From Within

Chapter Eighteen

"Stop that!" yelped Vicky as she saw one of the children pushing someone off the wall.  It was a game they were playing on a wall, it got higher and higher and they were exploring their world.  Discovering how far they could jump.  "I don't mind you playing this, but, don't push someone, you could hurt them!" she said talking sternly to one of the boys, Connor.  She then called them into the hall to get two play mats to put at the bottom of the wall to make the game safe, so they could carry on with their dare devil stunts.  She stood by the climbing frame looking at her watch for the first time since starting work that afternoon, it was almost six o' clock and some of the children had already been picked up by their parents   She had only just started working at a local play-scheme, whilst at University, an after-school club which also operated during the summer holidays.  Having been involved many jobs up till now, she had finally found the job that would be much closer to where her heart was, working with children.  Eventually she was hoping to end up in primary school teaching, having just completed her second year at University out of the total of four years she was expected to stay there.  Having settled in very well in the few weeks that she had been working there for a mere four weeks at the time, she had managed to integrate well into the scheme, she got on very well with her colleagues, and odd as it may seem, her biggest fear were the children.  They are seemingly much more perceptive, but in honesty they are much more vocal about what they see, and she was just worried sick one of the children would cry out "But she's a..." or "She looks like...".  It never happened, almost.  Two of the children weren't so sure, but that was soon overcome, as she had enough experience with how to deal with the seemingly rare occurrences of being read. 

 

Having managed to nail it down to two things which didn't do her justice, she felt her nose was by all accounts big and very out of proportion on her face, and just on occasion for no reason at all, her voice would just slightly slip. It was a matter of ironing out in the case of the voice the silly little misgivings and research into having something about her nose done.  During the teen years her nose had been broken twice from the bullying, and blocked one of the nasal passages, since the age of thirteen she had only been able to breathe through one nostril, and so earlier in the year, she had a consultation for corrective surgery on her nose that would correct the blocked passage as well as make the nose more feminine and suiting to her facial size.  If anything the years finally on oestrogens had an effect to seemingly make her face a little 'smaller' which was rather profound to explain or qualify, but it wasn't Vicky who observed it, it was others, and as time passed, the nose became even more prominent.  It was going to take 2975.00[1] to correct the nose, and then, she would be very happy indeed - because this would mark the end of hopefully anyone really suspecting something about her, it was very rare, but as she found out at work, it only took one person's suspicion of her gender history to start rumours which though were small and contained, existed - not to the point they "outright knew" but they were wondering if just maybe, she was one of those people that they only ever saw on the television or in a newspaper.  However with all this aside, it was a rare thing for someone to outright know these days, and having the rhinoplasty would make her so much more comfortable around children, and more importantly, hopefully mean she didn't have those unpleasant rare moments.  That may seem a rather dampening outlook on the end of her journey as she saw it, but for her, she had learnt there was no point trying to fool herself, being honest got her a very long way in short periods of time, and this was her honest reflection right now, and it was no small step to decide that in life she would work with children, the truest of all acid tests she felt.

 

She had been looking forward to this day, for some time now, it was Friday, and this evening was extra special, Alex was coming down not just to visit but to also move into their new place, just a one bedroomed flat, with a kitchen, bathroom and an adequate lounge, both being twenty, they were somewhat young to get somewhere together, but that didn't faze them at all, he was coming to pick her up in his car as by now he was driving and causing havoc on the roads, as was Vicky, but she didn't drive in knowing she had a ride back.  She was helping one of the children on the monkey bars, helping them make it from one side to the other, when she heard his voice behind her.

 

"Hope I'm not too late" he said, she turned around as she applauded the girl who had made it for the first time ever from the other side, with that helping hand.

"Not at all" she smiled.  The girl jumped off the climbing frame and stood between them.

"Victoria?" she asked "Is this your boyfriend?" she giggled.

"It is Lucy, this is Alex" she said back to her.

"Nice to meet you little miss" smiled Alex.

"You're in love!" she jibed as she ran inside to the classroom which raised some smiles.

"Come on we better go inside as nobody else is out here now and since the last few should have their parents coming soon" she said reaching out to give him a hug.

"Sure, so glad to be here again honey" Alex said pulling away.

"Me too" Vicky said with a smile as they walked hand in hand to the classroom, where things were being packed away as the last two parents entered the door. Vicky waved good-bye to Lucy and another boy who attending the after school club, Ben.  Vicky sat down on one of the tiny chairs and rubbed her eyes slightly with tiredness at the end of the week.  The usual things were run through, the alarm was set, doors locked, and free for the weekend, which would probably be quite stressful with moving in.  Vicky said goodbye to the rest of the staff and got into Alex's car which was full of boxes and bits and pieces, given that it was only a small car meant that room was at a premium.  Still the flat was not far from the school, maybe ten minutes or so, and one thing was for sure the things in the car weren't going to get moved straight away, a good cup of tea, a long chat was in order before anything, especially before moving things in.

 

"Hey I was thinking" said Alex tapping on the steering wheel at the traffic lights, "Why don't we have dinner out tonight, as a celebration?"  Vicky turned around smiling.

"That would be nice, what do you fancy?" she said just so thrilled to be by his side again.

"I'm not sure, maybe just something with chips, seeming as we always go to Indian, Chinese and whatever else usually" he said tailing off as he pulled away from the lights.

"Ok, sure, we'll book a taxi or something so we can both have a drink" she said with a smile.

"Sure, isn't there anything nearby to the flat we could go to though?" not knowing a huge amount about the city Vicky had lived in for two years.

"There is but on a Friday they're going to be packed, besides I think I know somewhere which will be fairly quiet" as she tailed off reminding Alex at the last moment to take the next right.

"Ok, sounds good to me!" he said touching her knee as he pulled up outside the place, leaning over to peck her on the cheek, "I hope your excited about all this as I am!" remarking about the move.

"Kind of, maybe nervous, not sure why!" she said slightly looking down.

"Nervous?  Well, new place and all that!  This is the third time you have moved in two years, bound to feel a bit jumpy, I'm sure we can make this place feel like home" he smiled, looking her in the eye, reaching over to kiss her again.

"It will be, we're both together now" she smiled opening the car door and stepping out on to the pavement.

"Gorgeous evening isn't it!" exclaimed Alex looking up at the golden sky from the slowly setting sun hiding behind a few clouds.

"Sure is, maybe we could sit out on the balcony" she grinned, after two years of sharing with other people, which for the first year was pretty tough as she didn't really get on well with some of the people she was with, the second year was better, as they were a good bunch, and instead of eight sharing, it was only six, now - only two.  Alex's mum had promised she would visit the following weekend after they had moved in, and Vicky's family also said they would come down if they could at the same time, saving Alex's mum a separate journey on the train.

 

They got inside the flat, which was looking obviously very sparse, bar the carpet and the odd piece of well used furniture, there wasn't even any lampshades or anything that resembled creature comforts, which meant for Vicky a good day going around home furnishings stores and probably knowing Alex, a day of boredom, filled with yawning and an apathetic effort to be interested!  Not that he didn't care, he didn't mind what she chose within reason and wished it wouldn't take so long.  Still he was not about to moan, Vicky walked into the kitchen spinning around on her feet in joy at their first place together, Alex meanwhile opened the doors which lead out onto the balcony and stood hands held on the ornate railings looking at the sunset, there wasn't much of a view, to the left was the parkland and gardens which were kept nice, and to the right were some flats on the opposite side of the road, but this was not bad all things considered, living in a central location whilst still at University for Vicky.  Vicky dug around in the box she brought in earlier that day which had a few essentials including the kettle and some crockery including some mugs.  In the cupboards were a few sparse items including the all important tea bags and coffee, and in the fridge the milk.  That was all they had, enough to make tea and coffee, but they had some hectic days ahead if they didn't want to be eating out at a relative expense.

 

"Tea or Coffee honey?" she yelled out from the Kitchen.

"It's ok honey, I'm right here, no need to shout!" he said leaning on the door frame looking rather nice indeed!

"Sorry, I thought you were still outside" she said filling up the kettle.

"I'll have coffee please" he said in his slightly subdued tone.  Vicky flicked on the kettle and walked over to him to cuddle up.

"Nice choice of clothes today" she smiled wryly, she loved those vest tops, and his slightly changed look, with a bit of a sideburn thing going on, coupled with some cropped trousers and sandals, Vicky had at least gave him some sense of style.  Well maybe told him what to wear because she liked it on him!

"Too hot to wear anything else in that car on a day like today" he said rubbing her back.

"I suppose so, hey do you want to wipe over those two chairs out there and the table, looks like they caught some rain from last week, it was terrible the downpours we had here" she said walking back into the kitchen to find a cloth in her box of goodies.

"I remember you saying, mind you it had to happen what with all this gorgeous weather we are having I suppose, mind you, least you've tanned nicely" he said smiling suggestively!

"Well you look pretty well tanned yourself, here's that cloth, I'll bring the drinks out so you may as well sit down" she said stirring her tea.  Alex wiped down the chairs and table as told and sat down in the warm summer heat, looking at the time.  "You better call the taxi soon" he yelled out.

"Yeah, sure, after this" Vicky said as she walked out towards the balcony. 

Alex stood up with a big smile, "Thanks"

"Well sit down then" she joked, suddenly being pulled into his arms, kissing.

"Missed you so much sweetheart" Alex said in that tone that left goose-pimples on Vicky.

"Just the same here" she said pulling him close to herself again.

 

After she had drunk the tea, she walked inside to get her handbag to call the taxi to collect them at eight o' clock, and to quickly get changed and put some make up on, Alex sat outside reading the newspaper whilst he waited.  About half an hour later, Vicky came back out again, just wearing some smart jeans and a nice top, and her little black kitten heeled shoes that Alex bought her for her birthday.

 

"You look lovely as usual" Alex said peering above the newspaper which he then folded up and put on the table.

"I'll pay for tonight honey, I know it's not cheap driving here, and don't argue!" she said in a firm tone sitting down.

"I was rather hoping you would say that" he said in a cheeky tone.

"Hey, if you're going to be like that, then you will also have to pay" she joked.

"Look just because we now live together doesn't mean you can boss me around now as you please" he joked with a big grin.

"Well make sure you behave then" she said lightly slapping his leg with the newspaper, she unfolded it to take a look "Blimey, can't you read something better than this paper, like a comic except just full of women's boobs in it!" she exclaimed folding it back up and still smiling away, Alex remained silent just grinning.  "Well I'm not going to nag" she sighed in good humour.  "What are you grinning at anyway?" she asked curiously.

"Oh, just listening to you again, being together again, just so glad nothing has changed!" he smiled.

"Nothing will, I hope" she said looking at her watch, the taxi was due any minute.  "Hey you do realise that in about three months we will have been together for, well, four years!" she exclaimed broadly smiling away.

"Yeah, sure is innit!" Alex said surprised himself that it was already that long.

"Funny how I had such a big crush on you when I was nine and luckily you came back for me" she said fluttering her eyelids.

"Oh, well I didn't come back for you, somebody else but you know, bumped into you, and well..." he said still being cheeky.

"Looks like someone's heading for the front door!" she grinned waving her foot playfully suggesting she would kick him out.

"Anyway you know I don't mean that!" he said "You know, I have often laid in bed at night looking at photos of us, when you have been away here, on your own and felt really quite tearful.  And quite often, usually at the same time, I don't know what I would have done in life if I never met you, I don't want to think about it, it scares me that maybe we never would have been together..." he said tailing off noticing the little tear drops well up in her eyes.  "Don't cry my angel, silly thing you!" he said pulling a tissue from her handbag offering it to her to dab on her eyes.

"Sorry, I can't help it, I just..." she burst out into tears and grabbed him around the waist and hugged him tight "I would never be where I am today without you, I love you so, so, so much!" just peering up from her tearful eyelids to look at him smiling, warmly, strongly.

"I think just the same myself" he said as he dabbed the tears.  "Come on, the taxi should be here now, and we want you to look like the little angel you are, not a blubbering love sick puppy!" he joked.

"Can I be a love sick puppy though?" she said with a little laugh.

"You always can, until I annoy you enough that is" he joked, going back to his cheeky jibes.  Vicky just sat there close smiling.  Suddenly there was the bib of a car horn, the taxi had arrived.  Alex checked she looked fine and reassured her.  Shutting the balcony doors and walking out down the stairs to the front door and locking it.

"It was to the complex by the seafront wasn't it love?" said the taxi driver in broad Cockney[2] accent.

"Yes it was, it is still OK to pick us up at 11 o' clock, yes?"

"Yeah, think so, not sure it'll be me though love" he carried on, pulling away out of the road and down the tree lined avenue with the blooming gardens in the middle.

 

It didn't take more than ten minutes to get there, on the way the two cuddled up with Vicky peering out at the window, watching life go by as they drove down the avenue on to the seafront which was teeming with people, just watching what people do, almost as if life was in slow motion.  This is something she always tended to gaze on with admiration and deep yearning, wanting to be part of that social fabric, just to be a nobody that didn't stand out, just another person in their life course, wearing a smile of happiness, and no longer feeling worthless to everybody, everything and to herself.  It was something of a coincidence that this year marked her twentieth birthday, twenty years since a nightmare began, twenty years on, the ordeal was over, she had spent a good part of her life as herself, more and more so, and from now onwards would live most of her life properly, in a fulfilled manner.  Everything that was so taken for granted by many, meant so much to her, she learnt the value of what life meant, she didn't want to waste a day in her life any more.  With Alex, she had found perfect love if such a thing exists, and one day would have a career, and a family - all she ever wanted.  She never wanted riches, she just wanted the simple things, an uncomplicated and unenviable lifestyle.  She was still very young, she could enjoy the joys of having friends at last, going out and enjoying herself, free from the shackles that held her from within.  She was now just an average girl in her early twenties, she got her life back, before it was snatched away from her.  It's amazing that all this, everything she was, was never seen till she was sixteen.  All of this came from within.

 

The two wined and dined, eating good English pub grub, playing footsies under the table being playful, as they sipped on their drinks, Alex relishing his lager and Vicky sipping on wine, actually rather drunk by this point to!  They shared the most gorgeous chocolate cake which was divine, placing chocolate on her lips, Alex began to draw a little bit of attention from some older couples who were pretty much frowning at the freedom of expression they both showed.  But they did not care one bit, they were only showing their love for each other.  Eventually five eleven came and Vicky got a text message on her mobile to confirm the taxi was going to be there for eleven.  She then received another from Emily, seeing how she was, Vicky replied saying "Everythins gr8. Alex got here ok. Bin out for dinner which was romantic, oh and the choc cake was the best! Luv yas, Sis xx".  They walked down the stairs arm in arm and waited outside the front doors in the by now chilling moonlit night.  The two stood their snogging away, people didn't even flinch as they walked past, again they did not care what people thought.  Alex saw a taxi coming down the sliproad, and withdrew.

 

"Think our ride's here girl!" he smiled looking rather gorgeous with his lager fuelled grins.

"Looks like it!" she smiled back just caressing his fingers as they stood gently in front of each other.

 

Alex opened the door for Vicky who thanked him for the gentleman like courtesy, as well as shut the door, then he scooted around the back to get in the cab door the other side.

 

"It was by the Avenue you're going isn't it?" the taxi driver asked, obviously not the same guy as before.

"Yep, sure is!" answered Alex snuggling up to Vicky in the back seat.  Things were a bit quieter now along the seafront, and up the avenue, the children had since left the park for the day and the taxi swung up the road where their flat was.

"That'll be a fiver" the taxi driver said pulling up outside, Alex handed him the money, and both got out and thanked him, they wandered up the garden path to the flat's front door.

 

"Hey I was just thinking..." Alex said.

"What?" smiled Vicky broadly with docile eyelids from the wine she had been drinking.

"We've got no mattress!" he groaned.

 

Vicky pouted and stood hands on hips, as if to say 'Tsk, you men!'.  But she then scrunched her lips up, looking around, and sighed, slightly miffed about the bed situation!  Alex stood there grinning.

 

"Well we have carpet!" he announced.  Vicky smiled back,

"I don't want carpet burn though!" she laughed as she opened the front door, running inside.

"Come here you!" growled Alex in a joking manner as he shut the door and chased her up the stairs.

 

All that could be heard was the thud of the footsteps up to their flat.  And a lot of giggling, and laughter...  And - a lot of happiness from within......

 

 

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Footnotes:

[1] : United Kingdom Pounds. (UKP)  Roughly $1.50 USD (US Dollar) equals 1.00.  Rhinoplasty almost $4500.00 in USD.

[2] : Cockney.  The 'common' accent of Londoners, popularised by films like "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch", and people like Vinnie Jones.  The other main accent you will probably hear on films featuring English people (the other being Queen's English, i.e.: 'posh').


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