Madison

boy-shadow.jpgMadison
By Anon Allsop

I sat upon a little bench and watched shadows race across the open expanse of the lawn. Deep were my thoughts as my mind filtered out and processed, what had gotten me to this exact place in my life.

Glancing at my watch, I saw the dial reflect the sun as it broke through the cloud that raced overhead. I squinted at the sudden glare, angling the face so I could see the dial. Ten minutes till two. I had forty minutes until I would be forever alone.

I leaned forward and placed my elbows upon my knees, allowing the water bottle that I had been holding to dangle. I thought back to that fateful day so long ago when I lost Nora. Inhaling deeply, I couldn't be sad - not today.

Nora had been the love of my life, taken from me by a decision she had made to proceed with the pregnancy even though she knew it could harm her. On the very day she passed, little Madison entered the world. It was as though part of me was heartbroken, while the other part of me was relishing in bringing forth a life that she and I had both created.

He was five pounds four ounces, and a mere fourteen and a half inches in length. Even our family doctor was surprised at how tiny he was, and yet how perfectly formed. It was as though the Lord took a normal baby and reduced it in stature by a full three pounds.

Madison could only be thought of as tiny, yet mentally he was right there with others his own age. He was always a kind boy, sympathetic and as tender hearted as a child could be. I felt myself smiling that memory.

Unscrewing the cap of my water and taking a drink, I thought back to when I first realized that there may be something wrong. Madison was three and I had just moved him from a sitter to a local preschool. We were fine when we approached the building, even when I introduced him to his teacher. However, when we got him to playing with a few of the other children to distract him; as soon as I tried to slip away - he screamed and cried so very loudly.

Thinking that this was nothing more than a form of separation anxiety, I figured that eventually he would grow out of it... but he didn't. The first day of Kindergarten, I felt as though my heart was ripped from me as he stood in the very back of the school bus and bawled. He was frantic and pleading me to help him.

Feeling like the most terrible father on the planet, I hung my head and cried as the bus disappeared into the distance. It was like that for three straight weeks, thankfully though through the bus driver's sympathetic nature, the school and his teacher we were able to get beyond the sheer terror he felt.

Upon a suggestion by the school counselor, we arranged a meeting at the school with a local city psychologist that may be able to help shed a light on what was causing Madison's severe separation anxiety. I though thought it may have more to do without having a mother than anything.

When I met with the psychologist for the initial visit, he asked for background on both Madison and me. Naturally, the loss of his mother came up and even though the doctor didn't come state it then, I suspected that he too felt Madison's issues were rooted in this fact.

Just six months into his meetings with the psychologist, the doctor’s findings came back with severe separation anxiety brought on by the traumatic loss of a parent. I could have told them that.

I recall reading the paper one Saturday morning, sitting at the table with him. He could have only been seven or eight. He was busy drawing a picture and we were just making small talk.

I stood to get myself a cup of coffee and as I passed behind him, I noticed what he had been working so hard at. It was a drawing of a woman with three small children.

I observed his artwork, "That's pretty good, Madison."

"Thank you," he replied, his voice was sweetly soft.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to guess that it was of our neighbor Connie and her children. However, I was perplexed because there were two girls and a boy that were depicted in the drawing, and Connie had three girls.

I thought I would mention that to him. "While your artwork is exceptional, son, you do realize that Connie has all girls. Right?"

He continued to color, "These aren't Connie's girls..." He sat the crayon down and picked up another without looking up, "They're mine."

"Oh? Did you happen to get married, have a family and I wasn't invited to the wedding?" I said with a chuckle.

He glanced up smiling, "They're mine from before."

I raised my eyebrows, "From before?" His comment perplexed me and so I thought I would move forward and just ask, "From before when?"

He shrugged, "From before I was born."

I pulled out a chair and set down beside him as he continued to draw, "Madison, before you were born you were just a twinkle in the eyes of your mother and me."

"I had a family back in a time before I was born." He began to color again, trading one color for another.

I smiled and inwardly congratulated Nora for giving our Madison such an imagination. Standing, I went over to the counter and began to fill my cup.

I thought I would just humor him and commented on the figure he was coloring at that moment, "Well from the looks of your drawing, you sure had a beautiful wife."

He paused and studied his drawing for a moment, and then looked up at me. "That isn't my wife, daddy - it's me."

I felt my brows knit, "It looks like a woman, Madison."

He giggled, "That's because I was a woman."

I fought the urge to pepper Madison with questions, but once I had really thought about what he said, many of my assumptions about him up to that point were beginning to make sense.

That evening, long after Madison had gone to bed I fired up my laptop and began to research Past Life Experiences. I found that Madison's story was not all that uncommon, and there were countless thousands of children across the globe had experienced a past life. Only, this was my son.

******

I leaned back on the bench and took another swig of my water. Those days started the stress that led me here. I again glanced at my watch, just twenty-three minutes separated me from losing Madison forever. I sighed and screwed the blue cap back on as I began to think of the whirlwind days that followed that seemingly innocent conversation.

******

It was nearly two weeks after I had my conversation with Madison, when I heard a knock on the front door. Peeking through the curtain, I saw our neighbor Connie standing on the front porch.

I opened the door and smiled, "Come on in, Connie."

She stepped inside, "Hi, Grant, Rachel is watching the kids for me, Madison is over there playing with my youngest." Rachel was her eldest daughter, a very competent teenager.

"So, what brings you for this visit - having problems with your lawn mower again?" I asked. Being a single mother, she often had need of my service with repairing items around her house. Our relationship was purely as friends, neither of us felt we were ready to take that next step with any sort of personal relationship.

Connie made a face as she spoke, it was as though she knew more than she was really letting on. "Madison was playing earlier today with Kimberly, my youngest. I overheard him telling her that he had once been a woman with three children."

I laughed and walked to my desk and opened a drawer; when I returned I was holding the drawing he had done. "He drew this for me two weeks ago yesterday. He mentioned the same thing."

She settled back on the chair and crossed her leg, "Did he tell you that he wanted to be a female again?"

I sank into the couch, "No, he said nothing to me like that."

"While he's just a kid, from the way he's been talking to my girls. He says he hates the fact that he's a boy." She knew of my love for Madison, and I could tell that it pained her to divulge information to me about him.

I sat at the edge of the couch, as my mind raced through the last several years. Each little red flag that popped up seemed to lead back to what she had just told me. I swallowed hard, "I don't know what to do..."

She put her hand on my arm, the gesture was as a friend. "I had an old college roommate who works with gender dysphoria, perhaps she can assist you with Madison."

Wanting to desperately stay away from this decision, I sighed and nodded, knowing that eventually I would have to deal with it one way or another. "Give me her number and I'll call her in the morning."

I had set up an appointment for the following week. The initial consultation with the doctor was only with me, while Madison remained home with Connie. It was not going to be an easy task airing the problems I had to her, especially when Madison felt he was the normal one.

I sat quietly in her office waiting, mindlessly scrolling down my contacts on my phone when I heard the door open. I glanced up when she entered; she looked to be of Middle Eastern decent.

She walked around the chair I was sitting in, I stood out of respect and she held out her hand, "I am Dr. Pishtar. You must be Grant."

"Hi Dr. Pishtar. We have a mutual friend - Connie Rochelle. She thought you could help me with my young son, Madison."

She sat down in a chair opposite me and placed a pen on a notepad. "Why don't we start with the beginning. Tell me about your son."

Over the course of an hour, I told her of Madison's birth, tragic loss of his mother, the past lives... everything. The only time she would stop writing was when she asked a question. By the end of my time there, I felt she had a pretty good idea of what was needed to help my son.

She sat her note pad aside and scooted toward the front of her leather chair. Resting her elbows on her knees she looked at me with sympathy in her eyes. "Grant, I hear the concern in your voice. I am completely certain that you love and care deeply for Madison.

"However, from what you have told me, Madison does suffer some form of gender identity disorder. We need to delve into it further, and find out just how much he is affected by it."

I nodded in agreement; feeling satisfied that someone who knew more about the subject than I did, may be able to help. "So what do you purpose?"

She looked at me in the eye, "I will need to meet with Madison; you of course will be able to come along and watch from behind my two-way mirror." She pointed to a three foot square mirror that was at the end of the room.

"I feel that his past life stories, coupled with tragic loss of a mother figure, may be the direct link to his particular dysphoria. Although to be completely certain, we will need to arrange for several sessions with Madison. You can do that with my receptionist on your way out."

She smiled as I stood up to leave, and she asked. "I would like to ask one last question before you go."

"Sure Doctor, what is it?"

"I'm curious, why did you name your son ‘Madison’? I've only heard of it being used as a girl’s name prior to today."

"My late wife Nora had picked out his name long before he was born. It was her great-grandfather’s name. I guess back in the old days, it was considered masculine." Looking down, I frowned. "I guess if he has his way of becoming female, the name of Madison would still fit."

She touched my shoulder as we walked to the door. "Let’s not give up too soon on your boy; there is a long way to go if he does indeed decide to go in that direction."

I nodded and replied as I hesitated by the door, "I'm not giving up on him, I can't - he's my son."

******

The sun overhead broke through the clouds and bathed me in warm sunshine. From a nearby tree, the spring birds were chirping. I hear a bee as it danced among the daffodils and hyacinths that grew not far away. Taking a quick glance at my watch I sighed, only fifteen minutes would separate Madison and I until the end of our days.

Tears begin to well in my eyes as I thought back to those first difficult days. Whether I agreed with them or not, I knew I had to support Madison in whatever direction was chosen.

My mind began to travel backward in time, back when those decisions we made early on, and found those arrangements seemed to alter our lives forever.

******

One of the very first appointments Madison had with Dr. Pishtar was one in which I was terrified for him to endure to begin with, especially when it resulted in him being hypnotized.

She had me sit in a room where I could observe them through the 2-way mirror. He went under without much real effort on her part; she then began questioning him beginning with simple questions that even I knew. As they delved into the hypnosis further, she began to ask things of him, questions that I too wanted answers for myself.

It was strange listening to him crying as he told the doctor how 'she' had been separated from her parents by the Egyptian army, never to see them again. I sat up straighter as this had never been uttered by him at all.

In a voice soft and so feminine sounding he recounted how he was taken into slavery and forced to bear children for her Egyptian owner, a boy and two girls. The boy had been forced to join the army of Egypt, the girls like 'she' were sold or traded off.

I sat dumfounded at the story he relayed. It was no wonder that he had such separation anxiety when he was so little; I had always thought it was rooted in his mother's death but instead a former life experience had shaped what he was going through.

******

I slowly stood and began the long walk toward the tall spires, the path leading up to it was lined on each side with cheery flowers. While part of me wanted to be happy, there was still the foreboding part that knew that it was I and I alone that would walk away.

Sighing, I drank the last of the water and tossed the bottle into the waste can as I neared the doors which reflected me as I approached. I hesitated to finish the last few steps, reluctant to have it end this way. It was as though I was destined to remember what had gotten us here, over and over again.

******

Within days of the meeting between Madison and Dr. Pishtar, I noticed a change in him. It was as though his world had opened up and he was released into it like a winged bird. I really didn't think it was any of her doing, instead I have come to believe that she had aided him in finding a path that would allow a sort of coping release of the pressure he must have been enduring.

I saw him sitting on the stoop of the porch and set down beside him, I reached to him and brushed his hair from his eyes. "Looks like we need to be getting this mop cut, wouldn't you say, Madison?"

He turned toward me and sat like that for several long seconds, "Would it be okay... if I just let it grow?"

I frowned, and then shrugged. "I suppose so, but aren't you afraid someone would say something eventually?

My mind raced as I realized what he may be asking, but I didn't want to put any suggestions in his head. "If you want to let it grow, promise me that you'll keep it clean and combed. There is nothing worse than a guy with long, greasy hair."

"About that..." Madison began, "Would it be okay to..." He faltered, seemingly afraid to 'push' his luck.

I raised my brows, "Okay to what?"

He looked down at his fingers for several long seconds, "I want to be a girl..."

My heart sank, "But you're a boy, Madison."

He again glanced at me, "Only on the outside. On the inside, I am a girl."

"You're only eleven, Madison." I reminded him of the obvious. "Your friends will say things."

"Please, daddy, let me be who I'm meant to be." He had actual tears clinging to his lashes as he pleaded.

I felt trapped, standing I moved out into the sun and turned to face him. My stomach was in knots; on one hand I was certain that he would outgrow this obsession with being female, on the other I feared he wouldn't.

I hung my head and looked at the sidewalk beneath my feet. "Are you asking me if you can live as a girl?" I already knew the answer, because he had given it to me only moments ago. "You can't live like this, Madison. But if you must, please make this deal with me... only do so on the weekend. When Monday gets here, it's back to boy clothing you go."

He smiled and held out his small hand to me, "It's a deal, daddy."

His weekend only eventually grew to after school as well. Within time, even Connie and her girls knew of his wishes. In fact, many of his outfits he wore outside of school had once belonged to them.

By the end of school, his hair had grown to his shoulders. He was using barrettes to pull back the bangs from his eyes. Had a passerby seen him playing with the girls, they would only think it were young girls.

One afternoon, while he and her children played in my backyard, Connie wandered across my lawn, in her hand were two beers. She handed one to me, which was already open.

She spoke as she sat, "How you doing, Grant?"

I sighed and looked out across the yard as Madison was gleefully playing with and chasing her youngest daughters in a game of freeze-tag. "Am I doing the right thing, Connie?

She thought for a moment, "I think you are. You and I both know that Madison would be miserable if you forced him to live as a boy."

I nodded as I took a swig of the beer, "Thank you, it helps to have someone on my side."

She smiled as they raced past, "You do know that at some point, puberty will catch him."

I gave her a sullen glance, "He's got a few years. He's only eleven."

The words she spoke rang in my ears, "Isn't that about when a boy's puberty begins to kick in?"

"Perhaps on some…" I began without thinking, and then realized what she was implying. I grew quiet after that, the thoughts of our most recent conversation raced through my head.

"What is it?" she asked with concern upon seeing the expression written on my face.

"Last night, after we had argued... Madison had made an offhanded comment about rather being dead, than growing up a male." I looked toward Connie, "He was serious, and the truth is... I believed him."

She asked, "You don't think he'd take his own life, do you?"

I looked out across the lawn at the young child playing on the swing, wearing a yellow pleated jumper. "I don't really want to find out." I set the beer bottle on the table. "Madison and I will have to have a talk later tonight."

I walked down the hallway to his bedroom and stood at the doorway. Madison was in his room, sitting in-front of my wife's vanity quietly brushing out his hair after a bath. He was wearing a cast-off nighty that he got from one of Connie's girls. He glanced into the mirror at me and smiled, "Hi, daddy."

"Can I come in, Madison?" I stood behind him as he continued to brush his hair, the silence was awkward.

Finally he sat down the brush and turned in the chair to face me. I began to look around his room, no longer seeing much 'boy' in my gaze. "You look deep in thought, daddy."

I sighed and sat down on the edge of his bed. "Madison, we need to talk."

He turned his chair to fully face me, sat down and waited for me to tell him what was troubling me. Gradually, I began to explain my concerns, letting him in on my conversation with Connie as well as the thoughts and fears I had been harboring.

Over the course of an hour, we came to an uncomfortable understanding. It was uncomfortable because it seemed I was the one giving in to the concessions. It was decided that we would contact Dr. Pishtar and see what steps would be needed to block him from the puberty that would make him male. He no longer wanted to be considered in the male vernacular, and wanted to dress fully as a female.

He also decided that he would keep his name of Madison but instead of his middle name being Allen, it would become Ellen. It was an uneasy sleep once it finally came, long after I had gone to bed. As I lay quietly in the dark I wondered what Nora would have thought, but I knew that she would be like me and just try and support him no matter what I truly felt.

That next morning I was able to catch an appointment with Doctor Pishtar, she put me in contact with a colleague of hers who could help. We scheduled an appointment with this new doctor for the following Tuesday.

We both sat in the waiting room for nearly an hour, finally an older man entered, "Hello. I'm Dr. Holzinger... you must be Madison."

He glanced toward me and held out his hand, "I'm... her father, Grant."

He smiled and then sat down upon a round stool, Madison was seated on an exam bed and I was in a fiberglass chair. "I've already got the go ahead from Dr. Pishtar, so she has passed her psychology tests. We'll administer a testosterone blocker to her, this will prevent the onset of puberty." He looked at Madison's smile and also smiled.

"This blocker will slow the effects of puberty, and they can be reversed to an extent. If she should change her mind about being a female... but at some point puberty will rear its head and a choice will have to be made."

Madison asked softly, "Choices?"

He addressed her directly, "The blocker will slow down your system so that you won't develop the broad shoulders and stature of a male, however it won't stop it completely. To stop it will take a variety of feminine hormones, but state law will not allow us to provide that until you reach sixteen." He glanced at Madison and saw her frown, "Little steps dear, little steps."

He continued, "Once you began a regimen of female hormones, you will become sterile." He glanced at Madison and realized that she didn't understand the word, "It means you won't be able to produce children."

She looked as though she would cry, but he reached out and patted her petite hand. "With the leaps and bounds of modern procedures and medicines, who knows what they can do. Perhaps by the time you would be in your twenties, science will figure out a way of doing that too."

"However you choose to go, that's a long way off. First things first, we have to get the onset of your puberty curtailed." He reached beside him and removed the cap of a syringe. As he injected it into her hip, I felt my stomach sinking even further.

******

Still frozen in fear as I was at the bottom step, I could see my own reflection on the black glass of the door. Movement at the door caused me to look up, it was Connie poking her head out. "You okay?"

I nodded, "I've been better, but I'll be alright."

She stepped outside and stood at the uppermost step and waited for me, "Madison has been asking for you." I inhaled deeply at her comment, and then began to climb. With each step up I took, my mind raced backward over time.

******

Everything was running along smoothly, so by the time Madison had reached fourteen, she had begun to press me for the estrogen hormones. I kept putting her off, reminding her that Dr. Holzinger said that they couldn't proceed until she was sixteen; nearly a year and a half away.

Madison's hair was nearly at her waist and looked every bit the female she desired to become, only he was small even for a girl of his age. Even in my own mind, she teetered upon the brink of becoming a beautiful girl or handsome, albeit petite, young man.

I stood outside on Madison's fifteenth birthday at the grill, she was giggling and carrying on with Connie's two youngest. As Madison turned to the side, I noticed a swell to her bosom that shouldn't have been there, even with the puberty blockers. While it wasn't as noticeable as the other girls, it was disconcerting to me because she shouldn't be developing anything yet.

That evening I confronted Madison, letting her know exactly what I was seeing. I wanted to get to the bottom of how she would get these tiny little budding breasts without feminine hormones.

Once again I stood at her door while she was readying herself for bed, clad in her nightgown she was brushing out her long hair. I knocked on the wall and this caused her to look up into the mirror at me. "Got a minute?"

"Sure... what's up?" She laid the brush down and turned to face me. Once again I took a seat on her bed. There was nothing in the room that spoke of the boy that Madison had once been.

"We both know what Dr. Holzinger had said about the blocker that he has been giving you, right?" I raised my eyebrows and gave her a knowing look. "Do you want to tell me what's going on?"

She sat at the edge of the bed, near her pillow. Even in the low lighting I could see her darker areola, slightly larger and swollen. Almost reflexively her arm covered it as she played nervously with her hair.

She breathed deeply; I could see her mind racing to come up with an explanation that would suffice. "Out with it," I softly said, hoping that if I maintained my control it would be easier for he to confess.

She pursed her lips and pushed a trembling finger across her lashes, trying to prolong the unavoidable. Finally she just sighed and blurted out, "For the last several months, I've been taking birth control pills. There are tiny amounts of feminine hormones in them."

Fighting through my anger impulse, I closed my eyes for a few seconds and then calmly responded. "And where have you been getting them? I know you have to have a prescription... so who has been supplying them to you?" Suddenly the realization that they could have been pilfered crossed my mind.

Her answer shone a spotlight on the obvious, "Rachel has been giving them to me." She looked down at the floor, "Connie had her get them, because she thought Rachel was sexually active... but she isn't at all."

I stood, "Madison, I'm really disappointed in you." Walking to the doorway I hesitated and turned back toward her. She was watching me with tears in her eyes.

My anger softened, seeing her emotions like that brought to mind Nora when she knew that she could not be saved and had to leave Madison and I behind. I gave her a reassuring smile, "Is this really what you want, knowing the outcome?"

She nodded, "I don't care if I can't have children... I'd like them, but I have to be true to myself first!"

I nodded knowingly, "I'll call the doc in the morning. Maybe he can pull some strings for you."

When I called her doctor, I explained that she had been going behind my back to get hormones any way she could. I told of my fear that she would eventually resort to the internet with less than reputable sources with no way of knowing if they were safe or not.

After further evaluations and testing, Dr. Holzinger relented and began Madison's female hormone treatment. She was about six months shy of her sixteenth birthday.

******

I felt a nudge on my arm that startled me, "Come on, Grant, Madison is getting frantic!"

I gave her a smile and put my arm around her, "Where would I be without you right there to help us!" I drew her close and kissed her.

She laughed, "What was that for?"

I smiled and began that last long climb to the black doors, "I never would have thought that a man can have two real loves in his lifetime."

"Oh poo, you're just saying that because you're emotional." She laughed and pushed me slightly away. "However I'll take the complement anyway. Now get a move-on.!"

******

I sat on my porch with Connie as Madison and Kimberly walked down the sidewalk from her house to ours. It was summer and both girls were in shorts. I was in a conversation with Connie as a sleek red car pulled up alongside the girls.

They must have been in school with them as both walked directly to the car and begin talking, Madison leaned against the door while Kimberly teased the passenger of the car playfully.

Connie spoke up as I leaned forward in my chair, "That's Derrick and John Harmon, they are in school with the girls." She giggled at my posturing.

"I don't trust her around boys." I replied with a scowl.

Connie laughed, "Are you sure it's her that you don't trust... or is it the boys?"

I laughed at her comment, "Definitely the boys."

When the car slowly pulled away, the girls continued to walk up to us. I couldn't help but see Madison for what she was becoming.

I wasn't sure if it was because she started hormone therapy while so young, or if it had to do with her genetics. Any way I looked at it, she was becoming a stunning young woman. At nearly the same bust size as Kimberly, she just appeared bigger than she probably was, most likely because of her petite stature.

She no longer had much of a penis so that her front was quite flat, coupled with her wide hips and narrow waist and she looked the part. I remembered that I had accidently seen her one time when I walked into the bathroom as she was stepping from the shower, thinking that she was with Kimberly over at Connie's. Her bust was nearly the size of her own mother’s at that time, perhaps a smaller 'B' cup.

Madison was nearing graduation and with that, her eighteenth birthday. I knew that someday soon she would be asking me for the last portion of her procedure. She sat on the top of our porch and was carrying on a conversation with both Kimberly and Connie.

While they spoke, I watched her and how she moved. There was nothing male about her any more that I could see with my own eyes. For a girl, her legs were spectacular, flawless, deeply tanned and silky smooth with that sheen that girls her age seem to be able to get.

Her posture, the way she gestured, laughed or spoke sounded as though she was one hundred percent female. I knew that my son was gone for good, her only vestige to her former self would be gone the first chance she got.

Later that night, long after Connie and Kimberly went home Madison found me in the living room watching television. She came in and sat down at the other end of the couch and began to apply nail polish to her toes. "Be careful with that polish, I don't want it on our new couch."

She laughed, "I'll be careful, daddy."

I glanced over toward her, completely taken in by her flawless legs. I laughed to myself and it caused her to look up, "What's so funny?"

"I was just watching you, thinking how most women would kill to have legs like yours." I muted the sound on the television, and thought back to long ago when her own mother would do that very same thing.

It felt strange to notice, but I wouldn't have been a man if I hadn't. She wasn't wearing a bra and there was definitely a natural shape to her breasts. I looked away, embarrassed that I even glanced that way.

"Daddy?" Madison began, "I'm going to be eighteen in two weeks."

"I think you forget, I was there." I teased.

She put her cap and brush back onto the polish bottle, while carrying on our conversation she blew air over her toes. "The money that was for me from momma's life insurance..."

"Yes?" I reached out and shut off the television, and then returned the remote to the coffee table. "You mean, the money for your college education?"

She nodded, yet knew exactly what that money was for. I didn't really need to tell her, and I knew that it was painful for her to ask.

"Could I use some of it to finish out my 'SRS'? I promise it wouldn't have been squandered!" She studied my face for any sign one way or the other.

It had finally happened - she uttered those words I loathed to hear for so long, and yet... "That money has been earmarked for your education since the day she had passed so long ago."

I watched her expression fall. "I understand." she replied nearly inaudibly.

I leaned back into the couch and swallowed back the emotion that was bubbling to the surface. "I know how much you want this, how long you have been working toward this point in your life." Tears were beginning to form in her eyes as I continued to speak.

"I know where you've come from and where you plan to go." I touched my fingertips as I leaned my elbows on my knees. "Do you still have those flashes of your past life?" My sudden question derailed my train of thought.

"Only once in awhile." She replied as she dabbed her eye with a tissue.

Quickly recovering, I remembered where I was going with my comments. "Before you were born, your mother's mother had passed away..."

Replying to the obvious, she said, "Grandma."

"... and then when you were almost three, your grandfather died." It was cute the way she tipped her head, almost like a small puppy would if it heard something strange.

I glanced at her and then again looked at my fingers, "Grandpa left something for you."

She spoke softly, I could scarce imagine her with a voice that was anything other than feminine, "What did he leave?"

"He left you a trust, with explicit orders that you had to wait until your eighteenth birthday before you could have access to it." Her pale blue eyes widened, the lashes were long and feathery.

"A t... trust?" She scooted closer, her eyes hopeful.

"Grandpa thought you might use it to buy a car..." I glanced out the corner of my eye at her. "He felt so terrible of you losing your mother while young, that he wanted to leave something that might make you happy."

Madison threw herself at me and bawled in my neck, "You never told me..."

I lifted her chin and kissed her cheek, "I wanted to make certain that this was truly what you wanted. There will be enough to do your surgery as well as set some aside for some ‘extra's’."

She pushed tears from her eyes, the lights reflecting off the smooth polish on her nails. ‘Extra’s’?

I laughed, "A car... and perhaps a house. No matter what you choose to do, you have to go to college... for your mother and me."

"I'll go!" She squealed and threw her arms around me, "I promise, I'll go!"

******

Nearly five years later I stood facing the big doors with my own bride, Connie. I felt my stomach turn as she stepped inside and left me standing just inside the first set of doors.

"Daddy?" I heard her soft voice call out. Turning to the voice I felt her beside me before I even saw her. "Are you ready, daddy?"

Tears clouded my vision as Madison stepped up alongside me. I felt my lower lip trembling as the doors before us slowly opened, and a great lump grew in my throat as my fatherly gaze took her in. "You are a vision of your dear mother..." I whispered as the emotion of the moment got the better of me, "She would have given anything to be here today."

******

Madison started college at an in-state university, because she was trying to get a degree in elementary education. She was specifically gearing toward the kindergarten through third grade age, preferring the younger set because of their willingness to learn. Another reason was that beyond the third grade, she felt the children were more mouthy.

It was sad not having her around the house as often as she was growing up, but I knew that she was only two hours from home. Often Connie and I would take a drive down there, and take her, Kimberly and one of her other sorority sisters out to dinner. They would always laugh and be so happy when we would come, since according to them it was the best they ate all month. I knew that wasn't true, because Connie and I were always sending care packages to them.

Near Christmas, later during her third year, Madison called me up and asked if it would be okay to invite a friend home. Neither Connie nor I felt that it would be a problem, since it was most likely a sorority sister who couldn't fly home for the holidays. However, we were surprised when she showed up at our door with a young man.

"Daddy, this is James. He's a really good friend of both Kimberly and me." The smile on her face was beaming, yet there was a slight hint of fear in her eyes.

"Call me ‘Jim’, sir." He grasped my outstretched hand, and his grip was quite firm. "Madison has told me all about you... all of it good of course," he smiled handsomely.

I could see why both girls liked the boy, and were good friends with him. But I was certain the look of fear in Madison's eyes spoke volumes that she didn't vocalize. Later on that evening when I had a chance to be alone with her, I asked.

"So, this Jim fella... does he know about you?" It pained me to ask, but I feared for her safety and didn't want her to be hurt.

Madison replied softly, "He knows." She walked to me, concern was in her eyes. "He's good to me... I really like him."

My mind was in turmoil. While I knew what she had been and was now; this Jim was a man and would be interested in what young men wanted. I could protect Madison here, but if she was wrong in her assessment of this man... I sighed heavily.

"Please, daddy..." She had tears in her eyes as she knelt beside the chair I was on. Placing her hand upon my arm she looked up at me, "I really, really like him... and I think he likes me."

I gently caressed her soft cheek, "Okay, Madison, I'll be cordial to him. But I expect him to extend that favor to you. I know he's nice to you now, but I won't put up with a man who acts out with aggression to you or to any other woman."

She sighed with relief, "Thank you, daddy!" She leaned into me and hugged me tightly. She kissed my cheek lightly "I love you!"

I drew her into me and returned her kiss, "I love you too, punkin."

Later that evening while I was looking through our local newspaper, I noticed Jim near the doorway between the kitchen and living room. Behind him were Madison, Kimberly and Connie working on supper.

He slowly entered the room, glancing apprehensively over his shoulder toward Madison. She had stepped away from the others to encourage him... and also watch for my reaction.

I glanced up from the paper, "Uh... sir, do you have a moment that we can talk?" I lowered the paper as he spoke and removed my reading glasses.

Setting my glasses aside, I folded the paper and placed it on the table. "Sure, Jim, what can I help you with?"

He sat down on the edge of the couch and nervously looked at his hands. "I wanted to ask..."

I scowled at him and then realized that it took courage to enter a lion’s den, so I softened my expression. "Go on Jim, I'm listening."

"Sir... I really like Maddie a lot. I... I know what she used to be, but I'm in love with the girl she is now."

He sighed, almost as though he was breathing for the first time since entering the room.

"She's a beautiful girl. Most importantly though, she's my daughter."

"I respect that, sir. I would never do anything to hurt Maddie." He fidgeted in his seat, yet his look never wavered. I honestly felt I could believe him.

I rubbed my cheek, the scraping of my whiskers sounded extremely loud to my own ears. Looking up, I finally replied. "So, what are you asking me, Jim?"

He sat up straighter and smiled, "I want your permission to date Maddie."

******

Here I stood, the last day that I had her as my child. I chanced a glance toward her as we started our first step, she is truly beautiful in her own right. The days of the terrified dreams are gone, the past is where it belongs... in the past. I again turned forward, confident in the decisions I had made as Madison's father. The cocoon of her childhood gave way and allowed a beautiful butterfly to spread its wings and fly.

As the wedding march began, all those within the chapel rose and faced us as we methodically approached the front. At the altar, her future husband waited. Yes, Jim had popped the question only three weeks after they had graduated from college.

At the front of the church I faced my little girl, and carefully assisted her to raise the veil. The minister held the bible, and faced me. "Who gives this young woman to be married to this man?"

The words escaped my mouth even before I had a chance to contemplate their weight, "Her mother and I do."

And with that simple sentence, I gave my only child to another man. Jim now will take my place and care for her. Taking my seat beside Connie, I thought of the old saying I heard one time long ago. A son is your son, until he takes a wife. A daughter is your daughter, for the rest of her life.

Glancing down I felt Connie take my hand in hers and give it a gentle squeeze. Somehow through the tears clouding my eyes, I could still smile, as it would seem that I received the best of both.


The End

I would like to thank Jim P for all his help on this story. Without it, there would have been way too many grammar mistakes. Grammar- not my strongest subject.



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