And Know They Love You

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #102, Summer 2003.

Copyright 2003 by K.C. Ball

It continued, as it began, with a telephone call at bedtime. Maggie Stone had fallen gently into sleep shortly after ten pm. A summer breeze spilled through the open window near her old brass bed, carrying the half-heard lullaby of tires on the nearby interstate. After ten years in her small apartment in the city?s Olde Towne district, it was a sound she would have noticed only in its absence. In all other ways the night was quiet, one more advantage of living in the heart of a city where most folks fled back to the suburbs during afternoon rush hour. The trill of the telephone tugged Maggie back from the edges of an easy dream. She touched the wide, rounded button on the speakerphone that sat on the brass stand next to the bed.
?Hello,? she mumbled.

?It?s Robin,? her sister?s voice crackled in response. ?Daddy?s dead!?

Maggie swung her long legs over the bed?s edge and sat up.

?Wh...What are you talking about?? she stuttered, rubbing at her eyes.

?Poo, wake up and listen!? Robin said. ?Daddy had an accident! He?s dead!?

Robin had always been the one to lead, acting as if she were the older one, not Maggie?s junior. Only her use of the old nickname told Maggie Robin was stressed.

Maggie drew a ragged breath and felt her heart begin the uneven pattern she had become used to in the four years since the heart attack. ?Hiccups,? the cardiologist had told her. ?Compared to most of my patients, you have hiccups.? She rubbed absently at the familiar spot between her breasts, confused. Was this a dream?

?Ma...Maggie? Did you hear me? He?s dead!?

Some small part of her heard Robin stumble on her name. Maggie realized how close her tightly-wrapped sister was to coming unwound. She worked on a deep breath.

?Yes, Sis, I heard you. What happened??

Maggie heard her sister drew the same breath on the other end of the line, and knew Robin was back in control. She would focus on details and set aside emotions.

?He was at a Habitat meeting tonight,? Robin began.

As she listened, Maggie recalled that John Stone was?had been?a member of the board of directors for the local Habitat for Humanity program.

?Coming home, he drove through a stop sign into the path of a truck?a big rig,? Robin continued. ?He probably didn?t even see it. You know how Daddy can...could get lost in his thoughts.?

Maggie knew. Her no-nonsense mother had chided him often and regularly told Maggie she was as absent-minded as her father.

?The paramedics said Daddy died almost instantly,? Robin explained.

?Did Mama ask you to call?? Maggie asked.

?No,? Robin replied.

Maggie sighed.

?Do you want me to come?? she asked gently.

This time, Maggie heard the sobs building in her sister?s voice.

?Yes,? Robin whispered. ?Please??

Three hours later, Maggie turned her Corvette into the long graveled drive that ran from the county road to Robin and Jack?s farmhouse. The house was full of light, and a half dozen cars were parked in the side yard. Maggie found an empty spot and unfolded herself from the low-slung sports car. As she did, the mudroom door opened and Jack Miller came from the house and walked toward her.

?Hello, Jack,? she said, smiling.

He walked directly to her and pulled her into a hug.

?Maggie,? he said, his baritone voice as easy and comfortable as his embrace. ?We?re going to miss him.?

She thought she had cried herself out on the two-hour drive, but her tears began again with Jack?s touch. She leaned against him for the moment, drawing strength from his solidness. Jack was big, nearly six-and-a-half feet tall and 250 pounds, the sort of man who lived in the fantasies of a woman Maggie?s size. She had been pleased when her sister had married Jack. He was Maggie?s age. They
had attended school together and Jack had been an acquaintance, a member of the same clique. He had been a good kid and had become an even better man. Maggie had prayed for years that somewhere in the world there was another man just like Jack Miller waiting for her to find him.

?C?mon,? he finally said, stepping back. ?Let?s get your stuff. Robin is with your mother.?

As he unlashed her bags from the rack mounted on the rear deck of the Corvette, he glanced at the license plate and grinned.

?Still advertising, I see.?

She nodded. The vanity plate read ?Maggie.? She had gotten it when she bought the car. At the time, she had thought the red car exciting and the custom tag amusing. She didn?t think much about either anymore. They were part of her life now. Jack led the way to the house.

?Who?s here?? she asked.

?Your Uncle Jim and his new girlfriend...what?s her name??


?Yeah,? he said, ?and Till and Doc Bennett.?

Maggie sighed. ?Let the games begin,? she said, as they entered the house.

The mudroom led to a wide hall that opened into a laundry and storage room. The entire wall, just inside, was floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Maggie glanced at her reflection as they passed. She was tall.

?Six feet on the nose,? her father used to say.

She carried some weight, too. Maggie tipped the scale a bit over 180 pounds. Her chiseled face had her father?s strong chin, high cheekbones and gray eyes, with her mother?s full mouth and upturned Irish nose. Her sandy blonde hair was cut short and she was dressed in black jeans and a black tank top that showed a trim waist and full, high breasts. Time and nature had been kind to Maggie, and she had helped a bit. She looked 40, but had turned 50 her last birthday.

They entered the kitchen. It was a large, open room with a wood-planked floor and high ceiling, with every modern appliance imaginable. The rest of the house, like the kitchen, was a showplace. Jack was a building contractor, well-liked and successful, and he had purchased the old farmstead and renovated the house and grounds in secret, presenting it to Robin for their 25th wedding anniversary three years ago. Her sister had fussed about the expense, Maggie knew, but had been so pleased she could barely contain herself. Maggie had seen the place only in photos and on videotapes.

There was a woman at the sink scrubbing dishes. As they entered the room, she turned, soapy water dripping from the yellow rubber gloves she wore. It was Matilda Moreland, Maggie?s Aunt Till. She smiled and moved toward Maggie with a limp, holding out her arms.

?Lord!? she exclaimed, stripping off the gloves. ?I didn?t expect to see you here. Give your Aunt Till a hug, Pumpkin.?

Maggie wrapped her arms around the older woman, breathing in her familiar scent. Till was her mother?s younger sister and barely 15 years older than Maggie. Maggie always was reminded of a stork when she saw Till. Her aunt was nearly as tall as her, but barely weighed 140 pounds. She was a gaunt, graceless woman with the heart and soul of a saint. The family joke was that Maggie?s mother, Evelyn, had gotten all the looks and brains, but Till had received all the patience. She had never married and had lived in her older sister?s shadow, and in her house, her entire life.

With no family of her own, Matilda had heaped her unbounded affection upon her sister?s children. She was the one Robin and Maggie had gone to with their hurts and disappointments. She had defended them against everyone but their mother. She limped because of a hip injury suffered when she scooped five-year-old Robin from the path of a runaway farm wagon and was struck herself. Till was, had been, Maggie?s favorite person in the world, and the two had not seen each other for nearly a decade?since the family had learned of Maggie?s choice.

?I have missed you so much,? Till whispered, as she clung to Maggie. ?And you look so good!?

?So do you, Aunt Till,? Maggie whispered back.

She was crying again.

?I wanted to see you, to talk to you,? her aunt continued, ?but your Mama wouldn?t have it. You know I could never stand up to her!?

?I know, Till,? Maggie soothed, stroking the back of the older woman?shead. ?It was my choice. I don?t blame you.?

Tilly stepped back, holding onto Maggie?s shoulders.

?My, you are so beautiful! I only wish your father could see you. He would have been proud.?

Maggie touched the tears on Till?s cheek.

?He saw me last month, Till. We had dinner together.?

Her aunt?s mouth dropped.

?What? No!?

Maggie nodded.

?Yes. Daddy and I have been getting together three or four times a year for nearly nine years.?

The memory of their last visit helped a bit to ease the pain of his death. Just as she and Till were doing now, father and daughter had shared a long, intense hug as he prepared to leave. Maggie had nestled her head against his shoulder and John Stone had blown lightly on her hair. His final loving words still rested on her ear and in her heart.

?So...the prodigal returns, huh??

Maggie and Till turned at the intrusion into their private moment. While they talked, Jack had apparently gone upstairs with her bags. Her Uncle Jim now filled the doorway between the kitchen and living room. He was five years younger than Maggie?s mother, his sister. He was nearly as tall as Jack, but carried much more weight. Maggie guessed he had to weigh more than 300 pounds. His white hair was full and well-trimmed. A slim white mustache hung below his large nose, and bushy white brows beetled above each eye.

People often said that with a beard, Jim Moreland could play Santa Claus, but Maggie had always thought he would look just like God. He was dressed in a well-cut, tailored black suit and expensive black shoes, and his Rose Bowl ring glistened on the ring finger of his right hand. He was holding a drink. A cola, Maggie guessed. James Moreland was a retired Methodist minister and a teetotaler.

?Hello, Uncle Jim,? Maggie said, feeling the pressure of Aunt Till?s grip on her arm. ?It?s nice to see you.?

He looked at her without expression.

?I can imagine,? he said.

A woman squeezed past him. She was dressed in an expensive silk print dress. At first glance, she looked to be in her mid-fifties. Closer examination would show the telltale signs of careful, crafted cosmetic surgery. Her blonde hair was carefully tinted, her makeup absolutely perfect, her nails glossy and pink. She moved forward with a willowy grace Maggie thought too practiced, and extended a slim hand.

?You must be Maggie,? the woman gushed. ?I?m Nivah.?

Maggie took her hand.

?Hello, Nivah. I?ve heard all about you.?

Nivah took back her hand and gave Maggie a calculating look.

?I see,? she responded. ?And I have heard all about you, too.?

Maggie smiled, looking over the older woman?s shoulder at Uncle Jim. ?I can imagine.?

She squeezed her Aunt Till?s hand, then moved toward the couple. They drew back from her, as if they wished to avoid contact. Maggie slipped past them without further comment, crossed the living room to the stairs, and began to climb. Behind her, she could hear Till and Jim arguing. Till was letting her older brother have it with both barrels. There was no third voice. Nivah, Maggie decided, knew when to keep her mouth shut. Jack met her at the top of the stairs.

?They?re in our bedroom, second on the left,? he said. ?I?ll go down and play referee.? He laid his hand on her shoulder for a moment, then started down.

Maggie moved down the hall. The bedroom door was closed. She knocked. There were footsteps from inside and her sister pulled the door open. Robin was tall, too, but still two inches shorter than her older sister. She was slim, and her auburn hair was fashioned into a single braid that swung across the middle of her back. Her eyes, like their mother?s, were brilliant blue. Otherwise, the resemblance between she and Maggie was marked.

?Hello, Maggie,? she said.

Robin was contained and her eyes were dry, but Maggie sensed the fragile veneer. The two hugged.

?Thank you for coming,? Robin whispered.

Over her sister?s shoulder, Maggie could see the still form of their mother, lying on the bed. Will Bennett, the family?s doctor, sat beside her, taking her pulse.

?Is she asleep?? Maggie asked.

Her mother?s eyes opened at the sound of Maggie?s voice.

?No,? Evy snapped. ?She is not asleep! This doctor wants me to take a sedative, but I will not do it. I don?t want to sleep!?

Doctor Bennett dropped her hand onto the bed and stood, stretching his back as he did so.

?Well, Evy,? he said, ?you may not want to sleep, but I do. Call if you need anything. I?ll be back tomorrow.?

He scooped several pieces of equipment into a black bag, closed the clasp and turned toward the door. He nodded at Maggie.

?It?s been a long time,? he remarked.

?Yes it has, Doctor,? Maggie said.

He moved toward the sisters. ?I?ll be back,? he said. ?Let her do what she wants, I suppose. Heaven knows how you would stop her.? He excused himself, and moved down the hallway to the stairs.

Maggie and Robin turned and moved to the bed. Their mother examined Maggie carefully, holding her mouth in a tight, straight line. ?So,? she finally said, ?this is what you?ve done to yourself, is it, Mattie? Do you expect me to welcome you home??

Maggie sighed. It had been ten years since she had faced her mother?s wrath head-on. She had hoped that now, under the circumstances, there might be a temporary truce. It appeared that would not happen.

?I don?t expect anything, Mama,? she replied. ?And my name is Maggie now. You know that.?

Evy?s eyes blazed. ?I don?t care what you call yourself, or what you?ve convinced your sister and her husband to call you, or what you have done to yourself. You are my son, Matthew, and always will be.?

It had begun, ten years before, with a telephone call at bedtime. Mattie Stone had gone to bed early that July evening, but drifted toward sleep slowly. The small apartment was new and the drone of the tires from the nearby interstate highway was louder than he had expected. His thoughts were on the next day. He would have to be up early to begin the two-hour drive to his parents? home to celebrate Fourth of July with them, and to tell them something about himself he had known for more than 30 years. For
as long as he could remember, Matthew Winston Stone had known he was different from others. It was shortly after his twelfth birthday he had discovered the word to put to that difference?transsexual.

As a reward for perfect attendance, Mrs. Hershberger?s sixth-grade class had gone on a field trip to the local newspaper office. Mattie had no real interest in newspapers, but he agreed with his friends that any excuse to get out of class was a good excuse. That disinterest ended when the class reached a place the tour guide called the Morgue. There were huge, bound books containing copies of old newspapers and the students were given a chance to leaf?gently?through the brittle pages. Mattie was idly fingering through the book he had been given when he turned to a headline that jolted him more surely than if he had touched a live electrical wire. ?GI Becomes Blonde Bombshell,? it read. A smaller line proclaimed ?He Becomes She.? A grainy black-and-white photograph of a fragile-looking blonde woman wrapped in a fur coat accompanied the story. She looked more than a little frightened, Mattie decided. The woman?s name was Christine Jorgensen. For Mattie Stone a door opened. His heart skittered in his chest. He was terrified someone might see what he had found, but he couldn?t pull his eyes from the yellowed page. For the first time, he had discovered another who shared his secret conviction. He wasn?t alone.

Mattie had kept that secret locked carefully away for more than 30 years. No one knew the perfect life he lived was a skillfully-crafted performance. He had carried the burden of that knowledge, alone, until the weight of it nearly killed him.

Tomorrow, he told himself, would be his own private Independence Day. It was time to tell his parents and sister, his family, of the changes he would be making in his life. He had finally begun to slide into a fitful sleep when the telephone shrilled.

?Hello,? he answered, pulling the handset to his ear.


It was his mother. No one else ever called him that.

?Hello, Mama,? he replied.

?How could you do this?? she demanded.

Evy Stone always had a temper, but her son had never heard her this angry.

?Mama...,? he began, confused and afraid.

?Don?t you Mama me! Your father and I won?t be able to show our faces in town when this gets out! Don?t bother coming tomorrow. I don?t want to see you!?

With that, she had hung up.

Mattie came closer than ever before, that July night, to ending his life. His mother?s unexpected call replayed in his mind over and over and over. His thoughts were a jumble of fear and anger. He had cried and prayed, all the while sitting on the edge of the bed with the muzzle of his grandfather?s old .38-caliber revolver resting between his lips. Somehow he made it through the night. A call to his sister the next morning confirmed that his mother had been serious. It also answered the question of how she had discovered his secret.

?Hello, Robin,? Mattie said, when she answered.

There was a second of silence.

?Poo, I am so sorry, but I had to tell her,? Robin confessed.

?You?ve known for three months, Robin,? Mattie said. ?Why tell her now??

He heard the accusation in his voice, but was unable to contain it. Robin?s response was terse.

?I had to! You know how she iswhen she suspects something is going on.?

Mattie knew. His sister?s voice softened.

?Give it time, Poo,? Robin advised, soothingly. ?She?ll get over it.?

But Evy Stone had not gotten over it. Over the years, she made it clear to her family that Mattie was not welcome in her house and that they were not to speak to her about her oldest child. She went so far as to forbid them to communicate with Mattie. The excommunication had lasted for ten years with Till, who was ever under her sister?s thumb. However, Robin and Jack maintained the silence for less than a year, Mattie?s father even less. They wouldn?t talk to Evy about Mattie, but continued to see him. All three confessed to Mattie that they didn?t understand his decision, but made it clear they would honor it and support him. And so, ten years had passed. Those years were a blur of pills and injections and electrolysis, of economic collapse and recovery, as Mattie moved from teacher to writer and lecturer, of seemingly endless hours of psychotherapy. Finally, there was the pain and slow recovery from the several surgeries that finished the transformation from him to her?son to daughter, brother to sister, Matthew to Maggie.

?Maggie?? It was Jack?s voice, calling her back to the family entrance of the Becker Funeral Home. Maggie had been here before. Five generations of the Becker family had helped bury the folk of their small farm community, and now Ed Becker, Maggie and Jack?s high school classmate, would lay John Stone to rest. Her brother-in-law, looking somber and surprisingly elderly in his dark suit, was standing with her in the small walled courtyard that protected the private doorway to the mortuary. The evening?s calling hours for her father were scheduled to begin momentarily.

?We should go in, Maggie,? Jack said.

It was a statement, but there was question in his voice. Evy Stone already was inside, waiting in her widow?s black for friends and family members to come help her ease her husband?s passing. ?Standing last watch,? her father, an ex-Navy man, had called it. In recent years, he had done it with increasing frequency for lifelong friends. Now it was his turn. Till, Jim and Nivah, and Robin were there, too, waiting to see what would happen when Maggie walked through the door.

?I won?t tell you you can?t come, Matthew,? Evy had said earlier. ?You?ve never listened to me before, and I don?t expect you?ll start now. But I will tell you this. If you show up at the funeral home, I will leave.?

?Evy!? Till had exclaimed, taking a step between mother and child, her shock mirrored in her face.

Evy swung toward her sister. There was coldness in her face and voice.

?Don?t you ?Evy? me, Matilda! This is my husband and my son?not yours!?

Till jerked, as if her sister had slapped her, then turned and hurried from the room. Evy turned in the opposite direction and stalked up the stairs, leaving the remainder of her family standing there in Jack and Robin?s living room.

?Maggie?? Jack asked again.

He was at the door now, holding it open for her. From inside, they could hear organ music, Rock of Ages, and the murmur of voices as visitors began to arrive.

?It?s time, Maggie,? Jack murmured.

She couldn?t meet his eyes. She shook her head, once, in a quick arc, pivoted on a heel, and left the garden.

Three hours later, Jack found his sister-in-law sitting cross-legged atop a concrete picnic table at the Hundred-Acre Wood. The name had been another of John Stone?s whimsies. The Wood itself was one more example of his vision. The farmhouse had long since burned down and the barn was a weathering heap when John bought the place sometime in the late 1950s.

?Whatever for?? his wife had huffed, when he told her of his purchase.

?For the fun of it, Evy,? he had explained, patiently.

He had worked weekends at the Wood, as well as summers away from his position as a high school English teacher. He painted the old barn a warm honey brown and landscaped the grounds around it, then leased the acreage to a neighboring farmer in exchange for grounds maintenance. He had a stream dammed to create a swimming beach and had put in picnic facilities, a softball field, and tennis courts. Finally, he had remodeled the barn into a rustic party house. John began to rent the place for reunions, company picnics, and the like. The Wood was in demand from the day he opened for business, but it was always reserved on holidays for his family.

?Hey, Maggie,? Jack said, as he sat on the wooden bench near her feet, setting a brown paper bag carefully beside him.

?Hello, Jack,? she replied. ?Was she satisfied??

Jack pulled at the knot of his tie and unbuttoned his shirt collar. He nodded.

?Lots of people showed up.?

Maggie sighed.

?That?s not what I meant.?

He nodded again.

?I know.?

They sat in companionable silence. From the tree line, doves began their evening song. Maggie sighed again.

?I am such a coward.?

?That?s a strong word,? Jack said, after a bit. ?Frankly, I don?t believe anyone who has done what you have could be considered a coward.?

Before Maggie could protest, he shushed her.

?Let me finish and I?ll get out of your hair. Your mother is a strong-minded lady. Some folks around here say she?s a force of nature.? He smiled. ?Not to her face, of course.?

He toyed with the edges of the paper sack.

?She likes her way, but she isn?t the only stubborn, willful woman in the family.?

Their eyes locked for just a second.

?She loves you, Maggie.?

He pulled a leather-bound book from the bag.


He handed her the book, wadded up the bag and stood.

?I?ve got to get back.?

He started away, then stopped and turned to her.

?Don?t you dare tell her I brought you that,? he commanded, and was gone.

Maggie only half heard the sounds of his departure, as she turned the book, an album of some sort, in her hands, feeling its weight and its much-handled, polished surface. She had never seen the book before. It appeared to be handcrafted and had a look of age to it. Maggie?s heart began its now-familiar stutter as she saw the gold leaf embossed lettering in the lower right corner of the cover??MY SON.? She opened the front cover. There, written in her mother?s economical script, she read, ?Property of Mrs. Evelyn Stone.?

On the first page there was a yellowing, photostatic copy of her birth certificate, neatly adhered at the center. Next to it was a clipping from the April 17, 1950 issue of the local newspaper. ?Born to Mr. and Mrs. John Stone of Newton, a son,? it read. ?Matthew Winston, 8 lb., 10 ounces.? Maggie?s hands trembled as she began to leaf through pages filled with words and pictures of her life.

Later, with the final bits of daylight fading away, she reached the last filled pages. There, pasted just as neatly as the birth certificate, were newspaper clippings from Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Memphis, and other smaller cities, where she had lectured and promoted her two books. With them was a color photocopy of the formal portrait she had sent to her father five years ago.

By Maggie?s estimate, several hundred people were gathered about John Stone?s gravesite when she arrived at the cemetery the next afternoon. She had considered not attending the service.

The evening before, after leaving the Hundred-Acre Wood, Maggie had gone to the funeral home. Lights were turned down and the doors locked when she arrived, but Eddie Becker responded promptly to her knocks. He didn?t look like how Maggie imagined an undertaker to look. Eddie had been a tall, gangly youth with an easy smile and curly blond hair, and the years had added only a few lines and creases.
?Maggie?? he asked, smiling.

?Hello, Eddie,? she said, returning the smile. ?You haven?t changed a bit.?

?Uh huh,? he laughed, apparently resisting the obvious retort. ?Come on in.?

He stepped back, welcoming her with his hand. Eddie had chatted easily as he had escorted her to the room where her father?s body rested, then excused himself.

?Take as much time as you need,? he had said. ?Just make sure the door is locked when you leave.?

That visit, she had told herself, would be enough. She would leave in the morning. However, when the time came, she didn?t depart. There was little conversation throughout the day, despite the houseful of people. When the time came to return to the funeral home, no one asked if she would be going along. Then, as the others were leaving, Jim Moreland providing his sister the growing amount of support she required, Aunt Till had stopped, hugged Maggie and leaned in close.

?You be there!? she whispered.

Now, as Maggie walked across the green carpet of cemetery lawn, beneath a blue, cloudless sky, Till saw her and waved Maggie to the line of chairs set up for next of kin. Maggie heard the murmurs of the crowd as she obeyed her aunt?s summons and settled into the seat Till had saved for her. Aunt Till took Maggie?s hand into her own and applied a gentle, loving pressure. From her aunt?s right, Maggie heard a huff of expelled air from her mother, but Evy made no move to leave.

Uncle Jim stood, inviting all to prayer, and for Maggie the world blurred. She listened to her own breathing, alien now, and heard the gestalt murmur that is the signature of any crowd. She heard the pious sounds of her uncle?s voice as well, but could draw no meaning or comfort from them. Maggie was lost to the world until she recognized the opening strains of Amazing Grace. It had been one of her father?s favorite pieces of music, and he enjoyed it most when performed on the bagpipe. ?It?s the music the bagpipe was invented to play,? he had often said.

Jack Miller, always resourceful, had found a Scottish piper somewhere. As the bittersweet, mournful music droned, Maggie stood with other fam-ily members. Collectively, they stepped forward as John?s casket began its slow descent, and Maggie found herself standing next to her mother. She caught a glimpse of Till?s triumphant smile at the sleight-of-hand she had performed. Evy turned her head toward her oldest child, her bright eyes brimming with tears, and moved into Maggie?s arms. Maggie returned her tight embrace. She sensed Till and Robin join them from either side, and then the four women stood together, arms and bodies entwined, as the man they had all loved for so long was lowered into the earth.

Late the next morning, Maggie stood outside Robin?s old farmhouse, talking with her sister. Jack was nearby, loading her suitcase onto the Corvette.

?Come see me,? she told Robin.

Robin nodded. Her smile was as warm as the day promised to be. She rested her hand, briefly, on Maggie?s cheek. ?Thanks for coming, Poo.?

Maggie returned the smile. Behind them, the storm door snapped open and slapped closed. The sisters turned toward the house. Evy and Till stood side by side on the steps, their arms linked. Till beckoned with her free hand, and as Maggie walked to her, she dropped her grip on Evy and came down the steps to hug her niece. They held each other, not speaking, for long moments. Nearby, Evy cleared her throat. She was still on the steps, arms crossed. Maggie kissed her aunt?s cheek and crossed to stand before her mother. Evy?s perch on the steps put them almost at eye level with each other. Neither spoke at first, and the rest of the world was silent with them.

Finally, Maggie said, ?Goodbye, Mama.?

Evy?s gaze remained steady.

?This doesn?t change the situation, you know,? she stated. ?You are my first-born?my son. You will always be that to me.?

Maggie nodded, refusing to break eye contact with her mother. Evy sighed.

?However, I do love you.?

Maggie waited, not breathing.

?If you will remain silent about what I call you, I?ll remain silent about my thoughts on what you?ve done. Given that, will you come see me??

?Yes, Mama, I can live with that.?

?Good,? Evy said, nodding.

For a bit, Evy was off somewhere else; then she focused once more on Maggie. The ghost of a smile, traced upon her lips and in her eyes, filled Maggie?s soul.

?Make it soon,? Evy said. ?I?ve missed you...Child.?

Keely Caitlin Ball is a post-operative transsexual woman of Amazonian stature and middle years. She is, by nature and by practice, a Libertarian, a Deist, a follower of Sappho, stubbornly opinionated, and sometimes politically incorrect. Some of her other short stories and poems have been published in national magazines. K.C. is currently working on two novels, Silent Partner and Memories and Elephants In addition to writing fiction, poetry and essays, K.C. sculpts (in polyester resin), relishes truly awful jokes, and plays as much golf as possible with her life partner, Rachael. At least for now, they reside in Columbus, Ohio, with two cats, Braveheart Sam and The Lady Sally.