It was only a five minute walk from my auntie's house back home... but with the weather so sunny, lots of the neighbourhood kids were out playing. I tried not to draw attention to myself and as I reached the end of my street and peeped from behind a post box to make sure the coast was clear. I ducked down as John Fletcher, my next door neighbour rolled quickly past on his scooter. Through fear of him coming straight back, I ran as fast as I could to my front door... hoping none of the neighbours would recognise me.
"There you are!" my mother smiled as I entered. "Don't you look nice for once?"
"I look stupid." I replied, before heading to my room.
"And where do you think you're going young man?"
"To change out of this stupid dress!"
"Oh no... back here." my mother insisted.
I sulked back along the hallway to where she stood, folding her arms under her bosom. "So where are your muddy clothes?" she asked.
"Erm... still at Aunties." I replied.
"You mean you didn't bring them with you?"
I shook my head, fearing the worst. And the worst of my fears immediately came true. Mum told me that I must go back and get them... and no, I wasn't allowed to change.
I ran all the way back to my Aunt's house. "Back already Matthew?" she asked as I entered.
"Mum said I had to come back and get my muddy clothes."
"They're in the washing machine... you know that." she replied. "You run along home and I'll drop them off later."
As I walked home again, I kicked myself for not thinking to tell my mother that auntie was washing them for me. "Hey look!" a distant voice shouted, "That's Matthew wearing a dress!"
I looked around to see a group of three girls from my school running towards me. I had no option but to run as fast as I could. They gave chase, giggling all the way and much to my surprise, one of them quickly caught up with me and grabbed my arm.
"Let go of me!" I yelped as I struggled to free her grasp. Within seconds the other two had arrived, one grabbed my other arm and I was going nowhere.
"Oh my don't you look pretty." one teased. "I didn't know you was a girl."
"I'm not a girl!" I replied, struggling to free myself.
"Well you must be, only girls wear dresses, and if I'm not mistaken, that's a dress."
I tried to explain that I'd got muddy and my aunt gave me this to wear.
"Your Auntie would only give you a dress if she knew you was really a girl!"
"No... she gave me a dress because..." I pleaded, not knowing what the actual reason was.
"Because your a girl." the other insisted.
"NO!" I spat. still struggling and failing to free myself.
"Well, there's only one way to find out if you area girl or not."
"What's that?" I asked.
"If you are a girl, you'll be wearing knickers, and if you're a boy you'll be wearing underpants." she explained. "Are you wearing knickers?"
"NO!" I insisted.
"Are you sure?" the other asked.
"Yes." I said, with less conviction.
I began to struggle as I felt my dress being lifted, but there was nothing I could do. All of a sudden the inevitable happened and the third and youngest girl yelped "He is wearing knickers... look, look... frilly ones!" she giggled.
"Oh my they are pretty." the other girl said as leaned forward to see.
“Oh what's this?” the other girl said as I felt my dress being lifted higher and higher. “He's wearing a girl's vest too!”
“And it matches his knickers!” the youngest of the three noted.
“Don't you mean 'she'?.” the taller of the two holding my arms and lifting my dress said. Then, before I knew it... they'd let go of my arms and whipped my dress completely off!
I was speechless. I couldn't believe what they'd done. I looked down at my pale skinny body clad in nothing but the underwear my aunt insisted I wore after falling in her pond. I looked up to see the three girls walking away, looking back and giggling, tossing my dress between them. “She you at school!” one shouted as I began to run as fast as I could to the safety of my home.
“Matthew!” my mother exclaimed as I ran through the door.. not wearing my dress. “What's going on!?”
Shocked, mortified and snivelling... I told her about the girls who grabbed me, the girls who pulled my dress off me then ran away with it. Mum insisted that we go and find them. She grabbed a t-shirt and some pants for me and within seconds I was sat in the passenger seat of her car and rolling down the driveway. “Which way did they go?” mum asked.
After five minutes driving around the neighbourhood, I spotted the three girls and pointed them out. Mum leapt out of the car and ran over to them. “You girls!” she scowled, “You horrible girls!”
All three stopped in their tracks. Mum had obviously put the fear of god into them as she pointed her finger and shouted. The tallest looked like she was going to burst into tears as she passed my mother the dress. Mum scolded them for a few more minutes before coming back to the car.
“Nasty little bitches!” Mum spat as she tossed the dress on my lap before starting the engine.
“What did they say?” I nervously asked.
“Oh nothing you need to hear Matthew.” she sighed. “At least they apologised... eventually.”
We drove back home and mum apologised for sending me back to my Aunt's house. “I could have got them some other time.” she said. I told her they were in Auntie's washing machine anyway, so I couldn't have brought them back anyway. Mum apologised again.
She pulled onto the drive, took me inside and poured me a glass of fizzy pop. “I hope they haven't damaged this.” she said as she held up the dress and checked it front and back. “It's quite nice for a boy.” she added as she folded it and placed it neatly over the back of a dining chair.
“No it isn't!” I replied. “It's a dress.” I moaned.
“I know I know... I just meant it's not pink or flowery or frilly.” she replied with an empathetic smile."It's a pity I didn't get chance to see you in it properly."