Chapter 5: Plans

Maril took the charge of the hunt. His cries led the other besires in the most glorious of hunts, none of them wiser to the womanhood inside his breeches. — The Lady’s Consort

Galadin’s mother stormed into the house, slamming the door as she entered. The magical lock sparked as the door swung back. “Damn you, Stanton! This is all your fault!”

Galadin winced and continued after her. He felt sick to his stomach and his eyes burned with tears. He didn’t mean to tell her that he wanted to wear a dress to the ball, but a part of him was glad that it had finally been brought into the open. His mother’s fury, on the other hand, was exactly what he feared.

The carriage ride back home could have been through a frozen wasteland. She had said nothing. When he tried to speak, she had silenced him with a glare or a hiss.

Inside, his father looked up from his working desk in the living room. He still wore his normal suit and tie, even when he remained at home for the day. He seemed unperturbed by his wife stomping in front of him.

“I told you! I told you that would happen if he was near that… that… Benard! That monster turned my baby into a sissy!” She raised her hand to strike him.

Stanton looked up at her palm, his face impassive.

Maran swung her hand.

To Galadin’s surprise, his father leaned into the strike.

Her palm caught his cheek. The crack of flesh on flesh caused Galadin to flinch.

Silence.

Then Stanton looked up at her. “Feel better?” he said as if he was tucking her into the couch.

“No, I don’t!” she screamed. Her hand lifted to strike again but didn’t come down. “I hate it when you do that!”

“Then hit me again.” He winked at her. “Harder this time.”

She sank to her knees. “I can’t,” she sobbed. “You know that.”

His father slid out of his chair and joined her on the floor. He pulled her into a tight hug.

She pressed her cheek against his shoulder and sobbed. “My baby. What is wrong with my baby?”

Galadin inched into the room. There were tears in his eyes. Guilt hummed inside him, guilt that there was something wrong and regret that he wanted something he couldn’t have. He knew that she was in pain, but he couldn’t tell her he would be the man she wanted. He couldn’t. It felt like a dam had burst and he had a chance. He caught his father’s gaze. “I’m sorry, Father.”

Stanton gave him an impassive look, one of innocent confusion that he wore when fighting or when someone was emotional near him. “For what?”

He wanted to say he would go back to the tailor to get the suit fitted but he couldn’t. It felt like a horrible lie, as if he had to shove is true self back into a box just to make his mother happy. He sniffed and shook his head. “I… I can’t. I want—”

“No, you don’t,” his father said.

“What?”

“You are who you are. You haven’t magically changed from a week ago. You are the same person who had dinner with us a year ago. Your realization of your needs has simply grown, day by day, year by year.”

Galadin stared at his dad in shock.

His mother looked up at him. “How can you say that? After everything we’ve done?”

“After what you’ve done,” Stanton corrected her. “I remember the first day you saw him differently. You were in tears because you caught Galadin trying on that little girl’s dress. He always wanted to wear his cousin’s dresses and skirts, remember?”

His mother sniffed. “You remember that?”

Stanton kissed the top of her head. “I’m always paying attention, you know that.”

“What do we do?”

“Well, first we talk as if our child is in the room.” He looked up at Galadin. “And then we ask how you want to move forward.”

Galadin gasped. Blindly, he reached out for a chair. When he caught it, he found his legs wouldn’t move.

“Have you figured out you like men? Or do you still think you just prefer to wear dresses?”

An image of Benard rose up followed by a sudden heat across his cheeks. The world spun around Galadin again. He tried to sit in the chair but missed. His hip caught on the wooden arm before he sat heavily on the ground. “You knew?”

Stanton shrugged. “As I said, I’m always paying attention. I also know you can’t force someone to be someone else. Wishes, dreams, and actions will never speed up the process either. I didn’t think you knowing that I guessed would have helped; either you would have raged against it or threw yourself into the role too fast.”

“Maybe I would have not felt like a monster,” whispered Galadin.

His father’s face cracked, a sadness crossing over it. “I did not consider that.”

His mother sobbed. “No, no. I can’t do this.”

“Really, Love? Does your child’s happiness mean so little to you?”

She looked up at him, tears rolling down her cheeks. “How can you say that? It’s my son! I love him.”

“Enough to let him live his own life?”

“N-No. Yes! Damn you!” She punched his arm but it was a weak blow.

Stanton shrugged again. “You accept or you fight, those are you only two choices. You already know I struggle with this world and talking to people. That’s who I am and I can’t change that.” He cupped her chin with his finger. “You knew what I was when we met so many years.”

She let out a choked sob. “You were such a pile of shit when we first married.”

“I’ll admit, you weren’t the most pleasant of flowers either. Yet, here we are. Your pile of shit.” He wiped the tears from underneath her eyes.

“How can I? How can we pretend he’s a girl."”

“Because we’re parents, Love. Our child needs this.”

“But, he’s a boy.”

His father smiled to his wife. “That is mutable, that can be changed. We can pull favors. My mother might take a bit of convincing after getting that invitation but I’m sure all three of us can convince her. We make a new list, find new instructors, get a dress.” He smiled broadly. “Coordination is something I’m very good at doing.”

She sniffed as the tears rolled down her cheeks. “Just like that?”

He kissed her on the nose, and then on the brow. “When we held our child, we said we would move the world, right?”

Galadin realized that he wasn’t part of the conversation, but he was also on the edge of losing his own emotions. His father, though confusing to understand, seemed to have done exactly what he said, he took on the fury of his mother. He staggered to his feet and inched out of the room, never taking his eyes away from his parents.

As soon as he could, he spun and race up the stairs. His throat seized up as a sob of his own threatened to tear out. He shook with the effort to keep it bottled in. He managed to make his room before he lost it. The cry rose out of his throat, a terrifying mixture of fear and relief.

He had a chance to be what he wanted.

Now that he had it, he wasn’t sure if he could go through with it.

Burying his face in his pillows, he let the tears flow.