This has been an active week concerning same-sex marriages. A couple of decades ago I wrote a short story – “X-Chromosomes” – part of a collection of short stories. As I was hearing news reports about equality, I thought of this story. It contains some of the fears parents had about losing custody of their children if they were found to be lesbian or gay.
Well, here’s my offering, and we are still concerned about inequality. What silliness when all we should be considering about any portion of life is – good hearts.
X-CHROMOSOMES by Kieran York
“That’s the ticket,” Dolly Riggs reassured. She leaned down to give the child’s plump cheek a soft tweak. “A smile is better than a frown any old day. Why you got a sweet little face when it’s smiling, Violet. Your name suits you. For a fact, it does.” Standing back, Dolly gave a frisky nod toward the five-year old. “We all like happy endings.”
Violet Thomas blinked into the sun. She focused her squint on the spry octogenarian. One of the neighbors had called Dolly Riggs a senile old bat of dubious sexual leanings. Miss Agatha Dillard, Dolly’s dear friend and housemate, had died two years ago. Dolly had shared a home with Miss Agatha for over fifty years. Everyone on the block had called the two women spinsters. Some however, were more graphic. Violet had no earthly idea what ‘leps-beings’ were. And her mother told her it wasn’t of any true importance anyway.
To Violet, Dolly was only a nice old neighbor lady. She wore strange garb. A huge pagoda straw hat was always worn in the sun. And long-sleeved shirts and pants, because Miss Agatha had always said that Dolly had a bad way with the sun. Dolly’s wardrobe may have set her apart as eccentric, but even that seemed to endear her to the children on the block. She always had time for them. Time to give them apples from her giant apple tree. Time to tell them stories of Joanie Appleseed. That was the feminist version, naturally. And she insisted the kids call her by her first name rather than Mrs. Riggs. The formal title annoyed her.
“Davey run off with my favorite seashell. Aunt Lana brought it from the ocean. Brought it special for me. And Davey stole it,” Violet tattled with a grumble inside her jaw.
When her parents divorced, Aunt Lana had moved in with Violet and her mother, Jody. Aunt Lana was a traveling business woman. She often went near the ocean, and always brought a special shell, and a t-shirt, for Violet.
“Why on earth would Davey do that?” Dolly quizzed. “That boy has more toys than good sense. He’s as selfish as the day is long. Why his big brother never acted like that. He was a gentlemanly youngster. But that Davey!”
“Well, he did it. He took it offa me. To be mean, I ‘spose,” Violet incriminated her playmate. She gave a sway of her curly blonde locks to confirm the crime.
“Never thought I’d see the day when he could get one over on you, Violet Rae Thomas.”
“He did it to be spiteful. Aunt Lana tells that Davey is a spiteful little shit if ever there was one. And my mom says Aunt Lana knows character. Why Aunt Lana even told Mommy that my Daddy wasn’t right for her. Mom says I was the only good thing that come outta getting married. But she had to try marriage on.”
“Lots of folks don’t pick the right flavor first off.”
“Aunt Lana says she’s amazed my dad didn’t goof up with a Y.”
“A Y?” Dolly questioned, gawking down at the child.
“Yes. Instead of the X-chromosome.”
Dolly grinned. “Aunt Lana said that, did she?”
“Yep. Now, how am I gonna get my shell back?”
“Why that’s clear as a fresh scrubbed window.” Dolly’s frown broke. Memory, she mused, is where the past is reinvented. She found similarities in most events trailing from her many yesterdays to today. “One time I wanted something that was taken from me. I set my mind thinking and came up with a plan.”
“Criminy sakes,” Violet squealed. “I just need me a plan.”
“Can’t use my exact plan. It’s been used up by me. But we can change it about.” She crossed her spindly arms defiantly. Leaning down, she asked, “Want to try that?”
“Sure. You can come up with a plan for me.”
“You’ll need to be clever as all get-out.” Dolly hesitated. “Solving problems can usually be done in one of two ways. Blossoms or bullets.”
“Blossoms or bullets?” Violets face squeezed with pure bewilderment. “What’s that all about?”
“Blossoms, well, that’s giving folks a smile. You serve Davey up some tea-cakes and sugar.”
“Davey is too spoiled for that business. His momma bakes a bunch.”
Dolly reconsidered, “Well, I mean by being kindly to him, but I do believe he’s far to strong-willed for blossoms to work.” She dipped the brim of her hat. “Blossoms are out.”
“I got no bullets,” Violet whined with a shrug. “I don’t even got a gun.”
“Bullets don’t mean real bullets. It means you use tactics that aren’t so kindly.”
“That’ll get me in Dutch at Sunday School.” With a puffy sigh, she asked, “What did you have so you needed blossoms or bullets?”
“My best friend wanted my husband. I married him. Thought I would have family of sweet little ones. That never came to be. Anyways, my friend still wanted him. So I gave him to her. I sort of traded for her roommate. Well, she regretted the trade. And I never regretted it for one minute.” Dolly cackled. “Not one minute of my whole life. Agatha and I were better suited.”
Violet’s lips protruded. “I want my shell back,” she brayed. She stomped her foot. “And I’m gonna get it, too. Aunt Lana said not to be in-tim-a-dated. Not by him, or any other boy in the world. Tells me never try to be equal to boys ’cause that would be lowering my standards. She tells me I’m already better because of my X business makin’ me a little girl.”
“What’s your mama say?” Dolly quizzed with amusement.
“Says Aunt Lana is a radical, separatist, feminist Sapphic.”
“Gracious,” Dolly said with a bolt. “But that’s your little secret.”
“I got another secret, too.”
Dolly’s eyebrows lifted. “I’ll bet I can guess.”
“I’ll bet your Aunt Lana isn’t really your aunt. But she’s a pretend aunt.”
“How’d you know?”
“Just a wild guess.”
“Yeah, but I can’t tell nobody. Besides, Aunt Lana is the best aunt I could have anyway.”
“Yes. Now then, little Violet, what do you intend on doing about your special shell?”
“This blossom and bullet tactic isn’t for me,” the small girl answered. “I’m gonna give Davey a shake or two. Smack him in the tummy if I got to. That should do the trick. Aunt Lana said it was okay to tear a strip offa him or any other bullies. An’ I’m gonna do just that.”
Violet stormed down the sidewalk. Pure determination was her ally. Dolly shook her head and snickered for many moments. She watched until Violet was out of sight. Then she returned to tending her begonias. Dolly fussed over her flowers with the tenderness they deserved. Several times she put down her garden shovel and chuckled to herself.
COPYRIGHT: Kieran York
Please check out my poetry in the best-selling poetry collection, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series: Roses Read, Volume 3; and Wet Violets, Volume 2. Edited by Beth Mitchum, the books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.
If you are interested in romantic fiction, please consider the Lambda Award Finalist Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books Distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are available through Amazon.