A Happy Medium Ch. 01

Amateur

This is Part 1 of 3. All three chapters are written and will be published in sequence.

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Prologue

“Mom, she isn’t even going to remember me,” Tessa Kerrigan said, crossing her arms in front of her breasts and looking out the window. Tessa hadn’t said a word in nearly an hour, just stared out the windshield in silence. Her mother, Heather, had tricked herself into believing that Tessa had come to terms with their little weekend getaway. Now it became quite clear that Tessa was still uncomfortable and just thinking up new objections. Heather sighed audibly.

“I am sure she will,” Heather responded, though even she didn’t know if she believed it. Heather was no more excited about this trip to the country than her daughter was. Still, she felt like she owed it to her friend to be there. Even if every objection Tessa raised sounded reasonable.

“Why couldn’t just me and you go somewhere if you wanted to go on vacation, that would be nice,” Tessa suggested. Heather’s heart ached at the request. It was what she wanted too.

“We are together now, just with friends,” Heather said.

“We haven’t seen them in like…ten years,” Tessa said, “And she is two years younger than me. The only thing I remember about her was that she was blonde. And liked to draw horses. What am I going to do with her for a weekend now that she is 18?” Tessa didn’t turn to look at her mother as she spoke. Instead, she kept looking out the window, watching the evergreen trees grow thicker and thicker outside as they moved deeper into the woods. She wasn’t even outdoorsy. This was a nightmare.

“It was only 8 years ago,” Heather said, as though that settled the matter.

“Okay?” Tessa said, drawing out the syllables. Tessa knew that she was grating on her mother’s nerves. But she really wasn’t angry at her mother. She was simply nervous. She was not particularly fond of unfamiliar people or unfamiliar locations. And it was worse that, apparently, something was expected of her this weekend. She had to entertain this girl she didn’t know or something. In short, she didn’t know what to expect when she reached the end of this road. And it was making her anxious. Heather could sense that anxiety, she always seemed to know what Tessa was thinking.

“She’s going to college in two months,” Heather explained, “Her mother isn’t certain that she is really ready to go. We just want you to talk to her about college, let her know what to expect.” That was worse than Tessa thought. And, really, what sort of ‘tips’ was she supposed to give to this girl? She left her dorm room right after she woke up. She went to class, she ate lunch, went to another class, and went back to her room to do homework and watch TV. It wasn’t exactly a routine she thought was worth sharing with someone else. It was pretty much embarrassing.

“Mom, that’s so weird, and you know it,” Tessa complained. Of course, Heather did know it was a little weird. But she also knew that this wasn’t really the reason for this trip. Tessa wasn’t here to advise a girl on college. No, Heather was dragging herself, and her daughter, out to a godforsaken cabin in the woods because her friend had asked for help, mother to mother. The daughters were only invited because it had felt strange not to do so. After all, they’d always been a foursome.

She never would have said it, but Heather was at least as nervous as Tessa. But any concerns or discomfort Heather felt was sort of beside the point. Jennifer had called out of the blue and asked her for help. And Heather knew how much she, and Tessa, owed to Jennifer. There was no choice but to swallow her anxiety and head towards the cabin.

Even as that thought crossed her mind, Heather could see the cabin itself coming into view. She crested a small rise and she could see it on the right side of the road. It was a small, blonde log building with a green metal roof. Square with a porch that stretched across the front. It was recessed back from the road about 30 yards, with a well manicured lawn laid out in front of it. Behind the cabin and stretching off in either direction from the yard were thick evergreen trees. The trees climbed up as they moved farther from the house and Heather could see the mountains forming in the distance behind the cabin. It certainly felt secluded. Heather could barely make out the next cabin, a few hundred yards down the road.

On the left side of the road, the trees had given way and Heather could see the large lake that sat in the center of the state park. The road she was on now was a ring around the lake, though in most places the woods were too thick to see the water. It seemed that they had a prime location, even if the cabin looked a little rustic for Heather’s taste. Her eyes glanced across the murky gray water to the far side. She could see the small town they’d past through when they’d first entered the park. Little more than a general store, a gas station, and a few docks. The town, like the cabin, was surrounded by forest. Perhaps it was the rize escort encroaching woods, but Heather felt that the town looked much farther away than she’d expected. It was so small.

Tessa wasn’t concerned about the surrounding countryside. She was aware of what the country looked like, she was not particularly enamored with it. Instead, as they came over the hill, she became aware that they were looking at the cabin they’d be staying in. Her eyes remained there. Especially after she realized that the two people they were set to meet were standing on the front porch. Waiting.

“I guess I would have recognized Jennifer,” Tessa said as they began to draw closer, turning down the driveway towards the cabin. She hadn’t thought she’d remember the woman who had once been her mother’s closest friend. It had been so long. But now that Tessa saw the woman, the recognition was instantaneous.

Jennifer Freeman was young for a woman with an 18 year old daughter at only 38. But she looked younger to Tessa. In fact, she looked the same as she had eight years ago, when she’d looked younger than 30. She was of average height, around 5’4 but looked taller. Some of that was because she had long, thin legs that seemed to stretch her out. She was wearing a pair of skin-tight jeans that accentuated them. She had wide hips that looked wider compared to her almost spindly legs. Her waist narrowed dramatically and her tight t-shirt showed off her feminine curves. The shirt also accentuated her large (though not overly-large) breasts that stood up high and youthful on her chest. Jennifer had narrow shoulders and thin, long arms. Her hands were small, with long, delicate fingers. Her neck was long and thin. She had a severely beautiful face with a sharp chin and equally sharp nose. Her lips, however, were thick and generous, her eyes large, wide and accented by long lashes. Those eyes were a glittering blue color topped with thin eyebrows that gave the woman a mischievous appearance. Her hair was a deep shiny platinum blonde that somehow looked natural. Just seeing the woman brought memories flooding back to Tessa. It was like she could hear Jennifer’s voice.

Her daughter, on the other hand, wasn’t familiar, other than the fact that her appearance was strikingly similar to her mother. Tessa supposed that she shouldn’t be surprised by the transformation, Madison Freeman had only been 10 years old the last time she saw her. Now the girl was a woman. And a pretty one. She was about the same height as her mother, maybe a bit taller. And thinner, somehow. Jennifer was hardly full-figured, but her daughter was downright willowy skinny. Her legs poking out of soft shorts were small, her knees a bit knobby. She had narrowish hips (but a round ass), a thin waist, and very small, pert breasts. Her arms were lean and her neck was long. Her face was like a younger version of her mother’s, the only difference being her greenish eyes and the fact that her platinum blonde hair was much longer (halfway down her back, unlike the shoulder-length hair of her mother).

Despite the recognition, Tessa didn’t feel any relief. It wasn’t that she had any bad memories about Jennifer. Far from it. She remembered how very important Jennifer had been to her mother, and hell to her, once. But rather than feeling like she was seeing an old friend, Tessa instead grew even more anxious. She felt pressure that came with the past, the expectation everyone would have that they could slip back into an old friendship that had withered to the point of dying. Or worse, that a childhood friendship with Madison could skip adolescence and still be viable now, when both Tessa and Madison were adults. Tessa bit her lower lip and sighed.

Heather sympathized with her daughter’s growing reticence, which she instantly sensed. But she also knew that there was nothing to be done now. They had agreed to come on this trip as a favor to Jennifer. Heather always kept her promises and her daughter’s sighs weren’t going to change that. Heather decided to put on a happy face and make the best of it. It couldn’t be that bad, after all. The four of them had once been close, hadn’t they? Heather didn’t answer herself, she just goosed the gas a bit, sending the car more quickly down the gentle hill leading towards the cabin.

“They’re here,” Jennifer said, turning to her daughter on the porch of the cabin. Her ears had perked up as she heard Heather speed up slightly. She saw the white SUV come into view and knew it was her old friend’s car.

“Cool,” Madison said flatly. They’d already spent the last two days fighting about this little trip. They easily fell back into the well-worn paths of the argument.

“Don’t be like that when they get here,” Jennifer said.

“I am here, aren’t I?” Madison asked, “I don’t have to be here. I am adult. I came as a favor. You can’t really ask more of me than that. I won’t pretend I am happy to be here.”

“I’d rather you not be here at all than be here and act like an ass,” Jennifer responded. bostnews.com Madison rolled her eyes.

“You could have told me that three days ago,” Madison said under her breath. And this girl thought she was an adult, Jennifer thought.

“Please…”

“I had plans and you know it, I had a date with Craig tonight and tomorrow Lindsay and I were going to…”

“I know your itinerary, You’ve gone over it for days. You’re gone every weekend, and I am fine with that. I don’t ask for much. You’ll have fun with Tessa. You guys have been friends for years. Give it a rest, okay?” Jennifer begged. Madison crossed her arms in front of her breasts and focused on the approaching SUV. She could barely remember Heather and her only recollection of Tessa was that she was an awkward preteen who’d been condescending to a girl two years younger. She didn’t have any real desire to see either of them. Still, the sooner it got here, the better. Then they could get this long weekend over and go home. Madison just could not wait for this summer to be over so that she could go to college. She loved her mother, but she was ready to be on her own. She liked making her own plans and picking her own friends.

“I could have more fun with someone I know,” Madison said, though her tone was resigned. Jennifer could tell that the girl was, essentially surrendering, “I don’t understand why you couldn’t just go by yourself if you wanted a weekend in the country? You could’ve asked Tessa’s mom while I was out of town.”

“Did you ever stop to think that this isn’t about you? Maybe I need to talk to Heather. Maybe there are things I need to discuss with her specifically? ” Jennifer asked.

“What does she know that Lindsay’s mom wouldn’t?”

Jennifer didn’t answer. Maybe she figured that if Madison thought about it long enough, she’d figure it out. Or maybe she didn’t really care about what Madison thought. Jennifer knew why she needed to talk to Heather. Heather knew more about Jennifer than just about anyone, besides Madison. And the fact that they hadn’t met in years and only talked occasionally really didn’t change that. Jennifer needed advice from someone she could trust, and knew from experience that Heather could provide that advice.

What’s more, there really wasn’t anyone else to ask. At least, no one Jennifer felt comfortable asking. Jennifer knew that if she told any of her close friends that there was something she couldn’t talk to them about, that they would balk. Jennifer was mostly an open book, a classic oversharer. But Jennifer knew things about herself that others didn’t. And Heather, unlike Jennifer’s closer friends, knew those things too. After all, Jennifer and Madison had met Heather and Tessa 10 years earlier at a support group for trans people and their families.

It was one of those memories that Jennifer could access, and it was like stepping back into time. She was transported back to that moment. It was in the basement of a community center in the town where she used to live. Where Heather and Tessa still lived. There was a crumbling linoleum floor, wood panelling on the walls, and a circle of folding chairs. The room smelled like cheap coffee and stale donuts. Most of the seats were already occupied when Jennifer walked in with her then very young daughter. It was, almost exclusively, middle-aged trans people and their adult (or near adult) children looking a little bombarded but mildly supportive. The person leading the group was a very tall woman who was speaking earnestly with a small gaggle of men. Confused husbands maybe whose wives were now their husbands, maybe.

Jennifer almost turned around and left right then. It wasn’t a group for her. Her body was vibrating with nerves and her bowels were tightened into a knot in her stomach. She hadn’t wanted to come here in the first place. The endocrinologist had suggested it. But these people were in a completely different situation. What would they understand?

“Oh thank goodness!” Jennifer had heard a voice saying, to the left. She turned and looked. There were two empty chairs, still available. Sitting next to those empty chairs were a young mother and a young girl. Jennifer felt a wave of relief wash over her that she couldn’t really explain. She could hear that same relief in the young woman’s voice, “I didn’t think…well I came last week and it wasn’t really…I was hoping to talk to another mother who had a…daughter who was transitioning,” the young woman said. The girl sitting next to her squirmed uncomfortably. Jennifer could not help but smile, she felt her cheeks going red. The first time in her life, she knew for certain that she was passing.

“Well, actually,” she said, “My daughter isn’t transitioning. I am.”

“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry! Was I rude in some way? This is all so new to me and…” the woman said. Jennifer laughed and extended her hand.

“Jennifer,” she said, “Nice to meet you.” Now the woman smiled broadly, relieved again.

“Heather,” she said, shaking her hands.

And they never went back to the support group after that. To be honest, Jennifer couldn’t really remember what was said by anyone else at the rest of the meeting. They didn’t need the rest of the meeting. They’d accidentally stumbled into a far more intimate support group by accident.

Every member of the little foursome provided something to the whole group. Jennifer was in the last stages of transitioning (in fact, she would later decide against bottom surgery, meaning she was actually finished with her transition at that time). Heather was thirsty for knowledge about what her daughter was thinking and going through. She desperately wanted to be supportive of Tessa, but was constantly afraid that she was going to screw something up. Jennifer provided her with advice and peace of mind. And Heather provided advice to Jennifer’s daughter as well. She filled Madison in on all the awkward, teenage girl stuff that she’d been socialized to do since childhood, but Jennifer had never learned. It made Heather feel better, to have problems she could understand and solve with a girl whose body she understood a little better.

Even as she was being tutored by her, Heather was simultaneously teaching Jennifer how to be a mother. No so much in direct instruction. But by observation. Jennifer watched Heather and took tips. She’d always been a devoted parent, but she often felt adrift, wondering if she could create maternal instinct. Heather gave her the confidence to know that she could function as a mother. And was always willing to provide advice when asked. Or even if not asked. Perhaps more importantly, Tessa provided Health with an opportunity to make up up for the iniquities of her past. Jennifer had struggled with gender dysmorphia for many years before she found someone who understood her. Jennifer gave Tessa the nurturing transwoman mentor she’d always desired when she was young.

And, of course, the girls were friends with one another. They might not have chosen each other as friends in any other circumstance. But they were bound by their nontraditional childhoods and bonded over the fact that they shared secrets they couldn’t feel comfortable sharing with anyone else.

For years, the four grew together. Jennifer couldn’t really pinpoint when they’d finally drifted apart. She knew that that it began when she got a new job and moved across the state with Madison. But they had made a good effort to stay in touch for awhile. But their need for one another had seemed to shrink as they grew more accustomed to their roles. And the distance in miles made maintaining the friendship harder and harder. Eventually, they stopped visiting. And then the phone calls stopped. Facebook and an occasional e-mail were essentially it.

Jennifer hadn’t thought of Heather and Tessa for months when the idea came to call and organize this particular trip. She had been thinking about Madison going off to school and wondering a couple of things about what she was going to do when that happened. And she realized that for the first time in many years, she felt like she would benefit from a little advice. And she found herself calling before she’d even thought it through. After the call, when Heather had sounded shocked but agreed to come, Jennifer found herself confused almost by why she’d asked. But she didn’t regret it. As the time for the meeting approached, she grew more and more excited to see her old friend. And ask her some new questions. Now, Heather and Tessa were pulling to a stop in front of the cabin and stepping out.

“Oh god, she’s still cuter than me,” Jennifer heard her daughter hiss under her breath as the women came into view. It sounded like a gripe and definitely wasn’t meant to be a compliment. But Madison was impressed, Tessa was cute. She was very short, maybe 5’1 wearing shoes. She had long, very straight black hair that draped like a waterfall over her shoulders. She had big hazel eyes and a long thin nose. Her lips were full and were hiding bright white teeth. Her breasts were small sat up high on her slender chest. Her arms were thin, her fingers tapered. Her waist was thin and her hips surprisingly wide with a small, tight butt. Her legs were short and somewhat muscled. Tiny feet.

Madison reflected that Heather, who she recognized now that she was looking at her, didn’t much resemble her daughter. But you could still tell they were related. Maybe it was the big hazel eyes, which the shared. Or maybe it was something else that was harder to point to. Regardless, Heather was tall-ish woman, maybe 5’9 and slim. Her hair was long like her daughters, but an auburn color and somewhat wavy. Her nose was short, her mouth was wide and prone to broad smiles when near familiar people. Her breasts were small, her hips narrow, and her legs were long.

“Oh my god! Heather!” Jennifer said in a loud voice, mortifying her daughter. She ran towards the car, throwing her arms wide. Jennifer was shocked by the emotion that overcame her when she saw her friend. Heather was a bit taken aback, but felt suddenly at ease as Jennifer’s arms wrapped around her. The two friends held each other for a few moments, the years melting away.

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