m- make an opinion with just a v-video.”

Their grandfather chuckled. “Hard to make an opinion? The boy’s so disturbed he’s pale as a ghost.”

Evelyn ignored the comment, made a note, and continued.

“How about you Mackenzie?” She asked their cousin, who, in the absence of her phone had actually watched the documentary, “What did you think?”

She rolled her eyes, “I think he was just a pervert.”

Ray was flabbergasted. How could she think that?

“Anything else to add?” Evalyn asked with a raised eyebrow.

Mackenzie shook her head.

Evelyn pursed her lips, nodded, and made another note.

“JR? Billy?” she asked gently, “What did you think of the movie?”

JR scrunched up his nose, “I thought it was weeeeeeird. Why would a BOY want to be a GIRL?!”

“Yeah, weird.” Billy echoed, but with less determination in his voice.

Finally, Evelyn turned to Lizzie. “How about you sweetie? What did you think of the movie?”

Lizzie’s face scrunched up, deep in thought, “I was happy that the boy got to be a girl in the end! Who wouldn’t want to be a princess?!”

The whole family laughed at that, JR and Billy both raising their hands while loudly shouting, “ME!”

“Alright.” Olivia began, eager to move on, “How about some dessert, then we’ll call it a night? Hmm?”

The family slowly filed back into the kitchen. Raymond waited behind for a moment, then ran to the washroom. He was going to be sick. Closing and locking the door behind him, he leaned over the toilet and deposited the contents of his stomach.

A few moments passed.

There was a knock on the door.

“Raymond?” the concerned voice of his mother called, “Are you okay?”

After a moment, he called back, “I’m, uh, I’m not feeling well. Gimme a moment.”

He slowly stood up, washed his face, and rinsed out his mouth. Then, after staring at himself in the mirror for a moment, he turned and opened the door.

His mother stared beck at him, clearly concerned.

He tried to play it off, “Dinner must not have sat well with me, I’m fine now though. Don’t want any dessert though.”

“O-okay.” She said hesitantly, “we’ll get going soon and get you home to bed, sound good?”

He nodded weakly. His bed was all he wanted right now.

Just as his Mom said, they left soon. Upon learning he wasn’t feeling well, his father and siblings actually chose to forgo dessert. They just said their goodbyes and left. The drive home was long, awkward, and silent. Raymond guessed that Sebastian’s outburst was still hanging over his parent’s head. That would likely mean another talk Raymond didn’t want to have in the near future. Whatever. As long as it wasn’t tonight.

When they finally got home at 10:30, Raymond went straight to bed. He closed and locked his door behind him, even ignoring Evelyn when she knocked. He just needed to sleep, but first, to cry.

Cry, and then sleep.



Hello!

Flummox here.

This chapter was... difficult. For a variety of reasons. There were a few scenes that I poured over again and again trying to get right. And I'm still not sure about them. Hopefully they will come across how I want them too. That's the main reason there was a bit of delay for this one.

I also finally hit 10 chapters! Yay! I know this is something small and inconsequential - there are many stories posted here that started after mine and have already passed me - but it feels like a bit of a milestone nonetheless.

As always, thank you all so much for taking the time to read my story. I know I'm slow at times, but I really appreciate your encouragement, patience, and criticism. I still have so much to learn when it comes to writing, but I feel like I have improved immensely in the short time I've been here. So thanks for that too.

Whether you liked it or hated it, I would love to hear from you via comment or private message. I make an effort to read and reply to every message and comment I receive - although it sometimes takes me a week or two.

With love,

Flummox



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