Once upon a time, there was a family of Dwarves who lived in the cul-de-sac at the end of Amethyst Place in Trinity’s Field. I say “Dwarves” instead of “Dwarfs” because they were not exactly like the dwarfs we are (somewhat) used to in our society. Hypoplastic dwarfs can have children of a “normal” size, but Steve Sheehan’s Dwarf genes were dominant rather than recessive, which meant that all of Linda Larchman’s children with him were about the same size they were.
People often joked about them; many of the jokes they made were cruel, enough that even the ones that were harmless stung. One of the ones that came up all too frequently even as a serious question was whether they lived in a house that was as small as they were. They did not—in fact, their house was quite large to house their seven children, and the ceilings were even somewhat higher than normal on the first floor. But in the kitchens in particular, there were steps leading up to the counters and even to the cupboards, making the entire downstairs seem to the untrained eye like an obstacle course.
All of the children, from Alexander to Zachary, were sent to school with other children who were not Dwarves, the parents priding themselves on not being intimidated by or prejudiced against “big people”.
But when Rebecca Larchman-Sheehan went to Trinity High, she came back one day talking about a boyfriend.
Talking about Clovis Schumacher wasn’t that big of a deal, of course. By then, Alexander and Melissa had already dated and Victoria was practically engaged—in and of itself, there was nothing odd about this, then.
But then Rebecca brought Clovis home with her.
After the initial encounter, which Clovis, at least, had thought was pleasant enough,, Steve sat Rebecca down on the couch to talk to her about how she had blind-sided him.
“Blind-sided?” Rebecca was offended. “I told you I had a boyfriend and you knew he wasn’t a Dwarf because we’re the only ones in town!”
“Yes, but…” Steve wasn’t quite sure how to continue, aware he was not on the solidest ground. “You didn’t say that.”
“What? That he was black?”
At this, her father turned a brighter shade of red than she had ever seen on a person—not counting her little brother Richard when he’d had the chicken-pox. He (her father, that is, not Richard) subsequently launched into a tirade about how he, of all people, scorned and ridiculed by all, his whole life, how he could not possibly be accused of such levels of bigotry!
“Then what is it?” His daughter was going to make him say it.
Fine. “The man is a GIANT!” Steve Sheehan protested. “Our ceiling is seven and a half feet tall and he was ducking in here!”
“I think that may have just been his posture,” Linda interjected.
“That only makes it worse,” said Steve. “He’s so terrifyingly tall he probably has to duck wherever he goes!”
“The poor dear,” her mother supplied.
Rebecca now turned her incredulous offense on the woman who’d bourn her. “Are you in on this, too, now?”
Her mother sighed. “I just don’t know if it’s a good idea,” she confessed. “I mean, there are things one ought to think about…”
“Mechanical issues…” Steve realized too late he wasn’t saying it under his breath.
“Well, what will people think?” Linda finally put it.
“What will they say?” Rebecca finally stood up from the couch. “They’ll think it’s cute! They’ll think it’s adorable he’s three times my size!”
“But when they…” This was Steve again. “I mean, anyone would have to wonder… how…”
Ew was Rebecca’s only thought. “Seriously, dad, ew! Why would they think that and why would I care? It’s none of their business! For that matter why are you thinking about it? Just… ew!”
Linda, meanwhile, had bourn seven children by this time and was unconcerned with this issue.
“I’m just concerned,” her father pleaded to Rebecca. “I’m concerned about… well, about why. What do you see in him?”
This was a question calculated to give his daughter pause, to make her slow down for reflection. Rebecca needed to do no such thing.
“He’s not afraid of me,” she said. “Everyone in my life tiptoes around me and expects me to act like a child because of how I look. But him? Everyone else is so small to him, he didn’t even notice I was a dwarf. Didn’t treat me any differently.
“Also, he’s really into Magic: The Gathering.”
“I think there’s more to it than that,” said her father. “I think this is you, lashing out.” Rebecca had always been the wild child of the bunch, always contrary, always quick-witted—
“By falling in love?” was her retort this time. “Gee, wouldn’t that be original?”
“Maybe we should all just take a breath,” said Linda.
“Are you going to try to forbid me from dating him?”
The operative word “try” did not escape her parents’ notice.
Clovis never noticed any awkwardness or unkindness from Rebecca’s parents—though, to be fair, this may have been beacuase he was used to cold deference from white people and just figured that was how they were.
It took Steve and Linda some time to adjust their thinking and the angle at which they held their heads, but they got there eventually.
Rebecca and Clovis are together to this day. They still play Magic: The Gathering every week.