Chapter Description: Olivia picks some flowers with Mommy
Ollie sleepily opened her eyes when Mommy gently shook her awake. She remembered something really nice happening after the party last night, but she couldn't recall what it was. It couldn't have been the party itself, kids weren't allowed to attend the ball. Something Mommy or Daddy had given her? That couldn't be right, her birthday was supposed to be tomorrow, and she knew how strict they were about tradition, there was no way she would get any presents earlier. Maybe it was just playing video games with her cousins while the grownups were at the ball, that had been really fun, and her parents let her stay up later than usual last night.
Since they were staying at Grandma's house they were sleeping in her Mom's old bedroom, she had been forced to sleep in the same bed with her parents for the first time since she was a toddler. It made her feel a bit babyish, but it was also really nice in a way. Her Dad had teased her about it, telling her that she was getting bigger but he was going to cuddle with her while he still could. She wasn't too old to cuddle with Daddy, was she?
At five years old she most definitely wasn't, and she had slept like a baby in her soft pink pajamas and his strong arms. Both father and daughter were reluctant to leave their blissful slumber, but they knew they had a big day ahead of them and lying about all day wasn't an option. Today was a special day when all the girls of the family walked around the forest picking flowers, and all the boys did something else she wasn't allowed to know about. Mommy and Daddy had a funny word for the day's activities, but Ollie mostly wanted it over with so she could get back to watching cartoons and playing video games. Mommy had told her that she was going to be a special part of it all, so she had to take it seriously.
Ollie was allowed to eat cereal in her pajamas with her cousins and watch cartoons instead of eating with the grownups at the big table, although they argued briefly over what they would be viewing. They eventually settled on My Little Pony because the girls outnumbered the boys there two to one. They pouted about not getting their way but they stuck around regardless.
When breakfast was over everyone had to get ready, Mommy was supposed to help her even though she could dress herself, she said it was very important. Back in the bathroom adjoining her bedroom, she drew a bath, pouring in sweet scented oils and the leaves of old dried plants. Mommy was always doing funny things like that, she said she was going to start teaching her how and why she does those things soon.
She played in the bath for a bit before Mommy came in to speed things up, massaging baby shampoo into her scalp and rinsing it out, conditioning her hair with a cream that smelled like lemons so it would be soft and pretty.
"Close your eyes baby, I don't want you to get soap in them."
She poured the lukewarm water over her head, soaped up her little body, and rinsed it off again.
"Ok sweetie, it's time to get out of the bath, let's dry you off and get ready for the ritual."
"Mommy, what's a ritwal?
"Well, it's when people perform a series of tasks with a goal in mind. Sometimes they do it every day, sometimes they do it once in a very long time. We only do this once every twenty two years, you're a very special girl to be our lamb."
She didn't really know what she meant by "lamb" but she was really happy to be special. Mommy towelled her off and suddenly Ollie had to pee, she knew she should probably let Mommy know and do that before getting dressed.
It was only when the door was closed and she sat on the cold seat of the toilet that her past struck her like a bolt of lightning. She didn't remember having sex or what that was, but she knew that she was a big girl last night and before that she had been a man. Sitting down to pee had brought it all back to her, she had done that differently before and it felt odd and wrong. Her old grownup memories were gray and indistinct, like far off mountains on a stormy day, getting more distant by the second. When she looked back at her past she had clear memories of the last few years as a girl, it was so confusing. One thing she knew for sure was that Mommy had done something to her, and she had been someone else before last night.
She finished using the potty and was determined to confront Mommy about what she had done by the time she turned to flush, but when she opened the door and looked up at the lady in front of her all that determination was so much wind. She had got herself dressed in her ceremonial garb of immaculate white linens while Ollie was in the bathroom; not only was she beautiful and intimidating, she was her Mommy and Ollie loved and trusted her, she didn't want to believe that she could do something bad to her.
"What's the matter pumpkin?"
"Well come over here then, we need to finish getting you ready. I know you're not excited about this but you're going to look very pretty when we're done."
She had laid out her clothes, a white dress with an elaborate train that trailed behind it and some white cotton panties. It tied in the back with laces so it was really good to have Mommy's help. She sat Ollie in her lap and brushed her hair, the long train spilling onto the floor. When she was finished she tied a white ribbon into it to keep her soft blonde hair out of her face. During the whole process Ollie tried to build up the courage to say something about her memories of being a man, but it never came.
"There we go, all done. Do you want to see how pretty you look?"
Mommy stood her up and led her by her hand to the massive antique mirror. Mother and daughter stood reflected in its frame with the same wavy blonde hair and the same light blue eyes, the same slightly upturned button nose. Ollie couldn't deny the resemblance and they both looked beautiful, so why didn't this seem right? She couldn't shake the sensation of having been someone else last night. Was it a dream?
Before she could think about it too much Mommy said, "Alright, let's go downstairs and meet the others. I'm very proud of you for being good today, it's not easy to be the center of so much attention. Once we're all done we can come back up here to change you again."
Suddenly it all made sense to Ollie; she just had to be good until the end of the day and then Mommy said she would change her back. Mommy hadn't done anything bad to her, this was just part of some family tradition she didn't understand. She would get to be a big girl again, like her older cousins; they got to play video games all night if they wanted to, and they didn't have bedtimes!
The women and girls of the family had gathered in the meadow behind the manor house; they were plucking wildflowers and weaving them together in circlets, tossing them into woven baskets, and chanting softly. Mommy and Ollie passed them all the way to the dark wood at the end of the meadow, holding hands and trailing the hems and trains of their gowns behind them. The tall grass and wild wheat were almost at Ollie's head and the first butterflies of Spring spun about her head.
The two of them proceeded into the woods at the edge of the meadow. It was dark and scary in the shade of the forest. Figures approached them, making Ollie clutch at her mother's robes in fear, but as they drew closer they were revealed to be the other members of the family. Drifting and chanting, they tossed the knotted circles of flowers at Ollie's feet as they moved dreamily past her.
The two of them joined a tall shadow that was a little scary until Ollie realized it was her grandmother.
"Almost done sweetheart. Just take Grandma's hand and we'll wait until it's over."
She listened to her mother and obediently joined hands with her grandmother, the three of them forming a small circle. A hush fell over the woods and Ollie was just starting to feel impatient when she felt a drop of rain on her nose. It was joined by a soft, warm rain that fell quietly all about them. Far from being distressed by the weather's turn, they showered her with praise for being so patient during the ritual.
"There we go honey, good job! Now let's get you back home and changed before bed."