An Important Conversation

An Important Conversation

by Karen Page

When Poppy questions her sexuality, she discovers more than she expected

Thanks to Holly Hart for editing

"Mum, do you have a few minutes?" Poppy asked, as she walked into the kitchen. Her mum was sat at the table sipping a cup of tea.

Jenny smiled as her sixteen year-old daughter wandered into the room. The sun that filtered through the kitchen window sparkled against Poppy's hair, making it look even lighter than it usually was. It was unusual for her daughter to be up this early on a Saturday, but by the looks of her, she hadn't slept well.

"Of course," Jenny responded, putting her tea down. "Do you want a cuppa?"

"I can make myself one." She went across to the worktop and took an English Breakfast teabag from the canister. As she poured the boiling water into the cup, she mentally kicked herself for missing the important words. "I forgot to say, this is an important conversation."

Jenny stiffened when she heard the words important conversation. It was over a year since they'd last had one of these chats and it had been quite a few more years since they'd come up with the phrase.

"I see." Jenny's heartbeat rose slightly as she wondered what was in store for this chat.

Poppy gave a fleeting glance at her mum. She was very nervous at what she was going to say. Since the initial surprise about Jenny finding out about her child being transgendered, they'd come up with the phrase important conversation to signify it was something about the transition that they needed to discuss.

Jenny waited patiently as Poppy got herself together. Poppy took her time adding the milk into her cup and then continued to stir the tea well past the time needed. Jenny came to the conclusion that whatever Poppy was worried about was difficult for her. Yet Jenny didn't get up from her chair, but waited. She'd learnt over the years that comforting Poppy at this stage just caused her to clam up.

Poppy didn't sit down, but moved to rest her back against the corner of the work surfaces. Not once did she look directly at her mum. She'd wrestled most of the night with how to explain what was wrong and how she felt. However, now she was doing it, the words just wouldn't come out. After five drawn out minutes Poppy knew she couldn't say what she wanted and started making her way towards the door. Her cup of tea now cold, but very well stirred, was left abandoned.

"And where do you think you're going?" Jenny uttered, her voice hardened. "You know the rules that we came up with. You've let me know that there is something regarding your transition you need to speak about and you can't leave the room for any circumstances until you've told me."

"But I need the toilet."

"You tried that three years ago and look what happened that time. Now you know that I'm not going to shout, and that I try to help as best as I can. Both of us will stay here until we have the situation sorted. You can sit with me, or stand by the cupboards, but we will stay here until you've told me what you need to tell me."

Poppy scurried back to her cupboard, took her cup of tea, and put it in the microwave for a spot of reheating.

"I don't know how you can do that," commented Jenny.

"Do what?"

"Nuke your tea. It tastes horrid after."

"Tastes fine by me."

The microwave pinged and Poppy removed the cup. Instead of drinking it though, she began to stir once again. Jenny had long finished her tea and was sat back, waiting for her daughter to talk.

The grandfather clock in the corner struck ten. Poppy sighed to herself. She'd been hoping to get the chat out of the way by now and be on her way to see her best friend Donna.

"It's about my sexuality," muttered Poppy. She stole a glance at her mum, but Jenny just sat there looking at her daughter, waiting for her to continue.

"I know that Androcur stops me getting aroused, but it is frustrating me not knowing if I'm going to fancy someone."

Jenny again didn't say anything, but then Poppy turned and signalled that she was waiting for her mum to respond.

"Yes, Androcur does stop you getting aroused. To get sexually excited, even women need a little bit of testosterone. However, I'm told it only does that. It shouldn't stop you from getting to know someone or finding someone attractive."

"I was wondering if I should stop taking the tablets to see if it helped me work it out."

Jenny was glad that Poppy wasn't watching her at that stage, or she would have seen someone with a look of total shock and amazement.

Jenny didn't respond for a moment while she tried to work out what to say. Eventually she said, "It isn't up to me to agree or disagree. You are the one who announced at the age of nine that you wanted to be female. You were the one who talked to the child psychiatrists and got upset because the NHS wouldn't prescribe blockers to someone under sixteen. You were the one who talked to the specialists from abroad who explained what it would mean to delay your male puberty and agreed it was right for you to take anti-androgens. You were the one who stole my birth control pills so you just didn't just delay puberty, but went through a female one. What will be the outcome if you stop?"

"I find out who turns me on?"

"I meant to your body."

"What do you mean?" asked Poppy so sweetly and innocently.

"Don't play that game with me. You know I keep a track on your internet usage and you know full well what the impact of stopping your medication will be. Now answer the question."

Poppy looked like she was going to burst into tears. "As the oestrogen level in my body decreases I will start to get something like the menopause. If I've not totally killed of my balls, then some testosterone might get created."

"Which could trigger male characteristics such as facial hair, lower voice etc," finished Jenny. "Do you want to go back to living as male?"

"No."

"You want to have to go through electrolysis?"

"No." At this point Poppy did burst into tears.

"If you don't want to-"

Jenny didn't have chance to finish her question, because Poppy burst out, "I hadn't thought it through. I'm not going to stop taking my tablets."

Poppy reached for the box of tissues that was on the side near her and cleaned herself up. "I just thought that I could have that experience and hadn't thought the other effects would come so quick."

"You did start the blockers before you started puberty, so you might be lucky and you don't the effects. But do you want to take the risk?"

"No."

Poppy again put her cold cup of tea in the microwave. Jenny just shook her head.

When Poppy had finished reheating her tea for the second time, Jenny asked, "Okay, so why don't you tell me what brought this on?"

"I found out that two people fancy me."

"That's nice darling, but don't let it affect your studying."

Poppy gave a small laugh. 'Don't affecting studying' was often a response Jenny used when Poppy talked about relationships.

Jenny continued; glad to see her daughter laughing again. "Can I ask who?"

"Donna and Stephen."

That caused Jenny to sit up and look hard at her daughter in surprise. "Really?"

Poppy nodded, not expecting such a response from her mum. "Didn't you think that nobody would like me?"

"Oh it isn't that," quickly reassured Jenny. "You are very beautiful. It is just I wasn't expecting those two names."

Donna lived three houses to the left their house and was Poppy's best friend. They'd known each other since nursery. Stephen had been good friends before Poppy had started transitioning and was one of the male friends that Poppy still hung around with since she'd left the football team. Both knew Poppy's history.

"Neither have an issue with me." Poppy was still being defensive.

"Obviously. So what has got you so upset?"

"Well if one of them asks me out, who should I go out with? Which is right?"

Jenny put up her finger to indicate that she was going to answer, but was thinking. "I can't really answer this. From a purely traditional perspective girls normally go out with boys. So if somebody didn't know your history it would be expected for you to go out with a boy. However, your birth certificate says something else, and until you get it changed you couldn't marry a man. From a birth point of view, some might expect you to go out with a girl. Personally, as long as you are happy, I don't care."

"Do you think I might be bisexual?"

"Who knows? But remember, cheating is cheating."

"I'm not like Uncle Andrew."

"Thank goodness for that! So why do you think you might be bisexual?"

"Well I've tried kissing both of them and it didn't feel wrong with either of them."

"You've already kissed them?"

"Well yes. All three of us were all at Donna's house last week doing some studying. They were asking me to make up my mind on who I would go out with."

"You were supposed to be there studying Geography, not each other's tonsils!" Jenny rebuked. "Anyway, didn't you say that Donna was going out with Stephen?"

"They were. They broke up last month after going out for six months."

"Just don't try a threesome," warned Jenny. "I did that once."

"Oh this I must hear about," laughed Poppy.

"No way. Not until you are at least eighteen."

"Oh come on, Mum!"

They both stopped as they heard the front door and a moment later Peter, Poppy's dad staggered into the kitchen with bags of shopping.

"Am I disturbing something?" he asked, as he dropped them on the floor.

"We were having an important conversation," Jenny replied.

"And Mum was trying to avoid telling me about part of her youth," Poppy added.

"Now that does sound interesting," Peter added, putting some food in the freezer. "Which part, love?"

"George and Tim." Jenny blushed furiously.

"Ah, that came up last week while I was having a drink with them in the White Hart. They still talk about it as the best night of their lives."

"You slept with two gay men?" Poppy squealed.

"And I'm not telling you any more details," Jenny said firmly. "I don't kiss and tell. And no telling Becky about it either. Remember, what gets said in this room stays in this room."

"I know, and I wouldn't tell Becky about what her Dads have done. She's only fourteen and no kid that age thinks about their parents having sex."

"Talking-" Peter started. He however was quickly interrupted by Jenny.

"Not now. We need to finish the important conversation first."

"So what have I missed?" said Peter, switching on the kettle. "Cuppa for anyone?"

"Green tea," Jenny responded.

"I've got a drink already," said Poppy.

"We were discussing Poppy's sexuality. It seems she is frustrated that she can't decide if she fancies boys or girls."

"What's the rush?" Peter instantly responded. "I thought this part would be resolved after you've had your op?"

"Donna and Stephen both fancy me and I can't decide which to go out with," Poppy added.

"Ah, so that's how you got onto George and Tim."

"I was warning her that threesomes don't work."

"Yep, but remember that sixsome?" teased Peter.

"You what?!" Poppy again squealed. She couldn't believe her ears. Her parents were Mrs Prim and Mr Proper.

"He's just kidding you," quickly reassured Jenny. "Peter, if you can't keep this serious then you will need to just leave this chat between me and Poppy."

"I'll be good," he promised, passing Jenny her tea and then taking a seat next to his wife. "So if you like both of them, what is the problem of accepting a date with one of them?"

"I don't know which to choose. There are issues with both. If I accept Stephen, then will that upset Donna, and vice versa. If I go out with Stephen then to the majority of people it will appear to be a heterosexual relationship, but there are some that remember that I was born male. Would people then think that Stephen was gay? If I go out with Donna then people would think she is a lesbian, even though I haven't had the op, and people who did know about my past might think that I'm not really transgendered because I'm seeing a girl."

Peter was at a loss. "You've obviously been thinking about it."

"Didn't you hear her moving around most of the night?" Jenny asked.

"No, I was asleep," Peter retorted. "Anyway, wouldn't it be a bad idea going out with either of them?"

"Why?" asked Poppy.

"Because they are your best friends," Peter said lamely.

"Have you talked to Donna and Stephen about your concerns?" Jenny asked.

"Ooh, I bet she hasn't," Peter murmured loudly enough for everyone to here. He got elbowed by Jenny.

"Of course I haven't. You know how much I hate talking about transition stuff. I just like to live as if I've always been Poppy."

"For some of it, you might be in a no-win situation. For instance if you don't go out with any of them then they might both be upset."

"Well-"

"Don't say it," warned Peter, pointing to 'Duh' fine tin. Poppy hadn't needed to put any money in for the last few months.

"Sorry. Of course I've thought about that."

Jenny leaned back and grabbed the cordless phone from its charging cradle. She dialled the six digit number off by heart and after a few rings it was answered. "Oh hi Julie. Is Donna up? She is? Can I have a word?"

"You can't do that," said Poppy, horrified at the thought of her mother talking to her best friend.

"She can and she already is," pointed out Peter. "Don't you trust your mum?"

"Oh hi Donna, this is Mrs Plant. I was wondering if you could come round for a chat about Poppy? No you aren't in trouble, but Poppy is a bit anxious about things and I think she needs to talk. Oh, your mum mentioned that Stephen was there. Can you bring him with you?"

"Why are you doing this?" complained Poppy, after Jenny had put the phone back on the cradle.

"Because I don't like seeing you upset. Donna and Stephen aren't the type of people to do that to anybody, let alone you. Therefore I can only assume that they don't know how it is impacting you. Since you are too close, I think it might help with a third party letting them know.

"But Mum!"

"Are you going to drink that tea?" she responded.

"When I'm ready. You're having a right go at me today."

Jenny and Peter glanced at each other as if to agree that this was their Poppy when she was very nervous.

"Can you two sort out some snacks?" requested Jenny, getting up. "I'm going make sure the lounge looks respectable."

When Jenny had left the kitchen, Poppy and her Dad burst out laughing. Jenny was very house proud and there wasn't a chance that the lounge wasn't only respectable, it would be spotless. Added to the fact that Donna and Stephen were such frequent visitors that they could almost call it a second home.

The doorbell rang which caused Poppy to jump. "Mum'll get it," Peter said, as he got out a tub of biscuits from the top cupboard.

"What's she up to?" Poppy enquired.

"Just settling them into the lounge and reassuring them that they aren't in trouble."

"Oh."

That is some of what Jenny was doing. Peter only had a feeling based on what he thought his wife would do.

"Oh hi," Jenny said as she answered the door to the two young friends of Poppy. "Let's go into the lounge. Poppy will be with us in a minute."

"Are we in trouble?" asked Stephen.

"Why?"

"Because you are a lot more formal than you usually are."

They went into the lounge. Donna and Stephen sat on the three seat settee, while Jenny just hovered.

"Poppy is having a bit of a crisis. One of the things mentioned was you both have asked her out. Were you both being serious?"

"I would love for her to be my girlfriend," replied Stephen.

"I love her with all my heart," Donna added, going red with embarrassment. "I know it's wrong, but that's how I feel."

Jenny smiled at them. "No, it isn't wrong to follow your heart like this for either of you. You both have stood by Poppy and helped her as she's grown. It's just she now is in a quandary and asked me for help. However, it isn't something I can directly help with, but I hope you two can."

They both promised to try.

"Let me go and get Poppy. She isn't too happy about me getting you to join this chat."

Before anyone could say anything else Jenny slipped out of the room. She didn't go to the kitchen but leaned against the wall in the hallway and let out a sigh. Ever since Poppy had told her that her best friends fancied her she had been hoping that it had just been some way of helping Poppy. However, now they had admitted they did fancy her then … she shuddered at the thought of the upcoming conversations and prayed that she wouldn't have to explain certain things.

'Pull yourself together,' she chastised herself and tottered off to the kitchen.

"Why don't you take the snacks through," suggested Jenny. "I'll be through in a minute."

Poppy grabbed the tray and took it into the lounge. Stephen and Donna looked up as she walked into the room and their eyes lit up. Stephen quickly grabbed the coffee table and moved it towards the settee so there was somewhere for Poppy to put the goodies.

"What's going on?" Donna asked, as she grabbed a bag of chicken and bacon crisps and pulled Poppy down onto the settee between her and Stephen.

"We've been having an important conversation."

"Ah," they both exclaimed. They'd been friends for so long that they knew exactly what it meant.

"And it isn't finished."

Donna and Stephen both looked slightly stunned. They'd never been involved like this before. Jenny came in and took one of the single seaters.

"Where's Dad?" Poppy asked.

"He had a few calls to make and will be with us in a few minutes."

"But-" This wasn't really allowed in the rules they'd all laid down.

"Let's just say it's related and leave it at that," Jenny said sourly.

"Do the rules apply to us too?" asked Stephen, echoing Donna's thoughts.

"That's up to you and Poppy. As you know, we have developed the rules that govern the chats over the years out of need. Shall we just play it by ear?"

All three of them nodded.

"Excellent. Poppy, is it okay if I recap?"

Poppy nodded.

"Okay, I would sum it up in two words. Sexuality and Relationships. First she doesn't know if she fancies boys or girls. She has kissed you both, but is still no nearer. She even thought about coming off HRT to see if that would help."

That caused an outburst from both Donna and Stephen, but it was Donna's that Jenny found most interesting. She gave a Poppy a small slap. "How could you even think of that? After I went on The Pill and persuaded my GP to put me on one that would work as HRT for you?"

"It was just a thought and I'm not going to," responded Poppy, rubbing her cheek where Donna had struck.

Donna and Stephen calmed down and Donna apologised for hitting her. She even tried to kiss the red mark better, much to Jenny's amusement.

"So that's at least two people you've scrounged their contraceptives from," remarked Jenny. "How many are you taking a day?"

"Three," replied Poppy honestly. "But I'm not telling you who."

"I know, you promised. Donna, I'm not going to tell your mum, but does she know?"

"Yes, she does. She said she would have done it herself, but it seems she can't have any more children and the doctor would think it a bit strange someone in her condition asking to go on The Pill."

They all had a bit of laugh about that. The village wasn't that big and they all saw one of two doctors that were in the local surgery. It won't be surprising if the doctors both knew unofficially where Poppy was getting her female puberty from.

"Okay, so Poppy is upset that she doesn't know who to fancy; boys or girls. Secondly, that you both wanting to go out with her has got her concerned. I'll let her explain that one as she did it so well earlier."

"Are you being sarcastic?" Poppy queried.

"No, being honest."

Peter walked into the room and sat on the other spare seat. Jenny looked at his grim face. "How many?"

"Both. If you need to. And they are all rather glad you are doing it rather than them. Oh and you have permission to tell them about the third if you've mentioned about the other two."

"Charming."

The three youngsters looked very confused about the cryptic conversation that Poppy's parents were having. Jenny signalled for Poppy to continue.

"Okay. I have two relationship issues. One, if I went out with one of you the other one might get upset."

That was met with instant denials. Stephen though summed it up the best. "You didn't get upset when we started seeing each other."

"You two made a great couple and shouldn't have split over me."

"And the second reason?" asked Donna.

"It doesn't do much for your reputations. There are enough people who remember how I was born and would portray you Stephen as being gay. And if I went out with you Donna, it would portray you as being lesbian."

"I'm bisexual," responded Donna. "You already know that and I've never denied it at school."

"And everyone knows that I treat you as you are; a girl. I don't think I know anybody that doesn't."

"You two don't make it easy, do you?" Poppy complained as her two friends both inched closer. If they made the gap any less they would have been sat on her knees.

"You could have sex with us and see if that helps," Donna suggested

Poppy spat out the crisps she was munching on. She couldn't believe Donna would have suggested such a thing in front of her parents. And she hadn't softened it by saying "making love".

Jenny and Peter hadn't batted an eyelid over it. Jenny did say, "Poppy they are both ten months younger than you, don't you have any control over them?"

"It doesn't seem so. Donna, it seems a nice idea, but I don't plan on sleeping around."

Jenny relaxed a bit at that.

"We could do it in one go. Then you wouldn't be sleeping around," added Stephen.

"No! No! No!" wailed Jenny making everyone in the room jump.

"Isn't that rather-" Poppy started, but stopped when she heard the front door open.

Peter jumped out of his seat to find his younger son dumping his sports bag in the hall.

"Hi Dad, is it okay if I go out?" asked Zack.

"Where too?"

"Billy's dad is driving him into town. I was thinking of going too."

"Okay. You have your mobile?"

"Yep."

"Okay, make sure you're back by five."

No sooner had the door opened than it slammed shut again. Peter rejoined them in the lounge. They'd all heard the conversation, so there was no need to explain.

"I think you were going to accuse me of being a hypocrite," said Jenny raising her eyebrows.

"Sorry," apologised Poppy.

"In some respects I suppose I am. However there was a reason why I was in a threesome."

There was a gasp of shock from Donna and Stephen. They hadn't expected this.

"What I'm going to say stays here. Do you all promise?"

Poppy quickly agreed, as she thought she had already. On seeing Poppy nod, the other two followed.

"Do you two know Tim and George?"

"Becky's Dads?"

"Yes. Well they wanted a child, so I agreed to be a surrogate mother."

"Isn't that done by artificial insemination?" Donna asked.

"If done officially. This, however, was about as unofficial as you could get. They think Becky is a bit too young to know yet, hence why you mustn't tell anybody. Tim and George don't want to know who the biological father is, so I slept with both. The father could be either of them."

Jenny came to a stop and looked pleadingly at her husband.

Peter nodded and continued, "Becky was the third child that we helped unofficially come into the world. We helped two other couples who couldn't have children." Peter paused hoping he wouldn't have to explain more, but when there was no response he continued. "Stephen, your Dad couldn't sire a child, so I assisted when your parents asked."

"And Donna, your mother could never-" Jenny couldn't say anymore. Donna and Stephen had got the message.

"You mean that Donna and Stephen are my brother and sister," Poppy gaped.

"Biologically half-brother and half-sister. Though since Donna and Stephen aren't related, there were no issues when they went out together."

The room was filled with silence. The three children were shocked at the revelation.

"We didn't want to tell you," said Jenny after they'd all had a few minutes to recover. "Your parents didn't want you to know and we were just help."

"I see why we had to be told," said Donna eventually. "You couldn't let us sleep with Poppy."

"Incest isn't a nice word," murmured Peter more to himself than the rest of the room.

"So what now?" asked Stephen, sounding deflated. His perspective of life had been thrown into turmoil.

"About Poppy or your parents?"

"Both, I suppose."

"Your parents are still your parents. They're the ones named on your birth certificate. They're the ones who have brought you up. They're the ones who have instilled their values and guided you. They are your parents. As for Poppy, she has found a new half-brother and half-sister."

"But aren't you named as my Mother on my birth certificate?" Donna asked Jenny, rather puzzled.

"It seems there was a mix-up at the hospital," admitted Jenny, blushing a great deal. "They seemed to think my name was Julie."

"So legally-" started Poppy.

"Don't go there," jumped in Peter. "You know the truth and that is what matters. I'll admit that once Poppy is post-op there isn't any chance of anything bad occurring. She won't be able to sire a child or have one, but it would still be wrong."

"So I'm back to square one?" sighed Poppy. "I still don't know if I fancy boys or girls."

"Not quite," said Donna, squeezing her best friend's hand. "You don't have to worry about choosing between me and Stephen now."

Poppy broke into a smile. "That's true. So are we all going into town like we planned?"

"Poppy, I think Donna and Stephen should go home to see their parents," Jenny gently suggested. "Why don't you go out later or tomorrow?"

As Donna and Stephen walked towards the front door, Donna turned to Poppy and said, "There's always Robert or Hanna."

"No way!" exclaimed Poppy, the immediate worry lifted from her shoulders. "Anyway, we've got our exams to study for."

When the door shut, Poppy turned to her parents. "Are you going to tell Zack?"

"Not yet," said Jenny. "Not unless we find he fancies Becky."

"Why did you keep what you did a secret?"

"For several reasons. Before today, nobody needed to know was probably the biggest reason. Also, the law was broken when the births were registered wrongly. We did what we did because we had friends who needed our help. We aren't ashamed of what we did, but we keep it quiet so those that do help others can keep doing so."

"Thank you for helping me," said Poppy, giving both her parents a hug.

"We've not done much apart from let you be you," laughed Peter as he hugged his daughter back. "You are the one who has broken all the rules on that."

Poppy smiled and skipped off back to her room to do some studying, wondering if there was anything else she didn't know about her parents. One thing she did know was that they were two great loving people and she wouldn't want any other parents in the world.



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