A Miracle for Markie

an excerpt

Chapter One

"It's sooo bee-u-ti-ful!" Markie held his thin arms out and spun in a circle. Around his head, his long dark hair fanned out, a few strands getting stuck in his mouth. He stumbled to a stop and struck a fashion model pose, hands-on-hips.

Carla giggled as she glanced around the dressing room area of their local WallieWorld to see if anyone noticed her little boy was wearing a black velvet and red plaid holiday dress. His face glowed. Just glowed.

"It is beautiful, Markie." She nodded as she leaned on the handle of the shopping cart.

He brushed away the hair, spitting a bit, then held up his clasped hands, pleading. "You said I could get a dress for Christmas dinner." He widened his eyes and pushed his hands toward her again. "You promised." So much drama. Even as a toddler.

"I did." Yep. She had promised. She'd listened to the school counselor, to Markie's therapist, and had accepted her little boy might be gay or, at some point, decide to be a little girl. But she'd cross that bridge when they came to it.

She just never thought that seeing him so happy to wear a dress would make her love him even more. Make her eyes tear up.

"So, can I get it?"

"You're sure this is the one?" She tilted her head.

"Yes. So. So. Sure." He touched the front of the dress, his little hands, short nails painted a soft blue, pressed down the plaid taffeta then skimmed over the black velvet skirt. A look of pure adoration filled his eyes. How could she say no?

"All right. It's the one. Take it off, and we'll put it in the basket."

Markie spun again. "Yes!" He fist-pumped the air then dashed back to the boy's dressing room. The door closed behind him with a bang.

"He looks so cute."

Carla clutched the handle of the cart with both hands as she turned. Behind her, an employee, a teenage girl with blonde hair and green eyeshadow, held a load of clothes to be returned in her arms.

She smiled.

Carla smiled back. "Thanks."

The girl went to work hanging them up as if she saw a boy trying on a dress every day. Maybe she did. Carla was just glad she hadn't been mean or cruel about it. Protecting Markie had been Job One for the last year or so, ever since he'd insisted on being "my true Markie."

Carla knew she couldn't be with him all the time, especially at school, but while she was around, no one was going to mess with him, not as long as she had breath.

Markie came out of the room, holding up the dress so it wouldn't touch the floor. He'd changed back into his "regular" clothes, a pair of purple leggings and his favorite long T-shirt over it sporting a unicorn with a rainbow horn, mane, and tail.

"Be careful." He gave it to her and watched as she made room in the cart for it, being sure it didn't get squashed. Markie sighed. He looked up at her then threw his arms around her waist and laid his head against her. "Thanks, Mom."

"You're welcome, sweetie. Come on, let's check out."

He let go and grabbed onto the side of the cart. They walked up to the front of the store where the registers were and got in line.

Carla leaned over and kissed him on the top of his head. "I love you."

"Love you, too!" Markie bounced on his toes. "I can't wait to get home and show it to Madison. She's going to eat her heart out!"

"I'll bet." Carla nodded. Markie's older sister, Madison, had been a huge influence with helping Carla to understand Markie. For a thirteen-year-old, she was pretty damn smart. At least, at home, Markie had the support of his family. Well, not all of them.

The rest of the world? They could take a flying leap.

* * *

Madison looked up from her laptop when the front door flew open. Her little brother Markie exploded through the door with a shopping bag clutched in his hand.

"I have it!" He shook it at her.

"Show it to me!" She pushed back from the dining table that doubled as their homework space and held out her hands. "Gimme! Gimme!"

Her mom came through the door, shut it, and then dropped her purse on the table next to the door. "It's the one." She made air quotes.

"It is! See!" Markie pulled the dress, still on the hanger, which he'd insisted on keeping at the checkout, and held it up.

"Oh, God, Markie, it's gorgeous!" Madison gasped and held her hand to her throat. "I bet you look beautiful in it."

"I do." He nodded. "I'm going upstairs to hang it up." He climbed the stairs, holding the dress high in front of him so it wouldn't drag.

Her mom fell onto the couch with a great exhalation.

Madison got up and plopped down next to her, wrapping her arm around her mom's shoulders. They touched heads. "You did good."

"You should have seen how happy he was."

"Any problems?" Madison had offered to go shopping, but she had a report due.

"Surprisingly, no." Her mom closed her eyes and sank into the sofa.

"Hey." Madison nudged her. "You got this. You're doing the right thing. Markie is so much happier. I remember last year. Kindergarten? God, what a disaster." That hadn't been the only disaster that year, but they were coping.

Her mom took her hand and entwined their fingers. "He is. And, yes, last year sucked. For all of us. This year has been so much better. I just wish..."

"Me, too. I love you, Mom." Madison kissed her on the cheek.

"You have to. I'm the mom."

"Ha! All my friends think you're the cool mom."

"Because I'm so hip?" She snorted.

"Because you let Markie be Markie. All my LGBT friends are envious."

Carla sighed. "In a way, that makes me sad. I just wish everyone could be..."

"Accepted by their families? Loved for who they are?"

"Yes. But one step at a time. One kid. One mind. That's what the therapist says."

"She's right." Madison got up. "I need to finish this report, then I'll help with dinner."

"Thanks, but I'd really appreciate it if you and Markie would start bringing the Christmas decorations out of the basement. With only two weeks until the big day, I'm running behind schedule. I want this Christmas to be better than last year."

Madison nodded. "Sure. We can get the nativity set up. It's his favorite. That should keep him out of your hair until dinner."

Carla grinned. "Yay!"

Madison started up the stairs as her mom pushed off the couch and headed to the kitchen.

* * *