Wrapped in a thick dressing gown, Steph sat at a table outside the chocolate box cottage. She hugged her coffee tight and watched the world awake. The birds said hello and the sun waved a greeting. It was a quiet moment when no one else existed.
Lori came out in a ridiculously thin satin nightdress. Her make up was already done. She smiled and sat down opposite Steph. She looked at her nails and blew on them. Her voice was soft and a notch higher than Nick’s had been. “Do you have any plans for the day?”
“I thought we could hang out. Watch some TV, walk over the hills. You know get to know each other.”
“Why don’t I book us an hour of beauty treatments. Maybe find a babysitter?” For the first time since they arrived Lori looked excited, happy.
Steph raised an eyebrow. “Really, Miss Moneybags – you are feeling flush today?”
She blushed and looked away. “I… I… just thought.”
With a sigh Steph reminded herself that Lori had only been a woman for two days and this must be bloody confusing. She reached over and took Lori’s hand. “This holiday is about getting to know you. That treat was a big deal for you I know but lets have a day here. If you want to go into the village tomorrow we can try it.”
“Mum, when’s breakfast.” Luke zipped past in his swim shorts. “I’m going in the burn.”
Before Steph could raise an eyebrow in his direction there was a splash. “Do you not want breakfast?” she shouted.
“After my swim.”
An awkward silence descended between Steph and Lori.
Lori coughed. “Maybe I could do your hair? Paint your nails?”
“Yeah. OK. No make-up though.” It hurt that Lori didn’t seem to know Steph like Nick knew Steph. There’s no way Steph would normally agree to having her hair and nails done. It wasn’t her thing. “I’ve got something for you.” She got up and went into the pretty kitchen, all chintz and relaxation, where she put her cup in the sink. From the cupboard she got out a box. Stefan had helped her wrap it in pink paper with felt flowers – it looked beautiful. Carrying it like the fourth king in a nativity she went back out and placed it down in front of Lori.
Lori appeared nervous and she blinked. “I didn’t get you anything.”
Steph waved that away. “Nick never bothered buying me anything so I hadn’t expected it from Lori.” She kissed her cheek and brushed it with her hand, adjusting to the smooth face caked in foundation would take time. It took an effort on Steph’s part not to wipe her hands on her dressing gown. “This is your welcome to womanhood pack. I gave Ellie one when she was about eight – I figured as a new woman Lori should have one too.” Covering her mouth, she whispered. “I didn’t bother with the Tampax though. You’re one lucky gal and get to skip the shitty stuff.” Whilst Steph had expected Lori to laugh, Lori didn’t. She appeared a little upset. “Look, if I’ve messed up, I promise that I’ll get you tampax and nice carrying case the next time I get to a chemist. Just...” Steph shrugged. “I don’t get why any woman would want a period if she doesn’t have to have it.”
Lori shook her head. She looked a little angry. “It’s not that. You’re just so damn understanding. Can’t you hate me a little bit?”
“You want me to be angry with you?” Steph sat down.
Luke came past them. “Period’s are manky. You put me right off the breakfast you haven't made me.”
“Periods are not manky, young man. They’re painful but they’re a fact of life.” Her emotions were pulled in all directions and Steph didn’t want Luke to leave. This was supposed to be a time to relax, their first holiday in years. But he left them to face each other. “Why do you want me to be angry, Lori?” Steph had been trying to say the name as often as she could in an attempt to forget the bitch from school.
“Have you any idea how hard its been for me? Wanting to be Lori and I kept it secret all this time. Then when I finally tell you, you tell me not to wear your tights. What the damn hell was that all about?”
“I was hung over, you stupid bitch. It was all I could think of. Then I spent all bloody day trying to work out how to be a lesbian and then you said I’d done it wrong because I’d talked to people.” Furious that Lori had ruined what Steph thought would be a special moment, Steph ignored her aching legs and took off down the path to the nearby forest. She kept checking behind her but Lori didn’t follow.
"Best Possible Taste" is very loosely based on real life events.