~Seasons Of Change~
The train began slowing as it neared Westbury station. Michael know this was the name of the station because the conductor had passed through the car and announced it, and around him other passengers were heeding the suggestion that they check to ensure they had all their belongings. Michael gathered his books and the remnants of the snacks he had bought on the train and watched out the window and the train came closer to the station.
The scene had changed slightly from that which he had observed the last two hours. Rural surroundings had given way to the rundown environs of this old New England manufacturing village. He knew from experience that just outside the town grand mansions and historic farms still abounded.
Listening to the clack-clack of the rails wind down, he mused about the purpose of this trip. He had left St. Andrews just this morning, complying with his Mother's decision that he should spend this summer with her old school chum (his "Aunt Jane") when she left on her tour of Europe with Clifford Graves, her latest companion. He presumed that this decision was, in no small part, due to the straits he had gotten himself into the last semester at St. Andrew's.
It was clear that he was on very thin ice with the headmaster at St. A's. There had been the minor pranks, of course, but his involvement in the panty raid at Eastmore, and, the worse, being caught at it. During the extremely uncomfortable conference with the deans on Tuesday, he and his Mother had been advised of the suspension. He would be carried on the rolls of the school throughout the summer and Fall semesters, but would not be allowed to return until after the Christmas holiday, and then only if the school received some verification that satisfied them that his demeanor had changed.
His keen obsession his graduation from this highly regarded prep school had, in no small part, motivated his Mother's decision to send him to Westbury. Aunt Jane, she had said, was a certified teacher, which would satisfy state and school requirements that he be enrolled in school. Private tutoring, she had said to the headmaster. To Michael she had declared another motivation which he did not fully understand: that Aunt Jane was imminently equipped to convey refinement and discipline, a trait Mother had emphatically pointed out that he lacked. She had made vague references to "English methods", an allusion which escaped him, but which she said with a wry certainty that it was just what he needed.
He wanted to get back into St. Andrew's and this avenue seemed the only one open to him. But it was all of this uncertainty that weighed on his mind as the train neared the station. He knew nothing of "Aunt Jane", except a vague remembrance that he had met her at the estate in Connecticut one summer. He was to spend at least the summer with her, and, his Mother had said, dependent on Aunt Jane's sole judgement, might have to stay on until Christmas. The uncertainty of time, couple with his ignorance of the allusions his Mother had made about the particular "skills" this woman allegedly possessed, caused him some apprehension. More importantly, two other facts added anxiety; first of all, his Mother had been emphatic he was to submit totally to Aunt Jane's authority, and secondly that except for the small change he had left in his pocket, all his discretionary money had been placed in this other woman's control. Once he disembarked from the train, his options for self-determination would be minimal.
The train finally creaked to a stop, and he clasped his bag and headed for the entrance. The black porter had placed the portable footfall at the base of the stairs, and he stepped down to the station platform.
He was recognized before he noticed the woman. She called his name and he looked up to see a vaguely familiar face. She was an attractive woman, in her early thirties, dressed fashionably and with an air of superiority. Indeed, his first impression was that she purposely hid a softness about herself in the somewhat severe manner in which she wore her auburn hair....drawn back in a French roll. It was apparent that she shopped at only the finest stores, and he was sure he had seen her ensemble in one of his Mother's Bergdorf's catalogues just a month ago.
He was equally fascinated by the young girl he saw at her side, clearly her companion, for she followed Jane as she advanced toward him. The girl was about his own 14 years of age, yet strangely dressed in a style that seemed old-fashioned and oddly pubescent. She was a disarmingly pretty girl with long hair drawn back into a cascading pony-tail which was capped by a straw boater bonnet with a blue bow. She wore a patent shoes and a dress which was flounced out by petticoats evident to a degree at the hem. Her dress was a fancy one, the kind that girls wear only to formal or festive affairs. Her comportment intrigued him most, for she seemed reserved and shy, and clearly somewhat obsequious to the bidding of Jane. He was introduced to her and found her name was Beth. She seemed ill at ease, starting first to curtsy to him, then gingerly proffering her white gloved hand to his own.
The greetings were stilted, though Jane was cloying yet authoritative in her reception. With an air of superiority, she pressed a red cap into conveying his baggage and they set off through the terminal to the expensive car she had imperiously parked in the "No Parking" zone at the curb. His bags loaded, he climbed into the back seat of the car and his gaze alternated between the two females in the front seat and the countryside they emerged into. Jane's comments were few, though she made reference to his trouble at St. A's and the apparent conversations she had had with his Mother about "finding some 'temperance' (as she put it) in one's behavior. Jane concluded that, with time, all problems could be solved. He lapsed into silence and the car moved down a smaller road into farm country.
In time, they arrived at Jane's home, a large white Victorian house situate on many acres. She parked the car near the door and bade him gather his bags and follow her. The girl was no help, though she did hold the doors and steadied him as he struggled up the few stairs to the porch and into the foyer.
Jane suggested (or was it more "directed") that Beth escort Michael upstairs to his room to stow his overnight bag (his trunk was to follow) and then for the two of them to return downstairs to the study. Beth obediently complied, pausing at the foot of the stairs to await him. At the head of the stairs, she opened a white door and he entered, passing the girl and not noticing the room itself. It was only after he was inside that the incongruency of the room hit him.
The room was all pastel blue, but that was not its alarming feature. The four-poster bed was canopied, with a delicate flounce of sheer tiered fabric. Ruffles of eyelet and lace flounce cascaded from beneath the mattress, the bed itself covered by a bedspread of matching satin. Dainty shams of a wispy material sheathed the profusion of pillows at the headboard. The furniture was white and gold French provincial, chest of drawers and nightstands. A petite vanity draped with the same material sat beneath a large lighted mirror. Another three-sided mirror, like those in clothing stores, was implanted into the wall.
He was sure that Beth had directed him to the wrong chamber, but when he queried her about this, she diffidently assured him that there was no mistake. Appalled to be quartered in these dainty surrounding, he nevertheless deposited his small bag and followed Beth downstairs to where Jane waited.
Beth left Michael at the parlor door and he opened it and entered to find Jane seated in an overstuffed chair leafing through what appeared to be a sheaf of letters. At his entrance, she peered at him over the half-moons of her reading glasses.
"It is considered polite and refined, young man, to knock before entering a closed room."
"I...I'm sorry. I thought you had asked me to ..."
His words trailed off in response to the gesture of dismissal in the wave of her hand. "Never mind, we'll get to that later," she said, "Sit down," signalling the straight-backed Shaker chair near her own. He sat, chastened by the sharpness of her admonishment.
She continued to flip through the papers, pausing to read here and there, flipping backwards and forwards as though to confirm or recollect some point. The room was silent, except for the rhythmic sound of the clock pendulum and the rustling of the papers.
Finally she laid the papers in her lap and removed her glasses, massaging the bridge of her nose with thumb and forefinger. The sigh that accompanied this action conveyed a sense of exasperation, he thought, and he gelt unnerved at the continued stillness in the room. While she still kneaded with her fingers, she broke the hush that pervaded the parlor.
"I have been reading through the material your Mother sent me. It is clear that you have been less than exemplary in your first semester at St. Andrews, "she said, slipping the glasses back on and picking up the papers.
"Dean Hartwick's letter to your Mother is quite specific and equally condemnatory in detailing the circumstances of your suspension. He lists, by my count, some eight infractions in just three months." Removing the glasses again, she gazed at him scornfully.
"Are you hell-bent in being thrown out of there?", she queried reproachfully.
"Not at all, Jane. In fact I want very much to graduate. I can explain..."
She interrupted this unavailing attempt at explanation as though it were inconsequential to her.
"Well your deportment places the likelihood of your graduating seriously in doubt, young man. It says here that absent some documentation of a substantial change in attitude, your access to an Ivy school by way of St. A's is improbable. I know Dean Hartwick, partly by reputation, and he is not one to overstate matters. Perhaps you'd do as well to consider a public high school and a state university."
"Of course not," he protested, "I want to get back into St. A's. I acted foolishly, but I..."
"Ahh, some progress;" she broke in, "accepting even token responsibility is to be applauded. But these acts of yours are juvenile, Michael, and they convey a serious lack of self-discipline and obedience to established rules. Surely you can appreciate a school as old and traditional as St. Andrew's demands and enforces rules for a purpose." She paused, examining the letters again. "Look at these...'absent from dormitory at 3:00 a.m. and later detained by township police'...'open participation in and encouragement of a rebellious demonstration in the dining room'...." She peered over her glasses at him again before she added " 'a "food fight!"' ...participation in an extended course of deliberate harassment of one of the oldest and most distinguished members of this faculty....' My God, it goes on and on.
Doffing the glasses again and using them now as an accusatory pointer directed at him she added "It is in no small measure that your late father's generosity to his alma mater prompts their equally generous offer of a second chance. But I can assure you that the demands laid down for achieving that second chance are not permissive in the least."
His ears burned perceptibly as he sat mutely through the litany and then the commentary on his behavior. Finding it difficult to persist in returning her stare, he averted his eyes in chagrin as she went on.
"Tell me please, what prompted these childish acts? Rebelliousness? Pubescent childishness? Were you attempting some feeble defiance of the authority and the rules through some misguided act of independence? Tell me, Michael, what prompted this asinine behavior?'
"They weren't my idea, Jane." I just went along with..."
Again she cut him off, haughtily and abruptly this time. "Just went along. Good God, young man, it's indecent. Those men at that school are charged with imparting discipline to you young fools every bit as much as they are to teaching you Latin. I trust your Latin skills are superior to your proficiency at self-control."
The comment was gratuitous and demeaning, and he gazed again at the floor as she continued her harangue. She stood above him now, having moved from the chair to be a nearly overbearing presence before him.
"Self control is everything in a young man who aspires to success--true success in this world. Most young men your age seem to realize this in spite of themselves. You must develop a deep and profound respect for the rules of the institution in which you find yourself. Initiative is one thing, but the performance outlined in those letters is moronic and bizarre. Open and willful neglect of convention and tradition will never be tolerated in the circles you aspire to. Do you understand that?"
She glowered down at him and his return of her gaze was fleeting as he meekly nodded assent. She stood silently a moment and then returned to her chair and settled herself gracefully yet seeming somehow domineering at the same time. Again she perused the documents. Finally she laid them down, removed her glasses and spoke deliberately and obdurately.
"I must take it then that your excuse for this insolent behavior is to be excused because you yielded to the "macho" pressures of your crowd, some of whom have been expelled. Clearly you have let your distorted sense of ego and identity get in the way of your common sense."
The lecture was beginning to wear him down. Twice now he had resisted the urge to rebut her insinuations, but he was restrained again by his Mother's insistence that he accede to Jane's direction and possible reproach.
"I suspect," she went on, interpreting his silence as agreement, "that must be the case. And if it is true, it is a trait you must disabuse yourself of. Blindly following the rabble out of a misguided sense of male bonding is ridiculous. More importantly, it is a repudiation of convention that people of breeding hold important. It is not any individual action, but the pattern of them that makes me believe you lack significant sensibilities." She referred again to the top sheet of the Dean's letter and quoted " 'exhibits an insolent disregard of refined behavior....' Would you not agree with that assessment?"
I don't know," he relied feebly.
"You don't know!" she scoffed in return. "Well I do, and my experience with boys just like you compels me to agree with the observation. Now if you are so intent on graduating from that school, what solution do you propose for a modification of your attitude and conduct?"
He deemed the question rhetorical and knew his only answer would be another lame "I don't know", so he simply shook his head.
"I ask that question," she continued "because I am something of an unwitting player in your betterment. Your Mother is an old friend, and Dean Hartwick's concurrence in you're being sent here indicates he places some importance on my reassurance to him in the Fall that you have become civilized enough to return to classes."
There it was, he thought: the commission for this woman to manage his existence these next few months stemmed not only from the decision of his Mother, but was further endorsed by the Dean. He felt a sense of dread, a feeling in no small part derived by his belief that all this was leading up to something ominous.
"You see, young man, I have had experience with instilling gentility and refinement in difficult children of both sexes. I was, for many years, a headmistress -- coincidentally at Eastmore, the very school where you engaged in your midnight foray through the girls' under-clothing. I have had some small measure of success at cultivating grace and polish. And after meeting you, I believe I am prepared to undertake this task, as a favor to your Mother."
Silence again, leaving him to his thoughts. Her last words drew him forbiddingly further from a retreat from whatever penitential blueprint her mind was now devising.
"Let me put it this way," she said, as if a declaration of finality was beginning to form in her mind. "It is beyond dispute that you will not be readmitted next year without my commendation, and I am not planning to dispense that approval unless I see improvement. Secondly, that approval is not to be forthcoming unless you accede to whatever program I devise and do it with cheerfulness and resignation. Would you agree with that assessment."
With absolutely no comprehension of what she had in mind, he nevertheless surrendered to the inevitable and nodded assent.
"I'm still curious about this so-called "panty raid" at Eastmore. So sophomoric! Did you find it fascinating to rifle through those intimate garments? I have always been curious as to just what is it that prompts a young man to do that?"
His silence lingered and she went on.
"Probably more of 'being one of the boys', eh Michael? Still, it does give me an idea. Maybe that's the key. You know there is a practice prevalent in England for curbing defiance. The English call it petticoat discipline. Have you heard of it?"
He had not, and shook his head. The literal implications eluded him, and he surmised it merely meant submission to a feminine will.
She stared out the window, seemingly deep in thought, while tapping the stem of her glasses against her cheek.
"Yes," she announced with resolve, "that will be exactly it. Michael, I must exact from you a firm promise that you will unhesitatingly obey every command I give you, no matter how unpleasant or disagreeable you may find it to be. It will be, at least a start, to see if we can instill some self-restraint. If at any time I detect resistance, I will not hesitate to wash my hands of this endeavor and advise the Dean and your Mother accordingly. Is that agreed?"
It was an open pit, a solicitation of a promise to comply with her carte blanche. Later he would reflect that it had been his ignorance of what was to come and implicit reliance on her conventions that induced his promise to her. As soon as he had agreed, and re-agreed after a further restatement of her "rules", she told him to wait outside in the foyer and to send Beth in to her. He rose and crossed to the door, finding Beth seated on the Parson's bench outside the parlor. After relaying the message, he, too, sat down and waited.
From where he sat, Michael took in the vast walnut panelled foyer and the living room and dining room adjacent. He could barely glimpse the half open door to the huge, paneled library. He looked around, admiring the size and quality of the place. The house, Michael surmised, was really quite large. It was also very old. By standing and glimpsing through the Tudor windows, he could glimpse a pool, what appeared to be a riding stable, and a great deal of wooded property. In the brisk New England winter, he thought, it might be possible to practice cross country skiing in your own back yard.
Michael had been aware that Jane had worked for a time as a school headmistress -- she had told him so -- but he also recalled that his Mother had told him that she had worked as a business consultant before moving to this area. Somehow, Michael thought, she must have been a hell of a consultant to afford to retire to such a big place.
He was lost in the myriad of his thoughts as another drama played itself out in the adjacent parlor.
Jane looked up as Beth entered the parlor, politely curtsied and stood waiting.
"I have given him the ultimatum, Beth, and we will start phase two now. I realize it has been some time and you may have forgotten, but we need time to have him think things over and set the stage for this afternoon. I trust you will be good enough to handle lunch for me. It has all been prepared."
"Yes, ma'am," Beth replied. "Do you think he will be trouble?"
"I think not my dear. In many ways he has more to lose than you did when you came just six months ago." Turning a fond gaze at her ward, Jane continued, "You can be assured that by supper-time our intransigent young man will be accutely uncomfortable in his new metier. Anyway, see that lunch is set and then join us. You will have ample time to arrange things while he sleeps. Remember to use the colored sherry glasses. Oh, and tell Marie she can begin to set things up upstairs while we have lunch. He should be asleep in about an hour and she can finish things upstairs when he is." Beth curtsied again and left the parlor to begin setting the luncheon table. As she passed Michael still seated on the parson's bench, a sense of deja vu emerged as similar events of half a year before played themselves out. 'How would this young man react to what the day held in store for him?' The thought intrigued Beth and an inward smile materialized with the reflection on the feelings of terror and panic that experience brought back to mind. Michael would soon experience those feelings, along with the accompanying sense of defeat and humiliation. In a way, he was to be pitied.
In just a moment after Beth emerged, Jane came out and impassively announced it was time for lunch. Still brooding from his earlier encounter with her, he followed her into the spacious dining room and sat at the only remaining place-setting after she had seated herself. He felt mildly gratified that his momentary lapse of manners at failing to assist her in sitting was not commented on. Indeed, she seemed oblivious of his being there. He was mildly grateful that she did not continue with her diatribe.
The door to the kitchen opened and Beth entered with a tea trolley laden with small sandwiches and soup. She placed one serving before each of them and left the room. The meal progressed in silence.
Throughout the meal, Beth came and went. She poured the tea, served the cake, cleared the table. And she did all this wordlessly, as though she was well trained in such things. Strange training indeed, thought Michael, for a school girl. His hostess seemed to read his mind, for she smiled and pointed to Beth. "Now this girl, she gave her parents quite a hard time. Still, removed from a harsh urban environment, Beth has turned out rather well in my opinion"
Beth seemed to look a little embarrassed by the sudden attention. " Thank you, Ma'am,..." she began to say. Jane softly but firmly interrupted, "Beth, I was speaking to our guest." Michael was surprised as he saw the young girl quickly go silent. He mumbled something polite about what a nice girl Beth was."Ahhh, Yes!", Jane smiled broadly. "She certainly is. Now. Oh, but the trouble she gave her parents over the years. Well! That much is over with at last. We see new improvement every day."
Beth returned with a tray of small glasses, one blue, the other bright ruby. The blue one she set down by Michael.
"It is my custom to have sherry at lunch. I welcome you to my house, Michael, and hope your stay is beneficial," she said, raising her glass ever so slightly.
He sipped the warming liquid, not fully accustomed to the wine.
As Michael sipped the liqueur, tired from his long overnight trip, Jane continued to talk, mainly embellishing the earlier conversation about proper behavior and the need for gentility and manners. Michael noted an occasional reference to Beth, about her earlier demeanor and the improvement she had shown. The conversation was somewhat personal,and he was glad the girl was out of earshot through most of it. It was also lulling, and,along with the wine, causing him to stifle an occasional yawn. Despite his fatigue, he did not object to a second drink, served to him by Beth.
Jane was droning on. "Yes, in time, all problems could be solved. It's so important for young people to curb their destructive behavior. In earlier days -- in Victorian England -- they had stricter standards of behavior. Young men and young ladies then knew their place. And they made out very well. Yes, in those days, society avoided a whole cache of social problems that plague us today."
She made a half gesture towards Beth. "A fine young lady now, our Beth is. Aren't you, girl?"
This time, responding to a more direct question, Beth politely responded," Yes,thanks you, ma'am."
He could no longer stifle the yawns which welled up, and he gave in to a broad yawn which he quickly concealed. He was suddenly incredibly sleepy.
"But enough of this. Michael, you seem tired. You should rest. Go up to your room and lie down."
Michael peremptorily thanked his hostess and Beth, admitting that it had been a long day for him. He carefully did not admit, though Jane could easily surmise, that the potent Madeira wine was also new to him. He did venture to say that Beth seemed a very nice girl.Jane nodded gravely as if confiding in him, after Beth had left. "She was quite a problem to her parents. Raucous, disobedient, destructive. A year removed from her previous environment was just what she needed. As I said, Michael, the Victorians knew how to bring up girl's."
Michael simply nodded, trying to figure out what this obviously eccentric statement meant to him or to anything, having difficulty focusing on very much around him.
"Yes.", she continued, " I find that, nowadays, young people need much more supervision. Otherwise they become coarse and unmanageable."
Michael listened, only half understanding. "Well, I guess they do, at that.", he suggested,almost instantly regretting his response. Curiously, the response seemed to greatly please Jane.
"Do you, now?" she asked. "Do you indeed! Well, my dear, I'm sure you and I will get along just fine! This is very good, indeed." Michael was happy that his she seemed so pleased, so little of his existence having done so that day. It boded well for his stay, he reasoned. And, it also seemed, it might indicate a short stay as well and her good offices, as well, both of which suited him just fine.
'This may not be such a predicament, after all,' he mused.
With that, taking up the suggestion, Michael excused himself and headed off to bed.
He climbed the stairs in rickety stance, having twice to steady his progress with a hand on the great maple bannister. He reached the room, opened the door and entered.
The sheets of his bed were turned down, a bedside light was on. Shedding his clothes in a disorderly pile on the chair near the bed, he removed his shorts and slipped beneath the covers. In moments he was deep asleep.
Michael stirred from sleep, confused at first with the unfamiliar surroundings. He gazed upward, and in the dim light he saw first the gauzy haze of the bed canopy, an eerie blue in the deepening afternoon shadows. He did not know it was late afternoon until he had glanced at the luminous glowing letters of the clock-radio and mentally translated the 4:30 into time. It took some moments for his foggy brain to rearrange the recollections of the day, then it fell into place and he recalled falling into the bed and quickly asleep. He had slept for nearly 3 hours.
He surveyed again the delicate furnishings of the room. It was so bloody girlish, he felt alien in these surroundings. He made a mental note to gently request that perhaps some chamber less dainty might be preferable. He hoped Jane would understand.
As he shifted his legs, he became aware of the smoothness of the sheets, and suspected they must be satin, and found another reason to pronounce the room unsuitable. But the silky touch imparted an unfamiliar yet exotic feeling. Childishly, he persisted in the slow motion of his body enjoying the tactile sensation the cool, slippery fabric provided.
His eyes now accustomed to the dim light, he surveyed the room yet again. His first internal alarm bell sounded when he could not see the overnight bag on the bureau where he was sure he had left it. He mentally retraced his first movements when he had entered the room and convinced himself that was where he had left it. It was not there!
Though he had been very groggy when he came up to bed, he was fairly sure that the had either dropped his shorts alongside the bed (as was his habit) or flung them on some nearby surface. Yet they were not on the floor nor on the chair or table. He sat up in apprehension and astonishment, and carefully scanned every object and surface in the chamber. They were not there! Neither, he noted, were any of his clothes. In near frenzy, he leapt from the bed to search beneath it, and in doing so, he upset the lamp on the bedside table. It crashed nosily as he lifted the dust ruffles and both scrutinized and felt beneath the bed. There was no question; all of his clothes were missing.
He was totally perplexed. Where could they be? Hazy as those moments before he fell asleep were, he knew that he had come into the room fully clothed and had undressed. His single solution to the problem was that, while he slept, someone had removed the clothes from the bed chamber. The logical next question was "Why?"
He sat on the edge of the bed, puzzled and distraught, and it was then he noticed the gown laid neatly across its foot. He grabbed it and spread it out before him. It was a peach colored satin robe, quilted with a bib-like front that was edged in small lace trim; clearly a girl's robe. In a state reaching panic, he stood and began negotiating the room, in hopes his own clothes were still there. He held the gown in one hand, as if it remained some feeble insurance against his nudity. He opened drawers and closets, but his search disclosed only womanly attire and no trace of his own things.
The sound of footfalls and the knock at the door startled him, and he eyed the distance to the safety of the bed and its covers. Before he could move, however, the door opened, and he was obliged to use the robe as a shield to feebly cover his unclad body. It was Jane, and as she entered, she threw the switch lever which illuminated the room with light from the table lamps. Her first glance was at the bed, and seeing it empty, her eyes quickly found him attempting to secrete himself behind one of the closet doors, the gown still in his hand.
"You needn't hide behind that door, Michael. Put something on and come out."
He was dumbfounded by all this. "My clothes are gone," he said helplessly.
"Don't be ridiculous! I can see you holding something perfectly acceptable to put on. Put it n!" she replied.
"You want me to put this on? I can't wear this. It's a girls robe."
"Of course you can wear it. And you have precious little alternative. I want you to come with me this moment, and you will either go in what you have or nothing at all. It is of no concern to me."
Her tone was indisputably definitive, and he was again bewildered by what was happening to him. She stood and glared at him, waiting. Ridiculous as it seemed to him,he drew on the robe and fumbled with the buttons. They were 'backward" and he found it complicated to fasten them. Nevertheless, he did, and emerged from behind the door timorously feeling foolish in this ruffled get-up.
"You look quite fetching" she remarked with some disdain. "Come with me."
His face reddened at her demeaning comment, but he followed her brisk pace down the upstairs hall and through the door she opened. He glanced furtively from side to side, hoping against hope no other member of the household would see him in this ridiculous outfit. He hoped he would soon be able to persuade Jane to return his own things.
The room he entered was a study adjacent to her own bedroom, he later learned. She made a peremptory gesture indicating he should sit, and he did, facing her over the desk.
"It is time we began your lessons, my dear young man. You have had your rest and time to think about tour conversation this morning. I might add I found your behavior at lunch fairly boorish, but that merely bolstered my earlier conclusions. I am convinced we will have it out of you by Friday..two days hence. That is the last day I will trifle with your conduct. After that, it is, as I said, out of my hands." He chafed again at this condemnation from this imperious woman. Guilt and remorse about the events that brought him here surfaced again. Along with those regrets, he felt a developing apprehension that was, in no small way, reinforced by his feeling of vulnerability sitting there in this ridiculous gown.
"I am going to give you a brief overview of the routine, Michael, and you will hear me out. That promise of compliance I exacted this afternoon is decisive and final. After you have heard me you will choose either to comply or we will be done with all this and you will go home tonight."
Here it was, he thought. This was where he would learn where this absurdity was all going.
"First of all, that garment you are wearing; you didn't like putting it on, did you? "she asked.
"Frankly, no," he spat out. "Where are my own clothes," he replied.
"Gone for some time, I must tell you. Tell me, though, how does it feel wearing that gown? It feels nice, doesn't it?"
"I feel like a fool. This is a girl's robe!"
"How discerning," she said sarcastically, "and now you come to the crux of it. While you are here, and until I deem otherwise, girl's clothes are what you will wear! Perhaps you may grow to like them, perhaps you never will. it is of no consequence to me either way. What insignificant to me is that in time, I assure you that you will be as adorable and sweet as lovely Beth."
He felt a surge of outrage mixed with panic at her words. Was this what she had alluded to before? How could she possibly believe he would wear such things. The objections to her suggestion flooded his mind and then, abruptly, ran headlong into the threat she had eloquently delivered that afternoon.
"Moreover," she went on, "we are going to begin in just a few minutes. Within an hour, you will not recognize yourself as the impertinent moron you have been...even so recently as at lunch. Beth is at this moment busy preparing things. Your indoctrination begins in just moments, Michael."
He began to protest. He would not be subjected to this nonsense. He could not be!
She cut him off. "It was just this that you promised, young man! Leave now if you want...dressed as you are. I will not help you. Call someone..your Mother perhaps. Dean Hartwick. This punishment is my choice for you and you will bow to this decision or face the consequences."
He felt tears of rage and misery forming within him and beginning to well in his eyes. He did not want her to see these tears, and he averted his face from her, feigning enraged disgust. He felt both outraged and helpless. The prospect she described was repulsive and detestable to him. How could he possibly submit to such debasement and the servile state she envisioned?
He wanted to run away from this place...flee before it went any further. But as quickly as that thought passed through his mind, he realized its futility, the mental image of a boy in a girl's satin robe hitch-hiking on the road outside was burlesque.
She left him undisturbed in his thoughts, letting the gravity of his situation to sink in. She could see and sense the discomfiture he was experiencing and she smiled inwardly. Thus was it all with all the bold, brazen young men. From experience, too, she knew that the defiance would diminish in direct proportion to the feminization that lay ahead. With some degree of compassion, she walked to his side and softly fondled his tear- stained cheek. He stoically pulled away from her touch, but remained silent.
"You will conform and submit, Michael. You will come to know that it will all be better for you that way."
She cupped his chin and turned his face up to meet her gaze.
"Come now. Make it easy on yourself."
He closed his eyes tightly squeezing the accumulated tears to trickle down his cheeks, then let his head fall as she released her hold. He felt drained and chagrined; his spirit and will incapacitated.
"Come, Michael...come with me."
He sat motionless for a moment then, with passive resignation, he yielded to her exhortation, and followed her out of the room.
Her footsteps led him through his own bedroom and directed him through the mirrored door which separated it from the spacious bathroom. Clouds of steam filled the room as the bathtub was being filled. He glanced into the tub and saw billows of soap bubbles floating on the rising water. Marie, now dressed in a crisp white uniform, was arranging towels on the vanity. The pastel room, being prepared for feminine pursuits, was like a dungeon, and he yearned to be out of this place. He felt servile and embarrassed. He was genuinely fearful.
As he stood there, awkwardly, Marie turned off the flowing water, and Jane's voice behind him ordered him to disrobe and enter the tub. As if anticipating his modesty, Marie turned around and busied herself at the vanity. Concealing his nakedness behind the robe, he slipped it off and quickly sought refuge beneath the concealing blanket of lather and sank into the warm water, burying his body to his neck.
Jane stood over him.
"I need not tell you how to scrub yourself, I presume," she said, tossing a cloth into the tub, "but merely to tell you to do it thoroughly. Impeccable cleanliness at all times is the rule of this house."
She turned to accept the articles Marie had gathered. Holding up a bottle of shampoo, she again advised him to use it, three times, she said, leaving the lather on his head for at least three minutes, showing him the clock on the wall. She set the bottle down on the ceramic edge of the tub.
It was the sight of the safety razor that startled him, for he knew instinctively that she did not intend him to use it in the traditional male fashion. He was correct, for she was explicit in her directions that every single hair on his legs and under his arms was to be eliminated and that his failure would invite the penalty that it would be done for him. The razor was placed beside the decanter of shampoo. Jane spoke brusquely as she issued her initial instructions.
"You have precisely 30 minutes. When you are finished and completely rinsed, there are towels there on the vanity, "she said gesturing. "You will also find a pair of underpants you are to put on. If you are chilled, put the robe back on. But be absolutely certain you are wearing those panties. There is shaving cream near the sink. Every facial whisker is to be gone, so make it a very close shave. Come into the bedroom when you are done.
Then both of them left him alone in the steamy bathroom.
"Remember, 30 minutes, or we come in and do it to you ourselves." Jane had said as she closed the door.
He lay there a moment and felt a slight chill in spite of the warm sudsy bath. The bottle was labelled "Miss Clairol", a brand name that was vaguely familiar, though he could not recall any significance about the product except that it was shampoo.
He felt very alone and depressed. Yet he knew that the minimal time he had been allotted was waning. Gingerly he picked up the pink disposable razor and gingerly applied its blade to the skin of his left leg.
Nearly a third of his appropriated interval was consumed by the shaving. He had some difficulty reaching the thigh areas, and he had been obliged to stand up to execute the maneuver. While standing he also used the reflection of his upraised arms to guide the razor through the thatch of underarm hair, feeling the stinging rasp as he scraped the tender skin smooth. The activity was novel, but not dissimilar to shaving his face, something he had to do twice weekly. Except for the uncertainty of events to come, the bath was a neutral experience thus far.
Likewise the washing of his hair. He poured some of the golden liquid into his palm and massaged it into foam on his hair, rinsing and repeated the shampoo three times as she had told him. He quickly rinsed off with the shower wand and opened the tub drain as he stepped out onto the soft pile of the bath rug. He towelled briskly off, then hurriedly shaved his face, his eyes occasionally straying to the diaphanous garment that sat prominently to his left. He managed to finish the shave without a nick, his beard being sparse to begin with.
The briefs, though made of satiny tricot and without a fly, were not remarkably different than his own shorts, and it was thus not much of an onus to slip them on. He was, however, aware of their silkiness in his groin, a thought that took him back to that moment he had awakened just an hour before. Notwithstanding their lack of frills or lace, he was accutely aware that he was wearing girl's panties. The thought mortified him.
Though he was not cold in the still steamy room, his sense of timidity about being so scantily clad in front of these women prompted him to put the objectionable robe back on. A glance at the clock told him he had completed his tasks with two minutes to spare.
His legs tingled from the abrasive edge of the razor, but they were smooth and bare of any trace of hair. He hoped these efforts passed muster, for he knew her threat to rectify any mistakes in his labors was not an idle one.
With one last glance in the mirror, and a check that he had satisfactorily rinsed out the tub and hung the towels, he reached for the doorknob with a growing sense of dread.
In his absence, the bed had been remade, the shammed pillows leaning against the headboard and a ridiculous stuffed animal lounged against them, facing a delicately dressed doll on the blue satin coverlet. Marie and Jane were both there, busy at the vanity. The room was still bathed in the pastel light that filtered through the dainty lampshades, but a blaze of light streamed from the ring of small bulbs that ringed the vanity mirror, and from the recessed florescent lights above the full length mirror.
"Sit here, Michael," Jane said. "We are about ready."
He sat in the chair she indicated, feeling not unlike a patient awaiting some dread medical procedure. All around him lay signs of the female world that was rapidly taking control of him. Even the chair he perched on wore a skirt! He wished he were a thousand miles away.
He could see them opening drawers and examining the contents. Within those drawers he could see mounds of wispy garments. The top drawer of the dresser was filled with panties. Girl's underpants. In an unimaginable profusion. There were dainty yellow cotton hip-huggers; the waistband trimmed in tiny eyelets. Much more substantial peach briefs with lace side vents. Ridiculous red and white stripped string bikinis. A waterfall of dainty, girlish pastels flowed before him. Michael grabbed a handful of panties. He smiled remembering the panty raid at school that got him in such trouble. A ruefulness hit him again.
Jane turned around to him and said "Stand up Michael and let me see the panties you have on." He stood and shamefully opened the robe to expose the panties with their silver satin ribbon trim.
Jane said to Marie, "Yes, I thought they were white. We'll go with the white things this time."
She gathered up an article of feathery fabric and held it up. It looked like a t-shirt, in a way, though with thin shiny straps. It had a silky look, airy and loose. It was definitely a "non-masculine" garment. The thin shoulder straps were fastened to the with embroidered bows on the front. Also, he hadn't noticed the delicate lace inserts on each side.
"This is called a camisole, Michael, and it is worn when a slip is not worn. Please pay attention and learn this, for I don't plan to repeat it."
She set down the camisole and picked up an item which sent chills through him, for he knew precisely what it was before she even began to tell him.
"And this, of course, is a brassiere...a training bra, actually, for a young lady with so little in front needs just the least bit of foundation. You will wear a bra at all times while you are here. Even at night until I say otherwise. If you are caught without the proper attire at any time, you will be dealt with, and I mean it. Panties and bra, regardless of whatever else you have on. Do you understand? Now stand up and take off that robe."
He sighed, it help ease the queasiness in his stomach. He stood on rubbery legs and let the robe fall to the floor. Marie advanced on him bearing the shimmering band of satin which was to be his tribulation and guided his arms through the straps, moving behind him to fasten the back. This activity took some moments, and it was later, when he toyed with removing it, that he discovered that the hooks locked in a way that they could only be released with another's help. She then slipped the camisole over his head, directing again the placement of his arms so she could adjust the straps, and then she pulled and adjusted the smooth, somewhat constricting garment down to his waist.
"You may be seated again, Michael. What I have to show you now demands some lengthy explanation."
At first he thought that the garment she held up in front of her was a set of curtains. As she unfolded it, he could see it was a skirt- like affair, with delicate circles of soft lace and eyelet arranged around a cone of silk, cotton, nylon. It was long, soft and flowing, with a ruffle hem and drawstring at the waist.
"This, young man, is a petticoat. You heard me mention petticoat discipline this afternoon, and it is from this garment that that term derives. I can think of few articles of lingerie that are more girlish and juvenile. This little item is the symbol of your station for some time to come, and it gives me great delight to put you into it. In fact, you are going to be favored with four layers of these tonight."
He was more chagrined, not only at the flimsy skirt she held out to Marie, but at the teasing and abasing words which she had spoken. He followed Marie's request to step into it, and his eyes met the gleeful twinkle in Jane's as Marie pulled the band of the petticoat up to his waist and tied the drawstrings. Three others followed, these pulled over his head, making a rustling sound as they settled into tiers of frilly circumference around his mid-leg. The crinolines flounced outward as the bulk of each rested on the one before it.
He was thankful he could not see himself in this ludicrous predicament, but it was as though Jane read his mind, for she summoned him over to the lighted mirror and forced him not only to look, but to swirl the skirts back and forth. She was clearly not impressed with his manner of swishing the skirts, for she made an off- handed but exasperated comment to Marie about how much needed to be done.
Standing there, the brightly reflection looked back tauntingly at him, mortified and humiliated. He looked like a goddamned girl. He felt lower than he had ever felt. True, there was a strange delight in the touch of these fabrics, and, he had to force himself to admit, an odd sensation of titillation in wearing clothes so obviously feminine. Were it not for the proximity of the two women standing behind him, he might have managed a slight smile of pleasure. But, of course, they were there, and their's was a demeaning presence. Nevertheless, amid this strange mixture of impressions, the overwhelming one was indignity.
The chair he had earlier been seated in was now moved to the vanity and he was directed there. At this point Jane stood to leave.
"I leave you to Marie's expert talents, Michael. You will mind her as if I were still here. When she is completely finished with you, you will come back down to my study." With that she left.
Marie occupied herself arranging items -- some familiar, others foreign to him -- on the dressing table. A he stared at himself in the mirror, he was quite certain that he was not going to like what was coming next.
Marie began with a hair dryer, directing its warm flow over his hair, using a small brush to first dry it and then coax it into a lightly curled fullness. He saw this through half-closed lids, the air flow causing his eyes to water when it touched his eyes. When he did clear his eyes, and the warm air dried his hair, he was startled to see that his hair was a lighter blond than it had been. He could not readily account for this, then concluded that it must have had something to do with the shampoo. And indeed it had, for just that afternoon Jane had selected the proper shade of tint she wanted. The color was now a more golden color, not loud or garish, but a soft amber shade with gold highlights.
Marie busied herself now behind him, at the back of his head. He could see that she was taken hair pins and placing them there. What she was in fact doing, was making a knot of hair in preparation of the next step. When she had done, she moved into the bathroom and returned with what appeared to be a fleece, of a color remarkably...not exactly like his own. He would later learn that it was called a fall, and it had been washed with the same shampoo that his own had been, and Marie had curled and styled it while he had slept.
She inserted the comb of the fall into the knot she had fashioned at the back of his scalp, bring a tear to his eye as it pulled his hair. Some more pins anchored the artificial tresses to his own hair. She then returned to his own hair, and with a hot iron, drew ringlets of it into soft curls.
When she was satisfied with the curls, both real and artificial, she produced a large blue satin ribbon and, wrapping it around the juncture of the fall and his own hair, tied it in a bow.
The image that reflected back to him was a peculiar mixture of familiar and obscure. He knew it to be him, the features were his own. But the cascade of curls which brushed against his bare shoulders, locks (for they had to be so labelled, now), different in color from what they had been that morning...all these cast an alien representation of his true self. Not having lost a bit of the chagrin he felt at his plight, he was fascinated with what he saw, as though he were looking at a distaff twin of himself.
His reverie was interrupted by Marie's voice, and he again assumed a hang-dog look and manner befitting his feeling of distress. She was holding up a skirt (of tafetta, he was later to learn). it was navy blue, and though it had a sheen like satin, this luster was more muted. Marie slipped this carefully over his head and her handiwork and lowered it to settle atop the bollowing petticoats. The skirt fastened, Marie reached into the closet and brought forth a lighter blue, pastel blue garment. This one did have the luminous gloss of satin, and as it was put on him, it fell loosely over the top of the skirt, The cuffs were elastic, so that after Marie had adjusted the sleeves, they blooused out at the wrist. Michael had seen that the collar which dropped down the back was piped with a contrasting color, nautical style. He stood immobile as Marie adjusted the middy blouse and affixed at the neck a ribbon which matched the one in his hair.
The next item was one he could, and, indeed was directed to do himself. He put on the long white stockings she gave him and pulled them to their height to his knees. Unfortunately, this deed was not done to her satisfaction, and as she made him stand, he could watch in the mirror as she folded down the tops of the stockings and let the lace trim form a cuff just below his knees.
The shoes followed next. By this point, Michael was resigned to foloow the taciturn woman's insturctions blindly. He slipped his feet into the patent leather pumps and let her fasten the straps and buckles.
He was dressed. he preseumed this was all of it and he could depart to show tasha what she had wrought. He was wrong.
Marie had him sit once more at the vanity and she brought forth a tray of small jars. Here again was an operation that filled him with foreboding. She was going to make him up. he had been made up before, for the stage in school plays. But somehow, this occurrence imported more than just dramatic requisites. Nearly more than anything he had experienced thus far, the prospect that she was about to paint his face made him queasy.
She began with a thin brown pencil telling him to keep his eyelids as still as possible as she traced a fine line beneath and just above each eye. Next, she took a small spong-like brush and brushed it over a cake of light blue and trasferred the color to his closed eyelids in long, delicate strokes. Again he was bade to curb his fluttering eyelids as she withdrew a bristled wand from a tube and daubed sienna particles of mascara on his lashes, stroking synthetic length and body into them.
When he looked in the mirror again, he was astonished at how the cosmetics had softened his eyes and added to the feminine countenance that stared back.
Marie dabbed spots of carmine rouge on his cheeks and then roughly stroked them until they blended into a faint pinkish blush on his cheeks.
The final significant moment of that queasy, menacing feeling he had felt to a greater or lesser degree this last hour and half, came when he saw the tube of lipstick being uncapped and the ruby shank rise from it as she turned the base. Long after this night, whenever he either had lipstick applied to him or had to apply it to himself, he would reflect on this moment. It was as though it symbolized the finality of the transition and the submission.
He felt a sadness as he mimicked the awkward contortion of the lips she demonstrated, and the color was spread over his lips.
Now she sent him to Jane. He glimpsed himself briefly in the mirror as he left the room and felt like he inhabited another body.
Michael closed the door to the bedroom as he entered the hallway. Although he didn't realize it at the time, he was also closing the door on his past life. A new lifestyle, carefully crafted and controlled by women, was opening for him. In his present helpless condition, he was unable to resist. Gradually, events he was powerless to influence, would shape him into a new, far more pliable young person.
Standing out in the hallway for the first time was a disorienting experience for him. At least, in the bedroom, he was more enclosed; shut off from the outside world. Here in the wide, ornate upstairs hallway, with its rosewood end tables and Persian carpets, he felt naked. The light was much brighter, it seemed out here. Also, inside bedroom, he had been forced to don this costume. At least, much as he hated his petticoated predicament, he had an excuse; a means to rationalize it, this isn't my fault. Now, standing alone in the open hall, what could he say if anyone met him. Here I am, a 14 year old boy, in petticoats, skirts, and a middy blouse. It was terrifying. Terrifying, but also, he hesitated to admit it, a little exhilarating.
Everything felt new. For instance, he immediately noticed the feel of his naked legs. This must be how girls feel all the time when they're wearing skirts, he thought. As he walked, he was embarrassed by an annoying itching on his freshly shaven thighs. He stopped, placed a hand on the wall to steady himself, and rubbed his legs together in an attempt to sooth his itching thighs. It was then that he noticed the pleasing sensation of his smooth tricot panties, the playful tickle of the ruffle hems of his petticoats; all four of them, and the smooth silkiness of his chemise. It was, he had to admit, a sexy sensation. Surely if he wasn't being coerced into wearing these clothes, it might even be fun- for a little while. Alone, in the privacy of his bedroom, with no chance of anyone finding out, it could have been quite arousing. But Jane had not given him any choice, that much was certain. And he didn't even know how long he would be humiliated in this most feminine fashion.
With that thought, he remembered Jane, waiting for him in the downstairs study. After his tense, strictly timed experience in the bathroom, he know he had better be prompt, much though he hated it. He left the wall, half cowering behind an endtable, and walked to the stairs. Almost immediately the sensation of the numerous petticoats surprised him. It was almost impossible to walk with these frilly girlish undergarments tickling his thighs. But far worse was the sound! In the silent hall, with its expensive carpet, polished brass fixtures and heavy furniture, the sound of his own walking surprised him. It was awful! The skirts!--he felt so utterly ashamed, actually swished as he tried to walk. He had never expected anything so demeaning. He was sure everyone in the house would be able to hear him. How could he ever enter a room with other people present dressed like this. With every step, the billowing female garments pulled and bounced and swayed. The sound of all this material pulling over itself made an absolutely sensuous sound. But not with me in it, he thought. Not with me being forced to wear these clothes. He paused and shook his head in dismay.
Everything that had happened so far, he suddenly realized, was contrived to bring him more and more under female control. And each step was far more degrading than the previous one. He wasn't sure how much more he could take. If Jane ever actually wanted him to go outside like this, he was sure he would panic.
He stood at the top of the stairs fidgeting nervously. He squirmed his shoulders uncomfortable in their new restraining garment. To him, the bra, a symbol of utter degradation, had dozens of tight, biting elastic straps. He pulled his arms and shrugged his shoulders trying to relieve the bra straps awful bite. He felt utterly powerless. Still, he reasoned, at this point, all resistance was useless. He knew, with fearful certainty, that he had better submit to Jane's cruel demands, and right away, or face even worse, unimaginable punishments.
With that thought, he steeled his nerves for the awful walk down the stairs. He felt naked as he stepped, with unaccustomed daintiness, onto the huge open stairway. A wave of shameful humiliation washed over his as the multiple layers of petticoats rustled and tickled him with each step. Now, a new embarrassment, as he descended the stairs, his entire skirt actually "Bounced" on the floating petticoats. He wanted to close his eyes. By the time Michael reached the first floor, his cheeks had turned a deeper shade of red than Marie had initially painted them.
He sashayed, shamefully, towards the study. Besides his embarrassment, Michael began to worry what other unpleasant surprises his "aunt" Jane might have in store for him. He felt tears begin to well up in his eyes as he stood before the heavy wooden door of her study. As the tears flowed, he knew that he would have no choice buy to accept whatever Jane demanded of him. He would have to change his behavior, or endure more of this unbearable, girlish torture. Timidly, the panty clad boy knocked on the door. "I'll be with you in a minute," Jane explained after opening the door. "Now, show me that you're going to behave yourself, dear. Sit quietly on that bench until I'm ready." With that, and not a word about his girlish appearance, Jane re-entered the study and closed the door.
Michael surveyed the long, hardwood bench opposite the doorway. It was unusually plain, considering all the elaborate ornate furnishings Jane had selected for her home. The imagery of a young school boy (or, shudder! schoolgirl, for that matter) waiting outside the principal's office was not lost on him. With an unceremonious plop, he heaped himself, and his billowing costume, on the hard wood bench. Michael sat, with his ankles crossed and knees spread wide, in a most un-girlish fashion. He still seemed, despite his lovely long tresses, billowing petticoats and ruby lips, to be very much a boy in a skirt. From the careless way he had seated himself, his lovely petticoats were all bunched up beneath him. The hem of his pretty flared skirt had been creased. Thus it was, seated in this way, with his arms spread along the backrest of the bench, that Beth found him.
"Care for a jellybean?" she asked coyly. The poor petticoated boy was so startled by Beth, he nearly jumped off the bench. In an instant, he realized his plight. He felt so mortified, so embarrassed, so utterly ashamed, at being caught in a skirt, by a girl, his own age. What would she think of him? He turned away from Beth, sliding roughly to the opposite end of the bench. Michael stared at the ground, unable to stand the prospect of her inevitable teasing. Beth remained silent as she approached the shivering panty clad boy. She walked to his side of the bench, then turned, and with a practiced ladylike gesture, smoothed her skirt beneath her as she sat on the bench. The result was that her petticoats fell evenly and her skirt remained unwrinkled.
"If its any help, I think it's a nasty thing she's doing to you" Beth said with genuine tenderness. Michael, his trepidation and shame so great, could only gesture weakly. "Really, I do.", Beth added. "Most of the time, Jane`s not so bad. But sometimes, she can be so mean that I can't stand her." Michael, slightly relieved that he was not being further humiliated, was able to relax slightly. Beth offered a tissue and the skirted boy wiped his tear- stained cheeks. Gradually, he confided in Beth that he felt so utterly humiliated. For her part, Beth tried to be supportive, friendly and understanding. "Did she give you the speech about when she was the Head "Monstrous" of a private school?" Beth asked giggling. "Well, from what I've heard," She continued, "She got Bounced out of there. Seems she was too nasty for most of the faculty to stand."
Michael smiled in spite of himself. "How long," he asked Beth eagerly, " do you think she'll keep me like this?" He was still so embarrassed he could hardly look directly at her. Beth tried to reassure him. "She's only doing it to upset you, Michael.Just don't let it get to you. And above all, don't give her any reason to keep doing it." Michael shivered in his skirts. "But what does she want," he implored. "Look, just behave yourself, she'll soon see this is ridiculous. I'm sure she'll lose interest. I bet she's just afraid of you, Michael. That must have been some heck of a report.
In this way, Beth gradually, skillfully drew Michael out of his shell. "I guess I was pretty wild." he finally admitted. "There, you see", Beth responded. "Jane's a just afraid you'll wreck her place. Now, if you just play it cool for a little while, I'm sure she'll stop this nonsense." This last suggestion finally succeeded in gain Michael's confidence, as it was calculated to do.
Jane had learned long ago, through many similar experiences, that constant direct force and threats were an inefficient way to break the spirit of a rebellious boy. Even with prolonged petticoat punishment, the final result was always uncertain and never the complete degree of subjugation she desired. Which was why, in Michael's case, Jane had decided to subjugate him, not merely with petticoat discipline, but also with a sort of good cop/ bad cop treatment. Jane, of course, was the bad guy. She, with Marie's artful assistance, directly threatened Michael. It was Jane who forced the poor boy into panties and petticoats and he knew it. But Jane also planned to use Beth as the "good cop" in Michael's transformation; at least for the present. It was Jane who would force him onto each successive stage of feminization; but it was Beth's job to make him accept it.
Beth, for her part, played her role skillfully. She knew well, from personal experience, what Michael was going through. Still, she didn't let that knowledge mollify her manipulative actions. Beth knew well that her only chance for freedom lay in helping Jane completely subjugate and transform Michael. Besides, she recalled, she would only have to play the role of the good guy with Michael for a little while longer. Beth suppressed an inner smile of vengeful anticipation.
Meanwhile, Michael was anxious to have an ally, a friend, anyone to whom he could confide in. "What does she want me to do?" he asked Beth anxiously. Now was Beth's turn to expand on the treatment which Jane had so forcefully begun. "Just try to cooperate, for a while." Beth explained. Michael just snorted with indignation. Cooperate! after what she's done to me! Ohhh! What I'd like to do to her...", he retorted. "Well then," Beth sighed, "if that's your attitude, you better get used to petticoats, I think you're gonna be wearing them for quite a while. Yes, indeed, my dear," she added, "at least through the summer. Maybe longer." Michael was aghast. Petticoats, for the next two months! He was mortified. He was actually scared at the prospect. It was too degrading to think about. "Please," he was actively pleading with Beth now, "what do I do? I could never stand it! How can she be so mean?"
Beth explained to him that if his behavior improved, Jane might relent. For example, she pointed out his unladylike manner of sitting. Under Beth's guidance, Michael uncrossed his ankles, placed his patent shoes flat on the floor, and pressed his knees together. He smoothed down the lap of his billowing skirt and folded his hands in his lap. "Much better", Beth praised him. "still, Jane can't like what you've done to your outfit. After all the trouble she went through to get you dressed up, and there you go wrinkling everything." She then pointed out to the petticoated boy his wrinkled clothing. Beth had Michael stand and helped smooth out his skirt. "The best way to get out of trouble with Jane," Beth explained, "is not to get into trouble in the first place. This is one of the first things she'll check."
Michael stood before his seated companion as she continued to give him pointers, subtle, girlish pointers, on how to behave around Jane if he ever wanted to regain his freedom and his pants. While Beth spoke, she steadied Michael with her left hand while smoothing down the folds of his skirt with her other hand. Repeatedly she ran her hand, delicately, gently, down the skirted boy's rear. Stroking the back of his skirt, ostensibly to smooth the wrinkles. But as Michael stood there, up straight, heels together, toes pointed out, hands folded in front of himself, he was aware of a different effect. The warmth of Beth's hand on his thigh, the gentleness of her stroking, the teasing folds and frills of his petticoats all combined to create a warm pleasing stirring deep within his tricot panties.
"And another thing," Beth explained, "try to avoid getting your petticoats all tangled up during the day. It's just something that happens as you walk around with all this lacy stuff." Michael said nothing but to himself thought that was the one pleasant thing about this situation. The pleasant way the ruffle frilled petticoats worked their way between his legs. "Never, what ever you do, try to fix your petti's by hand!" Beth admonished. "That's all the excuse Jane would need to punish you" As an alternative, Beth stood up and demonstrated a "more acceptable" way to walk. As Michael observed, Beth sashayed down the hallway and back. "We don't walk like this all the time, of course. But when you think Jane is watching you, or you want to unbundle your petti's, this is the safest way to do it." Beth then told Michael to try it. Although he was initially reluctant, he quickly conceded when Beth reminded him about Jane's strictness. With self conscious awkwardness,Michael tried to walk down the lush carpeted hallway outside Jane's study as he had seen Beth do. She made suggestions and had him repeat his attempt several times, "to make sure you can fool Jane." On his last attempt, as Michael walked with his back to Beth, she allowed herself a smile at the sight. Michael was attempting to walk as Beth instructed him; swaying his hips to the left and then the right with each step. Also, she emphasized the importance of taking only little mincing steps. The result was a young boy, a training bra, petticoats, and a skirt, promenading down the hall. She had to admit, he already had an acceptable mince!
He looked so funny, she had to bite her lip to avoid laughing out loud. The time for that, she recalled, would come soon enough. Surely Jane would be pleased with her when she reviewed Michael's progress. And the tape recorder hidden under the hardwood bench would confirm Beth's sincerity and commitment to Jane. Surely Jane would at long last favorably consider Beth's own desire for freedom. But she was afraid of hoping for too much too soon.
When Jane opened the door to her study a few moments later, she was indeed pleased by what she saw. Instead of the disobedient young man she had to endure that morning, she saw the facsimile of a lovely young lady. True, much of that effect was due to her own, and Marie's skillful efforts. But the deportment of the young man in question was also quite improved. This certainly wasn't the way a rebellious 14 year old boy would sit. Michael's hands were neatly folded in his lap, he sat up straight, (showing off the minimal padding of his training bra), his knees and heels were together and his shoes flat on the floor. Beth had done her job well, Jane mused. She admitted the petticoated prisoner. Michael, eager to please, and avoid prolonged humiliation, stood up and sashayed as instructed. He lifted his rear and swayed left and right, taking the little mincing steps he thought would lead to his freedom. How foolish. How little he realized the each step only brought him closer to complete feminized subjugation.
Jane seated herself in a leather bound wing back chair. "Come here, please." she ordered Michael. The bra-clad boy stood before her, trying to win his freedom by enhancing his subjugation. Michael stood with his heels together, toes pointing apart, and back straight. He looked up, pushed his shoulders back (trying not to cringe as the tight elastic of his training bra pulled at his flesh). Finally, as Beth had suggested, he clasped his hands behind his back; palms together, fingers pointing down. Michael felt fearful and degraded by this behavior. He knew how pathetic and ridiculous he must look. But somehow, he hoped, this would be sufficient to assuage this domineering woman.
Realizing exactly what her captive must be thinking, Jane made sure she rewarded the behavior she wished to promote. She complimented him and expressed satisfaction with his appearance. "But remember", she warned sternly, "you must continue this much improved behavior through Friday, or I shall immediately dismiss you." She spent some time reviewing her litany of complaints against him, but she held out the promise that he could be reformed. This greatly encouraged Michael, who assumed this indicated a release from his petticoat discipline. But Jane did not elaborate, preferring to allow Michael to deceive himself. After a short while, he was dismissed and sent to the dining room to await dinner.
Michael walked into the dining room to find that the table had been splendidly set and the smells of cooking drifted in from the kitchen. Beth was already there, standing demurely behind her chair. She advised him that it was a rule of the house that neither of them was to sit until Jane entered the room and was herself seated. He stood timorously behind the tall-backed chair, imitating Beth's diffident carriage and pose. Jane entered the room despotically, and sat and placed her napkin in her lap. Following Beth's every lead, Michael seated himself and copied each movement, constantly fearful of committing some error of manner which would incur Jane's wrath. Dinner passed slowly,it seemed,yet he knew when the clock sounded seven times it had not been that long.
Conversation was succinct, most of it limited to Jane's continuing lectures on deportment and good breeding. Michael was grateful that precious little reference was made to him, for he had expected some attention to be focussed on him. He stole an occasional conspiratorial glance at Beth, and smiled gratefully at the girl's apparent concern at his plight.
Supper ended and over the demitasse, Jane finally centered her deliberations on him.
"I think we shall make an early night of this.," she said, glancing at the grandfather clock. "It will take a while for you to be prepared for bed, Michael. You have not done too badly today, after you and I had our little talk. I expect even better conduct tomorrow,for we have a lot of lessons to cover."
"Now say goodnight to Beth, and go upstairs. Marie is waiting for you." With that the was dismissed. He folded his napkin, and flashed a shy smile of thankfulness in Beth's direction as he bid her goodnight. Standing, he painstakingly walked from the room,remembering Beth's exhortation about his bearing and posture. As he passed through the foyer and up the stairs, he was again cognizant of the ruffle of the dainty petticoats and the taffeta skirt with each step. He hoped to himself that Beth's assurance that giving in to Jane's whims was the surest way out of this contemptible dilemma. He entered the forbidding bedroom that had become so symbolic of his exploitation.
And so to bed...
Marie told him to undress, and she watched sternly as he followed her instructions to correctly hang the skirt and blouse and align the shoes neatly alongside the others on the shoe rack. Each petticoat was removed, and with the camisole, neatly folded and meticulously consigned to its appropriate place in the drawers. Marie directed him to the bathroom, handing him a soft powder blue nightgown of sheer material. He was to remove the panties, but to retain the bra and slip this new garment on. The ballet- length gown was adorned with lacy trim and petite ribbon trim and its ruffled-edge flounce fell just below his was knees. He deposited the panties in the clothes hamper as she had told him and returned to the bedroom to find her again busy at the vanity. She left the room only briefly to fill two small bowls with water which she carried back in and set on the table. One had a thin froth of foam atop it, and she brusquely plopped his right hand in it.
She sat along side him and examined his face. Picking up a pair of tweezers, she located some errant eyebrows and plucked them. The yank of the instrument extricating the tiny hairs smarted, but she was oblivious to his complaints. She continued the process,shaping the brow into a more graceful arch. In addition to the misery this operation dealt him, he felt worry that this particular routine imparted more of a permanence than the cosmetics or other indignities he had suffered.
Next she extricated his wet hand, replacing his other hand in the water. With an array of surgical-like gadgets, she manicured each nail. She then took a small bottle of nail polish, and stroked a layer of high gloss enamel on each nail, cautioning him to remain still until the varnish had dried.
As the enamel dried on his fingers, a tingling effect as it hardened tightening against the nails, Marie silently busied herself with removing the wiglet from the back of his head and the hairpins that had held it there, She brushed out the tangles, and then, with a comb, drew out a small strand of his hair, holding it in one hand while she dampened the strand with her other hand. With no waste of motion, she picked up a brush roller and began winding the hair around it, pulling it almost painfully tight against his scalp and securing it with a pin. She worked proficiently,repeating the process scores of times as she covered his head with the small cylinders.
He sat mutely, watching this new indignity being imposed in another purposeful belittlement of his virility. When she had completed her chore, she moistened each rod with a liquid that she dispensed from the nozzle of an aerosol container. She explained to him that the solution set the curls, as she told him he would see more clearly in the morning. In the light from the mirror he could glance down at his hands and see the sparkled that each fingernail gave off.
Almost as if on cue, Jane entered the room as Marie was tidying up the table. She examined her new protege, and smiled approvingly.
"All ready for bed, I see. Well, I want you to get a goodnight's rest, for we have a full agenda tomorrow." Placing her hand on his shoulder and caressing his skin through the silkiness of the nightdress, she went on. "Normally, you would remove your makeup before retiring, but I want you to be very aware that you have it on as you fall asleep tonight. Keep a mental image of that softly painted face you see. That's to be you for the future. Sweet, feminine, pretty little Michael."
Her words and the smile mocked him, and she could see the self- conscious blush spread over his face. She persisted.
"In fact," she said, taking up a lipstick tube, "Let's see you how well you have learned to put this on tonight."
Again he saw the tube rotate in her hands and a column of crimson emerge as she handed the cylinder of paint to him. He hesitated, how he hated this derisive abuse that she seemed to so enjoy. With a sense of disgust and near self-loathing, he took the tube and felt ridiculous again as he daubed the red stain on his lips.He accepted the tissue she proffered and blotted the color as she instructed.
"You're making some progress," she said. "In a while you may even become proficient. Indeed, we'll spend a lot of time tomorrow learning how we make ourselves pretty."
The choice of words irked him. Jane, apparently unsatisfied with his appearance had opened a compact of blush and with a camel hair brush, daubed added color over his face.
"Mind you, there will always be times when you are submitted to Marie's governance and mine. Part of your training it to feel the distress at being subdued by a woman's hand, feminizing and softening that rough exterior, making you appreciate the importance of having that coarse masculinity of yours suppressed under the guidance of a gentlewoman.
She seemed to emphasize each of these points with another whisk of the scarlet powder on his features.
"Such is your fate for the time being, Michael. To be an adorable, winsome little boy in skirts. I shall see you in my study for coffee and rolls at 8:30 sharp."
With that she directed him into bed, waiting at the door after Marie had departed, Once he had settled his head on the pillow and drawn the coverlet up over him, she smiled again and turned off the light and closed the door.
It had just gone 8:15.
Michael awoke and was immediately conscious of the barbs of the curlers again. As it had been the previous afternoon, it took a second or two to become familiar with his whereabouts. Then the realization settled on him and the remembrance of the preceding day began to play itself out like a film in his mind's eye.
He glanced at the clock and was glad to see he had not overslept. Jane had been emphatic the night before that he was to be before her by 8:30. He sat up in bed and picked up the detestable peignoir that matched this gown he wore. His feet slid into the satin slippers beside the bed, and he stood as he drew the second gown over him. The reflection in the mirror of the surrogate maid that he had become watched him as it aped his every move.
As he stood there and contemplated the "girl" in the mirror, he felt a recurrence of a feeling he had experienced more than once the preceding evening. The figure that stared back at him was not he, yet was. This was an appealing lass, he thought, an opinion that made him wince at what he was acknowledging!
Still, this odd sensation of coalescence with that figure in the mirror tantalized him. He was grateful he was engrossed in this inspection and these sentiments in private, for the dread of being seen like this still terrified him.
He had been peripherally aware of another sensation, which,as he now focussed on it, excited him in a more customary and familiar manner. He had woken with the usual daybreak erection,and the feathery touch of these wispy garments against his glans caused an electrifying stimulation there. Indeed, every part of his skin was being stimulated by the soft luxury of the material. He swirled the gown in an abbreviated pirouette, feeling self-conscious, but not caring. In spite of his own emotional aversion to all this, he felt both a flush of sensual tingle and an irrational envy of girls who experienced this pleasurable luxury all the time.
Michael entered Jane's study now filled with the more instinctive sense of despondency and embarrassment which was engendered by his costume and countenance.
He sat in the chair before her desk and accepted the strong coffee she offered him.
"This morning will be devoted to some practice with clothes and makeup, Michael," Jane announced. "Your face is a mess!"
He had noticed the dark circles under his eyes while he was cavorting with his mirror image in the bedroom.
"The reason we usually remove our makeup before bed. Though I told you otherwise last night, remember that in future."
She sipped thoughtfully at her cup.
"On the other hand, I don't like my boys and girls running around the house without at least a little color...even in the morning. So plain and ordinary! Therefore, after you wash up in the morning,a touch of color is expected. You will learn how."
He was mentally recording these instructions, for she had said at dinner he was to learn all these arts and would be punished if he deviated from the routine of the household.
"Now, about this morning. As you must be aware by now, this whole process is designed both to subject you to alien and unconventional lessons in attempt to inhibit what I have perceived to be a recalcitrant attitude. It is part of the English method I told you about. But there is more to it than that."
She paused, sipping at the cup and letting this sink in.
"My experience," she continued "(and this is the true essence of the 'English method'),she said parenthetically, "is that boys subjected to the regimen of petticoat discipline gain an insight into the feminine side of themselves, and of the world around them. I personally think that this is a valuable insight, for this world is filled with men who are totally insensitive to feminine things and disdainful of the elevated role of woman. So that is another component of your training."
"But enough of that. Think of it as just another bonus to your education. We shall talk again throughout the coming days about what it takes to be like a young girl of your age."
The colloquy was getting a little ahead of him, and he was attempting to sort it all out. He knew that the underlying theme forecast things that he would not like, but he was in an inferior position to object. She continued.
"So we come to this morning's program. When girls are young,they spend hours practicing with clothes and with makeup. Now while I don't expect you to display that same enthusiasm for the activity, it is a skill that believe to be important to your development. So this morning you are going to practice getting yourself dolled up and darling and precious."
God, he hated her choice of words. This tribulation never seemed to end, nor did it subside with the passage of time. New indignities seemed to spawn from her inventiveness. He speculated in vain about what she had in mind.
"Marie is now laying out your first ensemble. She will attend to your hair, which, I will warn you, is apt to be quite curly this first time. She will also guide you through this first session. She is going to supervise your training this morning and I am going to appraise your progress. I think the first phase will take about an hour. Pay close attention to what Marie shows you, for it will be important to you later."
She stood and refilled the coffee cups, proffering the plate of croissants to him. He selected one and bit into it.
"After she has done with you -- and you will be doing a good bit of it yourself -- you will come back here for my inspection. Looking lovely and proper, I presume. Is that clear."
She noted the subdued nod of his head as agreement, but would not let that affront pass.
"Michael, when I say something or ask a question, I expect a polite and audible 'Yes ma'am' in response Both good little boys and good little girls are expected to display that politeness."
"Yes, ma'am" he muttered"
"A little better; we will work on that. Now, by my reckoning,it should take someone about half-an-hour to get dressed and made-up. So after I have inspected you, you will return to your room and do it all over again. it may be a whole change of costume, or merely a correction of some shortcoming I discover. But in each case, you will cleanse away all traces of the makeup you have on and redo it from scratch. New colors, new cosmetics...whatever Marie decides. Is that also clear?" She knew the time she was allotting to the procedures was scant, but that was part of the indoctrination.
"Yes, ma'am," he articulated this time, equally without enthusiasm.
She glanced at the clock.
"We will be having lunch at 12:30 today. By my reckoning, that will permit you at least four practice sessions. Perhaps you will be developing a little art and proficiency by the end of the morning."
She sat on the edge of the desk, directly above him, and went on, "Now, if you are late, or if you are not properly put together each time, you will be punished. I believe this exercise to be a very meaningful part of your education. Unless I see some cooperation and progress by noon, you may be repeating the lessons well into the night."
As he finished the bun and coffee, ruminating, no doubt on her words, she, too, deliberated on this whole plan. The timed drill she had derived from her brother's reminiscences from his military days,and it was pure harassment. "An inspection every thirty minutes in a totally new uniform" was a way in which drill instructors taught not only uniform assembly but instilled discipline. The frustration that Michael would be augmented by the repetition of the acts she knew he found to be abhorrent. Friday was but one day away and she was certain she was winning the war of wills in this struggle for compliance.
She also knew that her threat of prolonging this enterprise into the evening was an idle threat. Whatever level of competence had been achieved by 11:00 or 11:30 would suffice for today. The finesse of feminine arts and skill would take weeks, not hours. No, before noon she had another devilish scheme in mind.
Whatever measure of competence Michael had achieved by 10:30 would no longer be implemented on himself. Her thoughts had earlier strayed to Beth and the events of the previous evening. After Michael had left, Beth began whining again about having done as Jane had instructed and snivelling about be able to leave here now. In the brief tiff that had ensued, Beth had exhibited a degree of surliness and insolence that warranted some firm correction. Moreover, she could not suspend Beth's management while concentrating on her new protege. She smiled inwardly at her own shrewdness. Beth would know that defiance meant reversion to more childish fashions and appearance, and was probably anticipating at least an hour of that punishment. What Beth could not foresee was that Jane would place Beth at the hands of Marie to effect the transfiguration of Beth into a more infantile appearance. The Shirley Temple outfits, Jane decided. Two little petticoated goldilocks at lunch! Beth of course would be devastated, not only by the retrogression into those clothes, but by the shame at having it done so that Michael would see the humiliation of it. It was delicious!
Lunch would suffice for the punitive period, and afterwards they would be allowed to change -- sundresses perhaps -- for Beth was to take Michael on a tour of the grounds this afternoon. Michael's first outing in ruffles, with the inevitable meeting of the groundskeepers, Hal and old Tom. Jane enjoyed another warm inner smile which spread to her lips as she contemplated the poor young man before her.
Michael had finished now, and Jane noted the time. It was just going 9:00 a.m.
"Get started now, Michael, my dear. Marie is waiting. I'll expect you back here at 10:00."
Michael entered the bedroom and found Marie had laid out clothing on the now-remade bed.
"Miss Jane had me lay these things out for you. But the other times I am to give you just a list and you must do everything yourself. Please do it well, for she gets very upset. Now come here and I will start on your hair."
He sat on the now familiar skirted stool before the mirror and she began extricating the pins and pulling the tight rollers from his hair. He felt a sense of relief to be rid of their prickly barbs. As she pulled each rod away, the tight coils of hair sprang back to his head and remained a taut ringlet. When she had removed all the curling wands, she began combing, teasing and pinning the tresses, fashioning a petite hair style that was, in essence a wreath of golden ringlets about his head.
He was cognizant of the time ebbing as she finished. She showed him the panties and satiny garter belt, showing him how it fit around his waist (outside the panties, Miss Jane insisted). The cami he was conversant with from the previous day, and the half-slip was, in essence a single shimmering petticoat. Marie was, however, most explicit in the manner in which he was to put on the gauzy nylon hose, and, after he had donned the other garments, she coached his rolling them up and letting them glide up his smooth legs. He was sensitive to the silky constriction with which they bound his legs and an odd coolness they imparted.
He felt ill at ease as he stood up and Marie's hands fumbled beneath the skirts while she demonstrated how to fasten the garters to the top of the hose. Marie emphasized the constant need to always inspect the whole effect in the mirror, turning this way and that to ensure everything was in place.
He sat at the makeup table and followed her coaching as he attempted to duplicate her expertise with eyeliner, shadow and mascara. He had a little better luck with the rouge and he had already gained some mastery of the lipstick. The eyes did not look right, but the clock was rapidly approaching 10:00. He still needed to dress.
He put on the blouse he handed him, a white cotton blouse with a petite peter pan collar. As with the robe the previous afternoon, again he found the buttons to be backward, and he fumbled his way through them. Next he slipped the plaid pleated jumper over his head, careful not to disturb his hair, and slid his feet into the pumps on the floor. He had scarcely half a minute to negotiate the hallway to Jane's study. He smoothed the skirt of the dress and knocked discretely on her door.[Comments and critique, Jane?]
He raced back to the bedroom for the next change. As he burst in, already pulling the jumper over his head, again, trying not to mess the curls, he glanced at the second list. It required he removed the garters and hose, and he did this in the bathroom, dropping them in a heap on the hamper. He spread the cold cream over his face as Marie had told him, rubbed it in and cleansed all traces of the cosmetics from his face. He washed quickly with a soapy cloth, dried and returned to the bedroom.
The second costume called for petti-pants and anklets. Apparently he could keep the slip and cami on, so he must find the lacy petti-pants. He opened several drawers, amazed at the profusion of dainty things laid out in them, then finally found the dainty sateen bloomers slipped into them, experiencing again the thrill of the soft material on his bare legs and against his groin. He pulled the sox on and busied himself again before the mirror. He was more carefully this time sketching the lines below and above his eyes, and he found that the brown mascara wand had a shape which made application easier. A paler rouge this time, then the blush and the ubiquitous lipstick, this one a more peach shade. Marie offered the occasional instruction, and he made what correction she could as she admonished him. In the rush of meeting the deadline, he did not have much time to reflect on the distress of playing the sissy to Jane, though he was not unaware of the unmanly pursuits he was being forced to engage in.
The dress took some time to find, a lacy and very ornate party dress amid the profusion of such frocks in the spacious closet. It had a peach satin sash,and it took a precious four minutes to affix it properly. Mary Janes this time, with the further delay that their tiny straps and buckles consumed. He rummaged through the drawers to find the short white gloves and raced out the door with some five minutes to spare. He ambled more slowly down the hall this time, again keenly mindful of the swish that whispered from the rustling brush of ruffles beneath the skirt and the whirring note that the rubbing nylons made against each thigh.[More analysis/tutoring?]
He repeated this drill twice more. The second costume was not unlike the first. A pinafore (he had to ask Marie for help in locating it, the term being totally alien), hip-huggers, two petticoats this time and he had to squirm back into the garters and gingerly draw the delicate hose back on. The makeup took a little less time, though he was more meticulous about it after Jane's last tongue-lashing. In fact, he felt a sense of achievement as he finished the blush and applied the lipstick in an even margin within his lip line.
It was the shoes that gave him trouble this time. Instead of the flats he was used to, these had a 1" heel, and his pace down the hall was more unsteady this time. Moreover, the pace of the changes had dislodged some of the curls, and despite the neat appearance he thought he presented and the more careful application of the paint, she was less than complimentary about his efforts. Amid the feelings of silliness that pervaded this appearance, he felt strangely disheartened that he had not met her expectations.
And so it was that she directed Marie herself to conduct the last change of apparel, repair the makeup and the coiffure. He resignedly returned to the now-disheveled room and stripped off everything he had on.
The last outfit was a true indignity. The more anrogynous underpants were replaced now by very ruffled, little girl's panties. Three layers of petticoats shorter than those he wore last night were draped over these; starched, stiff crinolines which stuck out far from his legs. The anklets returned, embroidered with small roses. Mary Janes again, which Marie charitably fastened. The dress itself was another party dress, this time a princess party frock with a short skirt that allowed the crinolines to peek out from the fringe,and an enormous satin sashed bow that Marie lavishly fashioned in a large bow in back.
She then painstakingly corrected the mass of curls using her combs brushes and the curling iron. Then she added a touch of fresh color to his cheeks, eyes and lips. As he stood before the full-length mirror, watching her affix the large bow in his hair, he observed that the outfit was obsequious not only in its femininity, but in its childishness. He looked like a teenager masquerading as an eight-year old. More importantly, he was accutely aware that he was a teenage boy masquerading as a pretty seven-year old girl. He almost wished he were back in one of the more grown-up styles he had worn earlier. With a profound sense of chagrin, he clacked down the hallway in his patent shoes, petticoats bobbing, and went to lunch.
When Michael entered the dining room he saw Beth wearing the same preposterous attire as he. Beth's was a pink princess dress with a gauzy apron and the shoes were matching pink Mary Janes. Like his own dress, the hem of the skirt floated on an overabundance of stiff petticoats. Though the dress was as immature and childish as his own, it did not seem that outlandish on a girl, and he was more than thankful that he was not clad in pink. Ludicrous as he felt, the turquoise satin was far preferable to pink! Beth did not speak to him, and the downcast eyes betrayed to him a sense of shame. He surmised that this was some form of punishment, and he wondered what had happened to prompt Jane to impose this indignity on Beth. Before he could ask, Jane swept into the room, sat down and motioned them to do likewise.
Jane smiled to herself as she watched the two be-ribboned moppets struggle to sit in their juvenile frills, perched on their chairs atop billows of ruffled petticoats.
Michael sat quietly and despondently through the meal, clearly ill at ease, while Beth was practically sullen. Michael's discomfort was evident by his constantly shifting positions; he was positively awkward with the layers of satiny slips beneath the short dress and was further troubled by the need for constant concentration on emulating the mannerisms and demeanor that Jane had demanded and about which Beth had coached him the night before. Dressed as he was, though he was nearly loathe to admit it, he almost longed for the more mature ensembles he had worn that morning.
That sentiment was intensified by having to endure Jane's gratuitous comments about how adorable they looked both and how sweet the dresses were. She lavished what he thought were totally unnecessary compliments about everything from the flounce of the undergarments to the curls and ribbons in their hair.
"Michael," she had said at one point, I have seen few young boys in life that looked as pretty as you do dressed as a girl. Those lashes of yours...some girls would envy them; long and full. I think I like your hair that shade, and it's a pity it isn't quite long enough yet for you to have your own lovely curls."
To Beth she remarked, "It's been a while since I've seen you in that cute dress, Beth. Pink is really your color, you know. I think you should wear pink more often. And those bouncy crinolines! Such a lovely little doll."
It was appallingly humiliating to Michael, a teasing, taunting degradation, and he silently endured the hour long lunch in near silence, except for quietly acknowledging one of her "compliments". Jane had made a remark about his peaches and cream complexion and how wonderfully the make-up made his face soft and feminine. When he remained sullen, she angrily harshly scolded him for being impolite in not thanking her for the liberal she was showering on him.) His face reddened as he mumbled a "thank you", but he remained taciturn for most of the meal.
Jane guessed that Beth's brooding disposition stemmed largely from being forced to revert to this immature state. In fact, that was true, but Beth's reticence was not solely due to this reprimand imposed by the domineering grand dame opposite her at the table. In fact, Beth felt an odd mixture of emotions about Michael as well; pitied his condition and knew well how he must feel being disgraced in this manner. Having experienced the early stages of this harassment, it was easy to sympathize with the hapless lad. Beth acceded to a small degree of resentment directed at Michael as well, for it was precisely as a result of her obedience to Jane's order to tutor Michael (on the belief that it would hasten the end of Beth's own discipline) that she had rebelled last night. It was not rational to blame Michael, still it was easier for Beth to direct a degree of anger at him than it was to rebel against Jane. After all, though she had not got into trouble because of Michael, she had been chastised over her role in his being here.
When lunch was over, Jane lectured them both on the importance of obedience and that punishments such as these were the automatic consequence of defiance. She asked them each in turn if they had learned their lessons about obedience and respect and if they wished to get out of these darling outfits. Without much pause, they both emphatically agreed.
"Fine," she said, "then you should both change into something spring-like. I think this would be nice day for you to show Michael the grounds, Beth. "Marie is upstairs waiting for you, Michael," Jane said, "and I had her put out an outfit which is an special favorite of mine. Run along now and see to changing at once."
The prospect of going outdoors did not appeal to Michael at all, but if the trip were limited to the grounds of the estate, he felt less fear about it. At least he would not look like Shirley Temple out there. He followed her command to take his leave while Beth remained behind at Jane's behest.
Michael felt a mixture of relief and anger as he left the dining room, conscious of his gait and carriage so as to avoid further disaffection by Jane. As he passed through the foyer and began climbing the stairs, he was conscious of the rustle of the skirts again and the reflection in the mirror at the lower landing. He paused at the mirror, glancing around to see that no one was looking, and looked closey at his face. Turning his head this way and that, he examined the lashes she had praised. With the ginger-hued mascara on them, they did seem longer and curlier than before. He had been teased about his eyelashes before, in words very like those Jane had used. Each time he heard that insipid remark about girl's being jealous of boys with such long, abundant lashes, he winced.
He had to admit to himself, however grudgingly, that the clothes and other adornments did make for a pretty girl. He ventured to himself that any girl who wanted those lashes and that complexion could have them and good riddance. He had no need of those girlish attributes.
The perceptions gave rise to that strange wave of dread mixed with delight that he had experienced more than once since yesterday: the enigma of being so dressed and the peculiar thrill that it gave him. His aversion to this image of himself preempted his thoughts, and the "pleasant" part of the feeling passed. He focussed on just the despondent uneasiness he felt.
Tomorrow was Friday, a deadline Jane had mentioned to him yesterday. Perhaps he had read too much into her statement, but he hoped against hope that the vague promise of respite from this ordeal would come true. He did not know how much longer he could endure this inanity. He knew it was imprtant to go along with her to get a favorable report to the school. He only hoped that he could be rid of these skirts.
As he moped across the upstairs hallway and toward the doorway of the bedroom, his anxiety increased. Behind that closed portal lay the pastel torture chamber he had been forced to endure for nearly thirty-six hours. Beyond the door, he knew, waited Marie, a woman whose faithful execution of her mistress' directions resulted in his continued exposure to silks and satins and colorful pigments that transformed his features into a mockery of his real gender.
The cold lump of frustrated resignation curdled the lunch in his stomach as he turned the knob.
Beth, too, was lost in thought as she mounted the stairs moments later. Jane's last lecture had indicated that the transgressions of last evening had been partly assuaged by the humiliating costume at lunch, but that Beth's management of the afternoon's activities would determine the final disposition.
Beth remembered first coming here six months before as Brian. It seemed odd to think of that name in this context. Just days after he came through the walnut doors dressed in trousers and a blazer last December, Jane had rechristened the crinoline-clad youth as Beth, and so it had been in this house since. Soon Michael would learn he was to stay indefinitely and he, too, would assume a new name just as swiftly as he had been put into skirts. Henceforth Michael would be Michelle or somesuch. Indeed, sad to say, Jane had bestowed on Beth the ultimate task of choosing a name, for Jane's instructions for the tour of the estate emphatically included the condition that their walk include the stables, where Beth was to ensure a meeting took place with the two hired men. A new name for Michael's introduction was needed, and Beth was to make the choice for the new "girl". Beth cringed, recalling her first meeting with them, when, as Brian, the men had been encountered on the lower road, and Brian had turned to jelly inside, praying that nothing would betray to them the true gender of this skirt-clad boy who was not the "girl" they perceived him to be. The men had graciously greeted this new girl and the secret had been preserved until now. Soon it would be Michael's turn, and Beth felt a compassionate pang of sympathy for him.
As the word "him" formed in her mind, Beth paused again. The words "him" and "he" as they applied to Michael would be thrust into limbo this afternoon and hereafter. Janes system of feminization had a profound affect on even simple pronouns. From now on, the choice of "he" and "she" would depend not only on the surroundings, circumstances or persons present, but also upon the diabolic vagaries of Jane's disciplinary schemes. At varying times, the application of either masculine or feminine pronouns could be derisive to her "pupils." Michael might be "she" sometimes, a reference that would further assail his manhood. On the other hand, the masculine pronoun applied to a boy in dresses and ribbons carried with it the unmistakable connotation of sissy, and that was a word Jane was not hesitant to apply with a mocking vengeance.
Tonight or tomorrow, Michael would likely also receive the cruel news that Friday was not to be a parole for him. He would learn that he was to embark on a journey that would challenge his very essence and be an assault on his masculinity until Jane broke all resistance and reduced him to the meek and submissive subject she desired. If he were lucky, he would learn to accommodate the life he was to lead with the boy that he was inside, and learn also to balance his masculine and feminine sides. Only when Jane was satisfied that the lesson had been learned would she be likely to release him from this dainty reformatory.
Such an adjustment was possible, Brian/Beth knew, and one to be hoped for for Michael. It became easier when one yielded. It was never fully comfortable for a normal boy to relish swishing in skirts or engaging in the diversions that girls of his age found so exciting. On the other hand, if one did yield a bit of his inner masculinity, Beth knew that there was some delight to be experienced in pretty clothes and soft textiles, and a mischievous thrill in conveying a winsome pretense of a real girl to the world. This last effect, Beth knew, grew out of an initial sense of survival: to master techniques of femininity to avoid discovery. Though Brian never fully overcame his underlying abhorrence and mortification at being made to dress as a girl, there were times when it was like play-acting.
So she sympathized with Michael, hoping it would not be too painful for him. Perhaps it was last night when Beth had encountered Michael in his first dress outside Jane's study that Beth first felt stirrings of comradeship for this boy who was just started the journey. Brian/Beth recalled the strange emotion he felt during that meeting, himself a boy teaching another boy how to maintain the bearing and carriage of a girl. That, of course, was the Jane's inevitable goal: to force the surrender of the yin to the yan, to achieve a state of perfection in the boys she taught to look and act like girls. That moment last night may have been the consummation of these months of conflict that Brian/Beth had endured. Jane probably knew that already, Beth thought, recalling the conversation that had just ensued. Perhaps unwittingly, by the careful tutoring of Michael, Beth was moving closer to resurrection as Brian; a new Brian, to be sure, but a boy once again nevertheless. When Michael was ready, Brian knew that jane would allow him to leave.
As he stood outside the pink-trimmed bedroom, Brian reflected that the way he felt at this moment, with the prospect of release coming closer, must be the way prisoners about to be released must feel: a new anxiety about returning to a world so long removed and distant. it was puzzling and unsettling.
Brian opened the door and went in to change.
Within an hour, both boys were seated quietly on the love seats in the parlor, looking radiant in their latest outfits. Michael had come down first, and Jane could see that Marie had once again worked her magic. He wore a pinafore-style dress of blue-on-white dotted swiss, with puffed cap sleeves and just the right amount of underslip. The straps of the training bra were not visible on his bare shoulders, and Jane correctly assumed Marie had substituted a strapless version, a fact she confirmed when she saw the creases of the corselet through the fabric of the dress. A wise choice to provide some pubescent curves while ensuring that Michael's lack of a bosom would not have a halter bra slipping down inside the dress. Marie had coiffed his hair in a caplet of golden curls which framed the lightly painted face. Jane was pleased that he had entered after a polite knock on the door and had moved across the room with painstaking steps and daintily seated himself with the correct smoothing of his skirts. He say upright with feet firmly on the polished floor and with hands folded neatly in his lap, looked fetching.
As she was complimenting him on all of this, Beth entered, in a pale yellow sundress and matching pumps. She had taken pains to fashion her hair in a French roll, her neck elegant in contrast. Jane noted with some glee that Beth had unquestionably selected the new bras she had put in Beth's dresser, the larger cups accentuating a more mature girlish figure. That this choce of attire had been volitional by the boy who only an hour ago had appeared to be a rebellious waif in juvenile crinolines gratified the mentor of these two, and Jane again accepted the fact that Beth's tutelage was bearing fruit and soon Brian would reemerge to leave the estate. The seeds of his femininity had been sown and nurtured, and Jane was sure that he would be a better man for the recognition and acceptance of his feminine side. There was some reward from this work.
But Beth could not leave until Michael...soon to be Michelle...was further along in his training. Things would begin progressing more rapidly these next few days, and Jane estimated it would be two or three weeks an she might consider releasing Beth. Meanwhile, she bade the two goodbye and watched as they crossed the veranda and began a slow amble down the path.
The two were gone for about an hour when Jane saw them returning. Even from the house, Jane could see that Michael was visibly upset as he stormed toward the house, Beth struggling to keep up in the heeled shoes she wore. Michael burst through the door and plopped down on the Parson's bench inside the door. Beth appeared a moment later. Michael was flushed and traces of tears filled his eyes. It was the turbulence of bruised masculinity, Jane thought, and she suspected its cause. Rarely did the first expedition outdoors fail to evoke indignation in a new beginner.
"Exactly what is the problem here?" she asked.
Michael fumed with arms folded, not responding. Beth replied that while they were strolling near the stables, they had met Tom and Hal and Beth had introduced Michael to them.
Michael interrupted at this point: "She called me Michelle to those guys. A god-damned girl's name she used. It's bad enough to be embarrassed meeting two guys while I'm in these frigging skirts, but why in hell did she call me that?"
The outburst was not unexpected, but Jane certainly could not let it go unnoticed. She assumed her best scornful expression and let the silence continue as she let her sense of outrage filter across to the angry boy.
"I will not tolerate that kind of language or that attitude!", she announced loudly. "You will apologize both to me and to Beth at once."
"Like hell I will. This shit has gone too far." Michael was visibly angered and he stood up and began roughly yanking off the dress in his haste to rid himself of the hated garment. As a result, the buttons broke and the bodice hung ridiculously from one shoulder, exposing the lacy corselet. "I'm out of here."
Jane stepped resolutely forward and stung his cheek with a resounding slap. The action and its pain shocked him and he stopped in mid-sentence, giving way to his frustration and sinking onto the bench, the tears silently flowing. He felt lost.
"That is, I hope, the last time I will ever have to do that, young man. I will brook neither your temper nor your foul language. I made myself clear to you yesterday: that I alone will decide how to direct your life until you develop some manners. If you have forgotten the deal, Michael, then feel free to leave. I will call your Mother and Dean Hartwick at once." She glared at him, and his impudence began to dissipate.
"Do you understand me?" she queried. He nodded and she repeated her question more imperiously, this time evoking a meek "Yes ma'am."
Michael was devastated. At the moment he saw the two men near the stables he had felt an immediate urge to flee, but Beth had caught his arm and led him, unwilling, over to them. Both men doffed their hats at the approaching of the girls, and Beth had greeted them and then introduced her friend "Michelle" who was to be a visitor to the house for a while. At the sound of the word "Michelle", panic erupted inside him. He mumbled something in response to their "Glad to meet you, Miss Michele", and as soon as Beth said goodbye and began to move away, Michael made a beeline for the house.
Beth had called after him to no avail. Michael was angry and humiliated, and he had had enough of this. He would find a way to get the hell out of here today.
His rage overcame reason and he let the fury boil over in the words he shouted. The frilly clothes were a curse, and he tugged and flayed to be rid of them. The slap across his cheek burned, and the tears welled in his eyes involuntarily. The blow startled him, and quenched his temper at once. Brought back to reality so abruptly, and seeing the infuriated woman who had done it brought him back to that reality. He kew that he had blown it. He might as well kiss St. Andrews goodbye. After this, he thought, she's booting me out of here.
"Now you will apologize clearly and correctly."
He struggled with his feelings, a turmoil within of anger and subjection. At last he stammered "I....I'm sorry."
"No," she corrected, " 'I am very sorry to have lost control and offended you both and I beg your forgiveness for my insolence.' "
He meekly parroted her words, staring at the floor in shame. He could never remember feeling so low in his life.
"Now, go into the parlor and wait for me." He obeyed and shuffled into the sitting room, leaving Jane to further quiz Beth about what had happened. In a moment or two Jane came into the room and slammed the door behind her. She was still obviously provoked by the scene that had happened outside in the foyer.
"So this petticoat punishment rankles you, does it Michael? You chafe under those skirts and that pretty facade we've given you. Well that is hardly surprising. It was not meant to thrill you. The operative word, young man, is 'discipline'. All this would have no effect, no meaning if you liked it. You might grow to like it, but for now it is supposed to be degrading and humbling and embarrassing!" She was in high dudgeon now.
"But that scene your just played out there comes close to being the last straw. I'm very close to simply washing my hands of you."
He had no response to this, and sat dumbly. She was going to eject him. 'There it goes.' he thought to himself.
"I thought you had some intelligence, Michael! I told you yesterday that based on what changes you would make by Friday we would take a new look at this. Well, my little smart-mouth, I can well see after that last outburst just what the authorities at that school put up with. I can't see how you can possibly think I could give you an endorsement."
She folded her arms with an exasperrated sigh and stared out the window.
"Don't like the ruffles and bows, is that it? Wish you could be back wearing rough and tumble boyswear. Well, maybe we can arrange that, my pretty little fellow."
He was heartened by this statement, yet perplexed by the sarcasm that permeated the way she had said it.
"Yes indeed. maybe we can find something around here more to your liking. But not before you make up for tearing that dress and shouting profanities at me. I will also tell you that that dress you have ruined was quite expensive and you will pay for it one way or another. Look at yourself, you are a mess!
He sulked under her mocking gaze and tried to hold the torn bodice over the exposed lingerie beneath. It was, he was aware, an extremely feminine pose, and it annoyed him.
The ceaseless clicking of the clock pendulum permeated the stillness of the room as Jane continued her private deliberations.
"Michael," she finally uttered with a faint sigh, "what are we going to do with you? Your mother has been my friend for over twenty years. I am fond of her. You saddened her deeply when you were suspended. It was as a friend that she turned to me for help. I am deeply concerned about helping her, and that is why I took this on. I care about you, as well. But you won't cooperate. I've resorted to this approach because I think it works. As I said, you aren't meant to like it. But you are meant to submit to it. There are benefits to be derived that you are not even vaguely aware of right now."
The reference to his mother gave him some pause. He did not want to hurt her. But surely even she would not tolerate this abuse that her "friend" was subjecting him to. He wished he knew how to call her, to talk to her. But she had, for her own reasons, left all information on reaching her in Europe with Jane, and Michael thought it unlikely Jane would allow him to call her.
Jane went on. "Well, I'll tell you this: I am not giving up until tomorrow. We will see by then what is to come of this. In the meantime, you will remain as you are, skirts, curls and all. Now if I am willing to give it another another chance. I will allow you to put on a new dress and clean yourself up. I will expect you to behave. Your eyes are a mess. Go take off that gown and clean your face and come back down here. I want to give you some time alone this afternoon to think about all this. Now get out of my sight until you look presentable."
The dismissal was unmistakable and he quickly left the room, feeling really blue. He ran up the stairs and slammed the bedroom door, falling onto the bed and crying tears of defeat.
Beth came into the parlor.
"Well, Beth," Jane said, "that went about as expected, though I hardly anticipated the degree of his outburst. I think young Mr. Nash has just sealed his fate for the next few months."
Beth made no reply. She knew how Michael felt and sympathized with him. At the same time, being familiar with Jane's techniques by now, Beth knew that there was truth in the conclusion.
"He wants out of dresses and petticoats; I think we might give him his wish. " Jane went on. "I had intended to delay the first trip to town until we could get up to Kingston. I have appointments for you both next week at Carolyn's"
Carolyn, of course, referred to Carolyn Beale who was the co- owner of Marisha Chalet, a posh Kingston beauty salon that was situate in Jane's village of choice for shopping and hairstyling for her wards. In fact, Carolyn and Sandra, the other owner, were both cognizant of Jane's activities and both knew that the pretty young things that came in for adornment were, in truth, young men. Carolyn was quite enthusiastic about her role in these activities, for it just happened that she was married to one of Jane's former proteges and she had often told Jane what a gem he was. Carolyn was a true believer in the results of this method Jane employed and thus was more than willing to go along. Her partner, Sandra, Beth thought, had a streak of disdain for men in her, and relished subjecting boys to the delicate rituals of her craft. Thus, though the motivations were different, Jane had devoted allies at Marisha Chalet.
Though the salon catered to the more elegant style for women, it was unisex in clientele. Beth recalled the anxious feeling of sitting in those chairs before the mirrors, with both male and female customers in attendance, trepidatious that either Carolyn or Sandra might find it a "lark" to let the victim's true identity slip out. That fear, coupled with submitting to the elaborate beauty treatments visible in the reflection was a sublime torture.
Jane went on as she searched for something in the desk. "Michael wants to be out of skirts, Beth, back into something less feminine. And I think we will indulge him a little. Did I ever tell you about David?"
Jane had, in fact, recounted numerous anecdotes about the boys she had taught over the years, but Beth was not certain which tale she had referred to. Jane's question was, of course, only a rhetorical prelude to the new story she would surely narrate.
"David was here about three years ago. He was very rebellious, in much the same way as Michael. He once pulled the same stunt you just saw, so I gave him his wish and let him wear something less frilly. I want you to go up to the attic storage closet and bring down a pair of grey slacks and a tailored white blouse you'll find there. They may not be quite what Michael envisions, but they will suit our purpose. Anyway that is what he will wear if he wants to. I have to pick up a few things in Hampton, and I think it advisable that you both come along too."
Beth nodded acknowledgement.
"He is in for a big surprise, our intransigent guest. I have the feeling that he will be even more malleable when we return. Our time is a little limited, Beth, so we have to move more quickly with Michael. Normally I would prefer to wait until next week, but I cannot afford to have him find out I lied about possibly releasing him tomorrow....and you must never tell him. I need to gain his trust if this is to be successful."
Beth assured Jane she would be discrete, hating the deception she was being made part of, but more interested in her own well- being.
Jane finally found what she had been rummaging for and pulled out what looked like a lipstick, an eyeliner pencil and a compact of eyeshadows.
"You have never seen these before, Beth. I had no reason to use them with you. They are specially formulated cosmetics. They are far more long-lasting than regular makeup and even thorough cleansing leaves faint traces of color. Despite all his efforts to scrub this off, there will be a hint remaining. With those darling curls and dainty eyebrows and a nice glow, our macho friend may find he passes better as a girl than as an effeminate boy."
Beth shuddered imperceptibly at the diabolical twist that Jane was planning. 'Cripes,' she thought, 'I'd die if that happened to me. Michael will be devastated if someone notices.'
"So our rebel will remember the day he ventured out as an obvious sissy. I think he will be fairly begging to be back in petti's after he sees how impossible his situation is."
Micahel, meanwhile, had stopped his pitiful sobbing and removed the torn dress. He chose a white blouse and plaid jumper to replace it. He removed the tear-blotched makeup to comply with Jane's command. The curls in his hair still remained fairly neat and he managed, somewhat ineptly, to coax the few wayward strands back into place. He was basically presentable and he returned downstairs.
Knocking softly at the door of the parlor, he was permitted entry and Jane assessed his outfit without comment. Then she said, "Come over here. You look fairly presentable. Why no makeup, Michael?, scrutinizing his fair face.
"I...I wasn't sure..."
She interrupted, "Never mind. You look like you've been crying. Come here and I will fix it and make you pretty again."
He hated when she said things like this. He was keenly aware of Beth's presence as he submitted to this indignity once again. Jane very carefully drew the fine line of light sable pencil inside the lashes of both the upper and lower lid of each eye, then creamed the pale blue shadow on the lids themselves. She used the lipstick as a rouge, daubing spots of carmine and then blending it into his cheeks with her fingertips. Next came the inevitable application of lipstick to his lips. Jane applied the red wand liberally.
"There now," she said, handing him the blotting tissue. "You look adorable. Try to behave."
Jane left the room with the announcement she would see them both at dinner. Beth excused herself shortly. leaving Michael alone. He paced the room for a while and, out of sheer boredom and the need to divert his thoughts, hunted for a magazine or something. Unfortunately, this room., like every bloody room in the house had only outdated copies of Mademoiselle and Seventeen and other insipid girls magazines. Their covers announced articles that must keep young girls occupied for hours, trying "Ten-minute makeovers" and "The 50 hottest new hairstyles." God! What trash.
He picked one up out of tedium and tried to divert his depressing thoughts. But as he turned the pages, all he saw was pages adorned with adolescent girls enjoying the obsessive recreation of clothes and makeup. Outwardly he resembled them in his present condition, but he felt little kinship or joy in any of it. He read therough the magazine, glancing at the illustrated articles of before and after pictures of girls being redone by professionals, then, dusgustedly, tossed the magazine away and retreated into the cavern of self-pity.
Jane had entered the parlor just as Michael pitched the magazine aside. She smiled inwardly knowing that his distress continued to bother him. She had thought about the situation and decided that she would not wait until Friday to issue the final ultimatum. She would increase the pressure in the waning hours of this very afternoon, and Michael had given her the means to achieve her end.
"You mentioned that wanted to wear something less feminine a while ago, right, Michael. Well I have decided to let you. How does that sound?"
"Fine," he readily agreed. "I'd like that."
"Mind you," she went on, "our supply of male attire here is quite limited. Your trunk is coming express and I sent your travelling clothes out to the cleaners. But Beth is looking for something now."
She went on. "I have to run some errands in town and I want you to come with me. I suspect you'd like a change of scene. We'll leave right in about half an hour. Alright? That will give us time to get back for supper at seven. I have a dear old friend coming for supper and she will be here by then."
He pondered this offer of hers with some skepticism, but the prospect of getting back into male attire was a welcome change, and he readily agreed, thankful that she had offered this alternative.
"I had Beth find something and put it in your room, so you are free to go and change. Please don't dilly-dally, because we have a lot of errands to do. I will expect you back here in half an hour."
He stood to leave, then pause.
"What about this hair. I mean it....well, you know."
"It is curly. When you have something to say, just say it, don't mince words." She approached him and inspected his locks. They were indeed curly, with glimmering golden highlights. Imagining him dressed as a boy, with these curls and the sculpted arch of his brows, she concluded that he would look very fragile; cherubic, perhaps.
"I can see to that when you come down. Hurry up, now, we'll be late. Mind you, I am simply letting you change because we are going out. I have not yet decided about tomorrow. Now hurry up."
The prospect of getting away from the house and wearing boys attire elated him. He bounded up the steps and found the clothes on his bed.
They were not quite what he had hoped, but they were more or less more masculine than the clothes he had on. The tailored shirt was made of a soft fabric and the buttons were, like always, damnably backward. No one would notice the buttons, and he convinced himself that the light fabric would likewise go unobserved.
No underwear was provided but he logically removed the despicable brassier and cast it into the corner. He kept the panties on and slipped into the shirt. He longed for a broadcloth shirt as he buttoned the blouse. He wondered if he'd been had, then resigned himself to what she had provided. The sleeves seemed a little full at the wrist, but passable. The slacks were soft grey flannel, and the tailoring of both seemed curiously different. He searched through the dresser for some sox, hoping at least the knee-high white ones from yesterday were there, but they had been consigned to the laundry, and he was forced to choose a pair of anklets with lace trim. he surmised that as long as the pants cuffs covered them, they, too, would pass detection. He slipped his feet into the cordovan loafers. They were a style he had always hated as being a little effete: the kind some fools put pennies in. But they were all he had.
Glancing in the mirror he again saw a problem with the makeup. He creamed and tissued his face, but the remnants lingered. He scrubbed again and still wasn't sure if he'd got it all off. He finally convinced himself that it was his imagination from seeing his painted visage these last two days, and that his face was clean or at least nothing would be noticed. If he rubbed any harder, he would simply further redden the eyes, cheeks and lips. He searched for the traces of color; they were faint and he concluded that whatever was there was not that noticeable. His hair was a problem, but Jane had agreed to fix it.
As he was rushing to finish, he heard the car horn. He had to get going. Only as he reached the door did he think about his nails, and holding his hands up to the light saw the shimmer of the polish. He had no time to take it off, and didn't even know how to. He would have to keep his hands hidden. He went downstairs. He caught one glance in the full-length mirror and thought he looked so much better than he had. All of this was, to be sure, a rationalization. He was so grateful about the contrast that this appearance made over that of just a few minutes before that he accepted a self-delusion about how he looked.
Jane of course noted the synthetic appearance, finding him to look quite effeminate. He fussed with his hair, and though she pretended to minimize its curliness, she had, in fact, amplified it. She hustled him out of the house before he could get a good view in the mirror. They got into the BMW, with Beth driving, and went downtown.
Beth and Jane were absorbed in conversation about some people he did not know, and Jane occasionally gave the young girl a gentle admonition about her driving. In less than half an hour they entered a village named Hampton and proceeded to a mid-sized shopping mall. Beth parked the car, and Jane bade him follow them into the mall.
It was moderately crowded for a Thursday afternoon. Like every mall he had ever seen, it was comprised of open interiors and side-by-side stores of all types. Their first stop was a 1 Hour photo developing outlet where Jane left some film and was assured it would be done in sixty minutes. From there they went down the corridor, stopping here and there to look at displays of apparel modeled by expressionless mannequins. Jane was the more animated of the two women, asking Beth's comments here and there about dresses, shoes and other attire. Michael thought it vaguely odd that Beth, though a girl much like those in the magazines he had looked at that afternoon, was not all that intrigued by any of this and certainly did not gush over it. Perhaps the "magazine girls" were the figment of some merchandisers zeal.
Passing through the mall corridor, Michael was vaguely conscious that his eye would from time to time catch another eye staring. When visual contact was made, it was quickly averted. But from the corner of his eye he saw the gaze return. This happened more than once. They were quizzical eyes, and they made him uncomfortable. More than once he had caught someone sizing him up from head to toe. Not that they were hostile, for one woman had smiled amicably. But he was acutely aware that his presence was commanding more attention than he cared for. As if to seek refuge, he followed Jane and Beth into a place called Nicole's. Stretching from the full windows in the front to the very back of the store were racks of all sorts of feminine apparel. There were fewer people in here, and they seemed not to pay much attention. Jane and Beth's meanderings took them finally to the Lingerie section, and Michael saw myriads of those odious garments on display. Jane and Beth were making a few selections, he saw Jane glance his way more than once. He distanced himself from the pair, feigning disinterest and boredom and these most intimate garments.
He was startled then by the voice of a salesgirl who said "Are you being helped." He spun around and felt his face redden as he mumbled that he was simply waiting for someone. The girl's gaze grew more intent, scanning his face and seemingly finding something there that was enigmatic to her. She fixed her eyes on his hair, and cocked her head as if she were trying to assess what she saw and draw some conclusion. Painfully conscious of her scrutiny, Michael turned and sped out of the shop to wait for Jane and Beth in the hallway.
The shop was teeming with mirrors and he saw his reflection with a sense of dread. Even ten yards away he radiated the look of an effeminate teenage boy. On closer inspection, the countenance was worse. Whatever misconception he had about how he looked before was deflated by what he now saw, in the wake of the curious stares. He wished her were a thousand miles away!
Soon Jane and Beth emerged with packages and after just two more stops, where he tried to camouflage his presence from the intruding stares, Jane announced they were about done. The compounding pressure of all this, of being scrutinized and wondering what the minds behind the eyes were seeing and concluding, Michael was relieved to be out of here and back to the safety of the car.
It was while he waited for Beth outside Spencers and Jane was getting the car that the trouble began. He had tried to ignore the stares of the patrons and salesclerks in the stores. Nothing had been said to him, but he was self-conscious that his appearance was provoking the quizzical glances. He felt acutely uncomfortable.
As he stood there, wishing Jane would hurry, he was aware of the gaggle of boys and girls in the small circle a few yards away. He ignored the stares, glancing furtively at the store entrance and the lot seeking either of the women. He ignored also the derisive giggles in the hope he would be soon out of here.
Two of the oldest boys and one of the girls detached themselves from the group and walked over to where he was standing. they eyed him a moment, then one of the boys spoke.
"Say there, Tiger, we been having a discussion. Are you a boy or a girl?"
Michael winced and felt the now all too familiar sense of panic take control of him. He looked furtively at the exit to the store for Beth, then surveyed the parking lot again for Jane's blue sedan. Seeing neither, he cast a quick glance at the questioner. His delay in responding and his elusiveness prompted the next comment.
"I think its a boy, but it is the most sissy boy I have ever seen. What do you think, Mark?"
The girl spoke now. "What kind of boy wears crepe shirts and ...hey, did you see those sox!"
Michael remembered that while he was trying to scratch his leg he had pulled the cuff up enough to allow someone to see the anklets. The girl was pushy and pulled at the leg of the slacks, revealing the dainty edging. He brushed her hand aside, another mistake for she now saw the gleam of polish on his nails.
The boy named Mark picked up the taunting dialogue. " I think he's a boy, but he looks like a sweet thing. Maybe he's a fairy." Shit he's wearing nail polish."
Michael felt real panic now. The distasteful term rankled him and he was nearly doubling his fists to react when he realized he was outnumbered.
"Bet he's wearing cute little panties under all that too," the first boy said, fingering the thin crepe material of Michael's shirt. "Maybe we should kick the shit out of him."
The girl again, inspecting his face. "It looks like he wears makeup and he has pretty little curls.... Hey you guys," she shouted to the others, "come see this cute little thing."
Michael prayed this ordeal would end or that either Beth or Jane would come and extricate him from this. He realized now that all of his earlier justifications about how he looked were self-deception, and that what he presented to these people was what they saw. He recalled the facility with which he had been accepted in far more feminine attire by Hal and Tom earlier that day. Clearly, as he now appeared, he could pass as a girl, but he was preposterous posing as a boy. He felt again like this had been set up, he thought, but in the same thought he longed for being attired in a way that would not have prompted this confrontation, whether in true boy's clothes or girl's.
He was about to succumb to some physical act from them when, miraculously, Jane's car drove up and he could dive for the safety of its interior. As they drove away, he could hear the derision of the group ringing in his ear. He felt paralyzed with fear as the adrenalin pumped through him.
Jane either ignored what she might have seen or did not see it. Beth was waiting a dozen yards away, and climbed in as Jane stopped for her. He sat sullenly and quietly in the back seat waiting for his pulse to stop racing as they headed back to the farm.
Michael was still brooding over the incident as he sat on the veranda fifteen minutes later. Jane came out and spoke to him.
"Michael, Mrs. White will be here in half an hour. I want you to be polite to her for she is one of my oldest friends. Edith is quite fond of Beth. We will have cocktails alone, but you and Beth should see to helping Marie."
Michael shot a glance at Jane, remembering now that there was to be a guest for dinner. His mind weighed a real dilemma: a strange woman was coming to dinner. The furtive and fleeting glances of this afternoon would become more studied and intense in the closeness of the dining room. The prospect was a nightmare!
"Couldn't I just skip dinner, Jane. I'm not very hungry."
"Well, of course not. If you're not hungry you can just take smaller portions. But Edith knows you're staying here and I will not make excuses for your absence. Dinner is at seven and I expect you there!"
What was he to do. He could not afford to be seen as he now was. He felt that chronic sense of paradox again, this time in the context of this very bewildering afternoon. Much as he was mortified by meeting the two gardeners in a frilly dress this afternoon, they had accepted him as they saw him. Contrast that, he thought, with what happened at the mall.
Jane had gone back into the house and Michael followed, hoping to plead his case again. He caught his gaze in the hall mirror and carefully examined it. The curls and the delicate arch of the brow...the traces of color that no scrubbing seemed to remove. These were signals of incongruity that were all to easy to be intercepted. He was panicky...what to do, what to do.
He followed Jane into the dining room where she was assessing the table setting.
"Jane can I please stay in my room. I can't meet your friend like this."
"Whatever do you mean, Michael? you look fine."
"You know what I mean. Do you know what happened downtown? Everybody was staring at me. A bunch of kids teased me and made fun of me. I can't go through that again."
"What are you suggesting. Michael? You certainly weren't mocked by Tom and Hal when they met you. Why Hal just told me a while ago he thought you were a very pretty girl."
The dilemma again. He could pass as a girl in the hated skirts, but not as a boy in this altered attire and appearance.
"I frankly don't care what you wear to supper tonight. Mind you, tomorrow will be back to where we were. But it is of no consequence to me whatever what you do tonight. It was your idea to change into those clothes, not mine. I simply made available what we had."
Michael did not know what to do. He knew that there was immediate safety for him to go back to being dressed as a girl, but that loathsome prospect nauseated him. But it was equally certain that he could not carry on as he was now dressed.
As he mused, he knew that regardless of what respite these boyish togs offered him now, he would be back in petticoats in the morning. He bowed to the inevitable.
Before he could say anything more to Jane, she had left the room. After a minute of reflection, he walked into the kitchen and meekly asked Marie if she could help him with something. He went back up to the misery of the bedroom.
It was just after seven, and Jane was in the parlor mixing drinks. She handed the icy Manhattan to Edith White and sat down in the overstuffed chair near the fireplace.
Jane had known Edith for nearly 15 years. Edith was the widow of Jonathan White, the banker and financier whose family's tenure in this valley went back to Colonial days. Edith was a charming, eccentric woman who lived well and lavished almost indecent amounts of money to various organizations and community projects in a veritable eleemosynary crusade. The silver-haired dowager (now in her early sixties, Jane guessed) saw herself as a model of breeding and refinement. Jane had, after all these years, distilled Edith's passions down to three: an obsession with the historical traditions of the area, an abiding obsession with fine arts, and a phobia that modern young people were being reduced to crass philistines by the seduction of cheap rock music and inferior drama on the screen and television.
Underpinning this tripod of zealous endeavor was Edith's abiding infatuation with a faded past, a past of beauty and gentility that spanned the halcyon traditions from ante-bellum through Victorian to the debutante days of her own youth. Edith was a bit of an anachronism, crusading with her time and money to provide young people with opportunities to experience values she deemed eminently preferable to current fads. The woman abhorred the jeans-clad boys and girls she saw daily in Hampton and Kingston and the other townships, and in her longing for these lost qualities, she persisted in funding pageants, theatrical groups and elaborate cotillions. To all of ventures she persistently appropriated funds and recruited her friends. Though the results were mixed, Jane humored Edith and lent her support, for Jane had occasionally found in them opportunities to further her own aims.
Edith was prattling on about her latest activity: A celebration parade and pageant for the upcoming bi-centennial of Kingston County. She waxed eloquently over the Manhattan about the last minute details for the event, and complained about details that still needed attention. Her main grievance, it seemed, was the lack of sufficient participants to round out what was to be a panorama commemorating various periods in local history.
Jane was smiling and nodding politely at this soliloquy, fitting it in with thoughts that were taking shape in her own mind. The conversation was interrupted by a faint knock at the door, and Beth entered at Jane's response.
"Beth, dear girl, how nice to see you again," Edith gushed as Beth came in.
"Good evening, Mrs. White. How are you."
"Well as I was just telling Jane, these galas I get myself into will be the death of me. Anyway, dear, you look lovely tonight as usual."
Beth had, over these last months, become accustomed to these effervescent adulations from Edith White. Jane had always insisted that when the woman was a guest here, the choice of clothing was to be both elegant and dainty, a gesture of deference to the elder woman's taste. Of course, Jane knew well, these very beautiful feminine dresses were equally pivotal to the management of her charges.
Beth looked elegant, in a rose-colored taffeta dress whose full skirt was buoyed on the crinolines beneath; an appropriate coupling of modern and traditional. Most significantly, Beth's whole look radiated innocent girlishness. Jane was pleased, for the events of tonight played a role in her near-term plans, and she had engineered what she hoped would culminate in Edith's own proposal.
She wondered if Michael would present a problem. Beth had told her that Michael had asked Marie for some assistance. Jane hoped this request portended his decision to comply a little more. The Hobson choice he found himself in, trying to resolve the conflict of his appearance amid this coercive dominance in which he found himself. Jane was taking a gamble that after today's events, and her insistence that he be in attendance at dinner; that he would opt for returning to the governance of the women of the house, and act accordingly would provoke the expected response. She glanced at her watch and hoped Marie's skills were both brisk in their execution and fetching in their results.
She heard movement on the upstairs landing and excused herself, leaving Beth and Edith in polite conversation. She went to the door and saw Michael mincingly descending the staircase. She was pleased with what she saw. As he descended, looking somewhat dejected and crestfallen, Jane motioned for him to follow her into the study. He entered and closed the door, a woeful expression on his face.
Marie had done well in the short time she had had. Michael was once again in the blue middy blouse and taffeta shirt, with white knee sox and patent shoes. Marie had done an exquisite job with the hair, piling the cascading pony tail high at the crown, tied with a shimmering ribbon, and twining the composite of his own hair and the wiglet into pirouettes of tendrils at the neck. A dainty wisp of hair brushed each cheek at the hairline near his ear. Just the right, demure touch of color enhanced his angelic face.
"Michael, you look darling! But what prompted this? I thought you had decided to wear your boy's clothes to supper."
"You know I couldn't do that," he replied, his eyes modestly downcast, "not after what happened today. Especially not in front of a stranger."
"Well, I think that was a wise choice. You make a very pretty girl, and not a very convincing boy...at least not these days. Now, I am going to introduce you to an old friend of mine. She is very fond of sweet young girls, and I know you will make a good impression. She does not know you are a boy, you see, and so we must introduce you as something other than Michael. Do you understand me?"
"Yes", he reluctantly mumbled, his thoughts straying to the stables earlier in the day.
"Well, then. On your best behavior... a curtsy I think when you meet her. And impeccable manners at table. You look very convincing. If you don't want her to wonder about you, I'd suggest some attention to manners as well. Come along, Michelle."
Edith was quite captivated with the new girl, and proffered a bevy of the same flattery she had showered on Beth. Michael endured the debasement her words caused him, and he managed to even force a passable smile and convincing thank you. Polite conversation ensued through the meal, though remarks directed and him and Beth were occasional. Mrs. White dominated the conversation, railing on about some parade.
"Jane," the older woman said finally. "I have a wonderful idea. I need some more girls for the pageant. Why not let Beth and Michelle take part. It would be so good for them and would certainly please me.
"Well, Edith," Jane replied, "We will have to see. I am sure that Beth will be available, but we are not sure how long Michelle is to be here. Her mother is in Europe and I have to confer with her and with the people at Michelle's school about her stay. I shall call you this week about it."
Michael sensed the implied threat in that statement and he remembered again the reason he was here. He dared not look up at either Jane or Beth, fearful his concern would show.
It was nine-thirty when Edith bid them all goodnight, with more cloying sweet talk directed at Michael that burned his ears. A sidelong glance at Jane and the imperceptible blaze of her eyes prompted him to manage a dainty curtsy as they said good night to the woman at the foyer entrance.
Jane took Michael back into the parlor and modestly commended him on his behavior. She sipped at a cordial as she sat expansively on the love seat opposite him.
"I have come to a decision, Michael, and I felt it important you hear it tonight. You recall I told you yesterday that I would wait until Friday to see if I wished to continue with your training. I confess the way that you have behaved and especially that outburst today had led me to a decision to decline this task."
He squirmed a little, anticipating something that was likely to be both auspicious and dreadful at once.
"You were very nearly exemplary this evening, and you redeemed yourself. I have decided to give it a try."
"Does this mean I will have to wear these clothes?"
"If you wish to stay here, yes. It is part of the course."
He grew depressed again, realizing that his hopes of freedom on Friday were dashed. He was equally chagrined that this so-called petticoating was to continue. He did not have great reservations about staying here, but it could be done without this sissy bullshit that he detested.
"You know, Aunt Jane," he ventured, "I don't know if my mother would approve of any of this. Nor the school, I'd bet."
"And you'd tell them, is that it Michael? You'd tell them about this wicked woman who made you dress like a little girl and primp and preen and curtsy and all that?"
He nodded, and this gesture drew a wry smile to her lips. She stared at him a moment, sipped at the cordial and walked to the desk.
"I think not," he heard her say, as he watched her pick up an envelop and return to the settee, placing the envelope on the coffee table between them.
"You see your mother already knows. That is precisely why she sent you. I'll admit it was a last resort, but your mother is perfectly aware that her sweet little boy is sitting here in skirts. She and I spoke of it before you ever arrived."
He gulped, astonished that his mother would allow this.
"As for the school, I would suggest that that is not an admission you'd make to them or to anyone else. How embarrassing it would be to even admit that you had been in dresses. On the other hand, it night be a revelation I'd make if I don't get your continued cooperation. Take a look at that," indicating the envelope.
He picked up its bulk and opened the flap. His hand drew out a sheaf of photographs and it began to tremble as he saw the first one. In vivid color was Michael in various costumes, being made up and wielding cosmetic applicators on himself. There were shots of him in curlers and with Marie affixing ribbons in the finished mass of curls. All in all, there were over two dozen pictures which appalled him.
"Give some thought tonight, Michael, of the effect those darling photos would have on the other boys you go to school with. If you don't want to be totally humiliated, I'd suggest you keep your threats to yourself. I doubt that even if I can get you reinstated at St. Andrews you'd want to return under the cloud of being the campus sissy. Think well on that."
Jane dismissed him at that point, sending him back to his room. Michael later lay in the dark room and stared at the canopy. He had undressed and taken a bath. When he hung the dress in the closet, he was somewhat surprised to see that the blouse and slacks were still there. What did that mean?
He had opted for tailored pajamas rather than a feminine gown, but the smooth silkiness of the peach colored coat and trousers, with the little bows and appliques, were a burlesque parody of his intention to wear something more masculine. He was still a sissy in a girl's room. And now, with photographic proof of his dalliance in these girlish pursuits, Jane had yet another lever to wrest his submission. He turned off the light and sank into deeper despondency as he fell asleep.
In the frenzied days that followed through the weekend and into Monday, Michael was exposed to more femininity and girlish activity than he had ever imagined possible. The curiosities, sights and smells of living a girl's life were thrust on him at a dizzying pace. There were mannerisms and postures to assimilate. He practiced for hours with rollers and makeup, his arms tiring from the unfamiliar reach required to roll the wands into his hair. He learned about colors and combinations in clothes, shoes and accessories. He practiced curtseys, polite phraseology and locutions that sounded effete to his male ear. Adjectives that he would have shunned at all costs as a boy began to seep into his speech.
Indeed, speech and mannerisms seemed the hallmarks. Inflection conveyed more than anything, Jane tutored, and he chafed as he mimicked the exaggerated intonations she prompted. He practiced gestures and walking and light hints of poise like tidying his hair and the right way to examine his face and dresses in a mirror.
He was ceaselessly being fussed over and busying himself with dainty little detail. He spent what seemed hours perfecting the application of a myriad of colors to his face, his nails. He submerged himself in bubbly baths, shaved practically invisible hairs from his legs and arms. It was a seemingly perpetual routine that started early in the day and ran till late at night.
Not only learning a facile walk in pumps, but becoming nimble at daintily swaying an ankle while balanced on the other foot. The girlish positioning of the hands on hips as opposed to the "arms akimbo" stance of a man. Crossing the legs just right when sitting, exposing just the right amount of leg beneath the hem of the skirt. Care in both sitting and rising from a chair so that the movement flowed gracefully and smoothly.
The subtle and vain fluff of the hair that primped it in place. A winsome manner of correcting makeup when others were watching so that the actions seemed less pragmatic than attractive. All of these subtleties had eluded him when, as a boy, he watched girls. There was so much to learn and master.
He submitted to this drill grudgingly, maintaining an outward facade of equanimity about it, but inwardly astir with emotions. He detested the role he had to play, especially when something he did or the way he looked prompted a comment from Marie or Beth or Jane which emphasized his growing grasp of girlish ways. Some of it, to be sure, had become tolerable because of its familiarity. He confessed to himself an enjoyment derived from the touch of the smooth fabrics on the most sensitive parts of his body. He had to admit that when he viewed the girl in the mirror as some detached persona which coexisted with him, it was a very pretty girl. The fact was, he had to admit to himself, he did present the image of a pretty girl. This realization caused him great consternation.
He began to think of himself as a sissy. If he did these things, and evinced an occasional pleasure in doing it and what he saw accomplished, what did that make him? The thoughts troubled him and he wondered if there were not some subtle internal change taking place. He hoped not, for he knew this must all come to an end and he had no desire for these events to seep into his return to a male world.
Ironically, it was this dualism that preserved his equanimity and kept his panic in check. He could partially detach his boyhood from the repulsive things being done to him and simply go along. That submerged self still felt the distress of every sissy thing he was made to experience and he was demeaned by the results these women forced upon him. Yet another part of him puzzlingly identified with the "girl" in the mirror, and strived to perfect the right characteristics to project her femininity.
This constant see-saw and the alternative and conflicting emotions made him queasy and often disgusted with himself. A more profound torture seemed unimaginable.
Fear motivated him most, even fear of the reaction of Beth, Marie or Jane to what he did or failed to do. When he did his make-up just so, appeared before them with curls in place and dainty girlish garb accurate in every detail, he felt abject embarrassment. If he were chastised for a mistake, or called a sissy for doing it well, that chagrin heightened. He comprehended that even when he made a passable girlish gesture or speech, his competence led to the inevitable conclusion that he was being feminized as a boy, being constrained to act as a girl.
He was most grateful that, at least, these feminizing activities took place within the sanctuary of the house. He dreaded going outdoors like this, but Beth had warned him that such trips were to take place in the near future. He panicked each time he thought about it, and hoped nothing would go awry as it had on his last outing. The realization that he could conceivably deceive outsiders if he handled himself appropriately was the singular motivation in absorbing all the elements of this effeminate pantomime. On the one hand, he worried about discovery, and yet he strongly sensed that if he acted the perfect girl, he would pass. Yet in so doing, he did injury to his male persona. It was a cycling paradox.
And so the prospect of being made to go out again constantly distressed him with its devastating possibilities of shame and embarrassment. Did the trapped animal feel like this, he wondered.
He was made to do things that transcended mere clothing or adornment. Jane had sat him down and suggested that some exposure to dance might improve his grace and movement. Beth was to be his preliminary instructor in this area, though it was conceded by both Jane and Beth that she was merely passing on the lessons she had learned at her own dancing class and that the practice would be very elementary. Beth led him to a chamber that had once been a medium-size ballroom. Here she taught him the elements of dance. He submitted to donning leotards, tights and a short dance skirt, and tap shoes that were like the Mary Janes except that they tied at his ankles with a black satin bow. After several hours of repetitive drill, he had begun to master the heel, toe and shuffle that were the elements of tap dancing. Beth was as diligent in imparting tips on the proper carriage of the arms in a graceful style as she was in teaching the syncopating cadence of the metal taps on the wooden floor. At one point he saw Jane surveying the duo from the doorway and felt a moment of self-consciousness. He was less disconcerted doing these foolish little steps and skips with Beth alone, but the adult presence rankled him.
Ballet steps, too, were practiced, and Jane insisted that a tulle-skirted costume was a necessary ingredient of this routine. He felt really silly assuming the flamboyant poses of that style, especially perfecting the graceful stance that Beth seemed to have mastered.
He frequently felt a dreamlike detachment from his true self. As though he were dreaming and all of this would go away when he awoke. But, in truth, he woke each morning in that same fragile room, reorienting himself to its strange but ever-more-familiar atmosphere. And each morning when he woke, the turgidness of his erection grazed the sheer material of his gown and he savored the sensations it sent through him. One morning he succumbed to the urgency and, with very little effort found, release. In retrospect, that event was unlike any other solitary adolescent autoeroticism he had engaged in. It was as if the sensuous surroundings and titillating feel of the garments themselves conveyed a certain erotica.
To the extent that he fantasized about a suggestive figure during the act, he kept seeing the petite reflection of himself he had seen in the mirror.
Jane watched the events unfold with satisfaction, seeing the transformation develop superbly. Michael was assimilating a truly feminine air. Jane knew instinctively that the boy's repugnance of this business was undiminished, but he had begun to display somewhat less resistance to it. Indeed, she had caught him more than once preening in the mirror or fingering the ruffled edge of the dress. She knew that this abandon was, in part, due to the sanctuary that the house itself afforded, a security she would shatter later this week. But each day brought him closer to total submission to the control of flounces and frills.
Perhaps if Michael knew the exhaustive plans that Jane had been making that were sure to affect him, he would have been less hopeful and sanguine about what might happen to him this week.
On Monday morning, as she sat alone drinking her coffee on the veranda, she was musing and making notes while scanning the local paper. She had been mildly pleased by the change in attitude she had witnessed in Michael these last three days, and felt another two days of the same exercises would be in order. But he was growing altogether too comfortable in these surroundings. Not that he was accepting any of it, but the resignation he evinced needed some additional challenge. He needed to be jarred out the complacency and security that the house gave him. The creation of new tensions was indispensable principle of his development.
To this end, she was making a list. She had planned hair appointments for them both, and she had to call Carolyn or Sandra to set the stage for that. She picked up the phone and reached Carolyn, who expressed eager expectation at the arrival of a new neophyte for them to work on. In her excitement, it was she who suggested Wednesday, for that morning she had a charm class scheduled. Carolyn conducted classes for young girls in hair care and makeup. A group was coming in on Wednesday morning, and Carolyn suggested that Michael could be made to act as the model for her lecture. Jane thought this a capital idea, and the date was set.
Checking that item off her list, Jane scanned the paper for the weekly advertisements. Several sales at shops she liked caught her eye, and a note was made of these as well.
Jane next dialed Edith White and caught her at home. Michelle, Jane told her friend, would, in fact, be staying a while after all, and both girls would be available to participate in Edith's festivities. Edith was thrilled. She told Jane that the costumes for the girls were available at Milady's Closet in town, and since the only requirement was that the girls sit poised and pretty on the float in the parade, she left it to Jane to select the appropriate costume. Jane added another item to Wednesday's agenda. In less than half an hour she had scheduled the Wednesday activities, including lunch at the Heritage Inn. Michael would encounter the full range of a girl's day on the town.
Her next call was to Margaret Warden, who ran the dance studio that Beth attended. Jane told her she had another young girl staying with her for the summer, and thought that a few lessons in tap and ballet would be worthwhile. Margaret, of course, sensing the tuition income, agreed. Jane allowed as how this young lady was inexperienced and slightly awkward, but with a dance instructors overstatement, Jane was assured that even a total neophyte could be graceful in just weeks. Jane penciled in Thursday for the first lesson.
Another item in the paper caught her eye. It was a call for auditions at a local children's theater. Jane knew the people who ran the program and decided to call them as well. Another element of fine arts would both do Michael good and expose him to yet another regretful situation. It was a full schedule, fraught with numerous exposures of her young be-ruffled boy to people and places that would prove disquieting to him. The list provided ample appointments for her to demand his involvement in these distressing locales. Jane was sure that she could think of one or two items to add to the list that might even escalate that uneasiness.
The day whose arrival Michael had been dreading most turned out to be Wednesday. Jane had announced the night before that he and Beth would be going into town with her for some shopping and errands. Beth had forewarned him of the upcoming trip to Kingston. But she was reticent and sketchy about the details, and when Michael had expressed anxiety about another trip to town, Beth had offered the reassurance that when he was completely dressed as a girl, and meticulously done up, he was very convincing. It was simply a matter of remembering all that he had been taught and not betraying a single sign of being a boy. Despite that encouragement, the memory of his last appalling trip into town plagued him and he expected the worst on this next venture.
They were all up early on Wednesday morning and had finished breakfast before 8:30. Jane instructed Michael to shower and get dressed. He was to put on the panties and bra that she had shown him the preceding evening, garters and hose, and a full slip with a single net layer between two of taffeta. She had selected a short, slightly puffed sleeved, mauve polyester/rayon dress, it's skirt modestly billowing out over the petticoat, and adorned with a gray ribbon sash. The dress suggested maturity, but at the same time the fullness of the skirt, its narrow lace trim, and the cut of the sleeves suggested a design more suited to a child. He was to simply brush his hair and apply a minimal touch of makeup.
Michael went to his room solemnly. The cold feeling of dread he felt was not even dissipated by the warm jets of the shower. He dried off and returned to the hushed blue shadows of his room, and selected in turn each item of lingerie. The superfluous bra produced satiny busts over his own male nipples. It closed easily in front, although he had by now nearly mastered the technique to fasten nearly every type of lingerie without Marie's help. He tugged on the panties, sensing again their tight smoothness on his buttocks and groin and slipped the hose up snugly and affixed their tops to the four garter straps that dangled from the belt around his waist. As he donned the lacy underwear, he felt the familiar butterflies in his stomach.
The tingling stricture of the nylons brought a different coolness to his smooth legs. He slid the slip down over himself and it encased his body with a soft caress. The dress was the usual problem, its zipper in the back out of reach. With some contortion he was able to slide the zipper to its top, and finally managed to clasp the tiny hook at the top. He stepped into the two inch pumps and sat at the vanity to brush his hair, and inserted the barrettes as he had been taught at each temple. He brushed a light blush over his cheeks and along his chin line and across the brow. A light touch of mascara was followed with a touch of pale lipstick. He did not look nearly as eye-catching as he had on other occasions, but it seemed to suffice. Ironically, as he scrutinized his appearance further, he thought of last week when he was searching for traces of makeup to diminish all traces. Now the situation was reversed, and after some consideration, Michael frowned at what he saw as not projecting enough femininity. He decided that a little more color would be prudent today, dressed as he was in these girlish trappings. Selecting a brighter shade of cosmetics, he reapplied color to cheeks and lips. As an afterthought, he added a small strand of pearls and a bracelet. Michael picked up his small purse and draped its handle over his left wrist as Jane had instructed. He paused in front of the full length mirror to view his image and was torn between his admiration for the pretty reflection, and the revulsion he felt at the acknowledgement that she, was he.
Michael got the usual laurels about his prettiness when he arrived downstairs. Abashedly brushing them aside with a muted "thank you," he steeled himself to departing the security of the house and got into the car.
As the trio approached their first stop, Michael recoiled in shock. His hesitation was momentary, however, as Jane quickly realized his reluctance, and firmly grasped his hand. She brooked no unwillingness on his part as they neared the door. "Let's not have any boyish nonsense now Michelle", she instructed. "Remember, if you act completely and entirely as the charming young lady you appear to be, no one need be the wiser. On the other hand, if you do not, you will either be found out or I may simply trumpet the fact you are boy who loves dressing up like a sissy."
Michael winced at her use of the feminine "Michelle", and the forewarning of misery if he was exposed, but he realized the sense in her advice, even if it was worded in her usual, gratuitous manner. He was so preoccupied with his own concerns that he failed to realize that Beth too seemed subdued with the thought of spending several hours in this environ.
They walked into the Marisha Chalet and Michael's mind reeled with disquiet as he looked about the chic beauty salon. The success of the establishment was evident by the large number of patrons that were there even at this early hour. Michael saw both women and men having their hair done. This setting, especially when he contemplated what well might be coming, made him inwardly shudder.
They were greeted by someone to whom he was introduced as Carolyn, one of the owners. She indicated that she would be doing Beth and that Sandra would take care of Michelle. When she looked at him, Michael could have sworn there was a wry, knowing smirk on her face. She led him to the shampoo basins.
The shampoo girl was the second person he met, a pretty lass of 17 or 18 named Shelly. She worked silently, placing a shiny cape around him, fastening it at the neck and draping its broad folds around him. She turned the chair around and gently lowered his nape to the edge of the basin, mixing the water to proper temperature, wetting and then lathering his hair. After a repeat of this, she wrapped a towel around his head, returned the chair to its upright position and led him over to the place where the operator's booth's were located.
The booths were slight indentations into the wall. They were not fully separated from either the adjacent stations, nor were they invisible from the rest of the shop. He saw that Beth was being worked on in the adjacent booth and on his other side the cubicle was vacant. He hoped it stayed that way.
Sandra came over, told him her name halfheartedly, and started to work without other comment. Michael was content to bear this burden without conversation, and so invited none. She removed the towel and began combing through the wet strands of hair, aligning them and separating them into sectors around his scalp with pins that left her field of work free. She drew wide strands through her fingers and, with scissors, she clipped only a small snip from the end of each strand. Again and again she repeated this, scrutinizing the progress in the mirror, cutting more or less here and there, styling as she went. This aspect was not remarkably unlike any haircut he had ever received in a store such as this. Perhaps he was most surprised by the small amount of hair her snips removed, and the fact that her next act was to use a razor to shave parts of his hairline that had never felt a razor before. She worked silently and briskly.
When she was finished, she shook out the clipped hair from the cape, and replaced the shawl-like garment over him. She next wheeled a circular tiered tray alongside his chair. Each tier held a myriad of pastel-colored rollers of varying diameters. She had just begun to select the implements necessary to give Michael his first permanent wave, when she leaned over and whispered in his ear.
"So you are Jane's latest sissy-in-residence." Her words electrified him and he turned ashen in the mirror. Involuntarily, he started to turn in her direction, but she pressed his shoulders down as she continued. "Calm down, sweetness, or you'll mess up my work, and I just hate that! The last time that happened I told everyone in the place I had a sweet, little femmy boy here getting his hair nice and curled up." It did not take much, at this point, to make him speechless. He glanced around the room with his peripheral vision through the images in the glass searching for someone who might have heard what she said. No one seemed to have noticed. Sandra watched his eyes darting fearfully about the room and smiled.
"I'm glad you learn quickly hon. Now cutie, you just act as sweet as you look, and maybe you and I won't have any problems," she teased. Her words had jolted him and he settled back into the chair paralyzed with fear and a new found submission to this frightening woman. Michael tried to slow his breathing while Sandra asked Caroline over to his chair. She joined them shortly with a large magazine, like a catalogue. Caroline leaned over the motionless boy and spread the book out on his lap. "Here, Michael....", she said in a low voice, which she immediately corrected with a gleam in her eye, "I mean Michelle. Why don't you look through here and tell us which style you'd like for your permanent."
Michael mutely gazed at the first page, horrified at both the word "permanent" and the picture confronting him. The girl in the photo had a glorious head of full, luscious blonde curls, cascading beyond her shoulders, the bangs styled and fluffed with mousse. He realized that his hair was thankfully too short for such a style, but was petrified at what the next page might hold. His silent stare continued for several moments, until Sandra leaned over as if to work on his hair near the right ear. But instead, she grasped the lobe of the ear and pinched it fiercely, whispering, "Real girls like to do this, Michelle! So unless you want the people here to know you're a boy in a dress," she hissed, "You'd better start to show some girlish enthusiasm! I know you have a girl hiding inside you", she added, her voice now full of teasing enthusiasm, "So let's see her enjoying her trip to the beauty parlor."
Michael winced at the pressure she applied to his ear, no less than at her comments, but realized he was at a make or break moment in his time in skirts, and capitulated. He flipped the page, and without even thinking, turned his head towards Sandra and said, "Oh! Isn't this one simply wonderful? Do you think I could wear it?" Caroline grinned at the forced, yet to the public's eye and ear, apparantly genuine, feminine query from him. Michael blushed and turned his eyes down, and for the first time saw the style he had referred to. It was worse than the first, if for no other reason, because his hair was short enough for the style. The girl's hair was nearly shoulder length, fashioned in tighter curls, yet still with a very full shape. The bangs were again left uncurled, to allow for their arrangement into a variety of shapes, as the upswept style on the model clearly demonstrated. The final touch was a lace ribbon, wrapped from the back of the neck, up behind the ears, and tied in a large bow towards the right side of the head. The ribbon caused the hair to fluff out even further than it might have fallen naturally. Michael was ready to turn the page, hoping to find something less stylized, when Caroline took the book off his lap.
"A perfect choice, Michelle," she said as she closed the book, and turned to walk away. Looking over her shoulder at him, she loudly added, "I'm sure everyone here will want to see how it turns out!"
He cringed inwardly at her words, but managed to smile, afraid that to do otherwise would risk exposure. Sandra then began her work. She stroked her comb again through his hair, once more isolating sectors and clipping them aside. Her actions now were slower and more deliberate. She wetted his hair with a solution whose pungent aroma matched that which permeated the shop and which he had noticed when he came in. The liquid ran away from his hairline in places and she sopped it with the towel. For a moment, the parts of his face that it touched burned slightly, but this passed.
As he watched her in the mirror, he saw that she isolated a strand of hair, held it with one hand as she took a tissue and smoothed it down the end of the strand. Holding this wrapped tress tautly in her fingers, she selected one of the colored rollers and spooled the lock of hair around it, drawing it up tight to his scalp and fastening the elastic device that held it in place. Though she was meticulous and fastidious with each curl she fashioned, it seemed only a short time before she had completed the top of his head and was working down the back.
He was sitting in the chair silently when she softly spoke again. "You're not the first little boy we've prettied up in this place, and I suspect you'll be sent back for more. So just keep calm. Piss me off though and I'll let that guy down on the end know that I have a little boy here who plays like he is a girl. Or maybe that little girl over there. I'll bet she'd want to take you home to play dress up. How'd you like that, pretty little Michelle?"
A renewed alarm surged through him and he fought to retain composure. He was cornered. He could not bolt and yet he had to suffer the abuse this woman seemed to enjoy heaping on him.
He sat stunned as she relentlessly continued. "You have such nice hair, Michelle", rolling another strand into the tangle of curlers that adorned his head. "Nice, golden hair. After I'm finished, you'll be amazed at what I have done. And these curls won't go away. They are permanent and will stay and stay."
Her voice was subdued, and almost husky. Under other circumstances and with different dialogue, it might have been seductive. Her taunting whisper continued as she worked.
"After I'm done, Carolyn has something especially wonderful for you. You'll be a perfect little doll when we're through with you." He trembled with a mix of expectation and dread. "We are going to do a real job on you today. Jane said give him the works, we're going to give you the works." Another wand, another strand affixed itself to his scalp. "So far, I think, the amateurs have had you. Wait and see what the pros can do to you."
He had often sat in a hair stylists chair and listened to the idle banter they made; small talk that seldom evoked anything more than a perfunctory reply. This dialogue was like getting an obscene phone call, a tete-a-tete which communicated flutters of anxiety through his every fiber. He longed to be out of this place. The pointed, teasing barbs continued as he was forced to watch in the mirror as she performed these most feminine procedures on him. He prayed fervently that no one else could hear her murmuring derision. He prayed even harder that she would not suddenly blurt out some revelation to this whole crowd.
She finished rolling up his hair and he saw a profusion of pastel pink and blue curlers doing their work on his hair. Some new solution was applied, its pungent odor a stronger version of what he had smelled on first coming in here. She set the clock for 45 minutes, then moved a table beside the chair and sat down. She seized his hand and with a saturated cotton ball, removed all trace of polish from each nail. Shaping each in turn with an emery board, she applied nearly five layers of clear polish to each finger.
Beth was visible in the mirror, seated beneath the hood of a hair dryer, looking a little melancholy, he thought, as she idly turned the pages of a magazine. Regardless of what Sandra said about "feminine enthusiasm", Beth wasn't showing much more than boredom...and something else he couldn't quite put his finer on.
Carolyn wandered over, her own customer now between procedures. She was carrying a handful of various cosmetics, and she began to experiment idly with lipstick shades and eyeshadow colors, daubing a spot on, scrutinizing it, then wiping it and trying another. She and Sandra discoursed about color. He felt very exposed, knowing instinctively that this experimentation was somewhat unusual and feeling every eye in the place was scrutinizing the discussion.
Amid this seemingly nonessential exercise, Carolyn and Sandra continued small taunts, mocking queries about his petticoats, derisive comments about his sleek legs encased in the sheer nylons. Through it all was the abiding forecast of the detailed feminization that they planned to wreak on him this morning.
Michael felt gloomy and distressed.
The clock showed nearly "time" when Sandra had done with the manicure, and he could see the high gloss her efforts had imparted, appearing much thicker because of the successive layers. Sandra held up one of his hands and examined the nails.
"It's too bad that it's just a neutral shade, but that's what Jane ordered. Maybe someday I'll get to paint those little boy nails a pretty bright red." She spun the chair around and leaned him backwards again, washing away the chemical which she had applied and methodically removing each roller and dropping it into the sink. When she had done, she gently towelled the hair and turn him back around to see the springy curls that lingered in place of the rollers. She played with the little curlicues of hair, drying and styling it into the hairdo he had viewed in the picture. The curls were sprayed and the bangs teased until she was satisfied. Last, she took a lace ribbon, matching his dress, and twined it into the hairstyle, tieing it into
a bow. When she was through, Michael's glance in the mirror confirmed his deepest fears. His hair looked exactly like that of the model in the photo, and would stay that way for months to come. Finally, she pulled away the cape and let him free.
She leaned over and spoke again in her stage whisper. "See you in two weeks, Michael. Always fun to make a boy pretty. Now go let Carolyn get to work on you and make sure you say goodbye and let me see you before you go. Wait till you see what she does! A pretty little fella in lace and curls. And remember, there are still a few guys left in here, like those two near the door that can't keep their eyes off you. So don't forget," and she leaned closer and murmured with a broad smile on her face, "Your a girl now! Now smile, dammit. Make me think that you love this!"
Michael turned to glance towards the door, but Carolyn was there in a flash, leading him toward yet another chair. A group of teenaged girls was assembled in a semi-circle around it. Something was going to happen, he thought, that will make me the center of attention of that group. Despite everything that had happened thus far, he again felt panic. As she propelled him across the salon floor, Carolyn continued the taunts that Sandra had imparted.
"I noticed you had long eyelashes, Michael. Did anyone ever tell you that? We are going to do a real number on those eyelashes and every other feature of your face. God. Those girls you are about to meet would die to have lashes like those!" Michael cringed at her use of a masculine name while she talked and the abhorrent reference to his naturally long eyelashes. His fears were already running rampant without her intentional taunts, and his heart raced as they approached the group. He noted that the girls were dressed comfortably, most of them in jeans or casual skirts. The swishing of skirts and pettis about his knees reminded him that he was dressed more like a girl than they.
Carolyn directed him towards the chair after introducing him with the hated name of Michelle. Michael seated himself with a graceful swish of skirts and was grateful for Jane and Beth's training of such feminine mannerisms. He sat neatly before the girls with hands folded in his lap, and knees and ankles pressed tightly together. "Michelle is going to be our model today and I am going to show you how to make up for something more than regular day wear. Some of you may be in the pageant and parade this week, and there is a different technique for that. Now as I told you last week, make-up is about the most dramatic way that a woman has to project herself.
"We could almost imagine that Michelle, for example, is a boy, given how little makeup she is wearing . . . except for all those cute curls." The girls giggled their disbelief, and Michael trembled that Carolyn was taunting him by suggesting the truth to these girls. He flashed a wan smile at the girls.
As she talked, she had smeared cream over his face and removed all trace of makeup with tissue. Without the faint hue of cosmetic, his face had taken on a more boyish look.
"Well of course she couldn't be a boy. Look at those lashes." Her words drew the girls' attention to his eyes and they obviously approved of this naturally girlish trait.
"Now we want to start with a foundation that highlights that lovely complexion without looking pasty." She daubed dots of the flesh-colored compound over his face and smoothed it into his skin. After setting it with translucent powder, she moved on. "Now we start with the eyes . . . the window of the soul," she said. The girls giggled gratuitously in their excitement at this frolic. He felt like the personification of one of those silly articles in the magazines back at the house.
Caroline pulled a pallet of eye shadows from its case and spread them before the girls for all to see. Then she turned to Michael, and asked, "Michelle, honey, your eyes were really very underdone for such a pretty outfit and your new hairstyle. Tell the girls which colors you think are best to compliment your look."
Michael shot Caroline a quick, imploring look, but her response indicated no mercy would be granted. He turned back to the makeup pallet, now sitting on his lap, and began to consider the possibilities. "What about these blue ones?", he meekly inquired. Several of the girls surrounding him must have thought this girl to be awfully shy. Anyone of them would have gladly traded places, yet they couldn't know that he would just as willingly have agreed. Caroline chided him for his choices, sinking him even lower.
"Girls.... Michelle has just made an all too common mistake.... blue eyeshadows are very overused by you young ladies. You ought to spend more time reading Glamour or Seventeen, Michelle. You'd learn quite a bit. I'll suggest that to your Auntie."
With that one of the girls chimed in about a recent issue, and within moments all the girls were chattering over eye colors, each coming up with new combinations for Michelle to wear. Their gushing enthusiasm had a strange effect on him. His thoughts drifted to the reality known only to Sandra, Caroline, Beth, Jane, and himself..... that here was a boy, sitting neatly, indeed primly, before a group of teenaged girls in his pretty dress and new permanent wave, while they openly discussed his feminization. He felt a renewed sense of the enormous degree to which he had been changed, and seemed acutely aware of the sensations imparted by each item of his feminine clothing... the tingle of his petticoat on his knees, the constriction of the bra and garters, the tension in his calves from the modest heels. These thoughts flashed one after the other in a matter of seconds, and when he finally broke their spell, he realized he was becoming hard inside his panties. Michael squirmed at this unwanted development, acknowledging that at least the full slip would probably conceal his erection from the girls. His fidgeting didn't escape Caroline, however, and she pushed the makeup case down into his lap with a leer as she took it back..... causing him to nearly moan out loud.
Caroline proceeded to apply the eyeshadows, followed by mascara and liner, blush, and finally, lipliner and lipstick. She chose a rose colored lipstick, and made a big show of its proper application, using a fine camel hair brush coated with the lipstick to outline the lips, then telling Michelle to apply the first coat. His erection had, if anything, grown stronger, and it pulsed as he took the tube from her and leaned towards a mirror held by one of the girls. As it had before, and nearly every time since, the act of gliding the fragrant shaft over his lips brought home his plight with force. Caroline touched up his artistry, and stepped back to view the finished product.
She directed Michael to stand and face a mirror so that he could gain the full effect. He was by now used to a feminine visage when he looked in the glass, but, even so, was taken aback by what he now saw. The makeup, in conjunction with his new permanent, formed synergistically to create an astonishingly pretty girl. A "covergirl" was the word that crossed his mind.
Caroline wouldn't let matters rest. "Michelle.... why don't you walk to the end of the salon..... over near that boy near the door, and then turn and walk nicely back so we can see the effects from a distance." By now the other customers had become interested in the group at the end of the salon, and all turned their heads to see the results of Caroline's class. Michael took an imperceptibly large breath, and trying not to appear too self- conscious, slowly walked past the staring customers, mincing with the classicly short strides Jane and Beth had taught. The flutter and bounce of his skirts reenforced his never ending self-consciousness, but he was able to nevertheless exude a sense of some confidence as he approached the obviously pleased lad near the doorway. Michael caught his eye for a moment, and then evaded the gaze, utterly appalled at the thought that a boy would find him attractive. He turned in a swirl of petti's, and retraced his steps to the group, hoping that the swelling in his panties would remain hidden from his audience.
After a few additional moments of effusive praise from the girls, Caroline directed Michael over to where Jane was standing near the front desk. Beth was herself finished, and stood next to Jane with her own crown full of curls.
Michael's renewed journey across the salon was interrupted by Sandra. She was standing near a store room door and called for him. "Oh Michelle! Don't forget.... you're supposed to show me how pretty you turned out." He reluctantly changed directions, and followed her into the store room, where she closed the door. He didn't look forward to any time alone with Sandra, but felt the room would at least provide a modicum of security from the clients' stares in the salon.
Sandra stood back and surveyed the lovely boy. She grinned from ear to ear as he stood demurely before her, hands clasped neatly and properly behind his back at the bow neatly tied in his sash. But his telltale shifting of weight, as well as the knowing glances she had seen on Caroline's face, clued her into his secret. "Michelle, honey, you look absolutely darling! Didn't I tell you how much of a doll we'd make you? And that dress is just so sweet. I'll bet that's a petticoat you're wearing underneath it", she coyly inquired. Michael nodded his head, but was unprepared for what she said next. "Let me see it dear..... lift you're skirt up nice and high for me."
Michael hesitated, but knew he had no choice in the matter. He fingered the skirt for a moment, his nails gleaming brightly, and slowly began to raise the skirt, exposing inch by inch the lovely frills of his petticoat. The skirts rustled as he did so, creating a new urgency in the erection which continued to haunt him. Sandra urged his hands higher and higher, until the skirt's hem rested near his waist. Feelings of boyish shame, and arousal, swirled about his head as he stood before her.
"My goodness, but they are pretty," she exclaimed with glee. Michael didn't move as she came closer and stood over him, the skirts staying high, and his penis pulsating with each heartbeat. "I'll bet you really like this, don't you Michelle?", Sandra inquired, her twinkling eyes holding his in a gaze. "You know, being such a pretty girl," she said, thrusting the knife of her words in my deeply, and twisting it. Michael's silence was met by Sandra's outright laugher. "Of course you do, silly! Look!", and she swiftly scooped up his petticoats to expose the swelling at the front of his panties. A darker wet spot shone clearly through the thin material of the delicate garment.
"Well, our little sissy is excited! You must get a bang out of being the effeminate little wimp that you are, Michael."
Michael jerked away and dropped his skirts, trying uselessly to find a remote spot in the room to hide. Sandra quickly grabbed his arm, preventing his escape, and he collapsed against her, emotionally traumatized by her discovery of his condition. He was unable to comprehend what or why he felt this arousal, and Sandra stood back to leave him briefly with his thoughts. She took a high stool and sat on it before him. "Perhaps, Michelle, you are beginning to realize the significance of this treatment your Aunt has prescribed?" He finally mustered some words, and spoke more sharply than he had in seemingly weeks. "But I'm not a sissy!.... I'm not!", he exclaimed in defense of his masculinity. He limply threw his wrist at her as he said it, and instinctively reached next for his head to retrieve a stray curl that had bounced in front of his eyes. His performance was remarkably feminine, and Sandra wouldn't let it pass.
Her words cut to his core. "You can say that all you want, dearie.... but the fact remains that you are the swishiest little "sissy" I've ever worked on." She gestured towards the door, and laughed. "Now go run to your Auntie.... she want's to buy you some cute dresses, doll face!" Michael paused briefly, trying his best to regain some composure, and left the false security of the room for the full salon.
"Oh, and Michael, I'll be waiting to do you all over again in a week or so. Ta-ta, you sweet little pixie."
Michael followed Beth and Jane out of the beauty salon and into the passageway of the mall.
We'll do our shopping and try on the gowns first and then have a nice lunch. Come along girls," Jane announced as she swept up the arcade. She and Beth made a beeline toward the far end of the arcade, a determined woman with two young "debs" in tow.
Michael, trying studiously to look and move gracefully in the demi-heels, lagged slightly behind the pair. His separation heightened his anxiety and he struggled to catch up, but he knew that he dare not lapse into a more boyish dash or commit some gaffe that would betray him. As it was, his paranoia interpreted every lingering glance or admiring smile from passersby as a sign of their suspicion that he was not really a girl at all.
It is, of course, not uncommon for a young girl to blush and feel awkward when her appearance attracts attention, but Michael did not know this, and he interpreted his feelings as the sheer embarrassment of being judged by these strangers as a boy masquerading as a girl. He hoped that the store they were heading to would be sparsely occupied and without the throngs that strolled in the concourse.
Jane finally stopped outside a boutique whose marquee identified it as "The Style Shoppe" and in smaller lettering, "Elegant Fashions for the Young Miss." It stood adjacent to a stored named "Milady's Closet", and the open archway that he could see between the two stores behind the display windows suggested common ownership.
In the display windows, several mannequins stared vacantly into space, their manufactured limbs motionless in graceful yet stilted ladylike positions. This immobile tableau stood modelling various lingerie, blouses, and skirts. One was elegantly resplendent in a formal gown which bared the shoulders and then fell from a burgundy satin empire bodice to cascading tiers of organdy and chiffon. Michael could not help but notice that the shiny brilliance of the mannequins' curled coiffures and the exaggerated vividness of their painted features mimicked his own face as he recalled the image which stared back at him back in the beauty salon when Carolyn had finished her ministrations on him. In a bizarre way he felt like one of these fashion dummies: a counterfeit girl, painted and draped in finery.
He caught up to Jane and Beth to find Jane engaged in a conspiratorial conversation with another, older woman. He fretted at the glances that the other woman cast in his direction, and he tried to avert his glance and appear detached. Finally he was summoned over by Jane and introduced (with the loathsome feminine soubriquet "Michelle") to a woman named Miss Brenda Franson. She was near Jane's age, an attractive woman wearing a tailored tan suit but with and elaborate frilled jabot blouse which added much femininity to her working attire. Her hair was carefully styled and she imparted the look of a woman with taste and style who took great pains with appearance. She was, Michael learned, the co-owner and manager of this department. He took in the somewhat wry grin she graced him with, and the tone of her voice and suspected strongly that she, like the girls back in the salon, was one of Jane's intimates in this game of feminization. That suspicion was validated as they waled through the store, and Miss Franson spoke softly in his direction.
"I hope you have learned well from Jane, young man. You wouldn't wasn't to broadcast your real self to my salesgirls or all these customers. Michael blanched, eyeing the half-dozen young women clerks waiting on an equal number of shoppers.
They proceeded through the shop toward its rearmost area. Michael saw a couple of unaccompanied women, probably mothers or aunts shopping for a niece or daughter. Three other women had girls in tow. Some of them were examining the dresses and skirts that hung on the racks and display stands throughout the store. At one brightly lit alcove of mirrors, a girl his own age was holding up a pale rose dress to herself in that way that women have of doing as they visualize how a garment looks before trying it on. This place was, he sensed, a most feminine domain and one that, scarcely two weeks before, he would have been loathe to even be seen in.
The quartet marched toward an arch which separated the main store from a smaller area. There were fewer racks here, but many more mirrors. Two small settees, covered in off-white watered silk thrust their curved feet into the plush gold carpet. To one side stood a circular pouf upholstered in velvet of the same off-white shade. The valances were draped with diaphanous fabric, lending an elegant air to the room. A panel of switches and knobs suggested that the lighting was adjustable. To one side was a small raised platform like a tiny stage, and beneath the shallow proscenium arch were other lights, these with colored lenses. Michael guessed that fashion shows were held here. The room itself was probably a semi- private viewing and selection room where wealthy mothers could have their debutante daughters model prospective purchases. Michael grew a little weak as he realized he was the likely exhibition today.
Jane and Miss Franson were examining the dresses and other garments that were hung in the room, including both casual and formal outfits. There was a large display of diaphanous, dainty gowns. Michael would be made to try them all on, Jane thought. It would be a most absorbing time for her, and an instructional and humiliating one for her young charge.
Jane spent a lot of money in this store, as she would today, and that fact afforded her the near undivided attention of one or two of the salesgirls, or, as today, the manager herself. Not that money was any object or obstacle, for in addition to Jane's own, she had virtually unlimited carte blanche from Michael's own Mother. Michael was about to star in his first fashion show, and Jane would manage to ensure him an excruciatingly uncomfortable time of it.
Michael, resplendent in his elegant curls and professionally made up, sat despondently on the velvet pouf and gazed at his image in the mirror. He noticed to one side that there was a long walnut table on which were arranged an array of lingerie and other intimate attire. He surmised that all the items here had been pre- selected by Miss Franson at Jane's behest. Not that exhausting these items would necessarily limit the length of his ordeal. From front to back of the store were racks of more of the despised female paraphernalia. For the next sixty minutes or more, he was going to be subjected to true abasement. He saw a small zippered case on the table and assumed they had even prepared for the possibility that a touch-up of his makeup might be needed. It would be an agonizing prospect, here in public.
He glanced out through the archway to survey the prospect of intruding glances. Though the shop was off the path of the mall corridors, he was aware that passing patrons could observe what happened in most of the interior. His relief, therefore, at the semi-seclusion of this room, was tempered by that fact. Once or twice he caught the passing voyeur unobtrusively eyeing the women shopping in the store. In addition, several more women and girls were shopping, two with their husbands or boyfriends in tow. As patrons passed the fitting area where he would be trying on gowns and dresses and petticoats, these strangers would easily be able to view him resplendent in feminine finery. The prospect made him wonder if they would notice anything amiss. Would anything about him, he wondered, convey to them that he was not, in fact a girl, but a male masquerading as one: an unfortunate boy condemned to parade as a sissy in organdy and satin at Jane's demand?
The women ended their conversation and Jane beckoned him to come over. As he approached, Miss Franson reached into an alcove and parted the draped curtain which hid the doorway to a small alcove of a fitting room.
"Go in and slip out of your dress and slip, Michael, dear.
Someone will be along in a minute to help you."
Michael prayed that the "someone" would not be some stranger who would further add to his anxiety about all this. To his consternation, however, a girl of about twenty came into the room just as he was removing the slip. He had nothing on but a bra and panties.
"Hi, hon," she said with a smile. "I'm Sally and Miss Franson wants me to help you."
Her words did not clue Michael in as to whether or not she thought of him as a girl or was in on the conspiracy. He decided to play it safe, threw back a wan smile and busied himself hanging the dress and slip he had just removed.
Sally carried a pair of tap pants of brilliant satin and a matching camisole. These she laid down on the bench along with a camisole and petticoat. She exited the room, and Michael presumed that he was to get into these new items. Taking advantage of the solitude of the room, he slipped out of the panties he wore and into the tap pants and cami. The petticoat was just being pulled into place when the curtain parted and Miss Franson came in to observe that he had donned new lingerie and then summoned him back out into the larger room.
Though this area of the shop where dresses and lingerie were shown and modeled was separate from and hidden from the rest of the store, it was brightly lit and adorned with mirrors. Standing there in his petite camisole and petticoats, his shoulders bare except for the spaghetti straps, as Jane and the salesgirl chattered about the dresses on display, he felt exposed and insecure. He was an object on display in these shimmering skirts, and the occasional patron who glanced his way, though they found nothing untoward in seeing a girl in her underwear, made him feel imperiled nonetheless. He remained as motionless and unnoticed as he could, a feat not uncomplicated in this apparel.
One by one dresses and gowns of many variations were brought and he was put in them. Each time, Jane bade him to either stroll around the room or to mount the stage so that the trio of women could observe the clothing on him and chatter about each. From time to time Jane indicated her choice of the garments he modeled, and he knew that that item was being purchased for his future use.
Beth remained peculiarly aloof from all of this and her silence was a bit bewildering to Michael. He reminded himself to ask her about this when they got home.
It then came time to find the costume that he was to wear in some parade they had babbled about. The first gown Jane selected was ante-bellum, like something out of Gone With the Wind. It was a tightly bodiced dress with sleeves that exposed the shoulders. The skirt overflowed in a plethora of layers comprised of sheer organdy over a satin underskirt. In order to wear this dress properly, he was made to don still more petticoats which billowed the skirt outward. In the interest of time, he was not required to don the other undergarments that went with this ensemble: ruffled pantalettes and a chemise that laced with thin ribbons of velvet.
But Sally, the salesgirl, gushed to Jane about the historical authenticity of these wispy undergarments. Instead, she had him temporarily don a strapless bra in the fitting room. This requirement, needless to say, discomfited him greatly, for he feared she would notice some manliness about him that would negate his girlish pretense. He made sure that he fastened the initial clasp, holding the foam pads of his bogus breasts in place, and only sought her assistance in fastening the other hooks he could not reach. he was sure she either did not notice or was too polite to make mention.
He next was put into a satin princess gown of white and silver whose ruffled hem brushed the floor. For this outfit, his feet were thrust into silvery slippers. It was regal and very exquisite. As with each item he modeled, he was made to cavort about the area, prompted by Jane to pirouette the skirts and to strike poses that she found to be most becoming.
After two hours of trying on gowns and dresses and skirts, and array of articles had been chosen and consigned for delivery.
Michael was glad to be back in the less flamboyant dress he had donned that morning and even more relieved when the car finally pulled up at the house.
They carried a profusion of gaily wrapped packages into the house, and more were to be delivered by messenger. In addition to the array of feminine attire that hung in Michael's closets and teemed in the drawers, these new items were to be added.
It had been nearly ten weeks since Michael's arrival. Jane found herself up early one morning, having her coffee on the terrace. She mused about the events of the last ten weeks and wondered to herself if she were making progress.
In the frenzied days that followed through the weekend and into Monday, Michael had been exposed to more femininity and girlish activity than he had probably ever imagined possible. The curiosities, sights and smells of living a girl's life were thrust on him at a dizzying pace. There were mannerisms and postures to assimilate. He was made to practice for hours with rollers and makeup, his arms tiring from the unfamiliar reach required to roll the wands into his hair. He learned about colors and combinations in clothes, shoes and accessories. He practiced curtseys, polite phraseology and locutions that sounded effete to his male ear. Adjectives that he would have shunned at all costs as a boy began to seep into his speech.
Indeed, speech and mannerisms were the hallmarks. Inflection conveyed more than anything, Jane tutored, and Michael chafed as he mimicked the exaggerated intonations she prompted. He practiced gestures and walking and light hints of poise like tidying his hair and the right way to examine his face and dresses in a mirror.
He was ceaselessly being fussed over by all three of them, and was taught to busy himself with dainty little details. He spent hours perfecting the application of a myriad of colors to his face, his nails. He was required to submerge himself in bubbly baths, shaving practically invisible hairs from his legs and arms. It was a seemingly perpetual routine that started early in the day and ran till late at night.
He was not only taught to adopt a facile walk in pumps, but to become nimble at daintily swaying an ankle while balanced on the other foot. She taught him the girlish positioning of the hands on hips as opposed to the "arms akimbo" stance of a man; crossing the legs just right when sitting, exposing just the right amount of leg beneath the hem of the skirt; care in both sitting and rising from a chair so that the movement flowed gracefully and smoothly.
He mimicked the subtle and vain fluff of the hair that primped it in place, and though he seemed self-conscious with these and other mannerisms, managed a passable impersonation of a girl doing these things. Jane especially liked to demand that he manage that genuinely winsome manner of correcting makeup while others were watching so that the actions seemed less pragmatic than attractive. She delighted in the fact that his self-consciousness was intensified when she made him do this.
All of these subtleties had eluded Michael when, as a boy, he watched girls. There was so much to learn and master and Jane was determined that he would do so.
Without question, she thought, Michael had reached that point where he acquiesced to the demands she placed on him as to clothing and manner. But there lurked beneath his resignation an element of defiance which undermined her aspirations to subdue his will. Something had to be devised that would prompt his absolute subservience to her will and submission to her desire to correct his attitude.
Jane knew that Michael had not totally given in to his fate, and she also knew she needed to find some stratagem that would finally break his rebelliousness. It was this thought that occupied her thoughts that morning.
She thought over the highlights of the weeks since that first visit to Marisha Chalet. To be sure, there had been others, but it was the day of the pageant that provoked both the most marvelously distressing reaction and the major turnabout in the boy.
Michael had been quite sullen at breakfast that morning, his demeanor no doubt a direct result of his profound dread over the events that awaited him that day. The day began early, both Michael and Beth were at the breakfast table by 6:45, dressed only on jeans and tank tops. They were both due at Marisha Chalet by 7:30 to be dressed, coiffed and made-up. The pageant parade began at 10:30, and they had to be at the marshalling area half an hour before. That gave Carol and Sandy just over two hours to do their magic and turn the two boys into ravishing young debs.
Marie had seen to the delivery of their gowns to the salon the evening before and was now packing an overnight case with the shoes and other essentials that would complete the ensembles. After a quick cup of coffee and danish, the two were summoned by Jane to join her in the car for the trip to town.
Michael's dread of ordeal of the beauty salon were even stronger today than they had ever been before, for he knew that this visit would be decidedly different than the previous sessions. For one thing, Carolyn and Sandra had always seen him fully dressed as a girl before. Today he had been told to wear only panties, jeans and a tank top. Today, he knew, the two salon owners were going to be more actively involved in his transformation -- a chore that they not only suggested to Jane but which they avidly implored her to allow them. It would be even worse than the first time that Marie had forced him to submit to her feminizing endeavors that first day.
Secondly, he knew that the two women who owned the shop relished their upcoming assignment and would not only outdo their previous techniques on him, but would likely surpass them, and there would also be more of the derisive, teasing prattle that so debased him.
And finally, he knew that when they were done he would have to step out into the summer day and take his place on the Cotillion Float, adorned as a sweet, delicate debutante in a ball gown, to be seen by the hundreds of onlookers that would line the parade route. For several hours, during the parade and after, he would be obliged to appear adorable and feminine, convincingly masquerading with girlish manners and poise.
It would be most humiliating.
They arrived at the salon at 7:10. The shop was not open to general patrons that morning, Carolyn and Sandra having re- scheduled their customers to ensure no one except the pageant participants would consume their time and attention.
Inside, two of the assistant beauticians were busy fashioning curls on two of the other "girls" that Michael recognized from the one brief rehearsal he had attended with Beth. They nodded and smiled casually at him and Beth when they came in. Another girl sat idly reading a magazine, her head enclosed in the clear bonnet of a hair dryer.
Carolyn saw them first and she and Sandra came over to them not hiding their gleeful anticipation. Both of them cast a mischievous smile at Michael. Carolyn turned Beth over to one of the assistants who was idle and then both women led Michael into a small anteroom at the rear of the main salon.
"Michelle can getting fitted and dressed while Beth gets worked on," Carolyn said rather loudly to Jane, perhaps seeking to explain to the other three patrons the atypical practice of using the back room when so many of the regular stations were free. Jane responded that she would be back in about an hour.
Once inside the small private alcove, Sandra drew the curtain that separated the room from the rest of the salon. Michael saw that the gowns that he and Beth were to wear hung from pegs against one wall, their tiered ruffled skirts and satiny bodices a bright pastel contrast against the ivory wallpaper.
Sandra turned to him.
"Well, little man, I have been really looking forward to this," she said with a devilish grin. "We'll allow you a little privacy in here as long as you behave. We don't want those 'real' girls in the next room to see what you have underneath those pants unless we have to. Start getting undressed."
He hesitated at this command as Sandra turned and busied herself opening the overnight bag they had brought with them, and as Carolyn entered the room and re-drew the curtain behind her. Carolyn noted his indecision and added her own warning.
"Come on, Michael, get stripped", she murmured seductively, "unless you want to do this striptease out there," gesturing over her shoulder. "Sandy and I want to watch you change from the skin out. We don't get to do this all the time like Jane does, and you're not going to deprive us of our fun....before i go out and make a very embarrassing announcement."
Michael blushed deeply. Even Jane, Beth and Marie had allowed him a modicum of modesty when they dressed him, but it was clear that he was not going to receive that consideration at the hands of these two. He diffidently pulled the tank top over his head while he considered his predicament.
"Off with the jeans," Sandra insisted, and he loosened the buttons and slid the denim down his legs and over his shoes. The fabric stuck, requiring him to slip out of the sneakers as well. When he was done with this, he stood there clad only in the white briefs.
Carolyn was eyeing him during all this and tapped her foot at his hesitance at removing the underpants. Finally she came over to him and brushed her hand against their fabric.
"Cotton! well cotton is no fabric for a pretty little sissy to have against his butt. Take them off. We've got some darling undies for you to put on."
There was no way out, and as timorously as he could, he took off the pants and stood there, shy and flustered.
"Well look there, Sandy, he really is a boy," Carolyn said tauntingly. "It's hard to believe it, the way he looks when he comes in here."
"Or how he's going to look when we get done with him," Sandy put in.
It was at moments like this that Michael's thoughts strayed back to school and he wished he could relive those errors that brought him to this. That feeling was even more acute as he stood butt-naked in front of these two women who displayed more enthusiasm for what they were about to do than even Jane did.
Sandra walked over to him and rubbed the palm of her hand over his legs, causing a stir of excitement. Obviously not pleased with the faint trace of stubble she found there, she picked up an appliance with a coil like a door spring at one end, turned it on and applied its buzzing, twisting spiral to his legs. Her proximity and his condition had an initial effect on him as he felt the stirrings of turgidity and prayed that his involuntary reaction would not blossom into fullness in front of them.
The needle-sharp stings of the tool she was using as it plucked the soft hairs from his legs had a placating effect on his reflexive reaction and it abated momentarily. Sandra quickly finished her task and his legs stung from the treatment. It did not seem that what she did was that significant, and Michael began to think that it was more a symbolic than a practical exercise. Sandra obviously wanted to go through the motions of subjecting a boy to depilation.
Carolyn came forward with a lacy satin garter belt
"I presume you know what this is for and how to get it on," she said as she handed it to him.
He slipped the belt up over his hips and adjusted the garter straps to their proper locations. He wished she would hand him a pair of panties next so that he could cover the growing mass of his manhood which was becoming visible now. As if they read his thoughts, Sandra came over with a pair of nylons and pushed him gently but firmly into a straight backed chair, rolling one stocking down and inserting the toe of his foot into it, temptingly drawing it up over his calf and thigh. She fastened the front of the stocking, repeated the process with his other leg, then had him stand and bend forward slightly as she drew each up tightly, adjusted the seams and fastened the rear garter. By the time she had finished, he was fully erect.
"Well, Michael! Look at you. Why you must enjoy this immensely to get so big and hard."
He blushed scarlet. He hoped her voice did not carry into the salon. He felt immensely foolish standing there clad in garter and hose with a prominent erection jutting out under the lace of the garter belt. He knew from experience that lately he had been more prone to become stimulated when he put on these kinds of clothes, but it was also due to their presence and the provocative way in which they were both manipulating him.
"If we had more time," Sandra continued, "I might put that doohickey to good use -- but that will have to wait to another time. I hate to cover it up, but it's time to get our little sissy pretty."
She handed him a pair of ruffled blue nylon panties, trimmed in lace and small satin blue bows.
"Carolyn picked these out just for you. If this were a wedding it would be the 'something borrowed and something blue', Michael. But for today they are just the cutest thing for our little boy."
He felt a mixture of relief at being able to cover his nakedness and irritation at their teasing. He pulled the panties snugly onto his hips and swooned for a moment as the soft fabric nuzzled his glans.
"Very dainty," Carolyn said approvingly. They're tight enough to pull in that swelling of yours, but I suggest you try to keep it under control today or you're going to give yourself away. Like Sandy says, maybe we can do this again sometime when we can all have some fun. Now, little sweetheart, we need a little bosom to make you beguiling."
Carolyn took a brush from a bottle she held and applied a liquid adhesive in circles around his own nipples. He felt the chill as the solvent evaporated and when it had become tacky, she carefully fastened a pair of flesh-colored breast forms whose texture and coloration were remarkably lifelike. She molded the breasts in place and then, when the adhesive had set, applied a flesh-toned foundation and blended it to his skin, concealing the point at which the latex met his own skin. The weight of the ersatz breasts pulled against his pectorals and he decided this was what real breasts must feel like to a girl.
Sandy was ready with a midriff-length lace-trimmed brassiere which she wrapped around him and began fastening in the rear. It was strapless and low-cut, and somewhat tight, causing her to ask him to suck in his stomach to facilitate the fastening. The cups of the bra pushed the false breasts upwards slightly, and the slight constriction of the brassiere ensured it would not shift during the course of the day.
"Now this costume of yours is very, very authentic, so we need to get you into the other undies we have for you. Then we can start on your hair,' Sandra said. The two girls fitted him into a corselet decked with ruffles and eyelet, and a pair of pantalettes that matched. The corselet had a laced bodice with velvet ribbons as laces and the legs of the other garment ended just at his knee. In all, it was a somewhat ridiculous garment, but was, he suspected, very authentic to the ante-bellum time that it related. Probably just like Scarlett O'Hara wore, he thought to himself. He hoped the other girls were to be as historically correct in their ensembles, for it seemed that this was what he would wear out into the salon while they did his hair and make-up. Carolyn flung the curtain back and he meekly followed them.
His appearance evoked only the most fleeting of glances from the other girls. Beth's gaze lingered on him for a moment in the mirror in front of her. Beth, too, would be wearing such attire when her hair was done.
Sandy seated him unceremoniously seated in the adjustable chair at the work station and wet his hair. Large and small rollers were coiled into his hair, to shape it into the style that the women felt befitting. She began her usual taunts, whispered into his ears as she worked, as both girls were wont to do as they applied their wiles on him.
"We're going to make you very pretty today, love. Like nothing we're ever done before. You are going to be a knockout!"
She gathered new strands of hair and deftly wrapped them on the rollers.
"Such a pretty little lad," she went on with it. "You are going to be a knockout when we get done with you." Another roller in place, she went on "Gorgeous Michael, all curled and dressed in a lovely gown. Up there in front of the whole town and none of them but a few of us knowing that that captivating young girl is really a sissy boy in skirts."
He tolerated this invective, having no choice. He never doubted that either Sandy or Carolyn would reveal his secret if he gave them sufficient provocation.
"Are you beginning to like all of this Michael? Isn't it fun to have someone work to make you look so pretty and sweet?"
As always, he viewed these taunts as merely rhetorical and he stayed glum and taciturn. But today, Carolyn wanted some reaction, so she persisted.
"We were not just making conversation a while ago about our future plans for you. We have already talked to Jane about 'borrowing' you for the weekend for a trip to New york. Jane thought it was a wonderful idea. We can go shopping, get you some pretty new things, have lunch, and then see what else comes to pass."
Michael shuddered at what these two might have in mind.
"What exactly do you mean, Sandy?"
"Well, honey, someone as pretty as you deserves a chance to show off a bit in the big city. And Sandy and i are just dying to be your guides for a weekend."
The word guides hid some ulterior and more ominous meaning than it implied.
"We though next weekend would be fun. We'll talk to Jane some more and let you know. We'll chat some more after your hair is dry."
Fully arrayed in the pastel rollers, he was directed to the chair beneath to dryer to allow the heated stream of air to dry the curls. He noted the now-familiar smell of moist hair that flowed into his nostrils during this procedure.
As his hair dried, he surveyed the room. Other girls were in varying stages of preparation, some being made-up, some having their hair combed out, others entering and emerging from the back room in costume. All these things awaited him he knew, and he sat docile at his resignation to the ordeals that would befall him in this next hour.
He let her finish in silence and sat demurely beneath the hair dryer for the twenty minutes it took to dry the curls. Beth, by this time, was in the room he had been in before, and when she emerged, she was clad as he was, except that she also wore billowing layers of underslips tiered in sheer ruffles. Carolyn had already made up Beth's face and she wore more makeup than Michael had seen her wear at home. It was as though she was going onstage, which indeed she was, as was he. He fought a flutter of queasiness in his stomach that was both stage fright and outright dread of being in public dressed as he was going to be. Beth disappeared into the small alcove at the rear of the shop with Carolyn.
Sandy came over and slipped her hand under the metal bonnet, and satisfied that the curls were now dried and set, she switched the machine off and led him back to her work station. Seated again, he endured the removal of the rollers and the familiar sight of his hair springing back into ringlets as the plastic forms were removed.
She finished extracting the last of the rollers, and gently fluffed the curls in preparation of the next step.
"I have a lovely fall we're going to try with you today. What do you think of this?"
She held up a lifeless mass of a modelled wiglet that had a braided cap and sausage curls dangling from it. It appeared to be nothing more than that, until Carolyn, not waiting for any answer from him, fastened the comb of the fall into the back of his scalp and busied herself with arranging his own curls into place. The color of the fall was a perfect match to his own hair, probably the result of treatment with the same hair color they had taken to using on him. It all matched, and the effect was most fascinating. In minutes his medium length locks had sprouted into a coiffure of elegance that astounded even him.
"Very fetching, darling. See, I told you we were going to make you glorious!"
She absorbed herself in the finishing touches for another ten minutes, each stage of the process making him more uncomfortable as a new and more feminine visage stared back from the mirror. When she had done, he was amazed at the effect she had wrought.
"Sit still her, now, sweetness. Now I'm going to make you real spectacular! God, you are gorgeous!'
He sat still, abashed in his elaborate lingerie and dangling tresses awaiting the artfulness of this woman who had designs on effecting his total transfiguration.
"Time for some real glamour, Michael. A little color for that drab face of yours. Then into that gorgeous gown and petticoats. God you are going to be a hit. If these other girls knew just how a boy like you can outshine their own natural femininity, they would be jealous to a fair-thee-well."
She began by removing all traces of the meager make-up he had put on that morning. His face clean, she spent a meticulous twenty minutes attaching additional individual false lashes to his own, each glued inextricably in place.
"You have to hold very still while I do this Michael," Sandy ordered. "In a way, your own lashes are lavish enough, but Jane insisted I add some more. These are very hard to get off, though."
The increased abundance was visible even without the addition of mascara. But the mascara came, in three light layers, adding even more fullness and color. Then the faint line of sable below and above his lids, blended and smeared to simply highlight the eyes. Next a burgundy shadow, more intense in color than he usually used.
"Your getting pretty good at this, Michael," she whispered softly. "Isn't it fun having yourself made so stunning and gorgeous? You really do make a lovely girl, you know."
As always, Michael let this pass, though the image in the mirror attested again that she was right. With the right hair style and make-up, he was an attractive girl.
"Now some rosy glow to those flawless cheeks of yours. A bit more than you are used to, but we want you to look just divine in that parade."
She added a scarlet glow to each cheek, again, as she had warned, more brilliant than every-day wear, a crescent of vermillion that covered the cheekbone which blended into a faint ruby shadow at the edges.
"Michael," she said as she worked, "you should let go and enjoy this. Frankly I think you do, but you take some of the fun out of it for yourself and the rest of us when you resist it so much."
Without even expecting a response from subdued recipient or her art, Sandy carefully sketched the outline of his lips in crimson pencil, then filling in the outline with lipstick, blotting it carefully, repeating it and then dusting it with translucent powder.
"This will keep those luscious lips rosy all day, lover," she said by way of explaining this unfamiliar application of cosmetics."
Next a dusting of vermilion blusher capped off his features, and again, the reflection from the mirror was merely a vaguely familiar and very feminine replica of himself.
When Sandy was done, she swept the cape away from him and led him back to the small alcove where he would be put in three layers of petticoats, swathed in the rich crepe of the gown and his feet encased in satin pumps.
When he entered the room, he saw another girl there. It took a moment for him to recognize that it was Beth. He was astonished! Her hair swirled up in a dazzling styles, with interlacing braids and stiff curls, garnished with tiny Steffanoti's, she was resplendent. A lilac gown of chantilly lace over organdy and satin billowed out over buoyant petticoats. She wore long gloves on her arms which matched the gown. As Beth turned and smiled faintly at him, he saw that the colors of her makeup set off the ensemble perfectly. She was truly a beautiful girl!
"You're all done, Beth," Carolyn said. "You can wait for your friend in the reception." Beth swept from the room seeming to float on the skirt which just brushed the floor, giving mere hint to the darker purple pumps she wore. Michael was entranced.
The girls now began on him.
Just short of 9:50 they had finished with him, and the reflection he was invited to view in the full-length mirror bespoke not a boy, but a lovely, graceful girl bedecked in ante-bellum costume. Though Michael felt abused and victimized, yet he was resigned to carry off this charade to the full, and he had to confess to himself that he inwardly delighted in the transformation and the perceptions of stimulation that these clothes and this appearance gave to him.
The dress was a full skirted satin and lace, buoyed out by the layers of petticoats they had secured to his waist. The shoulders were bare, and mere vestiges of sleeves, full and puffed encircled his upper arms. Satin slippers that accented the gown encased his stocking feet. Carolyn positioned a broad-brimmed straw hat whose yellow satin ribbon band dangled fastening strands through the brim, and which she caught up to anchor the flat bonnet beneath his chin in an enormous golden bow near his left cheek. He was, in a word, fetching. Carolyn and Sandra were obviously thrilled with their efforts, and cooing and chattering, propelled him out to the reception area where he and Beth would await Jane to drive to the parade.
He found Beth standing there, somewhat aloof, looking every bit as lovely as she had when he had seen her moments before. Beth took in his full countenance. Michael spoke first.
"Beth, you look wonderful! You truly are a very pretty girl."
Beth smiled, then, glancing out at the parking lot, delivered a soliloquy which Michael would remember for a long time after.
"That's nice of you to say, Michael, but you should be aware that you make a far prettier girl than I could ever be. As I look at you right now, you may be the prettiest girl I have ever seen. Oh, I know, you are Michael, just dressed and done up that way. But you *do* look beautiful. You always do. You need to understand that. What Jane wants, and what you seem to be too dumb to understand, is some delight and acceptance of all this. Until you do, it will not only continue to be an uncomfortable situation for you, but it will have a significant effect on my future, as well. If you can't accept all of this, gracefully, because Jane demands it, then at least think about embracing it for mine."
Michael was totally perplexed by this last, but before he could probe deeper into her meaning, Jane's lincoln drew up to the door and the horn signalled her impatience. The two "girls" hurried as best they might out the door and into the spacious car.
Driving to the parade, Michael reflected on what his friend had just said, for he truly did deem Beth a friend. She said he was beautiful as a girl, a thought that caused him some grief but which bolstered his confidence in the upcoming onus of carrying off this masquerade of the parade. But there lingered a big question as to what Beth meant that his behavior had some influence on Beth's life. Michael made a mental note to pursue this with her as the car sped toward the marshalling area. Michael confessed to himself that clad in these soft garments and knowing that he personified the lovely girl he appeared to be, that he felt a warm, contented feeling. In a way, this was fun!
Michael and Beth were seated on their respective seats on the float. A couple of fussy ladies flounced the skirts of the various girls' gowns into decorous position, and another busied herself with powder puff and brushes rectifying flaws in makeup and hair. Michael fought the sense of his quandary seated on this satin bench dressed as a young damsel with the knowledge that he could "pull it off" and avoid disclosure. The ponderous carriage pulled into its place in the line of floats, and he busied himself with the pantomime and manner to appear the perfect young debutante, smiling and waving to the crowd assembled to view the cavalcade.
As Jane sat and pondered further, her underlying problem with Michael, and reflected on the plan which had begun to form in her mind nearly two weeks before took shape she had realized that it was complicated in its inception and diabolical in its consequences. She leafed again through the circulars that she received the preceding two weeks and found the announcement of try- outs for the children's play at the Hampton Theater. The flier indicated that the producer/director of the play was Dierdre Bradley, a woman that Jane not only knew but who was already in Jane's debt because of an incident that Jane had interceded in the previous Autumn. Jane had known that that debt, alone, would be insufficient to carry out the scheme she had in mind, but she knew also that other factors would play a part.
When she first read the flier a couple of weeks before, she had called Dierdre and volunteered her two young charges as potential performers in the production, identifying them as Beth and Michael, two of her sister's children. Beth, she told Dierdre, was a natural for the lead role, and Jane was certain that Dierdre had picked up on the veiled insistence that Beth be given special consideration for the role. Michael, she allowed, was a novice and needed only the broadening experience of the theater. Dierdre was sufficiently compliant to assuage any doubt that she would give Jane's request serious consideration. Jane took that pledge as a near surety that if Beth gave an acceptable audition.
Jane was familiar with Beth's acting ability (she had, after all, had a leading role in a play just the previous Spring). That fact made it at least likely that Beth could get the lead in the auditions, especially with a word from Jane influencing Dierdre.
The play was Alice in Wonderland and the try-outs call had indicated all parts would be open to audition. To aid in Beth's getting the part, Jane had bought a copy of the script and commanded Beth to spend at least an hour a day reading it, memorizing the part. This familiarity with the role would help in insuring Dierdre's choice.
But, of course, Beth's getting the lead role was only a minor factor in the grand stratagem. Michael, too, would be involved in the production, but not in a prominent role at first and not as Michael would basically have liked it.
Jane recalled that the most terrifying and humbling experience of young Michael since he had been here had not been when he was dressed as a girl, but, curiously, when he had been clad in boy's clothing. He could and would carry off to near perfection all of her mandates that required him to be properly attired and behaving as a girl both within and outside the house. However much those experiences might have jarred his equanimity, the had not sufficiently quelled his recalcitrance. Jane recalled vividly that the most appalling experience Michael had endured during his stay was that day he had been allowed to have his own way and go to town dressed in male rather than female attire.
Of course, she thought to herself, he was not really afforded an opportunity that day to totally shed the effeminate trappings that he had assumed; that was why he had had the encounter with the town bullies that so unnerved him. But facts were facts, and Jane knew that as he now was, Michael would look, at best, an effeminate boy if he shed the dresses and skirts which comprised his wardrobe. His arched eyebrows and medium-long curls evoked a Botticellian cherub which, for a teen-ager, bespoke a sissy.
Thus it would be. Michael would join Beth in the theatrical presentation, but he would be involved as a boy. She smiled wickedly to herself as she pondered both the developments and the outcome.
Jane now recognized that she had to have a talk with Michael to apprise him of this new wrinkle in the game plan. She was sure that he would be truly obdurate about the plan to send him out for daily play rehearsals clad as a boy. The memory of the scene at the shopping mall still burned deep within him. But that was the decision Jane had arrived at, and he would do it or else.
She advised Beth of her plans in the early afternoon and told Marie to have Michael join her in her study when Beth had gone. Beth found the whole thing rather vicious, feeling that Michael was being subjected to unusually severe tortures. But Beth had to also admit that Michael seemed to fail to grasp what he had to do to escape this anguish that he found himself in. Beth had been quick to learn the lesson and, in part, had found enjoyment in the elements of feminine life to which Jane subjected her charges. It was a pity that Michael could not learn this lesson.
Michael came into Jane's study in mid-afternoon, knowing that these summonses frequently boded ill for him. He sat demurely in the chair before her desk and waited for her to begin.
Jane chewed deliberately on the stem of her reading glasses as she stared relentlessly at the young man before her.
"Michael, I am disappointed," she began. "You have, to be sure, faithfully performed almost every little demand I have placed on you, but I sense that you have not truly corrected your attitude and that you see this all as something that will all go away in time. That is not what I had in mind. Though your demeanor has changed and you carry off the part rather well, I have come to the conclusion that we need to make a breakthrough here, and I have decided on a way to do it."
Michael felt unnerved at this, wondering what new abuse this woman had in mind.
"You did well in the dance review," she went on, "even though you had little time to get proficient. Nevertheless, as I told you then, you looked delightful in that little wispy satin costume you had to wear. And I am sure that you absolutely detested being up there in front of all those parents pretending that you, too, were one of the winsome lasses in tap shoes trying hard to be a graceful little girl. But I detected a note of resignation mixed with haughtiness about the whole thing. I want a stop to that. You will submit to this, in time, you know, if it takes months."
She noted his wince at this and continued.
"Yes, I mean months. I am capable and willing to keep you here indefinitely until I detect from you a surrender of acceptance to this role I have imposed on you. When you can say with some degree of conviction that you enjoy those skirts and petticoats, I will know that I have done my job. When you can accept the better half of yourself - the feminine part -- I will know that I have discharged my duty to effect your reconstruction as a responsible young adult. Until then, I will be relentless in these efforts."
She let this sink in as she hovered over him.
"I spoke to your Mother yesterday and told her of my difficulties. She has allowed me to keep you here a bit longer until I convince her I am satisfied with how you are progressing."
Michael remained speechless, rolling over in his mind both the fact that his ordeal was to continue longer and by Jane's puzzling conclusion that more was expected of him. He thought that he had fully complied with all of her dictates, and he wondered what more she wanted.
"So we have a new program for you. You and Beth are going to be in a delightful little children's play next month and I have enrolled you both in the cast."
Another excursion into the community, Michael groaned to himself. He dreaded these extended forays out of the house. Still, he knew, that he had managed to fool the world thus far, both in the silly Cotillion Pageant and the even more ridiculous dance review that Jane alluded to. He had got fairly used to all the affectations that he was compelled to execute in order to carry off the impersonation.
Indeed, Michael had to admit to himself, he had sort of begun to enjoy the charade a little. He had ceased to wonder if there was something wrong with him in that he had grown fond of the soft touch of silk and satin on his body and the make-believe aspects of these costumes and makeup. Perhaps in part because Sandra and Carolyn, despite their constant taunting, equated a certain sensuality with his condition, his sensual response to this masquerade had increased. The erotic sensations of it all seemed to heighten as each daily repetition of the feminine rituals were performed.
It was a conflict of emotions within him: hating the humiliation, fearing discovery and disclosure, yet oddly thrilled and stimulated when he looked into a mirror and saw himself. Movements and articulations that appalled him a few weeks ago had become almost second nature.
"There is a slight twist to this particular exercise, however, Michael. Beth, of course, will be attending the auditions as she is. But you, my dear, will be going not as Michelle, but as Michael, my nephew."
This cryptic remark took more than a moment to fully register with him. And even then he was not fully cognizant of what she meant.
"I don't understand, Jane. What exactly do you mean?"
"I mean simply this, my young priss. You will be attending the try-outs, and, if you get some part in the play, the rehearsals as well, dressed as a boy. It will be your responsibility to be dressed and as presentable as a boy as you yourself feel necessary each day that I take you there."
Michael's mind inevitably raced back to that scene at the mall -- the last time he had ventured out in male attire. He felt a flush of panic at a repetition of that unfortunate and terrifying incident.
"Have no fear, I will avoid to the degree that I can the problems of that last outing. That time it was your wilfulness that prompted my setting you up for that occurrence. I will get you some less distinctive and more masculine things to wear. It will be up to you to do something with your hair and the like to look as presentable as you can as a boy. Nevertheless, that is my decision and we begin this afternoon."
Michael suddenly wished he were miles away. Bad as it was to sally out in skirts, he was fearful of appearing publicly as a boy, with these curls and plucked brows. He wondered if he could erase every single trace of cosmetics to ensure that no suspicions were aroused among those who saw him. And what if someone recognized him -- someone who had seen him dressed as a girl?
"Secondly, your "disguise" as a boy is only for those limited times you are at play practice. At all other times, and as soon as you return each day, you will promptly and carefully revert to the winsome lass we have worked so hard to cultivate. Is that clear.?"
Michael realized that he had no choice in the matter, as he had no choice about anything she wished to impose on him. Resigned to the inevitable, he told her he understood, and turned his thoughts to the challenge of mastering this duality she had thrust on him.
"Fine, she said. Now, if you like, you may go change. Mind you there is only about an hour before we go. I want you down here in exactly sixty minutes ready to leave. Marie has taken some new clothes up to your room. And another thing: you are forbidden to ask either Marie or Beth for assistance in this endeavor. What you accomplish in this reverse make-over is strictly up to you. Now run along."
Jane watched the troubled boy curtsy, as he had been ordered to do, then mince out of the study. She smiled at the prospect of Michael anxiously restyling his hair and searching zealously for the slightest hint of makeup or nail enamel. Jane suspected he would achieve a passable look, but she was fully aware that even in trousers, the curls and delicate arch of his brows he would achieve, at best, less than the all-american boy look.
Michael returned to his room disconsolate. His first reaction was to check on the clothes that Jane had promised would be there, and he found them in one section of the large closet in the room. They were, indeed, more masculine than the clothing she had foisted him the time before. Corduroys, boy's gabardines and real shirts and pull-overs. The shoes were there too, not the ambiguous penny loafers, but real laced oxfords. There were dark blue sox on top of the chest of drawers, but he saw no male underwear anywhere, and a thorough search of the drawers disclosed none. The "male facade" was to be just that, and he resigned himself to having to wear panties beneath it all, wishing that he had at least one pair of cotton underpants. Such was not the case.
He doffed his skirt and blouse and slipped out of the hose, slip and bra. He decided to take another shower, after he had carefully removed the makeup he had painstakingly applied just hours before. He began by rubbing each nail with a cotton ball heavily saturated with polish remover. He wished he had not selected the pink shade, for remnants of clear nail polish would be less noticeable. He could do noting about the length of the nails. Though they were not overly long, he suspected they were longer than a boy could reasonably get by with. He debated filing them shorter, but remembered the other part of Jane's directive that he had to resume his guise as Michelle when he came home. She would most likely remonstrate him for trying this. Nevertheless, he took an emery board and filed them down slightly.
He applied cream and make-up remover three times before he was satisfied no trace remained. He jumped into the shower and scrubbed thoroughly, removing any trace of scent that would alert a passerby. When he was done, he picked out a pair of the least frilly panties he could find and put on a white shirt and the cords. As he laced the oxfords, he felt an odd sense of deja vu being back in these clothes again.
He sat at the vanity with brush and hair dryer trying diligently to tone down the ringlets, achieving, finally, what he felt was a passable male hairstyle. It was far too curly, and the hot steam of the shower seemed to have intensified that. It would have to do.
With only moments to spare, he arrived downstairs in the foyer. Neither Beth nor Jane said a word to him, but Jane seemed to smile a little ruefully as they marched out the door to the car. He was not particularly reassured. He began to effect a more boyish air, and prayed fervently to himself that he would not forget and lapse into a turn of speech or gesture that would be misinterpreted.
They arrived at the community hall which served as the home of the little theater groups that thrived in the area. Inside, an assembly of over forty boys and girls were seated in the auditorium seats and two adults were conversing near the apron of the stage. Jane told the pair to seat themselves and she strode to the front to speak with one of the women.
Michael and Beth took seats slightly removed from the rest of the group. Michael could see that many of the other teenagers were friends or acquaintances, engaged as they were in affable banter. In age they ranged from 10 through 15, younger in age that either Beth or Michael, but then both of Jane's charges appeared more youthful than their actual years and so they did not stand out in age from this group.
Michael was aware of some stares that were directed his way and could not be sure if they were the mere curiosity toward a new boy or if, as he always feared, some inadvertent sign was communicating something odd about him. He avoided the stares and waited patiently to see what was to unfold.
After a few minutes time, one of the women walked onto the stage in front of the curtain and began to call the group to order. A roster of names was read off, and each youngster responded. When Michael's name was called, he replied "Here" and once again noticed the inquisitive stares now that a name had been placed with the strange new boy in the group.
The woman identified herself as Miss Bishop and then went on to outline the rules of conduct for those who wanted to participate in the play. Today, she said, they would all be given a chance to read parts if they wished. She listed the various roles that were available and assured the gathering that everyone would have a chance to participate in the production.
Miss Bishop called for volunteers who wished to read parts, and Beth, as she had been instructed, raised her hand. Michael was unsure what to do, and since he had not received instructions from Jane on this point, elected not to raise his hand. Those who had volunteered were directed to come down to the front rows, and Michael now found himself alone and apart from the group as Beth walked down the aisle.
The curtains opened to a relatively bare stage where some signs of set construction were evident. Miss Bishop passed out copies of small script books and selected several boys and girls to read assigned roles. In small groups of 3 or three, she had each mount the stage and read the lines of their designated characters.
During the auditions, there were the usual gaffes and stilted deliveries that always accompany first readings. But Beth, who was called on to read the part of Alice twice, delivered her lines as though she had studied them in advance, which of course, unbeknownst to anyone but Jane she had. As a result of Beth's more polished delivery, she stood out from the other girls who read the part, and, to Michael, she seemed a shoo-in for the role.
After all the reading trials had been completed, And after consultation between Miss Bishop and Andrea, the other woman who was assisting her, she announced that the assignment of parts would be announced the following afternoon. Now she had all those who had not opted for speaking parts to walk across the stage. She separated them into various groups, took notes and again deliberated with her associate. Gradually the groups were whittled down to categories ranging from 3 to 8. Then this group, too, was told that the parts they would perform would be announced the following day.
After an hour and a half of this, the assembly was dismissed with instructions to return at 1:30 the following day.
On the way home, Jane bubbled with praise for Beth's presentation and expressed her certainty that the role of Alice would go to Beth. In anticipation of this, and to guarantee that Beth would do a stellar job, Michael was told that he would have to work with Beth at home to assist her in getting her lines and movements down pat.
"Beth," she said, "I think you did splendidly. Now we have to be sure that you carefully learn the part and outshine all the other actors in the performance. I think I will have Michael help you. You'll help Beth, won't you, Michael," she said, looking into the rear-view mirror. Feeling more than a small amount of comradeship with Beth, Michael said "Of course."
"There," Jane said. "It's settled. You will spend some extra time together getting Beth into the role. Besides, Michael, it will be good for you too. Let me tell you, as a teacher, there is much to be said for memorization of things. And despite the apparent nonsense, Lewis Carroll has much substance in his writing."
Michael did not respond. He stared out the window as he thought to himself that he had always excelled at rote memory while at school, quickly and effortlessly learning obscure passages of poems and orations assigned by the school masters to his class. He could probably learn Beth's lines faster than she could, and likely would. At any rate, this new task that Jane suggested would alleviate the boredom that had lately been creeping into the life at the house.
They arrived home and, as he was bidden, Michael bustled to his room to change. He hung the male togs in the closet with a hint of remorse, and changed into the skirt and blouse that were on the day's agenda. With a touch of make-up and some remedial measures to his hair, he returned to the library to find Beth already studying from the little yellow playbook.
"Hi," she said. "Wanna help?"
"Sure," he allowed, and she produced a duplicate copy of the script for him. "Let's start at the beginning, just learning lines for a while."
Within an hour they had finished three pages of the book and Michael knew that by the morning, if he spent another hour alone at it, he would be able to commit all of Alice's lines and cues within those three pages to memory. By the end of the session, Michael was correcting Beth's miscues virtually from memory.
Jane got the call from Dierdre just before dinner.
"Jane, I was quite impressed with your niece today. Andrea and I have decided to give Beth the part. I thought I'd let you know.
"Well," Jane replied, "that's splendid. I told you that you wouldn't be disappointed, Dierdre."
"I will be making the announcements at tomorrow's rehearsal. I'd prefer you have Beth keep this a secret for the time being and act a little surprised. No sense in appearing to play favorites."
"Of course, Dierdre," Jane said as she smiled to herself.
"Are you sure that Michael shouldn't be considered for a part? He really is a darling boy." Dierdre proffered.
"No, Dierdre. I think it would be good for him just to get his feet wet in theater and keep Beth company. There will be time in future. Actually, I think in time he might do well. But it may be asking a bit much of him right now."
"Well, as you see fit. Anyway, I will talk to you later. And thank you, Jane."
"My pleasure, Dierdre," Jane said, realizing that it was, in fact, more her blessing than Dierdre's.
After dinner, and the announcement that Beth had, indeed, got the part, Michael sat in his room setting his hair and preparing for bed. As he twisted his hair on the rods, the seeds of a little game began forming in his mind. He remembered Jane's outspoken praise of Beth's efforts in the car that morning, and her beaming approval at dinner when she announced that Beth had the lead in the play. Michael knew that his ability to master the lines exceeded that of his female friend. What if, he thought, I mastered the lines before Beth and even better than she? It would undoubtedly stick in Jane's craw that Michael, her annoyance, would outshine Beth, the pet, in this rote memory exercise. The old witch would be furious about that, but would be able to say little about it. After all, the suggestion that he assist Beth had come from Jane and Michael could not help it if he had this facility with memorization. The prospect of this little turnabout made him smile to himself.
In fact, Michael thought, I will go one step further. He remembered Beth's admonition to him a few days earlier in the beauty shop. She had called it "giving in to Jane's demands," as a means to evading her continued displeasure with him. That advice had been on his mind constantly since it had been spoken, especially the part that Beth had added that the termination of his exile here would end more swiftly if he exhibited some resignation to Jane's corrective measures.
If he were honest with himself, Michael thought, he had actually grown to fancy the feel of satins and laces on his skin and the rustle of slips in these last few weeks. The sensuality of those fabrics, especially in sensitive areas, was unmistakable. Moreover, the pretense of dressing as a girl and carrying out the masquerade successfully was, in itself, a small drama in which he was the star player. Now that he knew that he could credibly portray a girl, he realized some small delight in the practice.
He still rebelled outwardly, sometimes, in a vain attempt to project his sublimated masculinity. Bit that rebellion, he realized, got him nowhere, and, as Beth had cautioned, only exacerbated his situation. As long as he accommodated the few women who subjected him to all this, he seemed less likely to incur the taunts and new plots hatched by Jane and her confederates.
In fact, he knew that if he displayed more acceptance with Carolyn and Sandra, they would relent in their mocking. He would try that on his next visit.
He wanted this to end, and soon, and to return to his normal life. He knew now that that prospect was his choice to make. He wished that he had realized this earlier. Perhaps then he would not be attending play practice dressed as an unconvincing and delicate-looking boy, and would, instead, be clad in the more convincing girl's attire. For as much as he tried to mask the fragileness he manifested when in boys clothes, the length and curl of his hair, and the plucked arch of his brow and fullness of the false lashes defied camouflage. He knew he was in for a lot of problems with some of the other boys; that day he had seen the mocking glances and heard the muted derisive laughter from some of them today. He dreaded the possible discovery of even the faintest trace of cosmetics or nail enamel, and was diligent in his checking for them. He prayed no one would ever see the panties he was made to wear beneath the trousers.
He resolved to change his attitude.
The next day the award of parts was announced to the assembly and play books distributed. Beth did a credible job of seeming surprised, and accepted the script she was given as though she had never seen it before.
Michael was assigned with a group of other boys to a small part that would require a short song and a dance, and the group was further designated to work on scenery. As the newly assigned speakers mounted the stage to begin practicing, Michael and the other boys were led by Andrea to the workshop backstage and put to work with paintbrushes decorating the scenery flats.
It was here, when Andrea left the room, that the teasing began.
"Does your mommy curl your hair for you, Mikey?" As the other boys giggled at this, Michael saw that it had come from A boy of 14 named Matt Page. He was a leader of the group, though not all the boys deferred to his arrogance. Michael elected to let the slur pass and continued painting.
"You sure are a pretty little thing, Mikey," the taunts went on. "Bet you have more dolls than baseball gloves to play with at home."
Michael suffered these indignities in silence as the chorus was picked up by some of the others.
"He's prettier than half the girls in this show." one said. "C'mon, sissy. Kitty-cat got your tongue?" Not going to cry now are you?"
Michael's lack of reaction to all of this did not quell the taunts, but they changed from direct confrontation to jokes made about him in the abstract, third person. He felt growing embarrassment, but he instinctively reasoned that any retort would prove fruitless and, most likely, provocative. He had no desire to get into a confrontation with any of these boys. He kept working, feigning a sense of obliviousness. Fortunately Andrea came back in the room and her presence muzzled the aspersions. Though the vocal abuse stopped, he could still hear the whispers and stifled titters. He was an outsider who presented a convenient foil to the cruelties of a group of bonded teen-age boys.
Andrea stayed the rest of the session, working on costumes with three of the girls. At 3:30 the group was dismissed, and Michael hurried to find Beth in the theater, avoiding the small gang. Marie was waiting to take them home.
"Why so glum, Michael?" Beth said, as she stood by the vanity in his room and watched him re-apply his makeup.
"I got a little teasing today, Beth. I'm sure it's just the beginning, Jane has really pulled a rotten trick on me, making me go there as a boy. I'm going to have a bunch of trouble with some of those guys, I'm afraid."
"Try to forget it, Michael," she counseled. "You wouldn't find yourself in this mess if you had just gone along with her before. I worry about you sometimes. She's just punishing you because you won't get the message and give in. You have to go along and get along -- both here at home and at rehearsal. I'll help you, but you are the one who has to change before the situation is going to change."
He thought about this and found it reinforced his thoughts of the previous evening.
"I'll try Beth. I really will. But I felt like punching that asshole this afternoon."
"For gods sake! Don't do anything stupid like that. If you get kicked out of this play group she will really come down on you. This play will be over in another 5 or 6 weeks and then you won't have to worry about it. It's only a couple of hours a day. Maybe I can speak to Miss Bishop."
"Let's not just yet. I'll try to work it out. Thanks, Beth. You really are a good friend."
By the end of the third week of rehearsals, the direct confrontation with Matt Page and the more vocal of his cronies had diminished. Michael was still an outsider and subject to occasional verbal abuse, but status had been set, And now that they had bored of continuing to demean him, he had simply been relegated to the permanent role of "Sissy Mickey", the belittling appellation they had hung on him.
In part they had laid off him because he endured the mockery with no response. In no small degree, he also thought, it became increasingly difficult for the group to treat him with derision given the fact that they, themselves, had to don darling little costumes and learn and practice a fetching little song and dance routine that was their part in the play. Moreover, Michael detected a note of sympathy from some of the boys --they were not all as bullying as Page. Once one of Page's flunkies had challenged Michael to a fight, and before things got out of hand, Ted Wyatt had stepped in and told the tormentor to lay off. Michael was more than grateful to Ted.
There was a girl in the cast that Michael was attracted to. Her name was Karen Austin, and Michael thought her to be one of the prettiest girls he had ever seen. Karen was over seventeen. a little older than the other cast members. He went out of his way to talk to her when she was alone and not amid the gaggle of girls, for he knew that if he spent too much time with groups of the girls he would open the door to more torment from the Page bunch.
Nevertheless, Karen was very special. She had warm blue eyes and gorgeous blond curls. She was kind to him and more than once censured the teasing that she knew he received from the others.
"Michael," she had said to him one day. "Don't let them get to you. We are all made the way we are, and I, for one, think you are cute. I don't think you are a sissy like the others. As a matter of fact, I like curly-headed boys." She smiled as she said this, making him feel at ease, as she had intended.
Karen, as it turned out, lived a life not unlike his own, in the sense that she was alone. Her mother was deceased and her Father worked for a large oil company that required him to travel a lot. She lived with a grandmother, had made very few friends since she came to Hampton three months before, and seemed rather lonely. She had tried out for this play in hopes of meeting some new friends, yet Michael, she had said, was the closest friend she had made. The girls in the class were cliquish, and, besides, none lived near her. She was desperately lonely for Bethesda, Maryland where the family had lived before her father's last promotion.
Michael was very sympathetic and solicitous of the loneliness she expressed, for he, too, felt that loneliness that accompanies an uprooting and new surroundings. He felt sad that after the play was over the likelihood of seeing Karen again would fade and they would both be diminished by that.
As the play practice went on, he found himself finding more and more opportunities to spend time with Karen. She was spirited and fun, and she less than subtly conveyed a growing fondness and attraction for Michael which was more than just friendly.
One afternoon she had invited him to go with her for a soda after practice, and Jane had consented. Karen had her own car and had assured Jane she would drive Michael home in time for dinner. Jane, knowing Michael had nowhere to run, had allowed it. Karen and Michael had strolled around town and had sat for an hour in the cafe sipping a Coke. As they had strolled, Karen had taken the initiative to slide her hand into Michael's. They chemistry between them was perceptible, and Michael wished he could see more of her...and for a longer time and in a more personal way.
Karen had a lot of wisdom for a girl her age. For one thing, she professed boredom with the macho attitude of the "babies" as she called the Page bunch. Michael felt almost uncomfortable as Karen went on at length about the unfairness of society's demands on both men and women, stereotyping them into pigeonholes and deriding any deviation from those set standards.
On one occasion, Michael felt a pang of misgiving mixed with curiosity when Karen lamented the fact that boys and men were deprived of the nice things girls got to do. It was an innocent comment, made in no particular context; but considering the double life that Michael was then living, the remark had special significance. Nevertheless, his curiosity was a product of his wondering why she would bring this up, and he had gingerly pursued it.
"Why do you say that, Karen?'
"I don't know," she said. "It just came to mind. Maybe it's just me. I get great enjoyment out of a new dress or a trip to the beauty shop. I don't think a man gets that same degree of satisfaction by a suit or a haircut. Maybe girls are just that way. Still, I think it a little unfair."
He had not pursued it further, afraid his interest might be misinterpreted. But the thought and her words lingered with him. Perhaps this attitude was more widespread among women and girls than he had thought.
The weeks went by, and he and Beth worked diligently at home on her lines and movements, staying well-ahead of the schedule that Miss Bishop had imposed on the cast. Less than three weeks before the dress rehearsal, Beth was fully conversant with the role, and Michael knew it even better than she.
Meanwhile he was the model of supple acquiescence at home,anticipating nearly every one of Jane's whims and keeping himself winsome and sweet at all times. He gradually fell into a totally automatic and unpretentious deportment as a girl, such that his concentration on boyish mannerisms while at rehearsal became the part of him that required careful attention. Having abandoned the obstinacy that had marked the first part of his stay, he found he was more comfortable in this imposed role. He became more fastidious about his clothes, eliminating the need for daily counselling on what he was to wear, a point that Jane noted with approval. His hair and makeup were flawless in execution. Indeed, free of his hostility, he began to derive some satisfaction and even heightened eroticism from the feminine accouterments that comprised his existence. He thought of Karen's remark one morning as he lay in bed, luxuriating in the soft touch of his gown and agreed that there were appealing aspects to this life.
Jane was exceedingly pleased. In fact, she had agreed to let him spend more afternoons and even one Saturday with Karen as a reward for his conformity. He grew to enjoy these liaisons more and more. He was growing exceedingly fond of Karen.
It was in late August -- just a week before the play performance -- that everything seemed to come unravelled. Jane had summoned him to her study one Monday morning. "Sit down Michael. I have something rather important to discuss with you."
He seated himself on the settee, careful to smooth his skirts beneath him.
"Beth will be leaving us today. You can say your goodbyes in a minute. Your friend is waiting for you in the garden. Beth's time to stay is at an end. For public consumption outside this house it will be said that there has been a family crisis that caused this to happen. At any rate, the train for New York leaves in just over two hours. I'm sorry I wasn't able to tell you about this sooner."
Michael was speechless. Beth had become an ally, a confidant. Michael was mystified as to how life would go on in this house without her. He felt more than saddened; he felt a sense of loneliness creep over him.
"This event was inevitable, Michael. Or, as I shall consistently call you from this point forward, Michelle. Life goes on, transitions happen. This is a transition, Michelle. You will understand more of this in a little while. This next hour is going to be filled with its share of surprises, even shocks, for you. I suggest we get on with it. Go meet your friend."
Michael left the study and headed to the garden. There was no immediate sign of Beth, but Michael was surprised to see the figure of a young man seated on the wrought iron bench, his back to Michael. Perhaps this young man had come to take Beth to the airport.
Feeling somewhat perplexed, he looked around for the girl he had come to know as his friend, then called, tentatively "Beth?"
The youth turned at the call and Michael saw his face. The resemblance was virtually unmistakable. Michael was sure this must be a brother.
"Hello, Michael," the young man said. Michael was taken aback at hearing his true name. Not only did the youth know his name, but had said it to someone dressed as a girl. Beth must have told him, Michael thought!
"Michael," the youth said, " it's me....Beth."
Surprise gave way to shock. Michael reeled, his legs turning to jelly.
"Wh...what?!" was all that came out.
"It's Beth, Michael, or David, which is my real name."
"You don't understand. Of course. Sit down...please." The voice was friendly, calm.
"I know it's a shock, Michael," the youth said quietly, "it always is. But believe me, I am Beth -- or I was until early this morning. Let me explain."
Michael sat down, relieved to ease the shaking in his legs. Even though he gained a measure of composure, he was shaken and baffled by these words.
"I just came from Sandy. She is almost as good at reversing her work as she is in doing it. You see me now as I am. Just be quiet a minute and I'll try to explain all of this to you."
"My real name is David Brost. I came here eight months ago. Like you, I had been in some trouble, but I'm sure my problems were worse than yours. You see, I got into some trouble which could have involved the police. Fortunately for me, the officer who questioned me was a friend -- no, actually a graduate of Jane's school. I got the choice of here or a potential trip to reform school so I chose here. I was as naive as you were when I came here, but looking back at the options, I'm better off having picked here. And once I was here, there was no going back"
Michael's mind reeled over these revelations. David had more information to impart, so Michael remained silent.
"I was like you are just half a year ago. You might want to chastise me for not telling you all about myself sooner, but that is the rule here. Nothing can be revealed without Jane's permission. A part of that is security and part is an element of the process. You would not have come as far as you have if you had known about me."
"And I stress the security! If it were to be discovered what Jane is doing here, it would have a very bad effect on me and everyone who has come through here. You must always keep silent about these matters. I have more to say about that in a minute, but promise me that you will abide by that rule! It could devastate me if it were discovered how I have lived these last eight months."
Michael assured David the secret was safe and waited for him to continue.
"Believe me, Michael, there is something to be learned here. When I look back on what I was when I arrived, I am amazed. I have a new appreciation for things I barely understood then. I have felt a sense of release by letting go of things that were a weight on me. To be frank, I have enjoyed secret moments of enjoyment being dressed in girls' clothing. I suspect I may do it again from time to time because of that I get a kick out of being dolled up -- something I would have found repulsive a year ago."
"There is something of a revolving door in this place. Perhaps in a few weeks you will find a new "Michael" or "David" here and you will become that person's mentor. One never knows. I heard Jane on the phone last Friday talking to someone, so it is at least possible. For your sake, and mine and the new boy's, you must be Michelle and not Michael. Do you understand?"
Michael did not understand, completely. Yet in deference to his friend he nodded assent.
"Good. Now, as to you. You have made it harder on yourself here than you needed to. I tried to warn you, but you seemed hell-bent on not listening. These last few weeks you have changed, but it came too late, so you find yourself forced to live a double identity, as Michelle here and as Michael at the theater."
"Jane's technique works. You have been one of her most difficult...so she told me. My warnings to you fell on deaf ears, you blockhead. I was a lot quicker than you to pick up the vibes on what it takes to get out of here." This last was delivered with such good-will that Michael did not take it as an insult, but smiled wanly in response.
The play! It suddenly occurred to Michael that with Beth...David gone, what was to become of the play. Michael voiced this concern.
"Michelle, that's part of the plot, don't you see? She planned it this way before we ever went to tryouts. What did she tell you 'death in the family?' 'Family crisis?' She's totally covered as to my departure. She had your school record; I read it. 'Very facile in memorization.' She knew you would have the lines down better than I. She will call Dierdre and volunteer you to take my place. You see, have to reap the consequences of your imprudence."
A new flood of awareness engulfed Michael. Did they seriously believe that he was going to step into the role of Alice? He couldn't. An image of Matt Page's jeering face popped into his mind.
While Michael and David were in the garden, Jane undertook a pressing task. She dialed Dierdre Bishop at home.
"Dierdre, dear," Jane said, when the woman answered the phone, "this is Jane. Dierdre, I'm afraid I have some rather disturbing news to tell you. Beth has been called home on a family emergency and must leave today."
It did not take long for the significance of Jane's words to sink in. Dierdre's concern was clearly over her production, and not the gravity of the 'family emergency' that Jane had alluded to.
"My God Jane, that's terrible. I mean...what are we going to do. That is....well, I hope it's nothing serious?"
"I'm afraid that it is quite serious, Dierdre; I'm afraid that there is simply no choice. Beth will be leaving on the noon flight to Richmond." "I realize that this signifies a blow to the play, and I am most put out about that. I hope that you have someone who can fill in." "No we don't, Dierdre said. There was a short silence as the gravity of this news sunk in at the other end of the phone. With resignation, Dierdre said, "I guess we'll just have to scrub the show. It is going to be a terrible disappointment to the cast."
"I can appreciate that," Jane said with mock sincerity. "It's a real pity that none of the other girls can fill in. I guess these things happen, and always at the worst of times."
Dierdre had felt a sinking feeling that was quickly merging into depression. She dreaded calling all the students and their parents, and, most of all, Mr. Finch, the chairman of the sponsoring committee of the community theater. Royalty expenses and production costs would be totally lost now.
"No, we'll just have to cancel," Dierdre said despondently. "No one else knows the part."
"Surprisingly, Dierdre, Michael knows it thoroughly. He and Beth have been working together since the rehearsals began. I think he knows it better than she did. he surprised me with how quickly he mastered the lines....just helping Beth. But, of course, it would be unthinkable for a boy to take that role."
"Oh, my God, yes," Dierdre agreed. "Why, not even thinking about the devastating impact that would have on the boy, I think many of the parents and certainly the committee would put the kibosh on that."
Jane thought that maybe she had been too clever by half. Dierdre was not picking up on the offer as had been hoped. Well, nevertheless, she thought to herself, the exercise had not all been in vain, for Michael improved dramatically during these last few weeks. The mere subjection to going out as a boy had worked its intended end.
"Again, Dierdre, I am truly sorry about this. I hope that you can work something out."
She rang off. Time will tell, she thought. She saw the two boys engaged in deep conversation through the garden windows, glanced at her watch and made mental note of the time it would take to transport David to the station. They had about an hour and a half.
It was less than an hour later when the phone rang. It was dierdre, sounding more spirited than when she had last spoken to Jane, albeit a little tentative.
"Jane," she began, "are you certain that Michael knows the part?"
"Quite sure, Dierdre," Jane replied. He has coached Beth through the last seven weeks. Why do you ask."
"Jane, would you agree to let Michael take the part in the performance....I know that is a totally preposterous suggestion, but we are really left with no other choice."
Jane paused the necessary amount to feign deep consideration of this, and managed to exude just the right degree of uncertainty when she responded.
"Dierdre, I'm not sure. I mean perhaps it is asking too much of a boy to make him get up on the stage in a dress and act a girl's part. I just don't know."
Dierdre's response sounded a little disappointed, as though she had expected Jane would not be warm to the idea. To avoid a complete flagging of Dierdre's interest, Jane spoke again.
"I mean I could ask him...I don't know what he would say. But you also mentioned that there might be some opposition from some parents and your committee."
"Well, that's the surprising part. I did call some of the mothers and they were not totally adverse to the idea, I mean with all the time that's been put in. Mr. Finch, of course, is most concerned about recouping some of the cost that this performance has incurred. At first he was cool and a little hostile, but then he seemed to rationalize it by saying that it was mere play acting and making allusions to Elizabethan Theater and saying that if the boy did not feel overly antagonistic to the idea he would not object."
"Well, Dierdre, all I can do is ask him. You don't have a rehearsal today, do you?
"No. Today was set aside for costume fittings and lighting tests. But I could spend some time with Michael if he accepted that is, to see how...or if it might work."
Well, as I said, I will ask and get back to you. I have to take Beth to the station. Would...say...12:30 be soon enough to call you?"
"Yes, fine," Dierdre replied. "Call me at the theater."
"Fine," said Jane. "In fact, if Michael agrees, we could just stop by on the way back from the station."
A few pleasantries followed and Jane detected true relief and hope in Dierdre's voice as she hung up.
"Michael, I speak to you as a dear friend. My predecessor her, a guy named Terry, was such a friend. He is a graduate student now in Chicago. I call him from time to time...Jane allows that. You can call me, too. I'll leave the number. But you have to learn that there is no way out of here until you totally give in. When you do, and if you are willing to play by the rules, there is a prospect of going back to where you came from. But in the bigger scheme of things, you will do far better if you relish the experience, taking from it the fun and going along with the requirements. I speak to you as someone who cares."
Michael remained downcast, cognizant of the fact that David spoke the truth, yet worried about what would become of him when his friend left. He especially worried about being made to play Alice in the play. But it was the sense of loss and betrayal that bothered him most.
"Michael, I have to go soon. I hope you will come to understand this and understand your part in it all. I like you a lot and I wish you nothing but good things. Make them good. It's your choice."
David gave him a brotherly hug, and Michael returned it to him, sad to say goodbye to a friend, uneasy about his own future. David left him alone in the garden. That was to be the last time he saw his confidant for a long time.
Michael returned to the study to re-confront his nemesis.
"Michelle," Jane began, " I presume that David has told you about the possibility -- or rather the certainty that you are going to take his place in the play?"
"Yes, ma'am," he replied. "I guess that is what you had in mind all the time."
"Indeed. I have broached the prospect with Miss Bishop and I only just received word that it is an acceptable alternative to canceling the play. You will take the part and you will do it in the manner that I am confident you are capable of. It will, of course, be demeaning and difficult, but then that is the hardship you have brought upon yourself. I am confident that when this is over, you will have graduated to be a suitable replacement for our David now that he is leaving. You understand all this, I take it."
"Yes ma'am:, Michael replied, understanding now that he had truly given in to the woman's scheme and had been recast in the mold she had sought from the outset.
"Good," she answered. "Then after we have said our goodbyes to David at the station, I will take you over to the theater where Dierdre wants to test your mastery of the part. I trust you will do well?"
"Yes, ma'am" came the response.
"Very well, then let us bid adieu to our young friend, Beth, and get on with it."
They arrived at the theater the day of the final practice before dress rehearsal just nearing one o'clock. Dierdre asked him solicitously if he was, in fact, willing to do this. he said that he was, and she indicated that she must test his knowledge of the part.
Dierdre assembled the cast in the theater seats and announced that Beth had been called home due to a family emergency. A wave of concern about the prospects for the play spread through the group before Dierdre could interpose her remarks that they had a substitute for the part. Dierdre was careful to lay some groundwork by saying that the prospective replacement had a chance to study the part with Beth, and was able to quickly pick up the lines. Then, at last, she announced that Michael was going to take the part.
A bustle of whispers flooded through the audience, a mixture of astonishment and puzzlement at this announcement. As expected, all heads turned and eyes stared at him. The titters from the boy's section were about as he expected, and Page made a loud guffaw, followed by a loud "Mikey gets to be a girl!"
"Enough!" Dierdre said firmly. "We have but two choices here: either let Michael play the part or cancel this show. Now I let you decide. Do you want all the work you have done these last seven weeks to go for nothing or do you want to give this a try? I know it will not be easy for Michael to do this, but it will be a lot harder if you all give him a hard time about it."
The murmurs continued, but the content of the hushed discussions was now bent toward responding to that choice Dierdre had posed. In a ridiculous bid to seek some democratic resolution of the issue, Dierdre asked for a show of hands, and, as was expected, they all agreed to give it a try. The boys even voted in favor of the proposition, though Michael suspected their motives were less than forthright. Given the choice, they would probably have opted totally out of this ordeal that their mothers had insisted they engage in; they were more interested in witnessing his humiliation.
He caught Karen's eye and saw that she had a warm smile for him. He derived more than mere comfort from this comradely support. He smiled back.
The decision made, and a final run-through was done. Michael mounted the stage and took his cue from her reading of the counter-parts from the script. He executed the lines and movements faultlessly and, he felt, delivered an even better presentation of the role than Beth. Michael endured the occasional snickers as he did his best to deliver a good presentation of the part. Some were impressed by his rendition; those that found humor in it were ignored.
They were all told to be at the theater the following day by noon for the dress rehearsal. Michael reflected that that meant he would be at Marisha Chalet by nine, for Jane had told him that was a necessary prerequisite. He felt the usual uneasiness at what the unholy duo there would have in store for him. God he would be glad when Saturday had come and gone.
Dierdre had seemed pleased with the performance, for she and Jane entered into a spirited conversation with Dierdre clearly thrilled with what she had seen.
He stood like a superfluous witness to this tete-a-tete until Dierdre announced that they needed to check the costume for proper fit. This was the essence of his discomfort, the start of the inexorable ordeal that was to be. He followed the two women to the green room where Dierdre took down Beth's costume and told him to try it on, thankful that, for the moment, the rest of the cast was gone.
He feigned some unfamiliarity with the pinafore and apron, and Dierdre encouragingly helped him fasten it. He donned the stockings and Mary Janes and stood before them chagrined as any boy would be in such attire.
"He'll need petticoats, Jane. Should I get some?"
"Not necessary, Dierdre. We have some of Beth's at home and I can get everything he needs."
'Beth's indeed, 'he thought. He would wear his own petticoats under this costume, unbeknownst to Dierdre.
""I don't know what to do about the hair. We could get a wig, I suppose," Dierdre posited.
"Dierdre," Jane said, "I have an idea. I know some people who run a beauty shop in Kingston. Perhaps they can do something about the hair. I take it you wanted shoulder length, with some curl."
"Yes," Dierdre replied. "Like this," showing Jane a costume plate of a costumed 'Alice'.
"We'll take care of that," Jane said, and Michael resigned himself to further ministrations of Carolyn and Sandy at the salon.
"Well, I think he will do fine. I just hope he feels ok about this. I will make it a point to talk to the other boys, but I am sure that there is bound to be some boyish teasing. I hope it is not too severe."
'Boyish teasing', Michael thought. 'That is an understatement.
With that, they finished and he had only the dress rehearsal and two performances of the play to get through. The minimal number of appearances did not diminish the cold feeling he had about this.
Friday morning he was up and dressed as 'Michael' by eight and down to breakfast. Marie was delegated to take him to the salon, Jane advising she would pick him up afterward. He felt a new sense of trepidation going to the salon dressed as a boy rather than in his usual skirts, and hoped that this particular visit would not contribute to any disclosure of his true self. It would be a new experience, and he hoped that Carolyn and Sandy would understand his predicament and use a private booth to work on him.
Arriving at the salon, Michael felt ill-at-ease, being clad as Michael and not 'Michelle'. He was grateful that he was shown to a private cubicle, away from the stares of the other patrons. Sandy was the operator selected to do him over.
"So, dear heart, you're going to be in a play. Jane said I was to be extra particular about your hair today. God, you really have done a muddle with my work last week. We're going to have to start from scratch."
"I'm sorry, Sandy. But it's tough trying to be Michael when you and Carolyn devise such intricate hair styles for Michelle." "You know, luv, that's just about the first compliment I think I have ever heard from you about what we do. You may be coming along. So lets get with it."
She washed his hair and reset it. The latent curls from the permanents were embellished and a cascading wiglet intermeshed into his own hair. As expected, with a ribbon band at the crown, the style portrayed an enchanting girl's hairdo. That image was somewhat inane given the male trousers and shirt he wore. He was grateful that when he was done, apparently by prior agreement with Jane, he was escorted out the back door of the salon and into the waiting Lincoln.
Arriving at the theater, he felt acutely uncomfortable, positively obsessed with getting into his costume to diminish the dissimilarity between the way he looked and the way he was dressed. He swiftly made his way to the dressing room and found the costume and its accessories hung on racks. His appearance in male clothes and the curly hairdo produced loud guffaws from the boys already there. Taunts of "sissy Michael" and "Isn't he cute?" punctuated the air. His ears reddened. He grabbed the costume and headed to one of the nearby lavatories.
With a dexterity he had learned over the last few months, he quickly got into the underclothes, hose, dress and apron. As each garment was put on, more of the male facade was shed and he began to project a more acceptable feminine pretext. He began to feel more comfortable, notwithstanding the razzing he was sure to get when the other boys saw him.
The boys in the changing room were also dressing in costume. A lot of the burly machismo diminished as they put on these dainty little outfits. As if to abate their discomfort with this activity, they cast the occasional aspersion at Michael bedecked in the petite dress that was his costume.
"Pretty little girl," Page had said. "Very precious. How does it feel to be flitting around in that little skirt, Mikey?" He dropped his wrist in a mincing mimic of scorn. Michael found it easy to overlook this jibe, for attired it leotards and tights, page did not present an image of masculinity, himself.
Michael finished dressing and withdrew to a chair in the green room while the cast was being made-up. He sat watching the line of boys submitting one by one to Andrea's applications from her palette of paints. He found some satisfaction in watching page and his compatriots being subjected to paints and powders. They seemed far less macho with eyeshadow, rouge and lipstick applied to their adolescent faces. Michael felt a mixture of sympathy for them and a sense of reciprocation. Cosmetics had a way of humiliating the most lofty ego. As each boy was subjected to Andrea's brushes and colors, their pluck seemed to mellow, and they became more docile.
He was especially gladdened as he watched Page in his little satin elf's costume submitted to eyeliner, rouge and lipstick and a most colorful shade of eyeshadow. The boy's arrogance gave way quickly to pliable obedience as the rosiness spread on his cheeks.
Of course, Michael was the star attraction, and when his name was called, he stood up and submitted to Andrea as well, the now more subdued sneering still evident. He could visualize the colors and their effect on his face, having done himself it so many times before. He knew that between Andrea and Sandy he would appear very girlish and petite when all was done.
When the dress rehearsal was over, Michael started back to the green room to remove his makeup and change from his costume. Karen stopped him in the corridor.
"You were great, Michael!" she said. "You were a very convincing 'Alice'.
"Thanks, Karen. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get through it. I feel so damned silly in this dress. I guess you heard Page and his cronies and their comments."
"Oh, just forget them," she replied. "Their opinion isn't worth beans. Frankly I think you make a very pretty girl. It's a shame you can't wear clothes like that all the time. Just kidding."
Karen did not know how ironic that comment really was, of course, and Michael was not about to dwell on it. But he could not resist a comment.
"Between you and me, Karen, they are kind of fun," he whispered. "I remember you once saying how unfortunate it was that boys never get to wear things like this."
"Well, you look great. Of course makeup makes everyone look great."
"Well, I better get changed," he said, as he resumed his walk to the changing room.
"Michael, let me ask you something. Do you think you could get permission to go out with me after the show tomorrow night? There was supposed to be a cast party, but a lot of us aren't going. There's a rock concert in town that a lot of them are going to, so Dierdre may reschedule the party. But you and I could go out and maybe do something."
"I can see. I'll have to ask my aunt."
"Ok, well....persuade her. It may be the last time I get to see you for a while now that the play is over. Maybe she'd even let you stay over at my house tomorrow night."
Michael promised her he would ask, and went into the boys changing room and removed and hung the dress and underthings. He heard the few snickers from the boys remaining there, but Page and his bunch had cleared out of the theater immediately after the show, and Michael was grateful for this. God, he would be glad when this thing was all over tomorrow.
He was leaving the changing room when he confronted Miss Bishop.
"Michael, you did splendidly!" she said. "You don't know how you saved us. I hope it wasn't too embarrassing to play Beth's part. You are a very brave boy to have done this."
"Thank you, Dierdre, I'm glad I could help. Yes, I did get some teasing, but I guess it will be all over by tomorrow, so I'm not going to worry about it."
"Well, dear, I am so very indebted to you." She gave him a tentative hug, and he was glad that somebody took this in the spirit of thankfulness, without mockery or the dubious motives that Jane had had in getting him into this. The chat with Karen and with Dierdre alleviated a lot of his discomfort.
He actually welcomed the sight of Jane, and accompanied her out of the theater. Like Dierdre, though clearly with baser motives, Jane was effusive in her praise. Nevertheless, she could not resist putting in some self-gratifying comments about how her efforts had been the cornerstone of his convincing performance. As was his recent wont, Michael smiled and agreed, and they started the drive home. After some silence, he spoke.
"Jane," he said, "do you remember Karen, the girl in the play I told you about?"
"Yes, Michelle, I do", Jane replied. "A very lovely girl."
"Well, Karen wanted me to go out with her tomorrow night after the show. Would it be OK?"
"Hmmm," Jane murmured as she thought about this. "Go where?"
"I don't know. There was supposed to be a cast party, but I guess it's going to be postponed. It may be the last time I see Karen in a while and I just thought....well, we wouldn't be too late. Well, she also asked if I could stay over at her house."
Jane thought about it a moment and wondering if there there was any harm in agreeing.
"Hmm," she finally said. "I suppose I would have no problem with you going out for a while. But staying over at her house. That does present some problems. Whom does she live with?"
"Her grandmother. She said you could call to check if you needed."
"You realize, of course, Michael," that there are some dangers in that. Not just the proximity, but, well, I don't know how serious the two of you are. I leave it to your own judgmenet, but I don't want any problems."
"No, Aunt Jane. None at all."
"Well, alright," she finally said, "I think it will be ok. But then, Michelle, there is always the possibility that Karen could come over to the house whenever you wanted her to."
"That would present problems, Jane, and you know it. I think that is out of the question."
Jane merely smiled at the answer. They continued the drive in silence.
The following matinee and evening performance were, for all practical purposes, a repeat of the dress rehearsal, except that the audience was present. The presence of audience prompted Michael to be especially convincing in the role, a fact that, while persuading the audience, made his effeminacy all the more pronounced in the eyes of his peers.
He had told Karen that afternoon that he had received permission to stay overnight at her house. She had been gleeful at the prospect, and said they would chat about it after the evening show.
When the evening program was over, he looked for Karen but did not immediately find her. He started back to the green room to finally rid himself of this costume. Karen was at the end of the corridor and waved, beckoning him to meet her in a small room off that corridor.
"Once again, an outstanding job." she said as he entered the small room."
"Thanks, Karen. I'm just glad it's over. I'm tired of all this teasing."
"Well I never teased you. In fact I even complimented you. I think you look great. I don't see anything wrong with a boy wearing those things for a play. Did you see how cute Pagie and his crowd looked." She laughed. Her laugh was infectious, and in a sense of relief, he joined in her giggles.
"All set to go out?' she asked.
"Sure, I just have to go get changed and I'm ready to go." he started to turn when she stopped him.
"Michael, if I asked you to do me a big, big favor, would you?" At this point, Michael was very smitten with Karen and knew that he would do most anything she asked him. It was that infatuation and trust that jaded his answer. He would do just about anything for this lovely girl, and delivered a fairly unqualified "Sure Karen. What?"
"Well...." she hesitated, weighing her words, "would you leave your makeup on and leave your hair the way it is?"
The request startled Michael. How in hell did she expect that he could go out of the theater, out with her for the evening, even spend the night at her house without changing and removing his makeup?
"I don't understand, Karen. Why would you want me to do that?"
"I just thought it would be fun and I would like to play a little trick on my grandmother. She doesn't know that a boy is coming over tonight...not that I lied to her, I just said a friend. Besides, I like you like that. Would you, just for me?"
"But Karen, I haven't anything to wear out of here. I have slacks and a shirt. I mean it would look a little silly..."
She interrupted. "I already thought of that. I brought an extra outfit you can wear. Come on, just for fun. Just tonight."
He hesitated. It was an odd and outrageous request, and she had tricked him into agreeing to her favor in advance. He feared she might even back out of their date if he balked.
"Karen, I'd feel awfully silly going out like this. Is it really that important?"
"I'd really like it if you would. Of course, if you would rather not..." The pout in her voice was evident by the way she trailed off. What the hell, he thought, was it any different than going back to Jane's and getting into a skirt?
"You promise no one will see me?"
"It's dark outside. I hid some clothes in the girl's bathroom by the back door and my car is parked just outside. You can change and we can be out the back door before anyone sees us."
"Well, I'll have to take some of this makeup off. I mean people will be watching."
"Sure, I know. Just leave a little bit on. And then after you've changed, sneak down to the bathroom and I'll meet you. Just make sure no one sees you."
Michael was not at all sure about this, but he mulled it over in his mind as he went into the changing room, removed the Alice costume and slipped into his trousers and shirt. Were it not for the fact that he desparately wanted to spend time with Karen, this exorbitant request of hers would go begging. But in his infatuation, he saw no harm in playing along with her. The underwear and petticoats were to go home, so he left on the panties, camisole and hose and slipped the petticoat into the bag. He took the dress, apron and shoes and checked them in with Andrea, returning to the bathroom on to remove some of his makeup. There were jars of cold creme and tissues, and he delicately removed all but a trace of the color from his face. He peeked into the green room.
Andrea was still was busy checking costumes in, and he noticed that many of the cast had already left. It was not much problem to slip out into the corridor and he hurried to meet Karen.
The hallway was bare, and no one saw him make his way down the corridor and slip into the lavatory. Karen was already there.
"Here," she said, go in here, opening the door to one of the stalls. I hung everything up in there and there are shoes on the top of the john. Hurry up."
It was all there. Skirt, blouse, even a half-slip. He slipped into them quickly and replaced his oxfords with the flats, surprised that everything fit. Karen was about an inch or more taller than he was, but their measurements were the same. He stuffed his own things into the bag with the petticoats and, bracing himself, he opened the stall door and stepped tentatively into the bathroom. Karen was surreptitiously checking the hallway through a slightly open door and, when she was sure it was safe, gave him the signal. The pair slipped out the bathroom and through the fire doors to the outside. A quick dash and they were both seated in Karen's car. Michael's heart was racing.
The car pulled away and Michael breathed a slight sigh of relief, disconcerted, nevertheless, to be out with this girl he fancied, dressed like this. He could not really fathom why Karen had made this request, but since she had never teased him and must have her own reasons, which he trusted implicitly, he decided to view it as a lark and go along with it.
"You kind of messed up your hair when you were changing," she said, "and you took off too much makeup. We may have to fix that."
She turned onto Tow Bridge Road and started toward Knightsbridge. Michael was thankful they were leaving town, it being less likely they would encounter someone he knew in the neighboring town.
"We'll fix that up down the road." They sped on until she saw an Exxon station and turned in. She told the attendant inside to fill the tank and borrowed the key to the ladies room. As she walked toward it, she gestured to Michael to follow her. He was able to get out of the car and follow her before he was even noticed by the attendant.
Once inside the drab cubicle she produced a small brush from her bag and had him turn so she could fuss with his hair. She removed the large satin ribbon and replaced it with a less childish version. Seemingly unsatisfied with his look, she produced a blush and lipstick and added a little of the color he had removed. His eyes, apparently, were alright. He felt a little strange being done up by a girl he had a crush on.
"Golly, Michael, this lipstick color looks a lot better on you than it does to me. Here, put it in your pocket in case you need it later."
He slipped it into the small pocket of the skirt, not knowing when or why he might need it.
"Here," she said, "I brought these, too. Just a little added touch." She placed a strand of faux pearls around his neck and fastened the clasp at the back.
"There," she announced. "You look adorable. And I'm not teasing you, believe me."
He smiled wanly, blanching a little at the embarrassing remark, but certain she meant no insult by it.
"Let's go." He followed her out of the wash room and returned to the car as she paid for the minimal amount of gas that the station owner had managed to get in the tank.
"I'm hungry," she said, as they left the station. "How about a burger."
He was hungry too, but the thought of going into a restaurant did not appeal to him and he hoped that what she had in mind was a drive in where he could enjoy the security of the car. As she drove toward one down the street, he felt secure enough to merely say "Yeah. I am too."
It was when she parked not at the window service but in the parking lot that he became a little concerned.
"I hate to eat in the car," she said. "Let's go in."
Michael was not keen on that idea, but he decided to acquiesce, his attraction to this lovely girl overcoming his trepidation. He trusted Karen, so the fear he usually felt in such situations was replaced by that trust. She would not "reveal" him, and he had no doubt that he could "pull it off". What had begun to concern him was that he was doing it too well, and that she might wonder about that facility. But she seemed to pay no notice and, he knew by the mirthful glee she exhibited, she viewed it all as a lark. A joke they were both playing on the world.
They found a booth and the waitress deposited the menus without comment. After their cursory glance at the fare, she returned, and Michael heard her take Karen's order.
"And you, Miss," the waitress said, pencil poised above her order pad as she turned to Michael. He caught the grin on Karen's face, flushed slightly and ordered a simple hamburger and fries.
When she left, Karen said to him "Those two boys over at that table are taking quite an interest in us." Michael looked and saw the leering looks.
"Oh God, Karen, please."
"Don't worry. love, I will protect you. Actually the blond guy is kinda cute....not as cute as you, of course, but interesting. Anyway, it's getting on to 10:30 and I promised to be home by 11. Let's eat and go."
They finished their meal, bantering lightly about the play, about their life and their hopes and aspirations. Michael was becoming more and more sure that this girl was a real find and he felt the stirrings of sexual attraction. He just wished that their meeting and this date were more "normal", though he was glad simply for the opportunity to be with her.
It was when they had finished that he realized that the pressure in his bladder demanded that he get relief soon.
"Karen, I r-e-a-l-l-y have to go to the bathroom. I don't know what to do."
"Well, Michael, just go. I'd suggest you use the ladies room, but the plumbing is just about the same in there as you are used to."
"God, I can't do that."
"Well you certainly better not use the men's. Go ahead, no one is even going to notice. Just be a little discrete. I'll pay the check and wait for you. Oh, and while you're in there, you better add a little lipstick. It's all gone, you know."
He entered the ladies room and was a little nonplussed to find a woman there fixing her own face at the mirror. He hurried to one of the stalls, did his business, then added an application of new lipstick at the mirror. He found Karen in the foyer waiting to go. As they drove away, Karen said "You know, you're going to need a name when we get home. I can't introduce you to Nana as 'Michael"....let's see.....Michelle seems natural. How does that suit you?"
Michael blanched at the irony of it. 'Play the role' he thought to himself. "Whatever, Karen" he replied.
"Michelle it is then. This is fun. Are you having fun?"
"I enjoy being with you, Karen."
"Well, that's nice. But I mean isn't it fun to wear those nice things and play this big joke on everyone?" As she spoke, her hand came across the seat and rubbed his nylon clad leg, causing the inevitable stir in his loins which only grew more swollen as it met the smooth fabric of the panties he wore. He prayed that he would lose this erection before they reached her house.
They drove into the driveway of a large Colonial. The lights were on in the lower rooms.
"My Nana is going to wonder a bit about your not bringing your own things, so we'll tell her you left them home. She's never seen that skirt and blouse on me, so you're O.K. there. Just follow my lead and act natural." Karen grinned at him. "My Grandmother is a little forgetful, sometimes, but she is a dear. Maybe she won't even notice that you'll be wearing my things while you are here."
The woman who met them in the foyer was about sixty, a pleasant woman that Michael knew he could like. Karen introduced him as Michelle and added she had played the lead in the play.
"Oh I saw the play, Michelle. You were wonderful," Mrs. Grayson said. "I am so glad you and Karen became friends. I hope you will enjoy your stay and that we will see more of you."
Michael muttered his appreciative response, and Mrs. Grayson told Karen there were Cokes in the refrigerator and some sandwiches and brownies.
"I'm going up to bed now, girls. I know it is futile to say this, but I hope that you don't stay up all night talking. Remember, Karen, you have errands in the morning."
"We won't stay up too late, Nana. Good night."
"Good night, Mrs. Grayson," Michael added, as the woman climbed the stairs to her room.
"Let's get some food and Cokes and go up to my room," Karen said. Michael dumbly followed her to the kitchen and took his share of the load to be carried to the upper floor. He wondered what sleeping arrangements were going to be available.
Karen's room was what he expected it to be, not quite as dainty and feminine as the room he had at Jane's. The most noticeable difference was the profusion of posters of male and female film and rock personalities. Otherwise, and perhaps as a result of the poster selections, it was a girl's room in every way.
Rather than a single, large bed, there were twin beds, both delicately embellished with wispy dust ruffles. The room tended to pink in color.
Karen set the tray of cookies on the night table, and Michael followed suit with the sodas he had carried up.
"This has been fun, Michael. Nana didn't even seem the least bit hesitant in seeing you as a girl. You really are quite pretty and very convincing."
Michael was unsure as to how to respond to this, though he knew it to be true. He just smiled diffidently.
"Strange date, though, in a way," she said as she opened a can of soda and sat on the bed next to him. "I like you as a boy, of course, but I kept expecting a kiss, yet knowing it to be a little strange to be kissed by someone so convincingly a girl. Know what I mean?"
Michael did. He wanted more than anything to kiss this lovely girl, but he, too, thought it a little bizarre to be embracing her dressed as he was.
"Still, though, I know you are a boy. Maybe it's just that I have never been kissed by someone wearing lipstick -- not sensually, that is."
With that her hand began to stroke his back, and the sensation of her hand through the thin fabric was electric. She explored his back and sholders in a gentle massage. Suddenly her exploring fingers found and examined the fringe and the spaghetti straps of the camisole he wore beneath the blouse.
"What's that you have on underneath. Sure doesn't feel like a t-shirt."
"It's... what do they call it..a camisole. My Aunt insisted that it might make me do a better job if everything I wore was a girl's."
"And here I thought you just had on tights and those petticoats under your dress during the play. Surely you have jockey shorts on?"
He hesitated, long enough, apparently, for her to draw her own conclusions.
"Yes," he said, blushing a little, "and they aren't tights, but stockings and a garter belt."
"Well, you really did get the full treatment. Lots of nice undies to make you feel good. Tell me who did your hair."
"Well, my Aunt took me to a beauty parlor. They did it."
"The whole treatment. So tell me, how does it feel to be subjected to all this feminine fashion?"
He chose his words carefully, not wanting to alienate her in any way.
"I did it because I didn't want the play to go down the drain. Actually, it's all a little humiliating."
"You mean you don't get even just a little pleasure out of it?"
"What do you mean?
"I mean don't you get the least little kick out of the feel of the material, the fact that you can get all dressed like you are and fool everybody into thinking you really are a girl? Do you get any delight out of playing with makeup? Any of that?"
"Karen, I'm a boy. What do you think. Boys aren't supposed to get a kick out of being made to dress like girls."
"Yeah, I know," she replied. "I'm just asking if you feel differently. Look, I don't think you're strange or anything. As I've said before, I don't care one way or another. I like you as a boy, I like you when you're dressed. To me, it's sort of a gas: a boy I like who I can have fun with as though it were a girl I liked."
"If you're asking me if I enjoy being here with you, of course I do. If you're asking if I feel strange being dressed this way, well, I don't feel strange around you. You're different than those goons at the theater."
"Ok. So what about the rest of it? be honest. I won't care."
He paused for a while.
"There are times when....yes, I like the sensation of the clothes and all of it. I....I wish I could tell you more....but..."
"No. That's OK. Its new to you, I know. We can talk about it again sometime. Let's play some music."
She put on a tape as he sipped his Coke.
"Shall we get more comfortable? I mean I am just dying to get out of this skirt."
What did she mean by that?, he wondered, until he saw her pawing through a drawer of nightclothes, selecting two sets.
"Want to wear these?" she said, holding up a powder blue baby doll with very full pants, like bloomers. "I mean, you can't be all that comfortable lounging around in that outfit."
There was little he could say to object. He was going to spend the night here, he had to maintain the facade of Michelle, and he was not keen on lolling about in panties and hose.
"I guess so," was his conditional answer.
She handed him the outfit and pointed at the door to the adjoining bathroom. He slipped inside, removed the clothing he had on and slipped into the pale blue garment.
He came back into the bedroom to see Karen gyrating to the sounds coming from the tape player. Without missing a beat or movement, she took the blouse and skirt from him and put them in the closet. He put the underwear he had been wearing on one of the chairs.
"Can you dance?" she asked him, still bouncing to the beat of the melody.
"Not too well," he replied. "isn't that a little loud. Won't it wake your grandmother?"
"Nan's bedroom is four doors down the hall and after she takes out her hearing aid an earthquake wouldn't wake her. Go with it, Michael!"
He stood near her and made absurd imitation of her movements until the crescendo and final drum beat of the rock tune. She moved to turn the sound down slightly.
"You really don't know how to dance, do you"
"No," he said, "I go to a boys school. The opportunities are limited.
A slow ballad came on the speakers, and she said "Here, this is easier. I'll show you."
He let her put her arms around him, taking the lead. The proximity of her in her flimsy gown cause the inevitable stirring. She could not help but notice it, and lacking more restrictive male attire, it was more pronounced. She pulled him closer, his penis now against her and held him tightly, her arms now around his waist. His, at this point, were holding her shoulders, but with shrugs of her shoulders, she encouraged him to slip them around her neck. He was overcome by the electricity of their proximity drew them involuntarily into a tighter embrace as she led him through sways and small steps to the love song. Reflexively, he nuzzled his head into her shoulder.
The song ended, and they held the embrace for a few seconds afterwards. His arms still around her neck, and hers sliding over his satin-sheathed fanny, he felt sublime. He glanced up at her and their eyes met and locked. Her glance darted to his mouth and back to his eyes, and he knew that she was about to initiate the kiss that he had longed to happen all evening.
She was assertive, pressing her lips firmly against his own, her hands exploring his back and buttocks. Then, a charge rushed through him as her tongue parted his lips and began a furtive exploration of his compliant mouth. Her tongue drove deeply in and out, playing passionate tag with his own, their breaths coming in gasps. When breathlessness overcame them, the kiss was broken and her lips continued to brush his neck and the lobes of his ears. They were both succumbing to overwhelming passion.
As for Karen, she could not fully fathom why or how this particular kiss so overwhelmed her. She was moving quickly into ecstacy, overjoyed at the prospect of lovemaking in her own room. She was even more mysteriously fascinated by the strange feeling of being in control.
She guided him to the bed. "This one is yours," she said breathlessly, letting him lower himself. She pulled back the coverlet and blankets, and he quickly slipped in. Without hesitation, she slid in beside him.
"Let me show you some real fun. Let me show you what girls really like," she whispered breathlessly as they locked in another kiss more frenzied than their first.
He felt that she had taken total control, dominating the whole direction of this liaison. Partly from inexperience and partly because he was enjoying the vulnerability, he let her proceed, as she masterfully escalated his arousal with her every movement. Either Karen had a lot of experience or she had read a lot of good books.
She guided his hand to assorted parts of her own anatomy as her own hands found the same point on his own. Like a teacher, she demonstrated the technique on his body, inviting coinciding action by him. She fondled his nipples, stoked the inner surface of his thighs, tracing suggestive lines toward his groin,. She moaned as he aped her movements. She teased at his engorged penis as his own fingers surveyed her vaginal lips, but aware that too much stimulation there would bring him to too rapid a conclusion, she stopped, yet holding his had in place to continue its stroking of her most sensitive parts. The lesson shifted, now, for while he continued to fondle her labia and clitoris, she lifted the blouse and began to suck at and play with his nascent breasts. The sensation was odd, yet seductively erotic to him. She continued this activity for a few minutes, as he reciprocated with his fingers at her pubis, then, fearing her own orgasm would be precipitous, moved his hand away and revealed her own erect nipples in invitation to his hungry mouth. He duplicated the actions she had performed on him and he was amazed to see the effect of his passionate playfullness at those breasts. Her pelvis thrust reflexively as lusty groans emerged from her. Finally, she pushed him away, firmly pushed him on his back, and straddled him in a commanding way.
"Just lay back and enjoy, Michelle. Enjoy."
Michael was too delirious with passion at that moment to wonder about why she had called him that. She cast her bikinis aside, pulled down his own briefs briskly, and settled herself on his upright penis. As it entered the warm wetness, they both uttered a gasp of passion. Karen gyrated her hips, and with the movement of her pelvis, propelled his shaft in and out of her, as if it were she invading him, rather than the other way round. The pressure built in them both until they exploded in a spasm of passion. Relieved, Karen collapsed on top of him and they remained locked for a long time as she continued to bestow kisses on his neck.
It had been glorious...
The Continuing Story of Michelle and Aunt Jane
A Note From Tigger:This is the first story I ever wrote about Aunt Jane and her boys at the Victorian mansion. Unlike the later Seasons' stories I have written, this story follows the last posted chapter of Mr. Lawrence's original work, and moved from there. This story begins a few weeks after that first, rather unique date...
Chapter One: Michelle's New Sister
Jane was working at her desk in her study. Indian summer had arrived with a vengeance, warming the early autumn day and making the air softly sultry. Jane had been trying to organize her thoughts concerning Michael/Michelle in preparation for making her regular periodic report on her charge's progress. Normally, Jane phoned her old schoolmate, Barbara, but that was not possible. Barbara was off on another of her jaunts and was not available by phone. Not to her. Not to Michael, either, should Jane have allowed or should Michael have truly needed such a contact. Jane wondered how often Barb had been unavailable to him in the past. Would he be demurely sitting in her garden at this moment, elegantly turned out in Laura Ashley fashions if his Mother had had more time for him earlier in his life? Well, he *was* in her garden. Michelle had continued to make major strides towards getting out of her skirts and on with his life again.
Why that bothered her so much she could not say, but it did cause her some consternation. She had felt sad when her girls graduated in the past, but this was different, stronger. Sighing, she castigated herself for the non-productive tail chase her thoughts had devolved into. None of this was getting the letter written. With a physical and mental shake, she set her pen to paper and began the letter to Michael's Mother.
Dear Barb, October 1
How are you? Hope you enjoyed your trip. By the time you actually read this, we will have to make a decision about Michael's future here and at St. Andrews. I am sending this letter now so that you will have the benefit of my current thinking when we talk at the end of this month.
Everything is going well. I know this sounds cliched, but it is almost going too well. Don't know why I am concerned, but I am. Michelle, (pardon me, but that is how I think of your child now and I will probably mix my names and genders throughout this letter) is doing remarkably well. Amiable, mature, refined and polite. She now consistently strives toward, and achieves every goal I set for him, without complaint or demure. Just pleasant resolve. As I told you in our last phone call, I was very concerned when the boy I had planned on becoming Michelle's little sister did not materialize for us. Turns out that he went off the deep end and assaulted a security officer at the temporary juvenile lockup facility he was being held at while awaiting his preliminary hearing. The original plan was for the judge scheduled to hear the case (another of our sorority sisters) was going to offer him the choice of spending the rest of his minority at reform school or coming to me. After his attack on the guard, the state's attorney has decided to try the boy as an adult. He will be a guest of the state for the next few years. Frankly, I do not need that type of violence in my home but I was saddened for Michelle's sake. However, her recent progress has been unprecedented in my experience - I have released charges who had shown less progress than he has in these past weeks. And yet, it has been so fast. I would like to believe that his final 'tete á tete' with his big 'sister' before he left us in August is at the heart of this maturing, I am still wary. Something has happened. Something that I did not cause and that is outside of my not inconsiderable experience in these matters.
I believe that a major part of his sudden development is his flowering romance with the girl I told you about after the dramatic production last month. You remember her? Karen Austin? She is a lovely girl with a very strong will and personality - reminds me of us when we were in school together. Very smart, very together and Michael adores her. I have been permitting them to date occasionally and to spend some time alone together on most weekends. Michael is permitted to do his courting in male dress, although he still cannot undo all of the little feminine touches I insist upon when he is home. And if his eyebrow lines are a little under-done the morning of a date, I don't mention it as long as he is following the other rules. I think the fear that I might "ruin" a date of his, or force him into some feminine fripperies when calling on Karen acts both as a spur and as a deterrent to our little girl-boy. He must really enjoy spending time with Karen because our little Michelle comes back from these encounters even more determined to excel in her feminine studies and deportment.
I went out with them two weekends ago to spend the afternoon at the historic Plymouth Plantation. Karen's Grandmother was supposed to come with us but had to cancel out due to the heat. She is quite elderly and not very strong. Karen almost canceled out to be with her, but in the end, Michael and her Nana prevailed on the girl to come along. In any case, I was very pleased with Michael's behavior that day. Even without the constraints imposed on him as Michelle, he was a gentleman throughout. He did not even take umbrage when Karen teased him about how he would look in early colonial dress - women's colonial dress that is. I think Karen was amazed at how well Michael carried off his role of Alice and is not above gently needling him about it at times. Michael merely smiled with benign dignity and gave her a hug. No blushes, no stammered denials, just simple acceptance of her little joke. If I did not know him better, I would have sworn he even enjoyed the exchange with her.
Now that I think about it, that may be the largest part of my misgiving about his emotional and mental state just now. With Karen, the Michael I saw is a confident young man, secure in his masculinity and in the regard of the young woman he was with, yet softer and more sensitive in his approach to her and to his surroundings. As I said, truly a gentle man in every sense of the term. And yet, when she is at home with me, dressed in her skirts and camisoles, Michelle comes across as the epitome of genteel young womanhood. Faultless manners, impeccable grooming and appropriate cosmetics combined with a demure and smilingly pleasant disposition. The latter I can accept because nothing less would be accepted and she knows that, but he seems to have jumped an entire phase of my learning process and that has me concerned. Normally, the experienced boy more clearly perceives the benefits derived by his "little sister" when he watches over her as she begins to change during the admittedly harsh days of initial petticoated humiliation. And yet, he has somehow become almost completely comfortable with his femininely-gentled masculinity. If this is an act, it is the best I have ever seen in all my days of petticoating adolescent males. If he is faking this, I don't know what I can do, short of completely exposing him as a sissy, to get his attention back. And I can't do that - the potential harm to both of us is simply too great.
Ah, I don't know. Maybe I have grown too comfortable with my time proven process of character reconstruction. Maybe I have become a creature of habit who wants things to go my way all the time. On the positive side, to give you an idea how comfortable Michelle is becoming with me, last week she played a prank on me worthy of a sorority sister. She slipped into my room one afternoon while I was out and replaced my cosmetics with some of the long lasting ones I used on her early on. Little minx knew I was going on a date that night and that I would be dolling up. Yes, I still use a heavy hand with the eye makeup when I am on the prowl, dear, and who taught me how, hmmmm? Well, I spent the next four days in full war paint until it finally wore off. Of course, Michelle spent those four days and a couple more in her little girl clothes playing with her dolls as punishment, but even that indignity was accepted with grace and good humor. The little stinker even teased me, in a sweetly feminine way of course, about my "high color". I almost choked trying not to laugh out loud because she did it so perfectly. You know, I could almost get used to having her around all the time if this is the way she is going to behave from now on.
The other good report I have for you is that since it is now the school year again, I, as School Mistress, have instituted home learning lessons. Dear? I think that much of Michelle's problem at St. Andrew's was simple boredom. That child is so smart it is scary, and I don't believe she has ever been properly challenged in the classroom in her life. She has been using that nearly photographic memory of hers to regurgitate the teachers' own opinions back at them. Well, I will challenge our little miss, although that will pose quite a challenge for me, as well. Our lessons, of course, have a decidedly feminine bent to them. Besides the obvious (Michelle is turning into a superb cook), we have plunged headlong into some very unique academic investigations. Geometry led us to building our own embroidery patterns, which in the normal course of learning led us to the study of blood chemistry. Getting bloodstains out of white embroidery linen is so difficult, isn't it, but it is better than having to start our sampler over again each time we stick our fingers with the needle. Our history project for the semester involves discovering the forgotten women of the past. I was surprised at the fervor Michelle showed for this effort and became suspicious that it might have been the opportunity to go to the library dressed as Michael and not interest in the project that prompted his dedication. However, Michelle continued the library research after I ordered no more boy clothes at the library. I am not a historian, but I think what she is developing may be suitable for publication.
In any case, Michael will be far ahead of his contemporaries when he returns to St. A's after the New Year. As I write these thoughts out for you, I have reached the conclusion that you can plan on that eventuality now, my dear. Whatever my misgivings, I think Michael will have earned his trousers by then. Well, I have to go and get this in the mail.
Jane stuffed and stamped the envelope and sat back in her favorite chair in the study. Outside her window, she saw Michelle, dressed in the soft sweater and skirt set she and Marie had just purchased for her. She was reading something very intently under a shady tree in the garden. Another psychology book, probably. Know thy enemy? Jane wondered if she was still the enemy. Maybe it was "know thyself", instead.
Sighing resignedly, Jane reached for the calculus textbook that a professor friend had recommended as a good review text. Keeping two steps in front of her young miss, academically, was not nearly as much fun as planning her sissy's next little embarrassment. Then she glanced again at the look of fierce interest and concentration on Michelle's lovely face. It might not be as much fun, but it was certainly satisfying in another, deeply personal way.
Michael sighed and put down the book he had been trying to read for the last fifteen minutes. It could not compete with his contemplation of this evening's date with Karen. He would go upstairs and find the male outer wear Jane permitted him for dating, then take the bus over to Karen's Nana's house where he'd change back into Michelle for Karen. The irony of that double switch, and the fact that Jane did not know of his double-double life amused Michael greatly. Here Jane was making this huge concession, letting him be a boy again for his girl, and he would change back to a girl for his girl friend. He chuckled softly at the image of Jane finding out.
Karen had threatened him with something she called a "chick-flick" for tonight's entertainment, whatever that meant. Going out dressed didn't frighten him when Karen there with him. She helped him, encouraged him, praised him and generally kept him out of trouble. She would not expose him to the humiliation and ridicule of being discovered as a boy beneath his skirts as he had once believed Jane would have done. Besides, outings like the one she had planned made Karen very happy. And very horny, he thought. The unfeminine grin curling his mouth was completely at odds with his perfectly made up face.
Later, they would return to her place for more of Karen's lessons in the arts of dancing and lovemaking. Making love to Karen, or having Karen make love to him was about the most affirming things he had ever experienced. His groin tightened in response to the deliciously sensual thoughts and he groaned as his tight satin panties painfully restrained his growing erection.
Michael realized, even if Aunt Jane did not, that it was Karen's acceptance of his feminine side that gave him the confidence he now wore along with his male clothes. Karen liked *him*, enjoyed being with *him*! That made everything else easy to bear. Heck, Karen enjoyed her 'girl friend' so much, he'd taken to working even harder to perfect those little skills and habits. Her pleasure was a much stronger motivator than his own self interest or Jane's increasingly hollow threats. He was even starting to like Jane, although he had been as yet unable to express that. Surprisingly, he'd been disappointed when his "David" had not shown up. That was just as well, though. He could spend more time with Karen.
Sighing softly, he picked up his book, brushing off his skirt as he stood. It was hot and he was thirsty. He strolled toward the house and saw Jane talking on the telephone through the window in her study. Maybe she would like a cold drink, too. He was moving toward her study door when it crashed open. Jane was frowning and looking very concerned about something. "Michelle, Karen is on the phone for you and she sounds very upset. She won't calm down long enough to tell me what is wrong."
Michael broke into as fast a run as he could manage in his calf length skirt and heels. Snatching up the phone, he forgot himself momentarily and used his Michelle voice. "Karen, what is it?"
"Michael? Is that you?" Her voice was breaking on every syllable and he could feel her misery.
Michael deepened his voice and replied, "Yes, luv, it is me. What is wrong?"
"Oh god, Michael, Nana collapsed," racking sobs broke from the girl and she struggled to regain control. Words came out in a rush as she tried to talk faster than her tears. "and I could not get her to wake up. I called 911 and they just took her away. I begged and begged, but they wouldn't let me go with her. I am too upset to drive. Michael... What if she DIES???"
Michael cut in with sharply commanding tone that brought Jane's head up in surprise. She did not think he could speak that way. "Karen. Where are you?"
"Home, Michael. I am home." came the weepy, near hysterical reply.
"We will be there in fifteen minutes. Hang on, luv." Michael hung up the phone and turned to Jane. "You heard?" She nodded. The girl's voice had been loud enough to carry the short distance to Jane. "Let's go. She needs me." He turned and headed purposefully toward the door.
Jane caught up with him at the main entrance hall and put a restraining hand on his shoulder. "Michelle.... MICHAEL!" He turned to her, an impatient glare on his face. "Michael. Look at yourself. You can't go dressed like that. You have to change, first."
Michael looked at himself with a critical eye in the hall mirror and shrugged. He ran up to his room and came down seconds later, still outfitted as a girl, but carrying his matching purse. At Jane's disbelieving splutter, he smiled grimly. "This will have to do." as he headed again for the door.
Jane, however was still concerned for his security and well being, and stopped him again. She saw his determination to go to Karen. "Are you sure you can pull this off? In all likelihood, we will be going to the hospital."
"I have to do it this way, Jane.. For two reasons. One, there isn't time - Karen needs me and she needs me now."
Jane nodded, recognizing the depth of his feelings for this girl. "And the other reason, Michelle?" She asked softly as they hurried to the Lincoln.
"Nana only knows Michelle." He said softly. "She has never met Michael and does not know that I exist as anyone other than her granddaughter's special girl friend." Jane was floored and wanted to ask a thousand questions, but Michael was already buckling himself into the passenger seat of the car. Jane promised herself that she would follow up on these revelations after the crisis had passed.
The trip to Karen's house was passed mostly in silence. Not because Jane wanted that way, but because as soon as they were on the road, Michael pulled down the window visor lighted makeup mirror and began repairing Michelle's face with cosmetics from her purse. Once that was done (and done very well, from what Jane could see out of the corner of her eye), Michael lapsed into a sober meditative mood that she interpreted as his way of dealing with the enormity this action. Never had one of her charges willingly exposed himself to an outsider as a girl boy, before. Jane felt a deep pride in her charge's willingness to make this sacrifice for a friend.
Or was it a sacrifice? What had Michelle said? Nana only knew Michelle? And Jane knew that Michael spent much of his free time with Karen at the grandmother's house. The grandmother spoke with a French accent. When Jane had called her to discuss Michael's visits, she had thought nothing of the name the woman saying "Michelle". Jane had thought she meant "Michel", the French translation of Michael. The imp had been voluntarily dressing outside her house. For Karen, obviously. No wonder he had changed so much so fast.
Another thought struck her. Had the pair been sexually active? She shook her head at the absurdity of that question. Michelle had spent the night the night of that date sleeping over at Karen's. Michelle had said that Nana only knew Michelle, so it had been as a girl that her charge had spent the night. And girls on a sleep over share the same room. Yes, they had been sexually active and if Michael's male confidence was any indication, they had done it quite well. It also explained why Michael had not bridled at Karen's teasing about girl clothes at Plymouth. Contraception? Lord, she hoped so.
They pulled into Nana's drive and a frantic Karen ran down to meet them. Michelle jumped out of the car before it was fully stopped and meet her halfway. Her ward pulled the distraught girl into a comforting hug that was at once masculinely protective and possessive, and femininely gentle and caring. Michelle held her until she had calmed enough to talk to him a bit and then the pair moved quickly to the still running car. Both young people got into the back seat and Michelle told Jane what hospital Nana had been taken to for treatment.
Michael rummaged in his purse and pulled out a hankie which he gave to Karen. Shock showed on her face as she finally realized how he was dressed. Dazed, she blurted, "Michael, you're Michelle!"
Strangely, that broke the tension a little and both Jane and Michelle laughed softly. "You don't know the half of it, Karen dear." Jane said. That made Michelle smile again.
"True, Aunt Jane." He turned back to Karen. "Look, luv. There is a lot you don't know, but I promise to tell you the whole of it later, okay? For now, though, I think you and Nana need Michelle more than you need Michael." Karen looked at the beautifully feminine face that had become so fascinating to her in the past weeks and saw the caring. Nodding, she cuddled closer to her boy/girl friend and let herself be held in silence for the remainder of the trip.
The hospital emergency room was what all hospital emergency rooms are: semi-organized chaos. The two teens were completely ignored by the busy medical staff and Jane saw that Karen was about to dissolve into tears again and Michelle was about to explode. She intervened to prevent both. Jane was not ignored and in short order, the attending physician bustled up to tell them what had happened. The news was positive. Karen's quick action and the fast response of the EMT's had saved Nana. She was weak, and she was in Intensive Care, but the doctor was optimistic about her chances. Karen almost swooned in relief. She would not be able to go home for a while, but she was awake and alert.
The two youngsters sat down in the waiting room to wait for permission to visit Nana. Jane sat across from them, letting Michelle provide what comfort she could. It was then she noticed the surreptitious glances Michelle was giving someone at the admittance desk. Curious, she looked to see what was bothering her. A nurse was pointedly staring at the pair and Michelle had noticed. After closer inspection, she smiled. She knew that nurse, and she knew why the woman was staring.
A month ago, perhaps even a week ago, she would have let Michelle stew, worrying about the woman's marked interest in her. However, Michelle had been behaving impeccably, and moreover, had done something she felt merited a reward. Standing, she strolled over to Michelle and sat beside her. She moved her lips to his ear. "Relax, dear. She is staring because she knows me, not because she has figured out you are not a real girl. She is a friend who helps take care of my little girls when they get sick. She knows what I do to my little boys and she is trying to figure out if you or Karen or both of you are one of my petticoated boys, but she is the soul of discretion. Just take it easy." Michelle gave her a wobbly smile, took a deep breath and began to relax.
An administrator came up and inquired about their connection with Nana. When informed that Karen was her granddaughter and the girl's guardian while her father remained overseas, he frowned. "Well, your grandmother can't go home for several days at least. I am afraid we will have to call Protective Services to come take care of you." He walked away before anyone could say anything.
Karen went very still. "Oh god, what will they do with me?" Then she realized what the options available to that agency and nearly panicked. "No! Not a foster family. I can't take that on top of all this. Being a stranger and alone. Why can't I just stay home? I am seventeen. I can drive."
Michael tried to comfort her, pulling her even closer. He looked at Jane, his artfully made up eyes becoming wide and beseeching. "Aunt Jane, couldn't Karen stay with us?" His voice broke into a sob of his own and he swallowed to regain his own composure. "Please?"
"Well, they are calling Protective Services. That may take it out of our hands." She stopped, considering how Michelle would react. "I do have some contacts there. I might be able to work something out if we catch them early enough."
Michelle smiled at her. "Please, Aunt Jane."
She nodded. "All right, Michelle. I will go make a phone call and see what I can do. One thing, however." Her tone was sharply commanding before she once again whispered into her charge's ear so that Karen would not hear her words. "If we do this - if Karen comes to live with us, even for a short while, it won't change your situation around home, Michelle. Are you prepared to be Michelle with her around?"
Michael smiled wanly at her. "As you have probably guessed, Aunt Jane, I usually am Michelle with her, anyway. Now she will merely learn why I am so good at being a girl." Jane smiled at this, and after giving Michelle a kiss on the cheek, bustled off to find a phone. She was determined to have Karen in her home.
Chapter Two: Autumn Colors and Other Surprises
Dear Barb, October 20
Things have changed greatly since my last letter to you, and as you are still not available to me by phone, I have decided to send you this note. Karen Austin, the girl I told you about, is now living in my home with Michelle and me. I won't go into the particulars, but three weeks ago, the girl's grandmother had a heart attack and a stroke. Michelle asked me to take the girl in and I did, bending some bureaucratic arms in the process. Subsequently, it was determined that she would need full time care in a nursing home and could not go back home to supervise Karen. The woman is alert, just weak. One thing led to another (your child is a steamroller when he really cares about something, Barb), and Nana prevailed on the girl's father (who is too important and too busy to come home and care for his mother and daughter) to appoint me as Karen's guardian during the grandmother's convalescence. Since a full recovery is unlikely, although more likely than the father coming home, this means I will remain Karen's guardian until she reaches her majority. You might be surprised to hear that I don't mind a bit.
It turns out that Michael had already shared Michelle with this young woman, and that Karen was even more instrumental in your son's rapid improvement than I had first guessed. She now knows everything, and although she was shocked (to say the least) to find out how Michelle lives, she recovered quickly. Now she functions as Michelle's big sister while he is home and petticoated, and as his girl friend and confidant while they are together outside the house. She agreed to this the night we discussed making the guardianship arrangement permanent.
We did have one little blow up. She "tattled" on Michelle last week. Seems Michelle had been less than politic in one of her exchanges with her "big sister". An upset Karen decided to use me to get back at Michelle. That was fine with me, because I had one last little test I wanted to try on our little girl boy. I told her that, since Karen's school was holding a Sadie Hawkins Day Dance (Karen had already asked Michael), I wanted Michelle (NOT Michael) to find a date so that she and her sister could double date. Karen would still protect Michelle, but the little dear would be in a muck sweat from then until he was safely inside my door again after the dance. I even wondered aloud if Michelle would get her first boy-girl kiss.
Karen's response was completely unexpected. She exploded. "He's MINE!" she screamed at me. "Pants or skirts or whatever. I WON'T be a party to that. I won't let HIM be a party to that." Well, I was taken aback. But what really shocked me was Michelle. She told Karen to calm down, that it was okay. Karen whirled furiously on him, "What is this? Do you want to go out with a boy?" Michael calmly told her that no, he did not. The only person he wanted to go out with was her, but recalled that when I had agreed to take her in, he had promised to obey me and to try to trust me. He said he would do it, but would feel better if she would go, too, so he would not be alone with a boy like that. That stopped me. To my knowledge, that was the first time Michelle had exhibited that type of faith in me.
Of course, I relented. She still got punished, but he went to the dance as a boy - but with a new, salon styled, big hair permanent and with frosted highlights. Sandy outdid herself this time. Even there, Karen was one step ahead of me. She had a straw farmer's hat for her hillbilly to wear over his frosted curls.
For all that, I have little more to teach Michael. He is everything I hoped he could become when I took on his case. I will keep him in skirts a while longer, because I like him that way. Selfish, I know, but Karen likes it, too, and what Karen likes, pleases your son. He wouldn't mind much, even if he had a choice in the matter.
What I propose is that you plan to spend Thanksgiving here. You could have dinner with us, and see the lovely young woman your daughter might have been. You will see the fine young man your son has become. You might also want to take a look at the woman I have every expectation will become your daughter in law. I think a graduation party where Michelle gets her trousers back, full time, would be nice. Of course, I will keep this a secret from Michelle, although I may need to include Karen in on the planning.
Please call me as soon as you have read this and my earlier letter to you. Now, I must leave. The girls are going into town to check out costumes for a Halloween Ball at the local country club. I have decided to permit Michael to dress as he pleases. The pair of them have been brainstorming ever since I told him that. They seem determined to keep their plans a great secret - especially from me. I will make sure I have fresh film in the camera.
Jane frowned as she reread the letter she had just finished. She had wanted to be far more blunt and order her school chum to attend, but she hadn't. Good manners combined with her growing fear that the problem might worsen helped her to hold her tongue. She was becoming more and more fond of Michelle with each passing day. One of the things she realized was that not once in Michelle's sojourn in her home had Barb initiated any contact with her about her son. Jane had made all the calls, written all the letters. Not once had Barb even asked if she could speak to her son. Of course, Jane had told her, early on in the project, that she strongly recommended against such contact, except for real emergencies. Still, most of her other boys' mothers had conveniently forgotten that request at least one time during their little darlings' sojourns under her supervision.
Frustrated, she readied the letter for posting. Her two charges wanted to go into town looking for costume ideas. Then, a thought struck Jane. If Michelle was going to the party as Michael, why not let them make an outing of it, just the two of them. It would let them connive in secret, and she could do some more work on the planning for her next new charge. Not having a resident big sister was going to make this one difficult. Besides, Michelle had not driven since her arrival, and would enjoy the treat. She would give them the good news at lunch.
It was a tossup who was more flabbergasted - Michael at Jane's offer, or Jane at Michael's response.
"But, Jane, I had planned on going to town as Michelle, so I can't drive. My license shows me as a male. I don't plan on speeding," he hastened to add as her eyebrow shot up, "but it would still be too big a risk in the event someone else caused an accident."
"But, Michelle, I said you could go to the party as you wished. I fully expected you would need to find a costume suitable to your character's gender."
Michelle smiled softly. "Yes, Aunt Jane, but it is just that I thought that, since I still had to stay in character here, I would look for a costume that let me do that while not getting me in trouble here for unfeminine behavior. I thought I would talk to Sandy and Carolyn about how best to do that without ruining all their efforts." Michelle paused, remembering another time Jane had "permitted" him to dress as a male. "That is, if you don't mind me seeking their assistance in this. I know last time you told me I had to do the transforming all by myself."
Still off balance, Jane shook her head. "No... No, that's fine, Michelle. That was to serve a purpose. This is in the way of a real reward for real effort. In fact, I will call Carolyn right after lunch and tell her to go along with whatever you ask. I will also tell you that whatever they do can be undone after the party if that is what it ultimately takes for you to pull off whatever it is you have in mind. You have earned this, Michelle. I really am quite proud of you."
Michelle went completely still. Surprise, then pleasure, and finally pride flashed across her face. Karen simply sat there, beaming at her sister/boy friend. Suddenly, Michelle stood up. "Please excuse me, Aunt Jane" he blurted out in a choking voice, and then ran from the room. Jane rose, intending to follow, but Karen stopped her.
"She'll be okay, Jane. Let her be. He is just so happy, and for all your efforts, Michael is still learning to cope with the softer feelings you have introduced him to. He is embarrassed that his joy reduced him to tears in front of you. He'll be back when he has regained control and repaired his face. You should be pleased. He is becoming quite the lady."
Jane looked at Karen with a sardonically raised brow. "Oh? Perhaps, too much the lady, Karen?" Jane was aware that her charges were still intimate. And had been concerned about repercussions until she had ascertained that Karen and Michael were being careful to use contraception after that first night together.
Karen gave her guardian a thoroughly female look of pure pleasure. "No, Jane, Michael is all man when it counts - just more caring and sensitive than other boys of my experience." The pair shared a look of smug satisfaction.
Michelle returned apologetically to the table, but Jane waved them off, hiding her own emotions under a facade of firmness. "Now, since Michelle can't drive, I will give Karen the keys to the Lincoln. It has more space than her little car, and you might find something today and need the room. Now go get ready. Go on, shoo!"
Both teens laughed and jumped to their feet to leave, but Michelle had one more shock for Jane this day. Before leaving the room, she shyly came over and kissed Jane on the cheek. "Thank you, Aunt Jane." she whispered, before once again rushing headlong out the room, leaving a thoroughly bemused Jane behind.
Karen drove the big car with more caution than she normally used with her zippy little Honda. Once they were on the road towards Kingston, she relaxed enough to talk. "You okay with this trip? I know that this has not been a fun place for you. Seems like all of Jane's feminizer cronies are in that town. They may not be able to resist taking a piece out of you."
Michelle nodded. "It will be okay. I have learned a lot lately. Mostly, they just want to play with me. When I give as good as I get, they just have fun. Besides, they have more to lose than I do. This is area is pretty conservative. Their businesses could suffer badly if it became known what they were doing with Jane."
Karen nodded at the insight. "You don't mind going dressed? I mean, this was a perfect opportunity to be a guy, again. Jane even gave you the go ahead for Carolyn and Sandra to put you back together after the ball. You could have spent a whole week looking like your studly self instead of living in skirts."
"Naw. Besides, are you going to leave me?"
The large car swerved violently as Karen jerked the steering wheel in surprised shock. "Hell, no! I told her and I will tell you, Michael Nash. You are mine! The formalities are just that - mere formalities. You are mine and I am yours. You are stuck with me, Miss or Mister. End of statement."
Pleased by her response, Michael chuckled. "I love you, too, darling. So, getting out of skirts is not an issue with me, anymore. You like them. I expect I will be wearing them on and off the rest of my life because pleasing you is a big priority in my life." His voice trailed off. Karen urged him on, asking him to finish the thought. He visibly steeled himself and after taking a deep breath, whispered. "And I like them, too."
"Oh, Michelle, I am so glad. Really I am. I was worried that once Jane signs off on your return to that damned school, I would never have my girl friend back again. And if you had done it for me like it was some damned sacrifice, I would have known, and I would have hated it."
Unlike Michelle who was fashionably turned out in skirt and blazer set, Karen was wearing her beloved jeans. The jeans had been a minor bone of contention when Karen had moved in - Michael had asked to wear them, but Jane had refused. "Karen already knows how and when to be a lady, Michelle. You are still learning. Of course, to be fair, I could ask Karen to refrain from wearing them until you are advanced enough that I will permit you such liberties..." Michael had not liked that idea at all. First, because Karen loved wearing her jeans, and he would not want her deprived because of him. Secondly, she looked awfully sexy in those skin tight denims and he would not want himself deprived of that pleasure, either.
So, Jane had relented, and Karen continued to wear her jeans for both their pleasure. Jane, being Jane, was unable to resist a few stinging jabs about "who wore the pants in this relationship..", but as long as Karen was happy and looking so sexy, Michael was able to handle those with grace and a smile. What he did not realize was that it was precisely that comfort with her games that Jane had been looking for, and had now found.
Michelle reached across the seat to gently squeeze the denimed thigh, and then rested his hand there. They rode like that most of the way, until the outer limits of Kingston and the university campus came in view. At a stop light, Karen saw Michael staring wistfully at the sign proclaiming pre-registration for the spring term. He merely shook his head when she asked if something was the matter.
They drove toward the business square where Marisha Chalet sat, and Karen carefully parked the car. She shutdown the engine, and turned to face her lover. "You want to go through with this? It could really destroy her, you know."
"Hey, it was your idea, remember? You said it was the right thing to do, that it would bring closure. Now you are getting cold feet? For all my little bravado back there on the road, Sandy scares the hell out me. She has been a lot easier on me since August, but she knows just how to get to me, and she loves doing it. She has a way of getting me so turned on that I get rock hard, and then she cuts me to ribbons with it."
Karen took his hand. "Don't worry about it, sweet. Anything she makes rock hard, I can help make nicely pliable again, and I promise you'll love it." Her voice was a husky whisper that grabbed him by the groin and twisted sensuously. "Seriously, we could do something else and still get the effect you want."
Michelle considered that carefully. It was tempting. Finally, he shook his head. "No, this is the right way. She has to see me as I am, now. Not as she chooses to see me in her mind. We can't get over the past until she does."
Karen smiled. That was the answer she'd wanted, but she'd needed to know he understood, too. "Okay, let's go. I saw Caro at the window looking at us. She must think that Jane is having to drag you in, again. Sandy must be getting out the frosting kit again." she said with a smirk.
The patrons of the shop only noted how lovely the two young women who entered the shop were. Carolyn and Sandra came up to greet them and then ushered them into the back room. Sandy spoke first. "Well, Jane called." she said with a dejected tone in her voice. "She told us this was your show, Michael. What do you want us to do?" She looked very sad and Michael wondered why.
Carolyn spoke. "We know that you are going to the Ball and that Jane said you could pick your own costume. Tell us what you have in mind and we will see what we can do. Frankly, you have become so facile an actress, you could pull off anything."
Michael glanced at Karen, who nodded back. He reached into the oversize shoulder bag he carried and withdrew an 8x10 manilla envelope from it. "Before we go further, you should know that our plans are secret, especially from Jane. If you can't agree to that, we will do something else - try another salon." Determination colored his voice. Both women looked at him in disbelief. He would go to another salon, chancing discovery?
Finally, Carolyn spoke. "We already knew that, Michael. Jane told us and asked that we keep your confidence. We promised her and we promise you that, too. Don't we, Sandy?" The other woman nodded.
"Okay, look at this." He pulled a photo from the envelope and laid it on the table. It was a promotional picture from a famous historical movie. "We saw this and the similarity of our facial structures to these people. And I remembered the outfits you got for Beth and me for that parade float. Now, this is what we want to do...."
The planning took the better part of the afternoon, what with Carolyn and Sandy having to leave periodically to work on their customers. Gradually, both women got into the spirit of the enterprise and all but took over from the two excited teenagers. Finally, Sandy was toting up what to have as they reviewed their lists one last time. "...... cosmetics, hair dye, spirit gum." she concluded. "Okay, I think that does it. While I was out on the floor the last time, I called the costume shop around the corner and told them to expect you soon. Michael, that shop is not, to my knowledge, party to Jane's activities, so be careful while you are being fitted. It might be wise to have Karen assist you instead of their people while you are changing into your costume for fitting and alteration. Oh! I almost forgot." She ran to a nearby closet and returned with a familiar box. "Here, you might need this." Michael took the box and thanked her.
Carolyn smiled. "Thank you, Michael" she said emphasizing the 'you', "for letting us be a part of this. I know we made your life hell, but that was part of the plan. I'd like to think we have become less your enemies, now, and more like friends."
Michael stood and gave each woman a demure kiss on the cheek. "Not like friends, Carolyn. You are friends. It just took me awhile to figure out that not all friendships start out friendly. Now, I have to go or the shop will close."
"Michael? If you and Karen would like, I could visit the afternoon of the party. Help you both get ready. That dye can be messy, even if it does wash out with the special solvent soap."
"If you don't mind, Caro, I think that would be wonderful."
"Miiiiii-chaeeell" Karen wheedled. "Could we go? I am tired and hungry and those fittings will take an hour at least. Especially mine! I am gonna get turned into a human pin cushion. I just know it."
They got home around nine pm to find that Marie had kept supper warm for their return. Jane insisted they take dinner in the study with her on trays as she quizzed them on their day. Michael was mischievously evasive on the subject of where they went and what they bought. "Oh, but I will tell you that Caro promised to come over Saturday afternoon and personally handle my makeover."
Karen swatted him with a lace throw pillow. "Hey, don't forget about me. She promised she would do my make up, too."
Michael put on Michelle's cattiest look, and said sweetly. "Oh, dear, that's right. Well, maybe you should call her, Auntie Jane, and see if she could be here by nine am, instead." Both women fell on him with pillows then, and Jane's formal, Victorian study became a slapstick comedy of screeching laughter, petticoats and pillow feathers. Michael could not remember having a better evening in Jane's house.
The sealed garment boxes with the costumes arrived the Thursday before the party. Michelle and Karen locked themselves away in Karen's room (Jane permitted Karen the privacy of a locked door that she still chose to deny Michael), and tried on their costumes. The alterations were perfect, thus saving the teens from having to ask Marie's help or worse, from trying to fix the clothes themselves.
Caro arrived in time for luncheon on Saturday. After the meal, the three conspirators adjourned to Karen's room for the grand transformation. By tacit agreement, both Marie and Jane avoided the upstairs that afternoon, afraid they would peek if they had the chance.
At five thirty, Carolyn found Jane and told her that they were ready for the unveiling. Jane and Marie hurried to the parlor, both carrying cameras to record the event. Carolyn returned and took her place on the settee beside Jane. From outside the parlor, Michael's voice, a much deeper voice than Jane was used to hearing called. "Ready in there?"
Jane responded tartly. "I was ready two hours ago. Now get in here."
Karen's soft laugh followed. Moments later, Rhett Butler escorted Scarlet O'Hara across the threshold of the room. Scarlet was in a classic reproduction of the famous movie ball gown, its décolleté bodice showing an expanse of creamy cleavage. Her hair had been darkened with dye and hung in sausage curls around her head. Opera length satin gloves covered her arms, and on her left cheek, beneath her twinkling eye, was a black beauty patch. With one hand in Rhett's, and the other holding her heavy skirt, Scarlet curtseyed low to her royal audience.
Rhett was in black evening wear, complete with tails and a cane. His hair had also been dyed black, while his skin had been artfully darkened and coarsened by Caro's cosmetic artistry. His brows, and upper lip were covered by hair that had not been there at lunch. False brows and mustache, to be sure, but it was a very, very good job. His hands were covered by formal white gloves and gleaming boots adorned his feet. Bowing low to the women, he 'made his leg' with the grace of a Regency Corinthian.
"My God, Caro.... it is like they stepped off the movie screen into my house." She looked more closely at the boy she had worked so hard to make into a girl, and shook her head in confusion. Scarlet giggled, and Jane's head came up in shock.
"Now, you blew it." was Karen's disgusted comment. "We would have made it out of here without her knowing if you could have kept your mouth shut."
"Naow, Rhett-dawlin'," said Scarlet in a terrible Southern accent and in Michael's voice, "Ya'll know I was gonna tell her lil' ol' self befo' we left, anyway."
Jane could not seem to get her mouth to work - it just hung open. Caro was having spasms, trying to keep from laughing out loud. Marie was stunned. Finally, Jane choked out, "Michael? I mean, Michelle, is that you?"
Michael came over to kneel in front of Jane in a swirl of silks and satin. "Yes, Jane." came the soft, incongruously male voice in reply. "It is me."
"But, why? You could have been anyone - anything. Why a female?"
Michael's answering smile was beautiful to see. "Because, dear Jane, this *is* me, now. Or at least, a part of me. You see, two ladies that I have come to care about, like this in me. More importantly, I have come to like it, too. I am still a man,.." he stopped to consider that and shook his head, sending the sausage curls bouncing saucily about his face, "No, I am more of a man, because none of this..." and he swept a hand over the female finery, "threatens me anymore. It is part of me, and I have come to like me quite a bit in the past weeks. I wanted you to know that, Jane." With a muffled "oh, god", Jane wrapped her arms around her charge and clung tightly, tears rolling down her cheeks. Then, she jumped to her feet and ran from the room. Michael made to follow her, but Marie stopped him. She was also crying, but smiling. "I will see to her, Michael. She will be fine. You and your young lady just go and have fun."
Caro repaired the damage to everyone's makeup, and then took pictures with both forgotten cameras. Finally, she ushered them out the door, and went to find Jane. She thought a good drunk and a happy crying jag were definitely in order. Jane had to have some good bubbly in this house somewhere. She would just have to find it.
No one got up for breakfast the next day. Michelle, seeing the problem, mixed up a "hair of the dog" favored by one of his mother's consorts, and served tall frosty restoratives to each hangover victim. A few hours later, when hunger set in, Michelle made omelets and muffins to fill empty stomachs. When his own (the last, naturally) was done and he came to sit at the table, Karen was regaling the women with a recount of their exploits. "You remember Page, don't you, Jane? The boy who made Michael's life hell at the play? He was there as a pirate, and he was so enamored of little Miss Scarlet. He even prevailed on her to dance. God, I was afraid he would drool the makeup off the fake boobs Sandy gave her. Strange thing, though, his pants fell down, and he wasn't wearing any undies. He was quite the spectacle, hopping off the dance floor, trying to hold up his pants with one hand, and keep his dickie covered with the other." Karen looked up to Michael as he set his plate down and settled into his chair. "However did that happen, Michelle, dear?" she asked in the sweetest, most innocent of tones.
Michelle gave an entirely unladylike snort. "He should not have been carrying a real knife on that stupid belt of his. Knives are dangerous." was all Michael had to say for the ladies to howl with mirth. With a satisfied smile, Michael continued, "My only regret is that he went home afterwards and missed the unmasking. Karen and I won first prize for best costume by a couple. I would have loved to see his face when he realized that he had been hitting on a guy. I do hope someone tells him." Then a thought struck Michael and he looked slyly at Jane. "Aunt Jane? There isn't any chance that Page has gotten in trouble around here? You know, you might talk to his mom, offer to help her with him a little..."
Jane spluttered. "Oh, no. None of that. I don't take students from the immediate area. They are too likely to be recognized, no matter how well I do my job. Besides, his father is an arrogant paternalistic idiot and he would never agree, more's the pity."
"Too bad. I would even stay on past Christmas to help with that scene, and I would not feel a whit of guilt about it like Beth did with me."
The offhanded reminder of his approaching departure cast a pall on the impromptu brunch and it broke up shortly thereafter. Caro had to leave for home, Jane went to her study, closing the door and Marie gathered the dishes to clean. The two young people decided to go for a walk.
Things settled back into the familiar routine for Jane's household. Studies and school consumed much of Michael's and Karen's time. Both took the College board exams the week after the ball. Michael went back the next week for further testing, saying only that he was working on several options when it came to college and that the tests were a part of that.
About two weeks before Thanksgiving, Karen heard shouting coming from Jane's study. Concerned that her lover had gotten in trouble again with her mercurial guardian, she peaked in through the open door in time to see Jane slamming her antique phone down onto its cradle. "DAMN that woman! HOW can she DO that to him?"
Jane put her head down on her desk, looking utterly desolate. Karen crept in, and put her hand on Jane's head. "Jane? What is the matter?" When Jane mumbled that it was nothing, Karen disagreed. "No, I have never seen you upset over 'nothing' and you are upset. Now give."
"Oh, it is nothing, really. Nothing I can fix, anyway. That was Barbara - Michelle's mother. She was answering my last two letters." Jane went on to explain her plan for a surprise graduation party for Michael. "She just called to tell me she was going on another vacation with her newest new boyfriend. Seems they will be making a holiday tour of the Caribbean. They leave tomorrow and won't be back until after New Year's. As to Michael's future at St. A's, I am to "do what ever you think best, darling. You seem to do so much better with him than I do." Damned woman. To do anything you first have to try enough to care and care enough to try. When I think of the waste of a fine human being she almost caused with that type of neglect, I want to do bodily damage to her."
Karen moved behind Jane, massaging the stress out of her shoulders. "Well, you care, Jane, and so do I. Matter of fact, there are a lot of folks here who care about our Michael-Michelle, so that is all that matters. If she does not know what she has in him, it is her loss and our gain." she kept on stroking. "He is special to you, too. Isn't he, Jane."
Jane had long since ceased being amazed at this girl's empathy and grasp of human feelings. She merely nodded. "Yes, he is. I have never had a bond with one of my pupils like this before. It is almost as if he was my own. As if he were my son." She laughed a harsh, derisive laugh. "Funny, isn't it. I love him like a son, and I haven't figured out how to show it."
"He knows, Jane. No boy I know does what he did for you at Halloween without loving the person he is doing it for. He knew it could have backfired on him at the party, big time, and he still went through with it because you had given him the choice." Karen became silent. "You know, we really don't need his mother. I think your whole circle of friends would love to give Michelle a proper sendoff. What do you think of this idea..." And with that, the two women began to plan.
Chapter Three: Restorations and Revelations
The quiet was eerie. It was a little after eight on the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, and Jane was completely alone in the house. Marie had left Wednesday to spend the holiday with family in Boston. She would return shortly to help with the final party preparations. Karen and Michelle had gone to Providence for the morning. That was part of the plan she and Jane had hatched to get Michelle out of the house long enough to finish the final touches for the day's festivities.
Karen had asked Michelle to go to Church with her for the celebration of the first Sunday of the Christmas Advent Festivities. Michelle had initially been reticent, not wanting to go into Church "wearing a lie". Jane had held back during the exchange, knowing she could have easily have forced his acquiescence, but not wanting to. Fortunately, Karen was well in command of the situation, as she had seemed to have been with so many others. "Is it a lie, Michelle, dear? Really?" Michelle seemed to waver, and Karen had moved in. "It is not like you are going to take the veil, luv. You are just going to sit in the pew, listening to beautiful music, and looking lovely."
Michelle had blushed beautifully, and finally had given in. So early this morning, the pair had dressed in their new holiday finery, and headed off to Providence in Karen's Honda.
Jane could not really remember the last time the house had seemed this empty - probably because since she had purchased it, the house had not been empty. She had taken on her first petticoating project within mere weeks of moving in, and had always had at least one skirted boy underfoot since. And now, she was losing this one without a sure replacement in hand. The mother of the boy she was to take on was uncertain she wanted to inflict Jane's "torments" (the Mother's words) on her misunderstood son. If that one fell through, as had the last, Jane would have only Karen once Michael headed back to St. A's.
Of course, that was not insignificant. Karen had become very important to Jane in the short time they had been together. Jane had all but forgotten the simple pleasures of sharing things with another true female. As competent as her sissy-boys became at acting like young women, and as much as many of them came to enjoy their feminized states, Karen shared things with Jane that her boys could not. Case in point was the shopping trip they had taken to buy the clothes she and Michelle had worn today. It had been fun, and in an entirely different way than when she went shopping with her "girls". When Jane took the boys shopping, she enjoyed their fear of being unmasked, and the little humiliations her friends heaped on their curly heads. But there was that slight chance that something might go wrong, that the boy might be uncovered by someone who was not in on the conspiracy. So Jane had to be constantly alert in those situations and that tended to blunt the simple pleasure of shopping for pretty things.
With Karen, there had been none of that tension. She had actually been able to enjoy herself without those distractions. She had been able to enjoy and share Karen's pleasure in finding pretty things for herself and for Michelle. It had been...... nice.
The real problem, Jane was forced to admit, was that she was already missing Michelle. She had never before let a boy stay after his rehabilitation was complete. They left her immediately to get on with their lives. She was usually a little sad to see them go, and missed them for awhile, but was soon diverted by the next little test or task she had planned for her latest "girl". This was very different.
"You might as well admit it, Jane Thompson." she spoke angrily into the silent room. "You admitted to Karen that you loved Michael Nash as the son you never had, but the real truth is that you love him best as Michelle. And you have no right to keep Michelle at Michael's expense anymore." She savagely swiped at the tears that had welled up in her eyes, infuriated with herself that she could not be happy for Michael's sake that today ..... that today was his last day in skirts.
Well, probably not his last day. Karen liked Michelle, too, and Michael had as much as told her that he accepted Michelle when he had elected to be Scarlet instead of Rhett. But she would no longer see Michelle every day, nor, in fact, should she. Michael would need the next month to reestablish enough of his male mannerisms to survive the last term at St. Andrews.
The door bell's ring broke her reveries. That must be the first of the guests, arriving to help with the final party setups. Good. Jane was tired of feeling alone and lonely.
The Honda pulled onto the estate around two pm. Much to Jane's amazement, everything was ready. The two young people entered to the foyer smiling, and looking to see where Jane might be. Jane opened the door to her study, a stern look on her face. Sharply, she ordered. "Michelle? I want to see you in my study. NOW, young lady, this very INSTANT!"
Michael's face fell dramatically. What HAD he done? He had tried so hard the past few weeks - not on the feminine things, but to show Jane how much he had come to care for and about her; to show that he actually loved her. He had even permitted himself to believe that she cared for him, too. Now he must have done something to upset her, but he could not imagine what it was. Would this mean she would have to delay his planned departure for St. A's?
Jane turned and reentered the study, her back stiff and straight. It was the way she had been those first, horrible weeks. Sighing inwardly, Michael turned to follow her, consciously thinking about his presentation for the first time in weeks. He did not realize that Karen was following close behind him until her white gloved hands came up to cover his eyes just before he reached the study threshold. Michael faltered with the loss of vision, but Karen prodded him on into the room before he could stop or free his eyes.
"SUUURRRRPPPRRIIIIZZZEEE!" The combined yell of several female voices caused the blinded boy to jump backwards into Karen, almost tripping them. Karen's hands came away as she struggled to catch them both. Once he regained balance, stupefied wonder rendered him speechless and motionless. The study looked like a New Year's Eve Party gone wild. Brightly colored pink and blue crepe paper festooned the room and a banner that proclaimed "Congratulations, Michelle - Welcome Back, Michael" hung proudly on the wall behind Jane's desk.
Then Michael took in who was there. Everyone who had had a hand in his journey of self discovery. Carolyn and Sandra, Miss Franson from the dress shop and Mrs. Bedford, the nurse whose stares had unnerved him at the hospital - they were all there. And of course, in the center and out in front of everyone else, was Jane and Marie. Then, a hand tapped his shoulder and he turned to see "David?" the name was a whisper. "David, is that you?"
The fondly remembered gentle smile curved the lips of the young man in front of him. He was turned out in a finely made, charcoal gray suit. Michael did not know what else to do, but hug his friend. "God, I am glad to see you. I have missed you. Karen, come and meet David.."
"Ahem" That single syllable stopped him cold. He turned toward Jane who was looking at him with a cocked brow and a sardonic smile. "I believe I told you, young lady, that *I* wanted to see you."
Smiling now himself, Michael went to stand in front of Jane, and then curtseyed deeply as he had the night of the Halloween Ball. Jane pulled him into a tight hug. She pulled back, and ordered "All right, everyone sing, please..."
The women and David started to sing, "For he's a jolly good fellow..."
Sandy put her fingers to her mouth and blew a shrill whistle, shocking everyone to silence. They turned to her in amazement. She grinned. "Can't sing that, Jane. Not yet, anyway." She pointed to a chair that had been covered with a bed sheet. A table, covered with combs, scissors and a myriad of bottles, stood beside it.
Jane nodded, smiling mischievously. "Quite right, Sandra. Michelle, please sit in that chair." What followed was a complete demolition of what had taken Michael an hour that morning and over six months of learning to accomplish. Sandra moved behind the chair and started to dampen his hair with another foul smelling concoction. Carolyn stood in front of him and began working on his face. Marie and Miss Franson took a position on each side of the chair and began working on his hands and nails. It took over an hour, but finally, the ladies stepped back. Michael wanted to see what had been done, but the room's mirror was covered in crepe. Jane stepped up to him. "Michael, please go to your room and put on the clothing Marie has laid out for you."
Completely ill-at-ease now, Michael slowly left the study and went up to his room. He thought he knew what to expect, but he was wrong. The changes in his femininely appointed room shocked him. It wasn't feminine anymore; it was a young man's room. The light pastel blues of the walls and moldings were still there, but every accessory had been replaced by ones more suitable to a boy's room. Every female touch, every feminine touch of lace and bit of whimsy had been ruthlessly eradicated. The bed's canopy had been removed; a brightly colored hunting lodge quilt replaced the satin bedspread. The tiered fabrics that had upholstered the various pieces of furniture had been replaced with pieces that matched the quilt. Had he felt this disoriented when he had first seen the room in its girl's room decor?
New cotton briefs, socks, a dress shirt and tie, and a shoe box sat on the foot of his bed. On his dressing table, no longer a vanity, was a man's jewelry box opened to display, a new wristwatch, new tie clasps and cuff links. The sink counter in his bathroom now contained a variety of aftershaves, men's colognes and other male toiletries. Opening his armoire, he saw that all of his dresses and other things were gone - replaced by several new suits and sports jackets. One was already laid out for him. He changed from the skin out, still careful to properly tend to his lingerie and dress. A near hysterical bark of laughter broke through his confusion when he started to button *this* shirt from the wrong side. Deja vu all over again.
Was that first blouse *really* that long ago? Another lifetime, or perhaps another age.
Only after he had finished, did he let himself look in the three sided mirror where he had practiced so many new and discomforting mannerisms. Nervously, he kept his eyes lowered as he turned to face himself. As he should have expected from Jane, the suit fit him perfectly. Michael took several deep, cleansing breaths before he could lift his eyes to view his head and face. For several heartbeats, he could only stare in stunned wonder at his own reflection. Michael had thought about this moment ever since that last meeting with David in the garden, wondering how he could ever be "normal" again. He wasn't "normal"; he was better. A mature young man calmly returned his hesitant gaze. His hair was no longer curly, or even highlighted. It was longer, fuller than before, but not unusually so. Even the color was back to what it had been when he used to be a boy. "Used to be a boy?" he asked himself. "Where the hell did *that* come from?" No answer was forthcoming. Why, even his brows looked less fine, less arched. Carolyn must have added some subtle coloring to make them look fuller.
Finally, he couldn't delay any longer, so he left the room and headed back down to the party. As he entered, a rousing chorus of "Now he's a jolly good fellow" marked his return. The loud emphasis on the added word "NOW" in the traditional song broke his mood and made him smile for the first time since Jane had ordered him to the study. The party turned into a lovely, loving memory he would hug to his heart for the rest of his life. The food was marvelous, and the company even better. Each woman made a point of speaking to him alone, praising him on how far he had come, and how much they had enjoyed him. "Especially after you finally wised up." was Sandy's semi-caustic aside. "Although," she continued thoughtfully, "You were sure fun to tease early on. I thought you would come out of the chair a couple of times."
"A couple of times, Sandy? Try a hundred times. Your comments on my masculinity or rather, my lack of it, almost demoralized me."
Sandra smiled at him. "Ah, honey, all Jane's boys get like that." she said with a gentleness he had not expected from her. "Just too full of hormones for anything else - not with a bold, sexy female like me challenging everything you think you are." she gave him a hungry, feral leer right out of a grade B movie, and they laughed easily together. "Besides," she continued, warming to her subject, "Wearing nice lingerie, being pampered, getting all dolled up - all that stuff is sexy. It is sexy on women, and it is sexy on men. It is just plain sexy, hon. Your body, especially your penis, knew that even if your mind was fighting it. I just used that fact to dig into your head a little deeper." Then her sly smile became a sexy challenge. "And don't think I have forgotten how .. umm," she licked her lips salaciously, "How well built you are down there, stud. Come back some time when Jane isn't going to have my ass for it and I will keep that promise to put that thing between your legs to good use." With that bomb, she kissed him hard on the lips and sauntered off, hips swinging.
Karen came storming over to him, green fire flashing in her eyes. "And just was that all about?".
"I don't know," Michael said. "I am not sure if it was a promise or a threat." Then he hugged her and gave her a kiss. "Thank you, luv. I would not be here like this without you. In the end, you were my turning point."
The party broke up at about six pm. The women had to work the next day, and David had to catch a train to be back in time for school. Hugs and kisses were exchanged, and surprisingly, each of the women had a special gift for Michael, but he did not have time to open them before they left. Nor did it seem that they seemed to want him to, either. It was all very strange to his mind. Well, he would remember his manners and send a nice thank you to each of his new friends.
"Michael?" Jane called to him. It seemed odd answering her when she used that name, now. "Would you drive David to the train station? I have added you to my insurance policy, and now, your license will work." she added with a teasing grin. Thanking her, Michael led his friend to the car for a long drive and a talk. It was the perfect ending to the day.
The gifts were stacked on his bed when he returned. With mixed emotion, Michael saw that his last dress, as well as the lingerie and accessories, had been removed from the room while he was gone as well. Shrugging against feelings he did not want to analyze at that moment, Michael opened his gifts. He should have known. Smiling to himself, he wondered if Jane had known about the gifts.
Michael was early for breakfast. He had forgotten how much simpler his morning ablutions were as a male, particularly if he was not trying to maintain a double life - boy in the morning, girl in the afternoon - as he had for the play. Jane was already downstairs, too, sitting in her usual place at the head of the table, drinking coffee. A pile of papers and other documents were on the table beside her. She looked up at him, frowned slightly, then forced a smile to her face. "Good morning, Michael. Did you sleep well?" Actually, he hadn't. The room felt alien to him and he had been restless, but he smiled and answered that he had. The oddly strained smile Jane gave him did not reach her eyes. "Good. These are for you." She slid the pile of paper toward him. "There are your checkbook, your credit cards and the report of your trust fund accounts for the period you have been with me. My brokers have taken over the management of your accounts, and you will find detailed reports of their activities. I think they have done quite well, but of course, you are welcome to discuss their performance with them, or to change to someone of your own choosing."
Michael took the papers and set them aside. "I am sure that everything is fine, Aunt Jane. I will look at them later. Perhaps you could help me with going through them? Mother never has, and I have no idea what any of this means."
His simple statement and request for help almost destroyed her. She still did not really believe Karen's assurances that Michael trusted and cared for her. Maybe he did, after all, at least trust her a little, to ask her help with his finances. "Of course," she said with a calm she did not feel. "This afternoon, perhaps?"
"At your convenience, Aunt Jane." At that moment, Karen came into the room, stopping a moment to stare at Michael in his slacks and polo shirt, before recovering enough to chirp a cheerful good morning.
For all the apparent good feeling shared among the threesome over the next few hours, Michael felt an undercurrent of tension swirling around him. Every time he saw Jane looking at him when she thought he did not see her, there seemed to be almost an aura of melancholy about her. If she saw him looking at him, the same plastic smile came. Conversation between them was strained, and the easy banter that had developed over the past few weeks was nonexistent. Only in her study, when she patiently explained each financial document to him, did she seem comfortable with him. Was that because she had fallen into her "School Mistress" role again, and he had become "the student", and as such, someone she could relate to better than she could a freed "Michael Nash"?
Lunch was difficult, with Karen trying, with little success, to involve both Michael and Jane in normal conversation. Finally, at dinner, Michael concluded he understood the problem. Did he want to solve the problem was the question. For Jane and for Karen: the answer was yes. For himself? Insight flared, and he understood that he could not be happy with Jane unhappy. She had simply become too important to him as a person. And, in all honesty, it was his choice this time. That made a difference somehow. He glanced at Karen, cocking a brow as he had seen Jane do so often when she was about to set a fox in his personal chicken coupe. She seemed to understand and smiling at him, nodded slightly. "Aunt Jane, I forgot something important. May I please be excused for a few moments?" Jane jumped at the sound of his voice in the silence that had descended on the dining room, but nodded and gave him leave to go. Michael hurried up the stairs, and after a quick stop in Karen's room, he went to his own. Inside, he pulled out the gifts he had received the day before from each of Jane's circle.
Michael reentered dining room about fifteen minutes after departing. Jane glanced up from her soup, ready to order him to his seat before the soup was inedibly cold. She did a classic, thoroughly satisfying double take before dropping her spoon noisily into the dish in surprise. Michelle was back. Michael had borrowed the outfit, including the flats, that he had worn that first time for Karen after the play. On his head was a softly curling blond wig, that Sandy's note had said was made to match his most attractive styling and color. Miss Franson had given him a complete set of lingerie and hose. Caro's contribution was a set of cosmetics designed to match Sandy's hairpiece and his skin, and Mrs Bedford had given him a set of costume jewelry (earrings, pendent and a bracelet) and a set of press on nails in a suitable color of light pink for everyday wear. "M...mm... Michael?" Jane spluttered out. "But.. But.."
"No, Jane. Michelle." he walked over to Jane and taking her hand, drew her out of her seat, into a hug. "We have come too far, I think, for either of us to be comfortable with Michael. Not this abruptly. Maybe, not in this house, ever. I don't know, but I also don't much care. I do care about you. Let me give you this gift, Jane."
"But you need to remember how to be male! Next month..."
"Next month will be fine. I will do my practicing outside of the house. Karen will help. At home, I will continue as before."
Home? He had said "home". "But Michael... I mean, Michelle, you hated this."
"Hated, Jane. Past tense. You did your work well. I can, as you once told me I would have to, tell you that I honestly enjoy the masquerade. And I have come to love you. So, let me be what you love best in me, for you and me. Okay?"
Jane broke down into racking sobs. Michael, although versed in things feminine, still suffered the male's genetic impotence in the face of a woman's tears. He held her close, casting pleading glances to Karen to come help. Karen merely shook her head, grinning like a loon through her own happy tears.
Jane finally calmed down and wiped her eyes with the napkin Michael handed her. "I won't hold you to it, you know."
"I know, Aunt Jane. It was and is my choice, but I think it is the right one for all of us." Then he whispered in Jane's ear. "Besides, Karen really likes Michelle. Makes her horny."
Jane sputtered a choked laugh and looked back and forth between the two young people. "Okay," she finally grinned herself. She made an attempt to regain her composure and dignity after her outburst. Why, she is embarrassed, thought Michael. I wonder if she would blush if I teased her about it right now? But just as the thought came, he rejected it, knowing that it would be insensitive on his part and might destroy the gain he had made. Michelle seated Jane and then himself. "If that really is your choice, I will have Marie return your dainties and other things tomorrow, Michelle. Your blouse seems to have gotten quite wet."
Michelle grinned. "Thank you, Aunt Jane. You might tell her to bring back only the more grown up fashions. Shirley Temple has retired and I do need room in the armoire for Michael's things, too."
Jane gave him her most sardonic, mocking smile, and his heart stopped for a second. God, she could still do it to him. And she knew it, too, darn her. "Oh, well. If you insist." she said as testily as she could with her heart so full. Her daughter was back now, too. Life was good again - at least until Michael had to leave.
Chapter Four: Holiday Gifts
Christmas was only two weeks away and Jane was looking forward to her first "family Christmas" since she had left home for school. In the past few years, she would get together with friends on Christmas Eve, and try to do something nice for her charges of the moment that would not set her program back too far. This holiday did not have that imposed restraint. Jane felt like the Grinch after his heart had grown ten sizes. She and Karen had planned gifts for both Michelle and for Michael, so that she could have nice things when she visited, and he would have things that were suitable for his future endeavors outside of the cloister of her home.
Jane looked up as Marie entered the study. She smiled as her longtime confidante, friend and fellow conspirator handed her the day's mail. As always, it was sorted by type, and by addressee. On top, was an official looking letter with a State return address. Jane picked it up and started reading it before she realized that the letter was for Michael. She should have put it down. She no longer had any justification for previewing and censoring his mail, but she could not put that, or the other similar letter aside once she started reading it. Whatever had Michael done? When had he done it? And most important of all - *why* had he done it?
Jane was waiting in the sitting room just off the foyer when Michael and Karen returned from their outing in town. Michael was involving the two women in his shopping for the other, wanting to make sure that their gifts were perfect. She smiled at that insecurity, it had to be a male trait, because as far as she could tell, all of his selections for Karen had been right on target. She called to them. "Michael, please come in here a moment. I need to talk to you for a moment, please."
Michael stuck his head in the sitting room door. "You want me to change first, Aunt Jane?" She shook her head no, and handed him the papers she had gotten in the mail.
As Michael began to read, Jane spoke. "I was not spying on you, Michael, at least not now. It has been my standard procedure to have Marie to open all mail and give it to me, particularly any mail addressed to one of my students. There are good reasons for that. Security for one: I need to know if one of my girls has a correspondence that might be dangerous to him or to me. Another reason is that I do not want bad news to reach one of them without my knowledge, because I make them very vulnerable. Lord knows what might happen if word of a death or serious illness in the family reached one of my skirted boys at a particularly bad moment. None of that excuses this, Michael, I should have remembered to tell Marie to stop opening your private mail, but now that I have seen it, I would like an explanation. Obviously, this was the second set of exams you took in November, but why?"
State Board of Regents of Education December 12
Dear Mr. Nash,
Congratulations. Based on your transcripts from St. Andrews Academy, your performance on the state tests in the subjects you studied in your Home Learning Program under Ms. Thompson, and your exceptional performance on the State Home Learner High School Equivalency Diploma Exam, I am pleased to award you the State Regents Diploma you will find enclosed with this letter. Again, congratulations on a job superbly done.
The letter was signed by the State Regents Chairman. Michael looked up at her. "I am sorry you had to learn about it this way. I meant to tell you sooner, but I am not returning to St. A's, Aunt Jane. I am staying in this area. I will be taking courses at the University in Kingston during the Spring Term as a non-degree student since this and my SAT's were too late for the application deadline."
"But, but, why?"
"Because St. A's, and the Ivy League school are not my dream now, if they ever truly were. If I have learned anything from you, it is to be absolutely sure I know what I want, and to take responsibility for the actions necessary to achieve that." He turned his face to Karen, a gentle look on his face. "I want to stay here."
Jane nodded. "All right, I can understand that, but what will you do? What will you study? The Ivy League schools are the best business schools in the country, you know."
Michael nodded. "I am going to become a research psychiatrist, Jane. I want to go to Medical School. I want to learn what makes people tick, but mostly, I want to understand what makes me tick."
Jane studied him carefully, trying to understand where this was headed. "This is very sudden, Michael, for such a radical change in plans?"
"About as sudden as the changes in me that happened since June. I knew in September that I did not want to go back to St. A's, I just did not want to admit it, even to myself. So, when I sent off my SAT application, I sent another one off for the state exams. Remember? I needed two checks."
"Where will you stay? It would be hard for you here in this house with the new student and all."
"I have not worked that out, yet."
Karen perked up for the first time. "He could stay in Nana's house. It is just sitting empty now, waiting for me to reach eighteen. He could sort of house sit for me."
Jane nodded. "That would work, I suppose, although you won't be eighteen yourself, yet, Michael." she shrugged. "Well, you will be close enough for me to keep an eye on you." He was STAYING, her mind cheered. For now, that was enough. She realized that it was more to be close to Karen than for her sake, but it was still better than she could have hoped for. Smiling again, she said, "Well, now that that is done, would you like to change for dinner, Michael, or are you starving?"
Smiling, he shook his head. "I need a shower. I think I will change, Aunt Jane." making her smile grow wider.
Later, while Karen saw to getting some coffee made, Jane decided to make use of the opportunity, and asked Michael, now dressed as Michelle, what had started him on his new track.
Michelle flushed, but faced Jane squarely. "I am ashamed to admit, Aunt Jane, that it was a desire for revenge."
That was not what Jane had expected. "Revenge?"
"Yes, on you and your comrades in crime." Michelle sighed, thinking of the carefully laid out plans he had not dared commit to writing. "I had decided that I was always going to have these feminine little habits that you had forced on me and that in an all boys school, those little nuances and movements were going to make my life hell on earth. So, I plotted to be here in the area, so I could watch you, and wait for the opportunity to destroy you." Jane blanched at blunt statement. Michelle saw it and nodded. "Yes, strong words, but that is how I felt, and looking back on it, I could have done it."
"Really, Michelle?" Jane tried to sound dubious, but he was so confident.
"Really, Jane. You are vulnerable, and I don't know why something has not already happened to you. All you have to protect yourself with is the threat of using those pictures, and later on, the good will of your former students. If the threat is insufficient, or if the good will is lacking, or worse, is replaced by a will to do harm, you can be hurt. I was going to wait until I saw you want something really badly. Maybe a lover, or a husband - then I was going to drop everything I knew on the desk of some scandal sheet. You would have been the greatest thing since Heidi Fleis or the Mayflower Madam. Oh, you would not have gone to jail - you had permission to do what you did. But your network of supporters and helpers, the judges, the social workers, Caro, Sandy and the rest - they'd be hurt and hurt badly, personally and professionally. How many society matrons would trust their debutante daughters to a beauty salon or dress shop that participated in such perversions on helpless young men?" He stopped as he saw Jane grimace as his words hit home. "But then, Karen happened, and suddenly, I derived some benefit from being..... not quite so manly. And then David, as Beth, asked me to try for his sake if not for my own. Once I stopped fighting so hard, I started to enjoy it more, but then I started worrying that something was wrong with me. That is when I got hooked on psychology."
"When did you stop wanting to hurt me that way?"
"It started when you let me stay with Karen. A lot happened that night that was wonderful, and none of that would have happened if not for Michelle. Which means if not for you. I started trying to be more objective. I came to the conclusion that you were, for the most part, really trying to help."
"Only 'for the most part', Michael?" her voice soft.
Michael wished he had kept his mouth shut. "Jane, let me answer your question with a question. You don't even have to give me the answer. Can you honestly say that every trick and test was purely for my benefit and not for your own enjoyment of my discomfort and humiliation? Did it have to be that harsh a lesson in each and every case?" Jane wanted to tell him that, of course, everything she had done had simply been the best way to help him, that there was nothing needlessly cruel in her program. But she knew that was not true. Part of her reason for doing this type of work was the pleasure of watching her skirted and pantied little boys deal with the embarrassment and terror that her deliciously evil little games roused in them. Michael came over to kneel in front of her. "I've come to love you, you know. You are the first woman who ever cared enough to be hard on me when I needed it. And that is the final reason I put aside plans for revenge. You were right. Right for and about me, anyway."
"Oh, Michael." Jane's call was a sob, and the two of them clutched at each other, sharing tears. Jane, because he had seen the worst of her, and still loved her; Michael, because she was Jane, and he had been forced to hurt her.
Karen returned carrying the coffee tray. "Hey, what is going on here? Why are you both so upset? What happened?" Quietly, still holding Jane, Michael explained what had happened. Karen slammed the tray down on the coffee table. "Damn it, Michelle, I told you not to tell her that. Go to your room, young lady, get your hairbrush, and bring it to me here." Michael looked at her in shock, not believing what he just heard. "Now, Michelle, unless you want to sleep alone for the next two weeks, you will get that brush and then hustle your cute little butt back down here.", Karen added in the sweetest of tones. Michael hurried from the room and returned with the antique, silver hair brush that Jane had given him. He handed the long handled implement to his lover, eyes downcast. Karen took a seat in one of the Chippendale chairs that sat off to one corner of the room. She gave Michelle a dark look. "You know the position, Michelle, I suggest you assume it unless you want me to add to your punishment."
Jane watched, unbelieving as Michelle slowly walked to Karen and then draped herself over Karen's lap. She really should stop this, but lord, Michelle was blushing furiously and it had been so long since she had last seen that. Then Jane's eyes nearly bugged out when Karen carefully drew Michelle's skirts up over her back and pulled her panties down to her knees. The first stroke landed with a loud splat, and Michelle's squeal of surprise. Jane could not have stopped this now, even if she wanted to.
Which she didn't. Michelle was Karen's now, and she had things well in hand.
Jane stood, and strolled over for a better look. Michelle looked over to see her coming and her face became a darker shade of red. "Well, Michelle, I am pleased to see you still wear proper hosiery and not pantyhose."
"Karen...>Owww< ... likes them better than ..>mmmf<.. pantyhose." Michelle managed to pant out between brush swats. Karen was raining a steady pelter on Michelle's round, hairless bottom.
Jane grinned, thoroughly enjoying the exchange and the spectacle. Tears were starting to make Michelle's mascara run in dark rivulets down her face. Karen looked up at her guardian. "Well, Jane, would you please check for color and heat? See if this bad girl is done yet?"
Pleased with the idea, Jane sauntered up and gave the bright pink globes a thorough inspection. When she laid her hand on one, the coolness of her hand made Michelle jump in pained surprise. An evil twinkle in Karen's eyes told Jane the required response. What fun! "Well, darling, that place there," she said running a single nail along the sensitive, burning flesh. My, my, my. she thought, how it quivered. "Is not nearly as colorful or as hot as the rest of her. And of course, no part of her bottom is as colorful as her sweet face."
Karen proffered the brush to Jane, handle first. "Would you like to correct the omission, Jane?"
Jane was sorely tempted, and might have taken Karen up on the offer had it not been for the conversation that precipitated this. It was one thing to be spanked sensuously by your lover. It was another thing entirely for it to come from someone you have just begun to trust after a rough start. "No, thank you, dear, I would rather just watch and enjoy the, ummm, color and pageantry."
Karen began to spank again in earnest, and finished with a flurry of ten strong strokes that left Michelle broken and in tears. Without being asked, Jane again rested her hand on the burning bottom, letting the coolness of her touch bring some comfort.
"Michelle, I want you to get up, now, and go fix your face. Come right back here when you are done." Michelle rose and quickly turned to face away from Jane. This put his front directly towards Karen. Her mouth went open and then she grinned. "Ooooooo, Michelle, what do we have here?" Jane saw Karen reach up to grip something just below Michelle's waist and then heard Michelle's groan of frustration and pleasure. It was Jane's turn to blush. "Well, I am certainly not going to do anything about that right now, you naughty thing, but you might as well leave those panties behind. There is no way you are going to get them on over THAT!"
Blushing furiously, Michelle slipped off the satin bikini and moved towards the door, keeping his back to Jane. Karen called out. "Michelle? Sweetie? You better not do anything about that swelling, either. Its all mine. I've earned it." Michelle almost ran from the room. Both women sat down, laughing giddily.
When they calmed a bit, Jane turned to Karen. "You did not have to spank him over that, dear. Really, I asked him."
Karen shrugged. " I asked him to leave that alone, Jane. He did not have to tell you, even if you asked. Don't worry about it. It is okay. Besides, a good spanking makes him horny as hell." she added with an anticipatory smile.
Jane nodded. "So I gathered."
Karen continued. "And another thing, it will give him back a bit of the humility he's lost lately."
Jane considered that. "He was not being mean, Karen, not really. In his own way, I think he was trying to make me see, without telling me directly, how vulnerable I and my little cadre could be to a really determined student. And Michael would have been very determined, I think, had he not been lucky enough to find you. I think I really needed to hear that from him. If only to reconsider the possible ramifications of what I do with my charges." Jane's pensive look gave way to an almost girlish, conspiratorial grin. "Would you really have denied him your favors for two whole weeks, Karen?" Jane knew that the two rarely slept apart, and had convinced herself that they were that rare breed - a life bonded pair.
"Good thing we don't have to find out, huh?", Karen chuckled.
A thought occurred to Jane, "Dear, suppose he decides that you need some, ummm, not so gentle correction directly to the seat of a problem? He is big enough to do it. Quite well, too, I should think."
Karen thought about that concept for a moment, and then a very feline, very sexy feminine grin lit her face. "Oh, I do hope you're right, Jane, and soon, too." Michelle came back into the room to find his two favorite women giggling helplessly in each other's arms on the sofa.
Christmas Eve dawned with a touch of frost and a promise of snow in the air. Jane had been up and working in her study for several hours, when the phone rang. She answered it, listened, and then began to plan.
At lunch, she told the two teens of the call. "So, Dennis Luchessi will be joining me after the New Year. I suspect I will call him DeeDee." she said thoughtfully. Karen, who knew that this case had been on and off several times in the past month asked how she could be sure of that arrival after so many false starts. "Well, it seems that he lost his control again, this time he struck a teacher and scared her badly. The principal expelled him, but the teacher brought charges against him. It was the final straw, even for his Mother. I put her in touch with a judge who works with me, and he has been given the choice. A few weeks, which of course will be months, with me, or reform school."
Michelle had kept quiet through Jane's explanation, but then bellowed. "He struck a woman, and you are going to have him here? In your home? Alone???" Michael had made no effort to use his 'Michelle' voice, surprising both women with the vehemence of his outburst.
Jane tried to soothe him. "Well, certainly, Michelle. I have had students with a violent past, before. Once they have their little outburst, like you did, they get the faces smacked and they get with the program."
"Suppose he hits you back, Jane? Have you considered that?"
"You did not, dear. Don't worry so."
"I do worry. I nearly belted you when you finger whipped me. Only seventeen years of training as a gentleman stopped me. He, obviously, does not have that training. And another thing. When you pulled that stunt on me, David was behind me, and I guarantee he was ready to jump me from behind if I even looked like I was going after you. Karen is tough, but she is not going to be a match for a young male in a rage, which he will be in at that point."
"Well, I take your point, Michelle, but what do you suggest I do? I have already told the judge I will take him on. I do not go back on my commitments."
Michelle gave a thoroughly unladylike snort. "No. You wouldn't, would you. I guess the only thing for it is for me to stay on as 'big sister' in residence, at least until you get him past the first hurdles. When he is ready for solo, I will leave like David did and go stay at Nana's house. But, you have to promise that you won't do any of the rough stuff unless I am there."
Jane looked at him, unbelievingly. "But what about the University? Your schooling?"
Michelle shrugged. "I got my schedule in the mail today. All my classes are between ten am and two in the afternoon. I can leave as Michelle, change at Nana's and go to school. Then, I reverse the process on the way home." He grinned. "I may need some more wigs so that Sandy can style them instead of me, and some of those fake eyebrows."
"I can't believe you are even considering this." Jane said in amazement.
"I love you both. Did you know that the original meaning of 'husband' was care giver?" His warm eyes fell on Karen. "I have to take care of you two or not be true to that love." He pulled two small, gaily gift wrapped boxes from beneath his chair. " I was going to give you these tomorrow, but now seems more appropriate." He handed one to each of the women. Jane opened her's first. Inside was a ring with three stones, two green peridot gems flanking a diamond in the center of the setting. Jane looked up, tears in her eyes. "That is a Mother's Ring, Jane, with three stones indicating three children. The diamond is Karen's birth stone, and the peridot are Michael's and Michelle's." Jane's hug nearly strangled him, and she held on for what seemed like an eternity.
Karen's cough brought them back. "May I open mine, now?" she said with some asperity. Michael nodded, and she tore open the paper. Another ring, this one with a solitaire diamond in a simple gold setting. Her eyes flew to Michael who knelt down on one knee in front of her.
"Karen, I love you. Please marry me." A shouted yes answered him as she scrambled out of her seat and knocked him on to his back on the floor. When Jane finally helped the pair to their feet, she was chuckling.
"Michael, do you realize, that you just proposed in skirts, to a woman wearing pants? Whatever will you tell your grandchildren?"
"That she said yes, of course." he dead panned.
It was the end of January; DeeDee had been living with Jane and the two teens for almost four weeks. She had made incredible progress. Never had Jane seen a boy work so hard, or perfect the attitudes and intricacies of his new, petticoated and skirted condition so quickly. And not once, even when she had pushed very hard, had DeeDee shown the inclination for violence that had sealed her fate and brought her to Jane. Today, however, Jane had gotten a hint of something that might explain what was going on. She called to Karen and asked her ward to come into the study.
Once they were behind closed doors, Jane asked. "All right, Karen. What did Michael threaten DeeDee with that has her nearly peeing her knickers? She angered me today, and when I told her she would be punished, she burst in tears and begged me not to punish her like I had Michelle."
Karen gave Jane what she hoped was a confused stare. "Michael, Jane? Threats?"
Gotcha, thought Jane. "Yes, dear. Michael. Threats. And don't try to lie. You aren't good enough at it, yet."
Karen sighed. "Oh, all right. Michael did not know if you could resist pushing DeeDee too hard without him here to be your knight in shining satin. So he improvised a little." Jane said nothing, but lifted her brow and gave a "come on" movement with her hands. "He told DeeDee that the reason he leaves the house every day is to go to school because he hit you, and you would not let him stay at home for school anymore."
"I see, and where, pray tell, is he going to school?"
"The all girls school over in Newport." she said quickly. "He also said that he had to take gym classes from a sadistic woman gym teacher who found out he is really a boy, so his life there was pure hell. He told DeeDee that his only other choice was to go to reform school, same as DeeDee, with his face still prettied up and his hair all styled." Karen's voice was low and conspiratorial. "I understand that, at that point, DeeDee turned white and then ran to the bathroom as fast as her skirts would permit."
Jane shook her head. "Oh, lord. And he said I was mean and devious. That stinker. No wonder DeeDee is being so good. Hell, I wish I had thought of it myself."
Epilogue: Five years later
The huge mansion was a show place. Rows of chairs, separated down the middle to make a center aisle had been set up on the lawn. A canopied alter had been arranged at the head of the aisle, alongside a piano that Marie was playing background music on.
Michael, no, make that Dr. Michael Nash, psychiatric resident at Children's Hospital, made his way to the altar. He was accompanied by David, who stood beside his friend as they turned to face the assembled crowd. Marie broke into the opening bars of the Wedding March, and everyone turned to face the rear of the aisle.
A lovely young black girl led Miss Karen Austin toward the altar. Actually, that girl was Jane's first African American student. Before coming to her, Tyrone, now Tyna, Davis had been a smallish boy, who'd been trapped in a gang environment. He'd been forced again and again to prove his toughness, and the violence had been escalating. His mother was a nurse, a colleague of Mrs. Bedford who had referred the mother to Jane. Tyna looked lovely, and only she thought everyone would recognize the black pixie with crown of braided curls, as a local boy. Today would definitely be the beginning of the end for this student. Two birds with one stone - a marriage and a break through - a good days work all around.
The service was traditional, and if *all* the members of the official party were wearing identical lingerie, well, that was a special secret Jane would hug to herself. She knew because she'd been asked to choose the undies. By Michelle, no less. Of course, she might have chosen something a little less..... confining than the lace up, steel boned corselet if she had known that Karen and Michael would give her one to wear. "You will be part of the official party, won't you Auntie Jane?" had been Michelle's response to Jane's near refusal to wear the damn thing.
With the start of the service, she went over to the bride's side of the aisle, and gently helped an older lady to walk down to stand behind the bride and groom. The minister looked up and asked, "Who gives this woman to be wedded to this man?"
Nana answered in a surprisingly strong voice. "I, her Grandmother, do." Jane wished the girl's father could be there, but he had died in a terrorist attack in the Middle East two years ago. But it was wonderful that Nana had lived long enough to be here and share this day. She had taken the transformation of her granddaughter's friend "Michelle" into her granddaughter's fiancé "Michael" with surprising good humor and acceptance. Confidentially, she had told Jane that her Mother had used similar trials on Nana's brother, and that it was too bad Nana had not petticoated Karen's father a few times. "Might have made him a more caring human being and a father instead merely being the source of the sperm that created her."
The minister grimaced, shook his head, then asked. "Who gives this man to be wedded to this woman?" Barb had been invited, but was too busy partying in Fiji.
Jane answered. "I, his Aunt Jane, do."
Michael spoke up, surprising everyone but Karen, "And she is one who is Mother to me in all but the matter of my birth." That did it. Jane spent the rest of the ceremony in happy tears.
A letter from Ms. Jane Thompson....
Once again, you have proven yourself a fool. The boy you gave birth to, my son, was married today. He was sad that you could not find time in your busy schedule to celebrate his union. Thought you should know that. I find it hard to believe that I ever called you friend. Stupidity of youth, I guess.
You have chosen your life. I wish you joy of it. It won't match what I have, though. You see, Michael and Karen just told me that I am going to be a grandmother in a few months. Of course, they will continue to live here as it is their home. That will naturally curtail my activities with my young men, but I think that the prize is more than worth that price.
Goodbye, Barb. I won't contact you again.
Jane knew she would miss her petticoating games, but all good things eventually end. Jane looked up from her letter as Michael knocked on the open door. "Aunt Jane, Karen and I are about to leave." He entered the room and swept her into a fierce hug. A tall, dignified, relatively slender man with gentle eyes and graying hair followed him in and waited patiently while the two embraced. In hitching voices, they promised to be careful while the other was not there to look after them. When they broke apart, Michael remembered his mission. Turning to the man, he introduced him as "Dr. Edwin Markov, my thesis advisor and mentor at Brown Medical School. Edwin, this is my Aunt Jane who taught me everything about, well, you know." Jane's brows shot up in surprise, looking first at her suddenly fidgety Michael, and then at the self assured man in front of her.
His voice was soft, "Yes, Michael, I do know." He put out a well manicured hand which she took in hers. A frisson of heat curled in her belly as she looked again at the handsome man standing beside her son. Something about him pulled at her. "A pleasure, Ms. Thompson. You can be very proud of your Michael. His unique background and training will make him an outstanding research psychiatric physician."
Unique background and training? Confused, Jane tried to read the man, and then, it hit her. His eyes! The brows were fine - very fine, and beautifully arched; the lashes long and unusually full. Someone had spent a lot of time shaping those brows and lashes. Jane's gaze shifted to Michael who blew her a kiss as he quietly slipped out of the room. Then Dr. Markov gallantly kissed the hand he still held. "A lovely room, Ms. Thompson. You have some beautiful antiques in here. Victorian, I believe? I understand from Michael that you are a student of Victorian England and its practices. I would love to discuss it with you, as I have something of an interest in that period, myself.
Jane shivered deliciously, and silently thanked Michael for his not-so-subtle attempt at matchmaking. Maybe good things did not have to end. Maybe, sometimes, good things just grew up and matured into something even better. She was suddenly excited about the future again.
Tales Of The Seasons...