Gone Of The Face Of The Earth
Stefanie Brown disappeared at the age of 12. Her family was devastated. For years, they were clueless about what could have happened to her. The police were also unable to find any feasible explanation, and they gave up on the case after a few years.
Stefanie seemed to have disappeared from the face of the Earth – until she reemerged 20 years later under an entirely different identity
A History Of Conflict
Stefanie’s entry into puberty hadn’t been easy. During the last months before her disappearance, quarrels and arguments happened almost every day at home.
She even threatened to leave the house a few times. She said she was fed up with her parents, and they all would be better off if she just left; however, her parents never took those outbursts seriously.
Now, they regretted it. They spent days and nights reconstructing past arguments and fights in their heads, ruminating on the many incidents that could have made Stefanie feel that way.
They wondered what they could have done differently to prevent this misfortune from happening. But now, it was too late. Stefanie was gone, and it could be forever.
The Browns had always been a very religious family. Some members of their community might even say that they were inflexible in their beliefs or even fanatic.
Clarence, the dad, was known to be an authoritarian figure; his wife Mary was a very loving and warm person but completely subjugated to her husband’s desires. It was Clarence that called the shots about how things should be done in the house.
It’s not up for us to judge this family’s beliefs here, but what’s certain is that these were often a cause of disagreement between Stefanie and her parents.
These disagreements had become more intense in the months leading up to Stefanie’s disappearance, and most of them, or at least the most virulent ones, circled around one specific subject.
What Were All Those Arguments About?
The Brown family had problems accepting one thing about Stefanie’s developing identity as a 12-year-old: one day, she declared that she liked girls.
This had been a huge shock for a strongly religious family such as the Browns, especially for Clarence. But that wasn’t the end of it: an even bigger shock was yet to come.
During the months following, Mary kept reflecting on some scenes from the past. Teary-eyed, she remembered the quarrels, the shouting, Clarence’s anger, and lack of understanding of his daughter’s identity.
She felt guilty about her part in the whole drama. Maybe she shouldn’t have aligned with Clarence that fiercely. Maybe she should have been a mediator between him and their daughter and tried to keep the peace. But it was too late for that.
And Clarence, the father, became a shadow of his old self. He stopped eating, stopped talking, and even stopped going to church.
He never opened up about it, but Mary suspected he was going through a crisis of faith. He saw that following blindly the principles he so fiercely believed in had led to his family’s demise and his daughter’s disappearance. What was the point then?
Clarence also started smoking cigarettes again, a habit he had given up years ago, shortly after marrying Mary. As a matter of fact, he quit for her sake; she asked him to please stop ruining his lungs for her and their daughter.
When Mary saw Clarence smoking in the living room in complete silence, by an old ashtray that had been sitting in the attic for years, with an empty stare on his face, she knew something was wrong.
He No Longer Cared
“Clarence, what are you doing?” she asked, choking up while she spoke. But she knew perfectly well what was going on. Clarence no longer cared whether he lived or died. He didn’t respond to her and took another puff from his cigarette.
Shortly after, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away. Mary was left alone with her grief.
In order to cope with the loneliness and the pain, Mary decided to adopt Nina, a Russian 5-year-old orphan. Mary was a woman that felt fulfilled giving and sharing love with others. She just couldn’t stand being alone.
She didn’t know that Nina’s life choices would lead to an event that would make her rethink everything.
Also, perhaps she was feeling guilty about the mistakes she made raising Stefanie; perhaps she wanted to try and raise a daughter without the constraints and prejudices that might have made Stefanie run away.
She had one goal: doing good, being a good mother for Nina, and avoiding the same mistakes she had made with Stefanie. Would she be able to be a better mother this time?
Raising Nina, Mary had to learn how to be a mother again, this time on her own. Before, the presence of Clarence had been a strong pillar to rely on.
But the order and security represented and enforced by him also resulted in an inescapable rigidity, and that rigidity, ultimately, had led to the complete demise of the Brown’s home.
It Wasn’t Easy
Mary had to learn how to make a home without that foundation. She had to learn how to be rigorous while being loving; fair while being kind. Everything to make sure Nina would have a happy childhood and a happy life.
She prayed every night, asking God to please guide her in her new journey of being a single mother and give her the strength and wisdom to do the right thing with Nina.
Nina grew up to be a happy, intelligent, and successful young woman. She graduated from university with an Economics degree, got a job as a consultant, and started living an independent life in the city.
Mary felt really proud of her and, in a way, also of her ability to amend her past errors as a mother. But when Nina turned 27, something happened that was like a trial of fire for Mary.
Nina had been dating a young man for a while, and one day she announced two things to Mary. The first one was that she had decided to marry that man. Mary, as a woman of traditional values, was happy to hear this.
She trusted her daughter’s good judgment to make the right decisions; however, she couldn’t help but feel puzzled at something: why hadn’t she told her about that man before?
That’s what she asked Nina. A few seconds of silence followed her question. “Well, mom, the thing is… He’s a sweetheart, I swear. He checks all the boxes. But I was a little afraid of how you might react… you see, there is something about him…”
What she said next would make Mary’s stomach drop to her knees. Nothing could have prepared her for what she was about to hear.
The second thing Nina told her was more shocking than she could have expected: the man Nina had chosen to marry was born in a woman’s body. He was a transgender man.
He had started transitioning in his late teens; now, he lived, presented himself as, and was, for all intents and purposes, a man. That was a revelation Mary wasn’t ready for.
At first, Mary had a hard time coming to terms with that. It was quite a shock for her religious values. However, she remembered Stefanie. She remembered how not accepting who her daughter really was had resulted in her family’s demise.
She couldn’t make that mistake again. So she remained silent for a few seconds, sighed, and she made a decision.
Mary gave Nina her blessings and wished her all the best with the man she had chosen. She trusted that she would have made a good decision.
With tears in her eyes, Nina thanked her for her support and promised that she would introduce her to the man soon. However, that’s when things started getting weird.
She Never Met Her Fiancé
Mary never had the chance to meet Nina’s fiancé before the wedding. The man worked in a different city, and both he and Nina had very busy schedules, so it was hard for them to make up time.
This saddened Mary, but she tried her best not to take things personally and stay supportive and helpful. Until the day of the wedding, all contact she had with Nina’s fiancé was a joint phone call between the three of them.
Planning The Wedding
Soon enough, Nina began preparing and planning the wedding. Mary offered her daughter to help her with whatever she could. However, Nina preferred to handle things largely by herself.
Once again, Mary trusted her, although she felt a bit hurt for being left in the dark about so many things. She had to keep reminding herself that Nina was a grown woman who could do things independently. But Mary couldn’t even imagine what she would find on the ceremony day.
She Couldn’t Believe Her Eyes
When the day of the wedding arrived, one of the first things Mary did was try to get to know the groom. Nina had never introduced them to one another and, all things considered, Mary could see why she might have been afraid to do so.
Now Mary was eager to meet the man her daughter had chosen to share a life with. But when she first saw his face, her heart skipped a beat. She instantly recognized him.
She Knew That Man
The groom had the same mannerisms, the same face, the same eyes and the same expression as her long lost daughter Stephanie. The groom recognized her too and stared her deeply into the eye.
“Hello, mom”, he said. For a minute, Mary thought she was dreaming. But she wasn’t. That could only be her daughter Stephanie.
What Happened To Stephanie
After leaving the house and escaping from her father’s intolerance, Stephanie’s life hadn’t been easy. She knew poverty and life on the street.
But she ended up getting in touch with some distant relatives who had raised her. With time, she had figured out a deeper fact about her identity: she was actually a man born into a woman’s body.
The Truth Comes Out
Her parents would have never accepted it, and, in a way, having to leave the house had been a fortunate turn for her.
Living with the Browns, Stephanie, who now went under the name Steve, would have never been happy. God only knows how things might have turned out had she stayed under her parents’ rule.
Steve And Nina
The distant relatives had taken care of Steve and supported him. Before he finished high school, he came out to her relatives and started transitioning with their support.
Then, Steve enrolled in law school, graduated, and started working as an attorney in a big firm. Since then, his career had been nothing but successful; and a few years later, he met Nina.
Love At First Sight
When they met, Steve was already an accomplished attorney, while Nina was still in university. They were first introduced to each other by a common friend at a party, and they hit it off right from the first moment.
During their dating stage, Nina had told Steve about her background, her mother, and such. Steve immediately knew that she was talking about his own family.
The Moment Of Truth
When Steve told her the truth, she was shocked. They both agreed that it would be better to postpone the decision to tell Mary about it for as long as possible, for they were afraid that Mary might struggle to accept what had become of her daughter.
But now it was the moment of truth. Would Mary be able to come to terms with Steve’s life decisions and true identity?
Mary just felt euphoric to be reunited with her son. She also felt really sorry about how difficult Steve’s childhood had been at the Browns. She deeply regretted how she had treated Steve in her youth, and she was glad that he had found his way in life.
They both embraced each other teary-eyed and reconciled. The wedding proceeded happily. And from then on, the Brown family was more united than ever.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.