A Blank Page - Chapter 13


A Blank Page
Chapter 13
By Flummox


Evalyn pulled in to the driveway. It had been a long day. School, the meeting with Rayne and Ms. Reid. Dinner at her friend’s house, the movie. A great day, but a long one.

At least with her father and brother gone camping she’d be able to park in the garage.

She reached up and pressed the remote garage opener. The garage slowly opened.

Oh shit.

Her father’s truck was in the garage.

Why the fuck was her father’s truck in the garage?

Panic setting in, Evalyn leapt from her car, barely remembering to close and lock it behind her.

She bolted for the door. Not knowing what to expect.

The house was… oddly quiet.

She slowly closed the door behind her and took off her shoes and jacket.

“Raymond. C’mon. Open the door.”

She heard the voice calling from upstairs. It didn’t take a genius to put together the pieces of what happened. Rayne had come home. For some reason, her father and brother hadn’t gone camping and were waiting. They had seen Rayne as Rayne. She had fled to her room.

With a heavy sigh Evalyn walked quickly up the stairs. This certainly hadn’t been how they had planned to tell the family. At the top of the stairs she found her father and brother. The former leaning against Rayne’s door, the later sitting on the floor next to it.

Both of them turned to look at her immediately.

“Evalyn!” Jameson called out, “Do you have any idea what’s going on? Raymond came home, dressed up as- dressed up as-” he stammered trying to find the right words. Failing, he just plowed onwards, “He ran to his room. It’s been an hour and a half. He won’t come out and won’t let us in.”

Evalyn sighed. It was exactly as she thought.

“Move.” She ordered calmly stepping over to the door.

Jameson blinked rapidly, not used to receiving orders from his daughter.

Evalyn flicked her hands, motioning for him to move aside.

Slowly he complied.

She stepped in front of her younger sibling’s door and gently knocked.

“Rayne?” She called out, “It’s Eva. Can I come in?”

Jameson looked at Sebastian in bewilderment. “Rayne?” he whispered, not comprehending.

Sebastian, on the other hand, had heard the name before. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion, but for very different reasons than his father. He had thought Rayne was the name of his sister’s girlfriend.

The lock clicked, and the door opened a crack. Sebastian leapt to his feet, and Jameson whipped around to look at the door. Evalyn stopped them both in their tracks with a glare and a held-up hand. She slipped though the door, closing and locking it again behind her.
 

~o~O~o~

 
Earlier that day

Jameson and Sebastian were climbing into the formers truck, loaded up with their camping gear, when the call came.

Jameson glanced at the call display on his phone, and, seeing that it was his brother, swiped the answer symbol.

“Hey Frank, me and Seb were just heading out.”

Sebastian watched as his father silently listened to his uncle.

“Ah shit.” His Jameson replied to the phone, “I understand Frank. You just focus on getting the little man better. I’ll call dad and make sure he’s okay.”

Sebastian frowned. Clearly this wasn’t good news.

“Yup. Yup. Alright. Talk to you later brother.”

Jameson hung up the phone and turned to his eldest son with a heavy sigh and a frown.

“What’s wrong pops?” Sebastian asked anxiously.

“Billy’s come down with a bad case of the flu.” Jameson explained, “On top of that, your Grandfather threw his back out this afternoon while he was getting ready. Doesn’t look like this trips gonna be happening buddy.”

“Oh man.” Sebastian began, “I really hope Grampa and Billy are okay.”

Jameson smiled at his son. “I’m sure they’ll be fine. Billy’s just sick, and you know Gramps has a bad back.”

Sebastian nodded. “Hey, ya know Dad. This doesn’t mean we have to cancel the trip.”

Jameson raised an eyebrow, wordlessly prompting Sebastian to continue.

“I mean, it won’t be as fun without Grampa, Uncle Frank, and the Twins, but we could still go. I’m sure we’ll still have a good time. Unless you don’t want to.”

Jameson regarded his son, then slowly nodded.

“Ya know what? You’re right Seb. Just the two of us tonight, Ray’ll join us tomorrow. Maybe Eva and your mother will join us too. I was looking forward to a men’s weekend, but I’d be just as happy spending it with just our family.”

Sebastian grinned.

“Let me just call Raymond and update him on our plans.” Jameson said as he deftly navigated the menus of his phone before tapping the call button on Raymond’s contact page. He put the phone to his ear.

Upon getting to the voicemail Jameson hung up without leaving a message. “That’s odd. Raymond is usually diligent about answering his phone.”

“Huh.” Sebastian mused, “Maybe he’s just distracted? He’s with his best friend after all.”

“Maybe.” Jameson agreed. “I’ll try one more time.”

He hit call again.

Voicemail.

“Hey son. There’s been a change of plans. Call me back and I’ll fill ya in.” Jameson left a quick message and hung up again.

“That’s not like him.” Jameson stated, concern creeping into his voice.

“Well,” Sebastian began, “We still have to stop by the grocery store, right? Let’s do that, then in an hour or so, we’ll try again. If there’s still no answer, well, you have Logan’s Mom’s number, right? I think her name was Katelyn?”

Jameson nodded. “You’re right. What would I do without you son?”

Sebastian laughed, “I dunno. Have a mid-life crisis?”

The two of them chuckled as they headed down to the grocery store.
 

~o~O~o~

 
Jameson and Sebastian exited the grocery store, arms loaded with food for the weekend. They had hot dogs and hamburgers, hot chocolate and marshmallows, and everything else one might need on a camping trip. After they loaded everything into the truck, Jameson pulled out his phone.

For the third time that afternoon, he dialed his sons number.

And for the third time that afternoon, he was directed to voicemail.

Frowning and genuinely worried, Jameson turned to Sebastian. “Can you try him on your phone? I’m going to call Logan’s Mom.”

“Yeah, for sure Dad.” Sebastian replied, beginning to share his fathers concern.

Jameson dialed Katelyn’s number as Sebastian dialed Raymond’s.

Sebastian got voicemail, but Jameson had better luck.

“Hello?” the voice came through the line as the call was connected.

“Hi Katelyn, it’s Jameson.” He replied, “Raymond’s father.”

“Of course, of course. How are you?”

Jameson sighed, “Well, I could be doing better. Ray isn’t answering his phone. Is he and Logan around? Do you think I could talk to him?”

“What?” She replied, the inflection of her voice raising in confusion, “Why would you think he was here?”

“Because,” Jameson paused, his own confusion growing, “Because he told me the he and Logan wanted to hang out and would be spending the night together. He said Logan was going to pick him up after school.”

“Well that’s the first I’ve heard about it.” Katelyn replied, “Logan has been home all afternoon. He hasn’t been gone long enough to make it to your place and back. One moment, let me ask him.”

“No, no, that’s not necessary.” Jameson decided, the realization that his son had lied to him setting in. “I’ll figure this out. But if you wouldn’t mind, could you ask Logan to message Raymond? Get him to ask Ray to call me? I’m worried.”

“Of course, Jameson. I completely understand.”

They said their goodbyes and the call was disconnected.

Sebastian had been watching his father intently throughout the call.

“What’s going on Dad?” He asked, sensing his father’s unease.

“What’s going on, Seb,” Jameson began, “Is that Raymond lied to us about where he was going tonight. Looks like we may have to cancel that camping trip after all.”

“What?” Sebastian replied, surprised by this revelation, “Why would Raymond lie? He’s always been pretty upfront with you and Mom, Right?”

“Yeah, or at least I thought so.” Jameson shook his head slowly, “Whatever’s going on, I’m going to get to the bottom of it. Let’s go home.”
 

~o~O~o~

 
Present time

Rayne didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know what to say. Everything was coming crumbling down. They weren’t supposed to find out like this.

Evalyn slipped through the cracked door and quickly closed it behind her. Locking it once more.

“They w- wer- weren’t supposed to find out like this.” Rayne whispered, her voice barely audible.

“I know.” Evalyn said soothingly, pulling her into a hug, “I know.”

Rayne sobbed into her sister’s shoulders as she was gently guided to the bed.

“That weren’t supposed to find out like this.” She said again, too panicked to say anything else.

“It’s not a big deal.” Evalyn said calmly, trying to get her sister to calm down. “We were gonna tell them on Sunday anyways, right? It’s just a bit early.”

“B- b- but they weren’t supposed to find out like THIS.” Rayne sobbed.

“But they were supposed to find out. Right, Rayne?” Evalyn asked, still holding her sister close.

Rayne didn’t say anything, but Evalyn did feel her nodding against her shoulder.

“So,” She continued, “It was a bit more shocking than we planned, but it’s really not a big deal, right? Like Ms. Reid said, the shock value might get them to take this more seriously.”

Again, Rayne said nothing. She just kept her face buried in Evalyn’s shoulder.

“Rayne.” Evalyn continued, feeling the girl relax ever so slightly at the sound of her name, “Just think of it like a band-aid Rayne. You’ve ripped it off. The hardest part’s over. Okay Rayne? We’re gonna get through this.”

Slowly, the two girls separated.

Rayne’s eyes were red and puffy from crying. Her cheeks still gleamed with tears, and her nose was a bit runny.

“You better not have gotten snot on me.” Evalyn teased with mock seriousness, drawing a very small smile and a watery giggle from her little sister.

Rayne sniffled and reached for the box of tissue she kept on her desk. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose.

“Feeling a bit better?” Evalyn asked after a moment.

Rayne slowly nodded.

“Do you wanna go talk to them now?” Evalyn asked cautiously.

She quickly realized that was the wrong question to ask as a fresh wave of tears began to pool in her sister’s eyes.

“Please no.” Rayne begged, shaking her head violently, “Don’t make me. Not tonight. I can’t tonight.”

“Shhh shh shh,” Evalyn hushed her, drawing her back into her arms. “Not tonight then. In the morning. Okay?”

Rayne slowly nodded.

Once she was calm again, Evalyn slowly stood up.

“I’ll be right back.” She said, answering the unasked question in Rayne’s wide eyes.

She walked over to the door, turned the lock, and stuck her head out.

“Rayne doesn’t want to see anyone tonight. We’ll talk in the morning.” Evalyn said quietly.

“What?” came Jameson’s reply, muffled by the door, “No. I need answers.”

“And you’ll have them Dad.” Evalyn replied sternly, in a tone that left no room for arguments, “In the MORNING.”

She didn’t wait for his reply, she just closed and locked the door once again. She walked back over to Rayne’s bed, and sat down on the edge.

“Scootch over.” She said, “I’m tired.”

Rayne did as she was told, making room for her sister in the small bed. Soon the two of them were cuddled up under the blankets.

“Goodnight Rayne.” Evalyn whispered.

“Goodnight Eva.” Rayne whispered back, “I love you.”

“I love you too li’l sis.” Her sister mumbled back.

It had been an awfully long day, and mere seconds later, the sisters each fell into a deep sleep.
 

~o~O~o~

 
Rayne slowly opened her eyes. She turned and glanced at her alarm clock. 11:30.

Wow. She had really crashed last night. She slowly stood up and stretched, suddenly aware that she was still wearing her outfit from last night. That was odd. She never slept in her clothes-

The memories from arriving home the previous night came rushing back. She collapsed back onto her bed. Evalyn was nowhere to be seen. She must have gotten up already. She had to fight back another round of tears. She couldn’t afford to break down again.

She took a long, slow, deep breath.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

In.

And out.

When she felt her hammering heart begin to slow, and the pooling tears begin to recede, she slowly stood up again. She needed to change.

That brought her to her next obstacle.

Did she change into another of her outfits? Or did she switch back into Raymond mode?

She definitely didn’t WANT to go back to being Raymond, and her brother and father had already seen her as herself, so did it matter? No, she couldn’t think about it like that. It definitely did matter. Just because they’d seen her, didn’t mean they were accepted her or were even prepared to meet her. There was her Mom to think about too.

With a heavy sigh, she pulled off her dress and tossed it to the side, followed by her bra and panties. She went to her closet and pulled out some of Raymond’s clothes. Sighing heavily once again, she quickly got dressed and walked to her door.

She paused there, for a long minute, both to collect herself, and to listen for anyone in the hall. Finally, satisfied that no one was there, she opened the door a crack and peeked out. Confirming her suspicion that she was alone, she tiptoed down the hall to the washroom, slipped inside, and locked the door behind her.

The safety of a locked door was truly marvelous.

In the washroom, she scrubbed what little makeup she still bore from her face. Finally, looking in the mirror, she sighed heavily once more. It was obvious she had been crying, but she didn’t really know what she could do about that.

Transformation complete – mask back in place – Raymond glumly turned to the door.

“Well.” He mumbled to himself, “Here we go.”

Taking another deep breath, he opened the door and stepped into the hall. He walked down the stairs, as quietly as he could of course. He could clearly hear voices coming from the kitchen, so that’s where he headed. He paused around the corner out of sight to take one last deep, calming breath before presenting himself to his family.

He slowly stepped in, and whatever conversation had been in progress stopped. His father, Sebastian, and Evalyn were all seated at the kitchen table. They were all watching him. He couldn’t bring himself to meet anyone’s gaze. He just went about getting a bowl of cereal, conscious of the eyes that followed him the whole time. Finally, he joined them at the table, taking his usual seat.

He kept his eyes fixed on his food, or at least he did until his father spoke.

“So, uh,” Jameson began, clearly uncomfortable, “You ready to talk squirt?”

Raymond quickly shoved a spoon full of cereal into his mouth, gaining a few seconds to collect his thoughts. He looked hesitantly at Evalyn.

“She hasn’t said anything.” Sebastian stated, “No matter how much we asked, she insisted that it wasn’t her place to tell.”

Raymond pursed his lips. It almost would have been easier if she had told them, but at the same time, she was right. He had to be the one to explain it.

“Thanks Eva.” He whispered. She just nodded and gave him a small smile of encouragement.

“I- I’m ready to talk.” Raymond said, finally finding the strength to meet his father and brother’s strong gazes.

“B- but, um, would it be okay if we waited until Mom got home?” He asked hesitantly, “I’d really like this to be a conversation with the whole family.”

Jameson slowly nodded. “I think that’s a good idea. However, you are definitely in trouble. You lied to us. So, until she gets home you can sit right there and work on any homework you have, or just study.”

Raymond nodded. That was fair, and he had the feeling he’d be in a lot more trouble when his parents found out everything.

“The same goes for you Evalyn.” His father continued.

“What?!” Evalyn demanded, “Why me too?!”

His father’s stern glare turned to her. “Because whatever’s been going on, you were clearly in on it. Which means you lied as well.”

She held up her finger to argue, but her retaliation slowly wilted and she let out a huff, resigning herself to the punishment.

“Besides,” Jameson continued, “Making you study is hardly a punishment. If anything, I should ban you from studying.”

Obviously, he was joking, and he did manage to draw a small chuckle from the older kids. The knot of nerves in Raymond’s stomach prevented him from seeing the humor.

As soon as they were finished eating, Raymond and Evalyn grabbed their school books and began to study. Sebastian grabbed his and joined them without a word.

They studied in silence for half an hour, until their father stuck his head in the kitchen. “I’m going to pick up your mother. Can I trust you to stay right here? Or do I need to drag you with me?”

Evalyn giggled, “We’ll stay right here Daddio.”

Raymond gave a small nod.

Jameson was less amused, and wasn’t excepting a nod as an answer.

“Well Raymond?” he pressed.

“Yeah Dad.” He said quietly.

“Okay then.” Jameson finished, finally satisfied, “Seb, you’re in charge.”

He left without another word.

When they heard the door close, Sebastian looked up from his work, “Okay, who wants to step outside for some fresh air?”

“But Dad said-

“I know what Dad said Eva.” Sebastian cut off his sister, “I just thought it might do you two some good. Besides, we’ll be right back at the table long before Mom and Dad get back.”

“Thanks Seb.” Raymond mumbled, climbing to his feet.

With a sigh Evalyn joined them.

The three siblings stepped out into the backyard, and followed Sebastian out onto the lawn where they sat down.

Raymond collapsed onto his back, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, taking in the smell of the fresh air.

“So.” Sebastian began, “This is completely up to you two, but do you want to give me any idea of what we’re walking into when Mom and Dad get back?”

“What WE’RE walking into?” Evalyn asked, “Not just me and Raymond?”

“Course.” Sebastian said, as if it were obvious, “I’ll always have your backs. Whether Eva’s a lesbian, or Raymond’s a girl.”

Raymond sat up in shock. He had said it like it was nothing. Like it was just some everyday thing that happened. Evalyn giggled. Sebastian just scratched his nose.

“Well I am most certainly not a lesbian.” Evalyn clarified.

Sebastian laughed, “And like I said, I’d be perfectly okay with it if you were. Nothing wrong with that in my books. That’s what I thought you were hiding on Friday though. I thought that this Rayne girl I heard about was your girlfriend. Now I’m thinking that I was completely wrong and that that’s not the case.”

He turned to look at Raymond who made a point of staring at and playing with the grass.

“It’s up to Raymond how much he wants to tell you.” Evalyn said, also watching their younger sibling. “Although I think it would be a good idea to fill him in now.”

Raymond slowly nodded. He took a deep breath.

“I- I think I’m transgender.”

Sebastian looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “You think?”

Raymond swallowed nervously.

“I dunno.” He mumbled, “Everything’s just so confusing right now.”

He buried his face in his hands.

Sebastian waited patiently, while Evalyn put a comforting hand on Raymond’s shoulder.

Finally, he met his brother’s gaze and continued.

“All I do know, is that when I’m Raymond, I’m always so miserable. I feel trapped, and claustrophobic. But when I’m-

He hesitated. He took another deep, shaky breath.

“But when I’m Rayne, it’s like I live in a different world. Everything is bright, and colorful, and beautiful. I feel alive.”

He went back to playing with the grass.

“So, is that it?” Sebastian asked nonchalantly.

“W-what do you mean ‘is that it’?” Raymond asked, still staring at the ground.

“So maybe I have two little sisters instead of one.” Sebastian clarified with a shrug, “Not that big of a deal, is it?”

Raymond looked up, tears clouding his vision.

He couldn’t stop himself, he leapt at his brother, pulling him into a hug.

“I love you so much.” He sobbed into his brother’s shirt.

Sebastian just hugged him back, and a moment later he felt Evalyn’s arms join them.

“I love you BOTH so much.” He corrected himself.

When the group hug broke up, Raymond dried his tears, and Sebastian announced that they should get back inside.

“The rest of my questions can be answered when we tell Mom and Dad.” He explained, “I just wanted to be able to support you when you tell them.”

The trio went back inside, retook their seats at the table, and resumed their studies.

For the first time all day, Raymond felt that everything would be okay. With Sebastian and Evalyn’s support, he could get through anything.
 

~o~O~o~

 
The family was sitting around the dining room table. Raymond fidgeting nervously under the heavy gaze of his parents.

Evalyn and Sebastian sat on his right and left respectively. Evalyn holding his hand, Sebastian sitting quietly.

Their parents sat on the opposite side of the table. Patiently waiting for an explanation.

“S- so, uh, d- did Dad tell you anything?” Raymond asked, addressing his mother but avoiding eye contact.

She had used the washroom and changed upon arriving home, but immediately afterwards had sat down with the family for the talk. She was tired and irritable from her business trip and flight, and Raymond found himself wishing that they were still having this conversation tomorrow. When she might be in a more understanding mood.

“Your father told me everything he knew.” She said calmly, “That you lied to us about where you were going, and that you came home in drag.”

Raymond shifted uneasily. He hated that description. ‘in drag’. He felt like it made it all seem so different than what it really was.

“Well?” his mother prompted, slowly losing her patience.

“I- I, um, I…” he trailed off, looking down at the table.

Evalyn squeezed his hand.

He turned to look at her, tears beginning to form in his eyes already.

“I don’t know how to tell them.” He whispered.

Sebastian put his hand on his shoulder.

“Tell them like you told me.” He said reassuringly.

“Tell us what?” their mother demanded, growing frustrated, “I’m getting sick of all the-

“I think I’m transgender.” Raymond blurted suddenly.

There. It was out. The band-aid was off, so to speak.

“What?” Their mother asked, blinking rapidly.

“I think I’m transgender.” He said again, more slowly this time.

Their mother’s hard features visibly softened.

“Raymond,” she began gently, realizing things were more serious than she first thought, “What would make you think that?”

Jameson just stared at his youngest son. Expression unreadable.

Raymond sighed heavily, “For as long as I can remember, ever since I was old enough to notice that boys and girls were different, I’ve felt wrong. Like my body didn’t fit. As I grew older, it got worse and worse. It got so bad, that I stopped trying. I retreated into myself, neglected my studies, my health, and all of you. Finally, last spring, I got the courage to try again. I thought that if I lost weight, I might be able to be comfortable in my body like Seb or Eva. But I didn’t. I still felt trapped and claustrophobic.”

He sniffed back some tears, before continuing.

“Then, I dressed up as Rayne for the first time.”

“Rayne?” His mother asked with a raised eyebrow.

Raymond blushed, “Uh, y- yeah. My g- girl name.”

Thankfully, she didn’t say anything, and just allowed him to continue.

“I dressed up as Rayne for the first time, and everything changed. Suddenly, it was like I was free. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could breathe. It was everything I dreamt of when I started working out with Seb.”

“Why were you dressing up as a girl in the first place?” Jameson asked, joining the conversation for the first time.

“O- oh. Uh, d- do you remember that talented youth event Evalyn told you about at family dinner last summer?”

“I vaguely recall something, yes.” Jameson said, nodding his head, “Something about Ray being one of only three students from your school who were invited?”

“Yeah. That. Well, uh, I entered. As Rayne.”

“Why would you enter as a girl?” Jameson asked, still unsatisfied with the answer. Catalina’s brow was also furrowing, but for different reasons.

“I originally just wanted to enter under an alias. With a disguise.” Raymond explained, “You know how I get really anxious talking to groups and how I hate sharing my art? Well for some reason, I was convinced that if I didn’t enter as myself, I wouldn’t have those problems.”

“I still don’t get it.” Jameson said bluntly, “How did that lead to you dressing as a girl.”

Raymond looked at Evalyn.

“Maybe I should explain that one.” She said, “I told Raymond that I would prepare his disguise for him, and to me it seemed like a no brainer. Ever since he lost all that weight, Raymond’s been a bit more on the androgynous side. I figured if he went as a girl, then even if people were looking for him afterwards they’d be looking for a girl. Not a boy.”

“I didn’t find out about it until the day of the first part of the competition, and by then it was too late to prepare anything else.” Raymond finished.

Jameson nodded, finally understanding.

“OH RIGHT!” Evalyn suddenly exclaimed, “The showing! You never told me how you did last night!”

“Raymond just fidgeted nervously, “Maybe now’s not the time Eva. Shall we move on?”

“Wait.” Catalina interjected, “Something’s fishy here. How were you able to enter without our permission? I’m sure this kind of event wouldn’t allow you to enter without it.”

Oh. Right. That.

“W- well, uh, I, uh, kinda forged your signatures.” Raymond squeaked out, anticipating the righteous fury about to come down.

“You forged. Our signatures.” His mother stated bluntly, fury boiling behind a calm visage.

“Yes?” Raymond squeaked.

“Are you aware that’s a form of fraud – A felony, Raymond?” His mother asked coldly.

“Maybe we can get back to the topic at hand?” Sebastian suggested slowly.

Their mother looked from youngest son to eldest and back again.

“Fine.” She finally agreed, “But don’t think this is the last you’ve heard of this.”

Raymond nodded, relieved to be past that for the time being at least.

“So, when did all of this happen?” Jameson asked, getting back on topic.

Raymond shrugged. “First week of school I guess.”

“So then you didn’t just lie to us about last night?” Catalina demanded, “You’ve been lying to us for a month?”

Raymond nodded weakly.

Jameson shook his head in disappointment. “Why didn’t you just tell us Ray?”

“I was scared.” He whispered back.

“Whatever would you be afraid for?” their father demanded. “Have we ever given the impression that we were homophobic? One of your Mother’s brothers is gay and we’ve never had an issue with that!”

Raymond just looked down at his feet.

“Dad.” Sebastian said calmly, “We would never accuse you of being homophobic. We know how accepting both you and Mom are, but you can’t deny that your side of the family has some old-fashioned views on gender roles.”

“What are you talking about?” Jameson asked incredulously.

“Come on Dad.” Evalyn pressed, “Grandpa Frank has been giving Ray shit about being girly for years. On top of that, your entire family is constantly asking Ray when he’s going to be a big football star like his brother. He was mocked for being into art-

“And for just reading a book to Lizzy.” Sebastian chipped in.

“Your family may not be homophobic, but it’s not a huge stretch to call them transphobic.” Evalyn finished, squeezing Raymond’s hand.

“That’s ridiculous.” Jameson exclaimed, growing angry at what he felt were attacks against his own siblings and father.

“Is it though?” Evalyn demanded, “Do you really think Raymond didn’t want to tell you? What do you think that documentary I made the family watch last weekend was all about? It was a test, Dad. To see how the family would react. And their reactions terrified Rayne so much that she got sick!”

Realization slowly dawned on both of their parent’s faces. Jameson looked at his youngest child in horror.

“Is that true Ray?” he asked quietly.

A sob burst from Raymond’s lips. He slowly looked up to meet his fathers gaze.

“I was so scared that you’d all hate me.” The words burst from his mouth as tears poured down his face. He buried his face in his hands and sobbed, all of the pent-up emotion and stress of lying to his family finally bursting free.

A moment later arms were wrapped around him, and a comforting hand placed on his shoulder.

“Hush now.” His mother soothed. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

Slowly, Raymond calmed down and uncovered his eyes. His Mom was right there, hugging him tightly while his father stood over them, an anguished look on his face.

“Raymond.” Catalina whispered softly, “We would never, EVER, hate you. Whether you’re our son, or our daughter, first and foremost, you’re our child. Our baby. We will always love you.”

Raymond realized he wasn’t the only one crying. His Mom too, had tears in her eyes. And while his father wasn’t crying, it was clear from the look on his face how torn up he was.

“N- no matter what?” Raymond asked hesitantly.

“No matter what.” Jameson confirmed firmly.

Sebastian and Evalyn watched the whole exchange silently. Evalyn quietly wiping away tears, Sebastian trying to hold back his own.

Raymond took a deep shaky breath.

“Um, I, uh, I think I’d like to introduce you to Rayne.” Raymond said slowly.

“Only if you’d be comfortable with that of course.” He quickly added afterwards, still uneasy.

“I think,” Jameson said slowly, speaking for both him and his wife, “That we would love to properly meet her.”

“And I’d like to meet my little, little sister.” Sebastian added gently.

With another sniffle, Raymond slowly climbed to his feet, his mother taking her cue and letting him go.

“I’ll put on some tea and coco.” She announced, “We can continue this conversation in a few minutes.”

“I’ll come with you.” Evalyn said, following Raymond out of the room, “Just in case you need a hand with anything.”

Raymond mumbled his thanks and climbed the stairs.

Back in her room, Rayne shed the disguise that Raymond’s persona was rapidly coming. She briefly thought about the irony of the situation. Rayne had been conceived as a disguise to protect Raymond, but now Raymond was rapidly shifting to be the disguise that protected Rayne. She chose – not that her small wardrobe had much to choose from – the same outfit she had worn to the second showing, the black leggings, white blouse, and the super cozy, too big, beige sweater. She felt like she needed something cozy today.

Evalyn insisted on quickly fixing her hair, but was waived away when she suggested makeup. Rayne was only meeting her family for the first time ever. Nothing too serious, right? No need for makeup.

She swallowed nervously as she started down the stairs. Oh Jeeze. Maybe she should have accepted the makeup. She knew her face was red and puffy from crying. Well, it was too late now.

She walked back into the kitchen, Evalyn right behind her. Clearly, the rest of the family was trying hard not to stare, but they weren’t doing a great job of it.

Rayne couldn’t help but blush at there stares.

“I- I must look ridiculous.” She mumbled self-consciously, “Maybe I should go change back.”

“No.” Jameson said firmly as she started to turn back.

He stood up and took her hand.

“That’s not it at all. We just weren’t expecting,” he paused to look at the rest of the family, “I don’t think any of us were expecting you to look- to look so much, like, well, like a girl.”

Rayne blushed at the complement.

“It’s true honey.” Catalina agreed. “I didn’t see you at all last night, so I didn’t know what to expect. But to be frank, I don’t know how we didn’t notice it before. You’re certainly a very pretty girl.”

“Th- Thank you.” Rayne said, still blushing. She took her seat back at the table, and a moment later her mother sat a steaming mug of hot chocolate on the table in front of her.

“Thank’s Mom.” Rayne said quietly, wrapping her hands around the mug.

“Anytime sweetie.” She said with a smile, taking a seat next to her new daughter.

“Now,” Jameson began, “Shall we continue?”

Rayne nodded, feeling much more comfortable now that she wasn’t hiding who she was.

“So,” Rayne opened, deciding on the most logical place to resume, “Do you remember that Saturday about three weeks ago? When I wouldn’t come out of my room?”

The family nodded.

“That was the morning after I went out for the first time.” She explained, “That day was the day I realized something was wrong. I didn’t know what it was yet, but it was tearing me apart. I hated going back to being Raymond. I hated it so much, and I didn’t know what to do.”

Rayne looked down at her coco, taking a moment to collect herself.

“Eva was the one who pulled me out of it. Well you all went to family dinner, we had a girl’s day.”

Rayne smiled at the memory.

“Then she ambushed me.” Rayne teased light heartedly, “Giving me the ultimatum of either tell you guys, or talk to the school councillor the next day.”

“I think it’s obvious who you picked.” Jameson said flatly.

Rayne blushed and nodded.

“I started seeing Ms. Reid at lunch every Monday. She was the one who convinced me to come out to you all.”

Sebastian raised an eyebrow. “She convinced you to? I thought you told us because we caught you?”

Again, Rayne blushed.

“Believe it or not,” she said slowly, “Ms. Reid, Eva, and I actually were actually planning on telling you everything tomorrow night at dinner. But then you just HAD to stay home and put me through all this turmoil.”

Her family could tell she was joking from the dramatics she put into her voice.

“Why did you stay home anyways?” Rayne asked, realizing that she still didn’t know.

Jameson waved his hand, as if he was shooing away the topic.

“Billy got sick, Grandpa put out his back. Doesn’t matter right now. Carry on.”

Despite her concern for her family, Rayne had to giggle. She took a sip of her coco before continuing.

“Anyways,” Rayne began, picking up where she left off, “Ms. Reid wanted me to tell you for another reason. There’s, um, a specialist in Vancouver I guess. Ms. Reid think’s this specialist will be able to help me.”

Catalina nodded slowly. “So, some sort of psychologist?”

Rayne nodded. “Specializing in gender therapy and transgender youth.”

There was long silence at the table.

“Okay.” Jameson broke through it, “So how do we get you in to see this psychologist?”

Rayne hesitated for a moment.

“I, um, I don’t actually know. I think you need to talk to Ms. Reid and she’ll make the referral.”

“You said you usually see her on Mondays, yes?” Catalina probed, “Why don’t we go with you on Monday?”

“Rayne looked up from her hot chocolate in surprise.

“B- but don’t you have to work?” she asked hesitantly, not wanting to cause her parents any more trouble than she already had.

“I think we can afford to miss one day.” Jameson replied without hesitation, “Call it a family emergency.”

Catalina nodded her agreement.

“I’d really like that.” Rayne said slowly.

Having the support of her parents made everything seem so much lighter. It wasn’t overwhelming anymore. She could get through this.

“Now.” His mother said, leaning forward on the table, “Tell us about this art gallery.”

“Finally!” Evalyn exclaimed in excitement. She leaned forward on the table in anticipation.

“Well, uh, basically, how it worked was that each entrant had to submit a portfolio of five pieces. A panel of judges went through all the applications and weeded out those that weren’t up to the standard they were looking for. After they had made the initial cuts, there were around 200 students from around the greater Vancouver area going into the first stage.”

His mother’s eyebrows raised, and his father frowned in surprise. They had not realized the scale of the event.

“Anyways, basically, the competition went like this. For the last three weeks, there was showing every Friday night. At each-

“Wait,” his mother interjected, an annoyed look on her face, “So it wasn’t just last night that you lied to us about your whereabouts? It was the two Fridays before that too?”

Rayne chose that moment to take a sip of her coco.

“If I may,” Evalyn began, stepping in to back up her sister, “Technically Rayne didn’t lie about where she was for the first two showings.”

Catalina turned to look at her sceptically.

“You see,” Evalyn continued, “The first night she said she was out on a date with a girl named Cynthia, right? Technically, Rayne and Cynthia were out together. The same is true for the second night. Logan DID show up to the showing, and Rayne was with the exact people she told you she was with.”

Catalina clearly wasn’t impressed. “Leaving out details may not be the same as lying about them, but it might as well be. It’s still a breach of trust. Anyways, we’ll discuss that later. Go ahead… Rayne.” She paused as she said her new daughters name, as if she was seeing how it felt on her tongue.

“Right. So, uh, yeah. At each showing the judges assessed our art and asked us questions, then deliberated amongst themselves. The original 200 was cut down to 50, then that 50 was cut down to 25. My friends Cynthia and Ryan were also in the event, but Cynthia was cut after the second showing, and unfortunately Ryan was cut last night.”

“Weren’t those two the ones Evalyn was telling us about?” Jameson asked, “She made it sound like they really had a lot of talent.”

“Oh, they do.” Rayne said, nodding her head, “They’re both SO incredible, but the level of talent in the competition was crazy high. I think everyone there was amazing.”

Jameson nodded in understanding. “How about yourself? How have you done?”

Rayne blushed at the question, shyly looking down at her mug. “Well, uh, last night I found out I would be one of the 10 finalists to present their work at the art gallery”

Evalyn squealed and leapt to her feet. She threw her arms around Rayne in a big congratulatory hug, making the younger girl giggle as she returned it.

The rest of the family just looked at her in amazement. They were thoroughly impressed. After hearing about the level of talent, Jameson had been half expecting his son- no. His daughter, to have been eliminated. He looked at his wife, who met his gaze immediately. Maybe they should rethink their daughter’s career in art.

Finally, being released by her sister, Rayne straightened her glasses, and turned to look around the table at her family.

“So, um,” She began hesitantly, “It would mean a lot to me – I mean, only if you guys want to of course – if you’d, uh, come to the art gallery with me in two weeks.”

Evalyn went wide-eyed.

“We finally get to see your art?!” She asked excitedly, to the amusement of the rest of the family who had assumed Evalyn, at least, had seen it already.

Rayne nodded nervously.

“If you’d like to see it, then I think I’m ready to show you. I’d actually really like to show you.”

Catalina smiled. “I can think of nothing else that I’d like more at the moment.”

Jameson and Sebastian nodded their agreement.

Rayne felt more tears coming to her eyes. She had the best family in the world.

“But first,” Catalina continued, face growing serious again, “We have another matter to discuss. Lying to us? Forging our signatures? What were you thinking?!”

Oh right. That.



Hello!

Flummox here.

First apology; sorry I didn't reply to any comments on chapter 12. I always try to respond to all of them, but it's been a looooong week.

Second apology; sorry if there's more typos then usual in this chapter. I haven't been sleeping well, or as much as I should. I poured over this a few times, but my eyes were a bit droopy, and I feel like I definitely missed some stuff.

Like I said, it's been a loooooooooooooooong week. If I can find the time, I'm going to go back and reply to everyone's wonderful comments.

Anyways, everything is finally out in the open for Rayne, and everything went better then she expected!

As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. If you feel comfortable commenting or messaging me, please please do. I love hearing from you, and I try to reply to everything. As mentioned above, I don't always succeed. But I do try.

As long as you keep reading, I'll keep writing until Rayne's story is told.

Flummox



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