Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
July 23, 1989
Susan Riley didn’t get back to Denver often, but once a year or so there would be reason to visit the home office in Wheat Ridge, and she knew there were going to be several things different this trip than her trips earlier. Her father had been back in the home office over a year, and she’d seen him the last time in the spring, before her mother and Denis had moved back out to Colorado, and he was still in the apartment. Her own job in marketing out of the Endicott regional office was very busy, managing a huge number of newspaper advertising buys. With an active romance, there just hadn’t been the chance to visit the family in a while. While she and her father had driven by the new home on Wheat Ridge before they’d moved in, she’d never been inside.
She hadn’t let it concern her. She’d visited the family while they’d been in Bradford the summer before that, and while it was good to see them again, it would also be good to be heading back to work, too. She was ten years older than Denis, and like her older brother Tom had never really lived in Bradford at all, although she’d spent one very dull summer there when home from college.
It was funny how that had worked out, she thought as she wheeled the rental car through the unfamiliar neighborhood. She could remember back to her days in high school, even in college, when everyone had pretty well assumed that Tom was going to take after their father and be a business executive someplace, maybe even in General Hardware Retailers. Tom was going to go places and do things. She, on the other hand, was more or less expected to be a housewife, or maybe a low-level worker someplace, despite her ambitions.
That wasn’t quite how it worked out, she noted with just a little smugness. Tom worked for General Hardware Retailers, all right, and he got to go places – usually up and down Interstate 5 between the Wilsonville and Pumpkin Patch regional distribution centers in his company eighteen-wheeler. Once in a while, if someone was sick and he had to fill in, he got to see some different countryside by making the run to Twin Falls.
From what she’d been able to figure out, Tom really didn’t mind. He’d been stultifyingly bored working as an assistant shift warden at Wilsonville, outside of Portland, a good place to start out in the company. Worse, it was inside, and that hurt even more. Somehow – she wasn’t sure how, even now – he’d worked out a deal to get familiar with the transportation problems from the truck driver’s viewpoint, and he was coming up on a decade of gear jamming and yapping on the CB, with no desire to change. Change was impossible now, at least within the confines of General Hardware Retailers; he was well off the executive track and it didn’t bother him a bit. His wife, Jane, was a nice enough girl, but a bit plain and dumb. As long as he was happy, Susan thought, that was fine. She darn sure couldn’t be happy like that.
Susan was not the kind of girl to accept limitations just because she was a girl. She’d concentrated on business courses while she was in college, University of Colorado, and did well with them, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Determined to do better – and by the time she’d graduated from college her brother was already trucking on down the road with country music blaring in his ears – she’d almost given General Hardware a pass, not even bothering to file an application. One day she sent one off, thinking she’d probably not even hear back. However, she was quite surprised to be called in for an interview and then was offered a salary considerably higher than she’d thought possible for her to start as entry level. She didn’t think then and still didn’t now that her father’s position in the company had anything to do with it, because distribution and marketing were two very different fish in the General pond. She’d worked in Wheat Ridge for a year or two, loved the job, and had become highly thought of – enough to be transferred to Endicott. While the town was small and not terribly close to New York City, that office was especially important to the company in that a lot of the routine marketing contacts with advertising agencies were handled out of there. Seven years out of college now, she was assistant regional marketing manager and clearly earmarked for bigger things in the company – and making considerably more money than her brother with the possibility of it getting better yet.
The jury was still out on Denis, of course. She hadn’t seen him for over a year by that point – almost two years, in fact, now that she thought about it. He must have been about sixteen then, she thought, a dorky, unhappy, uncertain kid. Really, she didn’t know him well at all – at ten years younger, he’d been in lower elementary school when she’d been heading out to college, but she’d been stuck with babysitting him a lot when she was in high school. He’d always seemed like a sissy, wussy little kid, like there was something not right with him, and from what she’d heard his grades in high school had pretty much proved it. She couldn’t imagine what he would wind up doing – but she was sure he wouldn’t wind up a truck driver like his older brother; he wasn’t big enough, strong enough, tough enough. The surprise was that she’d been told he’d gotten extremely good grades in his first year of college, which meant that there was either something wrong with the college or he’d finally gotten his act together. When she thought about it – and she hadn’t much – it wouldn’t have surprised her to have him come out and say he was gay. But who knew?
In any case, it wasn’t her concern anymore. In addition to the responsibilities of her job, she was up to her ears in plans for her wedding, which was set for October. Since Ron had a raft of relatives around Binghamton, she had friends there now, and as there wasn’t anything left in Colorado for her except her parents in a strange house, it had been worked out that the wedding would be in the east. Her romance with Ron had dragged on for over three years now, rather off and on, but with the concerns about how it would affect her career slowing it down. Finally, they’d worked out a compromise, but she still wasn’t too sure how it would work when the time came for her to transfer somewhere else.
So it was the wedding, some of the details, and her career that were really on her mind as she rolled up to the subdivision house where her parents now lived. She checked the number, just to be sure she was right, and drove in. The house was smaller than she remembered, only about the size of the one in Bradford, but with two kids gone and Denis in college, her folks didn’t need lots of space. Not a bad house, nice view, she thought as she shut off the rental and got out.
* * *
Arlene noticed her drive in. The timing could be better, she thought. Eve was in dilating, she knew – thank God that was nearly over with – and until she could get free, she didn’t want to drop the bomb waiting for Susie until a bit later. She’d wanted Bill to be here for this, because it was going to be one of those extremely awkward moments they’d come to expect every now and then, and this one may have been the worst yet. Still, under the circumstances, it was a woman thing, so maybe it would be better that way. "Give Susie a few minutes to get settled," she told Eve, who was flat on her back, legs spread, dilator in place, and lost in a book. "And put some clothes on, for God’s sakes."
"I don’t know," Eve grinned. "Maybe it’d be better in the nude. I mean, there’d be no question, then."
"Put some clothes on," she repeated and shook her head, closing the bedroom door. Really, she should have expected this reaction out of Eve, but it had been a bit disconcerting at times, even for her, to watch her new daughter walk about the house naked. A new daughter, yes, that was one thing – she’d come to accept that long ago – but a nudist?
She shook her head again and started for the front door. How in the name of God they’d kept this secret from Susie for so long was beyond her. It was very difficult, especially the last year or so, to refer to Eve as "Denis" to her over the phone, but it had been decided early on to keep the secret at least until Eve was into her RLT, and not tell Susie on the phone, but in person. She was now going to find out just how wise that decision was. With luck, her older daughter would still be speaking half an hour from now. Maybe even to her.
* * *
"Oh, God, Mom, it’s good to see you again," Susan said as soon as her mother came outside. They quickly fell into each others’ arms, patted each other on the back, told each other how good they looked, and on with the inanities. Arlene helped her with her bag – she only had one, if a large one – and hauled it inside to the spare bedroom. "Can I get you something to drink?" she asked.
"Oh, some kind of soft drink," Susan said. "Mom, this is a very nice house. It looks nicer on the inside than I expected from the outside."
"I rather like it," she replied. "I’m still getting used to it, after so long in Bradford. And, to have it mostly empty all the time, it seems like I rattle around in it. You’re planning on supper, of course?"
"Of course," Susan smiled. "What are you having?"
"I’m not sure," Arlene shook her head. "I suspect Eve will come up with something special to celebrate your visit."
My God, Susan thought, things have really changed. They actually have a cook or a maid or something. They’d never have done that in Bradford! Well, Dad made enough money now to afford it. "Well, good," she said. "You seem to be doing pretty well."
"We’ve had some interesting experiences lately," Arlene said. "So, what’s happening with you?"
"Well, besides work, mostly trying to get things settled for the wedding," Susan replied. "It’s been kind of a hassle, what with all of Ron’s friends and relatives, not that I don’t have things of my own I have to decide about."
"What kind of things?"
"Well, for instance, most of the way out here today, I’ve been struggling over who to ask to be my maid of honor. I mean, when Betsy was my college roomie, I was hers, and she more or less thinks that she ought to return the favor. But I have this friend, Linda, back home who I’m very close with, and she’ll be hurt if I don’t ask her. I don’t want to upset either one of them, I want to keep them both as friends."
"That could be a problem," Arlene replied, looking up as she saw Eve walk into the living room behind Susie. What an opening! She held up a finger, trying to signal to Eve to stay quiet, and saw from the big grin on her face that she’d gotten the message. At least she’d put on a bikini. Not much of a bikini – there might have been as much as a square foot of thin fabric there – but that was more decent than usual these days. "On the other hand," Arlene smiled, "It strikes me as a very simple one to solve."
"Simple, Mom?" Susan frowned. "I don’t see how it’s simple."
Arlene shrugged. "I don’t think either of them would be upset if you asked your sister to do it."
"Sister?" Susan frowned deeply, not understanding. Had her mother lost it? "Mom, I don’t have a sister."
"Susan," Arlene grinned, "I’m sorry to say that there’s something we’ve been keeping from you. Get a grip on yourself, because yes, you do."
"Do what?" Susan said, really confused now.
"Have a sister," she heard Denis’ voice say, as bare arms went around her from behind in a warm hug. All of a sudden, Susan was aware of a face next to her. She turned, to see a woman’s face, long blonde hair . . . "Hi sis, good to see you again, how’s it going?" she heard Denis’ voice say, but the words were coming from the face of this beautiful young blonde . . . woman, judging by the boobs in that bikini top.
"Bu . . . wha . . . uh . . . Den . . . " she stammered, and finally just gave up trying to say anything. The breath was coming, but the words weren’t there. What was there were eyes as big as saucers, and a heart rate that was climbing toward record levels. She took a deep breath, then another one, then tried again. "What the . . . Denis?"
"Not Denis anymore," the good looking young woman in the bikini said, pitch of her voice changing from the familiar one of her little . . . brother? "Call me Eve. I haven’t used the name Denis in over a year."
"Eve?" she said, totally unable to comprehend. "But . . . But . . . I mean, but . . .?"
"Yes, you have a sister," Arlene told her gently, amused at the shock as Eve let go of the hug of her sister, and came around to sit on the couch next to her. "I know this is going to be hard to understand, but your father and I have had two years to come to grips with it. You’ve always had a sister. It’s just that she was trapped in a boy’s body for eighteen years."
"You mean . . . my God, I can’t believe it . . . does Dad know about this?"
"Of course he knows about it," Arlene grinned, watching her daughter’s discomfiture as she struggled to grasp the astonishing. "He’s known about it over two years, along with Eve, one of her friends, and me. No one else, until now."
"Mom . . . are you sure you didn’t slip me some weird drug in that pop you just gave me?"
"I didn’t," Arlene grinned. "But you look like you need something a little stronger."
"My God," she gasped. "More than any other time in my life!"
"Sis, relax, settle down," . . . Eve? . . . said. "Take a deep breath, get hold of yourself. Just sit back and accept that you’re seeing what you see. You’ve had two minutes to get your mind around this. The folks have had two years. I’ve had over ten."
"Denis?" she said in a small voice.
"Not Denis, not anymore. Eve."
"But . . . you’re a woman? I mean . . . "
"Sure am. You want me to take this bikini off to prove it?"
"But . . . but . . . what . . . "
"Sis, Sis," ‘Eve’ grinned. "Would you believe me if I told you that the good fairy was checking her records one day, found out that she’d made a mistake, came and waved her magic wand over me, and said. ‘OK, that’s taken care of; you’re a girl now like you were supposed to be.’"
"Oh, come on," Susie snorted, "Get real."
"Actually, that’s pretty close to the truth," Eve laughed. "What really happened was that the good surgeon waved his magic scalpel over me and then said the same thing. Worked out pretty well, don’t you think?"
"You’re joking!" Susan shook her head, deep in denial, reaching for any logical explanation she could come up with. There were not many left. "You mean . . . you mean . . . Mom and Dad let you do this?"
"Actually, they helped a heck of a lot," Eve smiled. "I couldn’t have done it without them."
"Mom?" Susan said in a small voice.
"Over two years ago, we were slapped in the face with reality," Arlene said softly. "We’d always known Denis was a misfit but could not figure out why. Then we were presented with the reality that if we didn’t do something, we were going to be looking at a dead son. We thought a live daughter was preferable. In two years, we’ve learned the bitter but delightful truth that Eve makes a far more capable and competent woman than Denis would have made a man. The actual surgery is recent, but it was in preparation for two years."
"My God," Susan replied, reality hitting home. "I’ve got a weirdo for a sister!"
"Close," Eve said, slipping off the sofa and kneeling on the floor in front of Susan. "You had a weirdo for a brother. Now, you have a sister, and your sister hopes that you will accept her as your sister and the woman she is and has always been."
"But . . . but . . . oh, shit! Mom, I really need that drink!"
"You know," Arlene smiled as she got up, "I think you’re right. Susie, listen to me for a second. We know it’s tough to comprehend. It was tough for us, and didn’t come instantly. Believe me, we are not unhappy with the way things turned out, and now we have two daughters we’re very proud of."
"But . . . but . . . Den, er, Eve . . . I mean, you’re a woman! And my God, I think you’re better looking than I am!"
"I wouldn’t want to judge," Eve shrugged as she got up and sat down next to her sister. "You’ve got a natural mature grace to you that I think enhances a professional woman. I think I’ve got better boobs, and they’re all natural."
"Well, mostly. There’s a lot of horse piss involved."
"Horse . . . piss?"
"You see the results of some serious estrogen therapy," Eve grinned. "Mostly a drug called Premarin, which stands for pregnant mare urine, which is where it’s concentrated from. Susie, look," she continued. "This hasn’t been simple or easy, but you’re seeing the end result. I’m satisfied with it; Mom and Dad are, too. You’re just going to have to accept that you really have a sister, after all."
"It’s . . . it’s a lot to take in all at once," she admitted. "I mean, I’m seeing it, I’m accepting it, but I’m not sure I’m not dreaming and going to wake up any second now."
"If you’re dreaming, I’m going to be very unhappy when I wake up as Denis again," Eve grinned. "Now, I’ll tell you what. Mom and Dad have a pretty neat pool and a nice spa. Why don’t you go get a swimsuit on, we’ll go out by the pool, you can have a drink or two and relax, and we’ll tell you the whole story."
"I . . . I didn’t bring a swimsuit."
"I ought to be able to find something," her . . . sister . . . grinned. "Mine are pretty much one size fits all."
"Something about like that one you have on, I bet," Susan smiled – the first one she’d had for a while.
"If you like," Eve laughed. "Or, if you want, I can find something hot!"
Susan shook her head and glanced toward the heavens. "OK, God," she smiled, "You can wake me up any time now." She turned back to Eve. "All right, if jumping in the pool doesn’t wake me up, nothing will."
"There you go," Eve smiled at her.
"Uh, Eve . . . Mom . . . does Tom know about this?"
"No, not yet," Arlene said somberly. "We feel we have to tell him face to face, and there hasn’t been the opportunity. And we’re pretty sure that he’s not going to take it as well as you have."