Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
October 10, 1998
"It was actually several days before I finally settled on Eve," she told the group left from the class reunion. "I thought of several other possible names, but when I compared them to Eve, they came up short. Eve had both a simplicity and a maturity that impressed me, compared to the breathy, trendy names a teenager might have chosen. It also symbolically showed that I wanted to maintain my family ties. Not only did it turn out that I have had several ancestors with the name, either as a given name or a middle name, it was on the short list of names my parents would have chosen had I been born a genetic girl, and it gave my mother a special way to feel part of the process. As it proved, that was my naming day, and I’ve always considered it as important as my birthday. A great deal started that day. It changed my life more than any other in the process, including the day I had my surgery."
Emily was starting to get to the point where she was getting over her amazement a little. Eve – yes, she could think of her by that name, by now – and John and Shae seemed so relaxed and comfortable with this fact of their lives they’d revealed. "I don’t want to push you ahead of your story," she asked, "But when did you finally get around to making the decision to have the surgery?"
"That’s a little funny," Eve smiled. "I never actually did. I mean, I never reached the point where it was, ‘This is it, yes or no,’ and had to agonize over the answer. It took a little over twenty-six months to make that decision. It made itself little by little, so when the time came for the surgery, there was no question. Most of that decision was made between that day and the day we graduated. In fact, I would have to say that the biggest part of the transition was made during that period when we were finishing high school, enough so that I could start my RLT only a few hours after we graduated."
Emily shook her head. "And to think that no one ever dreamed what was going on!"
"We went to great lengths to not let on," Eve grinned. "Tonight is proof that we were successful. I suspect part of the reason is that what we were doing was so far out of the ordinary that no one could have conceived of what was actually happening. It would be safe to say that the four of us often had trouble believing it ourselves."
"There were times it was pretty surreal," Shae grinned. "I mean, more than once I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I’d been dreaming it all." She shook her head and let out a sigh. "In a way, it would have been nice if we could have done it more in the open, because the change along the way was incredible. I got to watch it, Eve’s folks got to watch it, but no one else who knew her did. Incredible is a good word, but it was pretty nerve wracking, too. It was especially different for her, since she had two different personas literally fighting for control."
"That’s not a good way to put it," Eve smiled. "Yes, I had two different personas, two different personalities, literally two different identities. It was difficult to switch back and forth between them, although the switching helped to define who each of them was. To illustrate the change that happened, and I’m being a little metaphorical about this, in the weeks immediately following my naming day, Eve was a person who Denis put on with her clothes for a few hours a day, almost every day. But, by the time we were close to graduating, Denis was a person I had to put on, and I didn’t do it unless I had to, such as having guests or going to school, and it became increasingly difficult to do it toward the end. There were some good spin-offs that percolated through to Denis. For example, for several years he’d been mostly attending school, enduring it, rather than studying, and his grades showed the effects. Once he saw that he was on a road out of the maze, studying became more important and easier to do. He pulled the best grades during his senior year that he’d gotten since early elementary school."
"I remember that," Emily said. "I remember Jennlynn saying that if you’d studied like that all the way through school you might have given her a run for the money."
"Yes, but there were other things involved," Eve nodded, thinking of Steve Sharp for a moment. He probably would have given Jennlynn a run for the valedictorian spot, too, if he’d lived, and if his phys. ed. grades hadn’t counted. "In fact, you all saw pieces of the change, but you didn’t notice them. At the time of my naming, my hair was already pretty long for a boy in that day and age, and I never had it cut again while I was in high school, so it was down below my shoulders when I graduated. Also, especially through the later part of the period, the estrogen therapy was making big changes in my body. I started developing breasts that fall. By the middle of winter I had to start binding them with elastic bandages to keep them from showing, and wear the same kind of loose-and-sloppy sweats and T-shirts most of us wore to school in those days. By the time we graduated, I had bigger breasts than probably a quarter of the girls in the class, and mine grew more later. The changes came so gradually that no one noticed, except the four of us who knew what to look for. No one else ever noticed, because no one ever thought of me in the context of a girl. I mean, you all knew I was a boy, right? An odd, funny-looking boy who most people suspected of being gay, anyway, right?"
"Well," Scott grinned, "You told us tonight that you really were gay."
"I suppose by some people’s definition, I was," Eve shrugged. "Although, it was totally inactive. Had I not made the change, I probably would have experimented with it eventually. I never did – in my opinion, anyway, although we’ll ignore the opinions of those who would still call me a man in spite of everything. But, the point I was making is this: You saw this odd, introverted, and not-very-likeable boy, which is what Denis was, and how we wanted him to continue to appear. We worked very hard to not let you see him regularly change into what was in my opinion a bright, personable, well-dressed, and if I may say so, not bad-looking girl. And one who finally managed to do a few things a normal girl would have gotten to do in the closing year of her high school career."
August 5, 1987
It was always a risk for Shae and Eve to drive in or near Bradford in the Monza. Anyone getting a casual look at the both of them would have seen Shae and Denis, of course. But a closer look at ‘Denis’ would have revealed Eve, who was enough different in clothes and general appearance, often wearing unexplainable makeup and jewelry, that it would have been impossible to explain away. So, often on these jaunts, Eve would only change out of Denis’ clothes and put on her trappings in the car once they were well outside Bradford.
However, when leaving in the very small hours of the morning for a Chicago run, the risk didn’t seem nearly as bad; there were just not enough people out and about. That almost included Shae and Eve; they were still typical teenagers in some ways, enough so that if given the chance their preference was for getting up at the crack of noon.
But a nine AM electrolysis appointment in Chicago meant having to drive through the worst of the weekday rush hour. Even with the time change, making a stop for coffee and a doughnut or something at one of the service plazas on the Indiana Turnpike meant that they had to be on the road not long after five AM. Typically there were two Chicago runs a week during the summer, almost always involving one or two hours of electrolysis, although occasionally another appointment would also get worked in; they might take off just for the sake of going somewhere another day or two each week. If anyone asked about those trips, Shae and Denis explained that they were working at an orchard "over west of here," without getting too specific. Denis got few questions about it, and Shae hinted that she didn’t want to talk too much about it because they were trying to pull a fast one on her mother. Shae’s mother, on the other hand, believed it was part of a plan to get Denis out of town for a while to have a real life without having to worry about running into some of the town toughs. She knew that she and Denis went places like beaches and malls – which Shae and Eve often did. Sometimes it was difficult to tell the players without a score card, but everything hinged on saying as little as possible to anyone.
The "Chicago runs" had started the Friday after that memorable day at Dress to Desire, with Arlene signing Denis out of school and taking him to an appointment with an endocrinologist suggested by Carl. This was not the first time this doctor had been approached with this question; he was one of the few in the city who was clued into the process, and was also part of the gay community. But he was also careful enough that he wasn’t about to start Denis out on a full dose of estrogen, at least until he had a favorable counseling report, but was willing to start him on a low dose along with a testosterone blocker. It was while talking in the car on that trip that Eve announced that she’d settled on the name.
From then on until the end of school, Arlene and Eve had made the run every two or three weeks, mostly to see counselors or to get the electrolysis under way, and after school was out, the endocrinologist upped Eve’s dose of estrogen significantly. It sometimes made her fatigued, and there was some getting used to it, but by now her body was adjusting to the new regimen, and it wasn’t the problem it had been before. And, by this time, the hormone was starting to cause some noticeable differences in her body, although nothing like what it would do in the months to come.
Arlene often made the Chicago runs with Eve, and in the summer they could be made without justification to anyone. The repeated trips were explained away as "therapy sessions" without getting too clear about what the therapy was. No one was told, but enough hints were dropped in the right way for anyone curious to believe that Denis was seeing a psychiatrist, which was good enough reason for everyone to keep quiet about it. And it was something that most people in Bradford would have believed, anyway.
Shae also made a lot of the Chicago runs with Eve; it was a time they could talk, and also gave them an excuse to go to places where Eve would not be recognized and could be herself. And, as far as that went, most people didn’t know Chicago was where Shae and Denis were heading off to in the first place, because often it wasn’t. Today, however, it was. "Got your pills?" Shae asked as they headed up the on-ramp at the overpass on the edge of town into the light traffic on I-67.
"Good grief, yes," Eve said. "If I didn’t, we’d have to go back and get them. Thank God for Darvocet."
Barb hadn’t been kidding; the electrolysis was very painful. An hour or two of it on a less sensitive part of the body would have been one thing, but most of what Eve was getting was facial, and even with the powerful painkiller, it was barely tolerable. Barb was right: a long course of the treatment really made Eve think about whether it was worth it; that she was tolerating it just showed that she believed it would be.
"No pain pills would make things a lot tougher," Shae agreed.
"You know," Eve yawned, still trying to shake off sleep, and trying to change the subject to avoid thinking about the upcoming pain, "We’ve really had some fun running around this summer, and it’s going to be a shame to have to cut it back."
"I know," Shae sighed. "But with basketball practice starting next week, that’s going to wreck this all-day getting away. We should still be able to get in Chicago runs in the early mornings, but we’ll have to hustle to get back so I can do practice. We can still mess around in the evenings some, though."
"And that leads to the issue of having to sneak back into town in the middle of the afternoon," Eve said. "Darn it, I want to stay dressed as long as I can, and having to turn back into Denis again out on the highway somewhere is always a pain in the fanny."
"You could dress a little more unisex, you know," Shae observed. "You don’t have to wear a dress, even though I know you like to. I mean, jeans and a T-shirt; all you’d have to do is lose some jewelry and not be made up quite as much, and you could get away with it. You can still act the part as long as no one’s around."
"That’s the point, though, to wear the dress and the makeup and the jewelry. Shae, you can get away with it, simply because you and everybody else already knows you’re a girl. I’m still having to work at it, so I have to be more feminine to help convince myself."
"I know," Shae sighed. It was not the first time they’d had this discussion. While Eve may have been convinced that she was a woman, she’d had sixteen years of experience as a boy, and it was hard to drive out all those reflexes and habits. Now, she felt the need to overbalance. Part of that included the need to be Eve as much as possible, even at home alone. Shae knew, for example, that Eve had taken to sleeping in frilly feminine nighties, just to make the atmosphere more intense.
In fact, Shae knew a lot about what Eve was doing, what was going on in her head. Though Eve had agreed with her parents early on that she was going to be straight with them throughout the process, there were some things any teenage girl was going to be better able to discuss with another teenage girl than with her parents.
Shae had come to notice more and more recently that there was much more to the difference between Denis and Eve than just the clothes they wore. Denis was still introverted, depressed and moody, and, she admitted, not very likeable. Eve was much happier, more open, more placid, more friendly with people, especially strangers. They were literally two people living in the same body, and they were finding it increasingly difficult to switch back and forth – so they tried to limit the switching as much as they could. Sometimes, with a little juggling and a lot of staying home, Eve could stay herself for two or three days before having to turn into Denis and deal with his life. At times, Shae wondered just how well it was going to work when they got into the school year, and she could foresee awkward times ahead.
Mostly it was a battle that Eve had to fight on her own, with her parents and Shae helping when and how they could – and with sports practice starting, it meant that Shae was going to be less help. Basketball, and later volleyball practice and games would eat up a lot of her evenings and spare time from now until into March, but when sports wound down, the end would be in sight. Somehow, in and around the sports, Shae was going to have to find some time to help Eve experience some of what it was like to be a teenage girl, which is why they’d tried to do things as much as they could over the summer, where Eve could be out in public.
Most of the time, they were pretty mild, often just hitting a mall – not one anywhere near Bradford, of course, but the Chicago runs made for a lot of other possibilities. Eve now had a fairly interesting wardrobe, while it looked like Denis was going to be going to school this year in the same old T-shirts and sweats and baggy jeans he’d worn the year before.
If the timing worked out, they’d hit a class or seminar at Dress to Desire. Most of the events were not very useful to Eve because they were aimed at the typical attendee wanting to be more flamboyant, while Eve just wanted to learn to be a normal girl, perhaps even a bit conservative. But, some of the principles held true, no matter what.
Shae was just about as interested in what was being taught as Eve was. Shae tended to be pretty much a tomboy, but she learned a fair amount about being a glamorous woman at the sessions – things she’d never thought about. She learned things about walking, body language, and voice that she’d never dreamed – as well as other things. She made the comment more than once that she was learning things that no straight female teenager should be allowed to know. Still, the classes were often fun, if for no more reason than seeing and meeting some of the other people there, some pretty odd and interesting, and most were pretty friendly.
But, they did other things, too – they’d spent a fair amount of time hanging out on one Lake Michigan beach or another, for example. Thanks to some of the tricks they’d learned at Dress to Desire, Eve didn’t have the hottest one-piece swimsuit on the beach; it was in fact fairly conservative, but it served the purpose, and again, no one ever suspected.
"Got any ideas about what we can do after the appointment?" Eve asked. "I’ll have to admit, I’m just a little bored with hanging out at another strange mall."
"Me, too," Shae agreed. "Tell you what. When we stop at a service plaza, let’s hit the information rack. There might be some kind of a fair or festival or something like that we could hit someplace. We are getting into county fair season, after all."
"Sounds like fun, at least do the midway, ride some rides," Eve grinned. "Maybe even do a little flirting."
"Your father was right," Shae laughed. "You are turning into a little flirt, aren’t you?"
"I can’t do much more than that right now," Eve nodded. "But is it ever fun to even be able to do that! It’d be fun to do an honest-to-god date, but that can’t happen, because we can’t let a date get near Bradford."
"I’ve thought about that," Shae said, "Just in case the opportunity should arise. Maybe we tell the guys that we’ve snuck you out from your parents who would throw a shit fit if they knew you’d been out with someone, so you can’t have anyone getting in touch with you."
Eve kicked it around for a moment. "Might work," she said. "But do you want to know how much I’m looking forward to next year when I’m not going to have to care at all about what anyone in Bradford thinks?"
"Yeah," Shae sighed. "The last few months have been a little crazy, haven’t they?"
"I don’t think it’s going to get any better over the next few, either."
"You know what though? I think it’s going to be worth the effort."
"I do, too." Eve smiled.