The trip home. Part 1

Beth had not seen her family in some time. Last year at Thanksgiving she had been so busy with studying for her exams that she couldn't get away. Then at Christmas she had volunteered as an elf for the children's ward at the hospital only finding out at the last minute her family was going away to visit her grandmother a few provinces away.

Her birthday had likewise passed in early January with no fanfare. Being single at 22 no longer had the same significance it once had but still even in these modern times it was unseemly for a woman her age to be without a boyfriend. Not that it matter that much as boys these days only seemed to have one thing on their minds sex. It was not that she didn't want sex, she did, but it was that she really couldn't have sex as her hymen had overgrown giving her a short vaginal canal. Unless the boy had a penis 3 inches in length he would not be happy. It had happened once before and the names he had called her were awful.

The same problem also prevented her from menstruating properly which was why she was still on medication to prevent her from menstruating. She took her pill once a day like always. While it was nice not to have to spend time with a tampon each month she still used a pad mostly to fit in with the other girls. As far as she knew none of her sorority sisters knew of her problem. While there was one or two of them that spent far to much time, at least to her, in the sack with this or that boy the rest were more like her and saving themselves for marriage.

Beth now finished with her makeup took stock of her face. She had used somber colors on her eyes to bring them out but not overly done. It was a daytime look not a night club sultry look. Her array of cosmetic products before her could be described as a bit over much. In truth she had fallen victim to one of her sorority sisters selling Avon and had bought quite a bit at the end. She still felt she got a steal of a deal, the best part of any shopping experience, but this was in their own meeting room. The advise on how to best use each product alone was worth more than the actual cost of the makeup. Her eyes were attractive while her nose was subdued. She hated the nose on her face most of all and was increasingly tempted to volunteer for one of the med students in the medical building to have a try at fixing her nose. She badly wanted a cute gently curved nose instead of the sharp angle hers had in the middle.

By using cosmetics she could blend in some white on one side and some dark brown on the other to give the illusion of a straight nose. However she knew better. Her face was otherwise smooth. Her eyebrows were recently waxed into fine delicate arches. Her tiny chin and soft oval face gave her a classic beauty. It was just her nose that was all wrong.

She knew what was involved with the process having dated a med student a few months. The bone was shaved down into the size and shape they wanted and/or if necessary a new one was shaped using some cartilage from the ribcage. The incision was done either on the end of the nose just above her lips or between the eyebrows where the bone was broken off with a neat little tool and removed. If it was done incorrectly the persons sense of smell would be off for months or possibly permanently if a nerve was cut from a too sharp bone piece.

She would go in for a day or two at the hospital student wing. The student under the guidance of the medical doctors would then do the procedure and she would need to heal for a few weeks. It was the few weeks part that would hurt her. Never quite having enough money for her limited wardrobe Beth had to spend long hours for crappy wages on weekends waitressing to make ends meet. I tight fitting blouse and a short skirt gave good tips but was a little demeaning. There was limits to the skirt and blouse. It was a nice white blouse with upturned short sleeves. She left the collar undone to show off her cleavage and the skirt was just tight enough to emphasize her generous hips and tush. She wasn't fat not with her slim waist but she had what her friends called baby hips.

The skirt ended a few inches above the knees and not higher as the owners would give her looks if she did. She was not alone in the size to small tight blouse or short skirt. There was quite a few girls from university just like her working hard to scrape in a few good tips a day. Between makeup, salon visits and mani pedis her earnings did not last as long as she would like. Her medication was not costly at $30 a month but she also had to chip in to the sorority budget for food costs. Between salad fixings, fruit and veggie snack foods, as well as the personal monthly item costs such as large rolls of tissue paper, what each girl chipped in helped. They even had monthly sleepover nightie parties in the meeting room. Each would wear her best or most recent baby doll, they would play with each others hair or makeup, eat low fat popcorn and watch a gushy movie before snuggling up in their sleeping bags on the floor. The pranks they played as little girls mostly not done with now. The basement had lines almost all across it with various girls dedicates, hand washed, drying on the lines. Freezing someone's bra had no real meaning in such a house. The warm water trick was likewise meaningless unless you wanted to mop the meeting room floor after. Though waking up with eyeliner mustaches was not uncommon still.

Beth stood up from her vanity and removed her silk dressing gown exposing her black lace lingerie. She didn't know why but the stockings and garter belt had just called to her as she chose them. Her lace trimmed black silk full slip would have been nice but the half slip would have to do. The c cup strapless bra felt more like a girdle than a bra but her one good black dress happened to be a single around the neck halter dress with a matching black short jacket. The back was still open but not to low as she stepped into it. The dress tended to give her a bit of a headache when she wore it too long from the pressure on the back of her neck of the strap. Without the jacket she looked sexy and had gone on a few dates with it. The little jacket that barely covered her shoulders both front and back added a touch of class to the dress making it look conservative.

Her month call from the pay phone home just 3 days before had not allowed her to search for a better dress for a funeral. Her grandma Tante, her mother's mother, had passed away quietly in her sleep just a few days ago. The funeral was being held near her home town, a 2 hour drive away at 3 in the afternoon. She knew she would not have time to get home and changed before the funeral reception. She used hairspray on her face and waterproof makeup to stem the mess from all the crying she was sure to endure. For the drive she chose a pair of black ballerina flats with her good recently polished 1 1/2 in heels with the tiny bow in an old shopping bag. That was next to her purse. For the trip she had already packed a few selections of jeans and a more conservative dress. Probably one of her only print dresses that she had. There was also a few sweaters and two skirts, all the necessary lingerie, and non baby doll nighties. She didn't think her parents would understand the sexy little things.

She had packed as light as she could. Her travel bag had her makeup basics in it, again her parents would freak if they found out how much makeup she had these days. Her waitressing clothes stayed in the closet. Some things were best not mentioned to parents who only thought of her as a little girl still. Her parents would no doubt cry Elizabeth and her mother would hug her or worse call her E a childhood nickname she hated. She preferred Beth. Everytime they talked on the phone it was how are you doing E? Have you found anyone special? Which was code for should I start sending out wedding invitations? Her father, when he spoke which was not often, would ask how the school's football team was doing. He never referred to it as university just school. It was like he expected her to resume her cheerleading at university. She gave that up when she graduated highschool. He would also ask her about her car from time to time. It was not what she would have picked but she had to admit the old car did have good uses. It is a 1985 Dodge Diplomat with a small V8 bench seats in a horrid checkered pattern in blue front and back. Seated 5 of her girlfriends easy. Had loads of room for shopping, its most used purpose, and most importantly especially today had good heat in winter. None of the freezing in cars like her sisters had in their tiny little cars.

It was actually her grandfathers car, on her fathers side, he had given it to her in his will along with the money she used to pay for her university course. He had bought it new in 85 when he retired and stored it in the garage. He had used his other purchase of a dodge truck long past its prime till he passed away. Her father used that old truck to haul garbage from the home once and awhile. The car had been used once or twice but for the most part was not used. Her father had had it checked over and new tires put on just for her to go to college with. It was university but her father thought it was college, aka a school, and nothing she said would change his mind. The old man was stubborn.

Her fake fur coat, found with her sisters help at a thrift store along with the replacement buttons, was nice and warm without causing massive static ruining the lines of her dress. The trip to the car with her bags and the itty bitty gloves caused her slender fingers to chill a bit. It did not take long for the car's heater to blow first warm air then really hot air so the fact she was not wearing boots was fine. If there had actually been snow she would have worn her as yet unpacked boots. When she had left for university she had not taken all over her clothing. She had left behind her prom dresses, there was three, some of the dresses she had kept from childhood such as her first communion dress, junior bridesmaid, girl scout outfits all 10 of them, the jean skirt collection from highschool and various sweaters, pants, pant suits, and whatnot that she really didn't want to bring to university as some were given to her from family.

During the drive she remembered each and every special outing and the dress she wore. How the first communion dress had a tiny stain on the left side from her pink polish. The junior bridesmaid gown she had almost tripped over as it was the first she had ever worn heels. Her proms and the dates she went with, although at the time were hunky, turned out to be total jerks. She remembered all the time she had spent in her pink walled room with the roses painted at the top of the wall. The old white cheap vanity with the mirror that always sat at a crooked angle. Her collection of barbies and the big dollhouse her father had made or gotten her for her 8th birthday sitting in the one corner of her room.

She found she actually missed her collection of stuffed kittens and unicorns. In the back window of the car was her pixie fairy doll fluffy Marie. Marie was the one doll that had been there for her always and watching out for her. Her raggedy teddy bear with its pink ribbon bow was missing some fur now but was safely protecting her bed. She couldn't wait to flop down onto her canopy bed with its soft mattress or its handmade quilt with the pink rose pattern on white. The frilly edges matching her pillows. The white satin canopy with its lace edges was probably a bit dusty as she had not been home to remove and wash it in almost 2 years. She found she even missed her antique white dresser with its gold painted accents. It had been her grandmothers before it was given to her along with the hope chest at the end of her bed. The plush white carpet of her room that always made her want to curl her toes in or her real cat Fluffles. She only sorta missed Fluffles. She was always leaving hair all over the place and her litter box had become a pain to change or clean weekly. But mostly Fluffles had adopted her mother over her instead of the other way around.

As she drove Beth wondered what her parents would say of their little girl. She knew she had gone up two bra sizes while there although she didn't gain any height or weight. Actually she had lost weight. Still she had otherwise not changed. The earrings in her ears were given to her for her 12th birthday by the grandmother whose funeral she was driving too. Same with the small cross on the delicate chain gracing her slim neck. She also knew that her shapely legs were hair free thanks to the laser home thing that all the girls at the sorority used once a week. You just turned it on and ran it all over your body except your head and eyebrows. It took about 30 minutes and you were done. No need to shave or risk redness from nair products. She had even lost the stupid mustache thing she had been waxing on and off for years. She was baby smooth all over and very happy about that.

Her long hair was dyed dirty blond with her natural red as streaks in her hair. The hair was now down to her shoulders. While not the waist long hair from her childhood to her junior highschool year it was far longer than the almost buzz cut she arrived at university with. It was embarrassing at first till it grew out and could be shaped better. She didn't remember why it was cut so short but when she thought about it the feel of something sticky in her hair and hands came to mind and was more than a little scary. She had seen her counselor at school about it and she said it was probably a repressed memory of something tragic. She was advised to not dwell on it and to move forward. When the time came she would remember but not before she was ready. She had spent most of that 4 months with a fall clipped to the back of her head.

Her sorority sisters were a godsend. Everyone of them would help the others as best they could when they had the time to do so. One of them, Carrie, was working part time as a hairdresser and would help the other girls with whatever new style she learned. In Beth's case it was Carrie who was responsible for it always looking fresh. While the girls all went to Carrie's salon, The New Due, for their special date hair jobs Carrie would take the time to trim just a tiny amount from Beth's hair every week. She said this helped her hair grow out faster. It was currently styled from her natural hair part to her left side with curls and a tiny curl framing her face. The other side was pulled away to just over her right ear held with an enameled comb.

As she slowed getting into the town where she grew up she passed her old highschool that looked smaller than she remembered. The football stands looked shabby and unused. Not the shiny ones from her cheerleading days. The time she spent on the field or in the gym which was that larger building over there, learning each new routine in the practice leotard and not the short skirt brought back memories of painful calf muscles. She doubted she could even do a cartwheel as she had not practiced in all the time she was at university.

The houses passed by as she made her way to the town center where the old roman catholic church was, and therefore the funeral. She remembered going to door to door selling cookies in her uniform or even trick or treating as a Disney princess of one type or another. She drove past the gas station that was next door to the pizza restaurant where she remembered roller blading the deliveries to the cars in summer breaks. Further up the town park right next to the old folks home and the hospital all on the same block brought memories back as well. She wondered if Doctor Philmore still worked there. Last time she had seen him he was getting old with white hair and a belly drooping over his dress pants.

She slowed her car as she saw the lines of cars already in the church parking lot and felt the tears stinging her eyes already. While she and grandma Tante hadn't been that close she still felt pain at her passing. She carefully drove in and parked the Diplomat before switching to her heels. Beth angled the rearview mirror to check her face and hair. Her eyes already looked a little puffy and she knew they would look bigger as the afternoon wore on from the crying. She checked her purse for the package of Kleenex and searched for her lipstick. Although she had not yet done anything she just preferred the way a fresh layer always looked on her lips. With a sip of her diet cola from the car tray box in the cars hump she opened the door and swung out her legs. The temperature had gotten warmer as the day had moved on. Not near enough to go around without a coat as evidenced by the one or two distant cousins she saw smoking their lungs out in the parking lot but her legs would have had goosebumps on them if not for her smokey stockings.

Beth stood up and walked to the cement sidewalk without loosing her footing on the graveled parking lot. She waved the boys smoking as she passed them trying to not gag on the smell of the horrid cigarettes. The old church with its fancy wooden Oak doors and arches seemed to welcome her as she climbed the stairs her heels clicking on each cememt step. The door opened before she even reached it by one of her uncles no doubt going out to find his son who, at a guess, wasn't supposed to be smoking.

"Thanks Uncle Alec." She said as she passed him into the warmth of the vestibule and its coat room.

"Uh hey uh." he paused. She thought it was silly as she hadn't changed that much but to be kind.

"I'm Beth. Your niece at university in the city." A few hints should jar his memory.

"Oh uh you look. Nice I should go." He stammered out. Beth guessed he was more focused on his wayward son and the funeral that recognizing her.

"Jeremy is outside around the corner puffing away." It was actually revenge for Jeremy for pulling her pigtails at Christmas long ago for telling on him.

"Oh really? Well we will just see about that! Thanks Beth nice to see you again." Uncle Alec replied before moving out closing the door and the draft.

Beth moved towards the women's side. Even though officially the church no longer had a women's and men's cloak room she, like many other women before her, put her coat in there. She did this as the room also had a full length floor mirror which she used to check to make sure her dress had not suddenly decided to come down with a bad case of static cling. Seeing that all was well with her dress and its small jacket she walked to the wooden vestibule with its podium and the sign in book for the funeral. She carefully signed in her name of Elizabeth Turner in her neat but legible feminine script. Her mother and father were already here from the looks of it. With her prayer book in hand she proceeded down the carpeted isle looking for her mother and father.

Near the front she spotted her father in his dark grey suit and it must be his mother sitting beside him. Her mother seemed to have a few more grey hairs in her dark auburn hair than she remembered. She had not been gone long but it felt like ages. She curtsied as she reached the pew and then shuffled over to the empty seat on the bench beside her mother. She looked at her mother with love in her eyes and wanted to hug her right there but in church this was usually not done. Afterwards in the reception behind the church such things could be done.

Beth's mother and father openly stared at her as she gracefully sat beside them and settled her purse right next to her mothers. She smiled at them both with her best smile before looking to her lap and the hymn booklet there. She was never very good at reading them and following along and she suspect that nobody else was either.

"Miss I'm not sure you are in the right spot." Her father said to her while her mothers eyes squinted at her.

"Mom, Dad it's me Elizabeth your daughter." she said with the smile still in place. Her mothers eyes opened wide.

"E is that you?"

"Yes mother it's me." What a strange reaction she hadn't changed that much. Beth giggled at her mothers reaction.

"Oh My God! Eric Mark Tanner what in gods name have you done to yourself?" Her mother hissed at her in a low whisper. The smile on her face dropped instantly at this remark.

Who the hell was Eric and why did her mother think she was a boy?

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