Regina walked along the road that her childhood home was on, trying to come up with the courage to make the phone call, when she came across her niece. “Hey, Polyanna!” she shouted as she tried to catch up.
“That’s not my name.”
“What do you mean?”
“My name is Matias, and I am transgender, so I would appreciate it if you used male pronouns.”
“Well, Matias, I suppose that having two nephews is better than just one, right?”
“Yep- thanks for understanding.”
“Why wouldn’t I act understanding towards someone as brave as you are?” Regina asked, but Matias was already walking away and didn’t hear her.
Then Regina saw Kristofer. “You look… worried. What’s up?” she asked him.
“I’m not worried,” Kristofer replied. “I’m just… kind of confused.”
“Okay, let’s see if I can help you.”
“Well… we have to do this project for school.”
“What’s the project?”
“It’s a family tree.”
“That sounds fun,” Regina replied, remembering when she had to do the same project.
“The thing is… mine is kind of complicated, and when I asked the teacher about it, she said to just do what I feel is right. You see, I don’t know my dad, or grandparents, or anyone, which would just make it me, my mom, and Lacie. The thing is, we have to have a minimum of ten people on the tree.”
“Okay… does your sister go out with anyone?”
“She has a boyfriend, and his name is Nawwaf, but that only makes four.”
“Then put his family on there.”
“But he doesn’t know his dad either, so he would only have his mom and sister on there, and that’s not enough.”
“Is there anyone else that you care about?”
Kristofer thought for a second. “I was really worried when that weird flickering thing happened with Ami… but that doesn’t count, does it?”
“Sure it does- family is the people who share your blood and the people who have a piece of paper saying that they’re related to you and the people that you care about so much that you always think of them before yourself.”
“But that’s not what the dictionary says.”
“Then the old, dead guys who made up that definition must have had a different opinion than we do.”
“Can’t they change that definition?”
“Sometimes you have to be the allusive ‘they’, if you’re brave enough.”
“So are you part of my family?”
“Yes. My half-sister’s daughter’s wife’s brother’s fiancee’s son’s girlfriend’s brother is you, so I think you’ll have plenty of people to put on your family tree.”
Kristofer left to go work on his project, and Regina realized that she had drawn it out; that courage that she had been looking for had finally revealed itself. Regina pulled out her cell phone and selected the court office from her contacts list. “I want to have the custody trial early, as I have evidence that the kids want to live with me.”