Trick of the Mind – Chapters 1 – 26

trick_of_the_mind

Copyright © 2011 Maeryn Lamonte – All Rights Reserved. 

Chapter 1

There was a loud thump and the door to my room flew open.

The whole effect would have been far more impressive if it hadn’t been for the strategically placed pile of laundry preventing the door handle from gouging even more of my deposit out of the wall. In fact I barely noticed that anything had happened before an enormous mountain of humanity stepped into the room, directed an inane grin my way and said something.

I closed my book on my finger and pulled the ear buds out of my ears. The music receded to a tinny whisper.

“Hi Dave. Wha’did you say?”

“I said I made you jump Rabbit.”

I let my head drop back onto my pillow and let out an exasperated sigh.

I should explain something here. Dave and I are friends and have been since we both arrived back in September when he first kicked my door in. It was something he had been trying out on all the freshers in our hall and apparently my ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look had been the best of the lot. He’d insisted on calling me Rabbit ever since, and the door kicking became a daily routine; never exactly at the same time, and sometimes more than once in the course of a day. I’d done my best to turn his sudden arrivals into non-events by playing them down and ignoring him, but Dave seemed locked into his own private world, where I jumped out of my skin every time just like the first time.
What he doesn’t know is I was far less shocked by the sound and surprise of having my door stoved in than I was with what he might have seen had he burst in just two seconds earlier while my dresser drawer was still open. Later that night when I was sure he was in his room and sleeping, I’d quietly removed the contents of that drawer and put them back in my suitcase out of temptation’s reach, knowing that I couldn’t risk being caught.

Whatever! Regardless of the annoyance of Dave’s regular invasions, he and I became good friends during that first term. He dined out for a few weeks on the rabbit story, and by that time figured out that I was someone he could come to if when had problems with his study. He isn’t the brightest match in the box (less charitable people have suggested that the only reason he made it into uni was because the-powers-that-be wanted him on the rugby team), but he has a very endearing, brash self-confidence about him which makes him instantly likeable. What’s more, and I’m not particularly proud of this, I do catch a small amount of reflected limelight from being around him.

“You coming down the bar tonight Rabbit?”

I waved the book at him and shook my head, “Sorry Dave, Higg’s told us to expect a test on quantum physics on Monday to give him some idea on what we’ve learned since Christmas, and I’m only now realising how much I’ve forgotten.”

“Aw, come on Richard, it’s Friday night! You have all weekend to plough through that rubbish. Can’t you let your hair down just once in a while?”

To be honest I had been hoping he’d go down to the bar on his own tonight and give me a few hours of uninterrupted peace when maybe just once I could dig out the contents of my suitcase.

“Jennifer’s going to be there.”

He was trying not to smile, but the guy knows how to push my buttons. I get all tongue-tied around her, then spend hours afterwards agonising over how much of a prat I am, but he knows I’d never miss a chance to be anywhere she’s going to be. I let out a sigh and climbed off the bed.

“OK, you win.”

Dave pumped the air and let out a ‘yes’ that was more sibilance than word while I walked over to the mirror and started to comb my hair. A second later he threw my jacket at me.

“Come on Rabbit, you look beautiful,” and with that he walked out the door with me scrambling to follow.

-oOo-

The place was crowded, but that didn’t faze Dave, he sauntered up to the bar and yelled to one of the barmen. As big as he is, very few people voice their objections when he jumps the queue, and a couple of minutes later we were downing our first pints of the evening.

“What’s happening tonight?” I yelled into his ear, “I can’t remember when I’ve seen the place so packed.”

Dave pointed at a poster on a nearby wall. “Local entertainment,” he shouted back. “Remember that hypnotist guy we were discussing at lunch the other day? He’s on tonight. He’s supposed to be really good, maybe he can cure you of that tendency to jump whenever anyone opens the door.”

Dave was too busy laughing at his own joke to notice my disquiet. I don’t like hypnotists and in our discussion had given a good rant on how I thought most were frauds, and the few of them who could actually do what they claimed, were nothing more than vindictive sadists who got their kicks out of embarrassing other people. I was beginning to suspect that Dave had something planned, and I would have left then and there had Jennifer not chosen that moment to walk in.

Dave waved her over and she sat next to me while he headed off to fill her drinks order.

“Hi Richard, I didn’t think you liked this sort of thing,” she said indicating the poster.

“Er, well, er, not really,” I managed, inwardly cringing at my lack of eloquence. “It was Dave’s idea.”

My heart was pounding and I dangled my lips in my beer in an attempt to escape any further embarrassment. Luckily Dave came back with Jen’s drink and a couple of fresh pints each for us and the awkwardness eased.

“The show’s about to start,” he said nodding at the clock behind us, “I thought I’d get us a few in beforehand so we don’t miss anything.”

I bobbed my head in acknowledgement and a few moments later the house lights dimmed. One of the bar staff walked up to the microphone and introduced the rather unassuming looking and unimaginatively named ‘Mysterio’ to the stage. There was a smatter of applause and one or two cat-calls which died away to an expectant hush as Mysterio took the microphone from its stand.

I’ll give the man his due, he was quite a showman. I mean there was nothing particularly original about his act, but his voice was compelling. His first reluctant volunteer admitted to being a little clumsy and a few minutes later was juggling three, then four then five balls to her apparent amazement. I suspected her to be a plant, but whether this was true or not, the hands went up more readily after that and the show degenerated into the expected parade of chicken impressions, guys named Sue, girls believing they were wearing only their underwear and other similar humiliations.

As the set drew towards its close, the great Mysterio roused the last of his victims with an instruction to wake up refreshed and contented, and turned towards the crowd one last time.

“I know there are some of you who don’t believe what you have seen tonight. You think that all of these people who have come up on stage tonight and so kindly volunteered have been either in on the act or highly suggestible; weak minded if you will.

“This next bit doesn’t always work so this is a bit of a risk on my part, but if there are any sceptics in the audience, I‘d like to give you the opportunity of proving yourself right. If you are confident that I can’t hypnotise you, then why not come on up here and prove your point? You talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?”

All this time Dave was fidgeting in his seat. I felt the knot grow in my stomach, and a moment later as Mysterio gave out his challenge, he started waving his arms and pointing at me. The spotlight turned and I found myself pinned by it.

“Sir,” said Mysterio. “Would you please tell us your name?”

“Er, Richard,” I replied, still the embodiment of razor sharp wit.

“Richard, your friend thinks you have some doubts about my power, is that true?”

“I guess so.” As I said, really doing well with the comebacks. For the second time since I had met David, I felt like a rabbit staring down a car.

“Well Richard, are you convinced enough that you can resist my powers? Are you prepared to come up here and show the audience tonight that your will is stronger than mine?”

It was foolish I know, but with David pushing me and everyone else staring at me I couldn’t back down. This guy had annoyed me with the way he had humiliated so many people tonight, and I guess I really was sceptical about his abilities. I stood up and walked to the stage with applause ringing in my ears. It stood to reason that he was going to reserve his greatest humiliation for an unbeliever like myself so I was going to have to stand up to him no matter what.

The audience went quiet, they guy started to twist the chain of a pocket watch, making the watch spin back and forth catching the light. He started speaking in his relaxed voice telling me to keep my eye on the watch. I started repeating differential equations in my head trying to keep focused and not listening to what he was saying, but after a while there was a disjointed moment and I found myself looking at Mysterio as he looked back at me with a smug look on his face.

“What?” I asked, still managing to maintain the high level of verbal dexterity that had carried me through the evening this far.

“You tell me,” Mysterio replied with a shrug. “Does anything seem different? Unusual? Wrong?”

I thought for a moment then shook my head.

“So nothing out of the ordinary?”

He seemed so confident, I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and shuffled in my seat. That was when I felt a cool sensation against my legs. My clothes were different.

I looked down at myself. My legs, sheathed in a pair of sheer white tights, emerged from a deep blue satin dress with a full skirt that fell to just above the knee. The sleeves were short and puffed with the bodice close fitting, and over it all was a frilly white cotton apron. On my feet, a pair of black, patent leather Mary Janes shone in the spotlights.

It was the perfect Alice in Wonderland costume and I recognised it. When I had been about eleven years old, I had been invited to a neighbour’s daughter’s fancy dress birthday party. I remember thinking how lovely her dress was and had complemented her on it. That had earned me my first ever date and my first ever kiss, but in fact I hadn’t been so interested in how good she looked as how much I would love to be wearing that dress. It had stuck with me all these years, and now here I was living out one of my earliest fantasies.

Yes, you’ve probably guessed it by now, I’m one of those. Cross-dresser, transvestite, gender dysphoric, freak, weirdo, pervert, whatever you want to call it. It’s not something I’m proud of, but then neither is it something I can help; I just have a thing about dressing up in women’s clothing.

The contents of the bottom drawer of my dresser, that Dave so nearly saw that first day, were the collection of female clothes I had picked up from charity shops and the like over the previous few years. I hadn’t dared indulge my passion these past months for fear of being visited by Dave and his boot, for fear of my guilty secret getting out, and now here I was, sitting in front of all my friends wearing the prettiest, girliest dress I could imagine.

-oOo-

Chapter 2

“Careful,” I told myself. “It’s obvious he has managed to hypnotise you, so chalk one up to Mr Mysterio. What we need to figure out is just how much of a sod he really is. Has he just made me think that I’m wearing this dress, or did he get me to change in real life?”

I looked at the audience. They stared back in breathless anticipation; no help there.

I glanced at the clock at the back of the hall. It had moved on about 2 minutes from when I had first arrived on stage. That wasn’t enough time for me to change into these clothes, but then there was no glass on the clock, it would be easy to turn it back ten minutes.

What to do? If I owned up to thinking I was dressed as a girl, I wouldn’t live it down for a long time. If I claimed nothing had changed and it turned out I really was dressed as a girl, then I wouldn’t live it down ever.

I looked at Dave. He was three quarters of the way down his third pint and it had been half full when I left the table. If this had taken ten minutes to set up he would have emptied his glass and started on mine… I think.

The dress was too perfect. I mean it fit like a glove and even I didn’t know my dress size that exactly. And what about the design? How could he know this exactly, just what dress my neighbour had been wearing that day and just how much it had affected me?

No this had to be just a trick of the mind. I was still wearing my jeans and tee-shirt, I must be.

I made a show of inspecting myself again then, taking a deep breath and an enormous chance, I stared Mysterio in the eyes.

“Nope, nothing’s changed; this is what I put on to come out this evening.”

Mysterio’s confident grin froze on his face. For a moment I had him then he recovered.

“Would you mind describing for us just what you are wearing this evening?”

I shrugged. “Jeans and a tee-shirt, trainers. You know, what I usually wear.”

“Please would you describe the tee-shirt.” His smile was back, and with good reason. I couldn’t remember.

I made a show of looking down at myself and pulling the apron out to examine it. What was I wearing? Think!

An image appeared in my mind of me combing my hair in the mirror, thoughts of Jennifer running through my head. Yoda was staring back at me.

“Well,” I started, “it’s a sort of browny-green colour and it has a picture of Yoda waving his light sabre. Underneath it says, ‘Away put your weapon I mean you no harm.’”

He was beaten, and I could see he was angry about it. I bit back a smile as he turned to the audience.

“Well folks, it just goes to show that this is an inexact science. I did say there was a possibility that this wouldn’t work, and obviously tonight it didn’t. Please give a round of applause to Richard.”

I was off the chair and walking back to my seat with my skirt swishing around my thighs. I resisted the urge to skip. I had actually pulled this off! Tonight I would get to wear a dress in public and no-one would know.

Back at my seat I smoothed out the skirt beneath my backside and sat down. It was only when Jenny gave me an odd look that I realised what I had done.

“That seat was hard,” I said. “My bum’s gone numb.”

The odd look stayed for a moment longer then she let it go.

Mysterio finished off his act and left to muted applause. Dave was bashing me on the back laughing himself silly.

“Dude you were awesome,” he told me. “You played him like a fish. That was a stroke of genius, making like you went under and telling everyone that your secret fantasy was dressing in women’s clothes, and your worst fear was of being found out. You got everyone’s hopes up then it was him that crashed and burned, totally sweet.”

“Dave, you’re sounding just a bit like Bill and Ted.” I said.

“I can’t help it, you were just so cool tonight, wasn’t he Jen?”

Jen’s look was still thoughtful, so I covered by downing the rest of my beer and getting in the next drinks.
The rest of the evening went fantastically well. Somehow wearing a dress, or at least believing I was wearing a dress, did wonders for my self-confidence, and for the first time in the months we’d all been together at university, I was able to hold a conversation with Jennifer.

I switched to cokes quite early, saying I had to get some study done the next day and didn’t want to start with a hangover, but really I didn’t want anything to spoil this evening. When we left the bar I was still feeling pretty sober and found myself very much enjoying the feel of cotton petticoats brushing against my nylon clad legs.

It was cold out so I put my leather jacket on, regretting that it would mess up the overall sense of how I was dressed. It came as a pleasant surprise that as soon as I put it on, it turned into a powder blue duffle coat that seemed to go well enough with the dress.

Jen peeled off as we passed her hall, and I found myself asking if she’d like to meet up for lunch the following day. She agreed and I floated home on cloud nine. Dave was prattling on about something all the way back to our halls, but I wasn’t listening. Conversational autopilot enabled me to give appropriate grunts from time to time, but most of my mind was luxuriating in the feel of being outdoors, in public, in a dress and no-one thinking it funny or disgusting.

All too soon we were back in halls. I made myself a cup of tea and headed to my room, where I have to admit I paraded back and forth in front of the mirror gazing at my reflection. I tried curtsying, sitting, twirling, just about everything to enjoy these last moments.

The instant I had taken off my duffle coat, it had gone back to being my beaten up leather jacket. The same with the Mary Janes; they had turned back into my filthy cheapo trainers the moment I kicked
them off, and I was convinced that as soon as I undressed the evening would be over.

Eventually I couldn’t put it off any further. It was past midnight and I was going to have to do some study tomorrow morning if I was going to be ready for the test on Monday. I slipped off the apron and dress and tossed the jeans and tee-shirt in my hands onto the washing pile. The tights came next leaving me with a pair of worn socks, then the frilly panties turned into a pair of cotton boxers.

I sighed and looked at my naked self in the mirror. My mother’s voice echoed out of the distant past in the back of my mind, “Don’t be sad it’s over, be glad it happened at all”, and I found myself smiling at all to recent memories.

I slipped into my dressing gown and slippers, grabbed my PJs and wash bag and headed for the bathroom.

My mind was wandering, reliving glorious memories of spending the evening with Jen whilst looking more like a girl then she did, so I didn’t notice a few subtle changes until I reached the bathroom. Having locked the door, I turned to the mirror and was shocked to see myself wearing a plush pink dressing gown with bunnies and flowers on the pocket. It looked and felt so much nicer than the tatty blue towelling one I had put on in my room.

I looked down at my slippers to see that my worn moccasins had been replaced by a pair of bunny slippers of the same colour and texture as the dressing gown. They were exactly like the ones I had been jealous of my little sister wearing a few years back and I wondered if my pyjamas would turn into the My Little Pony nightdress that she had worn at the time. I showered quickly and got dressed for bed.

It wasn’t My Little Pony.

The reflection that looked back at me from the mirror was wearing a light teal satin nightdress with spaghetti straps and a lace bodice. The hem was about mid-thigh and when I lifted it to see what was underneath, I found I was wearing a pair of matching silky panties with a small bow in the front.

I couldn’t help myself. All night I had somehow managed to keep myself under control, but now I was bulging massively. I grabbed myself through the silky clothing and exploded with shuddering moan of delight.

I undressed and showered again. I cleaned the mess in my PJs and after brushing my teeth, headed back to my room wearing just the pink dressing gown and bunny slippers.

I dropped the damp cotton PJ’s onto the pile of washing and pulled out a fresh pair from my wardrobe. By the time I had put them on it seemed that I was wearing a powder blue baby-doll with matching frilly knickers. Having shot my load, there was no more reaction from down below, so I climbed into bed with the unfamiliar yet delicious feel of soft lingerie close to my body.

-oOo-

Morning came, and with it the realisation that so had I. My dreams had been erotic, involving Jennifer and myself making out wearing matching evening gowns, so I guess there was no great surprise that there was some physical evidence of the dream. I pulled off the baby-doll and used the pyjamas I found myself holding to clean myself up as best I could. This was getting weird. How long before the trance wore off?

Still, I’m not one to complain about unexpected windfalls and it looked like I was about to enjoy a while longer indulging my secret passion without anyone knowing. I put on my dressing gown, which this time became a silky peach garment with flowers all over it, and headed for the bathroom for another shower.

Back in my room, I grabbed my usual jeans and tee-shirt (Black, I noted, with Motorhead emblazoned across the front; I wasn’t going to get caught the same way as last night again) and climbed into my clothes. By the time I was done and looking into the mirror, my reflection showed me to be wearing a white tee-shirt with slightly puffed sleeves and “Girl Power” in pink sparkling letters over a denim mini-skirt with white lace around the hem and powder pink woollen tights to finish off the outfit. I remembered seeing a fellow student on the bus wearing the same thing yesterday and thinking it was exquisite, but I felt rather vulnerable wearing such a short skirt and found myself pulling the hem down from time to time. I’d have to get on top of that before I went out in public.

I went down to the hall’s communal kitchen and made myself a cup of tea and a couple of rounds of toast. One or two of my neighbours were up and about, but not particularly communicative, suffering from various degrees of hangover and caffeine deprivation. I tried to strike up a conversation or two, but after a couple of grunts and a suspicious look (I had a reputation for being the quiet one in the hall), I gave up and went back to my room.

My usual position lounging on the bed didn’t work as I kept feeling the skirt riding up, so I cleared my desk and sat down to study. With ear buds in and music on, it wasn’t long before my usual selection of heavy metal didn’t seem to fit the mood. I hunted through the playlists for some of the gentler stuff I’d put on in case I was ever lucky enough to have a girl come back to my room.

Two and a half hours later I was halfway through the chapters I had to revise for Monday, and it was making more sense than it the first time through. Somehow sitting at the desk in a skirt and tights with gentler music in the background had focused my concentration.

Still it was now halfway through the morning and my back was stiff. I took the half mug of cold tea down to the kitchen and rinsed it out. I had a few hours to kill before I was due to meet Jen and decided to get the pile of washing sorted. Back in my room I grabbed my laundry bag and started to fill it. I had about two loads in the bag when there was a bang and the door flew into my backside.

“Ow!” Not the most imaginative of responses, but it did seem to fit the situation.

Dave’s enormous grin peered around the door.

“Sorry rabbit.” He said with not the least amount of chagrin.

“I do wish you’d stop kicking my door in, Dave,” I responded testily. “I’ve already lost most of my deposit from the first time you did it. “ I pointed at the dent in the wall.

Dave was taken aback.

“You never said anything about it before mate.”

“I didn’t think I needed to you great lummox.”

“Well sorry buddy,” this time there was genuine remorse, “I just thought it made a difference from knocking.”

“Hey, it’s no big,” I lied, still rubbing my violated bum, “it’s just that one of these days it may be Jen and me in here when you come crashing in, and that could be embarrassing for everyone.”

“Yeah I suppose,” Dave looked like a kid who’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar and a second or two later I burst out laughing.

Dave looked even more hurt, and that was just funnier.

Eventually I managed to get myself under control and said, “I’m sorry Dave but you look so much like a puppy that’s just peed on the carpet and is getting its first real telling off. Maybe I should call you Fido…”

Dave’s lopsided grin was back, but somehow still apologetic

“Make up for me calling you Rabbit all this time, wouldn’t it?”

With a flash of insight I realised how insecure David was. It had really knocked him having me yell at him like this.

“Hey come on, you daft pillock, it’s not like you meant it or anything.”

“I was just going down to the shops,” he said, “can I get you anything?”

“I’m getting low on butter and I could use another couple of pints of milk if you don’t mind.”

I knew I had some change in my pockets, but this skirt didn’t seem to have any. I tried reaching anyway and found my hand inside a small purse that I suddenly noticed over my shoulder – pink of course. I counted out three pound coins and handed them over.

“I think that’ll do it.”

“Yeah, should be fine.”

“I’ll probably be in the laundry room when you get back so could you just write my name on them and stick them in the fridge? There should be a marker in the kitchen you can use.”

“Sure,” he said and sauntered off. The exchange seemed to have settled him, and having something he could do for me seemed to give him back some of his confidence.

“Hey, whoa,” I thought to myself. “What’s all this touchy feely stuff? Put on an imaginary skirt and you start getting in touch with your feminine side; that’s just weird.”

I took the laundry downstairs lost in thought. It’s as well no-one else was in there with me as I caught myself crouching down with my knees firmly together on at least one occasion. This whole thing was going to have to come to an end sometime soon or I’d give myself away even if I wasn’t actually wearing girl clothes.

I sat in the common room while the washing was running through; there were a couple of girls watching some Saturday morning show with songs from the 70’s and 80’s. There were some lads grumbling about not being able to watch the sport, but there is a strict first come first serve policy on the TV in our hall.

Personally I preferred the music as I’ve never had much interest in sports, and some of the songs were pretty good, if dated. I especially enjoyed Summer Nights from Grease with Olivia Newton John dancing around in a plain white cotton blouse and very full, thigh length yellow skirt.

Anyway before long the washing was done so I went back to the laundry room and hung it up to dry. Having done that I figured I should head back to my room and change before going to meet Jen. I’d never much bothered about my appearance before now – probably a major contributing reason as to why I didn’t have a girlfriend yet. Now I had this thought in my mind that Jen might not be too taken with Motorhead.
I kept the jeans on but changed the tee-shirt for a blue check, short sleeve button down, and it was like having an instant makeover. The denim skirt and tee-shirt were gone, as were the tights. In their place was a plain white blouse with Peter Pan collar and a thigh length yellow skirt with several lace petticoats underneath. I was also wearing ankle socks and, as soon as I put on my trainers, a pair of flat white shoes. My leather jacket dutifully changed into a yellow cardigan draped over my shoulders with the top button done up – Sandy’s wardrobe from the film clip earlier.

I made my way down to Jen’s hall of residence, resisting the urge to skip but somehow unaware that I was holding an imaginary clutch purse in front of me. Jen must have seen me coming as she was outside waiting as I approached. She had a quietly triumphant grin on her face and as I walk up to her she fell into step beside me.

“So Richard,” she began, “what are you wearing today?”

-oOo-

Chapter 3

“Wh-what do you mean?” I stammered.

“It’s a simple question. What are you wearing?”

I saw a straw and grasped at it. “Well I thought you’d appreciate it if I came out wearing something a bit more up market than my usual tee-shirt. Is it OK?”

She stopped in her tracks forcing me to stop and turn to face her. The full skirt and lace petticoats swirled around my bare legs.

“Richard, don’t treat me like a fool. I thought I noticed something odd about you when you came back from the stage yesterday, but I wasn’t sure. Today I am.”

I was horrified that it should be so obvious and it must have shown on my face.

“Oh I wouldn’t worry too much, Rich.” She linked with my arm and started us walking towards town again. “If you’re not looking for it, it’s not at all obvious. But I’m right aren’t I? He did manage to hypnotise you yesterday, and what you said on the stage about liking to dress up in girl’s clothes was true? And he’s made you believe that you’re wearing something beautiful and girly?”

I could only nod; all words had been stolen from me as I faced up to this disaster. How could the only girl I cared for know my secret? She was going to dump me before even had a chance with her.

“So what are you wearing?” She asked for the third time, quietly into my ear.

I took a breath, swallowed and managed to speak. I described the outfit.

“I loved that movie,” she said, “I’m trying to imagine you as Sandy. You know I think you might actually be cuter than Olivia?”

“You’re not freaked out by this?” I asked.

“I have to admit that I wasn’t too taken with it when you owned up to it on stage, but having had a few hours to think it through, there could be worse things. Besides this wasn’t your idea was it?”

“No,” I replied, “but I won’t pretend I’m not enjoying it.”

“Good, because I wouldn’t believe you, you look way too happy today.”

“That could be because the most beautiful girl in the world agreed to have lunch with me.” I smiled hopefully.

“And that’s another thing; I doubt you would have had the courage to ask me out if you hadn’t thought you’d been dressed as Alice in Wonderland.”

“How do you know what I was wearing?”

“Last night that hypnotist guy told you imagine the time when your breath had been most taken away by the clothes that a girl was wearing. He got you to describe the clothes then he made you think you were wearing them.”

“You seem remarkably calm. Are you sure you’re alright with this?”

“Well I am studying psychology – you know that don’t you – so I’m more fascinated than anything else, besides to pretty much everyone you look perfectly normal.”

“Apart from the mannerisms,” I said.

“Yes apart from those, but as I said they’re not very noticeable. Tell me, is it always stuff out of movies and stories? ‘Cos that doesn’t seem to fit the suggestion he put to you yesterday.”

“No, the dress yesterday evening was a party dress I remember a neighbour’s daughter wearing when I was a lot younger; that was pretty much the first time I found myself wanting to dress up. Then last night I was wearing my sister’s dressing gown and slippers; I’ve always thought she looked cute in them. Underneath I was wearing something out of a lingerie catalogue and this morning was a denim miniskirt and white tee-shirt that I remember seeing on the bus yesterday.”

“So, why the teeny bopper outfit now?”

“They were showing film clips on TV this morning while I was waiting on my washing. Summer Nights was the last song they played before I went to pull my stuff out of the machine.”

“So what you’re wearing seems to be affected partly by the context – yesterday evening kind of party atmosphere; last night, night clothes; this morning more appropriate casual wear and then some suggestion from the TV. It also seems that the clothes only change their appearance when you change your clothes. Is that right?”

“Pretty much. I hope you’re not going to write a paper on this.”

“Why not? I mean I’ll keep your name off it.”

I didn’t have a comeback for that and we walked in silence for a while, each lost in thought. For me, I was dazed by how odd it was to be talking about this of all topics with a girl for whom I was rapidly developing very strong feelings.

As for Jen…

“So does this mean you’re gay?”

The question was so unexpected that I laughed out loud.

“What?” She sounded just a little annoyed.

“I’m sorry,” I replied, “perfectly sensible question from your perspective. To answer it, no I’m not gay, seriously not gay. Very heterosexual, very interested in girls, one girl in particular actually. Name of Jennifer, lives in your hall, perhaps you know her?”

She looked a little confused, “But I’m the only person called Jennifer in…”

“Witness the fact that I usually get all tongue tied whenever you’re around.”

I had drifted to a halt and she had turned to look into my eyes. Another entry for the wall of weird. I mean I had imagined this moment so many times over the last couple of months, but never would I have believed I could feel this calm about it, especially dressed, as I was, in a skirt and blouse.

“You don’t seem to be having much problem right now.” She offered.

“No, but then this is a bit like last night. I have other things happening to take my mind off my fear of girls.”

We stood there awkwardly for a few more seconds. I had never made it this far with a girl before and I was unsure of what came next.

Jen must have sensed something of the sort.

“Erm, I think this is the point where the guy kisses the girl.”

It was all the prompting I needed. I reached out a hand to cup her soft cheek and drew her gently to me. Our first kiss was possibly the most erotic I have ever experienced and rather bizarrely I felt my right foot rising behind me even as I noticed hers doing the same.

After a long moment we drew apart.

“Mmm,” she said.

I added my own sounds of appreciation.

Other pedestrians were walking around us and we both became conscious of how we were obstructing traffic flow.

“Perhaps we should get to the pub.” I muttered.

Jen nodded and we resumed our walk, only this time I held onto Jen’s hand and she didn’t seem to mind.

-oOo-

Jen found a table while I bought us drinks. She was browsing through the menu when I plonked the two glasses down, gathered my rather full skirts under my bottom and sat down.

“You’re going to have to watch where you do that,” Jan said without looking up from the menu, “it’s probably your biggest giveaway.”

“I’m kind of hoping it won’t be a problem for too much longer,” I responded. “I was expecting the trance to have worn off last night. As it is I’m stuck with it for a while longer.”

“You don’t seem too upset by it.”

“What can I say, this is a fantasy come to life for me. It’s always been something of a double edged sword up until now; something that I keep being drawn to which, like you said earlier, seems to have a positive effect on me, yet at the same time it’s a big social taboo and would wreck my reputation for good if anyone found out for real.

“Right now though, I can wander around with the full sensation of being as I want to be and no-body knows except me. And you; being super observant as you are.

“To be honest I’m surprised you’re not more freaked out than you’re showing. The one time when I was caught in flagrante delicto, all hell broke loose and I was accused of the being the worst kind of pervert on God’s Earth. I find it hard to believe that anyone can understand what this is about for me.”

She reached a hand across the table.

“I don’t see a pervert,” she said, “but I am curious. You say you’re not gay, but this is hardly normal male behaviour is it?”

“I would have to say no, and I’m a long way from understanding it myself. I know most people are disgusted by it and I don’t want to cause my friends and family any grief over it, so that should be enough to persuade me that I shouldn’t do it. Somehow though, I keep coming back to it. It’s like when I’m wearing a dress, I’m fulfilling a part of who I am that I can’t manage any other way. So I do it in secret when I’m convinced that no-one else can know.”

We sat in silence for a while staring at the menus.

“It’s actually been pretty tough these past couple of months. Dave has a tendency to kick my door open at random times of the day or night, so I’ve had no opportunity to indulge since I’ve been here. It’s a bit like a drug in that respect; the longer you are without it, the more the desire builds.

“Hey, if this makes you feel uncomfortable kick me or something. I don’t want to jeopardise what we’ve just started.”

“Don’t mind me Rich, I prefer relationships to be honest, and after this it isn’t likely that there are going to be any deeper or darker secrets from your past are there?”

We picked something from the menu and ordered. Conversation drifted from the topic of the moment to more banal matters and we just enjoyed each other’s company. I honestly forgot what I appeared to be wearing right up until the moment we stood up to leave when the brush of the soft petticoats against my bare legs reminded me.

“You know, I wish I were wearing just my usual jeans and shirt right now,” I said as we headed home hand in hand.

“You know that’s just what you are wearing.”

“You know what I mean,” I said, “from my perspective I’m dressed more girly than you are. Not that I’m complaining, those jeans look fantastic on you, but it seems so odd that I’m the guy here and you’re the only one wearing trousers.”

“Well, try and see it from my perspective,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned you’re neatly dressed as a guy and treating me like a human being instead of grunting mono-syllables and trying to drown yourself in the nearest pint of beer. I know it must seem odd to you, but from where I stand, if it helps you to be this articulate, I’d be quite happy for you to carry on imagining yourself wearing skirts and dresses for the rest of your life.

“Right up until last night I was ready to write you off as a waste of space. I am so glad I had the opportunity to see this side of you, because all of a sudden you’re exactly the kind of guy I want to be with.”

The conversation followed this sort of pattern all the way back to my hall of residence where Jen came up to my room. We spent the afternoon making out and it was heading towards tea time when there was a gentle knock at the door.

We made ourselves presentable and I opened the door.

Dave was standing on the other side of it looking a bit lost.

“I got that stuff you asked for Richard, here’s your change.”

He handed me a fistful of silver and copper coins.

I looked at Jen who took pity on him and invited him in. I offered to make tea and some sandwiches and headed down to the kitchen. It still felt a bit too weird being around Dave whilst wearing a skirt.

I fussed and worried about the kitchen putting together our little repast, and all the time wondering
what Jen might be saying to him. In the end there was no need for concern. As I carried the tray of food and drinks back into the room, Dave was in full flow, reliving what was to him the highlight of the previous evening. His impression of the pompous Mr Mysterio was excellent and Jen was helpless with laughter.

“I’ve been telling everyone, Rich, you know you really were the star of the show and I doubt they’ll be inviting Mr Mysterio back any time soon; not that he would dare to show his head around these parts now.

“You know you were right, he was a nasty piece of work and I’m sorry I sent you up on the stage last night. I’m only glad you managed to show him up the way you did.”

The evening carried on in the same vein. When Dave’s around there is no shortage of conversation, or laughter for that matter.

The big hand made its way round the clock face a couple of times before Jen and I started making progressively less subtle hints that we might want to spend some time alone. Eventually Jen asked me if I thought she should fix Dave up with one of her friends so that we could have some time on our own.

Dave got it and backed out of the room all apologies with Jen and me laughing him out.

“At last,” Jen said, “I thought he’d never go. Still I doubt he’ll be back now.”

“I think you’re right,” I replied reaching for her, but she slid out of my reach.

“You know what I’d like right now?”

There was a twinkle in her eye and I sensed something coming that I wasn’t sure I was going to like.

She looked me directly in the eye and smiled, “I’d like a peek at what you’ve been enjoying all day long.”

-oOo-

Chapter 4

A sensation of cold flooded through me. She couldn’t be asking what I thought, could she?

“Wh-what?” The stammering was getting to be a regular feature around Jenny.

“Something you said earlier about not being able to dress up because you were afraid of Dave barging in. That kind of implies you have some clothes stashed away here somewhere. You said yourself that Dave’s hardly likely to come back tonight, so here’s your chance. Rather than rely on what that freak Mysterio did to you, why not do it for real? I won’t peek while you’re changing, honest.”

“I only have a few things that I picked up from various charity shops, it’s hardly presentable.”

She crossed her arms and tossed her head.

“Humour me.”

I admit I didn’t put up much of a fight. Somehow this was something I wanted as well, besides I was interested to see if my perception would shift if I wore real girl clothes.

I told Jen to lean up against the door in case someone else decided that tonight was a good night to start invading my privacy, and to close her eyes.

I pulled down my suitcase and selected everything I needed. Bra, panties and tights, a sleeveless floral print summer dress made out of cotton with a plunging neckline and flaring skirt that came down to just above the knee and a pair of sandals with half inch heels, then keeping my back to her, I took off the shirt and jeans I’d been wearing as well as my socks and boxers, each item of clothing returning to its mundane masculine appearance as soon as it was removed, and slipped into the female underwear.

The bra clipped in the back, but I’d practised enough times that I was able to do it up swiftly. A couple of pairs of socks balled up and filled the cups, and then I gathered up the sheer tights and slid them up my legs with an easy familiarity. My legs were getting hairy so they neither looked nor felt as good as I remembered from when I was younger.

Next I stepped into the dress, pulled it up over my shoulders and zipped up the back. A small amount of contortion and the clip at the top fastened leaving me with just the sandals to put on.

A brief moment buckling them in place, then a second or two more straightening out seams in the mirror. I turned to Jen, still obediently standing against the door with her eyes closed.

“Are you sure you want to see this?” I asked. “I mean I look like a bit of a plonker.”

Jen opened her eyes and smiled; I’m not sure how much out of satisfaction and how much out of amusement. She stepped forward to poke and prod, made me twirl a few times then sit down, stand up, walk and the like.

“You could pass very easily,” she said. “I mean we’d have to get rid of the body hair,” she indicated my arms chest and legs, “style your hair a bit,” it was already long enough, “and give you one or two coaching tips, but you’d make a very passable woman indeed. How do the clothes look to you?”

I gazed at myself in the mirror and for the first time since the previous evening I actually appeared to be wearing what I’d put on. Somehow that was a relief.

“They’re the same.” I let out a sigh.

For the next hour we continued to make out, only this time Jen was feeling up my dress for real. We were both incredibly turned on by it and at one stage Jen’s hand was most definitely heading inside my knickers when I grabbed her wrist.

“Just what kind of a guy do you think I am?” I put on an offended tone.

We collapsed onto the bed giggling our heads off and the moment was broken. I pulled the duvet over both of us, feeling very much less vulnerable now that my clothes were hidden.

We lay together for a while. I gently stroked her face and whispered, “Let’s take this slow.”

I felt her nod and we snuggled closer.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“For what?”

“For trusting me with this.”

“I don’t think I’ve told you anything you haven’t figured it out all by yourself.”

“I know but you didn’t have to admit my suspicions, or talk about it, or get dressed for me. You’re something special, Richard.”

That moment was truly the closest I have ever felt to complete contentment. Unfortunately it didn’t last long.

“Damn!”

“What?” she said.

“I’ve just laddered my tights.”

Our giggling brought an end to a perfect evening.

“You’d better change back,” she said. “I need to get back home before I get myself a reputation and you get into trouble for keeping girls in your room past curfew.”

I glanced at my alarm clock. It was quarter to ten.

I climbed out of bed and told her to close her eyes. I stripped off the ruined tights and tossed them in the bin. A little twisting and both the dress and bra were off, last came the panties before I climbed back into the clothes I’d been wearing earlier. From my perspective I might as well have not bothered, because as soon as the jeans and shirt were on, I felt a shift in perception and looked in the mirror to find me looking back out wearing my own summer dress. I could even see and feel the bra with its hosiery enhanced bust. The only difference was that my tights were no longer laddered.
I gathered up the clothing, folded it and put it back into my suitcase, which went back up on the wardrobe.

“Not sure you want the cleaner to find these,” Jen said picking the ruined tights out of the waste basket. “I’ll get you a new pair next time I go shopping.”

“Let me walk you back to your place?” I asked.

She must have seen the hope in my eyes.

“OK.”

She tucked her arm through mine and we walked down the path to her hall of residence.

The round trip took forty five minutes, including saying goodnight, and since ten thirty was a little late to start revising, I had a quick shower and pulled on what ended up as a pair of Persian style pyjamas. Back in trousers, albeit ones that ballooned out from my legs so much they might as well have been a skirt. They were also sheer, leaving very little to the imagination as to what was underneath.

I slid into bed luxuriating in the feel of my imaginary nightclothes and made sure that I had some tissues close by in case my dreams became erotic again. As it was I slept peacefully and awoke with the rising sun feeling bright and refreshed.

-oOo-

There was a tradition in my family that on Sunday’s you dressed in your best. At home, it usually involved a visit to our local church – an old and sleepy place of the sort that breeds traditions . Even away from home as I was, the inertia of tradition still held strong, and as soon as I was up and washed, I pulled on a pair of Chinos and a plain white long sleeved shirt. It wasn’t that I intended to go to church or anything, but Sunday dressed in scruffs didn’t feel right.

What followed didn’t feel right either, but it was kind of expected seeing as I’d woken up looking like I’d escaped from a harem. The familiar perspective shift took over and I stepped over to the mirror for a better look. The dress I was wearing was stunning. Burgundy silk gathered at the shoulders in two gold broaches and falling in elegant folds to a deep cleavage, cinched at the waste and billowing out into a full skirt that fell just below the knee. There was no ornamentation on the dress other than the rich fabric and the way it arranged itself in shimmering folds.

My legs were sheathed in sheer stockings of real silk and I could feel the elasticated straps of the suspender belt shifting as I moved. My hands and arms were encased in close fitting cream gloves that reached up past my elbows; an oddly delightful experience in itself. I slipped on my trainers and leather jacket and waited for the perspective to shift again, half knowing what was to come. Looking again in the mirror I saw myself now wearing matching burgundy patent leather court shoes with about a two inch heel, and wrapped around my otherwise bare shoulders was a shawl made of cream lace.

I knew this outfit. When I was fifteen I had attended my cousin Susan’s wedding where my other cousin, Emily, had been maid of honour. From the moment I had first seen her wearing the dress I had hardly been able to take my eyes off her. I think she must have thought I was checking her out because once or twice she gave me a smile and a wink, but it was only the dress that caught my eye, so elegant in its simplicity, that I found myself looking again and again.

After the reception, we had gone back to my uncle’s house where my cousin had gone straight upstairs and changed into jeans and a sweatshirt. Everyone had collapsed in the lounge, exhausted and gratified with how well the day had gone. I had made some excuse to leave the room and had sneaked upstairs.

It didn’t take me long to find my cousin’s room where the dress and accessories had been thrown carelessly onto the bed. I had known it was wrong, but somehow I couldn’t stop myself. I closed the door and stripped off my clothes.

The strapless bra had been first, padded out with my socks – my cousin wasn’t very well endowed so they worked well enough. Then came the suspender belt and silk stockings which introduced me to a whole new sensual experience. Petticoats came next; three of them, soft cotton with lace trim and full bodied. When I finally slid the dress over my head my heart was pounding so fast I thought I might faint. I slipped on the shoes and gloves which were very nearly my size, pulled the shawl across my shoulders and started to parade back and forth in front of the mirror.

I stayed too long. My family had begun to wonder where I was and had come looking for me. It was my uncle who found me. He was at so much of a loss at the site of me standing in his daughter’s dress in front of a mirror, he had just closed the door again, and for a brief few seconds I was filled with a mixture of dread and hope. Then the door had opened again and, without a word, he had grabbed hold of my arm and marched me downstairs where he paraded me in front of the rest of my family.

My cousin had screamed and run out of the room sobbing that she could never wear that dress again. My uncle and aunt had been apoplectic with rage; how dare I behave in such a depraved and perverted manner and under their own roof too. My parents had flown off the handle as well. I was disgusting, they didn’t know me, thank heavens the bride and groom had left on their honeymoon rather than having something like this ruin their special day. The only person who didn’t have anything to say was my sister who just sat quietly.

I was made to change back into my clothes and we left for home as soon as I was ready. One month’s worth of my pocket money was given to my uncle and aunt to have the dress dry-cleaned, because ‘who knows what I might have got up to whilst wearing it’, then we drove home in an icy silence. I had tears streaming down my face the whole time, but my parents were too affronted to notice or care.

Later my sister sneaked into my room and tried to cheer me up. She told me the only reason my cousin had been so upset was that I had looked better in the dress than she had, then she apologised that it wasn’t that much of a complement as my cousin was a bit of a moose. She had me smiling in a short time and I have always been grateful that she looked past my misdeed and helped me out of my misery that night.

Things changed after that day. We never spoke of it again, but my parents never looked at me in quite the same way; there always seemed to be some shadow of deep disappointment at the back of their eyes. As well as that, on the very few occasions we’ve had to visit my uncle and aunt since the wedding, the welcomes have been noticeably frosty and Cousin Emily has always found some reason to be somewhere else.

The only good thing to come out of the situation was that my sister and I drew quite a lot closer. In her words, she didn’t think it was fair for the fossils to go all postal on me like that, and she wanted me to know that she cared. In subsequent years she even helped me with my forbidden pleasures, buying me clothes from charity shops and covering for me when I was changed in my room and Mum or Dad were looking for me.

I loved this dress for its simple elegance and the delightfully sensual feel it gave, but I also hated it because it represented the break in my relationship with my parents. Somewhat dejectedly I sat down to some more revision.

-oOo-

Chapter 5

At about midday there was a gentle knock on my door. I had been so preoccupied with my studies and trying to blot out the nightmare memories associated with the dress I was wearing that I had lost track of time. I looked at the book and realised that I was two chapters ahead of where I needed to be in preparation for the following day’s test.

I stood up and walked to the door, aware for the first time in several hours of the soft caress of the cotton petticoats on my silk clad legs.

It was Jenny.

“Hey good looking,” she greeted me with a grin and a kiss. “You look fabulous, what’s the occasion?”

“You think so?” I responded with a twirl, “I thought I look a bit of a prat with all the body hair showing.”

“I take it your still wearing a dress then? I mean I don’t see a lot of body hair…”

“Oh, sorry for a moment I thought this was real, in which case I’m getting altogether too used to it.”

She stepped past me into the room.

“So like I said, why the posh togs?”

I explained about the dressing up for Sundays thing. It turned out she approved.

“We might just have to keep hold of that tradition when things return to normal,” she said. “So what do you think you’re wearing then? You don’t seem that happy about it.”

I described the clothes and the events that had surrounded the last time I’d seen them.

“Oh I guess that explains the long face then. Still, time to cheer up. For the first time in a very long while the sun is out on a Sunday, and in March too. I’ve made us a picnic and thought it might be nice to go down by the lake and soak up some of these usual rays.”

She looked past me to the desk.

“That is assuming you’ve had enough of that book…”

“Sounds good,” I said. “I’ve read as much as I need to so why not?”

“You’d better get changed then. Get your swimming togs on so we can do some sunbathing, and put something on over the top that you won’t mind getting a few grass stains on.”

Jen was dressed in a simple backless sundress with a delicate floral pattern; I could see the straps of her bikini showing as she stood with her back to me. She looked eminently desirable.

I quickly pulled off the red dress and hung my shirt and trousers up in the wardrobe. I made sure she had her back turned and slipped out of my undies and into a pair of swimming shorts. The usual jeans and tee-shirt followed and in no time I was standing next to her in the exact same outfit she was wearing, right down to the sandals.

She gave me an expectant look and raised an eyebrow. I turned her to look at the mirror.

“Imagine me in the exact same outfit,” I told her, “right down to the blue bikini straps showing at the back.”

“Ooh, what I wouldn’t pay to see you in a bikini sometime.”

“Not with this much body hair,” I replied.

“Well we may have to do something about that then.”

She rummaged in her bag for a while and then passed over a couple of tubes of cream.

“It’s hair remover,” she told me, “I figured you might want some after the way you looked when you were wearing that dress for real yesterday. I mean as long as you’re going around thinking you’re dressed like a girl you might as well enjoy the full experience. If anyone asks you can always say that your girlfriend prefers her men hairless.

“Oh, the smaller tube is a body cream to use after you’ve used the hair remover. It kind of soothes any residual tenderness.

“Yeah, and I’d wait until everyone’s asleep before using it. It smells a bit and people might wonder what you’re up to.”

I thanked her and put the gift down on my desk. It really was unusually warm for the time of year, so I just grabbed my wallet and keys and we stepped out.

After I’d locked the door, I made to put the wallet and keys in my jeans pockets, and somehow found myself carrying a small handbag with a shoulder strap. My brain had to be working overtime with the details.

We made our way down to the lake hand in hand. I could swear I could feel the sun on my back, and the sensation of a gentle breeze moving about under my dress brought a contented smile to my face and grunt of appreciation.

Jen laughed, “You really do get a kick out of this don’t you?”

I smiled at her. “I don’t know. A lot of the time, yeah, I guess so. I love the way a skirt or dress feels and the way it moves, but I’d be happy for this to stop now. I’ve had some fun with it and would be glad to get myself rooted back in reality again.”

“How long do you think it will last?”

I shrugged. “I have absolutely no idea. I had thought it would wear off by now. Maybe a day or two more, a week. I hope no longer.”

“What will you do if it lasts longer?” There was a serious look in her eyes.

I thought about it for a while. “I don’t know,” I replied. “I might have to look up Mr Mysterio and ask him to undo the trance.”

“He may not be very receptive. I mean you did make a bit of a fool out of him.”

“Well hopefully he’s not such a unpleasant git as he made out on stage the other night. I don’t want to be stuck like this.”

“Why not? I mean this is ideal for you isn’t it? You get to wear what you want and nobody else knows or is upset by it.”

“Well for one thing people might guess if I keep acting girly. You figured it out.”

“Yes but I was looking for something. Don’t forget I’ve known you for a while now and I was there when you went up on the stage so I saw the change, even if I didn’t click at first. You don’t let it show that much and I doubt anyone else would pick up on it.”

“Well, beyond that I don’t know. I’m not sure how to say it, but it doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s a bit like something is being done to me each day and I don’t have any control over it. I mean what if I wanted to wear jeans and a tee-shirt one day?”

“What like you are now?”

“Yes exactly, I mean that’s what you and everyone else sees, but to me it’s a sundress. I don’t get to do what I want.”

“Seems like a small enough price to pay.”

I was feeling uncomfortable about this line of conversation, “Maybe it won’t come to that,” I said and changed the subject.

There were quite a few other people down at the lake; Jen’s idea had obviously made its way into a number of brains. We found ourselves a quietish spot and set out the food.

After we’d eaten Jen pulled off her sundress and lay out on her front. After a moment’s uncertainty I stripped off as well.

Jen opened an eye and squinted up at me. “You look like a perfectly ordinary boy wearing swimming shorts,” she murmured. “Now get out of the way of the sun.”

I don’t know how long we lay there. After a while Jen pulled out some suntan lotion and started rubbing it into her skin. I took over and completed her back, then she did the same for me. Usually I hated the stuff as it clogged up the hairs on my arms and chest, but with Jen doing the honours it became a pleasant experience.

Right up until the moment she said “Uh oh.”

“What is it?” I mumbled.

“Well it seems the power of suggestion is more powerful than one might first expect.”

I sat up and looked at her. “What do you mean?”

“Look for yourself,” she said nodding at my shoulder and trying hard to suppress a grin.

I glanced down at myself and the straps of my imaginary bikini top.

“I don’t see anything.”

“Try moving your straps a bit.”

I reached up a hand and did as I was bid.

“What the…”

I grabbed quickly for my shirt and pulled it on then did the same with my jeans.

“How on earth did that happen?” I wondered.

“I have no idea, but I think you look kinda cute with tan lines.” She couldn’t help giggling and one or two of our immediate neighbours were looking up curiously.

“It’s probably time we were thinking of heading back anyway,” I said. The sun was getting low and the warmth of the afternoon was beginning to fade.

“I guess you’re right,” Jen replied and started to gather our things together.

We walked back in silence. For my part I was too preoccupied with this latest discovery.

When we arrived back at my room, I stripped off the sundress and bikini top. There was no question; my chest had two very distinct white areas where my breasts would have been had I possessed any, and pale strap lines running over my shoulders and around my back.

“Well even if this does stop in the next few days, I’m not going to be able to go around topless for a while.”

“I’ll get you some artificial tan next time I go to the chemists. Girls deal with this sort of thing all the time. Don’t worry; I’ll get you fixed up.”

We chatted for a while and I ended up cooking tea for us. Nothing special just cheese on toast and some baked beans. Student budget you understand.

Jen was still fascinated by the clothes I’d found myself wearing, especially the nightwear, and had fallen about in gales of laughter when I mentioned the sheer Arabian Nights style outfit I’d worn the other night. I asked her what she usually wore and she went into some detail describing the short, pale pink satin chemise with thin shoulder straps and lacy cups she was currently using.

After tea Jen made her excuses and headed home.

“You may have done all you need to for tomorrow, but I still have an assignment to finish this evening. Don’t walk me home tonight, we’ll only end up chatting for half an hour before I go in and I really need to get this done.”

We kissed goodnight and she headed off.

Since the hall was pretty empty I picked up the tubes of cream she’d given me earlier and headed for the showers.

She was right the stuff did stink a bit, but half an hour later, having followed the instruction to the letter, most of my body hair was lying in the bottom of the shower and most of my body was covered with the soothing body cream, easing the slight burning sensation the depilatory had left in my skin.

I slipped on my pyjamas and admired my newly hairless body dressed in the pale pink satin chemise that my imagination had conjured when Jen described hers earlier. I actually looked and felt quite feminine for a change, and enjoyed the experience of padding about the hall in my nightie and bunny slippers before heading off to bed for an early night.

-oOo-

Chapter 6

I spent the following day wearing a silver-grey dress with a very short puffball skirt, silvery tights and sandals. Dressing up in private or with just one or two friends was one thing, heading into a busy university on Monday morning dressed in what I remembered as one of my sister’s favourite outfits brought on an acute attack of paranoia. I was convinced that people all around me were staring at me, and I guess my furtive behaviour only helped to make my concerns come true. I felt very self-conscious in the physics test, but the reading I’d done over the weekend had been worthwhile and I felt I acquitted myself pretty well.

I met up with Jen for lunch and in an urgent whisper asked how on earth girls managed to act normal wearing skirts that were so short that they left almost nothing to the imagination. I described what I was wearing and she had a quiet fit of the giggles.

“It’s not funny,” I insisted, “I feel totally exposed and it feels like everyone’s staring at me.”

“Well if they are it’s only because you’re acting so weird. Everyone except you sees only a guy wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. The smooth arms might be attracting a bit of attention, but I wouldn’t worry about that too much. It’s just something new which will become very ordinary after a few days.

“If it’s any help at all, I like it.” She reached out a hand and stroked my bare smooth arm. It felt good and I started to calm down with her reassurances.

The afternoon went better with just a single comment from one of the lecturers who enquired about my rather abrupt hair loss. I responded with the prearranged response about my girlfriend preferring smooth skin and most of the odd looks I’d been getting all day seemed to subside after that. I still felt exposed in the short dress, but by the time my last lecture ended I was beginning to enjoy myself again.

The rest of the week was fairly uneventful, except that I spent it seemingly dressed in a wide variety women’s clothes. Jenny spent as much time as she could round mine, saying it was easier to come to me as a girl could get a pretty trashy reputation very quickly if a guy spent too much time in her room.

She preferred wearing jeans she told me, but out of a sense of solidarity she started wearing skirts and dresses to help me feel more at ease. It took me a day or so to notice, but pretty soon I found myself wearing the same things she did, only a day later.

What twigged it was the Thursday evening. A friend of hers who was studying performing arts had invited her and a plus one to a play she and some of her friends were putting on at the Union. Jen turned up to my room wearing a delightful little black dress with sequinned jacket. I was still dressed in my scruffs from the day, and not wanting to show her up I changed quickly into my Sunday clothes. The instant I finished buttoning up my shirt, I found myself wearing the same outfit as her, right down to the strappy sandals, sequinned jacket and matching purse.

As we walked to the bus stop I brought it up.

“It seems that I’ve been wearing your clothes a lot recently.”

She gave me a startled look. “What do you mean?”

“It may not be happening every time, but every time we meet up, the next time I get changed, as long as it’s not night clothes, I seem to end up wearing what you were wearing at our last meeting. I hadn’t noticed it before, but this evening as soon as I changed I found myself wearing the same LBD you have on at the moment.”

“I thought you were walking a bit funny. These heels are a bit high if you’re not used to them.”

“Yes there is that, but do you think there’s any significance?”

“I should probably take it as a compliment,” she replied thoughtfully.

“What do you mean?”

“Mysterio’s suggestion to you was that you should believe yourself to be wearing the most beautiful women’s clothing you could imagine. Pretty much everything you’ve found yourself wearing seems to be either something you remember finding attractive that one of your female friends or relatives was wearing, or something that caught your eye in a clothes catalogue.

“You probably didn’t start of by matching me because I was wearing jeans or trousers most of the time and they probably don’t strike you as girly enough, but now that I’m wearing dresses all the time, you’re finding them beautiful as much because it’s me that’s wearing them as anything else. Either that or you have the same taste in girl clothes as I do.”

“Hmm,” I thought. It made sense.

The play was excellent, and all the better for the company. My smooth skin made wearing the dress something new and delightful all over again. This trance didn’t seem to be lessening, but Jen didn’t seem at all freaked out by it and, apart from a vague nagging sense of wrongness in the back of my mind, I had started to enjoy the sensual feel and sheer beauty of the clothing my mind insisted I was wearing, so for a while I settled into the novelty and pleasure of the experience.

-oOo-

Easter came and we headed off home for a few weeks rest. Jen and I lived in different parts of the country so promising frequent emails, texts and phone calls, we caught separate trains and headed for opposite corners of the country.

Somehow I had managed to associate the girly clothes with life at university. I mean I had been put in a trance at uni, and the last few weeks of looking and feeling dressed in girl clothes had all happened at university. Heading home seemed to be a break from normal daily life – no study, no Jen, no Dave, none of the familiar university inputs – so somehow I had expected that I would turn up at home wearing trousers again.

My mind seemed to have different ideas though. When I dressed that morning the usual momentary break in perception occurred and I found myself wearing a short, white, sleeveless summer dress with overlapping tiers of sheer fabric over a plain silky white slip. It was short, coming down to mid-thigh, but I remembered being totally captivated by it when I had seen a young woman wearing it in town the previous day.

I’d taken a short diversion into town to buy a present for Jen when I saw her. Acting on impulse and remembering what Jenny had said about my possibly having the same taste in women’s clothes as her, I had approached the young woman and asked her where she had bought it as I thought it would make a great present, assuming it wasn’t too expensive. The woman had thought it a highly romantic notion and, since she worked in the shop that sold it, she offered me her staff discount on the dress. Intimate conversations about women’s clothes with Jen over the previous weeks had given me a pretty good idea on her various measurements and so, even though it ended up being quite a bit more than I had planned on spending, I bought the dress.

The look on Jen’s face when she opened the box made the painful memory of parting with so much cash at one time fade into insignificance. She had made some comment about letting me borrow it sometime if I liked. I still couldn’t get over how accepting she was of my peculiarity.

Anyway, as it happened I didn’t need to borrow it because here I was about to head back to my prudish and unaccepting parents wearing one of the most girly pieces of clothing in existence.

I climbed onto the train willing my perception to shift back to the shirt and chinos I had put on that morning, but it wasn’t about to start cooperating. The closer I approached my home, the more panicky I became, and half an hour out from arriving I found myself shut in the toilet on train dialling Jen’s mobile number.

“Hey girlfriend,” I said, “I kind of need you right now.”

“Not easy,” she said, “given that we’re probably a couple of hundred miles apart and heading away from each other at high speed even as we speak.”

“Just hearing your voice is helping. I need you to tell me everything’s going to be alright.”

“Why what’s up?”

“Well you know that dress I bought you yesterday?”

“Yes it’s lovely. I want to wear it to a party tonight, but I’m afraid it will draw too much attention. I want to be with you when I wear it for the first time.”

“You can wear it to your party, I don’t mind. I mean it seems only fair that you should get to enjoy it sometime soon given that I’m wearing one exactly like it right now.”

“Oh!”

“I can’t meet my parents looking like this Jen, I’ve told you how they are!”

“Richard, you know that’s not what they’re going to see. You dressed in your chinos and a white shirt this morning, remember? You looked very smart and that’s exactly what they’re going to see.”

“But it’s not what I’ll see! And the last time I stood in front of my parents dressed anything like I am now they went totally off the wall.”

“They’re not going to this time love. All they will see is their son back from university, dressed in smart, very masculine clothing.”

“And when they give me that look that seems to be asking if I’m still a little pervert, how am I going to respond to that? I mean from my point of view I’ll be standing in front of them showing more leg than they ever let my sister get away with. I won’t be able to hold it together.”

“Richard, remember you are not doing anything wrong. You are not wearing a dress, not really, and your parents can’t object to the way you are dressed. What’s more what you see and feel isn’t your fault either. You know and I know that if you had the choice you would end this thing if you could, and the way you see yourself right now is out of your control.

“Just tell yourself that you are not doing anything wrong and that anything that seems wrong is beyond your ability to change. You will be fine.”

The conversation went on like that for most of the last 30 minutes until the train started to slow. By then I felt better and I thanked Jen for helping. I collected my bags and stepped off the train to find Dad waiting for me. The haunted look was still in his eyes, but I put on my best face and strode up to him – not quite as easy as it sounds even though the heels on the sandals I seemed to be wearing were quite low – and shook his hand.

-oOo-

Chapter 7

All the way home as he was talking to me about life at university, my studies and social life – I told him about Jenny – I was acutely aware of the way the hem of my dress kept riding up my thighs. I couldn’t do anything to straighten it without him noticing, so I kept telling myself over and over that I was really wearing trousers and they couldn’t be riding up like that. I missed half of what he was saying, but if it was anything like the half that made it past my distraction, I don’t think I missed anything of importance.

We arrive home and Mum gave me her usual contemptuous stare as I walked into the living room. I wanted to challenge her on it; to ask how long before she might forgive a single transgression from so long in the past, but the feel of air on my bare legs and the swirl of delicate fabric about my thighs brought to sharp focus the hypocrisy of my thoughts.

Dad broke the uncomfortable silence.

“Richard has a girlfriend now. Jennifer didn’t you say her name was?”

“I’m surprised anyone would have you, or haven’t you had the decency to tell her of your perverse habits?”

I let out a deep sigh. This was going to be a long couple of weeks and I wasn’t going to start it with a fight.

“It’s good to see you mum, but it’s been a long journey and I should unpack.”

“Well you know where your room is,” Mum replied. “Alice is about some somewhere. I‘m she’ll be glad to see you. Dinner will be at seven.”

I nodded and headed up the stairs leaving Dad with the task of trying to negotiate enough of a truce to make the next two weeks bearable.

Up in my room I sat on my bed and started to cry. It may have been the clothes; I had certainly noticed a greater tendency towards girly responses in myself in the past few weeks. I’d have to watch that too.

The door creaked. I was going to have to start sooner than I thought.

“Hey big brother.”

Alice’s voice was gentle, enquiring. She had a surprisingly wise head on such young shoulders.

I pinched the bridge of my nose and made as though I was wiping sleep from my eyes. Tears dealt with, I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, plastered a grin on my face and turned to greet my little sister.

She had developed a lot of curves since I last saw her and took great delight in showing them off in skin tight jeans and a crop top.

“Hey squirt, looks like Mother Nature’s been kind to you.”

I stood up and opened my arms and she ran into them. It was good just to embrace someone after the stiff welcome I had received downstairs.

“Don’t mind Mum,” Alice whispered into my ear. “She’ll come round eventually.”

Like I said, a wise head.

After a minute Alice pulled away and looked into my eyes rather intently.

“There’s something different about you, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

I looked down at the delicate fabric I was wearing and wondered again just how much it was changing my behaviour. I’d probably have to tell her sometime, but I wasn’t ready for that just now.

“Well there’s definitely something different about you. I feel sorry for the guys at school; they must all be tripping over their own tongues trying to get near you.”

She smiled shyly. “I guess I have been getting a bit more attention recently, and some of the guys are quite cute.”

“Be careful baby sister. Guys at this age only want one thing. I should know, I’ve been through it.”

“Don’t mind me bro, I can handle myself. Anyway, what’s this I heard floating up the stairs a few minutes back? You’ve found a girl? Tell me about her, I want to hear it all.”

She sat cross legged facing me on my bed. Ordinarily I would have done the same, but this dress was too short and I would have been showing off way to much that should remain hidden. I twisted round a bit to face her, but kept my legs together as I started to talk about Jen. She may have noticed, I’m not sure, but before long we were too deep in talking for her to worry about little things and we stayed chatting until Mum called up that dinner would be ready in ten minutes.

Alice left to get cleaned up and I pulled some fresh clothes out of my bag, feeling a bit grubby from the train.

-oOo-

Dinner was strained with me sitting there in a white cotton gypsy top and thigh length tiered cotton skirt made up of pink and yellow patterns. Yet again I nearly made the error of brushing the skirt under me as I sat down, then all through the meal Mum kept giving me filthy looks, as though she could see what I saw myself wearing. Dad tried to lift the conversation a couple of times, but Mum kept shooting his bright little comments out of the air with snide remarks filled with barely hidden subtext that showed her obvious continued forgiveness.

Alice stayed quiet; I suspect having been browbeaten in the past when she tried to defend me.
In the end all we could do was ignore the barbs, eat as fast as we could without seeming rude and excuse ourselves at the earliest opportunity. I offered to wash up and Alice came with me, helping to clear the plates, but our reprieve was short lived.

Mum followed us into the kitchen as soon as we were settling into our task.

“So what are your plans while you’re here?” She asked me.

“I have a bit of reading to do for the course,” I said, “and I hoped to get in touch with some of my mates from school and see what’s happening in their lives.”

The last bit wasn’t entirely true. I was feeling massively exposed and vulnerable with my girly appearance, and I couldn’t imagine myself downing pints and laughing with the few guys I’d been friends with at school while dressed like this. Still it would give me an excuse to get away from the house every now and again.

“If there’s anything you’d like me to do about the house while I’m here…” I held out my olive branch. There are some advantages to having a logical mind and some practical skills.

Mum sniffed. “Well I suppose you could have a look at the washing machine while you’re here. It seems to be shaking more than usual.”

I had a fair idea on what was causing that and figured I could fix it in half an hour with an old metal coat hanger.

Then Mum came out with what had so obviously been bothering her; what had caused her disapproval at the dinner table.

“I seem to remember you having hairy arms,” she said. “Trying to look more like a girl again are we? I mean your hair’s long enough.”

I’d forgotten that the shirt I was wearing when I arrived had long sleeves. The dress I thought I’d been wearing certainly didn’t, so for me my arms (and legs) had been exposed pretty much since I arrived. But then I had put on a plain polo shirt to come to tea, bearing my arms for real.

I felt myself going red and stammered out my standard reply.

“It – it’s Jen, my new girlfriend. She asked me if I wouldn’t mind, and since it doesn’t really bother me…”

“I think you like it; in fact you’re probably wearing a pair of tights under your trousers right now, aren’t you?”

I took the tea towel from Alice’s hands, and dried my own before pulling up my skirt to expose a bit more leg. This seemed to have a matching effect with the cargoes I was wearing because Mum sniffed again as she looked down at my legs.

“Hairless legs as well,” she said disdainfully. “Well you’re too old for me to stop from doing what you want, but I will tell you this. If I catch you doing anything perverted around here, you won’t be welcome in my house anymore.”

She spun on her heels and left us to the soapy dishes.

For a while Alice and I washed, dried and stacked in silence, too stunned to say anything after Mum’s outburst.

Eventually Alice broke the silence.

“Was that the truth? Is it really Jen who asked you to – to… you know?”

“It’s a bit more complicated than that,”” I admitted, “I’ll tell you about it later.”

We finished the dishes and I headed for my room. Alice took the hint and left me alone for a while, and I found myself brooding over things, until I realised I was getting nowhere and just working myself into a worse state. I headed for Alice’s room and knocked. A quiet murmur gave me permission to enter.

I closed the door and leant against it. “This is going to sound kind of weird.” I started, and went on to explain everything that had happened over the previous month. Like I said, Lucy and I are close. We don’t keep secrets.

When I had finished she sat in silence for a while.

“A month?” She asked.

“About that,” I agreed.

“A whole month and this is the first time you tell me anything about it?”

“Alice I didn’t think it was going to last for more than a few days. I’m still not sure how things are going to work out, and it’s not exactly the sort of thing I feel that comfortable talking about.”

“You did a pretty good job just now.”

“I know. I was going to tell you sometime over the next few days anyway, I mean we’ve shared similar secrets in the past. I just needed the right moment to tell you, and Mum kind of forced my hand.”

The hint of a grin came to her face.

“So what are you wearing right now?” She asked.

I described the gypsy top and tiered skirt as her eyes bugged out on stalks. “It’s really comfortable,” I told her. “I envy you girls being able to wear things like this whenever you want to.”

I sat on the edge of her bed, scooping the skirt under me as I did so.

“Wow that looks so weird,” She said. “I mean you’re acting exactly as if you’re wearing a skirt, but you’re not.”

“I know and sometimes it’s difficult to remember that I’m not. There’s not a lot I can do about what my brain keeps telling me at the moment, and I really don’t need people to notice me doing anything weird, especially not Mum and Dad.”

“Don’t worry bro, I’ve got your back. So why the depilatory cream then? The real reason this time.”

“Well it was Jen’s idea, that much is true. It’s just that the she suggested I’d feel better about the way that I looked in my imaginary dresses if I didn’t have so much of the caveman thing going on. She suggested I use the excuse that she asked me to do it to get me off the hook.

“I think she does prefer me hairless, and I have to admit I kind of like it too, but the real reason is so that I don’t keep feeling so much of a prat every time I look in the mirror. It works, but there’s still something not right and, much as I’ve enjoyed a lot of this past month, I do wish it would stop. I was really hoping it would have stopped before I came back home.”

Alice put her arms around me and I held onto her for a while.

“I think I’ve figured it out, what was bothering me earlier,” she said.

I pulled back and looked at her expectantly.

“When I came into your room earlier, there was something about the way things felt. You felt more like a sister than a brother. It sounds weird but you were less standoffish, more genuine than you used to be. This is helping you get in touch with your feminine side and I have to say I like how it’s turning out.”

I grinned more or less dutifully. I could see her point of view, but the more this went on the more it was messing me up.

“D’you fancy going shopping tomorrow?” She asked.

Normally that would be a big no, but for one this would get me away from Mum and Dad for a while and for another…

“Sounds like fun,” I said, surprised that it actually did.

-oOo-

Chapter 8

The night passed peacefully enough. Most nights I found myself wearing the light pink satin chemise that Jen had described to me some weeks before, and I was getting used to the way it felt. The sensation of crisply ironed sheets against my hairless legs was a fresh delight though.

The next day Alice knocked on my door on the way to the bathroom and, while I waited for her to finish, I dug out my phone. There were five texts and three missed calls, all from Jenny, all asking how the reunion had gone and, when replies hadn’t come back, if I was alright. Feeling guilty, I tapped out a quick reply.

“Sry 4 l8 reply. Olds still not happy with me, but have told Alice all. Off shopping wiv her in a mo. Will call l8r, aml xx Rich”

The phone rang 2 minutes later – Jen’s ring tone.

“I didn’t know you’d be up at this ungodly hour,” I told her glaring at the clock. What kind of time was 8:00am in the holidays?

“Never mind, I was worried, tell me about it.”

So I did. Ten minutes later I’d covered the main details and we were drifting into a soppy exchange of ‘love you, miss you’ when there was a second knock on the door from my sister as she headed back to her bedroom.

“The bathroom’s clear so I’d better get up. I’ll call you later,” I said grabbing the opportunity.

“Make sure you do,” Jen replied.

We exchanged love yous and hung up.

Half an hour later, wearing a peach cotton gauze top with off the shoulder sleeves and a long white cotton summer skirt, I was following my sister out to the bus stop.

I won’t bore you with the details of our day, except to say that it was fun. Alice dragged me through pretty much every clothes shop in the city and tried on half a dozen things in every shop. Rather than my usual bored out of my skull response though, I found myself commenting on her choices and offering a few alternatives. She found some really nice outfits and even bought a few.

Once or twice she offered up a blouse or a skirt to see how it would look on me and I played along drawing a few odd looks from other shoppers. It was all in fun though and we spent more time laughing through that day than I had in a very long while. We filled up on carbs and protein at a BK halfway through the day and didn’t make it home till after the shops had shut. The shoes that had come with my outfit had a slight heel, no more than half an inch, but my calves were burning by the time we made it home and I was glad to be able to collapse onto a sofa.

Alice grabbed a couple of cokes form the fridge and handed me one before collapsing herself.

“I really had fun today,” she said. “Not many girls have got big brothers who would do what you did today. I’m really lucky.”

I smiled back at her. “I enjoyed myself as well you know. I wasn’t really expecting to, but it was massive fun.”

“Help me carry my spoils up to my room?”

We grabbed an armful of bags each and headed upstairs.

With the door closed Alice looked at me a little uncomfortably.

“I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing here, but I wanted to say thank you for a special day.”

She picked out one of the bags and held it out to me.

I peered inside then pulled out the contents. It was a crinkly cotton summer dress in a rich coral hue, with short sleeves, a deep neckline and a gathered waist. I remember her holding it up against me and nodding approvingly earlier in the day.

“I kind of guessed your size, but I’m usually quite good at that. It was on sale if you’re worried about how much I spent.”

I didn’t know what to say, so Alice filled in the gap.

“The nice thing about this kind of material is it doesn’t need ironing. You can hide it at the bottom of your bag and any time you want to wear it, just pull it out and put it on.”

I was still numb.

“I just thought it would be nice for you to be able to dress up for real instead of pretend all the time.”

She smiled shyly, uncertainly.

“It’s lovely,” I finally managed, “but Mum will go completely ape if she finds it on me.”

“I’ll put it in my closet for now. Mum and Dad are going out tonight, so maybe we could have a girl’s night in?”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk it, but the idea was tempting. I gave my sister a hug and thanked her again. She turned to her bags and started putting things away so I backed out of her room and headed for mine.

Remembering my promise, I picked up my phone and called Jenny. A blow by blow account of the day soon had her in fits of giggles and by the time I got to my sister’s gift we were both relaxed and enjoying ourselves.

“I think you should,” Jenny told me. “I mean as long as you’re careful and Alice covers for you if anyone comes to the door, you should be OK. I think it would be good for you to stop pretending for one night.”

So that’s what we did.

-oOo-

Mum told us what there was to eat and where to find it when we got hungry then headed out the door with Dad telling us not to wait up. He was all gussied up in dinner jacket and bow tie and Mum looked elegant in a mauve, velvet evening dress. This looked like a proper night out which meant we wouldn’t expect them back until gone midnight.

The moment they were out the door Alice tried shooing me upstairs, but I forced her to wait a while just in case. As it was Mum did pop her head back in a couple of minutes later saying she had forgotten her purse. The suspicion in her eyes faded when she found Alice and me lounging in front of the telly, and she headed back out to the car.

“Forgot her purse indeed,” I said. “She really has it in for me Alice. I’m not so sure this is a good idea.”

“Well she’s gone now, and you were right to wait. I doubt she’ll be back now, she’s been looking forward to this evening for weeks and if they dither about any longer, they’ll risk missing the curtain.

“As for you, if you’re going to act like a timid little girl, you might as well dress one.”

The car ground gravel as it eased off the drive and Alice pulled me bodily up the stairs.

My sister had bought some underwear for me to go with the dress; I hadn’t seen it when I first dived into the bag. Twenty minutes later I was wearing the coral dress and staring at how I really looked in my sister’s full length mirror.

It seemed odd for the clothes I was wearing to match what I saw in the mirror, and for the first time in some weeks, I felt an immense weight lift off my shoulders. I had thought this was going to be too much risk for too little gain, I mean it didn’t really matter what clothes I put on, the most likely thing I was going to see in the mirror was going to be the coral dress anyway, but standing there and knowing that what I could see and feel was really real eased a stress that had been building for many weeks without my knowing it.

Alice wasn’t content though and, having dressed me up, she now led me to her dressing table and sat me down in front of the array of mirrors. I had washed my hair at Alice’s insistence then shaved my face as close as I could. She now pulled out a hair dryer and brush, and started to work my longish hair into a feminine style, finishing it off with a plastic hair band that matched the dress. She then turned me towards her and started working on my nails, first cleaning them and tidying the shape, then painting on a coat of nail varnish. Finally, leaving me waving my hands helplessly in the air, she took out her makeup kit and went to work on my face.

I don’t know why I let her, knowing the terrible consequences if Mum and Dad did come home earlier than expected, but I couldn’t resist.

Alice wrapped a towel around my front a little like a bib, then set to with some foundation. Eye shadow and eye liner followed with me closing my eyes obediently when told, then a touch of blush on the cheeks and a coral lip gloss to finish. She made me press my lips down on a tissue to clear the excess, checked that my nails were dry and stood back to observe her handiwork.

“I knew if I looked deep enough I would find my sister,” she declared proudly.

She pulled off the towel and turned me back towards the mirror.

“Oh my.” My voice automatically softened with awe as I stared into the face of an attractive, if not particularly well endowed, young girl.

Alice continued to fuss, first pushing a couple of balled up pairs of tights into each cup of my rather baggy bra, then reaching for her jewellery box.

A gold chain with a tiger’s eye pendant went around my neck and settled into the gap between the two new bulges on my chest. She then held up the matching earrings.

“These are clip-ons,” she told me, “from the time before I managed to persuade Mum to let me have my ears pierced.”

She fumbled with each earlobe for a few seconds and I was left with a slightly uncomfortable pinching sensation and the weight of the dangling tiger’s eye pendants pulling on my ears as I moved my head around. It wasn’t long before the pinched feeling eased and I became less aware of the dangling jewellery.

Alice handed me a pair of gold sandals with about an inch of heel.

“My feet are a bit smaller than yours, but I think there’ll be enough give in these that they’ll look OK.”

I slipped them on. I could feel the edge of the sole with my toes and my heels, but they didn’t look ridiculous.

Finally Alice handed me a gold clutch purse and had me walk up and down the room a little.

“I wanted to spray on some perfume as well, but I don’t think we could wash it off before the olds get back, and Mum would certainly notice it even if we clean the rest of you up and have you soak in the bath for an hour.

“Where’s your phone?” She asked.

“In my room on the bedside cabinet. Why?”

“Some things need to be recorded for posterity,” she said and ran out the room.

I was unused to wearing heels for real and so was a bit slow in following her. By the time I reached the landing she was already coming out of my room having worked out how to operate the camera.

“Alice don’t, please,” I pleaded, but to no avail.

She held the phone up towards me and said, “Stand still and smile.”

There was little else to do. I put on my most feminine pose and smiled. There was a flash and Alice was pressing buttons again. I made my way to her just as she turned the phone to me and asked, “Is this your girlfriend?”

The display showed Jen’s name and number.

“No Alice,” I said more as a plea than a denial. I made a grab for the phone, but she pulled it out of my reach.

“I guess I’ll just have to send this to all the J’s then.”

“OK it is, but please don’t.”

“Too late,” she said handing the phone back to me. The display read ‘sending photo message’ for a second then cleared.

-oOo-

Chapter 9

“It’ll be OK bro, you’ll see.”

A few agonised seconds later the phone rang – Jen’s ringtone.

“Hello?” I used the softened voice that had become habit whenever I was dressed.

“Rich is that you? You look gorgeous! I know I said you should go for it, but aren’t you worried that you parents’ will come back early? I mean you can get out of the dress in a few seconds, but it’ll take a while to get the war-paint off. As for the hair style, you’ll need a long soak to get that to go away. Did you do the makeup yourself? ‘Cos it looks absolutely fantastic! I don’t think I could do myself that well. You’re going to have to give me some tips, or at least let me talk to your sister. If this is her doing she is a sheer genius! Thanks for sending the photo, that is so sweet and trusting of you. I love you so much, and I wish I could be there ‘cos right now I am so hot for you…”

“Jenny, calm down.”

The tirade subsided.

I ran through Jenny’s bubbling outburst in my mind.

“Yes it’s me. Thank you. My parents are out at the theatre and shouldn’t be back for a couple of hours at least, but yes I’m terrified. This is Alice’s idea and her efforts with the makeup. I will let you talk to her as long as you promise only to try out what she tells you on yourself. I love you too, and I don’t need to be dressed this way to feel just as hot for you.

“Please keep the photo safe, I really can’t afford to let it get out into the world. If it gets back to my parents…”

“You’re right. I’ll make sure nobody else ever sees it. It’s a shame though, ‘cos you look good enough to eat. Can I talk to your sister please? Alice isn’t it?”

I handed the phone across and left the two of them getting squeaky and excited about this latest venture. I didn’t listen in, not wanting to worry myself if Alice and Jenny started hatching elaborate plans for when I got back to university.

Instead I wandered back into my sister’s room and stood in front of the full length mirror on her closet door. I marvelled at the young girl who looked back out at me; there wasn’t a trace of Richard in the person who stood there. For the first time since I could remember a remarkable calm settled over me as I looked at the girl inside of me.

I knew I didn’t want to be a girl – not exclusively, not completely. I’d spent a fair bit of time over the years trying to explore why I felt the way felt and reconcile myself to the strange urges inside of me. I had considered my feelings about having a sex change, and decided that I liked being a guy too much. I wasn’t even vaguely attracted to other guys, although if I was all girl that attitude might change. I doubted it would though, because I found beauty in the feminine form and it would seem even more wrong to go to all the effort of changing just to become a lesbian.

I was a guy and that’s what I wanted to stay. I wanted to get married and be a dad one day, not a mum, but I had known for a long time there was something different about me, as though somewhere inside me was girl who wanted to come out from time to time. And there she was.

“Hello Rachael,” I spoke softly.

Alice heard me. She had finished talking to Jen and had just that moment walked into the room.

“Rachael it is then.” She sounded disturbingly cheerful. “I had been wondering what we should call you, because you are definitely not a Richard tonight.

“Do you fancy going out for a walk?”

I looked at her panicked.

“Oh come on it’ll be fine. If we head out the back gate, none of the neighbours will see. The woods are usually pretty deserted at this time, and if we do meet anyone, I’ll introduce you as a new girl at school. You know you’ll pass, especially if you keep walking and talking as you have these past ten minutes.”

“And if Mum and Dad come back while we’re out?”

“They won’t, they’ll be out until gone midnight if the last play was anything to go by, and we shouldn’t be more than about half an hour.

“Look if you’re that worried, we’ll take some of your normal clothes with us.”

“And this?” I said pointing at my face and waving my nails at her.

“I’ll pack some wipes and some nail varnish remover.”

I lifted up my now femininely styled hair.

“Take a rubber band with you and pull it back into a pony tail. It’ll pass until you can get to the bathroom and wash it.”

I was running out of objections and, rather more worryingly, any desire to object. I shrugged my shoulders in assent, and before I had a chance to change my mind again, Alice had gathered up the clothes I had left strewn across her floor, and slipped them into a large shoulder bag along with the other things she’d listed.

She lent me a jacket and we headed out the back door. Pretty much all the gardens in the neighbourhood had well established trees blocking the view of the path that ran down the back. We made it out into the open and headed down a woodland path.

Feeling the night breeze playing around my legs for real was altogether new. The sensations from wearing imagined clothes were close, but based in part on memory and part on imagination. This was real and felt different; more believable.

It wasn’t yet dark, the mid-summer sun reluctant to go to bed, and we did pass a few dog walkers on our travels, but no-one we recognised. From their expressions, none of them saw anything more than two girls walking through the woods. One old man did tell us to be careful because ‘who knew who we might bump into in the dark’, but this was too posh a neighbourhood to have a real lout problem. Once or twice in the past, a group of youths had moved in on the area, but the well connected in the neighbourhood, my Dad included, had made sure that there were enough police around for a long enough time afterwards to chase the yobs away. Eventually this had become known as a place best avoided by the neighbourhood ne’er do wells.

As predicted, we were back home half an hour later. I was buzzing with the feeling of being out dressed as I was, for real, and with no-one seeing me as a guy. I felt great, and it took Alice being cautious to stop me heading straight back into the house.

She went down the side path and checked the front drive to see if the car was back yet. It wasn’t and we made an uneventful re-entry into the empty house.

Alice and I went straight to the kitchen and she put together a light salad for each of us while I made us a couple of cups of cocoa, and we sat in the living room eating and chatting about nothing much for what seemed like forever.

The clock on the mantelpiece chimed ten thirty and a growing unease compelled me to head upstairs and change. Alice came with me and helped remove the makeup and nail varnish. I was tempted to leave my toe nails painted, but I had already taken too many risks tonight.

With my face and digits clean and my dress and extras hanging back in Alice’s closet, I ran a bath. A half hour soak had the shape out of my hair and my nerves calmed down. Once I had dried off and blown my hair back into its usual shaggy mess, I pulled on my jeans and tee-shirt. It was no surprise when I looked in the mirror to see Rachael staring back out wearing the coral dress. I mean her makeup was gone and her hair was a mess, but somehow it wasn’t Richard.

I wandered back downstairs and, scooping my skirts under me, sat down on the sofa with legs tucked up near my bum. Alice found me a few minutes later ploughing my way through the first chapter of a book on quantum mechanics.

“You may want to think about the way you’re sitting before the fossils arrive back,” she told me and I realised just how much of a girly pose I was in and unravelled myself.

“How are you dressed now?” She asked me.

“Pretty much as I was before I had the bath,” I replied, “only not so made up.”

I presented my unvarnished nails.

“You may want to work on the voice as well. Rachael is definitely still around.”

As predicted, it was well past midnight by the time the ‘rents were back. I heard the car on the drive and disappeared upstairs before my Mum’s habitual displeasure and acid tongue ruined what had otherwise been a perfect day. I heard voices downstairs as Mum and Dad shared their evening with my sister, and I felt a twinge of sadness that I couldn’t join in as I changed into my Pjs and brushed my teeth. I was in bed with the lights out long before anyone else came upstairs.

-oOo-

The next two weeks seemed to last forever. Mum’s disapproving expression remained etched into her face, even when I fixed the washing machine, managing to get grease over an otherwise very pretty cotton blouse and skirt that I had seen Alice try on during our shopping expedition.

When I changed out of the dirty clothes, it turned out to be just an old pair of jeans and a plain white tee-shirt that had turned grey-blue from having shared the washing machine with something new and non colour-fast at some stage in my early experiments with washing. When I headed back down I was wearing a scandalously short denim mini skirt and a white cotton blouse tied off above my navel. It gave me some malicious pleasure to appear before my mother dressed in clothes that would have shocked her no matter who she’d seen wearing them.

During the rest of my stay I tried to be as helpful as I could, but Mum was determined to stay upset with me. My uncle and aunt were still awkward and only coldly polite whenever they contacted us, and it seemed that my mother’s opinion of me would remain low until they managed to get over my transgressions at my cousin’s wedding. Apparently my cousin had told her sister what I had done as soon as she was back from honeymoon, and was highly unimpressed when Susan had laughed and said she was sorry to have missed it. This somehow added to my offence to the extent that that, even all these years later, my aunt and uncle and their as yet still unmarried younger daughter could barely stand to be in the same room with us, especially if I was around.

I did go out for a drink once with Dad at which point he started off by apologising for Mum’s attitude, but then ruined it by telling me that it was my own fault and what was I thinking doing what I did at Cousin Susan’s wedding. I rather stiffly thanked him for the drink and walked out of the pub leaving most of it in the glass. Given that I appeared to be wearing a pink mini-dress at the time, my exit didn’t give me the full sense of dignified retreat that I might have wanted

As the end of the Easter break loomed near, I decided to head back a few days early. This upset Alice, but she understood why I didn’t want to stay any longer than I had to with the way my folks were going on. I gave her a big hug and told her to come visit me sometime if Mum and Dad would allow.

Mum very graciously allowed me to kiss her on the cheek but then flinched as I did so, as though she was afraid I might bite her or something. Dad drove me to the station and shook my hand before I headed onto the platform. He mumbled some gruff bit of parental advice like “Make us proud son” and I turned away from him and climbed onto the train without looking back. I tried to keep the walk natural, but the pencil skirt and three inch heels restricted my movement. I’m not sure if it looked odd to Dad, but he was the last person I could ask, so I just kept on walking.

As I sat down in my reserved seat, I thought back over the past fortnight. Pretty much all I had that seemed worthwhile were the happy memories of that day shopping with Alice, the evening after and the coral dress folded neatly at the bottom of my bag.

-oOo-

Chapter 10

Back at university I slipped a note in Jennifer’s pigeon hole to tell her I was back. I didn’t want to call her with my troubles and ruin the last few days of her break. My own hall of residence was almost empty with just a couple of third years back early to focus on their revision for finals. Dave had texted me to tell me he was away playing rugby until the Sunday so he wouldn’t see me much before we were back to the grind.

In my absence, the caretakers had been in my room and fixed both the lock and the dent in the wall, so I took a bit of time putting together a poster for the front door saying, “Don’t kick! Door has been fixed.” and sticking it where everyone could see. I wasn’t sure if Dave would stop long enough to read it, but I could hope.

Those last few days were a lonely and depressing. I spent most of them with a nose in a book, reading ahead for the lectures to come. I tried to ignore the way I was dressed with some days being more successful than other. Once I dressed to find myself wearing the French maid’s outfit I’d seen in an advert for an upcoming play. A short black dress with lace collar and apron, some very frilly knickers and petticoats, dark seamed stockings and high heels. Even the cap was perched on my head. It was impossible to ignore the tickle of the lace or the delicious feeling of the stockings and suspenders, and I found myself becoming aroused without wishing it. In exasperation, I took off my male clothes and put on the coral dress. Later that afternoon I found myself about to walk out of the room still wearing the dress for real, and it hit home how much this was becoming a habitual part of my life.

Jen came back on the Friday and came round almost immediately to find me in a dark mood.

“Why the long face, as the farmer said to his horse?”

It was a lousy joke, but Jen’s fondness for Beano humour had lifted my mood in the past. This time it bounced.

“Now I know something’s wrong,” she said. “Talk to me Richard.”

So I did, all about the holidays and the way my parents had been, how feeling like I was dressed as a girl in that environment had made things seem a hundred times worse. I told her about the way I’d been feeling since I’d come back, and what had happened the day with the French maid’s outfit.

“I’m sick of this Jen. I need it to stop.” I broke down then and she held me for a long while. Eventually she pushed me back upright and looked in my face.

“OK then, we’ll find a way of making this stop.”

She seemed so determined; I looked at her with a growing sense of hope.

“First order of business, we find that git of a hypnotist who started this and get him to take the trance off you.”

-oOo-

Later that evening Jen and I headed down to the union where Jen asked to speak to person who made all the bookings for entertainment. I was wearing a very clingy Lycra mini dress with a hem line that I was sure was indecent. Every time I thought no-one was looking I pulled the hem down until Jen told me to stop it if I didn’t want to risk pulling my jeans down in public.

The bookings manager invited us into his office, and I sat with my legs clamped together, afraid of showing off my underwear, and let Jen do the talking. He didn’t so much as look at me, and ten minutes later we walked out of his office armed with two bits of knowledge.

Firstly the manager had decided not to book Mr Mysterio for the union in the future. This it seemed was more to do with the way he took such pleasure in embarrassing his audience – especially students – than his failed finalé with me. Second was the location of where he was currently working in a rather seedy pub on the far side of the city.

We gave our thanks and headed for the bus stop.

An hour later we were outside the pub which was closed. Undaunted, Jen went round the back and knocked on the door. The publican opened the door a crack and stated the obvious.

“We’re closed.”

“Yes,” said Jen, “I’m sorry to disturb you but we’re trying to get in touch with a hypnotist by the name of Mr Mysterio. I understand he does a show here?”

“Yes he’ll be on at eight. If you come back then we’ll be open and you can buy some drinks.”

With that he shut the door and we were left to wander round the grubby streets for a couple of hours. We did find a café nearby and worked our way through more bad coffee than either of us care to think about, waiting for opening time.

As soon as the pub was open, we went back and upset the owner further by ordering a couple of orange juices. I think it may have been the first time anyone had ordered anything with vitamins and it took him a while to find a price for the two small bottles. I hunted for a date stamp on the bottle – it was in date, but not by much.

We found a quiet table and nursed our drinks for as long as we dared, evading the owner’s occasional glares, until it looked like he was going to come over and say something. I switched to coke and Jen asked for lemonade. The publican called me the last of the big spenders as I paid for the drinks.

Jen sipped the top off her drink and poured the remains of her OJ into it. We sat and waited.

Eight o’clock finally arrived and, with fewer than a dozen people in the bar, including ourselves and the publican, Mr Mysterio made his appearance.

The show was a shortened, downmarket version of the one he had done at the university. He was a little more circumspect about how much he embarrassed his volunteers, being very much aware that these were the sorts of people who might wait for him after closing time in order to show him how much they appreciated being shown up in front of their friends. Being limited in how nasty he could be severely affected the show. Jen and I stayed hidden in the shadows until his miserable efforts were done then, as he ducked off the makeshift stage to the smallest smattering of applause, Jen and I took our chance and ran after him. The publican called after us, but didn’t feel safe leaving his bar untended in the presence of his regulars, so we managed to escape.

We found Mysterio’s changing room and knocked on the door. An angry voice asked us what we wanted.

He turned to us as we entered. He looked at Jen first and when nothing clicked he let his gaze slide over me. Almost at once I could see the glimmer of recognition in his eye. It was followed by a sardonic grin as he realised what this visit must be about.

“I remember you,” he said looking at me. “You’re that little turd who ruined my act at the university. You realise because of you I didn’t get invited back and instead have to scrape a living in dives like this.”

“You’re wrong,” Jen said. “The reason you weren’t asked back is because you’re a little too nasty with your practical jokes. The bookings manager was in the audience that night and he felt you went way too far with the way you embarrassed the people who came up on stage. If your finalé was what decided the guy against you, it wasn’t that it failed so much as the way you went all out to destroy my boyfriend’s reputation with your little stunt.”

Mysterio continued to look at me.

“What’s the matter pissant? Need a girl to fight for you? Thing is I don’t think I did fail did I? Sissy little girly-boy that you are, I gave you just what you wanted and you were bright enough to figure it out. I wonder just what you think you’re wearing now. It must be pretty revealing from the way you’re standing.

“Well this is justice indeed. You screw my life up and it looks like I’ve just about managed to do the same for you. Hah, maybe this hasn’t been such waste of a day after all. Thanks for stopping by and have a nice life. Oh sorry you can’t can you, because you’re going to spend the rest of it thinking you’re dressed like a girl.”

He turned back to his mirror and carried on removing his makeup. Time to put up or shut up.

“Listen mister, I didn’t come to pick a fight with you. I’m sorry your gig at the university didn’t work out, but what my friend here says is true. We talked to the booking manager at the union earlier today and he explained why he didn’t want you back. He said you were just too unpleasant with the things you got people to do when they were in a trance. If you think about it, if things had gone as you’d planned when I was there, my reputation would have been shot. I’d have had the nightmare of thinking I was dressed as a girl in front of all my mates and afterwards they’d have had the admission from my own lips that I like to dress up as a girl. What could you have given me that would have made up for that?”

He kept his back to me, but he wasn’t wiping his makeup off anymore. I took a deep breath and went for it.

“You’re right, you did put me under, I do have a thing about dressing up as a girl, and I am terrified of people finding out. When I figured out what you’d done to me I wasn’t thinking about what it would do to your reputation. Actually to be honest I was more than a bit annoyed with you for the way you’d embarrassed some of my mates, and for the way you were trying to ruin my life. I figured that the suggestion you’d put in me would fade away after a day or two at the most, and in the meantime, since I wasn’t really wearing a dress I figured I could fulfil a dream I’d had for a long time, and I did. The thing is, it’s not stopping and I’m losing control now.

“You have to take some responsibility for losing your chance at the university. If you’ll change your approach, be a bit kinder with your act, I’d be prepared to have a word with the manager to see if he’d give you a second chance. He may listen to me as I’m probably the person who was most messed up by your act. The thing is I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t even want to be in your show. I certainly didn’t ask for my deepest darkest secret to be shared with the entire student body, or for you to try and make my worst nightmare come true so who’s the more wronged here?”

Mysterio’s shoulders slumped as the rage leaked out of him, leaving behind a sad, grubby little man. Something of the string of disappointments and failures that had brought him to this point showed through the shiny elbows and frayed cuffs of his costume and I realised that pretty much all that was holding him together was his anger and his bitterness. It seemed almost cruel to undermine that. I turned to Jen.

“Come on, let’s go.”

I took her arm and reached for the door.

“Wait.”

I might have gone on, but Jen stopped. For her sake so did I.

“Would you tell me one thing? How did you figure out that it wasn’t real?”

Somehow I felt I owed him for stripping away his defences. I told him about the clock and Dave’s pint giving me the time frame, then of the dress being such a good fit and so unusual in its design. He half turned towards us and nodded with begrudging respect.

“I’ll give you this kid, you’re bright. You put me to shame too. If anyone who’s been on my stage has a reason to be mad at me, it’s you, yet here you are being reasonable. It’s no wonder you have friends who stand by you.”

I swallowed, hardly daring to hope.

“So will you fix this?”

“I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”

“What!” screamed Jenny, all fury and unreason. “All that and you’re not even going to try?”

I reached out a hand to calm her. Mysterio was backing away from her.

“Listen miss, I really am sorry this time, but there literally is nothing I can do. The trance I put your boyfriend under went deep. Since he was an unwilling subject it was the only way I could be sure of putting him under. The problem with that kind of trance is that the suggestion goes deep as well. If it’s removed early then there’s no harm done, but I did this to you, what three months ago?”

I nodded.

“It’s been in you long enough to become part of you. It’s all tangled up in who you are now. If I tried to take it out I could cause a more severe trauma. You don’t believe me, look it up.”

He took out a pen and wrote the name of a book and its author.

“You probably have a copy in your university library, but there really is nothing more I can do for you.”

“So I’m stuck like this? For good?”

“Or for bad, I’m afraid so. Sometimes these things fade over time. Sometimes if you fight them hard enough you may be able to break the trance. It rarely happens though. My advice would be to find a way to live with it. I know it’s not much but you’re smart. If anyone can figure it out, I imagine it’ll be you.”

Jen and I stood there shocked, but this was as complete a dead end as we were likely to find.

Mysterio finished cleaning his makeup off then he turned to us again.

“Look kids, I’m sorry. I have to get changed and get home. Have a read of that book and see if you find anything out. Beyond that I really can’t help you, and now you have to leave.”

He ushered us out and closed the door behind us. Nothing has ever felt so final as the sound of that door shutting home. We wandered back out into the main lounge, where the publican pointed to the main door, telling us to clear off and not to come back.

We headed towards the centre of town until we found a bus that would take us back to the campus. We climbed on board in silence and found a seat near the back. I was too stunned to speak, or even to think. I felt trapped – lost and without hope. The threat of tears pricked the backs of my eyes as I felt Jen’s hand come to rest on my back.

“We’re not licked yet,” she said. “We’ll think of something.”

I don’t think she even managed to convince herself.

-oOo-

Chapter 11

The next few weeks were pretty dire. Most days, my mind dressed me in something very cute and usually very revealing. The colours were bright, the skirts often short, the frills plentiful. I fell into a deep depression that even Jenny couldn’t help me out of.

My studies were suffering and my grades down to the extent that my tutor called me in for a chat, probably because I was acting more strangely than usual. The previous evening, Jen had dragged me along to watch Gone With the Wind at the union, intent on trying to lower my hemline. It had worked, but my skirts had ended up being so full and frilly that it became almost impossible to negotiate the narrow corridors, or sit in the tight lecture hall seats. He asked me what was going on with me, and if I was doing drugs. There wasn’t much I could tell him without embarrassing myself any more – if in fact it was possible to feel more embarrassed – or probably getting me chucked out of the university for deviant behaviour, so I assured him that I wasn’t taking drugs and that there was nothing going on he could help with. He sent me on my way with an exasperated sigh and a warning that if my grades didn’t pick up soon, he would have no choice but to start dismissal proceedings, and that would be great shame given my excellent start.

I headed for home feeling even more dejected.

Jennifer in the meantime had been spending a lot of time in the library. She’d read through the book Mysterio had suggested, and then gone through just about every other book the library had on hypnotism. Nothing came up with anything she felt might be a help, so in the end she turned to the only other place she could think of.

I had been staring at the same page for about an hour when the knock came on my door. It repeated twice before I responded.

Jen was wearing the dress I’d bought her at Easter.

“You look like crap.” She told me.

I giggled on the verge of hysteria.

“What? Don’t you like this frock?” I asked her, affecting a southern drawl, “I’m sure it looked perfectly divine just the other day.”

“Richard, we can’t let this beat us.”

“Do you have any ideas on what we can do to fight back?”

“Nothing great, but there is someone I know who probably knows enough to help.”

“You want me to tell my darkest secrets to someone on a long shot?”

“You told me.”

“That’s different, I was falling for you, besides you all but figured it out yourself.” I gathered up as many fills and folds as I could and flounced onto the bed.

“Well if our relationship means anything to you, you won’t give up the way you’ve been doing this past few weeks. Come meet my professor, he’s a good guy and he really knows his stuff. At the very least he’ll give us some place to start.”

I shrugged my shoulders. Things couldn’t get much worse than this could they?

“When and where?” I asked.

“He’s agreed to meet us Friday at two o’clock. I don’t have anything then and I’m pretty sure your timetable’s clear.”

I nodded my head and turned back to my book.

“Oh no you don’t,” Jen said grabbing my arm. “Right now I intend to do something to take your mind off this.

“For one thing you need to clean up. I don’t know how long it’s been since you last washed, but I need you to go do that now. Wash your hair too and use that cream, your arms and legs are looking a bit stubbly.”

When Jen gets like this I’ve found it’s easier just to go along with her. I grabbed my dressing gown and wash bag and headed for the shower.

By the time I came back, clean, wet and hairless, she had taken off her white summer dress and laid it out along with a clean bra and pair of panties. She had also added a new pair of sheer tights to the pile.

“What is this?” I asked. “I spend every moment of every day dressed as a girl, now you want me to do it for real?”

“The difference is that you spend every moment thinking you’re dressed as a girl when really you’re not. There have been only two times I’ve known you actually to put on a frock. Once was that first evening with me when I asked and you wore that summer dress from of your suitcase. The other was when your sister bought you that coral dress. Both times something changed about you, and your mood lifted. I was going to hunt for the coral dress while you were in the shower, but then I remember promising to lend this one to you, and since I’d like to see how you look in it anyway…

“You said you’d try anything. Here’s my first experiment.”

She locked the door and waited with her back turned while I slipped on the bra and panties then slid the dress over my head. I put the tights on last, enjoying the feel of the light fabric against my freshly smooth legs.

I stood up and walked over to the mirror. My hair was wet and I looked awful from weeks of depression, but somehow she was still in there looking out.

“Hello Rachael.” I said quietly and a moment later Jen was standing beside me looking at the mirror.

“She’s very lovely,” she told me.

I looked at her quizzically.

“Rachael,” Jen explained. “She’s a lovely young woman, just the same as Richard is a fantastic guy. I think I’ve fallen in love with you both.”

She reached up and kissed me then led me to the bed. After a few minutes of kissing and fondling, she moved a hand under my dress and reached into my smalls. I was more than ready, standing to attention despite the confinement of the underwear. It didn’t take long before her cool hands had massaged me to the limit and I erupted into some strategically placed soft material she had surreptitiously moved into position. I felt all the stress of the past weeks leak away. Jen lay against me in her bra and panties, playing with one of the frills on the dress, reminding me that whatever happened, she was there for me. I took her in my arms and we lay there for a very long time.

-oOo-

There was a knock on the door and we both jumped. It was repeated a moment later and Dave called through the door.

“Been worried about you Rabbit, thought I might take you down to the bar for a jar or two.”

“Give me a minute mate I’m kind of not ready for company at the moment.”

“Awe come on, we’ve seen each other in the locker room, don’t be shy.”

Jen smiled at me, “I think he’s more worried for me Dave.”

“Ooh sh… I mean bug… Oh flip, Sorry Jen.”

“It’s OK Dave, give us a minute.”

I pulled the dress off and handed it to her. She slid it over her head and settled it in place. I zipped her up while she unclasped my bra. I was reaching to pull the panties off when she shook her head.

“No time,” she whispered. “Besides you can’t use these anymore.”

She held up my boxers which were sticky from my recent outburst.

I grabbed a tee-shirt, then pulled my trousers and socks over the tights. A moment later I was wearing a white dress to match the one Jenny was smoothing out. She brushed a few last hairs into place then looked me over and gave me a nod.

Dave had the biggest grin on his face I’d ever seen. I mean honestly if it had been any wider the top of his head would have fallen off.

“You two,” he said coming in and grabbing both of us into his familiar bear hug. “I hope you’re treating him right Jen, he doesn’t need a tease right now.”

“She’s not teasing Dave, and neither of us wants to go all the way just yet. I’d appreciate it if you kept a lid on this for the now. Jen doesn’t need the gossip.”

“OK, Mum’s the word.”

I hated that expression. Anything that reminded me of my Mum messed me up.

“Ready for a drink then?”

“I guess so, except we haven’t eaten yet,” Jen said. “In fact I don’t think Richard’s eaten in days”

“Well that won’t do. Be a shame to skin the rabbit and find there’s nothing underneath except bone.” Dave let out one his bellowing laughs. “I know just the thing. They’re selling burgers at two for one down at the union. We can grab a couple of them each and chase them down with a few pints in the bar. You’re coming too Jen, so help me you could do with a bit more meat on you too.”

We were helpless in the whirlwind that was Dave, and had no choice but to allow him to whisk us off to beery heaven. For the first time since the beginning of this term I actually felt good. Dave kept a running banter going which had Jen and me laughing until it hurt, and somewhere in the middle of it all I realised that even though I was wearing the same dress as Jen, things didn’t seem quite so wrong as usual. By that time we were a few pints in though, and I was soon too far gone to care.

We stayed too long at the bar that night, especially with it being mid-week. As usual, Jen peeled off towards her hall halfway home and David and I finished our own journey home together. We both made it back successfully and I collapsed onto my bed fully dressed and was asleep in seconds.

I awoke the next morning still wearing the white dress and suffering under the worst hangover of my life. It was eight o’clock and I had a lecture at nine, so I grabbed some spare clothes and made my way into the bathroom. I stripped off the dress which dutifully turned back into my jeans and tee-shirt, except I couldn’t figure out why there was still a pair of tights and knickers on the floor when I was done. My mind was too fogged, so I climbed into the shower and shocked myself with a spray of cold water. When I was awake enough, I turned it to hot and washed the smell of cigarette smoke and stale beer out of my hair.

I climbed into a fresh pair of boxers, put on my jeans and a newly washed tee-shirt then gathering up the dirties, including the incriminating ones, which still lay incongruously on the floor. I staggered back to my room, still not firing on all cylinders and sat down on my bed. There was something about these things from yesterday, but I couldn’t figure what.

By now I was wearing some sort of bohemian style mini dress – courtesy of a Monkees video from the bar, the previous evening I think – with long flared sleeves and almost all of my legs showing through tan tights. I found a pair of socks and my shoes, and by the time I was ready to leave, the outfit had been completed with a pair of knee length PVC zip up boots.

I had enough wit not to leave the real tights and panties lying around and stuffed them into the bottom of a bag before filling it with a selection of books in the hope that at least some of them would be useful. On the way to class, I stopped at the kitchen and downed glasses of water until my distended stomach cried for mercy. I was sure the previous evening had been helpful for a number of reasons, but at that moment my hangover refused to let me figure out exactly what they all were.

-oOo-

Chapter 12

My head was foggy but clearing as I sat down in my first lecture and as I became more aware of how much leg I was showing, I felt panic rising up inside.

“It’s all in your mind,” I told myself, over and over again, only just keeping the rising tide of terror from driving me from the lecture hall.

The prof’s arrival saved me from losing it; only the most suicidal student would actually try to leave after Professor Hanson made his entrance. As he began, I switched into autopilot mode and wrote down pretty much everything that he said, leaving my mind free to wander where it would. It was gravitating towards the events of the previous evening, and my niggling feeling of having missed something, when a silence in the room brought me back to myself and I realised that the professor was staring directly at me.

“Have a few too many last night, Richard?” he asked sarcastically.

“Sorry professor,” I said, “I must have got out of bed on the wrong side this morning. I’m not feeling particularly with it.”

“Don’t kid a kidder Richard. I’ve been teaching here for long enough to recognise a hangover when I see one.

“Perhaps you’d like to consult the notes you’ve been copying down so assiduously and remind yourself of the question I just addressed to you.”

I did as suggested and found the last thing I had written down was indeed a question. This was one of the topics I’d read ahead on though, and, despite the dark place I’d inhabited over the previous few weeks, I was still ahead of the game. I knew this and, given a few seconds to recall and rearrange an equation or two in my head, I was able to give the right answer.

“Very good Richard, perhaps you are the exception that proves the rule that alcohol and study do not mix. However if you turn up to one of my lectures in this state again, I will have you removed. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes sir.” My mind was still rather numb, but he wouldn’t be asking me any more questions today unless I volunteered. I drifted back into autopilot for the rest of the lecture and followed the general flow of students out when it was all over.

The current led to the union and, since I had an hour to kill before my next lecture, I went off in search of a coffee or two. Having found and downed sufficient caffeine to kick-start my brain, I focused on trying to figure out what had been different the previous night.

I drew a blank, but was at least functioning more or less adequately when it came time for my next lecture.

By the end of the day my head was too full of physics to think of anything else, although the familiar fingers of depression were scrabbling at the edge of my consciousness. I wished I could at least wear something a bit longer, however it seemed I was cursed to wear the women’s clothes I most liked, and these more often than not showed a lot of leg.

I made it home to find Dave showing no ill effects from the previous night’s binge. No big surprise there, most of Dave’s friends agreed that he had inherited a lot of bovine DNA, most possibly from his father’s side. Jen hadn’t fared so well, but at least she’d had the presence of mind to pull a sicky. Still, by the time I dropped by her room we were both feeling more human.

She was sitting in the communal area outside her room as I approached, nursing a mug of something hot and stimulating in her hands and staring out the window.

“Never again,” she said to me as I came close enough to hear, “and definitely not in the middle of the week.”

“I don’t know how Dave does it,” I agreed. “He was showing no signs of night before when I caught up with him a few minutes ago. You feeling OK now?”

“Almost human, how about you?”

“Still have one or two cobwebs up there, but normal service will be resumed soon.”

“I take it that having a hangover had no effect on you?”

I shook my head. “I woke up still wearing your white dress and now I’m wearing something out of Austin Powers.”

She tried to hide a smile by taking a sip from her mug.

“I’m sorry Richard, but that conjures up the cutest picture in my mind. Would you like a coffee?”

I gave in and smiled myself. I could see my reflection in the mirror and if Jen’s imagination was showing her even half of what my mind had made up, then it was no wonder she found it funny.

“Thanks,” I accepted the offer of a drink and followed her into the kitchen. “The hall seems kind of empty at the moment.”

“I think there’s a sale on in one of the department stores. Have money will shop. I’d have gone myself if my stomach still wasn’t regretting yesterday’s excursion.”

“I’m sorry you got roped into that. Dave means well but his idea of a good time is a bit rough on us mortals.”

Jen handed me a mug of instant and I breathed in its life-giving fumes and thanked her.

“There’s been something bugging me all day,” I said. “Something about last night that was different, that seemed to make it better.”

“Well I did lend you my dress before we made out, that was pretty erotic, or don’t you remember that?”

“I’m not likely to forget that ever,” I said wistfully, “but it wasn’t that, it was later when we were out with Dave.”

We found a sofa and she snuggled up to me. “Let’s go though it step by step then. I came round and pushed you into the shower. When you came back I took off my dress and lent you some undies and tights to wear with it…”

“Oh that reminds me. I have your things in my bag. I’m afraid I haven’t washed them, but it might look a bit odd if they come out of the washing machine with my stuff.”

She sat up and looked at me. “Could that be it?”

“What?”

“After we made out, Dave came banging on the door and we had to get dressed quickly. There wasn’t time for you to take off my underwear so you just pulled your jeans on over the top.”

“Which meant that I was actually wearing tights and knickers when this thing in my head had me believing that I was wearing your dress. Why would that feel less wrong?”

“I don’t know,” Jen said, “but are you up for another experiment?”

“What do you have in mind?”

She grabbed my hand and pulled me up the stairs to her room.

“Close the door and take off all your clothes.” She told me as she started going through her drawers.

“Are you sure? I mean you have to be a bit more careful about your rep than I do.”

“There’s no-one around, and after yesterday I probably deserve a bit of a rep don’t you think?”

She turned to me and handed me a pair of lacy panties and a pair of tights before opening her wardrobe.

“Put those on.”

By the time I’d done as she asked, she was handing me a pair of three quarter length trousers in some stretchy material and a fairly nondescript top; only just on the girly side of unisex.

She then kept her back turned while I changed.

I looked in the mirror. I was wearing a knitted dress with a boat neckline and long embroidered sleeves over a pair of black tights.

“Well?” Jen asked looking at me.

I described what I was wearing.

“So if you really wear girl clothes you don’t necessarily end up seeing yourself wearing those girl clothes.”

“No, but this feels less wrong again.”

“Take off the trousers and the top,” she instructed me as she dived into the wardrobe again.

She handed me a grey dress. I’d seen her wearing it once or twice around campus and really didn’t like it. It hung on her like a sack and hid everything that was beautiful about her body.

“It was a present from my Nan a while back. I wear it every now and again out of loyalty, but it’s pretty much the ugliest thing I own.”

She showed me how the fastenings worked and I slipped it on. When I turned to the mirror the sack was gone. In its place was a bright yellow shift dress with embroidered pink flowers above the hem line. I described it.

“How do you feel?” She asked.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean how do you feel? Does it feel more or less wrong?”

“Oddly less wrong,” I replied, “given that I’m standing in my girlfriend’s room wearing her clothes.”

“Slip it off,” she told me again. “One last stop in this fashion parade.”

I gave her back the sack and she dropped something soft and sparkly into my hands.

“I bought it over Easter and haven’t had a chance to wear it yet. I did think about trying it yesterday, but thought the white dress was better for that.”

I pulled at the tangle of stretchy purple fabric and Jen helped me to arrange it into the way it was meant to look and to put it on and, by the time we had finished, I was wearing one of the most stunning mini dresses I’d ever seen. Gaps in the fabric showed hints of skin here and there, and it was long enough to be sexy without hinting at indecent like a lot of the clothes I’d ended up wearing.

My mind didn’t change it and it felt really good.

Jen had her thoughtful face on, so I perched on the edge of the bed, sipped my coffee and waited.

A few seconds later, she was rummaging in the wardrobe again. She held up a pair of tight satin trousers and a frilly green top in front of her.

“You like?”

The top wasn’t quite my taste. She had a red one with thin straps that would look better and I told her.

She dropped the green one and pulled out the red top in question. “This one?”

I nodded and she disappeared behind the wardrobe, reappearing a minute later looking drop dead gorgeous. I probably drooled a bit just then.

“OK, take that off.” She instructed me as she slipped off the clothes she’d just put on. She then chucked the red top and satin trousers at me. “And put those on.”

She disappeared behind the wardrobe and slipped her jeans and sweatshirt back on.

The trousers were a tight fit, but had just enough stretch that I was able to do the zip up. The red top was more awkward, but with Jen’s help I managed to pull it on and straighten it out.

I looked in the mirror, and for the first time since January I was wearing trousers. Skin tight, satin trousers, it’s true and with a lacy red top that did nothing to suggest I was a guy, but it felt so good I didn’t care.

“Jen you are a genius.” I told her. ”I mean I can’t really go out looking like this, but it’s definitely progress.”

The clothes were a bit too tight to be comfortable and I was afraid of ripping the delicate fabric, so together we eased them off my frame.

“Keep the underwear on.” She told me, and I did as instructed, reaching for my jeans and tee-shirt. In next to no time, I was standing in front of the mirror, just a little disappointed to be back in the purple dress, but feeling better with the genuine sensation of soft nylon rubbing against my legs.

I rejoined Jen and sat beside her on the bed, legs squeezed self-consciously together. “So exactly what do you think you’ve figured out?”

-oOo-

Chapter 13

“Give me a minute to think this through.

“OK, we already know that there are times when what you put on doesn’t change in your mind. There was that time with the coral dress, and last night with my white dress. Was there another time?” I started to answer, but she had the bit between her teeth. “Oh yes, that first night when you put your summer dress on for me. That didn’t change did it?”

I shook my head.

“So those were the only times you’ve put on girls clothes since you were hypnotised, and your perception didn’t change. First premise then, when your mind doesn’t have to do any work it won’t. I could say typically male, but that isn’t fair. Certainly not in your case.

“Just now we started off with a pair of Capri trousers and a fairly bland top, and your mind changed them into, what was it, a knitted dress, yes?”

I nodded.

“So it’s not enough just to be wearing girls clothes, and there isn’t necessarily a link between what you’re wearing and what you think you’re wearing.

“Next you tried on that dreadful thing my Nan gave me, and your mind changed it into something prettier.” Suddenly her eyes lit up. “That’s it, the original suggestion was for you to think you were wearing a girl’s outfit that took your breath away, so it doesn’t matter if you are wearing girl clothes. If you don’t think they’re pretty, then you’re mind chooses something else and puts you in it.”

“So why did it feel less wrong when I was wearing the grey dress, even after it changed into that yellow flowery thing?”

“Give me a minute, I’m still working things through here.

“Then there was that purple party dress, and no surprise when your brain didn’t change it.”

“It is pretty magnificent,” I said looking down at myself.

“You’re still wearing it?” She looked a bit miffed. “My boyfriend gets to wear my new party dress out before I do?”

“You were the one that gave it to me in the first place, remember?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t mean for you to keep on wearing it.”

I shrugged. “I don’t have any control over this you know?”

She managed to bury the huff and put her mind back to work.

“Lastly was the red top and the skin tight satin trousers. Once we figured out what you liked, you tried those on and nothing changed. Which means that you don’t have to wear skirts all the time.”

“Except I really like skirts and dresses. I think girls look way better in them than when they’re wearing jeans and stuff. I mean you’re purple dress is way nicer even then those satin trousers, even with that red top, which is really lovely by the way.”

“And that probably explains why you’re wearing the purple dress right now. Can I have one more experiment? Take off your jeans and tee-shirt, just for a minute.”

She disappeared behind her wardrobe again as I slipped off my clothes one more time. I found myself idly wondering if fashion models ended up getting friction burns from constantly changing clothes when Jen reappeared, skin tight satin trousers leaving little to the imagination, and that gorgeous red top. I felt myself going weak at the knees just at the sight of her.

“Now get dressed,” she told me.

I did, and I was back in trousers again. Black satin hugging my legs and bum, loose fitting folds of the red top brushing softly against my skin.

“Did I ever tell you you’re a genius?”

“I seem to remember you saying something like that a few minutes ago, but credit where credit’s due. I’m right aren’t I? There’s a link between what you think is breath-taking and what I’m wearing.”

“There is when you wear something breath-taking. What about my other question though? Why did it feel less wrong just now than usual?”

“I could be wrong here, but I think that’s down to perception and reality. Your body knows it’s wearing jeans and a tee-shirt, but your mind insists you’re wearing a pretty dress. I think it’s putting a strain on you without you realising it, and the only relief you get is when you deliberately do something to match things up.

“I suspect when you wore tights and knickers under your jeans yesterday evening, it made it easier for you to reconcile what you could actually feel with the suggestion your mind was making.

“I’ll get you some more underwear tomorrow and we’ll try it out. You can leave them with me to wash if you like, so there’s no risk of anyone seeing them in your stuff.”

I helped her pick up the shrapnel from our recent fashion explosion and put it back where it belonged, then we slipped back out of her room before anyone came along to pass comment.

Jen kissed me goodbye. “I think we did pretty good for a couple of hungover zombies. Don’t forget our appointment with Professor Peter’s tomorrow.”

“Two o’clock,” I said and headed off for my room.

-oOo-

I spent the next day wearing a white cotton gypsy dress with frilly neckline and short puffed sleeves. I was wearing Jen’s underwear and tights again and they did help the whole thing to seem somehow less wrong. I was able to concentrate through most of the lectures, but as two o’clock approached, apprehension set in and I had more than one complaint about my nervous jiggling before we were let out for lunch.

So far I’d told only two people about what I was going through, but they were the two people in the world that I trusted to look out for me in all the weirdness and not judge. Now one of them was suggesting I tell a total stranger, and a guy at that.

I met up with Jen outside the psychology department at five to two. We ran up the stairs together, light cotton voile swirled around my legs making me all the more self-conscious about how I seemed to be dressed.

Jen knocked on a door and a brusk “come” invited us to enter. Jen made the introductions and I found myself shaking hands with a surprisingly young man with an evident spark of keen intelligence in his eyes.

He invited us to sit and headed over to a far corner of his room.

“Coffee?” he asked.

Jen shook her head at me.

“No thanks professor, we’re fine.”

Professor Peter’s coffee was apparently a legend in the psychology department, and only the bravest of souls accepted his offer. He walked back towards us stirring a mug full of mud.

“Jen tells me you have a bit of a problem that she thinks I might be able to help with.” I nodded and he continued. “OK, I’m willing to give it a go, but before we get started I need to cover a few ground rules:

“First, if what you have to tell me contravenes university policy in any way, I will be duty bound to report it.

“Second, I am a psychologist not a psychiatrist. That means I study how the mind works and have no experience working with patients so I may not be able help. It also means there is no legal doctor patient confidentiality here so, even if I agree not to repeat anything you tell me outside of this room, should I do so, you will have no legal recourse to prevent me or to seek reparation.

“Third, assuming you’re still OK to continue with this, the more honest you are with me, the more the likelihood that I will be able to help. You tell me half the story, and it’s a bit like me putting together half a jigsaw and trying to describe the picture. It will be at best incomplete and at worst misleading.

“Finally,” with this he paused for a second and looked at Jen, “I’ve come to respect and admire Jennifer for her keen insight. If she says you have a problem and thinks I can help, there’s a good chance she’s right, so if you’re up for it…”

He looked at me and I smoothed out the lap of my dress, took a deep breath and started.

I told him everything. Starting from the evening with the hypnotist, I branched off from that to describe my own peculiar fascination for feminine attire. I talked about my surprise when the trance hadn’t worn off after the first day and how scared I was when Jen had challenged me about what I was wearing. I talked about the Easter break and my parent’s attitude, as well as the incident at my uncle’s house some years before. I talked about Alice and how she had helped me in the past, how I had shared this newest development with her and how she had responded. I covered my depression after I came back to university, my sense of helplessness over the situation, our visit to the hypnotist and what he had said, and finished off with Jen’s recent experiments with dressing me up, and how wearing her underwear seemed to help.

Jen added a few details here and there. By the time I’d finished, I’d been talking for more than an hour and Professor Peters hadn’t said a thing, nor had he shown any sign of reaction. His coffee sat on the table untouched and forgotten and, once I had finished, he stood up and started to pace.

Jen and I sat in silence and waited.

“So from your perspective you are not wearing jeans and a tee-shirt…”

“Right now it’s a white cotton summer dress,” I told him.

“And underneath your jeans…”

“I’m wearing tights and knickers.” I went bright red as I admitted this.

“And this has been going on since…”

“March if you’re talking about the effects of the trance. Jen and I only just cottoned on to the thing about wearing women’s underwear yesterday.”

He paced a little longer, his frown deepening with every minute. From time to time he would look at me with an expression that had me wondering if coming here had been such a good idea. Eventually he returned to his seat and sat back down.

“OK,” he said, “are you ready to listen to me for a while?”

-oOo-

Chapter 14

“Firstly, thank you for being so honest, I can imagine it was difficult given the circumstances, and that you don’t know me. I won’t say I condone your actions, but I have read enough about gender dysphoria to know that it’s not exactly a conscious choice on your part.

“You are the first person I’ve met with this condition, or at least who’s owned up to it, and I will say that I feel just a little uncomfortable with the whole idea. That is my problem though, and I believe I can work with it. I don’t feel it will be necessary for me to discuss what you have told me with anyone outside this room, and you have my assurance right now that I will not do so without your express permission.”

I let out a breath I hadn’t known I was holding. The professor continued.

“If I can address the issue of your desire to dress up as a woman, I believe it does fit in a little with some work I did a few years back on social identity.

“When you look at our society, there are really only two conventional roles that a person can fit into; the two primary gender roles. If we compare them, we see that invariably men tend to be competitive and aggressive, and a good deal of interaction between men involves each one showing off the ways he is better than the others. There is also a tendency to conformity because anything too different may be considered a weakness, most commonly punishable by whoever dares to be difference being pushed down the pecking order.

“With women, the tendency is to be more openly supportive and communicative. Women have more of a tendency to help each other and support each other. It’s a generalisation, so there will be a lot of examples of where this is not the case, but overall it is observable truth.

“The supportive environment is a safer more comfortable place to be, and when issues of self-image arise, as they do with both men and women, the guys have to deal with it on their own, whereas the girls will help each other. I believe a lot of gender dysphoria – dissatisfaction with your assigned gender if you will – derives from a person feeling better suited to the opposite role, and since women seem to have the more welcoming, supportive environment, we have more male to female transgender issues than the other way round.

“An individual then having accepted that he wants to be more like the opposite sex, then has difficulty in making the transition. For those who are most affected, nothing will do but to undergo complete gender reassignment. For them the desire to fit into the opposite gender is so strong that they have to become a member of the opposite gender completely. There is evidence of physiological factors in many of these cases too, genetic variations which result in a more female structure to the brain, hormone imbalances at certain crucial times of development, that sort of thing.

“I don’t think that’s true of you Richard, but you strike me as someone who would prefer a supportive environment rather than one where you’re constantly competing. Am I right?”

“I think so. I’ve always hated sports – playing or watching – and I really don’t get too much of a kick out of being out with other guys.”

“So you’d rather socialise with girls, but the only way you can do so is as a man at which point the dynamic changes. A man who approaches a woman generally only wants one thing, and if the girl isn’t interested in you sexually, her reaction is going to be to turn you away completely rather than respond to you as she would to another girl.”

“So you’re saying my desire to dress up in women’s clothing comes from wanting to be a girl?”

“Well, let me ask you. What is it about women’s clothing that makes you want to wear it?”

I thought for a while, “I suppose it’s more to do with the way it looks and feels than anything.”

“It’s pretty? Attractive colours and patterns?”

“I suppose so.”

“it gives you the sense that when it comes to attracting a mate, you can take on more of a passive role. Look good and wait for her to come to you rather than keep challenging the other guys so that you can show off your strength.”

“That as well, although I’d never thought of it that way before.”

“Do you look good in a dress?”

Jen smiled. “Oh yes, he does.”

She pulled out her phone and looked at me. I shrugged, after what I’d told this guy, how could this hurt?

Professor Peters nodded at the image of me in the coral dress. “Very convincing. How did it feel looking that much like a girl?”

“It felt right, like I fit in, but at the same time I was scared of being found out.”

“Because guys tend to reject anything that doesn’t fit their tight definition of what it means to be a guy. The more radically different you behave, the more vehemently you are rejected. Whereas girls can try new things and be accepted because it’s in their nature to be supportive, and as a result of that we have half a world full of women wearing trousers – something that would have been frowned upon fifty years ago.

“You don’t really fit in society because there isn’t a place for a guy who wants to look attractive and be passive in today’s world. You try it and you’ll get your head kicked in, hence your fear about appearing in public dressed as a woman. It would go horribly against a man’s pride to chat up a pretty girl only to find that he’s a guy in drag. At the same time you can’t fit into male society because it is so much against your nature.

“Most women can’t deal with guys who dress as girls either. They don’t generally have the ability to understand what would compel a man to do so, because they don’t have any concept of what it means to live as a guy. Generally they feel threatened or insulted by men trying to move in on their territory.

This was a lot to think about. It made a lot of sense and it felt right, but I was going to have to sleep on it for a while. In some ways it felt a relief to understand why I was the way I was even if that was different and unacceptable to most people.

“You’re not alone either,” Professor Peters continued. “Studies are difficult because transgendered men feel they have too much to lose if they talk about their condition, so it’s difficult to conduct an accurate survey, but the estimate on the number of men with gender issues is somewhere between one in twenty and one in fifty.

“There’s not a lot I can do for you in this regard, but I may be able to refer you to one or two psychiatrists who have specific experience in exploring gender issues.”

“Thank you professor, maybe another time. Right now I’m more concerned about what this hypnotist has done to me. I mean I should feel happier about the way things are working out right now shouldn’t I? I get to wear the pretty clothes that fit my personality and nobody reacts because they still see a normally dressed guy. Shouldn’t this be a good thing for me?”

“Actually no, and for quite a few reasons,” the prof replied.

“Firstly, the main point of wearing attractive clothing is to have people notice and complement you on it. You get to wear clothes that you think are beautiful, but no-body else sees them. It’s a waste, and if anything it goes against what you’re looking for because there you are dressed as prettily as you would care to be and nobody seems to think you look good.

“Secondly, you’re still a guy seemingly wearing a dress in public. It affects your mannerisms, and yes I’ve been observing you since you started telling me your problem. It’s not very noticeable, but you do have some slightly effeminate gestures. I think you’re aware of them and you’re worried about people finding out.

“Finally, and this is the big one, you have a major discrepancy between your perception of the world and the reality. It hits you in the face every day when you get dressed and all of a sudden the clothes you put on are not the same as the ones you seem to be wearing.

“All people live with two models of the world. One is based on their perception of what is around them, what they see, hear, feel, smell and taste, and the other is based on their expectations; memory and experience tell them that the world should be a certain way.

“It’s what the brain was designed to do. It records perceptions of different situations and links them to feelings. Good feelings when a situation ended up positively and resulted in safety, warmth and a full belly, and bad feelings when a situation ended up with an unpleasant outcome. It then compares current perception with situations from the past, and reintroduces the feelings of those past situations. So for example, the sound you might have heard just before you were chased by a big scary carnivore, were you to hear it again, you would feel something of the same rush of adrenaline that chase gave you.

“In humans this has become far more complex though, and our expectations of the world far more subtly defined. We expect our loved ones – parents, brothers and sisters, spouses – to be kind, right up until the moment one of them shows an unexpected streak of cruelty. We expect the world to be safe, right up until the point where someone or something threatens our lives. There is usually at least one time in everyone’s life when our expectations are built on some false premise, and we find ourselves with two perceptions at odds with one another.

“Are you following this?”

“I think so,” I said, “kind of like you grow up believing your Mum loves you no matter what, then one day you do something that upsets her so much that she can’t get over it, and you have to re-evaluate your whole life as a result.”

“Yes,” he replied, “or from your Mum’s point of view, you have a perfectly normal boy whom you love unconditionally, then one day you find him dressed up as a girl.”

That was a shock. Firstly that he’d made the intuitive leap so easily, secondly that I’d never tried to see things from Mum’s point of view before.

“The human brain can’t cope well with discrepancies like that. You’ve probably come across the grieving process described in terms of shock, denial, anger and acceptance.”

I nodded.

“Grieving is a similar process because yet again you have to change your expectations to fit the way the world is or has become. Sometimes your perception of the world turns out to be wrong and you have to adjust, other times the world changes radically and you have to adjust. The shock is to do with your mind entering a sort of buffer zone where your expectations and perceptions are insulated from each other. Some people get locked into this long term and as a result experience extended periods of denial and possibly anger because they are unable to reconcile what their senses have shown them with their expectations of how the world should be. This is one of the causes of long term depression and I suspect your mother may be experiencing it to some degree.

“The reason why it is so hard to move past this stage is that your perceptions are rarely wrong so it is your expectations that have to change, and since these are tied up completely with who you are, the only way adjust is to allow your personality to deconstruct and rebuild itself. It can be a terrifying thing to face, your entire personality – who you are – shattering into a million pieces or fading into nothing before being rebuilt slightly differently. Many people cannot make that final step without help, perhaps just as many can’t do so even with help.

“Of course in your case at present, the discrepancy between reality and expectation is being caused by your senses lying to you because a rather irresponsible hypnotist persuaded your brain to make things up. You are suffering the same symptoms of denial and depression because your expectations tell you that when you put on a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt, you should be wearing a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt. When the hypnotic suggestion takes over your perception breaks from reality and you have to deal with it.

“Jenny’s idea of having you wear women’s underwear in reality helps a little because it lessens the difference between suggestion and reality, and the few times when you have put on a dress and found yourself to be wearing the same dress have given you some ease from the build-up of tension, because, even though you are still dressed as a woman and would prefer not to be, at least you see yourself dressed as you truly are.

“Now if I know Jenny, she’s researched the issue of hypnotism as deeply as I would be able to here, and if she’s found no way to break you out of the trance, if as the hypnotist told you the suggestion has become integrated into your personality, there isn’t a great deal you can do to fix it except wait. It may be that the tension will become so great that it will induce a deconstructive episode, after which things will return to relative normality, but if that does happen it will be traumatic. As far as I know there is no way to induce it artificially, and because of the trauma involved I wouldn’t recommend it in any case.

“In the meantime, although, as I have said, I personally have difficulty with people who cross dress, I would say the best thing you can do is carry on pretty much as you are doing. Unless you go swimming or to the gym, there’s little chance of other people noticing what you’re wearing under your clothes so wearing women’s underclothes will help ease the stress. Every now and again, since you seem to have an unusually understanding young lady by your side, putting on a pretty dress and exploring your feminine side more fully will give you an occasional complete break.”

For the second time in recent weeks Jen and I stared at each other in shock.

“Is that it?” Jen asked. “Is that all that can be done?”

Professor Peters shook his head. “I will consult with a few colleagues who specialise in hypnotism and in gender confusion, if I come up with anything new I will let you know, but for the present at the very least, I’m sorry young man but I think you are going to have to learn to live with this.

“As things go it’s not that far from what you’ve been dealing with in any case. You’ve had to live this long with a break between the way you want the world to be – a world where men don’t have to compete with each other all the time but can look attractive and take a more passive role – and the world as you see it. Now the break is between how you actually dress and how you see it. In each case, your release from the stress has been to dress up in women’s clothes from time to time. There is no reason why you shouldn’t continue in the same vein.”

Another dead end. We thanked the professor for his time and Jen held onto my arm to lead me out of the psychology department.

-oOo-

Chapter 15

We walked in silence back to our halls, and each of us kept our own council as we headed home. Jen invited me in for a coffee, but at that moment all I wanted was to be on my own. She rummaged in her bag and pulled out an M&S carrier bag.

“Supplies,” she told me. “I wouldn’t open it till you’re in your room.”

I made my way back wishing I could enjoy the look and feel of what I was wearing, but hampered by my knowledge that it was a lie.

Back in my room I looked in the bag. As Jen had promised, it contained a few packets of tights and some frilly knickers. I put them in a drawer in my dresser, locked my room door and stripped myself naked.

I looked at myself in the mirror thinking that at least this way there was no break in reality, and spent the next few hours working through some problems in semiconductor theory. A towel on the chair protected me from the cold vinyl and after a few minutes it didn’t even feel that strange. I wasn’t likely to walk out of my room in my birthday suit, so overall this was something of a solution.

After a while I pulled on my dressing gown and slippers and headed out to make some dinner. The dressing gown was softer and pinker than it should have been, but otherwise not too different from reality, and the bunny rabbit slippers were ignorable.

I went to bed early, and for the first time tried sleeping in the buff. It felt odd, but definitely better than wearing pyjamas that turned into something silky and sexy as soon as I turned my back. It seemed that the prof had been some use after all.

Over the next few weeks I found a new definition of normalcy. Jen and I met up most days and, although I could see it bothered her, we didn’t talk about my continuing problem. For the most part sleeping with no clothes on gave me a regular break from my lying mind, and wearing knickers and tights under my normal clothes helped me to deal better with the array of pretty skirts and dresses I found myself wearing during the day. It was only very gradually that the tension began to build again, so much so that Jen noticed and reacted to it before I did.

It was reaching that time of the year when students were getting stressed out and needed to blow off a bit of steam all over the place, and this gave my girlfriend enough of an idea to turn into a plan. She discussed it in secret with some of her friends in her hall, and sprung it on me as we were heading home at the end of a long week.

“Walk me back to my place tonight Richard, I’ve got a little surprise for you.”

She wouldn’t say any more so, choosing to trust her – because what is a relationship without trust – I followed her back to her room.

Once there we sat around drinking coffee for about half an hour. I had been wearing a gingham dress with lacy sleeves and hemline all day, and wanted to get home so I could strip naked for a while. I was about ready to make a move when a half dozen young girls walked up the stairs with mischievous looks on their faces.

“So this is our project for the evening hey Jen?” the first said walking up to me and turning my face back and forth. “Hmm not bad, I think we should be able to do something pretty spectacular.”

A second one bent down next to my ear. “Good of you to volunteer, shows a lot more guts than some of the other guys around here.”

I looked up at Jen who was trying to hide a minxish grin. Whatever she had planned, I decided to go along with it. As I say what’s a relationship without trust? Besides I wasn’t going to be able to back out of this with any grace.

“I’m all yours ladies, what do you want me to do?”

There was a burst of giggling, then the one who had spoken to me first, evidently the leader, bent over me and said, “For now just sit back and enjoy.”

Tape measures were produced and wrapped around my chest, waist and hips; my shoes were removed and my feet measured; hands were run through my hair and one of the girls spent a while staring into my face, comparing several swatches of colour against my cheeks. Eventually I was handed a fluffy white dressing gown and towel and ushered up to a bathroom where a hot bath filled with bubbles lay ready. There was a distinctly floral scent rising up with the steam and I was told to step in and soak for a while.

I did as I was told. The water was scalding hot, but I managed to grit my teeth and settle into it slowly. Ten minutes later Jen came in and started pouring hot water over my head using a plastic cup. She then started massaging shampoo and conditioner into my head and scalp. It felt fantastic and smelt better.

“What’s this about Jen? What’re you up to?”

“Do you trust me?”

I nodded sleepily.

“Then just lay back and enjoy.”

I did just that. Once my hair had been washed through three times, Jen held out the towel and told me to step out of the bath. I did as I was told and she towelled me dry, rubbing my skin and making approving noises about how smooth it was. She then offered me a razor and some foam and told me to shave my face as close as I could.

When I was done, she rubbed her gentle hands all over it and murmured her approval around a long and luxuriant kiss. She then took a second towel and rubbed my hair until it was only damp. The smell from the bath remained on my skin and in my hair.

“Put on the dressing gown and come downstairs to my room.” She told me and once more I followed obediently. It felt good not having to make any decision. The bathrobe was soft and girly even though it didn’t have any decoration on it. It didn’t change when I put it on.

“OK girls, he’s all yours,” Jen announced as we entered her room. There was a chair in the empty space next to the bed and it was surrounded by the little army of helpers that Jen had drafted into her campaign.

Over the next half hour I was given a manicure, a pedicure, a facial and a professional styling job on my hair. My eyebrows were plucked, though not too much by Jen’s instruction and my newly buffed nails were polished. When the goo was removed from my face, my skin felt as soft as Jen’s, not that I was given much of a chance to explore as a brush laden with foundation was brought in contact with my skin, followed by a combination of eye shadow, eye liner, mascara and blush. Part way through the makeover, the rollers came out of my hair and I found it to be alive and bouncy with curls I’d never had before.

By the time they were done there was a selection of clothing on the bed. Before they let me get up though, there was one more surprise to add. One of the girls held up something that looked a bit like a chicken fillet in one hand and was painting one side of it. My heretofore hairdresser grabbed hold of the lapels of my dressing gown and pulled them apart to reveal my hairless chest and the cold, damp lump of pseudo-flesh was placed over my right nipple.

“What are you doing?” I asked as.

Pressure was being applied so I couldn’t see.

“Just try and relax,” I was told. “You want to look your best for your night out.”

There was a chorus of giggles and a second chicken fillet was pressed onto my left nipple.

The pressure was maintained for a half a minute then before I could see what had been done to me, more foundation was being brushed onto my chest.

The girls stood back and admired their handiwork.

“Mm, I think I’m jealous,” said one and the others fell about giggling.

Somewhat stunned, I looked down at my chest only to find a pair of perfectly formed breasts, complete with areolae. The foundation helped to blend the colour of the false tissue into that of my chest. If I hadn’t known otherwise, I’d have been convinced I was born with these.

“Wow,” I breathed.

“I think he likes them,” one of the girls said and again there was a chorus of giggles.

The girls backed out of the room leaving Jen and me alone. I walked to the mirror over her sink and slid the bathrobe off my shoulders.

“Hello Rachael,” Jen said from beside me, and there was no doubt that the person staring back in the mirror was a girl. The makeup was exquisite, my hair bouncy, shiny and vibrant, and the two mounds on my chest perfectly believable.

We stood there a while then Jen led me back to the bed and handed me a pair of lacy knickers.

I slid them on, but there was a bulge that ruined the effect.

Jen handed me a matching lacy bra and, reaching into my panties, said, “Let me sort this out.”

As before, I was so aroused that it didn’t take more than a couple of gentle caresses before I let out a shuddering sigh and erupted into the cloth she held ready for me.

With my little friend spent, cleaned up and tucked away, Jen proceeded to help me with the rest of the gear on the bed. The bra was strapless and underwired, and I felt a sense of wonder as my new breasts filled it. A pair of genuine silk stockings were rolled up my legs and the straps from the suspender belt fed through my knickers and clipped into place.

Finally Jen helped me step into an exquisite silky black dress with a single shoulder strap topped by corsage on the right hand side. With zips and fasteners done up it fir like a glove, and I realised what all the measuring had been about.

“Sit down Rachael,” Jen told me and I felt a thrill pass through me at her use of the name. I scooped the dress under me and perched on the bed while Jen fed my stockinged feet into a pair of black, strappy sandals with three inch heels.

“You may need to practice a bit to get used to the heels,” Jen told me. “Remember short step and swing your hips a bit, you’re a girl now.”

I walked back and forth for a bit with Jen nodding encouragement, and finally she asked me to sit down again.

A short gold chain was place around my neck and a matching bracelet on my right hand. I felt the smell of alcohol and a cold sensation on my right earlobe. A second later there was a sting and she was wiping my ear again.

“Ow! What did you do?”

“Just a little pinprick,” she said now rubbing my left earlobe. “Hold still, you’ll want them to match.”
There was a second sting and she was wiping away a slight trickle of blood. She went on to swab a pair of dangly gold earrings before pushing them through the holes and fitting the clasps in the back. Finally she dabbed some perfume on my neck, wrists and chest, handed me a purse and a lacy white shawl and told me to wait downstairs.

I looked in the mirror at the earrings now obviously stuck through my ears and said, “You could have asked.”

“I don’t have any clip-ons,” she replied, “and you would have looked wrong without any at all. If you don’t like, the holes will heal up in a couple of days.”

There was nobody on the landing when I arrived so I perched on a chair clutching my purse and waited. I looked down at my bust – there wasn’t a lot of cleavage with this dress – and my hair cascaded down the sides of my head in rich curls, I had never felt this feminine, even when Alice did me up in the coral dress.

I was completely lost in thought when there was a quiet cough. I looked up startled to see one of the lads from the hall next to ours looking at me with a strangely intent expression.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I was looking for Becky Peter’s room.”

Becky had the room opposite Jenny’s. I pointed and put on my softest voice. “That one I think.”

“I haven’t seen you around before,” he told me. “I’m sure I would have noticed.”

“Oh no,” I said dropping my eyes, I hoped demurely. “I’m just visiting. I’m a friend of Jenny’s.”

“Who I’m sure has a name.” He was coming on to me.

“As well as a significant other,” I told him with an apologetic smile. “The name’s Rachael.”

“Of course you do Rachael. You’re too pretty not to have.” He walked past and up the stairs. “It was nice meeting you Rachael.”

He knocked on the door and disappeared inside leaving me with my heart pounding in my chest.

There was a honk from outside and one of the girls from earlier stepped out of her room.

“Taxis are here girls,” she yelled and then came over to where I was sitting.

“Well, look at you, I do believe you’re going to outdo the rest of us tonight.”

The others came out and made similar complements. Jenny was the last looking stunning in the white dress I’d bought her at Easter.

“Ladies,” she announced, “I’d like to introduce you to my friend Rachael, she’s joining us tonight if that’s OK.”

I was ready to protest, but they all nodded and made noises of agreement so before I could say a thing they had my by the wrists and pulled me down the stairs towards the waiting taxis.

-oOo-

Chapter 16

“Don’t struggle sweetie,” one of them whispered in my ear. “You’ll get your clothes back at the end of the evening if you play along.”

So I did. Initially I was terrified expecting the next person I saw to denounce me for the fraud I was, but the taxi driver gave me the same once over that he gave to the other girls, so I had to accept that I didn’t look that much like a guy and soon settled into the swing of things.

We started off at a restaurant where I was careful to order small dishes of low fat food the same as the rest of the girls. Jen mouthed small bites at me, and I tried to copy the others cutting the food up small and eating it slowly. I was surprised to find how much more I enjoyed everything as I took time to savour the textures and tastes.

At first I tried to stay quiet and let the others chat, but they were intent on treating me no different from any of the other girls at the table, and I was drawn into the conversations over and over again until I gave up and participated more willingly.

We had a couple of bottles of wine between the eight of us, which was enough to make us all merry without being out of control, then we headed off to a nightclub where I had the odd experience of being waved in ahead of the line, being part of a group of attractive girls. The few times I’d been out to a nightclub in the past, I’d had to queue for ages before being allowed to go in.

We spent the next few hours on the dance floor in a huddle around our handbags and weaving to the music.

A couple of times guys came up and asked if we wanted to dance, and the girls started to peel off as they found young men who suited their tastes. Jen stayed with me and helped to fend off advances until the guys got the message and left us alone.

I have never felt such a mixture of fear and exhilaration in my life, and was still buzzing when the witching hour came and went and we headed out to get a taxi ahead of the crowd.

It was nearly one o’clock when we arrived back on campus and Jen pulled me towards her hall.

“It’s a bit late isn’t it Jen? Won’t you get in trouble if you take a guy back to your room at this time?”

“I already told the warden that I’d invited my friend Rachael to stay over tonight, so you’re OK.”

“I’m not sure this is such a great idea.” I was worried that Jen had had a little too much to drink.

“Well you’re welcome to go back to your place if you like, but I think your clothes are in Helen’s room and Riana has the solvent to get those things off your chest so, on the whole I think you’ll be better off staying with me.”

She was right, and I allowed myself to be led back to her room.

We chatted as we helped each other clean off the war paint and moisturise the skin underneath. Jen took her jewellery back and checked my ears.

“They’ll heal if you want, but it’ll just be more painful poking through the scar tissue next time.”

“Next time?” I squeaked.

“Sure. Tonight was an experiment to see if you could pull it off. If it hadn’t worked you could have simply told everyone that you got hijacked by my friends and spend several day s in a huff with me until we made it up with some spectacular grovelling on my part.

“As it turns out this evening was an unmitigated success. I’m actually kind of jealous of all the attention you got over me, and you’re going to have to work hard tonight to make up for it.”

“So, what’s this about a next time?”

“Well, the way I see it is you have a need to see yourself dressed in the clothes you’re actually wearing from time to time, and since you make such a spectacularly believable young woman, I don’t see why Rachael can’t come to stay more often.”

In the end I gave in and let her put in a couple of sleeper studs, then we finished undressing and hung up the clothes.

“Here, I’ll let you wear these for real tonight.”

She passed me a light pink satin chemise night dress and matching panties. I slipped them on and found myself standing to attention again, all the more aroused because of the two mounds that filled out the front of the nightclothes.

“I think we’ll have to do something about that as well tonight,” she said pulling a small foil packet out of her handbag.

“Jen no,” I said. “I don’t know how much you’ve had to drink tonight, but I don’t want to even risk taking advantage of you.”

“And what if I want to be taken advantage of?”

“Then you can humour me and tell me in the morning when I know you mean it. If Rachael’s going to make another appearance in the near future there will be other opportunities.”

She dropped the packet back in her purse, just the tiniest bit miffed. “OK, your loss big boy.”

I began to wonder if she had deliberately drunk a bit too much to give herself the courage to do this, but I cared too much for her to take even the slightest chance here. She seemed a little frustrated and confused as well.

I took her hair brush and started brushing her hair the way I had done for Alice on some occasions. I remembered it had a soothing effect when she was upset, and after a while I found out the effect was general.

Jen turned to me and lent her head onto my shoulder.

“You are too good to me,” she said.

“No more so than you are to me.”

“What do you mean? I get my friends to kidnap you and dress you up like a fashion model and then I drag you out into the middle of town and try to get you drunk and seduce you. Not only do you gallantly refuse my advances, but you brush my hair when I get upset with you.”

I felt a wet patch on my chest. She was really crying.

“Well I guess we’re about to find out if these boobs are waterproof,” I told her and she laughed.

“How do you always know the right thing to say?”

“Probably because I know you so well. You know I love you Jen?”

In response she reached up and kissed me long and soft.

“Wow,” she said when we were done. “My first lesbian kiss. I might be a convert.”

“If you do convert, make sure you at least stay bisexual. Richard would miss you too much.”

“You need to brush your teeth,” Jen told me and dug out a spare, unused toothbrush for me.

We scrubbed away for a few minutes and, minty fresh, headed for her bed.

“I could sleep on the floor if you like.”

“I think after your little speech a few minutes ago, I can trust you to share the bed, besides which I don’t want you getting my nightie all dirty.”

“Well if you’re worried about that I may need to do something about my little friend below. I’m not sure he’s going to last the night.

“Allow me,” she said and grabbed a handful of tissues form the desk. For the second time that evening she brought me to swift and total climax.

“I hope you’re going to be able to last a bit longer when we do it for real.”

“I think that’ll depend on how much stimulus I get. Listen I think it’s my turn to do for you what you’ve done for me twice this evening so far.”

And with that I started to explore her body. I’d never done anything like this before, but I’d read some of my little sister’s magazines and had enough common sense to be able to figure out the rest. Half way through, Jen had to fetch some more tissues as I became aroused again, but before long we were both satisfied and slipped into a deep and contented sleep.

-oOo-

Chapter 17

I spent the following morning as Rachael when neither Helen nor Riana turned up until gone lunchtime. Then since I was doing such a good job that no-one else in the hall suspected I was anything other than the young woman I appeared to be, I decided to stay en femme until the evening.

I borrowed one of Jen’s dresses for the day and enjoyed a full day wearing the clothes I had put on.
Riana and Helen both gave up the stuff I needed to return to manhood and gave me approving nods for being prepared to stay in character into extra time.

I used one of the showers in Jen’s hall to wash out the curls in my hair and the last traces of the feminine smell that the bath oils and perfume had left there. I felt a sense of loss in doing so; even though I didn’t want to be a girl, I really did enjoy being girly. The solvent took a while to work, but eventually the breast forms came off. By the time I was dried off and back in my jeans and tee-shirt, my imagination couldn’t do any better than put me back in the black dress from the previous night. I gave Jen back the clothes I had borrowed for the day along with the breast forms and solvent for safe keeping.

“Come to mine for lunch tomorrow?” I asked.

“You betcha.”

We kissed and I headed off back to my room.

Dave was waiting when I arrived.

“Hey dude, I was looking for you last night. Where’d you get to?”

“I went into town with Jen and some of her friends.”

“Oh at the Shindig. Jake said he thought he saw Jen there, but didn’t mention you.”

I cursed myself. Come on think.

“Yeah by the time we got there, they were letting the girls in but the guys had to queue. I told Jen to go in with her friends and joined the wait. Took so long I gave up.”

“So where were you?”

“I don’t know. Wandered around a bit, drank a bit too much feeling sorry for myself. Woke up on a park bench.”

“You don’t look like you spent the night on a park bench.”

“No Jen was feeling guilty about leaving me outside, made me promise to come round to hers this morning. She fixed me breakfast while I took shower and shaved then we spent the day together.”

I willed him to stop asking awkward questions, and it seemed I’d said enough to satisfy him.

“I’ve got a maths assignment that’s causing me some grief. I wondered if you take a look at it with me.”

“Sure,” I agreed, “just let me dump my stuff.”

I went into my room and texted Jen a quick synopsis of my little not-so-fairy-story. By the time I came back out Dave had a couple of mugs of tea and a plate of choc chip cookies ready. One thing I’ll say for him, he makes it worthwhile helping him with the work.

The evening went quickly. It felt good to be doing something normal, even if the tight skirt on the black dress made moving difficult. By opening time, Dave had grasped what was needed and finished his assignment. He offered to buy me a drink down at the bar, but I cried off saying I’d had too much the previous night. He accepted that and headed off on his own while I went into my room to catch up on the work I would have started Friday night had I not been side-tracked.

That night I slept in the nude again and dreamt of Jen’s soft skin against mine.

-oOo-

The following morning I was up early and headed down to the shops wearing something out of the fifties. It was a navy blue dress with white polka dots, a full skirt to below the knee and a tight bodice. It came with stockings, three inch pumps and a white cardigan. I have no idea where my subconscious dug it up, but I caught myself admiring my reflection in shop windows more than once.

The supermarket was pretty empty this early on a Sunday and it didn’t take me long to gather together the stuff I needed. I made it back to my room by tenish and was able to put in an hour and a half’s work before taking over the kitchen and using what limited resources there were in the hall to prepare a decent meal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no cordon bleu chef. What I cook is usually edible if not elaborate. Usually I don’t like cooking much – its’ just a means to the end of filling your stomach – but today I wanted to say thank-you for the previous twenty four hours, so I went to town.

By the time Jen arrived, pretty much everyone in the hall had come out of their rooms sniffing and making some sort of appreciative noises. I fended off the hordes with dire tales of how my cooking had once been used as a biological weapon, and eventually they got the hint and left Jen and me to our quiet little mini roast.

Jen handed me a package.

“It’s a gift from the girls. They thought you were such a great sport yesterday they wanted to show their appreciation. Carla and Riana were both asking when Rachael might visit again.”

I took the package and reached for a knife.

“You may want to wait till you’re in your room before opening it.”

I took the hint.

“And this is from me. The same applies.”

“Jen are you OK? You seem a little down.”

“I – I just feel so stupid. The way I threw myself at you Friday night. I mean it’s not me, not the real me, but I’ve grown really fond of you Richard. I don’t want to lose you. I just don’t believe I did something so stupid.”

I took her in my arms and she started to cry on my shoulder.

“Why would you think you would lose me? After Friday you’d be lucky if you could beat me away with a stick.”

“Why? Because I showed you I’m an easy lay?”

“No Jen, no. Because you saw the real me. Because you know the freaky things about me and they didn’t freak you out. Because you did something totally weird and off the wall for me the other day that shows that you understand what I need, and you’re prepared to do it even though it’s got to be just a little bit weird for you.

“Jen I rarely cook. This is my way of saying thank you for Friday night, and for yesterday. So what if you came on to me, we all do dumb things from time to time, especially after a few drinks. Seriously, if you can overlook what I’m going through, I should be able to cut you a little slack there.

“As for being an easy lay, you are anything but. You are too special to me for me to ever take you for granted.”

It may have been the clothes, but something in me felt like a mother comforting her daughter. I shook it off and lifted her chin. Stroking her cheek I gave her a very un-motherly kiss and the mood was broken. Jen gave me one of her radiant smiles and asked if there was anything she could do.

“For a start you can put those packages in my room away from curious fingers then if you wouldn’t mind setting the table, we should be ready to eat in a few minutes.”

The meal was lovely, if a bit overdone in parts – I mean I did say the ovens weren’t exactly the most advanced or well-maintained cooking appliances on the planet. We talked of nonsense things and sipped wine, then as the afternoon drifted away we went for a walk around the grounds and fed the ducks with the remains of an old loaf.

Back in my room Jen gave me the packages to open. The girls had given me the black dress and extras from last night along with the breast forms. It was a generous gift and I was overwhelmed.

Jen’s package was smaller and contained a pink satin chemise nightie.

“It’s a little larger than the one you had on last night. I was going to give it to you at the end of term, but for one thing I figured you wouldn’t have much opportunity to use it in your Mum and Dad’s house. For another, it’s my way of saying I really appreciate the way you respected me last night, even if I didn’t deserve it the way I was acting.”

I shook my head and tried to say something.

“No hear me out Rich. It wasn’t just the drink. I was in control enough that I knew what I was doing. It’s just that I was so turned on by the way that you looked and smelt. I guess I’m even more messed up than you. Anyway, I’m really lucky that you’re such a sensitive guy, and even if it is a little weird to be giving your boyfriend sexy lingerie, this is my way of saying that I love you. Both of you, Richard and Rachael. If it’s all the same with you, I’d like you both to stick around.”

Nothing more needed to be said and we spent the afternoon lying in each other’s arms on my bed lost in our own thoughts. When the sun disappeared behind the horizon I shooed her out back to her room with the promise of a lunch date the next day.

It had been as near to a perfect weekend as I could imagine, and I fell asleep wearing pink satin and lace, preferring the soft, silky feel of Jen’s gift to my usual nakedness.

-oOo-

The rest of the term running up to summer became something of a routine. I continued to learn to live with wearing dresses every day, and every evening I went to sleep either in my skin or in the night clothes Jen had given me, finding an ease to my stress every time I found myself wearing exactly what I had put on, even if it was girl clothes for real.

Rachael made a couple more appearances, the first time surprising the girls when she stepped out of Jen’s room wearing my coral dress. Jen had helped me style my hair and do my makeup, but the real head turner was the cleavage. As before, a little foundation on the chest blended the false appendages into the rest of my body seamlessly, but this time the dress was designed to show it off and the effect was stunning.

Rachael’s second appearance was a couple of weeks later after the first year exams were complete. The girls insisted that Rachael needed a bigger wardrobe and had clubbed together to give her a small budget. Then the Saturday after the exams were over, I headed down to Jen’s early in the morning and borrowed one of her less flashy – if still very attractive – dresses before we headed off on a tour of all the second hand and thrift shops that the girls knew.

That day I gained a new appreciation of why girls enjoy shopping so much. As Richard it would have been a bit of harmless fun like the day I went into town with Alice. As Rachael it was a complete blast, getting to try on all sorts of different things, laughing with the other girls and getting as involved in helping them pick the right colours and designs for themselves as picking stuff out for me.

By the end of the day we returned exhausted and triumphant with about five new (well nearly new) outfits for Rachael and three new pairs of shoes. Jen was happy to store my new stuff for me until I could sneak it back into my room. We all changed into something we’d just bought – mine was a simple but elegant blue and white floral print dress – and headed out to a nearby café off campus for a bite to eat. By now I was so confident about my appearance that I was sure I wouldn’t be recognised as anything other than a girl.

Well they say pride comes before a fall.

We were on our second round of drinks and cakes when we heard a noise outside. Everyone turned round to see a crowd of rather large young lads wandering past singing at the top of their voice. I recognised Dave immediately ducked my head just as he turned to look in the café.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed him wave his mates on ahead as he headed for the door.

“Hey Jen, Riana,” he yelled as he wandered over to our table. “We won. Last game of the season and we won. That puts us third in the league this year.”

There were a few whoops and congratulatory noises from the girls, but they could sense my fear and were trying hard to think of ways to divert him.

Riana stood up and posed. “What do you think Dave? Cost me two quid at the Sally Anne.” I’d had my eye on that dress as well, but it looked so much better on Riana. It was pink and frilly but more to the point short and revealing, showing a lot more skin than the rest of us dared. Dave looked on appreciatively and came right over to our table.

Not the plan.

“Not bad Riana, fancy coming back to my room and showing me how easily it comes off?”

The girls laughed. I mean this was Dave, we all knew he didn’t mean it, even if he would have liked Riana to take him up on the offer.

He looked around the table remembering names as he went. I was ready for the ground to swallow me up, but there’s never a good earthquake when you want one, and inevitably he got to me.

“And the new face is?”

He was looking intently at me. I was looking intently at the table in front of me.

“This is Rachael,” Jen said, “I think she’s a little shy.”

Dave laughed. “Aw there’s no need to be scared of me Rachael. The girls will all tell you I’m all bark and no bite.”

He was being too nice, I couldn’t keep my head down any longer. Trembling with fear, I looked up at him.

“Rabbit?” His face was a mess of emotions. I thought I saw horror and loathing in their somewhere, but overwhelmingly confusion.

“I’ve gotta get back to the lads,” he said and ran out the door as quickly as he could.

-oOo-

Chapter 18

I was too stunned to react. The girls made a few less than ladylike utterances, then hands reached out.

“I’m so sorry Rich – Rachael, I thought I was going to distract him, not invite him over.”

“Not your fault Riana, it was bad luck was all.”

“So what are we going to tell him?” Jen tried to muster the troops.

“I think he deserves the truth,” I said. I felt completely numb and couldn’t see anything other than disaster looming, but my friend deserved more than a lie.

“Are you sure?” Riana asked. “We could all say that we pestered you into doing this. If we all stuck to the story he’d have to believe us.”

“I don’t think he’d buy it. I mean look at me, it’s obvious that someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to make me look like a girl. This isn’t just a spur of the moment bit of silliness.”

We paid the bill and headed back in a very subdued mood. Every now and then one of the girls would start up with a “Maybe we could…”, but the ideas were desperate, unrealistic and were soon forgotten.

At Jen’s I cleaned off the makeup and nail varnish, then washed the curls out of my hair. By the time I was back in my male togs I was wearing Riana’s short, pink, frilly dress. It would not be easy confronting Dave in this state.

I kissed Jen. “See you tomorrow? Assuming there’s anything left of me.”

“Oh come on Richard, Dave wouldn’t get physical with you.”

“I don’t know, he’d have every right.” I was wallowing in a major guilt trip.

Jen got mad with me. “Just what right? I mean the whole lead up to this has hardly been your fault. If anything it started with Dave getting you on stage with that hypnotist. If anyone has a right to be angry about this it’s you.”

I gave her a weak smile. “Wish me luck.”

“Luck,” she said and kissed me again.

I gained a new understanding of the saying “with a heavy heart” as I left Jen’s hall. Walking back to my room seemed like a steeper uphill struggle with every step and it really did feel like there was a weight in my chest pulling me down, pulling me back. I eventually made it to the hall and started climbing the stairs.

Dave, it seemed, had found the beer a bit sour this evening, his friends company a bit oppressive. He was sitting brooding on the landing with a mug in his hands. Either everyone else in the hall had other plans tonight, or they’d picked up on Dave’s mood and left him alone. He lifted his head as I approached and gave me a look of betrayal.

“Give me a chance to explain?” I begged.

“That’s the idea.” He usually wasn’t so short spoken; this had upset him more than even I’d suspected.

I dropped into a chair opposite him trying to ignore the way the light fabric of the dress seemed to float around me.

“You remember that hypnotist back in March? The Great Mysterio? Well he really did put me under. If I’d suspected for a second that he could really do it, I probably wouldn’t have agreed to go up on stage with him.”

Dave’s eyes narrowed. “That means that what you owned up to on the stage is true?”

I sighed and nodded. “Jen told me he got me to admit to dressing up in women’s clothes and enjoying it. At the time I didn’t know what happened while I was under, just that when I came out of it, I felt like I was wearing a dress. Given the way the guy had acted up to that point, I knew he was setting me up for a major fall and I wasn’t ready to give him the satisfaction. So I pretended that nothing had changed. When I sat back with you and Jen it still felt like I was wearing a dress.”

“You did act differently after the show. Less shy somehow.”

“What can I say? I was out with my friends wearing a dress and nobody was getting angry or upset about it. It felt good. I can’t explain why it did or why I am the way I am, it’s just a part of me. A lot of guys need a drink every day; a lot of girls need to shop; most people can’t get out of bed without a cup of coffee. Me I get stressed and depressed if I don’t put on a frock from time to time. I know it’s weird, I wish it were otherwise. I know most people would freak out the way you did tonight so I try to keep it secret and do it as little as possible.

“The thing is the hypnotic suggestion lasted a bit longer than I anticipated. I figured I’d get a good evening out of it and by the time I woke up the next day I’d be back to normal. It didn’t quite work out that way.

“The evening extended into the night then into the next day. When I met Jen the following morning, she had already put two and two together and when she challenged me on it, I had no choice but to tell her.

“Days turned into weeks and then months…”

“You mean even now?”

“You remember that slinky little dress Riana was wearing?”

“Man that’s sick!”

“I know, but the thing is I don’t have any control over it. If I had a choice I’d be sitting here wearing the clothes you see me in, but every time I put on a shirt and a pair of trousers, I find myself dressed in something cute and frilly.”

“And you’ve done nothing to try and fix it?”

“Jen and I hunted down the hypnotist a while back, he eventually admitted that he couldn’t do anything, that this would have to follow its course and maybe one day things would return to normal. Jen’s read every book on hypnotism in the library and has drawn a blank. We even had a long talk with one of Jen’s professors about what’s happening to me. I still can’t fix it, but I do have a better understanding of what’s happening.”

“OK, but if you end up thinking you’re wearing a dress every time you put clothes on, why do you need to do it for real?”

I paused for a few seconds trying to get my thoughts in order.

“You remember at the beginning of this term I kind of nosedived?”

“Yeah I took you and Jen out for a drink to try and pull you out of it, and it worked if I remember.”

“It wasn’t the drink that helped. It was Jen. A few hours before you came round, she came up with an idea that really helped.

“This gets a bit psychobabble, but try to follow:

“When we went to see Jen’s prof, he told us that a major cause of depression is a break between what you expect the world to be like and what you see it to be.”

Dave’s brows creased. This wasn’t exactly his area of interest.

“Suppose there’s this sportsman, quite the athlete, thinks he’s invincible and going to live forever. Then one day he’s driving too fast and bends his sports car round a lamppost, gets himself crippled from the waist down. He falls into depression. Why? Because he has to come to terms with a new reality. He’s not invincible, he’s not going to live forever, and he’s not going to be the great athlete he was before. What he always believed turns out to be wrong and he has to adjust to a new reality.”

“OK I get that, but what has it got to do with this?”

“I have a similar break between expectation and perception, only it’s caused by something completely different. I have the same lifelong expectation as everyone else on this planet, that every time I put on a shirt and a pair of trousers, that I will carry on wearing that shirt and pair of trousers until I get round to taking them off.”

“Sounds reasonable.”

“Only thanks to the hypnotic suggestion that is so deeply seated in my consciousness now that I can’t get it out, my perception lies to me, and I have to live with the sense that every time I put on a shirt and pair of trousers, a few seconds later I’m wearing a dress. Something in my brain is aware of this and struggling to deal with it, so I get a little more stressed out every second I’m stuck this way.

“If I actually put on a cute dress, then the hypnotic suggestion doesn’t have to kick in and reality matches perception for a while and the stress eases. The night you came round to take me out for a drink and found Jen in my room with me, I was actually wearing Jen’s dress and she was showing me how little it bothered her when you knocked.

“She lifted my depression before you dragged us down to the bar. Sorry mate.”

“You mean you…”

“No. I wouldn’t do that to her. We were just kissing and cuddling.”

“So why couldn’t you continue to do things behind closed doors?”

“Because it turns out, that’s only so effective. I mean I’ve been coping pretty well for most of this term, but Jen could see I was sliding a bit so she came up with a plan. She persuaded her friends, the ones we were out with tonight, to kidnap me and give me a real girly makeover then take me out on the town. This happened about a month ago that time I didn’t come back till Saturday afternoon.”

“You slept on a park bench in a dress?”

“No I slept round Jen’s. Again before you ask, nothing happened, but part of the makeover involved sticking some false boobs to my chest and one of the other girls had the solvent to remove them in her room. She hooked up with some guy during the evening and didn’t come back till gone lunchtime the following day. I couldn’t really come back here with a pair of C cups, so I got to be Rachael for most of Saturday and changed back as soon as the coast was clear and I could get the things off me.

“Apparently I make quite an attractive and believable young lady and the girls enjoyed it so much that they keep asking for my female alter ego to come back and visit. I won’t say they have to do much arm twisting because I’ve found that I enjoy it as well, even with the risk involved.

“The first couple of times we went into town to restaurants and nightclubs were we were pretty sure I wouldn’t be recognised. Today was a special. The girls wanted me to go clothes shopping with them and when we got back they more or less insisted that we all – me included – go out for a bite to eat in something that we’d just bought. I guess I was just getting cocky, I didn’t think anyone would recognise me.

“Listen Dave, I hate that I’ve had this secret from you, but I think you can figure out why I never got round to sharing it. I also hate that you had to find out, especially this way. This is massively screwed up, but it’s not entirely, or I should say even largely, my fault. It started off with that git of a hypnotist, and spiralled out of control from there.

“I’m finished if anyone around here finds out about this. I’ll understand if you think me some kind of sick weirdo and don’t want anything to do with me, but for whatever friendship we had, please keep a lid on this for me.”

“You’re saying it’s my fault aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“You wouldn’t have gone anywhere near that hypnotist if it hadn’t been for me.”

“And you had no idea that he was going to be such an idiot. Dave I don’t blame you for that, it was just something unfortunate that happened, like you coming into the café tonight when I happened to be there with the girls.”

Dave was quiet for long while. When he finally did speak my nerves were frayed.

“OK,” he said. “For the record I am seriously not OK with this, but I won’t tell anyone. You’ve been a good mate this year and I guess I owe you for that, plus you’ve been honest with me and that can’t have been easy. You won’t mind if I don’t hang around with you anymore though, I don’t want to be anywhere near you when someone else tumbles to your little secret.” With that he dumped his mug unwashed in the kitchen and headed off to his room. I sat dejected for a while longer then as a last act of friendship washed up Dave’s mug before heading to my room.

That night I slept in the nude not wanting anything to do with girl clothes and mourned the loss of my friend.

-oOo-

Chapter 19

Summer break was less than a week away, Jen and I had finished our end of year exams but neither of us wanted to head off ’til the term had finished completely. There were parties to go to and, much as Jen’s friends kept pestering me, it was Richard who went rather than Rachael.

The last evening Jen and her friends decided to put on a role reversal party, saying on the invite that you could only come if you were dressed as a member of the opposite sex. A lot more guys than I would have expected visited the local charity shops and found something cheap and frilly to wear. I knew the girls were doing this to try and persuade Rachael to come, but in the end they still got Richard in a dress which wasn’t the same. The thing is I couldn’t risk looking too good and, even though some of the other guys had let their girlfriends do a real number on them, I was still one of the most convincing crossovers of the evening in a tangerine chiffon dress with a halter top and v-neckline. I left the false boobs at home and made do with balled up socks. Dave shook his head and gave me a disapproving look as I headed out, but what the hey, this was my one opportunity to walk out of my room dressed as a girl and there were a quite a few of us cross dressing guys heading down together so I wasn’t in any way exposed.

After the party was done, I sat around with the girls, incongruously the only person in a dress, and we chatted into the night. We were reminiscing about some of the good times with Rachael and enjoying the bitter-sweet feeling of being with friends one last time before we headed our separate ways.

There was something that was being left unsaid and it became more obvious as the night wore on. Eventually Riana, ever the most outgoing of the group, spoke up.

“Richard, we were wondering what your plans were for accommodation next year.”

I had been planning to share a house with Dave and some of his mates, but a few days after my coming clean with him, he’d come up to me saying they’d found someone else they wanted to take my place. The new guy had paid my deposit and Dave handed the cheque to me. Since then I’d been asking at the university if there was any chance of a place in halls at least for the first term, and had spent a lot of time hanging around the notice board looking for last minute places.

“I still don’t have it sorted,” I said. “Why do you ask?”

“Well the seven of us are renting a couple of four bedroom houses next door to each other on the same street. The Landlord said that if we couldn’t find an eighth he would put an ad in the paper and get a non-university person in. Obviously that’s not our favourite solution, but everyone else seems to have made arrangements. We were wondering if you’d like to be our eighth…”

“Won’t the landlord have something to say about three girls and a boy sharing a house?”

“Not if Rachael pays the deposit.” Riana’s voice trailed off and the girls all gave me this sheepish yet comically hopeful look.

“When do you need an answer?” I asked, hedging.

“The landlord will be around tomorrow morning, otherwise he’ll arrange for another girl to share with us by the time we get back.”

It would get me out of a hole for next year, and I liked the idea of being close to Jen. My parents would be picking me up with all my stuff the following afternoon, so I figured I had time to do as they asked. I agreed and was rewarded with hugs and kisses from all of them. Jen’s the last and the longest.

I was mostly packed up already, but I headed home to dig out some of the things I would need form the bottom of one or two boxes. The next morning I knocked quietly on Jen’s room at about seven o’clock. Most of the girls were still in bed, which was the idea as it seemed sensible to avoid too much of an audience to my transformation. An hour later I walked out of the hall as Rachael wearing my coral dress. Jen and Riana came with me and after stopping at an ATM to withdraw the required amount of cash, we headed off to the posher side of town to visit the girls’ – and hopefully soon to be mine too – landlord. He didn’t bat an eyelid as Riana introduced me and she and Jen acted as my references. When I pulled the cash out of my purse, he did make some mention about how dangerous it was for a young girl to be wandering about with that much money on her. I made some excuse about having packed my chequebook and signed with what I hoped was as slightly more feminine flourish on the contract.

With everything signed and sealed we headed back to Jen’s hall where Riana and the rest of the girls managed a carefully orchestrated piece of misdirection to distract the other girls in the hall while I slipped upstairs and out of my disguise. I spent the rest of the morning helping Jen finish her packing and cleaning up the hall. I left wearing an imaginary version of the coral dress, now packed back in my bag with the rest of my girl stuff.

Jen and I had arranged to meet for a late lunch with our parents and see if we could wangle a visit one way or the other over the summer break. As it was, only my Dad had made the journey to collect me and my stuff, and without Mum there it was a lot easier to arrange. Jen’s Olds were very welcoming and agreed to let me come over for a visit later, exact time to be arranged over the phone. Dad said he’d see what he could do about letting Jen come to us, but would have to check with my mother first.

Dad and I had already shifted all my stuff into the car before lunch, so afterwards I offered to help transfer Jen’s mountain of belongings into her parent’s large car and trailer. The job was done in all too short a time leaving Jen and me with a tearful goodbye.

There was one thing I’d wanted to buy for Jen ever since I’d seen the Jet Li film, “The One”. The previous few weeks running up to the end of term, I’d spent a lot of my free time scouring jewellery shops and oriental shops and antique shops searching for it. Eventually I found something similar in a small ethnic arts shop down a back alley.

The film wasn’t the most romantic thing to make it to the cinema, but there was this one bit where Jet Li and Carla Gugino both had a part of a piece of jewellery; a sort of twin necklace that linked together. I had done some research and found that it was called a Mandala necklace, although they weren’t necessarily made in two parts like the one in the film. What I found in the shop was a selection of similar twin necklaces of varying designs.

I wasn’t sure what Jen would make of a Buddhist or Hindu icon as a piece of jewellery, so I hunted through the display until I found a sort of twin cross. Same idea with two chains and two interlocking pendants, but this time one pendant formed a normal silver cross and the other a hollow outline, also in silver. It appealed to my own church background, faded and jaded as it was, and it was one of the cheaper items on display, which appealed to my depleted resources.

I pulled the jewellery box out of my pocket and opened it.

Jen gasped. “It’s beautiful Richard.”

She lifted the pendant out of the box and laid it on her hand to examine it. I showed her how to unclip the two parts and she took outer one and hung it round my neck.

“You are my world,” she said with a catch in her voice.

I took the remaining pendant and hung it round hers. “You are my heart and you complete me.”

It seemed the right thing to say at the time, but in retrospect I think we could both have come up with something a little less cheesy.

“So what are you wearing for the trip home?”

It had been a long time since she had joked about what I was going through, but I was beginning to get over the incident with Dave, and today felt good, somehow full of promise. It obviously showed and I favoured her with a smile, subdued though it was.

“Oh a little yellow summer dress I saw in one of your catalogues the other day. Certainly more comfortable than jeans.”

“You know I almost envy you. You see something you like and the next thing you’re wearing it. You don’t have to buy it or wait for it to be delivered, it just happens.”

“Ah but I don’t get to show off how good I look in it the way you do.”

I kissed her and we headed back to the car park with arms wound around each other.

Jen’s Dad saw us. “Come on Jen, We’d all like to get home for tea.”

Reluctantly we disentangled from each other, gave each other one last kiss, then one more, then one more until the combined protest of both our parent’s persuaded us to part.

Jen made “call me” signs as she slipped into the back of her dad’s car and squeezed in amongst her stuff. I blew her a kiss and slipped into the front seat next to my father.

-oOo-

Chapter 20

We drove in silence for the first half hour. I knew Dad didn’t like to have his concentration disturbed when he was driving on unfamiliar roads. Eventually we were on a dual carriageway on the first long leg home.

“She seems quite nice.”

Not the most scintillating opening remark, and seriously low on enthusiasm. Then again I can’t remember Dad ever getting excited about anything – other than his son wearing his niece’s bridesmaid’s dress that is.

“She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me Dad. I’m pretty sure I’m in love with her.”

“Don’t let her take over your life boy. You still have two years of study to get your degree, then you’ll have time for less important things.”

I glowered at him for a while. “I can’t imagine anything more important than being with someone who makes me feel the way she does Dad.”

“You can’t eat your dreams Richard. I mean don’t get me wrong, life is all about finding a balance. You can’t spend all your time working and studying, but neither can you spend it all in la-la land with the love of your life.”

He nodded at the pendant. “She give you that?”

“Actually I gave it to her. It’s a sort of double pendant. It has two chains and separates into two parts. I gave them both to her, she gave this one back to me.”

“Your mother won’t be too pleased about you wearing jewellery. You know what she thinks of you.”

“Yeah, but this is different. If she has a problem with it, it’s going to have to be her problem.”

My phone buzzed and I pulled it out of my pocket. The text read “I sed call me”. I typed back, “Talking to my Dad, will call l8r”.

“In my day we used to write each other letters and wait days for them to be delivered.”

“I know, but then the horse and cart wasn’t a very fast way for the mail to travel was it?”

He laughed. “If you’re going to be cheeky with me I might just let you walk the rest of the way.”

“You wouldn’t do that. It’s way too dangerous to hitch-hike these days and you’d never forgive yourself if I got myself picked up by a psycho.”

“You’re right. The world changes, some things for the better and some things for the worse.”

It was good talking to Dad and we spent most of the journey talking about one thing or another. Eventually the topic that had been nagging in the back of my mind came to the surface.

“Dad, what can I do to make things up to Mum?”

“What do you mean son?”

“You know, she’s been fixated on what happened at cousin Susan’s wedding for all these years, I don’t think she looks at me or even thinks about me without thinking of what I did. I hate that she can’t get past it; it’s taking all the joy out of her life.”

He looked at me then pondered for a while.

“That’s remarkably adult response, son, and quite a change from the usual. All these years and you’ve been behaving like you’re the victim. What changed your mind?”

“Oh something one of Jen’s professors said a while back.”

“What does she study?”

“Psychology.”

“Ah free psychoanalysis; I begin to see why you’re attracted to her.”

“No that would be psychiatry Dad. A psychologist is someone who studies how the brain works rather than trying to fix someone whose brain is broken.”

“I stand corrected.”

He thought for a while longer.

“I’m not sure you can do much for her. You could try talking to her frankly and showing that you’re sorry, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it didn’t work. She’s not upset with you so much as finding it impossible to deal with the idea of how you were dressed that day. I’m the same myself, only I don’t dwell on it the way your mother does. Has your psycho girlfriend given you any clues as to why you did it?”

“Hey less of the psycho, Dad, and as it happens yes she has.”

He looked at me in surprise.

“You mean you’ve actually talked to her about it?”

“We have no secrets Dad.”

“So what if you break up? How long before she starts spreading stories of your little fetish across campus? You really don’t think Richard.”

I was dumbstruck by his sudden flash of temper.

“Dad it’s my life…”

“And it’s your mother and me who’ll suffer if it gets around that our son wants to be our daughter. Richard, there are some things that need to be kept in the family.”

“And exactly how much good has that done anyone? Mum’s a basket case, I’m a pariah every time I come home and you and Alice are stuck in the middle of it. You want to keep it in the family then let’s stop ignoring the problem. Let’s deal with it.”

“Richard you are treading on very thin ice.”

“Yeah like I do every time I’m anywhere near you and Mum. Well I’m sick of it. Let the ice break, at least things’ll change and I won’t have to pussyfoot around Mum all the time, hoping that someday she’ll see her son again when she looks at me.”

An uncomfortable silence settled over the car and both Dad and I sat and fumed for a long while.
Eventually Dad broke the silence.

“Richard, are you still dressing as a woman?”

“What if I am?”

“Should I take that as a yes?”

“Take it however you want. You’re ready to judge me no matter what, without even trying to understand. I mean did you or Mum ever even ask why after Susan’s wedding? No you just tried to pretend that it didn’t happen and at the same time you started treating me like I was something you’d only scrape off your shoe if you could find a long enough stick. I am not prepared to discuss something like this with a hypocrite.”

Dad’s voice was quiet, controlled. “And yet you raised the subject.”

“Probably because I thought you might be ready to listen.”

“OK, I’m listening now.”

I looked at my Dad. How much of this was he really prepared to listen to?

“Yes I am.”

“Sorry.”

“I am still dressing as a woman. I was before Susan’s wedding and I have been since. It’s not something I can help, it’s just a part of me that can’t express itself any other way.”

“Do we need to get you to a doctor?”

“Doctors can’t help. There are still a few Neanderthals around who think that it’s something to be cured with things like electroshock therapy, but they’re the sort of people who’d try the same thing on homosexuals. It’s a part of me and I have to live with it.”

“Who told you this? This girlfriend of yours?”

“No it was one of her professors. Jen didn’t even know there was such a thing as gender dysphoria until Prof Peters mentioned it.”

“Gender dyswhatsia? Sounds like another made up medical term to label problems that people don’t want to deal with.”

“Try living in my shoes for a few weeks and tell me if I’m making this up.”

He looked at me and silence settled over the car again. This was turning into a mistake and Dad really was not ready to deal with the news of what Mr Mysterio had done to me.

“Who else knows about this?”

“Why? Trying to figure out how many people you’d have to kill to cover it up?”

“Richard, be civil. I’m thinking about your mother right now. What are the chances that she’ll hear about this?”

“Pretty much zero. There’s only a handful of people who know and they’ve all agreed to keep it quiet. Besides the only person Mum knows who’s in on it is Alice.”

“What?” Dad was so shocked the car wobbled. “How did she get mixed up in this?”

“Well unless you’ve forgotten she was there when I disgraced the family at Susan’s wedding. She’s also the only person in the room that day who’s treated me like a human being since.

“While you and Mum had your head’s stuck up your backsides trying to pretend nothing was wrong, she was talking to me, helping me to deal with the way my life seemed to be falling apart. I trust her completely and would tell her things I’d never tell you or Mum.”

Dad was having a real hard time trying to deal with all this so we pulled into an eatery on the side of the road. We had a cup of coffee while Dad tied his frayed nerves back together and tried to think his way into the future. The caffeine helped sooth my mood and after a while I left Dad to his musings and stepped outside to call Jen.

“Hiya,” came the cheerful response. “How’s the heart to heart with Daddy going?”

“Train wreck,” I replied and went on to tell her about my most recent disastrous attempt in parent-offspring communications.

“Let him work it through. Accept whatever he says and don’t tell him any more. It sounds like you’ve taken things as far as they can go for now, probably a bit further in fact.”

“Iss zat your konsidered hopinion, Frau Doktor?” My best pseudo-German accent. Not very convincing I know.

“I do know what I’m talking about with this Richard. I know you’re trying to rebuild things with your family, but the foundations are dodgy and I’m afraid you may have undermined them a bit more.”

“Thanks for the pep talk beloved. Look I’d better go and see if he’s come out of his trance yet. I’ll call you later.”

I hung up and went back to Dad who was just downing the last of his coffee. There was a determined set to his jaw as he came towards me and directed me towards the car.

“OK son. This is what’s going to happen. You are not going to say anything about this to your mother when we get home. Much as you hate it, you are going to have to live with it for now. I’m going to talk to a few people I know and I’ll try and arrange a meeting so that you and I can talk this through with a professional. In the meantime you are going to get rid of all of the female clothing you have on you and you will not attempt to dress up in any way as a woman while you are at home. Are we clear on this?”

I was ready to argue about the clothes, I mean a lot of them were gifts from people I cared about and had an odd sentimental value. I remembered what Jen had told me though and just agreed. Dad could make this worse if he wanted and I wasn’t ready to be slung out of the house just yet.

The trip went on in silence and after a while I pulled out my phone and started tapping away at the keys.

“Who are you talking to?” Dad asked.

“Just some friends,” I lied.

The text was to my sister. “Emergency – need help.”

The phone buzzed a few seconds later while I was typing the next part. I saved it in drafts and read the new arrival.

It was from Alice. “Wassup?”

I went back to drafts, finished the longer text I was ploughing through and sent it.

“Talked to dad about stuff – not happy. Says I have to chuck the girl clothes and prob wont let me unpack unless he’s there. Need you to rescue my stuff before he gets to it.”

“I’m on it, where?”

I texted back describing the locations of everything I wanted to keep, and told her to leave the old things she’d helped me acquire before I started at university. I would be sorry to lose them but Dad would expect to find something. I then cleared the text memory and put the phone away.

It was getting late when we arrived and the yellow summer dress that had been so cool for most of the journey was beginning to feel decidedly chilly as the sun went down. I huddled up in my seat and turned away from Dad who was definitely in an uncommunicative mood. I wanted to pull the hem of my dress down as it had ridden up, but that would have prompted awkward questions and I didn’t want to make things worse than they already were.

-oOo-

Chapter 21

Alice greeted me at the door when I got home. It seemed she’d missed me about as much I’d missed her. She helped Dad and me carry my stuff up to my room after which, as I had predicted, Dad led me downstairs to say hi to Mum.

Alice was heading back to her room as I followed Dad, but she managed to give me a quick grin before disappearing out of sight.

The reunion with Mum was the usual uncomfortable sour greeting, only worse given that Dad wasn’t in a mood to moderate Mum’s words.

Eventually she dismissed us saying tea would be ready in half an hour and Dad led me upstairs to unpack. He made me go through every bag and box and found only the clothes I’d told Alice to leave. These he carried out of my room with him and left me to clear the mess.

A couple of minutes later Alice was in the room with me helping to put stuff away. She gave me the pink nightdress telling me I might want to wear it under my PJs later. I hadn’t thought of that and decided it was worth a try.

“I love the boobs by the way. I think you’ll be about the same size as me if we get a chance to go out together.”

I smiled weakly. “I doubt that’s likely to happen for a while.”

I went on to tell her about what I had spoken to Dad about in the car and how he had reacted.

“I get the impression I’m going to be under scrutiny for a while, and I’m sorry but I think he may have some words for you too.”

After an awkward meal I wasn’t prepared to face an awkward evening with my folks so I headed upstairs and called Jen. Alice stuck her head in five minutes later and told me to come see her when I was done. Another ten minutes and Dad’s head poked around the door.

“Just checking to see you’re honouring our agreement.” He said.

Some agreement!

The call to Jen was long and unhappy, but I did take comfort in talking to her.

“If they do chuck you out, come over here. I’m sure my folks would be prepared to harbour a disowned child.”

“Thanks. Much as I’d love to, I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

We hung up shortly after and I snuck along to Alice’s room and tapped quietly on the door. She let me in and showed me where she had hidden all my stuff should I have an opportunity to get to it anytime she was out. We then sat and chatted into the night catching up on all the news we hadn’t been able to pass over the previous weeks.

Eventually I headed off to bed. I thought about wearing Jen’s gift, but mindful of my promise to Dad I hid it away under the bottom drawer of my dresser. It was where I’d hidden my stash of clothes before and I was reasonably confident that no-one would look there.

I didn’t sleep that well. Partly down to the way my PJ’s turned into the pink chemise anyway and partly due to my worries about what Dad was hatching. I’d hoped to reconcile my differences with Mum and Dad this summer, and it seemed had started out very much on the wrong foot.

The morning came with a rude awakening as my duvet was yanked off me. I sat up with a start to see my Dad pulling open drawers and cupboards and hunting through my stuff. I looked blearily at my alarm clock which read seven o’clock.

“What?” I managed to say through a haze of misfiring neurons.

“Just checking to see that we found it all yesterday.”

The bottom drawer of my dresser had been pulled almost all the way out and I dared not look at it directly in case Dad noticed and investigated further. It seemed incongruous to be sitting there in a pink negligee while Dad hunted for girly clothes and, even though I knew he couldn’t see me the way I did, I felt terribly exposed. I picked the duvet up off the floor and snuggled back into the warmth leaving Dad wither to find my stuff or not.

“Oh no you don’t.” The covers were pulled off me a second time and Dad grabbed a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt and threw them at me. “You and I are going for a run. Get changed.”

I forget if I’ve mentioned my aversion to sports. I was always the last kid to be picked for any team games, and on sports day I was always amongst the athletically ungifted who were forced to stumble around the field, running the fifteen hundred metres whilst more able individuals were throwing javelins or jumping into sandpits. The prospect of a run did not appeal and I protested.

“I’ve been too lenient on you son. It may be too little too late, but as of right now this is going to become a regular part of your daily routine. Get dressed.”

There didn’t seem any way out of this, but I wasn’t about to start stripping in front of my Dad in my own room.

“OK, get out and I’ll get dressed.”

“Just get dressed Richard; I won’t be seeing anything I haven’t seen before.” Don’t parents just love throwing that one at you?

“No way Dad. I’ll go running with you, but I’m not going to change with you watching.”

“You can at least take your top off.”

He wanted to see if I was wearing anything under my PJs. Wow just as well I didn’t slip the nightie on for real.

I pulled the chemise over my head and stood there wearing nothing but a pair of frilly pink satin panties.

“Satisfied?”

From his perspective I was wearing my pyjama trousers. He shrugged and headed out of the room.

“Downstairs in two minutes or I’m coming back up for you.”

As soon as the door closed I texted Alice.

“Help. Dad’s gone mental. Need you to get my nightie and hide in ur room.” Then as an afterthought. “Clear ur txt memry.” Dad wasn’t a complete troglodyte and the texts we’d exchanged yesterday were pretty damning if he insisted on examining our phones.

Apparently my subconscious didn’t think any kind of female exercise gear was cute enough. The nearest thing it could come up with that combined athletic activity with Mysterio’s suggestion was a ballet outfit, and the required two minutes after Dad left the room I was standing in the kitchen with him feeling very self-conscious in a white leotard, tights and a tutu. The ballet slippers had very thin soles and as we started out, even though I knew I was wearing my trainers, it seemed I could feel every stone and crack in the pavement as we ran. For that reason as much as my hatred of sports and running in particular, the half hour run ended up being closer to forty-five minutes and Dad was showing distinct signs of irritation by the time we got home.

“You’re going to have to do better than that tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t want to be late for work and we will finish that course before I go.

“Now go on upstairs and have a shower.”

Oddly by that time I had started to enjoy wearing the ballet clothes. I loved the way the skirt flounced up and down as I moved, and I was reluctant to change. Still, I figured there was a good chance I’d be similarly attired the following morning which at least gave me something to look forward to.

I stopped by my room to find a text from Alice on my phone. “Done and done,” she said.

I grabbed some nondescript togs and headed for the shower. By the time I was dried and dressed, I was wearing a gold puffball dress that I recognised but couldn’t remember from where. It seemed my subconscious was fighting Dad’s new tough regime by putting me in increasingly cute outfits.

I headed downstairs for breakfast to find Dad finishing off a list. He handed it to me as I finished buttering a couple of slices of toast and I read through with a sinking heart. The jobs were long, dirty and potentially backbreaking. Clear out the garage; sweep the drive; mow the lawn; rearrange the loft and many more in a similar vein. It was all make work intended to keep me busy and out of mischief.

“That should keep you going for a few days; I’ll add to it later. No reason why you shouldn’t start today.”

“Why are you doing this Dad? I mean you’ve never asked me to do anything like this before.”

“I know and it seems you’ve developed the idea you can sit back and do whatever you like. Life’s not like that son, you have to suck it up and get on with it. Once you develop a sense of responsibility perhaps you’ll be less inclined to indulge more frivolous and potentially damaging pursuits.”

That was unfair; I’d always carried my weight and done my fair share of jobs around the house. This was Dad punishing me for being less of a man than he wanted in his son. Right now didn’t seem like a good time to point this out though, so mustering what little good grace I could, I finished off the last of the toast and headed for the garage.

When I came in to wash up for lunch, I found Alice in her room crying. Apparently Dad had given her a good talking to, berating her for encouraging me in my little perversion and grounding her for most of the summer.

“I’m sorry sis. I shouldn’t have got you mixed up in this.”

“As I recall I volunteered. You were so down after Susie’s wedding and Mum and Dad were too concerned about how having a deviant for a son was going to affect their social lives. I don’t regret what I did and I don’t think I was wrong.

“Don’t worry about the grounding, I can handle that. I just wish they could see that there’s nothing wrong with you and they’re making an issue out of nothing.”

I looked down at my grubby golden dressed and smiled. Nothing wrong, eh?

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Alice managed to persuade Dad to let her help me and the work became more enjoyable for having someone to talk to.

The next week turned into an extended scene from the Great Escape. Each day started with Dad pulling off my duvet and tossing my room. He never found anything because everything he was looking for was hiding in plain sight in Alice’s room, but it didn’t stop him looking. We’d then set out on our run and, despite the painful heaving for breath by the end of the half hour, I found I looked forward to my daily ballerina time. There were occasions when I was tempted to try a pirouette or jeté, but conscious of the way Dad was acting, I managed to control the urges.

Dad would then shower first while my heart slowly eased its racing and I drank glass after glass of water to replace fluids I’d lost. As he left for work he’d tell me to clear my room then get on with the list. Alice would join me half way through the morning and we’d work at the tasks Dad had set me until he arrived home.

He wasn’t a complete slave driver and let us do what we wanted in the evening, although this was limited by Alice being grounded. Since I felt responsible for that, I tended to stay home in the evenings and do stuff with her. With both Mum and Dad acting weird towards me, this usually meant disappearing upstairs into either Alice’s or my bedroom, and since the chief guard of Stalag Baxter seemed to make frequent patrols to make sure that we weren’t plotting something, there was no opportunity for me to make use of any of my girl clothes. Instead Alice had me practice doing her makeup and arranging her hair, something we could easily move away from if we heard Dad coming up the stairs. Doing girly things while I seemingly wearing girly clothes did something to ease the growing tension I was feeling without access to my wardrobe, and I found myself developing skills that might come in handy if Rachael was going to make more regular appearances next year.

I hung onto the hope of things getting better, and made it through those days without getting too depressed.

Towards the end of that first week, Jen’s parents phoned to say that I would be welcome to come and stay any time over the next few weeks. My Dad was less than helpful, telling them that we had something of a family issue which he was trying to resolve, and maybe I could come later in the summer. With the hope of seeing Jen anytime soon foundering on the rocks, my mood took a downward turn and by the end of the weekend a morose gloom settled over me like a cloud.

-oOo-

Chapter 22

Dad had managed to arrange a meeting with a psychiatrist friend of his for the Tuesday. It felt good to escape the day’s chores, but I had my doubts about the outcome of this visit which grew as Dad and I were ushered into the doctor’s office. I had to keep telling myself that I wasn’t really wearing the pleated skirt and top Mum had bought for Alice over the weekend, and the doctor would just see me as a normal teenager in scruffy jeans and tee-shirt. Most of my clothes were looking scruffy now after my week and a bit’s forced labour.

Doctor Finster was an old man who was either past retirement age or otherwise looked quite a lot older than he was. He had a gentle disposition about him and he greeted us affably enough as we entered. There was something about the look that he exchanged with my dad though that had me thinking maybe the outcome of this visit had been decided beforehand.

“Your father tells me you have something you’d like to discuss.” He began.

“Does my dad need to be here?” I asked.

“Well if he’s already aware of the situation I don’t see why he shouldn’t be.”

My spider sense was definitely tingling.

“What if there’s something I want to discuss with you that I haven’t told him?”

The doctor exchanged looks with my dad.

“Is there something of that nature?” he asked.

“Whether or not there is doesn’t matter at the moment. What matters is that if my dad’s in here with us during this session, I don’t have complete confidentiality over what I share with you.”

“Surely you’ll want your dad to know the outcome by the time we’re done.”

“Not necessarily, and I do have the right to keep what’s discussed in this room private between you and me.”

“It’s alright Eric,” Dad said, “I’ll wait outside.”

There seemed to be an implied, “You can tell me about it later.” But maybe I was just getting paranoid.

After Dad left Dr Finster seemed a little less friendly than he had been before.

“You know that was rather rude and disrespectful, don’t you?” he asked.

“If we’re going to discuss ethics, perhaps we should start with the whole issue of why you would want to conduct a session with my dad present. I’m not entirely sure just how much I trust you right now and I was under the impression that gaining the trust of a patient was kind of important in a session like this.”

He looked at me over his glasses for a few moments. “You’re right. Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot here. If we could start over, perhaps you could describe the problem?”

“Well right now the biggest issue I have is that I don’t feel I can trust you. What assurances can you give me that you won’t tell my father what we discuss in this room?”

“If you don’t wish me to then I am bound by the law and my profession to maintain confidentiality, unless I feel that in doing so I am not acting in your best interests.”

“That sounds like a get out of jail free card to me,” I said, “and it doesn’t do much to help my trust issues. Still let’s explore another avenue. Would you tell me how long you’ve been doing this job?”

He bridled a bit at the question. “I’ve been practising psychiatry for over forty years, young man.”

“Which means that when you trained, transgender issues were considered to be an affliction, probably treatable using shock therapy or drugs. Would I be right?”

He started to look uncomfortable and made harrumphing noises into his chest.

“Doctor, can we be quite clear here. What are your views on gender dysphoria and how do they compare with current thinking in your profession?”

He made a few half-hearted attempts at evading the question, but rapidly decided that I wasn’t going to be taken in by them. He was right. I stood up from my chair and leaned over his desk.

“You know, this felt like a setup from the moment we walked in here. I reckon my dad’s given you his version of what I told him and you’ve already made your mind up that there’s something wrong with me. Anything I tell you is going to be reported back to my dad and will result in some recommended treatment which will be more in his best interests than mine.”

The doctor wouldn’t meet my eyes but remained silent.

I spun on me heels – only two inch ones today – and stormed out of the doctor’s office with my skirt swirling around my thighs. Dad looked up as I walked past and I told him, “I think I need a second opinion; one that isn’t quite so stuck in the dark ages.”

I didn’t wait for Dad to catch me up but headed into town where I caught a bus home. Public transport being what it is this gave him time to hear what his doctor friend had to report and drive home before me. He was as livid as I was and we spent the next fifteen minutes yelling at each other and barely listening to what the other had to say. From his point of view I had insulted one of his very good friends who had very kindly offered to see me at short notice as a favour. From mine the whole thing had been a setup with a forgone outcome that I would be considered mentally incompetent and be put away somewhere that wouldn’t risk embarrassing the family. It wasn’t a very productive exchange, but it did manage to lift me all the way out of my depression and into a full blown rage.

It ended up with Dad yelling at me to go to my room, which left me laughing incredulously at what he thought he could do to me right now. I realised then that my parents were stuck in the past, still trying to come to terms with me in a dress, and until they did I would always be a fifteen year old boy.

I stormed upstairs and slammed my bedroom door. They wanted a tantrum, I was quite happy to give them one. I started packing and had most of my clothes in two bags by the time Alice found the courage to stick her nose in.

I turned to her and most of the anger drained out of me.

“I can’t stay here Alice. We’ll all go crazy if we have to put up with another twelve weeks of this.”

She nodded, tears running down her face.

“Would you fetch me the rest of my clothes?”

She turned away and headed back to her room.

I was going to have to be pretty strict about what I chose to take with me. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, but if it didn’t fit in two or three bags I wouldn’t be able to take it with me.

Jen was back with a neat stack of dresses. The false boobs and my underwear were sitting on top along with a small case I didn’t recognise. I looked at Alice.

“Some makeup and jewellery,” she said, “for Rachael.”

I thanked her and carefully laid the clothes into the space I had left for them in one of my bags. In addition to clothes I had packed my mp3 player, my laptop and a folder with my documents. The rest would have to stay.

“You’re not coming back are you?” The tears were flowing freely now and I took her in my arms.

“Not until Mum and Dad are prepared to be more reasonable.

“I may pop by towards the end of the summer to fetch my books and a few more things, but I won’t stay then. Not unless they’re prepared to listen and talk this through like adults.”

“Where will you go?”

“Well Jen’s folks already offered me a place for a while. After that there’s always the YMCA or something. I’ll get by. I’m only sorry you got stuck in the middle of it.”

“Let me know where you are?”

“Always. The moment Mum and Dad give you the freedom to travel on your own I’ll expect a visit.”

“They may not let me if they know I’m coming to see you.”

“So tell them you’re visiting an old friend called Rachael who moved away from the area. It will only be a slight variation on the truth.”

I kissed her on the forehead and wiped away her tears, and then before I changed my mind, I grabbed my bags and headed out the door. The last words I heard were my Dad yelling, “If you walk out that door don’t expect a welcome when you come crawling back.”

Any response I could think of would have just been petty, and right now I was feeling more sad than angry that it had come to this. I dropped my house keys on the kitchen table and kept on walking.

I caught a bus to the railway station and called Jen on the way. I gave her the short version of what had happened and asked if there was any chance of asylum at her folk’s house for a few days or maybe weeks. They were concerned, but decided that what needed to be done was to get me safely to them first, and only then discuss my problems and possible solutions. I couldn’t believe that two people who had only met me briefly a little over a week ago could be so welcoming and kind when my own folks had been so negative and I started crying.

I received more than a few odd looks from people on the bus, but I decided I didn’t care. I’d probably never see anyone from this town again and why shouldn’t big boys cry, especially if they were wearing pleated skirts?

I bought a one way ticket to the nearest train station to Jen’s house and called her as soon as the train was moving to let her know when I was likely to arrive. I then sat back, searched through my music player for the sad songs and spent the next few hours huddled in misery as the train took me further away from home and Alice. Even the thought of seeing Jen again didn’t help lighten my mood. I was out in the world alone for the first time in my life and it was scary.

Jen came with her Dad to fetch me from the station and there was a mixture of joy and tears as we threw our arms around each other. Jen’s Dad was perceptive enough to see I was working through something painful and apart from a brief word of welcome he left Jen and me together in the back of the car. We didn’t say much, just clung to each other like our lives depended on it.

We arrived at the house and Jen’s Mum showed me to the room they had prepared for me. Jen’s older brother was in the navy and this was his room whenever he was on leave.

“Just drop your bags there for now dear. You look like you could do with a bite to eat and they can wait a while.”

So I did as I was told and headed down to the kitchen where Jen ladled out a generous helping of stew and dumplings and we chatted as I put away the first food I’d eaten since breakfast. I was halfway through my second helping when Jen’s Dad stuck his head in to the kitchen.

“I called your parents to let them know where you are,” he said. “Whatever there is between you they don’t deserve to worry about your safety.

“They wanted to come and fetch you but I told them you’d be safe with us and it was better that you both had some time away from each other to let the dust settle. I told them you’re welcome to stay here as long as you need and I mean it.”

I could feel myself tearing up again and tried to hold back the flood. With a quiver in my voice betraying the emotion that threatened to overwhelm me I thanked him.

“Enough said,” he said. “You get some more of Sharon’s stew in you, you’ll feel better.” And with that he withdrew.

“Your parents are great,” I told Jen unnecessarily. I mean she’d lived with them all her life so she should know that.

“I know. We were all worried when you phoned through. Richard I’m really pleased to see you, but I wish it could have been under different circumstances. How’s Alice taking this?”

I swore and grabbed for my phone, interrupting the flow of good hot food for long enough to send a reassuring text to my sister. “Arrived safe. Jen’s parents are great. Feeling cared for. Hope things not too bad at home.”

I dropped the phone and picked up my fork again. “She’s hurt and we’ll both miss each other, but this is best for everyone right now.”

We talked through my third helping of stew and Jen led me up to my room.

My bags were already unpacked.

I opened the wardrobe to find all my clothes hanging up including the dresses. I turned to the door where Jen’s Mum was looking in with a worried but reassuring look on her face.

“Your night clothes are under the pillow,” she said. “We can talk about this in the morning.”

-oOo-

Chapter 23

Jen looked as shocked as I felt, and it took me a few seconds to react.

“If it’s all the same with you Mrs Talbot, can we get it out in the open now?”

It was only ten o’clock, but I know some families like to get to bed early.

“If that’s what you want dear.” She moved out of the way and gestured for us to come downstairs.

First Jen, then Professor Peters then Dave. For the fourth time in my life – and all within the previous five months – I found myself being totally, perhaps brutally honest about my past. Jen’s folks had been so welcoming and caring I hadn’t wanted to upset them, but now they had stumbled on my not so very well hidden secret, they deserved to know the truth, and I suspected they were the sort of people who’d understand.

I told them everything, from the first time I’d wanted to put a dress on back at my neighbour’s daughter’s party right the way through being found out after cousin Susan’s wedding and the early experimentation with Alice’s help. I told them about being hypnotised and what had happened since. I described what I felt I was wearing and they shook their heads in disbelief as I went into more and more detail. I covered how Jen had found out and how things had progressed from there. I covered the confrontation with Mysterio, the meeting with Prof Peters, the nights out with the girls, Dave’s finding out and finally my attempt at the beginning of the summer vacation to talk the whole matter through with my parents and how that had developed into the events of the last week, culminating in the abortive meeting with Dad’s psychiatrist friend and the subsequent row.

Jan chipped in a few details here and there and they asked a few questions when I’d finished.

“Wow that is quite a story,” Mr Talbot said.

“You do believe us though don’t you Daddy,” Jen sounded worried.

“Oh yes, I’ve no doubt you’ve been completely honest tonight, and I’m impressed with your courage in that regard, Richard. I’m less worried that my daughter is getting involved in something that’s out of her depth and more proud of the way she has stood by you and helped.”

He smiled at Jen who dropped her head modestly.

“It answers a lot of question, not the least being why you have a fairly extensive collection of women’s clothes in your wardrobe and why your parents are having a hard time dealing with it.

“I think you made the right decision to come away when you did. I get the feeling that the next few months are going to be pretty tough but, despite not wishing to speak ill of those absent and unable to defend themselves, it seems to me that your father wasn’t handling the situation particularly well.

I will repeat my offer of a place to stay for as long as you need it and,” with this he looked over at his wife, “if Rachael should make the odd appearance from time to time, we can’t promise to fully condone or understand, but we’ll try to accept her.”

Mrs Talbot nodded her head and Jen launched herself at them both.

“Mum, Dad, you really are the best.”

“I’ll second that Mr and Mrs Talbot. I can’t believe the way you’ve been so understanding over this, especially after my parent’s reaction.”

“Well don’t be too harsh on them Richard, I don’t know exactly how freaked out I’d be if my own son came home one day saying he wanted to wear a dress.”

“No, but I get the impression that you’d try to understand why and help him deal with it any way you could.”

“Well… yes I suppose so. The fact remains I’d still be very uncomfortable with it, and I can’t guarantee that we will respond any different from your parents.”

“You seem ready to accept me as Jen’s boyfriend.” I reached out and took her hand.

“And that is largely because in the short time we have known you, you’ve shown both honesty and courage. Also a lot of the issues you are dealing with right now are not of your making. You’ve tried to deal responsibly with a difficult circumstance, and as far as I’ve seen made the best of a lot of difficult choices.

“I’ve always felt that I could trust Jennifer’s judgement, and now having met her choice in men I know I was right.”

It was my turn to try and hide the reddening of my cheeks.

“And now,” Mr Talbot glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece, “with the witching hour upon us I think we should all head for our respective beds. I don’t know about you but I feel like I’ve gone ten rounds with Danny Williams, and I need to go to work tomorrow.”

With that he and Mrs Talbot headed for their beds leaving Jen and me to switch off lights and head for our own rooms.

That night, with my hosts’ blessing, I slept blissfully and peacefully in the pink nightie that had been left under the pillow for me when Mrs Talbot had unpacked my bags.

It was gone ten the next morning when there was a knock at my door. Jen came in wearing her night clothes and carrying a tray with a mug of tea and some toast.

“I talked to Mum this morning. I reminded her that when you dress in men’s clothes and see yourself in women’s clothes, it affects your mood. I said you haven’t been able to dress up at all over this past week and asked if it would be OK for Rachael to visit today.

“She took a bit of convincing, but she said OK. I think if we can make a good showing and let both Mum and Dad see how good you look, they might be more open to having her around more often. What do you think?”

I had some misgivings; I mean I’d only just told Jen’s parents about this last night. I thought it would be best to show willing and stay as Richard for a few days at least, but Jen’s mood was infectious and Mrs T had said OK. I allowed myself to be persuaded.

Jen ran me a bath filled with scented oils and gave me a razor to shave my legs, arms and chest, all of which were beginning to show signs of new growth. I soaked in scented waters for half an hour and gave my hair a good wash and condition as per Jen’s instructions.

Back in my room Jen had laid out my coral dress along with the underwear she thought would go best with it. She was already dressed and slipped in after me to help attach the breast forms. She then left me to get ready.

I spent some time in my underwear sitting in front of a mirror applying some of the makeup Alice had given me and arranging my hair. It seemed the lessons my sister had given me were going to be useful sooner than expected. I added a few dabs from a bottle of perfume Jen had left on my bedside table and put on a few pieces of jewellery from Alice’s gift. It was only then that I realised that my parents hadn’t commented on my pierced ears. Admittedly I’d not been wearing earrings, but had two almost invisible plastic tubes stopping the holes form closing over, and it might have been in all the other fuss that was going on, they hadn’t noticed, even after ten days.

I slipped into the dress and a pair of black pumps I’d found on the girl’s charity shop scavenger hunt and looked in the mirror, checking my appearance all round. I saw no trace of Richard.

“Hello Rachael,” I greeted myself, the soft girl voice coming naturally, and headed downstairs to meet what was left of the day.

“Hello Mrs Talbot,” I said breezing into the kitchen. She looked up from whatever it was she’d been doing in the sink and did a very startled double take. I dashed forward to help her to a chair before she fell down, and after she’d taken a few breaths to calm herself, she said, “Let me look at you.”

I twirled joyfully in the middle of the room stretching my arms out to either side as I did so. Right now it wasn’t just that the hypnosis was dormant, but I felt a sheer delight in being totally unselfconsciously feminine.

“My word I can hardly believe it’s the same person.” She took my hands to stop me twirling and looked closely at me. “Did you do your own makeup or has Jennifer been sneaking into your room?”

“She did bring me some breakfast and later helped me put these on.” I cupped my breasts giggling a little at Mrs T’s newly shocked face. “They were a gift from some of the other girls in Jen’s hall. The night they took me out on the town, they went all out to make me look believable, which included these. One of the students is studying medicine and these are a couple of old mastectomy prosthetics that the university was throwing out.”

“Well no wonder they look so real. How do they blend into your chest though?”

“A little bit of foundation on the falsies blending into my skin. If you look really closely you can just about see the join.”

Jen’s mum didn’t want to spoil the overall impression by looking for imperfections so instead she twisted me one way then another.

“Where did you find the dress?”

“My sister Alice bought it for me back in April. She also gave me the earrings, “I shook my head showing off the gold jewellery dangling from my ears. “She’s the one who taught me how to put on makeup and arrange my hair as well, so no, Jenny didn’t spend too much time in my room this morning.”

“I’m not sure if I should be relieved that my daughter isn’t sneaking into her boyfriend’s room or concerned that she’s leaving her friend Rachael on her own too much.”

“Well I don’t mean to upset or confuse you or Mr T, after the way you’ve welcomed me with such open arms, so if this bothers you, I’ll go and change back.”

“No absolutely not. After all the trouble you’ve gone to this morning, I’ll not ask that. Besides, I really want to see Paul’s face when he catches his first sight of you.

“What’s more,” she continued with a twinkle in her eye, “if Richard were here I wouldn’t expect anything from him and Jenny other than two doe-eyed teenagers drifting around in a haze of pheromones. With Rachael around I might be able to prevail upon my daughter and her friend to help out around the place a bit. What do you say?”

I smiled, “What do you need Mrs T?”

When Jen came looking for me ten minutes later, I was happily shelling peas and chatting with her Mum.

She gawped at us for a few seconds until Mrs T said, “Don’t just stand there catching flies, come and join us.”

So for the rest of the afternoon, the three of us prepared veg, cleaned, hoovered, did a whole lot of mundane things and had a whale of a time doing it. I mean I know housework isn’t the most interesting or stimulating thing in the world, but when there’s three of you doing it and the banter’s flowing, even the most boring jobs can be fun.

By the middle of the afternoon, we had completely blitzed the house from top to bottom and prepared everything necessary to cook dinner. Jen’s mum called a halt and we all collapsed on the sofa, kicking off our shoes with a three way groan of relief, which precipitated gales of laughter and a flood of shared comments on how hard women have it with their footwear.

The indefatigable Mrs T possessed an inner resilience as yet unrealised in her daughter and house guest, and climbed stoically back to her feet to put the kettle on. Jen and I were still massaging life back into our aching toes when she reappeared carrying a tray, laden with cups, teapot and the all-important plate of double chocolate cookies. We gave ourselves over to chatter and refreshments, all the more enjoyed for having been earned.

Later, Mrs T put the oven on and set dinner cooking, bringing a fresh pot of tea when she came back and we found ourselves still chatting when Mr T’s car pulled into the driveway.

Mrs T put her finger to her lips and stood up to greet her husband; another difference between Jen’s parents and mine.

“You look relaxed sweetheart. Good day?”

“Oh, an exceptional day love, one of Jen’s friends came to visit and the two of them helped me put the house in order.” They walked into the living room and I stood up as Mrs T said, “Paul I’d like you to meet Rachael.”

I stuck my hand out in a deliberately girly pose and said, “Pleased to meet you Mr Talbot.”

-oOo-

Chapter 24

“Likewise,” he said taking my hand, “and thank-you for helping out.” He turned to his wife. “Where’s Richard? I’d have thought he’d be with you and Jen.”

“Oh now you’re just teasing me Mr T,” I said and the penny finally dropped.

He looked back at me with his mouth hanging open and a look of sheerest incredulity on his face. The rest of us collapsed into a fit of giggles while Jen’s Dad just gaped at me and shook his head.

“Well I think I can see why my daughter likes dressing you up, you do make a most convincing young lady. Rachael was it?”

I managed to control my convulsions and looked up at him smiling. “Yes sir, Rachael and thank you for the complement.

“Mrs T wanted to see your face when you figured out who I was, but if you feel uncomfortable with me like this, I’ll happily go and change.”

“Well I’m going to leave that decision to you young man er… lady. Since you’ve been dressed like this all day and the three of you seem happy with the arrangement, I think I can be content with the company of three young ladies this evening.

“I was thinking we might go out and catch a movie after dinner tonight, so you may want to think carefully about whether you want to stay as Rachael. I don’t know how comfortable you’d feel about going out in public dressed like that, although I seriously doubt anyone will suspect you of being anything other than you appear.

“However, while I wouldn’t object to my daughter having a cuddle with her boyfriend, I’m not sure I’d be happy about her doing so with a girlfriend. It may influence what film we end up going to see as well.”

I helped Jen and Mrs T set the table and serve dinner, and asked Jen whether she wanted a girlfriend or a boyfriend tonight. In the end, as much because we were running short on time as for any other reason, Rachael enjoyed an evening out and, somewhat to Mr T’s disgust, the choice of film ended up being rather girly.

The odd thing was that I enjoyed it immensely, far more so than any of the normal films I’d have chosen to watch. As I lay in bed that night, I tried to think about why. I mean was I actually becoming more like a woman through what I was doing? If I carried on down this path, would I end up choosing to live full time as a woman? Maybe to start taking hormones and eventually look for gender reassignment surgery?

What would happen to Jen and me? Would we end up being best buddies and be bridesmaids at each other’s weddings? It bothered me immensely. I was a guy, or at least I’d started out being one. I loved Jen; I was even thinking of a future together with her, and not as Rachael either.

I didn’t sleep too well that night and the following morning I washed the shape out of my hair and dressed as Richard. I mean from my point of view it was still Richard in a dress, but at least from everyone else’s point of view I was a guy again and would be treated like one.

I could see that Jen was disappointed that Rachael hadn’t made another appearance. The carefree all-girls togetherness of the previous day was gone and I even caught Jen and her Mum have a quiet little chat in the kitchen when I wasn’t around. They fell silent when I entered the room which was a dead giveaway that they’d been talking about me. I asked if there was anything I could do and they both told me no, so I fetched myself a glass of water and headed out into the garden to enjoy the summer weather while it was with us.

Later Jen and I went for a walk in one of the nearby woods. We wandered in silence for quite a way, each thinking private thoughts, holding hands from time to time, but neither of us smiled much.

“You were disappointed when Rachael didn’t make an appearance today.” It was an observation rather than a question.

“No! Well, yeah I guess so. Yesterday was a lot of fun.”

“Do you prefer her to Richard?”

She gave me an odd look and thought for a second before answering.

“They’re both you. How am I supposed to make a choice between you and you?”

I shrugged. “If we’re both the same, how come we had so much fun yesterday and yet today you and your Mum have hardly talked to me?”

“I don’t know. When you’re Rachael I see you as a girl, I can relate to you as a girl, you even respond like a girl. It becomes easy to let my hair down and have fun. I’d share things with you as Rachael far more readily than I would with you as Richard.”

“Even though we’re the same person?”

“I know it’s confusing. When you’re Rachael I feel like I can say anything to you without risking our friendship. It’s like we’re friends first and even if one of us says something stupid we both know that it wasn’t intentional and we can get over it. We kind of fit into the same wavelength and think the same things, laugh at the same things, cry at the same things. It’s like each one of us affirms the other. I mean didn’t you feel that yesterday?”

“Yeah, and it began to bother me when I started acting like a girl so much that I was laughing and crying with you and your Mum in all the same places in the movie. I mean your Dad wasn’t, in fact I think he was giving me some worried looks at times, and I don’t really blame him.”

“Is that why Rachael didn’t come out today?”

“A bit yeah. I mean I’m a guy and I like being a guy. I’m a guy who fell in love with you and I want to explore those feelings.”

“And we can and will Rich. I love you too. It’s just that when I think about that it gets all threatening and scary. As a guy you’re different from me and I’m uncertain how to act. The stakes seem somehow bigger and I’m scared of messing things up. When I do something wrong I get so upset with myself, like do you remember that night you shared with me after the first girl’s night out?”

“I’m hardly likely to forget that night!”

Jen smiled. It was good to see.

“The thing is I pretty much invited you to make love to me that night. I mean that’s what I’ve heard guys want and I wanted to give you what I thought you wanted. When you said no I was hurt and confused and ashamed.”

“You were kind of quiet afterwards.”

“You see what I’m getting at though. I don’t understand guys, I’m not sure girls can really, any more than guys can understand girls – even if you’re getting pretty close. I feel out of my depth with you as a guy. With Rachael I feel I know where I am and it’s easier to relate to you.”

“And yet I don’t want to be your girlfriend. I mean yesterday was incredible fun; I have never enjoyed doing chores as much as I did yesterday, but in the long run I don’t want to be a girl. I want our relationship to be one between a man and a woman.

“Being Rachael yesterday scared me a bit. I seemed to get so deep into it that I lost Richard for a while and that worried me. I don’t want to wake up in a few years’ time so messed up that I’m taking hormones and paying someone to remove my wedding tackle.”

“Don’t you dare! I have plans for that part of your anatomy, even if you’re not prepared to share it with me just yet.”

I had to laugh at that. The off mood of the morning was broken and things were mending. I stopped walking, pulled her to me and kissed her long and hard.

“Still sorry Rachael’s not here?”

“Mm. A little. This may seem terribly wrong, but I really liked making out with her before.”

She laughed at my expression, pulled away from me and ran. I chased after her and she eventually let me catch her at the edge of the woods where we fell to the grass and lay there enjoying each other in an altogether different way to the previous day.

“You know I think that would shock your parents.”

“What?”

“If they caught you making out with Rachael.”

“It would be worth it though. Do you think Rachael thinks about me the same way?”

“You never know. You’ll have to ask her when she makes her next appearance.”

She hit me, so I held her till she stopped squirming.

-oOo-

That evening Mr Talbot seemed relieved to see Richard and Mrs T seemed relieved to see Jen and me behaving like a boy and a girl. Conversation seemed to skirt the subject of what had happened yesterday for a while, but the unvoiced questions hung in the air until I couldn’t ignore them anymore.

“I think you still have some things you want to ask me, probably about yesterday.”

“Do you mind?” replied Mr T. “It feels a lot like prying.”

“Ask me anything you like. I don’t want to keep anything from you if it’s causing you to worry.”

“Well in that case,” Mr T responded quickly before the offer left the table, “have you made love to my daughter?”

Mrs T and Jen were shocked by the question and were ready to protest on my behalf, but I waved them down.

“No sir and I’m prepared to wait. If and when it happens I want it to be special for both of us.”

“Fair enough and thank-you. That was a little unfair of me but since you made the offer I figured I ought to take advantage of it.”

“You’d better not ask the other question you have in your mind,” Mrs T piped up, “or I’ll wallop you.”

“No dear I think that one can wait for now.”

Jen and I exchanged looks. I wasn’t sure what they were talking about, but if it was the ‘what are your intentions towards my daughter’ thing as I suspected, then I didn’t have a complete answer ready just yet.

“OK a more relevant question and hopefully less threatening,” Mr T started again. “There were times yesterday when you acted so much like a girl I didn’t see Richard. What was that about?”

“I’m not sure sir, I was thinking a lot about it last night and I don’t know if I fully understand it myself. Some of it, I think, is that there’s a part of me that needs to express itself as a girl. I’ve suppressed it most of my life, but this past few months I’ve been able to let her out more and more. She’s been totally squashed this past couple of weeks by my dad, and I think she really needed to come out yesterday. If she took over too much yesterday and scared you, I apologise.”

Mr T nodded an acknowledgement. “You said some of it.”

“Yeah, the rest is probably more Jen’s department than mine, being a humble physicist and all, but I was thinking last night that quite a lot of a person’s identity is derived from the way other people see them. You know, if you were to dress like a tramp, people would see you as a tramp and treat you as one, so you’d begin to feel like one. The same applies if you dress like a successful business man. Appearance matters more than we know.

“I think that yesterday both Mrs T and Jen accepted me so completely as a girl, treated me as though I were one of them, it just seemed to follow naturally that I slipped into the girl mind set. It did bother me a bit just how far it went, because when all’s said and done I do like being a guy.”

“So you’re not gay or anything like that?” Mrs T’s question had Jennifer gaping like a goldfish.

I laughed, “No Ma’am. One hundred percent heterosexual male and happy to be. I’m not attracted to men, witness the fact that I am drawn to your very beautiful daughter, and I do not want to become a woman. I’m just a guy who has a well-developed feminine side that has a need to express itself openly from time to time.”

“Are we likely to see Rachael again soon do you think?” Again this was Jen’s Mum and I sensed a hint of hopefulness in her tone.

“That’s something of a complex issue,” I started. “I’ve told you how the hypnotism makes me believe I’m wearing girl clothes all the time and that when there’s a difference between what I’m wearing and what I think I’m wearing, it begins to wear away at my sanity. At present the only way I can get any relief from it is to put on a dress for real every now and again. On top of that, I’ve mentioned how my feminine side likes to get out and stretch her legs from time to time. Between those two things I know it won’t be long before I will want to let Rachael out for a day or two.

“Beyond that I know that most people have issues with guys like me who dress up, and when I know I might cause offence or distress, I try to curtail my extra-masculine activities and do it as infrequently as I can get away with and behind closed doors.

“In summary, the answer to your question is yes Rachael will be back, but how soon and how publicly depends on how you feel about it. If you’d prefer Rachael to remain behind closed doors, then that’s where she’ll stay. If you’re happy for her to visit openly then I’m sure she’ll be ready for another outing anytime soon.”

“Our main concern is that in being Rachael you’re not confusing yourself for the future,” Mr T said. “Beyond that I found her to be a delightful guest yesterday in the same way that Richard has been today. I’m surprised to find myself saying this, but any time you want to let Rachael out, I seriously won’t feel awkward having her here.”

“Here here,” added Mrs T. “Richard I don’t mean to embarrass you with this, but I thought I noticed earlier today that you were wearing tights under your trousers?”

“Yes Ma’am and knickers. It’s not a kinky thing, it was one of Jen’s ideas to help make wearing men’s clothing less stressful for me at the moment.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“Well the hypnotic suggestion I have in me has me believing I’m wearing some attractive lady’s outfit. Usually it’s something that I’ve seen recently and really liked. It’s almost always a dress or a skirt and top, which means that it also involves wearing tights or stockings.

“From my perspective, the greater the difference between what I put on in the morning and what the hypnotism has me believing I’m wearing, the greater the stress and potential for depression. Wearing a pair of panties and tights under my trousers gives me some of the sensation that my mind tells me I’m feeling.”

The questions went on for a while longer but became less probing. Eventually, stifling yawns, both Mr and Mrs T headed off for their bed.

As a parting shot, Mrs T said, “I was planning on going shopping with Jennifer tomorrow. We both need some new clothes. I don’t know if Rachael’s ready to come out again yet, but I think she’d enjoy a day’s shopping more than you would.

“We’re planning on leaving here at about eight thirty so she may want to get ready early if she does decide to come.”

Jen gave me one of her hopeful looks and after today I was less worried about what being Rachael was doing to me, so I agreed.

“If we sort out your hair and boobs before bed time that’ll mean you have quite a bit less to do tomorrow.”

As a result, late as it was, I found myself soaking in a scented bath again and washing and conditioning my hair. After I’d dried and styled it, I allowed Jen to glue the breasts onto my chest and for the second time in my life I went to bed with a cleavage under my nightdress.

The night was filled with erotic dreams of Jenny and Rachael making out and I had to get up half way through to relieve some sexual tension.

-oOo-

Chapter 25

Jen bounced into my room at seven the next morning with a cheerful “Wakeup sleepyhead”, pulled the curtains and more or less dragged me out of bed. Have I mentioned that Jen is a morning person? I know; wretched isn’t it?

I did what needed to be done in the bathroom and headed back to my room to find an outfit all laid out for me. It was one of the outfits I’d bought on the charity shop raid and Jen had been threatening to put me in it for a while. It was a plain A-line dress with diagonal stripes in different shades of grey and white; simple but quite striking.

Alongside it was a new pair of charcoal, 10 denier tights, some underwear and my black pumps, and on the bedside table, eliciting a pledge of eternal gratitude and unconditional forgiveness for the bright and breezy good morning, was a mug of coffee.

I took me the best part of an hour to get ready: Ten minutes to dress, twenty to sort out my hair and the rest to put on a respectable face. I headed down to the kitchen with my empty mug and was greeted with a cheery “You look nice dear” from Mrs T. Obvious where the early morning genes come from in this family.

Jen popped her head in to check me out and I was made to twirl for her while my toast was crisping in the toaster. She then dashed off and returned a few seconds later with a black handbag and a pair of silver stud earrings. She also replaced my part of the Chinese pendant with a short silver chain.

Mrs T nodded her approval and a short while later we were bustling towards the car, and from there into town.

I won’t bore you with the details of all the shops we went through or all the clothes and shoes we tried. It was a repeat of the last time I’d gone out with the girls at university but far more upmarket.

I’d thought I might try a few things on and help the others pick some stuff out, I mean I was hardly the wealthiest person in the world, but Jen and her Mum had different ideas. The first time I looked wistfully at a dress that I’d just tried and we’d all liked, Mrs T had added it to the stack of clothes Jen had already chosen. I tried to protest, but Mrs T held up her hand.

“You can thank your girlfriend if you want. By her own admission, she already has a closet full of clothes that she hardly uses, so she more or less insisted that half her allowance for this little spree should be allotted to you.”

Half Jen’s allowance ended up being quite significant and as the day wore on I found myself carrying more bags than I thought I could easily fit into my hands.

Jen had persuaded me to try some shorts and tee-shirts that she thought looked particularly cute, but my subconscious didn’t think they were girly enough, and every time I tried them on I found myself wearing a skirt or dress instead. Jen was disappointed but, since a big part of the reason for doing this was to give me a break from the tricks my mind was playing on me, we settled on cuter stuff.

At one point Jen was looking at swimsuits and more or less insisted I look with her.

“You’re going to need one too.” She told me cryptically.

I was a little bewildered. I mean I couldn’t exactly go to the public swimming baths and change with the girls could I?

A few seconds later I was protesting all the more as we looked through the array of skimpy clothes.

“There is no way I could get away with wearing any of these Jen.”

“Why not?” She asked. “You have a very nice figure.”

“Thanks I think, but that’s not what bothers me.” I held up a pair of very skimpy bikini bottoms.
“There is no room in most of these to hide what I’m not supposed to have.”

She gave me a knowing grin and towed me down to the end of one of the isles.

“Tada!” She said waving at a rack full of what I then learnt were called tankinis. “These are gaining popularity with a lot of girls,” she told me. “A lot of them have swim skirts. Let me know when you find something you like.”

I had already found it though. It had a halter top with red and orange palm designs on it and a full, if short, brown swim skirt. I pulled it off the rack and Jen nodded her head enthusiastically.

It was a bit of a squeeze fitting my extra bits into the fitted bikini, but with some juggling I found a way to tuck things away that was reasonably comfortable and unnoticeable. I stepped out of the dressing room and struck a pose.

“Oh that is a must,” Jen told me, so despite the rather extravagant price tag, it was added to my pile of swag.

We did stop for a light lunch part way through the day, but even so, by the time we made it back to the house my feet were killing me. Mrs T insisted that the new clothes needed to be hung up straight away so Jen and I headed off with armloads of bags.

Jen being more practised than me and, for once having less to put away, came bounding into my room before I had unpacked half my stuff. She helped my put the rest away then told me to choose one new outfit. She herself was wearing the pair of shorts and tee-shirt that she’d hoped would work on me and I have to say they did look good on her.

After a moment’s deliberation I picked out a cotton mini dress with a bold floral print. From the twinkle in Jen’s eye it seemed she approved, and she helped me change.

We made our way downstairs to find Mrs T wearing a new bronze dress and carrying a tray of lemonade out onto the porch. We chatted the afternoon away until Mr Talbot returned, at which point I was roped into what, it seemed, was a Talbot family tradition.

First Mrs T removed his tie for him and sat him down with a drink, and then one by one we each paraded in front of him in the clothes we’d just bought. I’m not sure just how much Mr T really enjoyed it, but he played along, making appreciative noises in all the right places. The finale had the three of us come back into the room together wearing the clothes we’d started out in.

“Nice to see all the money I work so hard to earn being well spent,” he told us. For a moment I wasn’t sure if he was being sarcastic as I seemed to have hogged the show, but he seemed genuine enough when turned to his wife.

“I do like this,” he told her indicating the bronze dress.

“Rachael’s choice,” said Mrs T. “I wasn’t at all sure when she showed it to me, but she has a good eye. I knew it was right the moment I put it on.”

“She certainly does,” Mr T nodded to me in his appreciation and I found myself blushing, though I’m not sure how much of it was down to them referring to me in the feminine.

After dinner, Jen and I went for a walk in the woods, enjoying the long summer days while they were there.

“Careful you don’t get grass stains on your new clothes,” Mrs T called after us, laughing when Jen and I gave each other sheepish looks.

It wasn’t exactly an interdiction though so Jen led me to a secluded part of the woods where she lay out a blanket and we explored the wild side for a while. It turned out to be a spectacular turn on for both of us and we had to spend a long while afterwards neatening each other up in the gathering gloom before heading back to the house holding hands.

“Can Rachael stay around for tomorrow as well?” Jen asked, uncertain but hopeful. I was enjoying myself too much to refuse.

“Did you girls have fun?” Mrs T asked as we walked into the house.

We chorused an affirmative and she smiled.

“Come into the living room,” she said. “We have a little something to discuss.”

She noticed the look of apprehension on my face and laughed. “It’s nothing to worry about Rachael. I think you’ll approve.”

We followed her into the lounge and sat down next to each other on the couch.

Mr T put down his book and turned to us. “We usually take a bit of a family holiday this time of year Rachael. We have part shares in a canal boat that’s moored not too far from here, and usually Justin – that’s our son whose room you’re using at the moment – tries to get some time off to join us. Sadly all leave’s been cancelled right now and he can’t make it this year.

“We were planning on inviting you to come along anyway, albeit as Richard since I’m not sure Justin would find your feminine side so easy to accept. Since he’s not coming I just wanted to ask, first if you’d like to come, though I’m assuming with your limited options that will be a yes, and second which of Jenny’s friends will be joining us on board.

“Personally I’d appreciate having another man along for at least some of the trip, but I don’t see why Rachael can’t come too.”

Jen threw her arms around her father’s neck and I barely managed to stop myself from doing the same. I’m not sure how much he would have appreciated that kind of contact from me, regardless of how much he referred to me as a girl.

“We’ll be heading down to the boat first thing tomorrow,” he told us, “so make sure you’re packed before you go to bed. We will have at least one night out while we’re aboard so you should pack some smart clothes.”

Since, as Richard, I only had jeans, it seemed I would be spending at least one evening as Rachael during the week. As it turned out it would be a lot more than that.

That evening I called Alice. We’d exchanged texts once or twice over the previous few days, but I was aware I’d been neglecting her. I asked her how things were at home and she recited a half expected litany of woes. Mum and Dad were furious with me and refused even to mention my name. Meal times were trial by silence. Alice had tried to start a conversation once by wondering out loud how I was getting on and for her troubles had received a verbal tongue lashing for bringing my name up and had been sent to her room without dinner that evening. The grounding was still being enforced since Dad held her at least partly responsible for the way I had turned out. Dad had taken to drinking in the evenings which just darkened his mood and Mum was still Mum only more so. I sympathised, feeling awful that things were going so well for me while she was getting all the backlash.

She must have sensed something. “So tell me what’s new in your life big brother. Give me some good news so that I know all this is worthwhile.”

I told her about my week and quite soon had her laughing as I told her how the Talbots had reacted to their first sight of Rachael. We talked for about an hour and by the time I hung up I could feel she was a little less sad.

“You should have told me I was talking to Rachael,” she scolded me gently.

“I thought you needed a brother right now.”

“Well maybe you’re right. Listen I’m glad you’re doing OK, really. It’s about time you had some happiness in your life, and I don’t want you worrying about me. I’ll call you if I need anything. Just get Jen to take some photos of Rachael and send them through to me.”

I promised to call again soon and we hung up. I packed my bags for the week making sure I had all my new purchases as well as enough Richard clothes to last. I chose the black dress from my first night out with the girls as the one I would wear for our posh evening and settled down to sleep.

I had a nagging feeling that I had forgotten something and fell asleep ticking off a packing list in my mind.

-oOo-

Chapter 26

The next morning I was up and dressed early; I think it was the prospect of a holiday, especially one with Jen.

As per Jen’s request form the previous day it was Rachael who appeared in a short yellow summer dress carrying two rather heavily laden bags to add to the rest.

“Well it’s a good job it’s a big boat,” Mr T commented looking at the pile of luggage. He’d attached the trailer to the car in anticipation, so even though it seemed that Jen and her Mum had also packed pretty much everything they owned, we still had a fair bit of space in the car when we set off.

Two hours of motorways and country lanes later we entered a small town a few miles from the marina where the boat was moored. Mr T dropped the rest of us at a supermarket and headed off to fill the car up.

With three of us on shopping detail, the week’s provisions were soon bought and we made it to the marina by midday. Half an hour later the contents of the car and trailer had been transferred to a sixty foot canal boat. With just the four of us on board we could spread around quite happily and while Jen’s parents took over a luxurious double bed next to the galley and sofas, they were trusting enough to let Jen and me take the bunk beds near the aft hatch. The alternative would have been for me to use one of the convertible sofa beds in the galley/living area at the front of the boat which would have been inconvenient for everyone.

“Besides,” Mr T said, “I have a feeling I can trust you two to be sensible.”

We nodded our heads, both trying to gauge how much of a relative term sensible could be.

Jen and Mrs T headed for the galley to put together a plate of sandwiches and some cups of soup. I was about to follow them when Mr T intercepted me.

“I could do with Richard’s help getting us underway if you don’t mind.”

“OK, give me a minute to get changed,” I replied and dived down to where my bags were.

Thirty seconds later I said something most unladylike which had the rest of them scurrying to see what had happened.

“I had a feeling I’d forgotten something last night,” I said. “I don’t have the solvent to get these off.”

I gestured at my breasts and everyone fell about laughing.

“I guess I’ll have to settle for Rachael’s help then,” said Mr T and I followed him up on deck still wearing my yellow dress.

I wasn’t as much help as I could have been. Having a little more strength than either of the real ladies on board I did manage a few things that Jen or Mrs T might have struggled with, but I found myself squealing at dirty wet ropes as I pulled them out of the water, not wanting to mess up my clothes, and the shortness of the dress severely limited how far I was prepared to stretch out my legs when pushing the bows out. Mr T shook his head in disgust as I disappeared below to wash my hands, leaving the bow rope a tangled muddy mess in the fore deck.

After a plain but filling lunch Jen dragged me back to our bunk space and told me to change out of the dress and put on a pair of jeans. I wasn’t sure what she had in mind but did as she told me and was wondering if I should take my bra off when she chucked a tatty old white tee-shirt at me.

“Yours won’t fit with your boobs so I’ll have to lend you one or two of mine,” she said. “Don’t worry if you get it grubby, as you can see it’s been on the boat before.”

It was fairly messy, but it did fit better than any of mine would have, and as soon as I had it on, it transformed into a blue gingham dress.

Jen looked at me critically. “Hang on a minute something’s not quite right.”

My perception shifted back to what I was wearing as she took a handful of tee-shirt and tied a knot in it to expose a bit of midriff. A moment later the gingham dress was back but somehow shorter.

“No,” Jen said, “it’s the style of the jeans, they look wrong. Here try these instead.”

She threw me a pair of shorts which I slid on with some misgivings.

The dress was still gingham, but now the skirt was almost up to my crotch with flounces of short lacy petticoat underneath.

“No they don’t hang on you right. Sorry girlfriend you don’t have the hips for those, and it’s quite apparent you have something else in there too.”

I pulled off the shorts and took one look at the skin tight trousers she offered.

“Those will never work,” I told her and after a second look she agreed.

“OK try these.” This time she handed me a pair of three quarter length canvas trousers.

They were designed to be a loosed fit and I slipped them on with a bit more hope.

My subconscious was getting a bit fed up with all the changing and rebelled by transforming the outfit into a sailor moon outfit.

Jen finally nodded her approval and shooed me out so she could get changed. I re-emerged on deck to find Mrs T dressed down to crew the boat and all the things I had left half-done tidied up.

“That looks more sensible dear. We may be able to find you a few similar bits as we go. Some of the bigger locks have shops nearby and they’ve got used to stocking cheap clothes for people who hire a narrow boat without much concept of what’s involved.”

I gave her a weak smile. All the changes had given me a headache and the frills and flounces of this costume weren’t helping it much.

I managed to redeem myself a bit later when we came to a rise of five locks. I did most of the grunt work and was enjoying the exertion by the time we reached the top.

“Don’t push yourself too hard dear,” Jen’s Mum told me, “sweat stains are most unbecoming in a lady.”

I must have looked crestfallen because she added, “Only teasing sweetheart, you’re doing really well. I take it you haven’t done this before?”

I shook my head. “Mum and Dad’s idea of a holiday usually involves a beach and lots of sun. I don’t ever remember doing anything fun like this.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself. We don’t have any locks for quite a while so you may want to take advantage of the sun. I think you’ll find Jenny’s changing to do a bit of sunbathing up top.”

“Won’t Mr Talbot want someone to take over from him at the controls?”

“You know if you’re going to come on holiday with us, I think you are going to have to start calling us Paul and Sharon. And don’t you dare try to push Paul off the tiller just yet; he’s enjoying himself way too much. Go and find Jenny and I’ll bring some drinks along in a while.”

I ducked back to the bunks and changed into my tankini, grateful for the rest this gave my subconscious, and followed Jenny up on top with a towel and suntan lotion in hand.

“Fancy a go Rachael?”

“Thanks Mr T – I mean Paul. Maybe later.”

He smiled and nodded. “I wondered when you were going to lose the formality.” Like Mrs T said, he was enjoying himself too much.

I made my way down the roof to the centre of the boat where Jen was already soaking up the sun. She looked up as I settled down next to her and I proffered the bottle in my hands.

“Mm please,” came the sleepy reply so I spent a few minutes massaging generous squirts into the exposed parts of her body.

She got to her knees and took the bottle out my hand. “Your turn,” she said indicating that I should lie down.

“What are we going to do about these?” I asked looking down at my chest.

“They should be alright for a week. We’ll get them off when we get home.” She was already rubbing my shoulders and arms.

“They’re not going to tan though are they?”

“I wouldn’t worry too much. We’ll be lucky if we see more than two or three days like this all week. If it really does start to show we should be able to cover it up with some darker foundation.”

I accepted her assurances and lay down on my front. The two mounds in front were a little uncomfortable and I fidgeted a bit to find a position that I could live with.

Jen finished my legs and moved her towel to lie down next to me.

“Still having fun?” She asked.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you’re stuck as Rachael now for the rest of the week. Does that bother you?”

“I think I’ll be able to live with it,” I replied, “as long as get to wear dresses most of the time.”

She laughed. “You are such a girl sometimes.”

“I know and you wouldn’t have it any other way.”

We gazed into each other’s eyes knowing it was true.

-oOo-

As promised, the weather turned on us a couple of days later. We only had one really rainy day and Paul remained staunchly at the helm while the rest of us huddled below and fed him the occasional cup of coffee. I hadn’t realised that we were working our way around a ring of canals and had to travel so many miles each day if we were to make it back to the marina by the end of the week. The rest of the week was a mixture of overcast and broken clouds, neither of which tempted Jen or me onto the roof again.

I chose to stay in frocks most days, swiftly slipping into Jen’s trousers and tee-shirt for brief periods when we came to a lock or a series of locks. I hadn’t thought to bring any reading material with me so Sharon lent me one of her library books. Very much a girly story but I found myself really getting into it. Once or twice I caught Sharon’s knowing smile as I wiped a tear away, but I figured she wasn’t making fun of me so I just smiled back.

After a nearly disastrous first time on the tiller, I rapidly improved to become Paul’s first choice of driver any time he wanted a break or a go at operating the locks. This suited me fine as I could keep my dress on as we went through rather than risk getting grubby. Paul went to some pains to make sure I knew what a cill was in a lock and how to make sure I avoided it, but other than that he left me to enjoy myself.

Midweek we passed through a large town and moored up immediately afterwards, even though it was only mid-afternoon. Jen dragged me down to our bunks and set about filling a bag with our posh frocks and various other necessities.

“Dad knows the owner of the hotel in the town. We have an arrangement whereby he lets us use one of the suites for the afternoon so we can get washed up and ready for dinner and Dad spends a certain amount of money in the restaurant afterwards. We’ve been doing it for a few years now.”

I found myself looking forward to a long luxurious soak in a bath, but was worried about what would happen to the breast forms.

“Look if water could shift them we’d have had the pleasure of Richard’s company this week,” Mr T told me. “Enjoy the bath. Keep an eye on them, if you think the edges are beginning to come away get out, or stay in until they come off all the way. Either way don’t worry about it, you’re on holiday.”

I took his advice and after a thirty minute soak in steaming, oil scented water, they remained as firmly fixed as they had been at the beginning of the week.

Jen and I helped each other get ready and, when we emerged to join Mr and Mrs Talbot, he fairly preened at the thought of eating out with three such lovely ladies. Before we headed down Jen got her Dad to take a photo of her and me on my phone which we sent to Alice.

The meal was extravagant. I would have preferred a steak or a lobster, but following the lead of the other ladies present I ordered one of the less protein rich dishes on the menu. It turned out to be exquisite, so much so that I was glad to be taking smaller bites, the more to enjoy the mixture of flavours.

I had my first taste of real champagne that evening as well, and found out why it goes so well with fresh strawberries, I don’t remember drinking that much, but I did become quite giggly by the end of the evening. We were all rather unsteady as we made our way back along the tow path towards the boat and, although I do vaguely remember climbing back on board and changing into my nightclothes the rest of the night is a blank right up to the moment when I woke up to the flash of a camera and some stifled laughter from Jen’s parents.

As I roused myself, I found that Jen and I had ended up in her bunk and were snuggled together in a riot of pink satin.

“That photo had better not make it into the family album,” I murmured and Jen snuggled into me becoming aware of how we had passed the night and deciding not to worry about it.

“How come your parents are so understanding about this?” I asked her. If she wasn’t going to worry I decided I wasn’t either.

“I think because they trust me,” she said matter of factly. “You too. I mean how much trouble can two girls get into?”

“They really see me as a girl?”

“Right now that’s all I see. No boy could ever smell or feel so good.”

“I think I’m going to have to get up,” I told her.

She raised her head and looked at me.

“Right now I don’t trust myself not to find out how much trouble two ‘girls’ can get into.”

She reached under the covers and found my not-so-little friend standing at very rigid attention. I jumped out of her reach before I made a mess of her bed and headed off to the bathroom holding a towel in front of the traitorous bulge.

The rest of the week was more of the same and we were all feeling well rested if a little grubby by the time we moored up back at the marina the following Sunday morning. We loaded up the car and trailer and spent a couple of hours cleaning the boat down before heading home. Jen and I fell asleep on each other on the way home prompting another round of photographs which we only found out about much later.

We stopped at a motorway restaurant for a quick bite to supplement our large breakfast and headed on for the Talbot’s house. The moment the door was unlocked I ran up to my room in a most unladylike manner followed by a smatter of good natured laughter. A couple of days previously the skin under my breast forms had started itching maddeningly and had been getting progressively worse since. I found the bottle of solvent where I had left it in the bedside cabinet and headed straight for the bathroom.

It only took ten minutes to remove them and I breathed a sigh of relief as the air reached my deprived skin. I spent a good while cleaning the breast forms before putting them to one side, then realising I didn’t have any Richard clothes in my room made an appearance as a very flat chested Rachael.

“You cannot begin to imagine how much better that feels,” I said walking into the living room.

Sensing something wrong I looked up to see three very grim faces looking at me from over where Mr Talbot was holding a rather official looking piece of paper.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

Paul held up the letter in his hand. “This is I’m afraid Richard. It’s an injunction instructing me to deliver you to the county court nearest your home town, where your parents have requested that you should undergo an assessment to ascertain the state of your mental health. The court appearance is for tomorrow at noon.”

-oOo-