My blog began on a whim - this year has been amazing but next year I know there are certain times I need to be more organised and do several week ahead. I have an ear infection and I'm just too medicated and in pain to produce anything coherent. So your trip to my blog isn't an entire waste:
Steph’s mother was out again. She was using Chez Newlove as her own personal hotel. Outside in the garden the children shrieked and played. Ellie bounced on the trampoline. None of them sounded in pain so she left them to it. Finally, Steph had time to check her messages.
I pity your wife
Dangerous, latent transphobia.
You’re not accepting your wife’s gender
Get a divorce and let her live her life.
Stop misgendering her with terms.
She’s your wife and the children’s mother.
Fucking transphobic bitch. ...and they continued.
A cup of coffee grew a skim and decreased in temperature as it remained untouched. Buried in the insults was the odd message of support but the unpleasantness drowned out the good. She placed the phone down and buried her head in her hands. Was she ever going to get this right? Was she holding Nick back? Steph and Nick sometimes Lori had been out on a couple of dates since they got back and things were going well but an innocent comment on an online forum where she had referred to Nick as her husband had brought down so much hate that they bruised her mentally. Fact was she struggled to say my wife and there was no way she would ever force the children to call him mother, mama or the equivalent. They came first and they adored their superdad. Calling Nick or Lori my wife was hard. They’d reached a stage where she called Nick or Lori by whichever name their dress at a particular moment suggested. When they got married only one them knew this was a same sex union.
“Steph? You OK?” Nick opened the fridge and poured himself a glass of orange juice. “Want a glass?”
“Apparently I’m not worthy of you.” She waved her hand over the phone.
He sat kitty corner to Steph and sipped his orange. When he read the messages, he went quiet – too quiet. “Steph, it’s just online rubbish.”
“When I put myself out there online I expected it, but some days the comments get to me and today is one of those days.” She took a sip of the coffee and spat it back in the cup. “Ugh.”
“Here, Steph, take this before I throw it. We can’t afford a replacement.” His voice was angry and quiet. “Reply and say your husband says their pity is unwelcomed and unneeded.” He covered her hand and smiled.
“Our relationship is our business and nobody else’s.”
She sighed. “It’s just I’m straight. I don’t fancy women. And at the risk of paraphrasing a Meat Loaf song. I want you and I love you but there ain’t no way I’m ever going to need you. Well not you as such her. It's complicated.” She tapped her head. “At least not in that way I can imagine a man whilst we’re being intimate. That man may even be Nick. I do love you and I think our marriage is worth fighting for.”
“It’s my fault. I knew and I...”
“I get it.” Her smile reached her eyes. “And perhaps it’s a good job you didn’t say anything or we might not have got married.” Her hands slipped under the table and she rubbed his leg. “And… I wouldn’t now be imagining you in that silky nightie. It’s well – silky. We can fool around and find… well ways of making this work.”
For the first time in months he gave her a seductive smile, he grabbed her hand and moved it further up right into his groin. “I guess you’re right we have a lot to work out and I guess a practical...”
“Mum...” Luke appeared in the door with blood pouring from his nose. “Jake made me fall over.”
Behind him Jake appeared. “I did not.”
“Can happen tonight,” Steph mouthed to Nick before dashing to Luke’s aid.
Lori picked up Steph’s phone and typed a message in reply to the comments. Her indignation refused to leave this alone. She’d never agreed with the don’t feed the trolls and she believed they should not go unchallenged. There had been times when she was vulnerable and the people who countered them had strengthened her: This is her husband. Whether I stay with my wife is my decision. Your pity is unneeded and unwanted. We are a trans family. My wife, my kids and myself are transitioning together. We’re all allowed time to work it out.
Steph huffed but her huffing never lasted long. In her pyjamas, she stormed through the woods before turning round, and with her energy sapping, she walked back to the cottage.
She wasn’t sure what she was going to say Lori. Whilst Steph wasn’t angry any longer she still felt alone. A large log provided her with a seat and she sat, holding her head. Tears appeared out of nowhere and she sobbed. There was no real definition to her feelings she didn’t know what she felt or why. This week had brought home that she was going to lose her husband but she was supposed to be happy for the person they became., She didn’t want Nick to be miserable but she wanted her life back. A life where the only real concerns were paying the bills, caring for the kids and getting through the day with her fibromyalgia.
“Are you all right, my dear?”
Oh God I’ve been caught. She wiped her face with her hands and her arm and looked up at the old lady standing there. A watery smile was the best she could manage and she nodded. “I think I am. I lost my husband...”
The woman looked fitter than Steph had been and attired in hiking gear, the old lady sat down next to her and placed her arm round her. A Westie ran up, sniffed Steph’s feet and ran away again, sniffing at the undergrowth. “That’s Tommy, I got him when my husband died. He’s such a comfort to me. You’re so young, dear - do you have children?”
People often thought Steph was younger than she really was. She nodded. “Three.” None of them felt they had lost a dad, at least she didn’t feel that way.
“Are you staying with the other nice lady at the cottage?” She smiled. “I run the Post Office and she came in earlier. Really kind.” And then in a conspiratorial way she whispered. “I think she’s one of those.”
All Steph could do was swallow. She nodded. “Lori is...” Jesus, what do I call her? “My friend. She is very kind.” It was the term her dad used for his myriad of lovers. They were always just his friends even the ones he’d had around for twenty years. Friend felt wrong to apply to Nick but she didn’t know Lori and Lori wasn’t Nick in a dress. Lori had a personality that was distinct from Nick.
“Are things all right... well you know financially?”
Steph nodded. “My husband well he is still providing for us.” That was true. She stood up before she was asked any more awkward questions. “I ought to be heading back. The children are... well they’ll be wanting breakfast. Thank you for your concern.”
The older lady stood up and held out her hand. “My name’s Cynthia. If you need anything please come down to the Post Office.”
“Thanks, Cynthia.” The brief encounter had helped Steph gain some perspective and she trudged back to the cottage. She walked into the kitchen. Sweet smells and laughter greeted her.
Round the table Lori sat with Jake and Luke, they were playing Monopoly. A stack of pancakes sat in front of each of them. Lori gave her a shy smile. “Want to come and join us? The pancakes are everything free. And I put out some agave syrup for you.”
Steph nodded. She got herself a plate and sat down. “I’ll be the top hat if no one else wants it.” She peeped under the table. Lori was wearing the pink hiking books that Steph had put in the welcome to womanhood box.
Lori winked and mouthed, “Sorry.”
"Best Possible Taste" is very loosely based on real life events.