I had a gulp of my water as I sat in the wingback chair. I was disappointed Tess and I were stuck on the chairs rather than getting to sit on the sofa. We were next to each other, but still too far apart. And with the two of us on one side of the room and everyone else on the opposite side, it felt too exposed and confrontational.
I glanced to my left, Tess was sitting quietly and sipping her wine cooler as she glanced around the room at everyone else. She looked wary. Like she was trying to act relaxed and calm, but she knew this could turn into an argument and it could get heated.
My parents both looked as uptight as I felt, but ontop of that they also looked impatient and borderline angry. On the other hand my sister actually seemed to be enjoying herself. She had a smile on her face, and she was almost sitting ontop of Alex. I wasn't sure if the two of them were girlfriends or not. Hailey introduced the tall brunette as a friend and I thought my sister was straight, but I had to admit the two of us didn't talk much about personal stuff. I could easily believe she was bi, but I didn't want to make any assumptions either.
And Alex was actually staring at her phone as she tapped away at the screen. Whatever she was up to, it seemed to have her full attention.
I had another gulp of water then sighed as I realized I hadn't properly introduced Tess and my parents, and my mom was still waiting for me to answer her questions.
"Ok let's do the introductions," I said as I stifled another sigh. I added, "Sorry Tess, I should have done this earlier but got sidetracked."
I looked to my folks and said, "Mom, dad, this is my friend Theresa. She's been helping me since all this started."
Then I looked to my left and continued, "Tess, those are my parents, Douglas and Tracey Price."
She gave them a polite smile and said, "Nice to meet you both."
My folks didn't respond at all. So much for manners, they practically ignored her while they were both staring at me.
I sighed once more, "And my name is now Amethyst Price, or you can call me Amy for short. I'm your second child, your youngest daughter. I'm trans, I guess I transitioned Friday night or Saturday morning, thanks to magic and all that stuff. Like I said earlier."
My heart was racing again by the time I got through saying all that. It felt scary, but it also felt kind of nice calling myself their daughter. It would have felt nicer if they'd said it, but hopefully we were working towards that.
Dad responded with a hard tone as he stated, "Bullshit. There's no such thing as magic. Who are you for real, and where's my son?"
I rolled my eyes, "Dad if magic's not real then how do you think the pool froze over then thawed again?"
"No idea," he said as he shook his head, "But I'm sure there's a rational explanation for it."
"Actually there isn't," Alex stated. She looked up from her phone and elaborated, "I was just running some numbers? Ballpark figures, but the surface area of the pool to a depth of at least fifteen centimetres works out to around five thousand litres of water. It takes forty-two-hundred joules to raise the temperature of one litre of water by a single degree celsius. So warming five thousand litres from frozen to twenty-eight degrees would take more than half a billion joules."
Everyone was staring at Alex now. My folks looked somewhere between angry and confused, Tess looked interested, and Hailey had a wide grin on her face. I only vaguely knew what Alex was talking about, but I could put it together from the context. She was saying the magic demonstration was really really difficult.
Alex continued, "That's about as much energy as five hundred cars all moving at a hundred and sixty kilometres an hour. And that's just to thaw it, freezing that much water's even more complicated. And she did that in an instant, without any special equipment. That's not a simple parlour trick, that's breaking a number of physical laws."
When she was finished, Hailey announced with a grin "Alex is a physics major. She knows her stuff."
Mom and dad continued to frown as they stared at the tall brunette next to my sister.
Alex grimaced then put her phone away and shrugged, "I'm just saying there's no rational explanation. What we saw was impossible."
I had another gulp of water as I glanced around the room again. My sister was still grinning, she almost looked proud of Alex for figuring all that stuff out and sharing it with the rest of us.
It made me wonder again if they were a couple, or if Hailey wanted them to be a couple. It also made me wonder if my sister had any other ulterior motives for bringing a physics major to what she probably knew would be a magic demonstration.
There was another tense, awkward silence in the room. Tess looked thoughtful as she sipped her cooler, dad looked grumpy, mom was frowning at my sister, and Hailey was looking pleased.
My sister looked over at me, then her eyes drifted towards the bookcase and she frowned. "Hey mom? How come you have a bunch of empty picture frames up on the shelves?"
I cringed and looked down at the water bottle in my hand. I knew someone would notice sooner or later.
"What?" mom asked in confusion.
Hailey got to her feet and moved to the bookcase and started pointing out the empty frames, and mom joined her.
After a few moments mom gasped, "All the pictures of... Of my son are missing!"
I kept silent but I was still cringing, and I probably had a guilty look on my face.
"Look at this mom!" my sister said as she picked up one of the pictures. "This was me and... This was a picture of me and Amethyst, but now it's just me in it!"
That made me grimace. I was positive both mom and Hailey were trying to say my deadname, but they couldn't. I felt a little nauseous as I wondered if they even remembered it. I started to think about just leaving. If I left now, I wouldn't be able to do any more damage, I wouldn't be able to hurt them or mess things up even worse.
While I sat there cringing and trying not to panic, mom carried a picture over to dad and said "Look at this Douglas! This was the family photo we took for last year's christmas cards! It was all four of us, but now it's just you and Hailey and I."
My sister finally turned and asked me, "Amy? What did you do?"
My stomach felt cold and heavy and I took a deep breath then replied softly, "I'm sorry. It was... I didn't mean it but I accidentally wished away all the pictures of the old me. I didn't want to see them again."
I glanced at Tess and caught her looking at me. I couldn't guess what she was thinking or feeling, but I was sure she could see how stressed I was.
Dad glared at me and demanded, "Then damn-well wish them back! Don't you see how upset your mother is? Those are family pictures, memories, they're important!"
That's pretty much what I was dreading. If he was going to start shouting and raising his voice, I'd leave. I couldn't deal with a big argument. And I was about to say so when I realized what he actually said.
I looked up at him and asked nervously, "My mother's upset? So you believe I'm your daughter? You believe me about who I am?"
From his reaction I realized he either didn't realize he'd said that, or he didn't mean to. He looked sort of thoughtful and maybe a little embarrassed.
That just left mom. I turned towards her and asked, "Mom? Do you believe me?"
Mom didn't respond right away either, but she looked sort of torn now too.
Hailey spoke up, "C'mon mom. I'm convinced she's my sister, it sounds like dad believes her too."
Mom sighed as she looked from Hailey to dad to me. She finally asked me, "Why are you calling yourself Amethyst? It's such an unusual name. Can't you pick something more normal?"
I rolled my eyes, "You can call me Amy if you like. But I like the name Amethyst. I've liked it for years and years."
She sounded critical as she asked, "And are you going to keep dying your hair that grey colour? And what have you done to your eyes?"
"My hair is silver," I insisted, "Not grey! And it's my natural colour. And my eyes are naturally purple. And I think the silver and purple look great and go perfectly with my new name."
Mom frowned, "Are you sure this is really what you want? You're really happier like this?"
"Yes mom," I replied. "I was in denial for a long time, but I really should have come out years ago. Hailey wasn't surprised I was trans. Even my roommate's known for over a year, long before I was ready to admit it to myself. So yeah, this is what I want and I'm really happy. I sure don't want to go back to what I was before. I'd..."
I wasn't sure if I should say that out loud, but after a brief hesitation I half-whispered it. "I'd rather die, than give this up. This is me, this is the real me."
Everyone else was silent at the moment. Dad was staring at me with a thoughtful look on his face. Hailey had a hopeful smile on her face. Alex was watching as well, but her expression was kind of neutral. Not surprising since none of this affected her in any way. And Tess looked hopeful.
I felt it too, it seemed like both my parents were coming around and starting to believe me.
After a few more quiet moments mom said, "Before we do anything else, you have to fix all these pictures."
That wasn't what I was hoping to hear and my mood that had been tentatively creeping upwards crashed back down. I slumped back in my chair and sighed. I could feel my face heating up and my eyes prickled a little, as I found myself fighting back some tears.
I thought she was going to say she believed me, or she accepted me. Instead she just wanted pictures of the old me back up on the walls. It felt like she was rejecting me, rejecting who I really was. She liked the old me better, the one who was sad and dysphoric and hated himself and his life.
"I really don't want to," I said softly as I tried to keep my voice from wavering too much. "I don't want to see my old self, I don't want pictures of the old me up on display for everyone else to look at."
Mom frowned, her voice was a little hard as she stated "Those are my family photos and I want them back. I want my pictures of my son."
I couldn't hold back after that. My vision blurred as the first tears started rolling down my cheeks.
Tess got up from her chair and was at my side in a moment. The stupid wingback chairs made it almost impossible to hug or anything, but she reached out and took my hand in hers as she gave me a compassionate look.
And a moment later Hailey was there too, she stood next to Theresa and in a soft voice she said to me, "Hey sis? Want to go out to the backyard and get some fresh air or something?"
I nodded, and both Hailey and Tess sort of pulled me to my feet and guided me out of the den, through the kitchen, and out to the backyard. Alex got up and quietly followed, while mom and dad were left alone in the den together.
Tess and I both had our purses with us, and if Hailey hadn't steered me to the wicker sofa on the deck I might have just made my way all the way back around the house and out to the car. Instead I sat down there on the deck and Tess sat right next to me. She slipped her arm around my shoulders, while my sister and Alex both pulled patio chairs over to sit facing us.
I wiped my eyes as a few more tears slipped out, and Tess dug a tissue out of her purse and gave it to me.
"Thanks," I gave her a week smile as I dabbed away some more tears.
Hailey asked, "How are you doing sis? Do you want to just head back home? Or want to try and stick it out a while longer?"
She added, "For what it's worth, I think they're both pretty much on board. They're not used to it and not comfortable about it, but I think they've already accepted you."
"Thanks Hailey," I replied quietly. "And thanks for all your help. I'm sorry for messing up your birthday."
My sister smirked at me, "Seriously? It's already in the top ten best birthdays ever, and it's got a shot at the top five. I'm sorry you're sad and crying but you realize there hasn't been any shouting yet. When was the last time all four of us got together and nobody yelled or swore?"
That made me grimace, "Yeah good point. I'm still sorry though sis. It's supposed to be your birthday and I made the whole thing all about me."
She shook her head, "Don't worry about it Amy. It's just another day for me. For you, it's only your fourth day being yourself."
That melted my heart slightly and I felt another wave of tears coming on.
My sister got to her feet as she added, "How about you three relax out here for now? I'm going to pop back in and see what mom and dad are up to, then I'll come back and the four of us can figure out if we're staying here, or maybe we'll bugger off and go celebrate on our own."