Sanctuary of the Heart- A Home That Love Built story

When you have no other place to turn where will you find Sanctuary?

Disclaimer: This is fiction. All the characters and events portrayed here are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely accidental and unintentional. I as the author reserves all rights.   This is part of Cathy’s The Home That Love Built universe. Thanks for letting me play here for a while. Plus a big thanks because she proofed it too! Thanks Cathy!   Any remaining errors, or mistakes are mine!     Enjoy!

Sanctuary of the Heart


I stood there in the rain as the taxi pulled away. The driver seemingly could not get away quick, or far enough, with the very last of my meager bankroll. During the entire trip from the bus station, he had kept shooting me glances, as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

Icy fingers touched me as the cold rain soaked though my worn clothing. I was well aware of how I looked. Mirrors had never been my friend, and perhaps that was more true now, than ever before. My dress and second hand coat looked so out of place on my stocky wide frame. A tear tracked down my cheek, lost in the falling drops from the sky, as I remembered those awful, hated words, “It’s a good thing you’re a guy, because you would make one ugly woman!”

Despite myself, I agreed with them, well almost. What woman has a 5 O’clock shadow by noon? Yet, where it truly mattered, I was a woman, and I had no choice but to wear what I did. It hurt too much to even think about the reasons why, because after so long, I was on my own again. Still, I had no way of packing up everything I wanted, needed, to take with me. Just one suitcase and a shoulder bag was all the bus would allow. Everything else, the collected things and momentos of a life no longer livable, had to be left behind.

Determined to restart my life the right way this time, I had taken every piece of feminine wear I had, with me, even if I had to wear it to my destination. Part of me curled up in fright, thinking of the hideous chance I had taken. I could have ended up anywhere along the way here, dead or badly hurt by those whose prejudices overcame what little compassion and tolerance they had in their souls.

Shivering, I turned, dragging my suitcase behind me, to the place that I had placed all my hopes and dreams on. Double or nothing, my very life was the stake. The whole way here had been foreshadowed by the dim gray light and cold downpour. However, now that I was here, I found myself frozen in place.

The building, half masked by the falling rain, had begun life as a motel, years before, but it didn’t show it’s age. The office had cheerful curtains hanging, and the brand new rainbow motif neon ‘Welcome’ sign was burning in the gloom.

The rainbow shaped sign had the brightly lit pastel neon letters mistily haloed in the rain Welcome, Home, and Love.

For decades I’d fought a lonely war that I’d been destined to lose from the very beginning. I had at last accepted that, no matter what any one else thought, I had always, emotionally, been a woman within my heart. My metaphysical insides were as devastated as any war torn battlefield, from my inner conflicts. Damage I had done to myself, trying to live up to others expectations.

Exhausted in mind, body and soul, I had, in the end, surrendered realizing that to continue this pointless torment would be my death. In choosing to live, I had lost everything.

My wife had kicked me out of the home we had both labored so hard and long for. The job where I had toiled, endlessly it seemed, had made it very clear that they could make do without my services. Even my few friends, although we had shared much together with the whole ‘though thick and thin’ deal, gave me the cold shoulder after I’d told them about my true self.

No amount of explanations, or pleas for understanding, had penetrated their determined ignorance. I was accused of lying to them and of breaking their trust. It weren’t they who were at fault. Oh no, it was me! As if it was I who had chosen to turn my back on them, and not the other way around.

Choice? There had been no choice. No one would ever choose this. There was simply no other alternative, this or death.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to me, the way everyone now shunned me. After all, I’d had nightmares about this very thing for years. I had hoped for something different. Some loving support and compassion would have been nice. Had I really been that good at pretending to be someone that had never really existed? Was revealing the face under the mask I had worn, that much of shock?

I had been at my wit’s end when Tess, one of my on-line friends, pointed me toward my sanctuary. Cathilynn had made the news big, a few months ago, when she had hit the jackpot, winning one of the biggest lotteries ever. The media had made a big deal about her being transsexual, but she had done us proud. Looking them in the eye, she had faced them with dignity. With ready wit, and humor, she had been the best spokesperson the TG community had in years. She had even appeared on a couple of talk shows, where she had talked about what she was going to do with all that money, but she always sneaked in just how badly, as a group, trans girls and boys are treated.

She wasn’t one of those girls who passed without a second look, or was beautiful. Catherine simply looked like a plain, everyday, ordinary woman. Compared to the over made up, almost clown-like girls that were usually seen, she gave us a human face. A confident, strong woman, who wanted the same things any other person did. She had talked about setting up a place for others like her. Somewhere girls could come to and sort themselves out, kind of like a cross between a retreat, and a half-way house.

Me and others had taken all of that with a bit of salt. Others had come into the community and, after they had achieved their dream, they had disappeared. I couldn’t blame them, because all any of us wanted was just the freedom, and the chance to be the person, the woman, we really were at heart.

Cathilynn had put her money where her mouth was. She had not only brought a place and had it rebuilt and furnished, but had put out feelers, by word of mouth, for those really in need. Referred by Tess, I had, despite misgivings, applied. In short order, I had found that this was no free lunch. Anyone accepted would be expected to work and give back as they were able.

Fighting depression, and myself, had not let me build a very good resume. I had always been good at organizing things from my old Army days, so I put that down. To my surprise, Cathilynn had immediately gotten back in touch with me, wanting to know when I could move in.

Her House was anything but close to me, but seeing how I was going to be on the street by the end of the week, it was the only choice I had. I told her I could be there in two days by bus.

The drizzling cold had started to run into my shoes and helped urge me forward. Part of me was scared out of my wits. If this didn’t work out I would have no where to go, no options, no hope. I knew I couldn’t afford to get sick, although I’d missed a meal or two, just to make sure I had money for the taxi fare.

Gathering my courage, I knocked on the door. No sooner had I lowered my hand when a woman with a warm, welcoming smile opened the door.

Her face had all the character that 60 some odd years could give her. Giving me a the once over with her blue eyes, her face turned serious as she took in my appearance. I could tell this was one woman who didn’t put up with any nonsense. “Are you Irene?” she asked.

At my hesitant nod, she yelled over her shoulder, “Sandra! Our new resident is here, and she’s soaking wet! Get some soup ready.”

She took me by the arm, helping me pull my suitcase out of the puddle it’d been floundering in. “You poor thing! Here, lets get you out of that coat,” She said warmly, but in a tone that booked no argument.

Despite my inner misgivings I couldn’t help returning her smile. I knew I was a mess inside, both in my heart and in my head.

Stripping off my wet coat she firmly ushered me to a chair in the comfortable, but well appointed office. She shook her head at me as she got a good look at how I was dressed. She gently scolded, “Child, do you have any idea of the risk you took traveling dressed like that? More courage than sense.”

I lifted my eyes to hers. “It wasn’t courage. I had no other choice. Maybe I never did, but I’m here now.” I said, with more defiance than I had intended.

Instead of anger I saw only compassion in her eyes. She pulled me into a hug that I was helpless to resist. No longer could I pretend it was the rain as my tears fell.

“You’ll do child, you’ll do. You’ve made it this far Irene, and I promise you we’ll be there for you as long as you try your best.”

I could only nod, as more tears fell but this time they were tears of helpless relief, that at long last I had found my Sanctuary.

Excerpt from the Diary of Irene Frances Smith

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