“I think it is time now,” Dad said, as we all looked around the kitchen for something else to do, some other dish to dry, some reason to put off… “We need to sit down and discuss the situation. Caleb, do you have your notebook and the newspaper?”
Caleb dashed off to get them, and we all sat at the table and waited nervously for him to come back. I heard Ben and Beth playing up in their room, to which they had retired after doing ‘their’ job of clearing the table. It was all so real, all so normal, except it wasn’t.
“The way I see it,” Dad said, when Caleb came back and sat himself down, “Is this. There are two questions, ‘what happened’, and ‘what to do about it.’ Caleb seems to be the expert on the first question, so I will ask him to start.”
Caleb laid out his various theories, which got wilder and wilder as he went on. Mom started to speak several times but stopped herself, and Jenny cried freely several times, especially over the theories that left me… me. That talked of their being a real Robert and that proposed some way of getting me back to being him. I couldn’t tell if that was because it meant she had really lost her sister, or because she might lose me. And I couldn’t tell which I felt worse about.
“Thanks,” Father said when he got done. “I think that, if you don’t mind, we will ask you to be our chief researcher. You have obviously studied this kind of thing.”
Caleb beamed, the moron. As if it was really neat that he had read a lot of science fiction and could rattle off dozens of insane theories as to how this had been done to me.
“But now we need to move on, at least temporarily, to ‘what to do about it’. I think that has two parts. The first is that we need to find out how to fix it. Robert, here, wants to go home…”
Mom blanched at the name, and I interuppted. “Dad, if you could call me ‘Bobby?’ It is the same as I was called then, and will lead to fewer questions and… and everyone is comfortable with it.”
“Are you comfortable with it?” Dad asked, “Or would you rather be called ’Robert’?”
“I am a girl now, and Robert is a stupid name for a girl,” I said.
Dad looked at me for a long minute, and then said, “So, if you are a girl now, why won’t you wear a bra?”
I looked at him, and my eyes filled with tears, but I couldn’t answer, and just shook my head.
“Very well,” he said, “I think I know why. I had expected you to want to be called ‘Robert’ too. I think it is very… mature of you to be able to say ‘I am a girl’. It was something I knew we were going to have to deal with. So, we can decide on that now anyway.” He looked straight at me, “We will call you ‘Bobbi’ then. We will call you a girl.” He waited a second, and went on, “We will refer to you as ‘she’, and ‘her’.”
He paused, and seemed to want something, so I nodded, my heart pounding in my chest as my identity was stripped away from me. But I agreed with him. Anything else was insane.
“We will speak of your breasts, and your vagina, and your period. We will expect you to wear panties, and skirts, and dresses…”
“Not dresses,” I said, “and not high heels, and not makeup. Or carry a purse.”
Mom started to say something, but Dad held up his hand. “Very well, but you will wear a bra outside of the house.”
My heart beat faster and I struggled to speak… “But not in the fort!” I said, desperate to preserve something.
“No, not in the house, the fort, the garage, or the backyard… as long as you cover up decently outside.”
I nodded, and he went on, “We will expect you to take care of yourself properly. You will need to pee sitting down,” he said with a grin, “ and you will need to wear tampons or pads during your periord, and to shave your armpits and legs, at least where people can see them.”
“I can help her with that, Dad,” Jenny said, excitedly, before I could respond.
“That would be a very good idea,” Dad said, looking at me very seriously. I didn’t know what he was trying to say, but I nodded. I would need help, and if it made Jenny happy then it was a good thing. She had arlready lost her sister, I needed to do what I could to make up for it.
Dad paused, and asked me, “Do you have anything to add?”
“I, understand. I don’t have any problems being a girl. I am one. That is the body I have now. I will act like one outside the house. But,not in the house. I want to be able to be comfortable in the house, and not have people yelling at me because I am not wearing a bra, or a shirt, or anything like that. I am a girl. I know that. We can all see that. But I am, not… I am not your girl.”
Dad leaned forward. “I know what you mean, more than you do, I think. But I need to know, will you let me be your father here? I can’t have you living in my house if you are in rebellion to me.”
“But I can…?”
“Yes. Within the house and within reason. I think I know why you need that. But will you let me be your father, while you are with us?”
I looked around the table, “All of you?” I asked, “Can I say yes to all of you? To a sister and a mother and… a best friend?”
Mom was in tears, but she nodded along with everyone else. “Yes.” I said, looking at them “Yes, absolutely. I don’t know how long it will be for, but, even when I go back, if I go back, I will always remember this.”
“Good,” Dad said, “so we are agreed on that. I think it would be wise if we continued with our normal names… I will be ‘Dad’, and this is your mother, your sister, and some guy from next door.” Caleb grinned, and I nodded.
“Tomorrow,” Dad said, “I have to work, as does your mother, but if Caleb is free I think it would be good for you all to go down to the newspaper office and talk to that reporter. He can get you in touch with the other people that have been changed, and we can see what the next step that they are considering is.”
“I would love to Mr. Smith, but I have a job tomorrow.”
“Would it help if I came and helped you?” I asked.
“Well, that would be great Bobbi, but I don’t know that I would go much faster having to show you what to do and all.”
“Show me what to do? I’ve been helping you build things since forever. Why, I taught you half you know.” I stopped, startled. Everyone was staring at me. “What? I… Oh. ‘Roberta’ didn’t?”
“Well, she loved to come and watch,” Caleb said, “and she would bring something to write or study and keep me company but… you know about carpentry work?”
“Sure? I’m not making it my life’s work like you are, but I can handle a tape measure.” I looked at my hands, “I don’t know how hot I will handle the tools, but I can measure and lay out, and everything like that.”
“Well, that would be a help. If we do good, I might be finished before noon, and we can do lunch in town and then to see this guy. I will go call him now, and set up an appointment.”
He ran off into the den, and we all looked at each other. “Thanks Dad,” I said. “I don’t want to be a pain.”
“Oh, Bobbi, you’re not a pain!” Mother said, “it must be simply awful, not knowing who you are and all. Do you feel OK?”
“Well, I have felt, I don’t know, dizzy all day.”
“I’m not surprised,” Dad said. Most people don’t know this, but there are…“
’It’s all set,“ Caleb said, ”He seemed pleased I had called, and we can see him at one tomorrow afternoon. If we aren’t done, I will just go back and finish in the afternoon. I mean, if you can’t take off work for a freind who has recently been transformed from a boy into a girl and doesn’t know how or why, what can you take off work for?“ He grinned, and we all felt much better.
“Scrabble, anyone?” I asked.