By Katherine Day
(Julie looks like a woman and feels like a woman but finds that her transgendered status may stand in her way of finding love with a man. Edited by Eric. A sequel to two short stories published in 2013, “Julie’s Odyssey” and “Gifts for Julie.”) (Copyright 2014)
Chapter Seventeen: Tears
The nearly one thousand miles of separation did little to stifle either of us in our yearning to touch and caress the other. We missed each other terribly, but Randy found time to call me daily, usually later at night when his long training camp exercises and other university activities ended. By then, I was usually in my nightgown and took the cell phone into the bed with me. As we talked, I played with myself; I felt shamed in doing so even though I expect Randy might be doing the same.
It became a nightly routine; if something would come up that would cause either of us to be busy, we’d always at least text message the other to inform them. Such nights were few and far between.
“Randy, you must find yourself another girl, someone more suited for you,” I pleaded with him over and over, realizing that our affair could only end in disaster for each of us.
“There’s no one more suited for me,” he said.
“That’s ridiculous,” I said, repeating my reasoning that I was too old for him and that I would never be able to bear his child.
“Really, Julie, you’ve always treated me as someone who is a total man, not just a football player. Even though I come from the wrong side of the tracks, you’ve always made me feel like I am somebody. I have dreams and I want to do some good in the world and you understand that. Besides, you’re so damn sexy.”
“That’s because you are who you are, Randy, a very intelligent, compassionate man who is also a real hunk.”
With that, we’d both start laughing and soon break into expressions of love for each other.
“I need you Julie. I’m sure you can get a teaching job in Madison or nearby,” he urged several times.
“No Randy, I’m happy here. Just find yourself a good, pretty Wisconsin girl. There’s got to be a few of those out there.”
Wisconsin’s senior quarterback who had taken the team to the Rose Bowl the previous year was injured in the third preseason game, apparently lost to the team for the season. The coach experimented with a junior (who had been second string quarterback) and while he was talented he had a penchant for throwing interceptions.
Randy was thrown into to start the fifth game of the season – a key Big Ten battle against Michigan State – and surprised everyone by leading the team to victory, thanks to his throwing two touchdown passes and rushing in to score a third. Randy became the team’s starting quarterback, soon being heralded as a potential Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.
Many of the Wisconsin games were on national television and for the first time in my life I began watching football games; I asked Paul Phillips to join me in watching, since I needed to learn the game. Even as a boy, I never played the game; it just seemed too rough. Paul, of course, knew of my interest in Randy, as did his wife, Marian, who often joined us.
“You’re ruining your nails, dear,” Marian told me over and over.
“Oh, but I’m so scared he’ll get hurt,” I said, always forgetting that I had been chewing my fingernails mercilessly as I watched him fade back to pass.
The most horrible moment of my life – after the death of my mother – was when Randy got hurt in the second quarter of the Ohio State game. The game was played at night as a nationwide ABC game of the week and millions saw as Randy was nailed hard from behind as he tossed a pass. I screamed as I saw my beloved’s head bounce back, as if it could be severed from his body by the violent hit.
I cried and cried as he lay motionless on the ground before being quickly surrounded by doctors and training staff and other players, shielding the sight from the television cameras. An ambulance appeared on the field and after several minutes I saw he was strapped to a rigid board and lifted gently into the ambulance.
As he was slid into the vehicle, I saw along with millions other that he gave a “thumbs up.” I breathed a sigh of relief; at least he was alive.
Shortly after that, I got a call from Jon Edwards. He was watching the game, too, and wondered whether I needed company. He knew of my feelings for Randy. I said that I’d be OK and that Paul Phillips was watching the game with me. Jon and I talked for a while with him reassuring me that likely Randy would not be seriously hurt.
“They take great precautions these days to protect the kids,” he said.
“I know, but he should quit football,” I said firmly.
“Randy asked me to call to tell you he’s OK,” the caller said.
I got the phone call about an hour after the game ended, a game that Wisconsin lost due to a late interception thrown by the player who took over for Randy when he was injured. The caller introduced himself as Pete O’Donnell, whom I knew as No. 87, a tight end on the team.
“Randy said I should call you ‘cause he knew you’d be worried sick about him,” Peter said.
“Oh, I’m so happy you call, but does he have a concussion?”
“Not that they’ve discovered, but he’ll be staying overnight at the hospital here in Columbus just to be sure,” he said.
“I hope he’ll quit playing now,” I said.
Peter laughed and before he could say anything, I reacted: “Peter, it’s no laughing matter. He could get killed out there.”
“I’m sorry,” the young man replied. “It’s just that Randy’s such a determined player I doubt if one hit is going to stop him from playing. Besides, we need him.”
“You know, he’s got a brain, too,” I argued. “He could help society if he can use it for something else than football.”
“I know he does, Miss Pearson. He’s my roommate and I know how hard he studies. I’m sure he’ll do fine with both football and academics.”
“I’m not so sure.”
“You know Randy talks about you a lot, and I know he adores and respects you,” Peter said. “I can tell you’re a loving, caring person.”
“I care deeply about him,” I said.
“And if you’re as pretty as the picture he has of you on his desk, you’re lovely, I’m sure.”
“By the way, he’s told me all about you, even about your difference in age and I think he’s lucky to have you as a friend, ma’am.”
“Thank you again, and you may call me Julie, please. He’s such a gem of a young man, and you sound the same.”
Randy called me the next morning, just before he was to be released from the hospital and was to join the team plane that would return to Madison in the afternoon.
“I’m fine,” he said. “And I’ll be able to play next week, too.”
“I wished you wouldn’t. You were knocked flat there. I saw it and cried and cried, Randy. You have to stop playing that game.”
“Now don’t be silly, Julie. I need to play to keep my scholarship. Please understand.”
I knew Randy well enough to realize his mind was made up, and I didn’t want to keep nagging him about playing. Our conversation was cut short when a doctor entered his room. We passed each other audio kisses and hung up. I was relieved and worried.
“I’ve told my mother all about you, Julie,” Randy said in a call a week later, after he had recovered from the football hit.
“Everything about me?” I asked.
“Well, not about that.” Obviously he referred to my transgendered status.
“What did she think about our age difference?”
“She’ll understand eventually,” he said, dodging the direct question.
“Randy, dear, let’s not think about stuff like that right now,” I said. “You’ve got to heal. I wish you’d think about giving up that terrible game. You’re so defenseless about there.”
“No,” he said.
“Look I have the best offensive line in the country protecting me. There was just a breakdown in assignments that caused that guy to get through and hit me from behind.”
“Look we can still be Big Ten champs and go on to the Rose Bowl. The NFL scouts are in the stands every game.”
I knew there was no arguing with him and changed the subject quickly, telling him about the play Harriet and I were directing for the school. Harriet had been giving me more and more responsibility in the production, telling me that she was considering retirement and indicating I’d likely be in line for the job. That would mean extra pay, plus I’d have two fewer classes to teach.
“You want to continue teaching, Julie?” Randy asked.
“Of course, it’s a natural for me, dear.”
“But what if we get married after I graduate and I have a big fat pro contract? You won’t have to work. All you’ll have to do is be around and look pretty.”
“Now, Randy, you know I want to teach and besides, who said anything about marriage,” I said firmly.
“But, Julie . . .”
“No buts, Randy. You’ve only just turned eighteen and after a few more months in school I’m sure you’ll be wooed off your feet by one of those milk-fed blonde beauties out there.”
“There’s only you, Julie,” he insisted.
Despite his fervent claims of eternal love for me, I still believed that our end would come soon. Once he tells his mother and teammates about his older girlfriend – and that she didn’t begin life as a she – he’ll realize that our love for each other was doomed from the start. It was just not to be. I had to stop it and stop it now.
Randy played in Wisconsin’s next game in spite of his injury. The physicians cleared him, stating he did not suffer a concussion after all; yet, they admitted to Randy that they would be watching him closely since the fact that he blacked out after the hit was a sign that he might be vulnerable to more injuries with more such violent collisions. His coach designed plays for the next game that kept him in the pocket, in most cases well-protected by the massive linemen. He was sacked only once and that play was not violent.
“I wish he’d let me loose to run more,” Randy complained on a phone call he made after the game to Julie.
I knew he loved to run out of the pocket, since he was almost as good a running back as he was a passer, posing a double-threat to opponents.
“Randy, he’s worried about your health,” I told him.
“I know, but it’s no fun this way,” he argued.
“Well, I’m happy your coach is worried about your health first,” I said.
At the end of the call, I told him I loved him, hating myself for telling him my feelings. I knew I had to end this affair, but whenever I heard his voice, I fell in love all over. Would I never have the courage to end it?
The football season continued and Randy kept playing. I was able to watch only one more game when the team was on national television. They won every remaining game, but the one loss kept them from the championship. It came in the game when Randy was hurt. The team missed out on the Rose Bowl, but did play in a lesser bowl in Florida on New Years Day.
Randy finally came home for a visit in early January, staying nearly ten days before he had to return to the second semester; we were together every night, and he often relaxed in my living room while I graded papers or did other schoolwork.
“We’re just like an old married couple,” he said.
“Now Randy, let’s not talk about that yet,” I said, upset with myself for encouraging our relationship to continue.
“We’re so perfect together, Julie.”
We both lost our virginity during his visit; for me it was the most exciting, exhausting sexual experience of my life. I had several violent, noisy orgasms and Randy soon became a compassionate lover. He was right that we were “perfect together,” even in bed. Perhaps we fit together so well was due to our mutual inexperience, but nonetheless we both found great satisfaction in each other.
“You’re so soft and cuddly, Julie,” he said as we caressed in bed.
“And you darling are my knight, my marvelous, manly knight,” I cooed, my hands moving along his sculptured smooth thighs, the sinews taut and firm. As we embraced, my arms wrapped around his hard back and wide shoulders.
“I can resist holding you, darling,” he said. He kneaded my soft fleshy thighs as his hands moved slowly to my vagina. “You’re so sweet to taste.”
He had developed hair under his arm and a heavy bush from which hung a moderate-sized penis that seemed to be always throbbing and hard to my touch. I loved to bury my head into the bush to smell his masculine odor and take his part into my mouth. He, too, seemed to love to rest his lips into my more modest bush with its fine, almost blondish hair, and then to make their way into my moist vagina.
At times too, his lips and tongue ravished my smallish breasts that had become totally those of a young woman with growing nipples and areolas, thanks to the hormones and my own natural body; even as a slender boy I had developed a fleshy chest, perhaps due to the genes from my mother whose breasts always appeared to be too large for her slim frame.
“Am I getting too fat, Randy?” I asked him in a period of after-love. I had gained some weight, most of it in my tummy, largely because I had been so busy I hadn’t taken time to prepare proper meals, often grabbing fast food meals.
“Not for me,” he said.
“Then I am getting fat. Is that what you’re saying?”
“No, of course, not.”
“Are you just being nice?” I accused him.
“I like being nice, but I meant it, Julie. What’s getting into you?” He sounded truly offended.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me.”
I suddenly realized I had been unreasonable to have even asked him in the first place. And then to turn the tables on him! What was I expecting? Even if he did think I was getting fat, he knew better than to say it. It must be that time of month, I thought, knowing that even if I didn’t ovulate as a normal woman I still experienced emotional ups and downs on the same twenty-eight day cycle.
On our last day together before his return to Wisconsin, Randy and I went took the train out to Point Pleasure. He suggested it: “It’ll bring back memories of how we met,” he said.
It was a bleak, frigid January day, reminiscent of the Christmas Eve we spent together three years earlier. I bundled up in my parka with a pink wool cap, a combination Randy thought “looked cute.”
We ventured to the same diner where we had enjoyed eating with Carmen and Ryan; only a few customers were in the diner and we found a quiet booth where we both sat on one side, close together. Halfway through the meal, Randy reach into a breast pocket underneath his sweater and pulled out a founded sheaf of papers.
“These are application forms to teach in Madison schools,” he said. “I heard they have lots of retirements coming up for next year and maybe you ought to try for a job in their system. Schools in Madison have a good reputation.”
“Randy, no. I got a career here and I love my school now.”
“But you’re so far from me.”
“Oh, Randy, maybe that’s the way we should keep it, dear. Just to be sure,” I said.
“I’ll think about it,” I said, taking the papers.
“I love you Julie. Please come to Madison. I got three more years there. What have you got to keep you here?”
“Lots. I own a house here and have a good job.”
I know I should have stayed firm and told him I would not consider a move to Wisconsin. But, I reasoned, it was our last day together for a while and I hated to hurt his feelings.
“All I promise now is that I will consider it, Randy,” I said.
“Please. I love you Julie,” he said.
Randy came home for a visit during spring break during the last week of March. In the weeks since January, we continued our almost nightly phone calls, only now they were being conducted over the internet, often using Skype when his roommate was absent so that we could see each other. On those occasions, I made it a practice to dress a bit like a slut (something I would never do outside of the privacy of my home). I put on makeup and fixed my hair, too.
Even our oral calls to one another got hot and steamy, a far cry from my earlier insistence that our calls remain clear of sexual overtones.
“Take off everything, Julie. I need to see your lovely body,” he pleaded some nights.
I refused him, though I would strip down to my bra and panties. Even that embarrassed me since I had been gaining weight and it showed in the growing layer of fat on my tummy. If anything, it seemed the added flesh only seemed to excite the young man; I could hear his heavy breathing and eventual sigh of relief as he reached his point of release. Though I refused his invitation to watch him play with his member, I was able to see his rhythmic movements, his growing intense looks as he reached his climax; I too became excited and experienced orgasms during our “conversations.”
“I’m sorry, Julie, I shouldn’t have done that,” Randy said every time after we ended our online sexual experiences.
“Don’t be, Randy, ‘cause I encouraged it. I’m just as guilty,” I said sincerely.
We’d usually ended our conversations soon after that, both of us exhausted from the stimulation of our mutual orgasms. Even our closing expressions of love to each other seemed empty and insincere after the nocturnal, long-distance sexual encounters. I felt disgusted by my own behavior, even though I knew I felt extreme ecstasies during them.
A strange thing happened two weeks before Randy was scheduled to return home for spring break. I had decided to make our long-distance video visit wearing only a flimsy piece of lingerie; it was actually a baby doll styled nightgown and I wore it without either a bra or panties. My breasts – their nipples made hard by stimulation from the material – stood out prominently and I knew if I let the nightgown ride up I would expose my light colored bush. All it would take for me would be to spread my legs to display my more intimate parts.
I’m not sure what inspired me that night to expose myself so suggestively; I know I seemed more excited than ever when I finished correcting papers and waited for the scheduled hour when Randy and I could hold our cyberspace visit.
“Put a robe on or something to cover yourself Julie,” Randy commanded as we began our conversation that night.
“What? I thought you’d like seeing me like this, dear.”
“No, you’re indecent. Cover yourself up or else I’m leaving this call now,” he said. His voice was firm and commanding. I could almost imagine it was the tone of voice he must use to tell an offensive lineman to improve his blocking.
“OK, I’ll be right back,” I said, quickly finding a terry cloth robe that hid any hint of suggestiveness from my image.
“Are you mad at me, Randy?” I asked when returning to the conversations.
“No, how could I be mad at you?” His voice became gentle, kindly.
“I don’t know, but you sounded so fierce.”
“It’s just that these video cam meetings seem cheap to me,” Randy said.
“You’re right. I was beginning to feel that way, too,” I said.
The conversation then became awkward as we both tried to find topics to talk about; our past interest in each other’s daily affairs seemed to be waning. I had become bored with his talk about how he got along with his coaches or what player was turning out to be the best on the team. I no longer cared about his class work, even though Randy’s interest in poverty seemed to be growing as the school year progressed.
“I gotta go now,” Randy said, ending the video meeting in less than ten minutes.
“You have to?” I said. Even to me, my words sounded like a “whine,” like the words of a lovesick girl being spurned by a boy she admires.
“Yes, I have got to study. Bye, I love you.”
“I love you, too,” I said.
Randy turned off the connection abruptly. I cried that night. I don’t think he meant the last words he said to me that night.
I knew even before Randy returned home for spring break that our love affair was over. We never video-cammed after that night and we talked only three times in the following two weeks. He refused my offer to pick him up at the airport, stating instead he’d take the Port Authority bus from the airport and then the train to his mother’s apartment in Queens.
We didn’t see each other until his second day home when I met him at a coffee shop after my school day ended; he insisted we find a quiet spot where we could talk with some privacy and I felt my hopes soar that perhaps my premonition that our love was over was wrong. He greeted be with a hug, but it was a perfunctory hug that could be one shared by mere acquaintances.
“Julie, there’s no good way to say this,” he said after we had gotten our lattes and had settled in.
“Say what?” I asked, though I sensed I knew what was coming, and it was not an expression of love for me.
“It’s over,” he said simply.
I looked at him, saying nothing. I didn’t want to hear the words, even though I knew from that first perfunctory hug that was what he was going to say.
“You were right, Julie. We can’t make this work.”
I nodded. Of course, Randy was correct; I had been saying from the beginning that we could not be married and really couldn’t be lovers. The age was wasn’t the problem, I knew. It was my transgender self; he would never perceive me as a complete woman.
“Have you found someone else?” I asked, feeling the rejected lover.
“No, though there’s this one girl . . . but it’s not serious,” he said.
“I bet she’s pretty,” I said bitterly, tears beginning to form in my eyes.
“Yes, but not as pretty as you, Julie,” Randy said.
“I’m sure she’s lovely, Randy and I hope you two will be happy and have lots of happy children,” I said. At the moment, I hoped it sounded as sarcastic as I wanted it to. I stood up, picked up my purse, left my still full cup of latte and strode purposely out of the coffee shop, looking neither right nor left. I was hurt and angry. I told myself not to start crying, but it didn’t work. I was already in full-blown tears by the time I walked out the door and into the chill of late March. I heard Randy call after me: “Julie, please, Julie . . .” I ignored him.
I sat in my car for a long time; I don’t even know how long. Eventually, I stopped crying and began to consider the situation, realizing how unreasonable I had been to Randy. After all, hadn’t Randy done what I had recommended all along: to forget me and to find a girl more suitable for his life? I should be happy for him; he was such a caring and marvelous young man. He had always treated me with the utmost courtesy, even after finding out about my gender complications.
I cursed myself for treating him so rudely and running out on him at the coffee shop. He didn’t deserve being treated him like an insensitive Lothario. I don’t remember a moment of the drive home that late afternoon. My mind was in a fog. Once I got into the house, I found myself at loose ends, too keyed up to relax or read and not sure what to do with myself. My mind wandered to how Randy and I met the first time, how his obvious attraction to me thrilled me and made me feel worthwhile for the first time in my life. In the first twenty-three years of my life as a male, I had felt empty, lost and unwelcome to others, except mother, of course. I remembered our first meeting on the train to Point Pleasure when Randy mistook me for a teenage girl and called me “so cute.” I was excited at that moment to be totally accepted as a “cute girl.”
I had to get Randy out of my mind, I knew. I decided to bake a devil’s food cake; I would do it from scratch, which would mean a lot of extra work, but I knew that the effort would take my mind off Randy. It didn’t dawn on me that I had no one with whom to share the cake, and quickly reasoned that it didn’t matter now if I got fat. I no longer had to present myself in a way that would make Randy proud to escort me.
I was doomed to a life as a spinster schoolteacher – and chubby one at that. I began to conclude it wouldn’t be such a bad life; I already had made lots of friends among the other women teachers, among my neighbors and even with a few gay men.
Halfway through the baking process, I decided that I really didn’t want to get fat after all; I invited Heidi Nordquist and her two teenagers as well as the Phillips over for cake and ice cream that evening; it was a warm night and we could sit out on my back screened porch, enjoying the cake and neighborhood camaraderie. They were all happy for the invite, with Paul bringing over some red wine to share.
“What’s the occasion?” Heidi asked. I feared she maybe could notice that I been crying, since I knew my eyes were likely still red.
“Oh. I just felt like baking and I don’t dare eat all this cake myself,” I answered, dodging the question.
“It’s more than that,” she persisted.
“No, Heidi, I just hope you like the cake.”
As we settled down on the porch, Paul told a story about how he almost blew his chances to marry Marian some sixty years earlier, which soon had us all laughing hysterically. Marian kept telling him to “shut up,” and that “no one would want to hear that ancient history.”
The teenagers – particularly Susan Nordquist – found the story intriguing and commented at the end: “It must have been cool to be alive then, Mr. Phillips.”
“It wasn’t all peaches and cream, Susan,” Paul said. “Remember, I was drafted and spent nearly two years in the South Pacific in the army.”
“Yes, I didn’t hear from him for months,” Marian said. “We weren’t married yet and I was working in a defense factory. I missed him so much and worried if he’d survive out there.”
“But we loved each other and she waited for me, though I worried every day that some four-effer would steal her away while I was in the jungles out there,” Paul said.
“What’s a four-effer?” asked Michael Nordquist, who was fifteen.
“That stands for a draft classification of 4-F, meaning a man who was rejected for physical reasons from being drafted. They stayed at home while we fought,” Paul explained.
“I would never desert you, Paul. He was really handsome in khaki, though you’d hardly know it now,” Marian said.
“You’re such a sweetie, dear,” Paul said, leaning in to give his wife a peck on her wrinkled cheek.
“You two lovebirds, stop that,” Heidi kidded.
We all laughed, but I suddenly felt the urge to cry. I held back my tears until everyone left and then I retired to my bed and lay face down and cried my heart out. I knew I’d never be able to experience a scene such as I just saw: being in love for years and years with the same man.
I cried myself to sleep, never bothering to take off the shorts and tank top I wore that night. I woke halfway through the night and went into the bathroom to relieve myself. I still felt stuffed from the cake, ice cream and wine.
“My God, you look like death warmed over,” I said aloud after seeing my reflection in the harsh white fluorescent light. My eyes were crusted with dried tears and the color red screamed out at me.
I cleaned myself up as well as I could, brushed my teeth and stripped down to my panties. Because the room was hot and I hadn’t turned on the air conditioner, I decided to sleep without a gown, leaving me nude, except for the panties. I looked at myself in the mirror, realizing how much of a woman I had become. My smallish breasts (I had never had breast enhancement implanted) stood up firm and pronounced; my body was soft and white and my slender arms seemed to be growing fleshy.
I was a woman.
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