Second Wind: Meet Martin Reed!
Hello everyone! Thanks so much to Ofelia for letting me drop by today to tell you all about Second Wind, my new release.
Second Wind is a new story in my Theatr Fach universe. Theatr Fach (or ‘little theatre’) is the community theatre in the small Welsh seaside town of Llanbarac. The stories focus around the staff and their friends and family. The first story, Out of Focus, came out in the summer and Second Wind is the second. You can read them in any order though.
I’ve dropped in today to tell you a bit about one of the MC’s, Martin.
Martin came to Llanbaruc as a stage manager at Theatr Fach twelve years ago when he’d first gone back to work after having his daughter Shannon. He’d had two years parenting and was increasingly unhappy at home with the baby at the whim of Lee, his husband. Things had begun to fall apart after Martin had a difficult pregnancy and depression once the baby arrived. Lee didn’t understand PND or Martin’s trouble with dysphoria while pregnant. And he resented the lack of cash coming in to the household with Martin not working any more.
Martin finally realised he couldn’t live like that and took Shannon and left. Llanbaruc was a pretty little town with a community feel where he and Shannon could make a home together. Lee was easier to get on with as a co-parent rather than a partner and it was an amicable divorce. When Martin had begun to think he was ready to transition a couple of years after he’d settled in to his job, Lee took it in his stride and backed him up. He’d learned a few lessons along the way over the last few years as well.
Martin’s happy. He’s got a good set of friends here in Llanbaruc. Shannon’s a good kid. They’re a team.
Martin isn’t the first trans character I’ve written, but I think he’s probably the most rounded. I set out to create a character who was happy with himself. I wanted his transness to be incidental to the story rather than the focus. He’s a normal guy, going about his normal life, happy with who and where he is.
What do a shy French-horn-playing accountant and a single-dad trans trumpet player have in common other than both being members of the community orchestra at Theatr Fach in the little town of Llanbaruc?
Gethin’s been more or less hiding from life since his marriage broke up a couple of years ago. He’s joined the orchestra because his sister told him he needed a hobby rather than sitting at home brooding about his divorce.
Martin is careful who he dates because of his gender and his teenage daughter. He came to Llanbaruc as a stage manager for the Theatr Fach twelve years ago. He’s got a good set of friends here. Shannon’s a good kid. They’re a team.
Martin and Gethin hit it off. Will their mutual baggage prove too much to sustain a relationship?
A gentle m/transm romance in the Theatr Fach universe.
“Martin!” Julie, the lead violin, waved him over. “This is Gethin,” she said, her hand on the arm of a tall, thin man nervously clutching a French horn and peering out from behind a thick pair of glasses. He resembled a nervous heron. “He’s new,” she added unnecessarily. “Can you take him under your wing a bit?”
Martin shot her a look. She was a very competent, friendly woman with no tact at all.
“Of course,” he said. “Pleased to meet you, Gethin,” he held out a hand and Gethin took it. “I’m Martin. Trumpet.”
“Gethin Jones,” the thin man said, shaking his hand a little too hard. His palm was warm and firm and he was clearly apprehensive. “Erm. French horn.” He waved his instrument vaguely at Martin. “As you can see.”
Martin smiled. “Come on,” he said. “Brass is over here. Let me introduce you around.” They started picking their way through the chairs. The brass section was made up of Martin and Alan on trumpet, Tim and Lucy on trombone, and Portia, a ten year old who played a tuba almost as large as she was. They were setting up music and gossiping about their week when Martin and Gethin reached them.
“Hullo hullo,” Martin said. This is Gethin Jones.” He waved vaguely at Gethin beside him. “Gethin, this is Tim, Lucy, Alan and Portia.” Everyone made noises of greeting. The room was beginning to echo with the sound of instruments being tuned and scales being played. It was a familiar cacophony.
“Are you Marion’s Gethin?” Lucy asked suddenly, leaning toward them to be heard over the cat-like screech of a young violinist and a burp from Portia’s tuba.
Beside him, Gethin tensed. “Not any more,” Gethin said brusquely, nodding. “But yes. I used to be.”
Lucy nodded, blushing. “Sorry,” she said. “My sister is Penny Wright. They went to school together. Penny told me what happened.”
Gethin nodded again. “Pleased to meet you,” he said, again. He didn’t add anything else. He seemed almost paralytically shy. But then, Martin would be reticent if he knew everyone was talking about his private business.
“I’ll go and get you some music,” Martin said, forestalling any more awkwardness. “Here, stick your horn down on the seat and grab yourself a music stand from the stack in there”. He gestured at the open door of the cupboard behind them.
The spare sheet music was on the table at the front. He made his way across the room, wending around chairs and people offering greetings until he could pick up a sheaf.
Julie met him there. “Is he all right?” she hissed at Martin, glancing past him over his shoulder at Gethin, an anxious expression on her face.
“Yes? Why shouldn’t he be?” Martin asked, frowning at her, puzzled.
“He’s Posey Morgan’s brother,” Julie hissed some more. “You know. Posey the health visitor?”
Martin shook his head. “Not my area,” he said apologetically. “Never met her.” He couldn’t remember who Shannon’s health visitor had been. An older woman though, no-one who could have been the sister of someone Gethin’s age.
Julie scowled at him, apparently blaming him for his lack of knowledge. “Well, she said he needed to get out of the house,” she continued, still hissing. “His wife left him two years ago and he’s become a recluse, she told me. I suggested he come along here to help take him out of himself.”
Martin bit his lip. As a gentle first step back in to a social life, he had his doubts about the suitability of the orchestra. One of it’s other activities was going to the pub after practice on a Friday and drinking steadily ‘til closing time. And there was a country-dancing-for-exercise sub-set of members he tried to avoid … they’d invited him along to one of the sessions and he’d been crippled for days afterwards.
“So?” he said. “He seems perfectly normal.”
“The wife took off with his best friend,” Julie told him, shooting another guilty look over his shoulder at the brass section, who were settling the newcomer in their midst like a chicken in a nest of ferrets. Martin stopped himself turning properly to look at them, watching out of the corner of his vision.
“I’ll keep an eye on him,” Martin promised. “Does he actually play?”
“He brought it in to the shop to have it serviced,” she said. “He seemed to know what he was doing. And Posey said he played at school. But I don’t think he’s done much of anything for a while.” She pulled a face. “He’s an accountant.”
About A. L. Lester
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some poultry. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.