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Raymond stared at the older boy in disbelief.
“B- Bunny?” he stammered.
Oh God. Oh God. Bunny couldn’t see him like this. Bunny may have only known Raymond by his screenname – RaynyDayz – but Bunny did know he was a boy. Ray knew he did. Ray had told him.
Bunny’s eyes scrunched up in confusion.
“I don’t understand.” He said, trying to piece together the scene before him, “I thought...” there was a long pause as the two stared at each other. Bunny finally found his train of thought. “You TOLD me you were a guy.”
Raymond just stared. This couldn’t be happening. It was impossible. Bunny was supposed to still be in Seattle. Even after the move he should have been in Vancouver, over 2 hours away. This just wasn’t possible. And yet it was happening.
“H- how is this possible?” Raymond asked, finally finding his voice. “Y- y- you’re not supposed to be here yet.” Tears began to slowly roll down Ray’s cheeks.
“Me and my Mum came early.” Bunny said flatly, “To take possession of the new house.”
“W- why are you here?” Was Ray’s next question.
“No.” Bunny said firmly, “It’s my turn to get some answers.”
Suddenly Ryan was between them. “I don’t know what you said to make Rayne cry man, but you had better move along. Or we’re gonna have a problem.”
Oh God. Now Ryan was going to find out the truth about Rayne. About Raymond. He’d tell Cynthia, the two of them would tell everyone else. It was only a matter of time until it got back to his family.
Raymond could see his whole world crumbling before his eyes.
“Look buddy.” Bunny returned, “I don’t know who you think you are, but me and...” he paused to look at Raymond, “Rayne need to have a talk.”
“No. You don’t.” Ryan said firmly, “Not if she doesn’t want to.”
The tension between the two was palpable. The name ‘Bunny’ certainly didn’t seem to fit the image Ray had built in his mind over the years. Bunny stood several inches taller than Ryan, and while he didn’t look like a jock, one could not deny that he was in good shape. Ryan on the other hand, while not necessarily in bad shape, wasn’t an athlete. None the less, he was completely unafraid of the bigger boy.
“Why is Rayne crying?!” Cynthia exclaimed, a bit too loud for Raymond’s liking. She and Ms. Mira had taken notice of the confrontation at this point and were rushing over.
“Now why don’t we all just calm down.” Ms. Mira said, trying to prevent the situation from escalating any further, “I’m sure if everyone can just relax, we’ll get this figured out.”
Slowly, the two boys broke apart.
“Okay,” Ms. Mira said calmly, “First of all, my name is Mira, this is Cynthia and Ryan.” She said introducing the group. “From the sound of things, you already know Rayne here. Would you tell us who you are?”
Bunny hesitated, taking a look at the still petrified Rayne. “My name is Logan.”
“Okay, Logan,” Ms. Mira continued, “Can you tell us what happened?”
“All I did,” Bunny – Logan – slowly explained, clearly frustrated by the whole situation, “Was ask her a question. Then she froze up, and broke into tears.”
“Oh, that’s bullshit!” Cynthia declared furiously, much to Ms. Mira’s annoyance. “What kind of question would do that to her?!”
Logan took a hard look at the crying girl before answering. “I asked her if the name RaynyDayz meant anything to her.”
Ms. Mira, Ryan, and Cynthia looked at each other, then to Logan, and finally to Rayne. Clearly not understanding.
“Uhhh, Should it?” Cynthia asked, her fury temporarily forgotten.
“R- R- RaynyD- Dayz is the screenname I g-go by online.” Raymond said, finally finding his voice. He didn’t make eye contact with anyone, he just stared straight ahead.
“Okaaaaay?” Cynthia said, still not seeing what that had to do with anything.
“Me and Rayne are friends online.” Logan explained patiently, a small edge of frustration still present in his tone, “The reason for all the confusion,” he paused to look at Rayne again.
Oh God. Here it comes. The beginning of the end of life.
Logan continued, “is because I was led to believe that ‘RaynyDayz’, and by extension Rayne, was a boy.”
Cynthia began to laugh. Wiping tears from her eyes she spoke. “Rayne? A guy? Oh please. That’s ridiculous. Look at her! How could you ever think she was a guy?!” She continued laughing. Finally getting a hold of herself a moment later.
Ryan gave a heavy, exasperated sigh. “Because, Cynthia,” he said slowly, “Rayne is Raymond Danahy. The boy we ate lunch with on Tuesday.”
Raymond’s head whipped to look at Ryan’s. He met Raymond’s shocked gaze easily. Completely calm. How did he know? Could Ms. Mira have told him? No. She wouldn’t do that.
Cynthia looked at Ryan sceptically, “Oh come on Ryan. That’s insa-
Her head spun to look hard at Raymond. Slowly her eyes widened in first recognition, then disbelief.
A sob burst from Raymond’s lips and he buried his face in his hands.
Before Cynthia could say anything, Ryan spoke up, “I figured it out after Lunch on Tuesday. I had already thought it was weird that you would share a last name with the two most popular kids in school, even after your explanation. But at lunch, no matter how hard you tried to contain it, you couldn’t hide your excitement when you heard me and Cynthia made it to the second showing. Lunch also jogged my memory that there was a third Danahy child at our school. A boy in the 9th grade. All of that, combined with the fact that within five minutes of us leaving, Rayne was texting us about her own results. Awfully fast reaction for a girl who supposedly goes to school in another town.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?!” Cynthia demanded, “I thought we were best friends!”
“Cynthia.” Ryan said calmly, “Of course we’re best friends. I didn’t tell you because it was NONE of our business. If Rayne wanted us to know, we would know.”
Cynthia grumbled but conceded the point.
“Wait.” Logan said after the exchange had ended, turning to look at Raymond again. “You’re telling me that you actually are a boy?”
Raymond just lifted his face from his hands and stared at him. He couldn’t manage anything else. He didn’t need to say anything. Logan took his silence to be a yes.
“Why are you dressed like this then?” he asked, gesturing to Raymond.
“How about,” Ms. Mira began, stepping in, “We take a break, wait for the showing to end.” She glanced at her watch, “There’s only half an hour left after all, then all five of us can go sit down somewhere, and Rayne and I will explain everything.”
“YOU WERE IN ON IT THE WHOLE TIME?!” Cynthia exclaimed, stunned by the revelation.
Ryan face palmed. “Of course she was you idiot. Someone had to give Rayne a recommendation. Right?”
“Oh. Right.” Cynthia said lamely, “Well whatever. That’s fine with me I guess.”
Ryan nodded that it was fine with him.
Ms. Mira turned to look at Logan who nodded slowly, still looking at Raymond oddly.
“Is that okay with you, Rayne?” Ms. Mira asked, turning to look at the girl and emphasizing the girls name.
Rayne once more, her lip trembled, but she managed to squeak out a small “yes.”
The remaining half hour went by much too quickly for Rayne’s liking, and a short time later the five of them were sitting in a small coffee shop. Logan, Ryan, and Cynthia sat, looking at Rayne expectantly. Rayne had shyly ordered a hot chocolate, much to her embarrassment as everyone else ordered coffee.
“Okay,” Ms. Mira began, taking charge as if this was just another class, “On the first day of school, Raymond approached me. I had offered him a recommendation to the competition last spring, but he had been unsure. Over the summer, he had come to the decision that he wanted to enter. Raymond has always had anxiety issues with large crowds, and with the sharing of his art. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to handle doing both at once, no matter how badly he wanted to.”
The other three teenagers were listening intently.
“His older sister, Evalyn Danahy,” she said, turning to look at Ryan and Cynthia, “Suggested to Raymond and I, that he enter under an alias, wearing a disguise. The two of them convinced me to agree, and now here we are. Anything to add Rayne?”
“N-no. That’s basically the story in a nutshell.” She blushed and looked down at her drink.
“Sooooo, you’ve been crossdressing to enter a competition so no one would know it was Raymond Danahy’s art?” Cynthia said, clearly unhappy with the story.
“Basically yes.” Ms. Mira answered on Rayne’s behalf.
Ryan’s face was unreadable as usual. Cynthia, on the other hand, was a different story. Cynthia looked hurt.
“So, the shyness, the stammering, how easily embarrassed you were. That was all just because you were a boy in girls’ clothes? I thought we were friends.” She said weakly, “Was that all just part of the disguise too?”
Logan just watched and listened. Face passive and unreadable.
Ms. Mira opened her mouth to speak, clearly not expecting much from the petrified Rayne.
“NO!” Rayne said – almost yelled. She immediately blushed furiously as she realized the other patrons of the coffee house had turned to look at her.
“No.” she said again, much quieter. “It’s not like that at all.” Rayne was trying to keep herself from crying. She had already cried too much tonight.
“Then what is it like?” Cynthia asked, clearly unconvinced.
“In the beginning,” Rayne tried to explain, “This was just a disguise. But it was never because I was embarrassed or ashamed of my art, or because I wanted to trick you. It’s…” Rayne hesitated. “It’s hard to explain.”
“We came here for an explanation,” Ryan said neutrally, “So you might as well try.”
Rayne sighed heavily, quickly wiped away the building tears, and gathered her thoughts.
“It’s because I’ve always hated who I am.” She began.
“My entire life,” Rayne continued, voice shaking, “I’ve hated who I am. I’ve always felt a profound sense of wrongness. Just from existing. I’ve always been horrified by the very idea of sharing my art, because art was one of the only ways I could ever been able to escape those feelings.” Rayne turned to Logan, “The only other time I could find any relief was when I was online with you.”
Ms. Mira looked shocked. She hadn’t known how Raymond had felt.
“I dressed up as a girl, because I was afraid of how people would react to my art, and somehow, I thought that if they didn’t see Raymond, then their rejection would hurt less. That was all I wanted or expected from disguising myself.” Tears began to run down Rayne’s cheeks, “But then it was so much more. For the first time in my entire life, I didn’t feel wrong. I didn’t feel like a mistake. I felt like this was how I was meant to be.” Rayne turned to look at Cynthia. “The girl you got to know wasn’t just a by-product of me hiding my identity. I’ve always been shy and awkward. I’ll admit, dressing up may have made it more prominent, but I never wanted to hurt you.”
Rayne buried her face in her hands and cried. Welp. It was done. The truth was out. Her three best friends would hate her now. Next it would be her family-
Arms embraced her and began to rub her back comfortingly.
“Dry your tears. It’s okay.” Cynthia soothed.
Rayne looked up through her teary eyes. Cynthia and Ms. Mira had tears in their eyes as well. Ryan and Logan both looked deeply concerned.
“So Rayne, you…” Ryan began hesitantly before pausing, “You wish you were born a girl?” he finished, barely above a whisper.
Rayne’s jaw trembled. “I- I don’t know. Everything’s just so messed up.” Rayne blushed and put her head in her hands. “I was born a boy, and I was raised a boy. I’m so confused.”
There was a long silence.
Finally, it was Logan who broke it.
“Ya know,” he said, scratching his nose, “I thought you were a girl for the first several month’s we knew each other. I don’t really care how you dress or what you want to be. Whether your name is Raymond, Rayne, or whatever. At the end of the day, you’re still my friend, RaynyDayz. Right?”
Rayne looked up in shock.
“Yeah!” Chipped in Cynthia, “Sorry I was so harsh before. I just don’t like being lied to. Especially by my friends.”
“Ya know,” Ryan added. “You could dress and live as a girl, and even if you changed your mind and went back to being a boy in 6 months, it wouldn’t really bother me. It’s really none of my business, and as long as you’re still the nice person I believe you to me, I’ll continue to enjoy spending time with you.”
It couldn’t be that easy. They couldn’t all just accept it without question. Could they? A fresh batch of tears came to Rayne’s eyes. For once today, however, these weren’t tears of sadness or terror, but happiness.
“You’re all okay with it? Just like that? You don’t think I’m insane or a freak?”
“Insane?” Logan repeated, “No way. A freak? Probably.” He teased, “How could someone your age draw and paint like you do and NOT be a freak.”
That got Rayne giggling.
Logan continued, “Like, I mean, I’m no art aficionado, but DAYUM. You’ve got some skill.”
After Rayne was more comfortable and no longer on the verge of breaking down, Ms. Mira finally spoke, and brought up an important question.
“Rayne,” she said softly, “Everything you just told us, does your family know? Do your parents know?”
Rayne looked at her feet. “No.” She said, barely above a whisper. “Only Eva knows. Eva and the school councillor.” Rayne looked back up, “And none of you can tell them! None of you can tell anyone! Please.” She looked around, making eye contact with each of them.
Each of the teenagers nodded slowly.
“Promise me.” She begged.
“My mouth is sealed!” Cynthia swore.
“Not a word.” Agreed Ryan.
“I don’t know anyone in the country except you, Rayne.” Said Logan jokingly, “So even if I wanted to, who could I tell?”
“Rayne, I know it’s scary,” Ms. Mira said softly, “But this is really something your parents should know about. They might be able to help you.”
Rayne shook her head adamantly.
“Rayne.” Logan spoke up, “This is your decision, but you said it yourself, you were surprised when we were all okay with it. Have you considered that your family might be okay with it too? I know you’ve told me in the past about how masculine both your father and brother are, but would this really bother them?”
Rayne opened her mouth to respond, then closed it, realizing that Logan had made a very good point.
Rayne had been wrong about how her friends would react. Maybe she was wrong about her family too.
“Just promise me you’ll think about?” asked Ms. Mira gently.
Rayne nodded before looking at Logan, eager to change the subject. “So tell me one more time, with a bit more detail. Just how are you here right now?”
He laughed. “Me and my parents decided-
“My parent’s and I.” Rayne corrected with a sassy grin.
Logan rolled his eyes before restarting, “My parent’s and I decided that it would be beneficial for-
He paused to look meaningfully at Rayne before continuing. “My mother and I”
The group laughed.
“To head to Vancouver a few weeks in advance. This way we could take possession of the new house, get everything moved in, and I could get started in my new school.” He explained, “When I messaged you on Monday I had been planning on asking you to meet up tomorrow, but then you mentioned the art gallery and I thought it would be a cooler to just show up and blow your mind.”
Rayne giggled, “Well, I think it’s safe to say my mind was VERY blown.”
The group chuckled as Rayne blushed.
“So your Mom had no problem with you making a two hour drive to see someone you only knew online?” Cynthia asked, surprised.
“Well it wasn’t quite that simple,” Logan said lightheartedly, “My parent’s have always been super chill. As long as I maintain good grades in school they pretty much give me free reign.” He explained. “My parents’ were aware that I had an online friend that I was very close with, and that he lived near to where we were moving. I helped my Mom around the house all afternoon, and convinced her by telling her the truth. That I’d be meeting you in a very public place, and that I’d identify you from a distance first to make sure you were actually who you said you were.”
“Ahhhh” Rayne understood now, “So, that’s why you were staring so creepily?” she teased. “Your lucky I’m new to this whole girl thing. Another girl may have reported you.”
The group laughed as Logan’s jaw dropped.
“Well in my defense, you didn’t exactly look like how I expected you to.” He pointed out.
“Well you’re not exactly what I imagined either.” Rayne countered.
“Oh really?” Logan asked sceptically, “And what were you expecting?”
“Your online name is Bunny. I was expecting someone cute like a bunny.”
“Are you saying I’m not?” Logan asked, feigning offense.
“Are you saying you are?” Rayne retorted with a raised eyebrow, leaning forward with her chin in her hand she continued, “So tell me then, Bunny, what features do you find ‘cute’ in a man.”
Logan’s jaw dropped again, he tried to say something, but just stammered incoherently.
Cynthia and Rayne broke into a fit of giggles.
Ryan placed his hand on Logan’s shoulder, and looked at him.
“Girls.” He said, shaking his head as if that explained everything.
Logan wasn’t defeated yet though, he looked at Rayne indignantly.
“What features do YOU find cute in a man?” He shot back, “You’re the one who was expecting me to be cute after all.”
Rayne’s laughter stopped. Her face went though a few shades of red before she covered it with her hands.
The whole group laughed.
“Anyways, If you MUST know,” Logan began dramatically, “I watched a lot of the Monty Python stuff with my dad when I was a kid, and one joke always cracked me up. Have you ever seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Near the end the cast goes to fight this horrific monster, and it turns out to be a little bunny rabbit. They think it’s ridiculous at first, but then this little bunny starts massacring them. And THAT’S where my screen name comes from. A Killer Bunny.”
The conversation went on from there, and soon, it was time to go home. The group slowly split up, Rayne had been about to message Evalyn, telling her where they were for when she picked her up, but Logan had stopped her, saying that he could give her a ride home. So instead Rayne messaged Evalyn a location they could meet at, so that Rayne could change back into Raymond before going home.
Ryan and Cynthia hopped into Cynthia’s car, Ms. Mira was initially against Logan giving Rayne a ride home, but together Logan and Rayne managed to convince her that they would be fine. She had agreed under the condition that Rayne call her on her cell the moment she was safely home.
“You know,” Rayne said, as they walked towards his car, “You didn’t have to offer me a ride.”
“I know.” Logan replied, grinning slyly, “But what kind of man would I be to leave a little girl alone in the middle of a town she doesn’t know.”
Rayne blushed at that, but didn’t argue. “So, uh, would you still want to do something tomorrow?” She asked hesitantly.
Logan looked at her. “Are you asking me on a date?” he asked jokingly.
Even though Rayne knew that was a joke, she couldn’t help but blush furiously. “I just meant to, like, hang out or something.” She said. “You said that was what you originally wanted to do, right?”
Logan laughed, “Yeah, I did say that. In order to get out here tonight though I had to promise my Mom I’d spend the majority of the day tomorrow helping her unpack.”
“I could help!” Rayne exclaimed as they reached his car, then quickly added, “I mean, only if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
Logan chuckled, unlocking the vehicle. “How would you get to my place? It’s all the way in Vancouver, and I can’t exactly be making a two-hour drive here and back again tomorrow just to pick you up.”
Rayne frowned. That was true. The two of them climbed into the vehicle.
“Ugggh.” She groaned after they were seated. “I wish I had my license.”
Logan smiled as he began the drive to Lakewood. “Just relax Rayne, we might not be able to hang in person this weekend, but it’s not a big deal, right? We can hang out online once I’m done.”
Rayne conceded the point, and they spent the rest of the drive talking. First, they talked about art, Rayne trying to explain techniques and materials that Logan had never heard of. Eventually she gave up and got Logan to tell her more about himself. She learned that outside of school and videogames, he was really into martial arts and had studied them since he was a little kid. He practiced mixed martial arts with a heavy foundation in Judo. He told her that he had earned his purple belt, the highest level of belt a junior student could reach in America. However, since he had recently turned 17, the age threshold to be considered a senior student, his purple junior belt had been converted to a sankyu brown belt. He explained further that a sankyu brown belt was the third highest ranking one could achieve, however he was unsure how that would transfer into the Canadian Judo ranking system. That, of course, required an explanation on how different countries martial arts groups divided the ranks differently. By the time Logan was finished telling Rayne about his Judo the drive was half over. Rayne assumed he practiced at least one other martial art however, he had said mixed martial arts after all. They spent the rest of the drive just talking about video games and life in general.
Logan pulled up to the gas station where Evalyn had agreed to meet them. It was only five minutes from home. Seeing her inside, they walked to the door. Evalyn eyeing Logan suspiciously the whole way.
“Eva!” Rayne said cheerfully, greeting her sister with a warm hug.
“I would like you to meet my friend Logan,” she said, gesturing to her friend, “Logan, this is my big sister Evalyn.”
They shook hands, Evalyn still glaring. “Alrighty then.” She said, turning to look at Rayne, “Wanna explain what’s going on?”
“How about,” Logan said, speaking up for the first time since entering, “We let Rayne go get changed, while I begin to explain.”
Evalyn turned to Rayne and handed her the duffel bag that had been sitting next to her, “How much does he know?” she whispered.
“Thanks Eva,” Rayne said as took the bag before whispering back, “Just about everything.”
Rayne headed to the single unisex washroom at the back of the station, locking the door behind her.
A short time later Raymond emerged, still wearing his lingerie under his clothes, and went to rejoin his sister and friend.
Logan was looking him up and down, “This was more along the lines of what I had been expecting.” He teased.
Evalyn laughed too. Clearly, they had gotten everything cleared up in the brief time he had been in the washroom.
“Alright, I should be getting going.” Logan announced after a few more minutes of chatter, “I have a long drive ahead of me, and a busy day tomorrow. It was wonderful meeting you Evalyn, and it was wonderful meeting you in person RaynyDayz.” He finished, avoiding the use of Raymond’s boy name.
“You as well, uh,” Raymond paused, “I never thought to ask. Do you prefer Logan or Bunny?”
Evalyn giggled into her hand. “Bunny?”
“Screenname.” Both Logan and Raymond said at once before laughing.
“I’d prefer Logan in public so I’m not a laughing stock.” He said teasingly, “But Bunny is fine if it’s just with friends.”
On that note both parties went their separate ways.
“What excuse did you give Mom and Dad?” Raymond asked as they climbed into Evalyn’s car.
“I said you were out with some friends.” Evalyn said, “Which technically was not a lie. It just wasn’t the full truth.” She justified.
“Something happened tonight that’s making me rethink not telling Mom and Dad.” Raymond said after a moment, capturing Evalyn’s attention.
“You wanna tell them?” She asked, excited at the prospect.
“No. I’m not quite ready yet.” Raymond quickly clarified, “More like I want to test the waters.”
“How so?” Evalyn asked, confused.
“I’m not sure yet. But basically, without tipping them off, I want to see what their opinions are.”
“Opinions on what?” Evalyn asked, not understanding what he was trying to imply.
Raymond sighed heavily, “Their opinions on transgendered people.” He said, looking down.
“Do you believe that’s what you are Ray?” Evalyn asked gently.
“I don’t know.” He said, avoiding eye contact, “But I do know that I feel so much better when I’m dressed up as a girl. So I’m starting to think I might be.”
Raymond felt better when he was dressed up? That was the understatement of the year. When he was Rayne, he stopped hating himself. He was happy. He was comfortable. He was free. He was right.
Evalyn didn’t say anything. She could tell he wasn’t in the mood to talk. They drove home in silence. Upon arriving Ray barely said hello to his family, he just explained that he was really tired. He climbed the stairs to his room. Once behind the closed door he gave Ms. Mira a quick phone call, as he had promised. Minute’s after hanging up he was collapsing into his bed. He really was tired. He was emotionally exhausted. Thinking back on the night he couldn’t help but be embarrassed about all the times he had broken into tears. He didn’t think about it for long however, as soon he drifted away into a deep peaceful sleep.
Two chapters in less then two weeks? What is this madness?
Things have calmed down a bit. So maybe, just maybe, there'll even be another chapter soon. No promises though.
Anyways, thanks so so much for taking the time to read my story. As always, it means a lot to me. I'd love to hear from you, whether that's in a comment or a message. Whether you liked it or hated it, I'd love to hear why. Advice and criticism helps me to improve as a writer, and also it just makes me feel good. :P
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