To Thine Own Self Be True: Chapter 1

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Tanya York talked with Melanie Lopez, Leslie Sylvester and Lupe Toro-Byrne on the Thursday afternoon after Carmen put in her application.

Tanya was the first to speak up, "All that we're waiting on right now is a CORI check, correct?"

Melanie smiled, replying, "That's right. I have to say that I'm quite impressed by the references she gave us. Granted, they all seem to be personal references, as she wasn't working in an actual daycare, rather out of her apartment, but the ones that I've looked at all say that she cared for the kids she was babysitting like they were her own; the kids in almost every case love this woman like a second mother."

Lupe looked up from some papers she was examining, nodding in agreement with Melanie, "I had roughly half of the references that she gave to us to check, and like the ones Melanie called, the comments about her were all positive, with several claiming she reformed their kids."

Leslie piped up, "By the information she gave in her application, she started babysitting because she needed something to do once her twin boys were in school. She obviously likes working with kids, she babysat many of them even when there was no financial benefit to her."

Melanie nodded, "Even without the CORI check being finished yet, she sounds like a good person to have working here."

Tanya looked around at the other three, who were all nodding their heads in approval. "Then I'll arrange the interview for next week."

Melanie smiled again, then added, "She's only applying for part-time, but we need someone like her full-time. If we do end up hiring her, I want to have her agreement on eventually shifting to full-time. I suspect she only asked for part-time because she doesn't have a work history."

Tanya laughed, "Agreed. In that case, once the hiring takes place, we can then let her know about that option."

The four women were all smiling as the meeting broke up and they headed out to their various vehicles for the trip home.

**********

It had been almost three days since Carmen had put in the application to the daycare centre. She had heard about that place from people she had met on various occasions while she was out in the city taking care of things that needed to be done.

Just after 9:15 AM on the Friday after her visit to the daycare centre, her cell phone rang, she managed to answer it on the third ring.

"Hello, this is Carmen de Valencita speaking, who may I ask is calling?" she inquired.

"Hello, Carmen, my name is Tanya from Young Start Winnisimmet Preschool & Daycare. We've looked over your application and we would like for you to come in for an interview. Could you be here for 1:00 PM next Tuesday?" came the voice from the other end of the connection.

Carmen giggled for a moment, then answered, "Yes, I can be there. Thank you for giving me the chance to be interviewed."

The two women chatted for a moment or two, then the call ended, with Carmen grinning from ear to ear.

**********

Sapphire Jennifer Berkeley had managed to find a small one bedroom apartment in a house several blocks away from the campus. She and her parents had discussed whether she should live in the dorms or have her own place, but with her having had her gender reassignment surgery early that summer, they had decided that having her own space, and the privacy and safety it represented, was worth the added expense.

They weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination, but an apartment like the one they found was within their overall budget. The one downfall of the cost of the apartment was that Sapphire would need to find some form of employment to cover food and any necessities.

Sapphire spent the two weeks after she moved into the apartment in an effort to find that employment.

She had applied at about twenty restaurants around the campus, every one turned her down without stating exactly why. She was getting very frustrated one afternoon while sitting on a park bench in Rawson-Washington Park, the park was just down the street from her apartment.

A young woman walking by her noticed that the girl on the bench was upset about something and stopped to sit down for a moment. The fact that the young woman was pushing a small pram around and apparently wanted to relax for a few minutes only made it easier.

The young woman sat beside Sapphire for several minutes, occasionally looking in the pram to check on the baby.

Sapphire smiled for the briefest moment as the woman looked in the pram again, then looked herself, saying, "Handsome little boy you have."

"Thank you miss, he is a cute little guy, for sure, he just turned three months old last Thursday," the young woman replied.

Sapphire sighed, just looking at the baby boy had her wishing she had been born female, but that was not her lot in life.

The young woman glanced at Sapphire, then gently asked, "You seem upset about something, care to talk about it?"

Sapphire was surprised, she knew no one here, yet this young woman was acting as if Sapphire's worries were important. She shrugged her shoulders, then quietly spent the next several minutes talking to the young woman, pouring out all her worries and fears.

The young woman listened intently as Sapphire talked, not interrupting at all. When Sapphire finally finished, she turned to Sapphire and wrapped her in a hug, holding her for a moment, then let her go, saying, "My name is Shelly Tanner, I know you didn't actually have to tell me everything that you just did. I do have to say that I understand a bit, as a friend of mine is in transition from male to female right now."

When Sapphire looked up at her, it was obvious to Shelly that the other girl was seriously overstressed, she was about to start crying. Sapphire, with the first tears beginning to trickle down her cheeks, was shocked. Shelly was treating her with decency and respect.

Shelly continued, "I've known Sally for a long time, since were were six or seven I think, back when he was Salvatore. I knew that there was something that was bothering him for many years, but it wasn't until he told me last year that I actually knew why he was upset all the time. Since that time, she's managed to get a decent doctor here, even with the political climate, and is, as I said, undergoing her own transition."

That was enough to push Sapphire over the edge, she leaned forward, covering her face with her hands as she sobbed her heart out. 

Shelly sat there beside her, quietly waiting until Sapphire straightened up and then leaned against the back of the bench before she pulled some kleenexes from her purse and passed them over. Sapphire spent a minute or two wiping away the tears, then pulled a compact from her purse, looked in it and giggled at the raccoon eyes she was showing. A few more minutes went by as she cleaned herself and reapplied make-up.

The two continued to sit there, quietly relaxing, for the next half hour, at which point the little boy woke up and began crying. Shelly chuckled, then spoke, "Time to take him home. Oh, by the way, have you thought about applying at Coca-Cola? My boyfriend works there, he's taking a business course over there," she pointed toward the Georgia State campus, "And he says they have a great employment policy."

Sapphire smiled and thanked Shelly, then waved as the young woman and her baby boy headed out of the park.

The very next day, Sapphire walked into the headquarters of Coca-Cola and put in an application. A week later, she was hired part-time.

**********

Carmen showed up for her interview fifteen minutes early, waiting patiently in the small waiting area just inside the entrance.

At 1:07 PM, her name was called and she followed the caller into an office tucked in behind the front counter.

She sat down in a chair in front of the cherry wood desk once the other woman had seated herself behind it, then waited.

"Hello, Ms. de Valencita, I'm Tanya York, I'm the one handling your interview today."

Carmen noticed the double bands, wedding and engagement, on Tanya's left hand and replied, "You have my thanks, Mrs. York."

"Tanya is fine, thanks. You have quite a number of references with your application, we've talked to many of the people and in all but one case, you were given glowing recommendations. The lone holdout also recommended you, saying you had done your job well enough."

Carmen giggled, "I suspect that would be Ms. Luisa Alhambra, she has a hard time admitting that others can do things well."

Tanya smiled, "The references were only a small part of things, we also did a CORI check on you for the safety of our clients."

"CORI check?" Carmen inquired.

"Criminal Offender Record Information," Tanya replied, "We don't like to fool around regarding the children. There are a lot of people who would love to make our center into the next Fells Acres fiasco, which is something that we would prefer to avoid."

"That shouldn't be a problem, then, as I don't have a criminal record," Carmen smiled as she responded, then she asked, "Fells Acres?"

"Fells Acres was a big trial concerning suspected child abuse in a daycare centre in Malden here in Massachusetts back in 1984. Further investigations many years later placed doubt on the testimony of many of the witnesses involved, primarily due to the methods used in the interrogation of the children. The male defendant spent nearly twenty years in jail before being released on parole several years ago, the two female co-defendants were imprisoned for over ten years before the mother died and the daughter was released on time served."

"Damn, it's no wonder that you want to check so thoroughly, I'm glad I have no record," Carmen sighed. "It's sad to see people's lives be wasted because others will believe they did something wrong when proper investigation might show there was no wrongdoing at all."

"Very true," Tanya replied, "Now we come to the next part, what is your source of income, please?"

Carmen sighed and shook her head, "Welfare, plus death benefits from the father of my two boys, paid by the US Army."

"And what about the babysitting? Were you paid for that or not?" Tanya inquired.

"Most of the time, payment was in the form of food given by the parents. I rarely received money for it, most people there are on welfare."

"That would make it difficult to pay for services like that, yes," Tanya said. "You know, you have some important people in your corner."

Carmen looked across the desk at her, obviously startled by the last comment. "I have no idea what you mean."

"You've heard of the Finn family?" Tanya asked, smiling to show no harm was intended by her comment earlier.

"I have," Carmen replied, "I've seen stories about a few of them on the news, several with the girl Jaimie being front and center."

"Well, Louis Reagan happens to be rather close with many people in the Finn family, and he speaks quite highly of you."

"You mean the city councillor? But... why?" Carmen inquired.

"He saw you as someone standing up for herself. When Tommy Wilson died, Louis investigated, then had the death benefits sent to you after he found out that Tommy had, on at least four separate occasions, told people about your having the twin boys and that he was the father. Not only that, but you never gave up on your boys even when life was at its worst, you kept going, finding ways to live from day to day."

"Yeah, I did eventually learn that he was the main reason that I ended up getting those benefits. For that, he has my lifelong thanks."

"You gave your boys a good home, I hear that they both accepted full scholarships at Georgia State University?"

"Yes, they headed down there about a week ago, I miss them already," Carmen said, wiping a lone tear from her eye.

Tanya spoke again, "You don't have a work history, but that was due to you staying at home where most of the babysitting took place."

"That's correct, I didn't have a job before my boys came along. I only started the babysitting after the boys were in school. As the actual times I was paid in any form of cash were quite rare, I never really had an income beyond the welfare payments and the death benefit payments. I did, however, send in forms any time that I did receive actual cash payments, but the amounts were small enough that I was left alone."

**********

Julio and Javier had been in their dorm room for four days when they were approached by the first group of frat boys. The fact that the guys could be heard to be casting slurs and snide comments at other people as they approached was not a good sign.

The twins listened to the five other males as they tried to coax them to join their fraternity, then politely refused and walked away.

Three more days passed before they were approached again, this time by two young males as the boys ate lunch in a cafe near the campus.
This turned out to be a whole different ball game in a sense, as these boys were respectful and decent with everyone around them. After an extended chat during which the two young men bought the twins coffees so they could stay longer, Julio and Javier were convinced.

Both boys gave their assurances that they would apply to the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity the next day.

Julio and Javier met with the head of the fraternity the next day, talked for over an hour, then returned to their dorm room. The boys had been lucky, as they had managed to end up in their own room; they hadn't been separated from each other, something they had initially feared.

**********

Sapphire had her choice of schedules, she could work three weekdays each week or two weekdays and a half-day on Saturdays.

She eventually decided on the three weekdays, figuring that she could use the time on the weekends to catch up with studying.

Her first few days working at the Coca-Cola headquarters were spent showing her the various areas where she would work. That went as expected, and after she had been working there for about two weeks, she came to the attention of several supervisors.

There was a long discussion about her one afternoon before she arrived at work. The discussion came about because she had been seen providing information to visitors wandering through the building, and her quiet intervention had helped many to enjoy their visits.

The eventual decision that was reached was to transfer her to the entry area as a greeter.

Sapphire smiled and was led off to her new task, given brief instructions, then left to handle things at the entrance.

She had arrived at 4 PM, as she normally did, and stayed until 9 PM, her usual time to leave.

She had been watched the entire time, although she didn't notice it, and the watcher, one of the supervisors, nodded in approval. He reported back to the other supervisors, "That girl is a natural greeter, she sets the visitors at ease and directs them to their destinations with a smile."

The rest of the supervisors present nodded, they would leave her there for a while and see what would happen.

**********

Carmen answered a call early on the Friday afternoon following her interview with Tanya York.

It happened to be Tanya on the phone, asking if Carmen could come in on the following Monday 11:00 AM for another interview.

Carmen agreed, they chatted for a moment, then Tanya had to return to her work.

The simple fact that they wanted to do a second interview suggested that they were interested in hiring her for the daycare centre. Carmen celebrated that evening with a brief call to her boys via their cell phones that Louis had given them after their high school graduation.

Things seemed to be looking up for her, and her boys were preparing for classes which would start in a couple of weeks or so.

**********

The following Monday, Carmen dressed decently and showed up twenty minutes early for the second interview.

She had to wait for a while, as it seemed there was some sort of meeting going on in the office behind the counter.

She was finally called to go to that same office just after three beautiful women walked out of the office, Tanya standing in the doorway.

Tanya waved her into the office, smiled, greeted her and the two sat down on each side of the lovely cherry wood desk.

The next thirty minutes was quite enlightening to Carmen. They most definitely were interested in hiring her, but wanted a stipulation in the contract that she would eventually go from part time work there to full time, as they felt she would be a good addition to the full time staff.

There was some further discussion about the pay rate, benefits, and other work related issues.

Once everything seemed to have been sorted out, Tanya smiled at her, saying, "Congratulations, you start next Monday, Ms. de Valencita."

Carmen thanked her, then walked out of the office and the building, feeling like she was walking on a cloud, she was that happy.

**********

The boys spent the next two weeks getting settled in and exploring the campus and the surrounding areas. It was on one of these explorations that Javier saw a pretty girl walking toward the law college's entrance. Something about the girl drew Javier's attention, she was a bit taller than average for a female, perhaps 5'8" tall, with a bit of an androgynous look due to her narrow hips and slightly broad shoulders.

Julio noticed that his brother was distracted by something, then followed his brother's gaze and chuckled. "We haven't even started classes yet, brother, and you've already got your eyes on a pretty girl, I see," Julio stated. "Isn't that the law college you sent applications to last year?"

Javier was still looking off toward the law college, even though the girl had entered the building while Julio spoke to him.

"Yes, Julio, she is quite pretty, and again yes, that is the law college that I will be attending soon," Javier blushed as he replied.

Julio chuckled again and the two boys continued to wander around the campus.

**********

Carmen started at the daycare a week after her second interview. She worked mornings, three hours per day, Monday to Friday, mostly with the babies and toddlers. She loved to watch them, show them to the toys and do the necessary duties like changing diapers when needed.

The wee ones, over that first week, gradually warmed up to Carmen and by Friday, were each greeting her in their own way. The toddlers would run to her when they came in, giving her a hug, then run off to play. The babies would look up at her, gurgle happily and smile at her.

By that Friday, the littlest ones were hardly making any fuss at all when Carmen had to clean them and change diapers.

Carmen enjoyed every minute in the building and realized that this was what she wanted to do, but full-time, not part time.

**********

Classes were due to begin in a few days and the twins had decided to visit the Coca-Cola headquarters for something to do.

They entered the big building and were immediately greeted by a rather pretty girl just inside the entrance. She chatted with them for a few minutes, during which time Javier became lost in her beauty and the bright blue of her eyes. He was truly enthralled by her.

It wasn't until after the boys had headed deeper into the building that Javier shook his head, then chuckled, turned to his brother and said, "Bro, that's the girl we saw a couple of weeks ago outside the law college, I'm sure of it. I can't get her out of my head, she's beautiful."

Julio laughed, "She has the figure of a model, tall, slim, not too busty, nice, pretty face, she's a natural honey blonde, too."

Javier looked over at his brother. "Natural? how do you know that?" he asked.

Julio grinned, "You know how a lot of the girls at school back home coloured their hair all the time. Well, hers didn't look brittle or too shiny. Not only that, but I couldn't see any traces of darker hair which would show through eventually after a colour, you know?"

Javier shook his head, then chuckled, "I guess you were finding her rather nice to look at, too, huh?"

"Nothing wrong with looking at a pretty girl, bro," Julio replied. "Unless you intend to ask her out at some point?" he laughed.

"I don't know, I might," Javier responded. "She is quite pretty, perhaps she already has a boyfriend."

The two continued on their tour of the building, enjoying every minute of it, then returned to their room.

**********

Classes started for the boys at the end of August, with Javier going one way to his classes and Julio another direction for his own. The buildings where each boy would take most of their classes were not too far from each other, perhaps two or three blocks separated them.

Javier had been in his classes for a few days before he noticed that that gorgeous girl from Coca-Cola was in several of his classes.

Once he did notice, the next time they shared a class, he approached her, asking if he could sit beside her.

There weren't many people near her in that class, so she smiled, nodding her head, and Javier settled onto the bench near her.

The class was interesting to a point, but much of what they were learning was basic legal stuff, not too complicated, so it was easy enough for Javier to find himself glancing at the girl sitting a short way down the bench while the professor droned on and on, boring many students.

At one point during the lecture, while the professor was facing away from them, Javier asked what her name was and what part of the country she lived in before coming to the university. She replied, "My name is Sapphire, and I was raised in Marietta, Georgia."

Javier grinned, not only was she pretty, but she was smart too, and he liked her accent. To Sapphire, he was the one with the accent.

They continued to chat when they could do so without the professor noticing, slowly getting to know each other.

After that, when Javier saw she was in the same class he was attending, he would end up sitting next to Sapphire.

**********

A bit over two weeks after classes had started, a guy from one of the other fraternities on campus approached Javier, asking if he could have a private chat with him for a moment. Javier agreed, they walked off along the side of a building, and the other boy spoke.

"Did you know that that 'girl', he emphasized it in a way that made it a slur, "Is a tranny freak, not an actual girl?" he asked Javier.

Javier looked down at the guy a bit as he was nearly seven inches shorter. Javier smiled and said, "So what? You expect me to jump up and down, freak out over the fact that she wasn't born female, maybe even go as far as to hit her or shove her away because of it?"

The guy, a law student by the name of Royal Grant, looked up at Javier, flat out astonished at Javier's so what attitude.

Javier continued, "Did you even stop to think about why I joined Pi Kappa Alpha? It's because they give everyone respect and decency, not just those that they feel deserve it because they were born white, male, rich, etc. They show that in their action with their members and others. Not only that, but many members of the fraternity do volunteer work in soup kitchens and homeless shelters, helping people who need it."

Javier stopped for a minute, trying to control his rising anger at Royal's attempt to interfere with those people he chose as his friends.

He continued after that brief pause, "It's not just homeless people that need help, but people like Sapphire, too. From what I've learned from talking with her, she applied to two dozen places before she went to Coca-Cola, all of them turned her down because she is transgender. For a place with a university with a reputation as good as this one has, the simple fact that people treat her like that upsets me a lot. This isn't 1950 any more, people in this state and many other places need to grow up and let people live their own lives, yes, even people like Sapphire."

The guy heard everything that Javier said, yet it went in one ear and out the other. "You're still going to associate with that thing?"

"I sure am, Royal," Javier replied, "And I'll be reporting your comments about her to the dean of the law school, I doubt he'll be pleased."

Royal shook his head, looked up at Javier, then turned and walked away, saying, "You're nuts, man, you'd be better off away from it."

Javier smiled again, this one a grim smile as he headed back into the building to the dean's office and reported the conversation.



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