This is part 2 of A Christmas to Remember.
After warning me that the first dress I'll be given to wear will be deliberately prissy,
Dad told me that every dress after that won't seem quite so bad.
“That's what Mum said too. She bought me some lacy knee socks to wear with it and they're bad enough.” I told him. Dad said I was being dropped in at the deep end and assured me it would get better. “I hope so.” I glumly replied.
I also asked my sister if she would be at work the next day. “No got the day off.” she told me. “But I will be out from mid morning so I won't see you in your first dress.” she frowned.
“Phew!” I replied. “Do you know which one it is?”
Anna nodded. “I didn't like it much but it is very pretty.”
“Apparently so.” I sighed.
Dad would likely have set off for work by the time I rose on Sunday so we said our goodbyes before I went to bed. When I did wake the next day my sister was around, chatting with Mum in the master bedroom as I exited the bathroom. “I'm sure it was for a christening.” she said, to which Mum countered with it being the dress she got to wear for a wedding anniversary. Anna glanced at me as I passed. “Have you seen it yet?” she asked me.
“My dress?” I knowingly gulped, shaking my head as she nodded.
“Can he see it yet?” Anna asked Mum.
“Yes but you don't have to wear it just yet.” Mum said, making herself visible to me. In her hands is a clothes hanger and on that, a pale blue dress with a white V shaped collar and a sizeable satin bow at the base of the V. “What do you think?” she asked, turning the hanger to show me a square sailor style collar hanging over the back with a scalloped broderie anglaise edge threaded with blue satin ribbon tied in a small bow in the centre. Its long, almost bell shaped sleeves have white broderie anglaise cuffs and only a few inches below those, the ruched hem of the skirt
“Could be worse.” My sister smiled as I could only frown at it. “At least it's not pink.”
“There is that.” I frowned. “It's still really girlie though.” I gulped as I focused on the big white bow.
“Well I did warn you. The first one has to be the prettiest.” Mum smiled. “But you don't have to wear it just yet.” she said, hanging it from the picture rail. “Breakfast first... then a shower.”
To be fair, I have seen my cousin Peter wearing far worse dresses and when Mum told me my first one would be pretty, I instantly imagined it having short puffed sleeves and a few more frills. But I have seen Peter wearing a navy blue sailor style dress and his is positively boyish compared to my effeminate take on the style. It might not be pink but the shade of blue is so pale it may as well be pink
“So are you both all packed?” Anna asked over breakfast.
“No but we've got a few hours yet.” Mum replied, before asking me if I wanted to pack first or get dressed.
“Erm... pack.” I said, wanting to delay having to wear my dress for as long as possible.
My sister leaves soon after breakfast, eager to get to the shops early. After we say our goodbyes and wish each other a happy Christmas, it's just me and Mum and it really feels like the countdown has begun.
We pack my case and for the first time I see the clothes chosen from my sister's wardrobe. The dusty pink cords aren't as bad as I'd expected them to be, and the denim dungaree shorts are much shorter than I'd imagined. There's a long sleeve T-shirt which is clearly not a boys top but looks OK, unlike a pink satin blouse with long sleeves, frilly yoke and a small upright collar, which Mum says will be 'nice' with a skirt or pinafore dress. The pinafore is a stony beige tweed type fabric. with a dropped waist and box pleats; two front, two back. Mum says it's pure wool and will therefore be nice and warm, as will 'my' skirt. This is mid grey with countless knife pleats encompassing it. To me looks like a school skirt, but Mum says it's not because school skirts are much much shorter. Each item is folded neatly and placed in may case, along with my tights, underwear and the three nighties. “What are those?” I whimper as she puts another bundle of knickers in the case.
“To wear with your nighties and PJs.” Mum said, adding that they'll be nice and cosy. There's six in total; two pink, two white and two in baby blue. The front panel is quilted and on the back is three rows of frills. “You'll only be wearing them for bed.” Mum said when I challenged their overtly infantile style. On the upside, they don't have my name embroidered on them, unlike all my other knickers.
Once packed, Mum sends me for a shower and tells me to head directly to her bedroom where the prissy blue sailor dress is waiting on her bed along with my supposedly 'pretty' blue training bra, matching knickers and a long satin vest. “Can you remember how to fasten your training bra?” Mum asked as I cast my fearful eyes over the array of effeminate clothing.
“I think so.” I said.
“Show me.” Mum requested, smiling briefly before suggesting I put my knickers on first. I was predictably hesitant. “Don't be shy. I've seen you in swimming trunks plenty of times. This is no different.”
My eyes focused on the knickers, or more specifically my name embroidered on the left hip in royal blue thread. There's no denying they're mine. “It really is Mum.” I replied, shifting my gaze to the inch wide frilly lace around the leg holes and a similar band of frilly lace around their high waist.
“If anything your swimming trunks are skimpier than those.” Mum said.
“They don't have frills though.” I grimaced.
“Once they're on and you're dressed, they'll be out of sight and out of mind.” Mum told me, picking up the knickers.
“I didn't know they had those on too!” I exclaimed as I saw the rows of frills on the back of them. Like the frilly lace around the legs and waist, they're twice as pale as the sky blue sateen panties.
“I told you they were going to be pretty.” Mum reminded me. “And it's not as if you'll know they're there when you're wearing them.”
“I'll be able to feel 'em when I sit down.” I sneered as she handed them to me. I wasted no time pulling them on, if only so I didn't have to hold them for too long, and having my bathrobe on they were quickly out of sight... but only for a moment. Mum handed me my training bra which meant having to disrobe. Mum smiled and said that having my name on my knickers is 'cute'. “It's not cute...” I said, looking down at myself. “...it's the worst thing about them.”
“Well done. You did remember.” Mum said as I fastened the bra properly. “I'll just check the straps.” she told me, turning me around to access the sliders on the back of each strap. “How's that feel?” she asked having adjusted them a little.
“Like I’m wearing a girls bra.”
“We both know it's a boys bra.” Mum told me, patronisingly adding that girls bras have cups and boys bras are just flat to the chest. I felt slightly more at ease once I had the white satin slip on which, save for a little lace around the hems is a rather plain item. My fingertips hovered nervously around its short hemline as Mum removed my dress from the hanger, laid it front side down, lifted the big square collar and began to unfasten the five big buttons beneath it. The dress went on over my head and I had to hold the sailor collar up whilst Mum buttoned me to it. “It's a little big on you but that's OK.” she said. “Let's have a look.” she added, turning me to face her.
“It feels really short.” I said, looking down and finding the skirt flaring out from just below my chest instead of my waist, and the ruffled hem hovering around my mid thigh.
“It's short but certainly not too short.”
“It's also winter.” I reminded her.
“It's fully lined and you've got a slip on too... and you'll only be outdoors for a moment.” Mum told me. “Sit down so I can put your socks on.”
“I can put my own socks on Mum. I'm not a little kid.”
“I know but these are delicate.” Mum replied. “I don't want you snagging them.”
“They're even worse than my dress.” I said as Mum eased a lacy white sock up my calf and positioned the frilly cuff just below my knee.
“Or to put it another way... you like your dress more than your socks.” my mother smugly retorted.
“That's not what I said.” I told her.
With my shoes and socks on, I stood in front of Mum's big mirror and looked at my outfit. “You can't deny that you look very pretty.” my mother said to me.
“The dress might be pretty but it just looks wrong on me.” I told her.
“Only because it's your first one.” Mum claimed. “But to be fair, your sister didn't like it much either.” she added. “But I think it's lovely.”
“So you keep saying.” I sighed. “Are we going now?”
“Not just yet.” Mum said. “I noticed a load of clothes on your bedroom floor that should be in your laundry basket, so you can pick all those up and straighten your bed and fetch you laundry down.”
“OK.” I replied. There's one thing about shoes with heels that I realised as I was tidying my bedroom... the floor is that bit further away which means having to bend that little bit more to reach it. With the floor cleared, I straightened my duvet and took my laundry basket downstairs, gulping at my reflection in the hallway mirror as I passed.
Mum seems engrossed with the her phone and only looks up as my heels strike the hard kitchen floor tiles. “I want to show you something Stephen.” she says, turning the phone toward me. I know she has a pair of web-cams which we use for security; one aimed at the front door and one aimed at the back door with motion sensors that alert her phone if we're burgled whilst the house is empty. What I didn't know was that one of them was in my room whilst I was tidying up. I was mortified seeing myself wearing my prissy blue dress, frilly white knee socks and my girlie pageboy shoes, trotting around and gathering my laundry. “You videoed me!” I declared.
“Yes and for good reason.” Mum replied. “What do you see?”
“Me dressed like a girl.” I grumbled. “You're not gonna show that to anyone are you?!” I feared.
“Only you love.” she said, skipping the video back a short while and pausing it. “Now what can you see?” she asked. The video is paused on a frame where I'm bending over and grabbing a sock. She zoomed into the frame to enlargen the back of my dress. I groaned in disbelief on seeing my frilly knickers visible beneath the hem of my skirt. “When you're wearing a dress you need to remember to crouch down and not bend over... otherwise you'll flash your knickers.” she told me.
“OK.” I bashfully said. “You are gonna delete that aren't you?” I asked.
“Of course.” Mum told me. “I knew you'd instinctively bend which is why I filmed you.. so consider this a lesson learned.” she said before deleting the video in front of me.
“Thanks Mum.” I sheepishly said.
“The car's all packed and I've set the engine running so it'll be toasty and warm when we set off.” she told me.
“Are we going now?” I asked.
“Ten minutes or so.” she replied, suggesting I take the weight off my feet. “Don't forget to scoop.” she advised as I pulled out a chair.
“I know.” I said, scooping my dress and sitting with my knees bolted together. “I feel like such a girl.” I said as I smoothed the skirt over my lap.
“I'm sure you don't.” Mum replied. “But I expect your first dress will feel quite exciting.”
“Not in a good way.” I murmured. Mum smiled. “What?” I said.
“Nothing.” she told me, although I knew what she was thinking.
Mum straightened up the kitchen so it was tidy for Dad and Anna, then gave me one of my sister's old coats to wear for the journey. It's a pale blue fleece with long sleeves and a short waist and being the sort of fleece that's more furry than fleecy, it's clearly a girl's coat. I'm a bag of nerves when Mum donned her coat and purse and keys. “You ready?” she grinned. I gulped and shook my head. She opens the door and ushers me outside.
“Oh god it's freezing!” I exclaimed as the icy winter air nibbled at my bare legs. I couldn't get into the car quickly enough where it felt nice and warm.
“Straighten your skirt so it doesn't get creased.” Mum told me, prompting me to lift my butt off the seat and smooth my dress beneath me. “Are you excited?” she asked as she drove very slowly down the driveway.
“I'm petrified.” I replied. “I can't believe I let you talk me into this.”
“It's just first time nerves.” Mum said. “You'll feel much more relaxed tomorrow.” she claimed.
“I'm just looking forward to Friday when I can be a normal boy again.” I grumbled as I glared at my pale bare knees.
“You're a normal boy now, Stephen... just one who's wearing a very pretty dress.” Mum told me. “Shall we have the radio on.”
Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music was playing as we drove down the street. I felt utterly fearful that someone might see me sat in my Mum's car wearing a baby blue 'teddy bear' fleece but on this cold Sunday afternoon, very few people were out and about. Living on the outskirts of the city meant wear were on the open road in no time and my fears of being seen dispersed. Nickelback's Rockstar blasted out of the speakers which was fine by me and almost instantly I felt even more at ease. Mum sang along to the chorus at the top of her voice and I said she was too old to like Nickelback. “Is that who it is?” she replied, adding that it's catchy and sang along again the next time the chorus came around. I found myself tapping my fingers and bobbing my head to the beat but couldn't for one moment not think about my clothing. Mum asked if my knees were warm enough. I gulped and nodded. The flouncy hem of my pale blue dress lay just about them. The lacy frills around the cuffs of my socks sat just below them. I could feel the inch wide frills of my knickers gently brush the tops of my legs and the elastic waistband sitting high on my midriff. Not far above that the band of my bra hugged my chest and the lace trimmed straps arched over my shoulders. The dress itself hung so loosely and lightly I could hardly feel it, save for the skirt on my lap.
Mum can't stand anything to do with X-Factor so when Leon Johnson's song came on the radio she put a CD of Christmas songs on instead. “This'll get us in the spirit.” she said as Wham's Last Christmas began.
“Oh Mum you don't have to sing along.” I whined as she sang this year... to save me from tears. “It's so embarrassing.”
“Sorry.” she grinned, adding that I can unzip my jacket if I'm too warm.
“It's not my jacket.” I said as I unzipped it and revealed even more of my dress.
After half an hour in the car we were driving through Grantham and had to stop at several sets of traffic lights. It was a nerve racking experience as several pedestrians crossed in front of us and some glanced in my direction, but that was nothing compared to half an hour later as we approached the village of Donnington and our eventual destination. “Does Peter know I'll be wearing a dress?” I asked in the closing moments of the journey.
“Yes.” Mum said. “And Jasmine too.” she added. We soon turned off the main road toward the hamlet and Mum slowed before turning onto their driveway. “I see they've had the leylandii cut.” she commented and the wheels slowly crunched over the gravel. By the time she'd stopped the car, Auntie June was at the front door, full of smiles. I was a bag of nerves as I zipped up my fluffy jacket all the way to the collar. “Don't be shy.” Mum advised before getting out of the car.
I swallowed my pride and opened the door, planting my heeled foot on the gravel and feeling it sink a little. Mum was hugging her sister as I sheepishly approached. “Stephen you look wonderful!” my aunt said. “Come in before the cold gets you. We've got the fires lit.”
I was quickly ushered inside where my cousins were waiting. “Hi Stephen.” Jasmine said, looking me up and down but seemingly thinking nothing unusual about my clothing.
I said hello to both of them and Peter said “Mummy told me you'd be wearing a dress but I didn't believe her.”
“I can hardly believe it myself.” I bashfully replied as I stood sheepishly in front of them. Predictably Peter also wore a dress; navy blue with long sleeves and a round white collar and cuffs, along with a pair of white tights and some felt ballet slippers on his feet. His sister Jasmine wore a denim jeans skirt and a plaid shirt with a ruffled yoke.
“Lets get your jacket off.” Mum said, appearing behind me. Auntie June said I should sit by the fire to warm up.
“Oh er... that car was plenty warm enough.” I replied as I reluctantly in zipped my jacket. My aunt told me how nice my socks were, and said that Peter has some Mary Jane's very similar to mine. “The lady in the shop said they're called Pageboy shoes when they're for a boy.” I timidly replied.
“Must be a modern thing.” my aunt said as I removed my coat and revealed my dress to them all. “Oh that's lovely.” she said.
“Thanks.” I shyly replied.
“It's one of Anna's old dresses.” Mum told her.
“I thought it looked familiar.” Auntie June remarked before prompting me to sit near the fire. I felt so self conscious as I scooped my skirt and sat, making sure I kept my knees firmly together. “Was the drive over OK?” she asked my mother.
“Yes fine.” Mum said. “We've been listening the Christmas songs.” she added as they disappeared into the kitchen.
“In this house it's me who ends up wearing my brother's old dresses.” Jasmine said to me. “Do you like it?”
“Not really.” I replied. “It's too prissy.”
“The first one always is.” Peter said. “Mine was pink with kittens on it. I hated it sooo much, but the one after that wasn't so bad... for a dress.” he told me.
“I don't think yours is prissy Stephen.” Jasmine told me. “It's pretty, but not prissy.” she added
“Same thing isn't it?”
“No.” she smiled. “Peter might show you the difference, if you ask him nicely.” she said, just as Auntie June entered with a tray full of hot drinks.
“Did you make me a mocha Mum?” Jasmine asked.
“I made mochas all round.” her mother replied.
“What's mocha?” I asked.
“Coffee with chocolate in... just what you need on a cold winter day.”
“Thank you.” I said, taking one of the mugs.
“Thank you Mummy.” Peter said, taking another.
“Thanks Mum.” his younger sister said, taking hers.
“Hmm this is gorgeous.” Mum said, sipping hers. “We'll unpack after we've had this.” she told me.
My aunt asked me how I was getting on at school and made general small talk. As we chatted I could see her frequently glancing shoes and lacy knee socks and wondered if she knew that I was also wearing a pair of very frilly knickers and a lace trimmed training bra. “Are you warm enough?” she asked me. I said I was and Mum told her that my dress is fully lined.
“It's his socks.” my aunt said. “Pretty as they are, they're not very thick.” she noted, before asking if I had some tights.
“Erm... yeah.” I replied.
After finishing our drinks. Auntie June took us upstairs where she'd prepared the spare room for us both. Two single beds are separated with a dressing table. Opposite each is a chest of drawers that flank a wardrobe we can use, and there's a convector heater we can use for extra heat if the radiator isn't enough. “This is perfect June. Thank you.” Mum said to her sister. “Shall we get you unpacked.” she said to me as she put a case on my bed.
“I'll leave you to it.” Auntie June said, smiling at me as she left us alone.
“You OK?” Mum asked.
“I guess.” I said. “It's just weird because I’ve never worn a dress before today.”
“Well if there's one thing that's not weird in this house, it's boys wearing dresses.”
“Yeah I suppose.” I said as Mum opened my case.
“I told you you had nothing to worry about.” Mum smiled. “Do you want some tights on?”
“Yeah.” I said.
“Well you'll need different knickers as well. Yours are far too frilly to wear under a pair of tights.”
“They're far too frilly full stop.” I bluntly told her.
First we unpacked, hanging my frocks and things in the wardrobe and putting my tops and tights and undies in a drawer, apart from a pair of my white knickers and a pack plain white tights which Mum left on the bed. “I thought you'd like the ones with blue trim so they still match your dress.” Mum said as I cast my eyes over my bed.
I don't think I'll ever get used to hearing 'your dress', but after a few hours in it, I do feel used to wearing it. Sheepishly I perch on the edge of my bed so I can unbuckle my shoes. Then I carefully remove my knee socks, discreetly followed by my frilly blue knickers. I pull on a white pair and stand to pull them up completely, then Mum helps me with my tights which are white and thick and feel a million times better than my lacy knee socks. “Better?” Mum asked once I had my shoes back on. I smiled and nodded. “Good.” she said.
Auntie June asked me the same thing when I returned wearing my tights. “Are you comfortable in heels?” she then enquired.
“I'm still getting used to them.” I replied, flattening my frock and looking down at my feet. Mum told her that I also got some 'trendy' ankle boots with heels, claiming that I took to them like a duck to water, although I claimed otherwise as I sat myself down.
“I had to teach Peter how to walk in heels.” Jasmine told me. “Do you remember?” she asked her brother.
“How could I forget.” Peter dryly retorted.
“Do you kids want to put the TV on whilst me and Auntie April make tea?” Auntie June suggested.
“Can we put the Playstation on?” Peter asked.
“You've got a Playstation?!”
“Course we have.” his sister replied.
“OK... but it goes off the moment I ask you both to lay the table. No ifs, no buts.” Auntie June told us.
Peter crouched before the TV and opened the cupboard doors beneath it to reveal a PS2, a GameCube and a Wii. “What games have you got?” I asked, seeing plenty of titles stacked up.
“Loads.” Peter said. “Bowling on the Wii is good for three players.”
“I was gonna say that too.” Jasmine replied.
I'd never played on a Wii before and initially was underwhelmed with the prospect of a ten-pin bowling video game... but it was an awful lot of fun and after we'd all eaten tea, even Mum and Auntie June joined in. Each of us had our fair share of landing the bowling ball in the gutter and scoring no points, but we also got some strikes too which was a joyous event. I was so engaged that I almost forgot I was wearing a dress, although not completely since my side spin technique meant going slightly around my skirt as I mimed the bowling motion. If anything wearing a dress seemed somehow beneficial. After an hour or so of exhilarating game play we'd all had enough and my cousin Jasmine said I'd played particularly well since I was the only one wearing heels. I had forgotten about those!
At 8pm Peter was sent to put his pyjamas on and Mum told me that I should get ready for bed too. I had a little whine, claiming it was far too early but both Mum and Auntie June explained that it's only fair that I abide by the same house rules as my cousin. I conceded but felt it was unfair that us boys have to get ready for bed at a certain time when Jasmine doesn't. Mum accompanied me up to our room because she had to unbutton my dress and as I held the sailor collar aloft so she could access them, Mum asked me how it felt wearing my first dress. “No so bad once I had my tights on.” I replied. “Those lacy socks were horrible.” I added.
“I must admit it does look nicer with tights.” Mum told me. “Which nightie do you want to wear?”
“Not the pink one.” I muttered.
“I had a feeling you'd say that.” Mum replied, removing the lilac one from the drawer, along with a pair of white night knickers with their quilted front and frilly bum, some white ankle socks and the ballerina style slippers she'd picked up in Primark. She left me alone to change and after washing may hands and face and brushing my teeth, I sheepishly returned downstairs wearing my girlie nightwear. Peter wore pyjamas but they were pink plaid with plenty of frills around the yoke and cuffs.
It transpired that Peter's usual bedtime is 9pm but since it's the holidays we're allowed to stay up until 10pm and filled the time watching Home Alone which as always, provided lots of laughs.
I woke on the morning of Christmas Eve wondering where I was, but soon realised I was at Aunt June's house. Mum's bed was empty and I could hear distant voices from downstairs. My calf length nightdress had bundled itself up around my hips and after straightening it out I enjoyed a few extra minutes under the warm and cosy duvet. I suppose the strangest thing about waking up wearing a nightie is just how normal it feels... in this household at least. I eventually went downstairs where Mum and her sister were pottering in the kitchen. My cousins were still in bed which is when I realised I'd got up far earlier than I'd expected; soon after 7.30am. “You did look lovely in your dress yesterday Stephen.” my aunt told me. Sheepishly I thanked her before asking Mum what I’d be wearing today.
“I thought those dungaree shorts would be nice.” Mum replied.
“OK.” I replied, thinking it could be worse. “Is Peter allowed to wear shorts Auntie June?”
“Course he is.” she told me, adding that he only tends to wear them in the summer.
“I don't think I've ever worn shorts in the winter.” I noted.
“You'll have tights on too.” Mum said.
“I know.” I replied as Auntie June handed me a glass of orange juice. “Thanks.” I smiled. She offered to make me a slice of toast, adding that she'd make a proper breakfast once Peter and Jasmine are up. I was happy to wait a while and sat at the breakfast bar in my lilac nightdress, briefly thumbing the lace trim around its long cuffed sleeves. After a while auntie June went to wake her children and Mum asked me if it was nice sleeping in a nightie. “I don't know I was asleep.” I sarcastically replied. “It was OK I guess.” I added.
“See I told you it wouldn't be as bad as you imagined.” Mum replied. “Have you brushed your teeth?” she asked. I had. “Good boy.” she smiled. “Do you want to get dressed before or after breakfast?”
“I don't suppose it matters.” I replied, since I'd be dressed like a girl either way.
A while passed before Peter and Jasmine came downstairs; Peter in his pink plaid pyjamas and Jasmine in a pair of pale blue pyjamas with pink swans printed all over them. It felt a bit weird being the only one wearing a nightie but all three of us wore girls nightwear so I didn't have much cause for complaint. Auntie June shoved us all into the lounge to watch TV whilst she and Mum prepared a full English breakfast. I asked Peter what it was like wearing dresses all the time, to which he replied that he doesn't wear dresses all the time. “...just when I’m not a school.” he told me. “And it's not just dresses. I have skirts and pants and shorts too.” he added. I admitted to him that I was mortified when my mother told me I’d have to wear girls clothes whilst we were here, before claiming that it's not so bad. “You soon get used to it.” he told me. “They're just clothes at the end of the day.”
“Yeah I guess.” I concurred. “Not sure what my mates would say if they knew I was spending Christmas week dressed as a girl.”
“It's not worth worrying about what other people think.” Peter said, before advising me not to tell them.
“I won't!” I replied.
After a hearty fried breakfast we all went to get dressed. I wasn't sure when Mum had popped up to our room but when I got there, my clothing for the day was laid out neatly on my bed; knickers, bra, vest, tights, long sleeved T-shirt and the dungaree shorts. They're a stonewashed black denim, so very dark grey rather than black, with a ditsy floral lining that is revealed on the turn ups of the shorts, and this black floral fabric also trims the top edge of all the pockets. The long sleeve T-shirt has narrow horizontal stripes on an off-white background in all sorts of pastel shades; blue, green, lilac, pink and whilst not overtly girlie, it's not altogether boyish either. Once dressed I look at myself in the mirror and gulped at my reflection. The shorts are a little too short for comfort and there's no hint of skin beneath my thick black tights unless I'm sat with my knees bent, but compared to yesterday's prissy frock, today I’m definitely a tom-boy. I wasn't sure which shoes to wear. My pageboy shoes wouldn't look right and my ankle boots aren't really house shoes so I put my slippers on before heading downstairs.
Peter wore an A-line denim skirt, pale grey tights with tiny pink spots on and a baby pink jumper. His sister had skinny jeans and a sloppy sweatshirt top on. Jasmine said she loved my dungaree-shorts and I said that they're my sister's. Mum called us 'the denim gang' and her sister suggested they put some denim on too so they could join. “No way!” Jasmine quipped. “You two are way to old to be in our gang.”
“Cheeky!” Auntie June retorted, grinning. “Now I've got jobs for you three today. Jasmine, you can clear up the kitchen... and boys, you two can rake the drive.” she told us.
Dressed like this? I thought, gulping. I put my ankle boots on and donned my pale blue furry fleece jacket. Peter wore a quilted dress coat that didn't quite cover his skirt with a pair of light tan Chelsea boots. We entered the chilly garage via the back patio and Peter opened the up-&-over door to reveal the vast gravel drive out front. “Have you raked this before?” I asked him.
“Every month.” he replied. “Shouldn't take long with two of us.”
“What if someone walks past?” I said. Peter looked at me and shrugged before handing me a rake. He asked if I knew what I was doing. “Not really.” I glumly replied.
“We just want to level the gravel, so start at the tyre ruts and don't dig... just let the weight of the rake do the work.” he explained. “We'll start at the gates.” he said. “Where the ruts are deepest.” he added.
The extensive gravel drive of their sizeable detached home has an entrance and an exit, but otherwise the front of the property is bounded by leylandii trees some six or seven feet tall, so relatively concealed apart from the entrance and exit. We stepped out onto the gravel. Peter headed to one side and I to the other. The chilly air nibbled through my tights but not so much to cause concern and once we started raking, I soon warmed up and even unzipped my jacket after ten minutes. I couldn't help but think how strange it was... two boys dressed as girls raking a huge driveway. At least I’m not wearing a skirt, I thought. But tiny shorts, thick black tights and a baby blue cropped jacket is just as girlie, I figured. After half an hour, Mum and Auntie June came out and said we were doing an excellent job. My aunt said she liked my boots and bashfully I thanked her. “Where are you going?” I asked my mother.
“Just down to the Co-op.” she replied. “Won't be long.” she said. “Are you warm enough?”
“Yeah.” I said. “Too warm if anything.”
“Well you can take your jacket off.” Mum told me. “Just don't put it where it'll get dirty.”
“I'll be OK I think.” I said. “Prob'ly too cold without it.”
“Well put it back on if you get too cold.” she advised. “Those tights do look nice with those shorts.” she said, smiling at my legs.
“Oh Mum it's embarrassing when you keep saying I look nice.” I bashfully blushed.
“Well get used to it... because you'll be hearing it all week.” she smiled before telling me they won't be long.
“Does your Mum do that?” I asked Peter once they'd gone. “Keep telling you how nice you look.”
“Yeah.” he replied. “I think they do it just to make sure we don't forget that we're dressed as girls.”
“How could we forget?” I grumbled. Peter shrugged. I guess he's totally used it after all this time.
Mum and auntie June were back within fifteen minutes, carrying a bag of shopping each. After twenty more minutes we'd finished and returned inside via the garage and back door. Auntie June handed us each a hot mug of milky coffee. “You've earned that boys.” she told us. “Do you want to light the fire Peter?” she asked.
“OK Mummy.” he obediently replied.
“Maybe you can help, Stephen.” she said to me.
I went with Peter into the sitting room where he began to clean out the ashes. “I wish we had a real fire at home.” I said as I watched.
“Well at least with central heating you can just turn it on and off.” he replied. You don't have to clean the hearth every morning and keep putting logs on all day.”
“Yeah but... I'd rather look at a real fire than a radiator.” I said.
“True.” Peter said as he swept the ashes into a dustpan.
He showed me how to make a poor man's fire lighter out of folded newspaper and between us we made about twelve, placing them on the grate. On top the these he put a a handful of kindling and let me light it. Once the kindling had taken hold, he placed a single chunky log on top and we sat in silence, watching the flames lick around it and eventually take hold. “It's almost mesmerising.” I said, unable to take my eyes off the flames.
“Yeah.” Peter replied as he put the two remaining logs from the basket on the edge of the hearth. “I'll fetch some more logs.” he said.
“Can I come?”
“Sure.” he said.
There's a wood store in the garden behind the garage; a ramshackle structure under which a broad stack of chopped logs are stowed. I wondered why they weren't kept in the garage where it's dry but Peter said they're best kept outside, otherwise they'd have an insect infestation in the garage. There's also a chunk of tree trunk on which the kindling is chopped and a rusty old hatchet. “Wouldn't that be better if it was sharp?” I quizzed, noticing that it's clearly not. Peter said it doesn't take much to split a good dry log into kindling, demonstrating on one of the logs before letting me have a try. Peter's efforts were more productive than mine and he said it's more technique than force, before showing me again and explaining that the hatchet is just a wedge to split the wood rather than something that cuts it. He let me have another try and it worked much better. I even built up a good bit of body heat. “Is that enough?” I asked after we'd slit three logs into a good pile of kindling.
“Yeah plenty.” he said.
“We've been chopping wood.” I proudly told my Mum when we returned indoors.
Mum grinned and asked if I was enjoying myself. I smiled and nodded. “Are you warm enough?” she asked. “Yeah.” I said, placing my fingers on my thigh. “These tights are quite warm considering I'm only wearing shorts with them.” I added.
“Good.” Mum smiled.
After a hearty lunch of home made soup and crumpets, we spent the afternoon playing board games and then played video games whilst Mum and Auntie June made the evening meal. “Stephen do you want to help Jasmine lay the table?” my aunt asked. I could hardly say no. After we'd eaten, Peter and I washed the dishes and tidied the kitchen before we all settle down in the sitting room to watch a Christmas classic movie... It's a Wonderful Life. Compared to Home Alone it's mind numbingly boring but festive none the less.
Afterwards Peter and I were sent to get ready for bed. Mum had laid the white nightie on my bed but with a pair of pink night knickers. I'd have thought she'd have saved those for my pink nightdress but no one's going to know so I wore what she'd left for me. Peter wore a nightie too tonight; pale blue with a frilly white yoke and a pattern of white clouds and pale pink crescent moons. We watched another old black and white movie; A Christmas Carol which, for all its pompous theatrics and laughable paupers with upper class accents, was really quite haunting in places. We go to bed soon after, full of excitement for what the morning might bring.
Mum is asleep in the bed beside me when I wake on Christmas morning. I lay in silence until she begins to stir, nervously anticipating the known fact that I’ll be gifted a dress and other girlie items this year, for which I'm expected to feign gratitude for. Eventually, and in a very quiet whisper, Mum asks if I’m awake. “Hmmm.” I murmur. “Yes.” I say. “What time is it?”
“Just gone seven.” Mum replied. “You been awake long?” she asked
“Half an hour.” I figured. Mum suggested we leave it another half hour before rising, and asked how I was getting on so far.
“OK.” I half-heartedly replied. “It's still weird only having girls clothes but... those lacy knee socks were the worst.”
“I thought those looked cute.” Mum said. “But you were clearly happier once you'd put some tights on.” she noted. “And you seemed to like your dungarees yesterday.” she added.
“Will I be wearing another dress today?” I asked. Mum nodded. “The one I'm getting for Christmas?” I figured. Mum nodded and told me that it's supposed to be a surprise. “Well I haven't seen it yet so it will be.” I replied. After a moment of silence in which Mum just looked at me with her warm loving eyes, I hesitantly asked what we were going to do with all my new clothes when we go back home.
“Well... I suppose we could send them to charity... apart from your undies.” Mum replied. “And your tights of course... but you could wear those under a pair of jeans when it's cold.” she supposed.
“Maybe.” I said. “They are quite cosy.” I confessed.
“Yeah I like wearing warm winter tights too.” she smiled. “I'm glad you don't hate it as much as you thought you would.”
“Well...” I thoughtfully replied. “...I'm not sure I like it as much as you hoped I would... but as Peter says, they're just clothes.” I said. “But I wouldn't like to wear them at home.”
“I wouldn't expect you to.” she replied. “But if I keep finding underpants strewn all over your bedroom floor instead of in your laundry bin... you might find nothing but knickers in your drawer.”
Mum's always going on at me for that, saying things like will you never learn? as she tidies up after me, so guess such a threat will help me finally learn to put my laundry where it belongs. “OK.” I said.
We soon heard the sounds of life from the landing and got ourselves out of bed. I put my feet into my little ballerina slippers as Mum pulled on her dressing gown and together we headed downstairs where Peter was lighting the fire. Beneath the tree were loads of presents that weren't there last night, but most I knew weren't for me. Auntie June was in the kitchen putting the kettle on and Jasmine soon appeared. We all wished each other a happy Christmas and Auntie June said we'd open some presents once the fire is roaring and the sitting room has warmed up. Proper fresh coffee was made and some crackers were handed out, so the day began with weak bangs, paper hats, cheesy jokes and tiresome trivia, but it was all good fun. Mum told Peter that she liked his nightie and Peter said he got it for his birthday. It must be awful getting nothing but girl stuff for birthdays and Christmas, I thought, before acknowledging that I too would be getting my share of girlie gifts this year.
Before long we settled in the lounge. The fire was roaring and Auntie June put a Christmas CD on before handing each of us a bright red felt stocking that hung from the edge of the mantle. “Now these are from Santa.” she said, to which Jasmine replied he doesn't exist. “Killjoy.” her mother grinned.
Inside we found a satsuma or clementine (I can't tell the difference), a bar of chocolate, some nuts, a miniature boxed jigsaw puzzle and a miniature snow globe with a snowman in mine, Santa Clause inside jasmine's and a cute looking deer inside Peter's. All three lit up and were lined up on the mantle piece and Mum hand me my next gift. From the size and shape of the box I knew it was either a DVD or video game. “Oh thanks Mum.” I said, revealing The Polar Express DVD. I hadn't seen it but Jasmine had and said it was good. They also opened some small gifts; a Lily Allen CD for Jasmine and a Now That's What I Call Music CD for Peter. I got some ski-gloves which looked cool, not that I’m ever likely to go skiing and big colourful book about the solar system and beyond, which is when Auntie June got her camera out. “Oh no, please Auntie!” I said. “Not when I’m dressed like this!”
“Don't worry... no ones going to see them who doesn't have to.” she said. “...and we can't have a Christmas without photos.”
I just had to trust that the pictures would be kept within a small circle, which I’m sure they would be, but given the choice I wouldn't even want my dad or sister seeing them, let alone my grandparents.
Peter's next gift was a pair of white over knee socks with a pattern of candy canes and colourful gift boxes decorating them. Mum said they were very festive, before handing me another gift. “In a similar vein.” she said, smiling knowingly.
“Thanks Mum.” I said, having unwrapped a pair of white woolly tights decorated with glittery snowflake shapes.
Jasmine also unwrapped some tights; rusty brown and ribbed. Peter's next gift was a dress; red velvet with a white embroidered collar and long sleeves. “And this one's for you Stephen.” Mum said, handing me a similar sized package.
“Oh I knew you'd buy me a dress.” I said, unwrapping a green dress, also in velvet but with no sleeves and no collar. “Thanks.” I said, forcing a smile. Mum handed me another gift, saying it was to wear with it. I tore off the paper. “A shirt.” I said, finding a neatly folded white shirt.
“Well it's more of a blouse.” Mum said as I unfolded it to discover a broad round collar with white lace trim. “The buttons are on the back.” she informed me as I turned it back and forth, looking somewhat perplexed. “Thanks.” I said, smiling but not beamingly so.
We all opened a few more gifts before breakfast, but saved plenty to open afterwards. Mum always insists on having smoked salmon, croissants and scrambled eggs for breakfast on Christmas morning, and her sister made the same for us. Afterwards we went to get dressed and as I'd figured, I had to wear my new green velvet dress over my new blouse with my sparkly snowflake tights. “It's weird having clothes that fasten up the back.” I said as my mother buttoned up my blouse for me. Mum said they look nicer from the front when the buttons are on the back. “Yeah but... I can't dress myself unless they fasten on the front.” I replied.
“Your training bras all fasten at the back and you don't have a problem putting those on.” Mum said.
“Hmm.” I murmured. “But they don't have loads of buttons.”
“True.” Mum replied. “There.” she said having fastened the final button. “It's a nice fit.” she said, turning me to face her and thumbing my lace edged collar.
The dress has a zip on the back but unlike the dress I wore on Sunday which pulled on over my head, this one needed to be stepped into. The hem landed mid thigh so it's a short dress in my book. She arranged my collar before zipping me in and turning me around to face her. “Very Christmassy.” she smiled. “Do you want to put your pageboy shoes on?”
“OK.” I glumly said.
“Don't sound too keen.” she grinned.
“Well I am dressed like a girl Mum.”
“And so is Peter.” she reminded me. “And who knows...? ...one day it might be as normal for boys to wear frocks as it is for girls to wear pants.”
“I suppose that makes me a pioneer.” I dryly said as I buckled my shoes.
“I suppose it does.” Mum smiled. “Now there's one last thing which you won't like much... but it's part of your dress so...” she said, revealing a folded white item.
“What's that?” I asked.
“A sash.” she said.
This three inch wide length of white satin went around my waist and tied in a big bow on the back. “Oh Mu-um... it wasn't so bad until you put that on me.” I said, looking at my reflection in the dressing table mirror, turning so I could see the big ornate bow she'd tied. “It'll get all scrunched when I'm sitting down.” I said.
Mum thought for a brief moment. “Yes I suppose it will.” she said before taking it off and folding it up.
“Thanks.” I frowned.
“I love those tights.” she smiled, looking at my legs. “You look very festive.” she added as I looked down. Unlike the white nylon tights I wore with my prissy sailor dress, these are knitted and therefore even thicker. Each silver snowflake that decorates them is the size of a two pound coin and they're spaced about three inches apart forming a diamond pattern of sorts. I'd have preferred to wear my ankle boots but I guess those wouldn't go with this outfit as well as my pageboy shoes do. Mum must've read my mind as she asked if my shoes still felt wobbly compared to my ankle boots. “No they're OK.” I said. “I'm kind of used to them now after wearing them all day on Sunday.”
“Good.” Mum smiled. “Come on... let's show the others
Predictably, my aunt and Jasmine said I looked 'lovely' in my new dress. Peter got his fair share of compliments too. He wore his new red velvet dress along with his festive over knee socks and shoes similar to mine, albeit without a T-strap, and Jasmine wore a blue shiny satin circle skirt with a pale pink flouncy blouse and skin coloured tights with blue ballet shoes. It's the girliest I’ve seen her dressed since we arrived. “Now I know you don't want any photos Stephen but can I please take one of all three of you by the tree?” Auntie June asked.
“OK.” I gulped. “But please don't put it on MySpace where everyone can see it.”
“I promise.” she said. “So long as you promise to smile.” she added.
What I'd hoped might have been one photo of us stood by the tree turned out to be about seven photographs; me and my cousins standing and smiling at the camera, another of us sitting and looking up at the tree, one of just me and Peter, another of me and Mum, then a couple of me on my own both sat and stood, and finally all five of us around the Christmas tree using the camera's timer function. This needed to be taken twice because Jasmine got distracted just as the flash burst. “Perfect.” Auntie June said as she looked at the pictures on the camera's small screen.
“Oh Stephen you look so sweet.” Mum said as she looked over my aunt's shoulder. “You all do.” she added. “I can't wait to see them on a proper screen.”
“I'll put them on a flashdrive for you.” Auntie June suggested.
“I haven't got one.” Mum replied.
“Oh, pity.” Auntie June suspiciously replied. “Shall we open some more presents?”
I presented Peter and Jasmine with a gift each from me; a 2008 calendar each. Peter's featured Hubble photographs of the solar system, which he was very pleased with, and Jasmine's featured British wildlife photos. Mum gave them a hat, scarf and gloves set each which were both quite girlie, and they gave me a joint present from both of them. “Oh cool!” I exclaimed, unwrapping the Harry Potter DVD box set featuring all five films plus loads of extras. “Thanks!”
Mum was gifted (amongst other things) a USB flashdrive from her sister, and from me she was given a scented candle and box of Thornton's chocolates, on which I'd written they're not for sharing! xx. I unwrapped a pair of boy's jeans and a boy's fleece top, followed by a pair of burgundy woolly tights and a girl's cream jumper which felt so soft. It might have passed as a boy's jumper had it not had ruffled cuffs and a broad 'boat' neck. Mum said it would be nice with my corduroy jeans before giving me another gift to unwrap; a Hogwarts bedside radio alarm clock.
Peter unwrapped several pairs of tights and girlie socks, plus a new nightie, some girl's tops and a pleated woollen skirt, which he appeared grateful for but I could tell he'd have preferred something a little more boyish. Jasmine unwrapped some make-up and a handbag, plus plenty of clothes which she was genuinely grateful for... but unlike her brother she got jeans and several other 'boyish' items to wear.
“This is from me Stephen.” Auntie June said, handing me a gift.
“Oh thank you.” I said before unwrapping it.
“They look nice.” Mum said as I unwrapped a woolly hat, scarf woolly gloves set in purple and pale blue. Clearly it's a girl's set but I feigned gratitude nonetheless.
These were followed by another gift off Auntie June; a pair of Scandinavian woolly slipper boots in pale grey with a Nordic pattern in pale pink. “Thank you Auntie June.” I smiled, thinking they'd be a bit more boyish if they pattern was pale blue instead.
Then Mum gave me a familiar looking parcel which I knew was the pack of girls pyjamas she'd bought me and wrapped in my presence. “Oh those look nice.” my aunt said as I unfolded one of the three pairs; pale blue pyjama pants with white lace trim at the bottom of the long legs, and a white satin bow in the waistband, plus a matching pyjama top with a lacy collar and cuffs. I said thank you to my mother but wasn't really looking forward to wearing them, especially the pink pair.
The rest of my gifts were all normal boy's gifts; a big colourful book about Earth's geological history, a couple of music CDs, a stationery set, socks, some ski-gloves and a new backpack for school.
Mum and Auntie June began putting the roast dinner through its final stages leaving the three of us alone for a while. Jasmine asked me if I liked my dress after noticing me running my fingers over the soft velvet fabric. “Not really.” I said. “It feels nice but... I don't really like dresses.” I added, glancing at Peter and feeling more than a little awkward.
“Well you've only worn two.” she told me, before asking which I liked best.
“Neither.... but if I had to choose, this one.” I gulped. Jasmine smiled before saying she liked my sailor dress the best, adding that Peter also has a sailor dress. “His is better than mine.” I replied, having seen him wearing it when they visited a few months ago. Peter's sailor dress is dark blue with white trim and no prissy details, and as I recall was knee length instead of short like mine.
Thankfully the uncomfortable conversation came to an abrupt end when we were called through to the dining room where Christmas dinner was being served. After eating far too much and saving barely any room for Christmas pudding, several more gifts were brought into the sitting room. One very large gift was given to Jasmine which she rested horizontally on her lap, and another large wedge shaped gift was given to Peter and they opened them together. Both were delighted with their 'main' gifts. Jasmine received an electronic keyboard and Peter an acoustic guitar. “I didn't know you played guitar!” I said as he strummed a few chords before finger picking a tune.
“I've been having lessons since...” he replied, tailing off immediately after 'since'. I later learned that he'd been having lessons since he'd been petticoated, so eighteen months or so. Jasmine's keyboard skills were very basic but she's always wanted to learn.
Then Mum dug out another gift for me; a big box but certainly not guitar or keyboard sized. I gasped as I tore off the paper. “Oh wow!” I exclaimed, opening a PS3. Overwhelmed is an understatement as a new games console was the last thing I expected, and when I was given another big gift which turned out to be the Rockband game complete with the guitar controller, all of a sudden it felt like the best Christmas ever! I leapt up and gave Mum a huge hug, thanking her profusely. “Can we play it now?” I hoped, directing the question to my aunt.
“Of course you can.” Auntie June smiled, before revealing that Jasmine and Peter have the Guitar Hero game for their PS2 and also have two further guitar controllers which meant all three of us could play Rockband together.
All of a sudden my clothing was the very last thing on my mind as Peter set up my PS3 on their large TV. Mum told me that Dad had got the game on a trip to America, adding that it's not actually available in the UK yet which means I’m one of the few people to have it in this country. I felt doubly blessed and we spent several hours playing with various degrees of success. I didn't even care that I was wearing a dress.
Mum said I should telephone Dad before he sets off for work, which I did. I was so enthused with the Rockband game and so thankful and then, part way through our chat, I found my reflection in the darkened kitchen window and realised that I'm talking to my Dad whilst dressed entirely as a girl; knickers, training bra, tights, shoes with heels, the lot!.... “Are you still there Stephen?” Dad asked as I fell silent.
“Err... yeah.” I replied as glared at myself, wondering if he knew what I'd be wearing at this moment. “Mum bought me a dress as well.” I told him.
“Yeah I know.” Dad replied. “How is it?”
“Better than the one I wore on Sunday.” I said. He asked after Peter and Jasmine and I told him that Peter plays the guitar really well and after a little more chat he asked to speak Mum. We said our goodbyes and I took the phone to the sitting room where Mum was trying to play Rockband. “Dad wants you.” I said, swapping the phone for the guitar controller. My clothing soon slipped from my mind as I got myself absorbed in the game.
We stopped to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special which didn't disappoint any of us. Even Mum liked it and she doesn't usually enjoy science-fiction, but she's been a fan of Kylie since she was teenager so that might have had something to do with it. “Do you boys want to go and put your pyjamas on?” Auntie June said once Doctor Who had finished.
Mum followed me up to our room. “So has it all been worth it?” she asked as she unzipped my dress.
“Yes! I can't thank you enough.” I said. “I can't wait to tell Jonny. He's gonna be well impressed.”
“It's just a pity Dad wasn't here to see the look on your face.” Mum said as I stepped out of the dress.
“Yeah.” I replied. “But I'm glad he doesn't have to see this.” I gulped as she put my dress on a hanger whilst I stood wearing only my tights and blouse.
“Oh he wouldn't mind. He had quite a few dresses too when he was your age.” she reminded me as she began to unbutton my blouse. “It's not been so bad though, has it?” she asked.
“It's OK here I guess... but only because Peter wears dresses too.” I said. “But I wouldn't want to wear them at home.” I added.
“So you keep saying.” she smiled. “Which pyjamas are you going to wear?”
“Not the pink ones.” I replied. “Do I still have to wear my night knickers with pyjamas?”
“Of course you do.” she told me, smiling.
“You don't have to watch me Mum.” I moaned as I unfastened my training bra.
“Sorry. You just seem so... familiar with it.” she told me.
“I don't know what you mean?” I replied. Mum said I unfastened the clasp first time with barely a thought, as if I'd been wearing one for months rather than only since Saturday. “It's not exactly rocket science.” I said. Mum told me that my sister used to fasten hers at the front then twist it round when she began wearing a training bra. “But she'd have been younger than me.” I supposed.
“True... she was only eleven.” Mum smiled.
I wore the pale blue pyjamas and the woolly slipper boots Auntie June had gifted me. They're cosy and comfy but I wished they didn't have any pink on them. “You'd only be wearing them around the house.” Mum said. “And pink isn't exclusively for girls.” she reminded me.
“I know... it's just not a colour I particularly like.” I replied.
We went downstairs where Peter wore his new nightie which has a cute teddy bear on the front and the words 'only 365 sleeps until Christmas'. “So the countdown to next Christmas has begun already.” Mum chuckled after complimenting his nightwear.
We played a few rounds of Uno and Jasmine was the hands-down winner, before settling down to watch Gremlins, which Mum claimed would give her nightmares. Jasmine, Peter and I were soon packed off to bed and I lay awake for seemingly ages, feeling very lucky that I’d got a new PS3. I anticipated telling my best friend Jonny and couldn't wait to show it to him and play Rockband. I wondered if Mum and Dad had gone all out to buy it to make up for me having to dress like a girl for the week, or if I'd have got it anyway? Either way it must have been a very expensive Christmas, especially considering how much was spent on my clothes as well.
I must've been sound asleep by the time Mum turned in, because she lay in the bed opposite mine when I woke the next morning and I didn't recall her coming in. I spent a moment hoping that I'd not had some very vivid dream and that my PS3 was real. Then I spent a moment wondering what I'd be wearing today; knowing that I have a pair of pants, a skirt and a pinafore dress that I haven't yet worn, and since I wore a dress on Sunday, shorts on Monday, a dress yesterday, I figured I might be wearing the corduroy jeans today and either the skirt or pinafore tomorrow. Hopefully the boy's jeans and fleece top I got for Christmas are to wear when we travel back home on Friday... but even then I'd still have to wear knickers because that's the only underwear I have. I forced myself to stop thinking about clothes and dwelt on my new games console instead. I still can't quite believe that I've got one!
Dawn began to break and in the half light I could see my green velvet dress hanging from the wardrobe door, alongside my button back blouse with its broad lace trimmed collar. I recalled posing for photos by the Christmas tree and cringed, knowing that I’m smiling in all of them. Knowing that my father and sister would see those photographs, I envisaged my sister saying how nice or cute or sweet I look, and Dad saying something like 'you look fine son', before reminding me that he too had to wear the occasional Sunday dress when he was my age. But maybe he was just saying that to make me feel better. Who knows?
I pulled my arms out from under the duvet and stretched them, before resting them and thumbing my lace trimmed cuff. Its a peculiar fabric; delicate and intricate and having seen pictures of boys from the Victorian and Regency era, I knew that once upon a time it wasn't uncommon for boys to wear shirts adorned with plenty of lace. Little Lord Fauntleroy popped into my head and it dawned on me that Mum could have said my blouse was a 'Fauntleroy shirt', much like my black T-strap shoes are called pageboy shoes when a boy wears them, and Mary Jane's when they're for girls. I turned my head. “You're awake!” I said seeing my mother laid on her side, eyes wide open and smiling at me.
“Yes.” she said. “And you look deep in thought.” she told me.
“Just thinking about stuff.” I said.
“What kind of stuff?” she asked.
“Nothing much.” I told her. “I still can't believe I’ve got a PS3.”
“Did you think it was all a dream?” she asked, smiling
“Not really.” I said. “I wish getting a dress for Christmas was a dream.” I added.
“You received it admirably.” she replied. “I'm very proud of you.”
“Lord knows what my friends would say if they knew I wore a dress on Christmas Day.” I glumly mused. “Will I have to keep it?”
“Well it's served its purpose.” Mum replied. “Well get rid of it eventually.” she said. “Unless...?”
“No.” I said, quickly and bluntly. Mum smiled and suggested we get up. “OK.”
I peeled open the duvet and swung my feet onto the floor, slipping them directly into my ballerina slippers. “Aren't you going to wear the slippers Auntie June gave you?” Mum said.
“They're too warm.” I replied.
“Or too pink?” Mum quizzed.
“No it's not that... and they've only got a bit of pink on them.” I replied. Mum didn't seem convinced. “If anything these are way more girlie... but they're just warm enough for Auntie June's underfloor heating.”
“Fair enough... just make sure you wear Auntie June's slippers tonight.” Mum replied.
“Hmm... I suppose I should wear hers.” I replied, before swapping my slippers.
Auntie June instantly noticed I was wearing her slippers and asked if I liked them. I nodded and said they're really warm. “Probably too warm with the underfloor heating in here.” she replied. “Sometimes I wonder if it's too efficient.” she said.
I helped Peter light the fire whilst our parents made scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. Over breakfast he asked if we were going for a walk today and his mother said we were; just a pleasant stroll around the windmills. “They're turbines Mum.” Jasmine pedantically informed her.
“Yes I know... but wind turbines is a bit of a mouthful, so I call them windmills.”
“Well they're not.” Jasmine cockily said.
“Can I wear my pants today Mum?” I asked.
“Yes, but you'll have to wear your skirt or pinafore tomorrow.” Mum told me.
“Yeah I know.” I replied. “I've sussed out the pattern... girlie one day, tom-boy the next.”
“Well if you wear your skirt tomorrow you'll only have your pinafore dress left for Friday.” Mum said.
“Can't I wear the jeans I got for Christmas on Friday?” I asked.
“Maybe when we get home.” she said. I frowned. “Your dad won't be there if that's what you're worried about.” she added, which relieved me somewhat. “...but Anna probably will be and I know she'd like to see you.” she said.
“Wearing a dress.” I glumly presumed.
“Well she'd just like to see you no matter what you're wearing... but I think that would be nice since she pretty much chose your wardrobe for this week.” Mum replied.
“Did she?” my aunt quizzed.
“Well I wanted to choose it but when she saw what I thought would be nice, Anna was like... No! No! No!” Mum replied.
“So what did you choose?” Auntie June enquired.
“Lots of floral prints and plenty of frills.” Mum said. “But Anna said you really wouldn't like any of those.” she added to me.
Maybe I got off lightly, I figured. After breakfast I went to get dressed and as usual, Mum had already laid my clothes out for me; plain white knickers with the narrow pink trim and a matching vest, both with my name ornately embroidered in blue thread, and a matching training bra. I recalled how Mum said I was used to wearing one already, but I didn't think that was the case, despite fastening it with little effort. I adjusted the shoulder straps as I'd been shown at my fitting before pulling on my vest. Mum entered just as I was fastening my corduroy jeans and commented on them being a good fit. “You always say that.” I replied, supposing that if anything they're a bit too tight, especially around the top.
“They've got some elastine in them.” she said. “And girls jeans are supposed to be snug around the hip.” she added. I pulled on my new cream jumper which Mum also said was a nice fit, adding that I looked quite trendy. I suppose I do, I figured as I looked down at myself. I also look quite girlie too, but that is the point, I guess.
My aunt and Jasmine both liked my outfit, and Mum said she liked Peter's too. He wears a rusty brown dungaree dress over a burgundy jumper and thick chocolate brown tights and his Chelsea boots. Jasmine wears skinny jeans, brown knee high boots and a fleece top. “How far are the windmills?” I asked.
“Oh only a mile or so.” my aunt replied. “As the crow flies.” she added.
What she didn't say was that the lanes that lead to and from them meander quite a lot meaning that the walk is the best part of seven miles and we'd be out for around two hours. The walk leads us first through the hamlet, passing most of the forty or so houses there. Then a turn onto another residential lane reveals a view the wind turbines for the first time. They stand huge and proud on an otherwise flat landscape, with their massive wing like blades slowly turning, each slightly out of sync with every other turbine. I couldn't count them all and soon the meandering lane led us directly away from them. The pavement stopped at the edge of the hamlet and from there we walked in the road. Auntie said there weren't many cars that come this way and I suppose due to it being Boxing Day, today there weren't any. “How you getting on in those boots?” Mum asked after half a mile or so. “Still getting used to them or...?”
“Yeah they're OK.” I said, looking down at my feet. My dusty pink cords cover much of the tops of my ankle boots, and Mum was right about the pink laces, they do match my pants. It was nice to be out of the house for once, and nice to be wearing long pants too, but maybe I should have worn some tights beneath them as Mum suggested. My soft woolly jumper and warm furry fleece jacket are nice and cosy though. Plus I've got a vest on under that and [gulp] a training bra. I'm constantly aware of its grip around my chest but it's only when I reach or point or raise an arm that the narrow elasticated straps stretch into my shoulders... otherwise I'm oblivious to them. Only the snug band around my chest is always apparent to me. I can go minutes not considering the fact that I'm wearing heels but not a second passes that I’m not aware of my training bra.
One lane led to another, each taking us past the occasional house or farm. Some were lined with trees, others flanked by ditches and flimsy wire fences. The turbines came into view again, standing like giants on the pan flat horizon. There's not a hill to be seen in any direction and the sky looks massive here. It's a featureless overcast sky yet bright. I imagine it in summer, bright blue and completely cloudless, the silent forest of turbines standing huge, bright and white. I don't know why but I briefly imagined wearing my blue sailor dress on a breezy summer day, before putting my meandering thoughts in check. Eventually we were as close to the turbines as we were ever going to get, which was very close to a few of them. I felt humbled in their presence, wondering how much power surged over the pylons that marched in to the distance.
Jasmine asked me how long I'd 'really' been wearing heels for and initially didn't believe that I got my first ever pair on Saturday. She claimed it took her brother months to learn to walk normally, although Peter maintained it was weeks rather than months. I felt the warm glow of pride inside me. Not because I seemed to have learned to walk in heels far quicker than my cousin, but because I didn't make too much of a fool of myself doing so.
The route took us alongside a drainage dyke, the type too huge to contemplate falling into. Soon we were flanked by open fields; flat, lifeless and frosty. The breeze is on me now. I wish I’d worn some tights, I thought before wondering if Peter's cold in his dungee-dress and tights, but shy away from asking him. At least my feet are cosy, and my top half too. If my furry fleece jacket wasn't such a girlie colour I'd probably wear it when out in Nottingham, so comfy and snug it feels... but then again it does have a short waist, which only girls wear.
Soon the hamlet came into view and once among the houses, I couldn't help wonder what the neighbours must think and imagined them gossiping behind net curtains... there's that woman who dresses her son in girls clothes … and who's that boy with him? … his petticoated cousin, maybe? … but he's not wearing a dress … he's not dressed like a boy either... Maybe they're just used to seeing Peter coming and going, or maybe it's common practice in the village, I muse as my imagination runs away with me. I conjure a hamlet in which every boy is imprisoned in frocks and frills... too shy to go outside and make friends with the other boys... all working towards a goal of getting their boy clothes back, but only if they get straight A's at the end of the school term. I imagine if I were one of them I'm be stuck in them for quite some time since I’ve never been graded higher than B. “You look deep in thought.” Mum said. “Penny for them?”
“Oh nothing... just thinking about school and stuff.” I told her. She asked me if it's been nice wearing long pants for the first time this week. “Yeah... but they're not very warm.” I said. “I wish I had put some tights on too.”
“Well you'll know the next time.” Mum replied. “Those pants are quite thin, compared the normal jeans.” she added as I supposed that I could wear tights under my jeans when I'm out and it's cold. No one would know and I doubt they'd notice. “And you could always keep hold of your woolly ones to wear under your jeans.” Mum suggested, as if reading my mind
“Maybe. But my other jeans are all thicker than these so...” I coyly replied.
“Still be nice and cosy though.” Mum said, tempting me.
The house was nice and warm when we returned. A single log smouldered brightly behind the fire screen. Peter place a fresh long on top of it, under two pieces of kindling and within seconds it burst into flame. He often appears so at ease in his frocks and tights, and only occasionally appears to become bashful and shy... usually when his clothes are being talked about and complimented. And that is the time when I tend to cringe too. Auntie put the kettle on and Mum helped prepared some hot mocha coffee whilst we three fell silent on the sofa, mesmerised by the flames. “It's a shame you didn’t wear dress today.” Jasmine said, all of sudden. “You're not worn one outside yet have you?”
“Yeah... when we got here.” I replied.
“Walking into the house doesn't count... I mean for a proper walk.” she said. “Like today.”
“It'd be colder.” I said. “A dress.”
“Not with nice thick tights.”
“I should've put some tights on under these.” I said, cupping and rubbing my knee.
After drinking some hot coffee and munching on Maltesers from a box, Mum began pottering in the kitchen, Peter soon wondered off, Jasmine was given an errand and only myself and Auntie June remained. “I've got a big big favour to ask you.” she said. “Will you wear your blue dress for a while this evening please?”
“Why?” I gulped, hoping she wasn't having visitors. So relieved I felt that an 'outsider' wasn't the reason, I said “OK” before it had really sunk in. “A photograph.” I gulped.
“Well your mum's kicking herself for not getting one on Sunday... and I know she promised you'd only have to wear it once...” she said.
“Well, she didn't... I just figured I wouldn't have to wear it again.” I thought.
“...and it's unlikely you'll wear it again.” she added. “Just for an hour... or two.”
“For one photograph?” I quizzed, thinking that an hour is a long time for even ten photographs. But my aunt read my rely another way.
“Deal.” she said. “One photograph.”
The pictures of me stood by the tree will be proof enough so one more won't matter. And despite really not wanting to wear my prissy blue sailor dress ever again, I felt cornered into not saying no. I did however have one condition. “...but please not my frilly knee socks.”
“OK.” my aunt agreed. “In fact, Peter's got some tights with little anchors on... I'll go and...” she said, rising from her seat. “Unless you want to?” she asked, hesitating.
I declined and she left. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to knock on my male cousin's bedroom door and ask to borrow a pair of tights... I could.
“Did I just hear you agree to wear your blue dress again?” Mum asked, popping her head in the sitting room. I gulped and nodded and stipulated one hour, and no lacy socks.
“And just one photo?” she added. I don't suppose it matters, I thought. There's already at least ten photos of me on Christmas day wearing both my nightie and my dress. “Maybe two?” Mum eventually quizzed. I gulped and looked into her expectant eyes.
“Just don't take loads.” I gulped.
“Three, tops.” she claimed.
“These are them.” Auntie June announced on her return. In her hand a pair of tights, thin and pale looking. She drew our attention to the small anchors embroidered on a white on a nude nylon background. I figured if I didn't agree to those, I'd risk wearing my lace knee socks instead. I suggested a pair of my thick white tights, but both were in our laundry bag. “What about those ankle socks?” I said, figuring they would be preferable the thin skin toned tights. “I've only worn those with my slippers.” I added.
“Hmm... yes.” Mum said. “This would be nice.” she added. Why did I even suggest them? I grimaced. “But I'd still like to see you in these tights... you can't deny that they're perfect for that dress.”
I could, but what's the point? “OK.” I conceded. “You'd only talk me round anyway.”
“You've not worn thin tights before have you.” she knowingly said. I gulped and shook my head.
“Will they be cold?”
“Sat in front of the fire?” Mum rhetorically asked. “Do you want to put it on now or later?”
I opted for later, but that seemed like little more than 20 minutes later. The stop start sound of a practising guitar emanated from Peter's room. Silence fell from Jasmine's. Mum told me that I needn't change my knickers and training bra as she casually removed my dress from the wardrobe. Suddenly my mind leapt back to that moment on the walk, when I briefly imagined wearing it then. Maybe something inside me knew I'd wear it again, I thought as mum removed it from the hanger. “You'll have to take your jumper off.” she prompted.
I wished I hadn't suggested the ankle socks in preference to the tights because they made my feet look ever so dainty and girlie... possibly more so than those lacy socks. My pale thin calves, untouched by the sun for several months appear to have some colour in them, next to the bright white pelerine anklets which seemed all the whiter with my black T-bar pageboy shoes. “Auntie June was saying that Peter's got a sailor dress like this.” Mum said as she buttoned me in.
“He wore it at our house.” I reminded her. “In the summer. And it's hardly like this.” I said, looking down at myself. “His was dark blue.” I said, recalling it having a skirt that began at his waist instead of just below the chest, and its length being just above the knee rather than mid thigh
“Yes of course... I remember now... much more traditional.” Mum recollected. “Timeless, in fact.”
“How can a dress be timeless?” I asked.
“Well... imagine you're a time traveller... you could wear a sailor dress in Victorian Britain and not look out of place. It's a style that's just carried on and on... popping back into fashion every now and again but never really going away.”
“It's hardly fashionable Mum.” I said. “Even Anna didn't like it.”
“It's not fashionable these days but like I say... it's that timeless style.” she told me, adding that compared to some dresses, it's quite boyish.
“It's not in the least bit boyish Mum.” I countered. “Peter's maybe... but not this one.”
“Yes... I was thinking of Peter's. Yours is a very pretty take on a timeless style.”
“Prissy more like.” I grumbled. “Can you take the photo in here so I can take it off?”
“And not show Auntie June?”
“She saw it on Sunday.”
“And she'd like to see it again today.”
“But... Peter and Jasmine...”
“You don't have to worry about them.”
“But... they're dressed normally... I'm dressed like I'm going to a party.”
“Oh it's only for a short while.” she told me. “I wanted to take a photograph of you on Sunday but didn't think at the time.” she explained. “And it's not like you're going to wear it again.”
“I guess.” I said. I felt so self conscious in the company of my cousins. Jasmine in her skinny jeans and Peter's casual dungaree dress, both in stark contrast to my pale blue frock; its square sailor collar trimmed with scalloped broderie anglaise, gathered just a little so it doesn't lay perfectly flat.
Auntie June was in the kitchen and since she's the one with the camera and I want to get this over with, I asked where she wanted me to stand, supposing by the Christmas tree again. “How about in the hallway?” she suggested. “We'll pretend you've just arrived.” she said. I posed for one photo by the door, and another stood by the stairs. I recalled that I had my furry fleece jacket on, without considering that I’d end up posing for several more pictures wearing that. My aunt stole one final photo as I hung up my jacket and showed me the resulting image. I couldn't make out much detail on the small digital camera screen, apart from the fact that I appear perfectly comfortable in my prissy blue dress when in reality I feel awkward and aware that my knickers are only a glimpse away. The dress, with its high and wide skirt barely touches me below the ribs, and feels almost like a lampshade around me. My fingertips naturally fall around its hem, brushing through the folds and constantly reminding me that this dress is a little too short for comfort. The dress I got for Christmas is only about two inches longer but even that small amount makes a big difference, I realised as I became accustomed to my prissy blue sailor dress for the second time.
“Can I take it off now?” I asked after mum had seen the handful of photos and approved.
“Why don't you keep it on for a while longer?” my aunt said. “And there's those tights to try, remember.” she added. “Then you can put the Playstation on for a while, if it's OK with your cousins.” she tempted.
When I came down wearing the tights, Jasmine immediately asked if they were Peter's. I gulped and nodded as Mum came through to see how they looked. She didn't say they were nice or lovely like I’d expected, but she did say they were perfect for my dress. They felt very different to the thicker cosy tights I’d worn before. The thin skin coloured tights lay on my skin like a whisper; barely detectable. If it wasn't for the tiny embroidered anchors decorating them, one mightn't see them at all... and whilst they have nothing like the warmth of opaque tights, the cover they do provide is noticeable... just.
Peter boots up the Playstation and hands out the guitar controllers and once immersed in the game, my prissy attire soon slips from my mind... at least during game time. We take turns playing lead, rhythm and bass. Mum and Auntie June have the occasional turn, giving me time to sit and watch them play for a while. Mum got the hang of playing Rockband quite quickly but Auntie June is hopeless at it, but enjoyed trying none-the-less. It is quite amusing seeing the virtual audience react to poor playing; sighing, hanging their heads and wondering off. I glance at my knees and rub my thumb over the wispy nylon; so thin that I can feel my skin through it. These tights feel elegant and maybe even extravagant... there purely for appearance rather than any functional purpose. Like it or not... I find myself becoming captivated by my clothing; considering every detail... the fabric, the feel, the length of a hem and the denier of nylon. “Do you like those tights?!” Jasmine as as she flopped beside me on the sofa.
Immediately I stop rubbing them with my thumb. “Erm...” I gulped. “I prefer wearing woolly ones.”
“Yeah but those go better with your dress.” she said. “You need thin tights with a dress like that.”
“Why?” I asked. “The white ones I wore on Sunday looked OK.”
“Those look nicer though... plus they've got anchors on so they fit with the theme.”
“Yeah I guess.” I glumly said
Mum and Peter were playing a head to head and amazingly, Mum won! Jasmine and Peter had had enough and Auntie June needed to potter in the kitchen, which left Mum and myself to play along to Highway Star, which we both agreed would be the final game of the evening. I didn't notice at the time because I was too focused on the TV screen, but Auntie June had taken a couple of photos of me and my mum, both wielding a guitar controller and both looking like we're having a rocking good time; Mum appears casual and fashionable in her cargo pants and fitted jumper whilst I look overdressed and somewhat priggish in my prissy frock and pageboy shoes. “You can go and get changed now if you like.” Mum said to me.
“OK.” I replied. “But I'll need you to unbutton me.”
“Oh yes... of course.” Mum smiled. Timidly I kept the back of my short frock in check as Mum followed me up the stairs. “You're very prim in that dress.” she said.
“It's hard not to be.” I said. “Look at it! It's too short, too swishy and too pretty.”
“So you finally agree that it's pretty.” she grinned.
“It's always been pretty... it's just I don't do pretty.”
“Oh but you do Stephen... and you do it well.”
“Stop it Mum you're making me blush.” I said as put my back to her.
“Only because you know how nice you look.” she claimed. “And thank you for wearing it again.”
“That's OK.” I gulped. “It didn't feel quite so bad the second time.” I confessed.
I peeled off the tights whilst Mum hung my dress in the wardrobe and pulled on my dusty pink cords and soft cream jumper. “I think you should wear pink tonight.” Mum said. “Nightie or Pyjamas?” she asked.
Choosing between a pair of girl's pyjamas with lots of frilly white trim or a relatively plain yet equally pink nightdress took me a moment or two... and what I don't wear tonight I'll probably have to wear tomorrow night. “Nightie.” I grimly replied. “But only because I want to wear pyjamas on our last night.” I quickly told her.
“Oh... I thought you chose the nightie because it's not pretty like your pyjamas are... and you don't do pretty.” Mum smugly reminded me. I gulped at the nightie, draped casually on my duvet. “It's still nice though.” Mum said, placing a pair of white night knickers with their layered quilted front panel and ruffles covering half of the back.
“Surely you could have got some without all the frills.” I mused.
“I could... but you'd be asleep most of the time and completely unaware of any frills.” Mum replied.
“It wouldn't be so bad if I could put them on just before actually going to bed... instead of about two hours before.” I said. “I can feel them flapping when I walk.” I whined. “And they make my bum feel big.” I added. Mum sniggered. “They do! Especially under pyjamas.”
“I did notice.” Mum chuckled.
“It's not funny Mum.” I whined.
“It's not deadly serious either.” she jovially cooed. “Enjoy it while you can.” she said. “Because it's back to nothing but boring old boy's clothes the day after tomorrow.”
“Boys clothes aren't boring.” I retorted. “I can't wait.” I told her. Mum just smiled at me. At least when I am wearing boys' clothes, I don't find myself thinking about them all the time. Even boyish items like my corduroy jeans and cream jumper manage to occupy my mind often enough. The wool feels so soft and it fits me so close yet freely, not drowning me like many of my other jumpers do. The jeans are different to my other jeans as well, and not just their dusty pink colour. The fabric is thin and stretchy. The pockets are too small to put my hands into. The fit around my waist and hips is close and snug, and the waist is much higher than I'm used to... but so are the waists on my knickers. I gulp and consider their narrow band of pastel lace trimming all the hems and the small satin bow just below my navel, each pair bearing my name; ornately embroidered in vivid blue thread. That's the worst part. At least my night knickers don't have my name adorning them... but they do have all those frills on the back, that curious quilted front and the same high waistband, so they're far from ideal either.
Downstairs fire is roaring. Peter sits on a chair arm strumming his guitar and Auntie June and Jasmine are in the kitchen. Mum offers to help but is declined, so we sit and listen to Peter; gently strumming the same two chords and occasionally adding a third. He soon becomes shy and puts it down. We compliment his efforts before turning our attention to the TV and watch the end of a silly old James Bond film. After the evening meal, we sit around the table playing board games; chatting, laughing but mostly competing, until 8pm when us boys are sent to get ready for bed.
Peter and I climbed the stairs and on reaching the landing, I asked him if he thought it was unfair that us boys have to get ready for bed at 8pm but his sister doesn't. “Maybe.” he shrugged. “But it doesn't really bother me.” he said. “Sometimes if I'm wearing something really prissy I wish it was seven o'clock instead of eight.” he added.
“Your clothes haven't been so bad.” I told him, claiming that my blue dress is loads worse than anything I've seen him wearing. “And that looks OK.” I added, complimenting his rust coloured dungaree dress.
“Thanks.” he said. “Sorry you had to...” he told me, hesitating. “I told them you didn't have to... not on my account anyway.”
“I know it's not your fault.” I said. “...and it's only a week for me.” I added, considering how long Peter will have to wear his girlie clothes for. “...and it's not been so bad I guess.... so far anyway.” I told him, considering the clothes I haven't yet worn. “I've got to wear a pink nightie tonight.” I grumbled.
“She'll like that.” he said. “Hopefully it's not a baby-doll.”
“You don’t want to know.” he smiled before heading off down the landing to his own bedroom.
I soon found myself having a minor panic attack as I descended the stairs wearing my pink nightdress... but since the only other boy here wears nothing but girls clothes, and has done for well over year now, I reasoned that there is nothing at all unusual about my nightdress in this house. I anticipated comments and compliments when I entered the sitting room, but got only got a reassuring smile from my mother, aunt and cousin Jasmine. Approval but no appraisal.
Peter wears a purple tie-dyed nightie with short puffed sleeves and a print of the Disney castle on with three princesses dancing in front of it. My nightie pales into insignificance and I recalled seeing plenty of Disney nightdresses and pyjamas that day in Primark... so I suppose I’m lucky that mine is just a plain baby pink nightie and not a Disney princess one.
We all settle down and watch a movie, in which time I only paid infrequent attention to my attire. The colour offends my senses more than my eye. At least it's not that bright candy pink or a more sugary shade, and in the half light it appears almost white anyway. The fluffy brushed cotton feels nice and cosy and being calf length, it's an ideal garment for curling up on a sofa with my calves and feet snuggled under its folds. My mother woke me after my cousins had gone to bed. “I missed the end of the film.” I said, somewhat drearily.
Mum told me that I'd slept though half of the film and initial attempts to wake me had failed so they left me silently sleeping. “...and you didn't dribble or snore.” she added. Groggily I went up to our room where Mum tucked me in. I felt mollycoddled and infantile, but in a nice way. She asked if I'd had a nice day and I nodded, drearily asking what we'd be doing tomorrow. “Auntie June's taking us shopping.” she replied.
“To a town?” I gulped.
Mum smiled and nodded, bid me goodnight and left me alone. Knowing what's in my wardrobe and knowing which items I haven't worn, it's guaranteed that I'll be wearing my sister's flouncy pink blouse with either the skirt or the pinafore dress, and the woolly burgundy tights I was given for Christmas. Then I recalled the boy's clothes I was given too; a pair of jeans and fleece top. I hoped those might be for a trip to a town and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I'd only be laughed at and ridiculed if I were dressed as a girl in public and I know Mum wouldn't want that, hence giving me two boy's items of clothing.
Come morning though, my theorising had proved wrong as Mum laid my outfit on my duvet; taffy pink flouncy blouse, my fancy peach training bra and matching frilly knickers, the grey knee length pleated skirt and a pair of white pelerine knee socks. “Can't I wear tights?” I pleaded. “I'll be freezing in knee socks.”
“Not with those knickers Stephen.” Mum replied. “The frills would get all scrunched up.” she added. I pleaded my case; it's December, it's cold and if I can't wear long pants then I’m going to need some tights. Mum insisted that I'd be fine since the skirt is made of wool and it's just above the knee and all those knife pleats means its twice as thick. “...and pelerine socks are a lot warmer than they look.” Mum claimed.
“They look like school socks.” I grimaced.
“They're just socks.” she said. “Unless you'd prefer those lacy...?”
“No!” I yelped. “I'd be even colder in those.”
My aunt described my outfit as very formal. Mum told her that I'm worried that I look like a school girl, to which my aunt replied, “You're just a normal boy wearing a warm winter skirt and knee socks... no one's going to think you're a schoolgirl Stephen. Plus all the schools are on holiday.”
I felt patronised. “But... normally ...boys don't wear clothes like this.”
“It might be uncommon but it's not unknown. Peter isn't the only petticoatee around here, and lots of boys have just a Sunday dress.” she claimed, backtracking a little “...well... not 'lots' but quite a few... believe me.” she said, sorting through a bundle of laundry.
“What's a Sunday dress?” I naively enquired. The obvious answer left me feeling abashed that I’d asked. Mum told me that my prissy blue sailor dress would be classed as a Sunday dress and I briefly considered the prospect of wearing such a thing each and every Sunday.
“Don't worry.” Mum said. “I'm not planning on getting you one... it's been expensive enough just dressing you for Christmas.” she chirped
I dread to think how much was spent. I know most of my clothes are borrowed off my sister but my pageboy shoes and ankle boots were about seventy pounds, and my training bras, vests and knickers came to over eighty pounds... plus my nighties and tights.
My attention is drawn to my aunt telling my mother that Jasmine gets all Peter's hand-me-down's. “...well.... not all of them.” she smiled, folding a pair of blue patterned knickers with Peter embroidered on them. I gulped as Mum and I shared a knowing glance. I wonder if my aunt knows that I have my name embroidered on my knickers too... before presuming that Mum must have told her. It was a topic that I certainly wasn't going to raise, but I couldn't help but wonder.
Our attention is drawn again when Peter entered the kitchen. “Ooh you look nice!” Mum cooed. “I love that jumper.” she said.
“Thanks.” Peter said. “It's my current favourite.” he said.
His cable knit jumper is in fact a jumper dress; charcoal grey with long narrow sleeves and a plain crew neckline. The purely functional looking dress follows his shape almost down to his knees, where a pair semi-opaque black tights clads his legs. On his feet is a pair of black Converse baseball boots with a white sole and black laces. He looks kinda cool. Certainly comfortable and given the choice I think I’d rather wear something like that than what I'm wearing today. When Jasmine appears she immediately tells me that I look very smart, as does she in her broderie anglaise blouse, plaid pedal pushers and brown ribbed tights. On her feet is a pair of brown brogue shoes with a heel that rivals those of my pageboy shoes.
“So how far is it to Spalding?” Mum asked, presuming around a twenty minute drive. Auntie June said it was, but added that we'd be dropping Peter off at his girlfriends first, which means a drive out to Dowsby first.
“You've got a girlfriend!?” I exclaimed at the very same moment mum asked the same. Somewhat bashfully he told us her name and that they go to the same D&D club. “Dungeon's & Dragons?” I enthusiastically interrupted.
“Dance & Drama.” Peter replied before answering a few more questions about his girlfriend. All I wanted to know was if she thought it weird; having a boyfriend who only ever wears girls clothes... but I didn't ask.
Eventually we all get in the car; Mum in the front alongside her sister, us three kids in back, me stuck in the middle between Peter and his sister. The skirt hangs over my knees and does blanket me. It's pleats cascade off my lap and onto the seat, taking up far more space than it should. I don't think my pale blue jacket goes at all well with my taffy pink blouse, but it's the only jacket I've got.
Peter wears a dove grey down filled gilet over his jumper dress and a small black handbag rests on his nylon clad lap. Somehow he doesn't look all that girlie despite clearly wearing girls clothes. If boys did routinely wear dresses, I mused as we journeyed over the pan flat landscape, they'd be more like Peter's long casual jumper than the fussy frilly frocks he usually wears. We drive through several small villages, one of which is home to the dance & drama club which Peter attends twice a week with his sister and girlfriend.
In the next village we turn of and slow to a halt outside a house. Chloe, his girlfriend must've been watching as she'd on the doorstep before we even stop. “She's very pretty.” Mum says as the girl smiled eagerly at the car.
Like peter she wears black Converse and tights, but with a short denim skirt and a black Metallica T-shirt. Peter gets out and the passenger window is opened. “Bit more space now.” Jasmine said as I shifted into Peter's seat. A brief chat between Chloe and Auntie June confirms that Peter will be dropped of after seven this evening by her Dad, and Auntie June iterates that she wants him home before eight.
“Don't worry... he'll be home before bedtime.” Chloe smiled, which suggested that she knew his evening routine.
“Nice girl.” Mum said as we drove off.
“She is.” Auntie June and Jasmine confirmed. “Have you got a girlfriend yet Stephen?” my cousin asked.
“Err... no.” I bashfully replied, smoothing my pleats over my lap. She told me that she had a boyfriend but she dumped him because he was boring. The remaining journey took a further twenty minutes an took us down some very long straight roads with abrupt ninety degree corners. Soon the spires of Spalding can be seen and I feel increasingly nervous. “So... what are we going to Spalding for?” I hesitantly asked.
“Just a stroll round the shops.” my aunt replied.
“And a bite to eat... hopefully.” Mum added. “You've got those vouchers in my purse remember.” she told me.
“Enough to get a new game with?” I enthused.
“Probably.” Mum said.
My enthusiasm ebbed as I considered myself browsing the titles, dressed like a girl who'd look more at home in the library or attending Sunday school than in a video game store. To avoid a costly parking fee, my aunt found a space away from the town centre which meant a ten minute walk through many winding residential streets. Mine and Jasmine's heels clacked against the pavement in unison. My skirt swished from side to side and at every opportunity, I stole a glance of my reflection in a passing window. The short fluffy blue jacket leaves much of my daggy skirt on display. The pleated zigzag hem reach to just above my knee and the tops of my girlie white socks sit just below. But surprisingly I don't feel cold, not even my knees which aren't covered my skirt or sock. “I am impressed by how well you've taken to heels.” Mum said, catching me glancing at my feet.
“I guess they look harder than they are.” I replied.
She asked if I was warm enough and I nodded. “See... I told you you'd be fine in knee socks.”
“I still feel like a schoolgirl though.”
“Schoolgirls don't wear heels.” Mum told me. “You just look nice.” she said.
Of all the people we passed, not one seemed bothered that I’m clearly a boy wearing girl's clothes. Even in the shops we browsed I didn't see anyone look at me with disapproval. We browsed charity shops and gift shops, homeware stores and of course some clothes shops. Jasmine was keen to get something new and wanted to browse everything. “You're not going to buy me anything else are you?” I timidly asked my mother.
“No.” she smiled. “You've got all the clothes you need.” she said.
“Good.” I gulped. Before long we happened across the video game shop. Usually I head directly to the older PS2 games so being able to justifiably look at all the PS3 games felt very privileged. Predictably, Mum said 'no shooting, slashing or fighting' which put half the titles out of bounds so I looked at the driving games, sports and platform games. I was torn between The Simpson's Game and a ten-pin bowling game and since we’d had so much fun playing bowling on my cousins' Wii, I opted for that one.
Standing in the queue for the counter felt very odd. I'm clearly a boy. I'm clearly wearing girls' clothes and no one seems bothered by that. “Everything OK?” Mum asked when I joined them; my new game in a small branded carrier bag. I nodded and smiled and we stepped outside, my pleated skirt swishing and heeled shoes clattering on the paving. “Well I don't know about anybody else but I think we should find a pub for some lunch.” my mother suggested.
Auntie June strongly recommended one by the riverside. “It's a bit of a stroll but worth it.” she said. We must've walked a mile along the riverbank, passing walkers and joggers and cyclists. Despite my aunt's claim that plenty of boys wear girls clothing around these parts, I didn't see any. But since no one seemed at all fazed by my girlie attire, I could only deduce that I'm not the first boy dressed in this manner that most people around here have encountered. The pub is indeed right next to the river and inside it's warm and cosy with friendly staff and not too many customers. We find a table near a roaring fire which prompts me to remove my warm fluffy jacket. Another family sits mid-meal a few tables away but pay us no attention save for a glance. “I do like that shirt.” my aunt says, referring to my blouse. “It's very elegant.”
I smile and feel myself blushing a little as I sit, smoothing my skirt beneath me. Mum described my blouse as 'Edwardian' and my cousin drew my attention to all the buttons running up the back, saying that she loved being buttoned into an outfit. Personally I feel somewhat daunted by it, but I kept that to myself.
A waitress appeared and handed out the menus before taking a drinks order. She asked the other family if everything was OK before leaving. A few moments later she came with our drinks before offering the other family the dessert menu. They declined and requested the bill. By the time we were placing our food order, the other family were preparing to leave. “Don't forget your handbag Andrew.” the middle aged woman said, revealing the teenage girl to be a boy called Andrew. We share a glance as he dons his coat, covering a blue satin frock with a white lace collar in the process. His mother hands him a blue satin purse and he thanks her, saying 'mummy' which suggested that he too is petticoatee.
Once they'd left Mum said “He looked nice.” before turning top me and saying that it's not that unusual.
“Maybe not here but boy's don't dress like girls back home.” I said.
“Maybe they do but you just presume they're girls.” Mum replied. Maybe she's right. I'd have presumed that boy was a girl had his mother not used his name, but his bobbed hairstyle didn't look at all boyish.
The waitress returned with the table settings, placing a mat and cutlery in front of each of us. Since we hardly ever eat out back home and when we do it's McDonalds or KFC, dining in a homely riverside pub is a new experience for me. My eye is drawn to the lace trimmed apron the waitress wears. It's fancy yet formal and maybe too small to serve any practical purpose. She wears it over a short black denim skirt with an unkempt frayed hem, and opaque black tights. As she brings the condiments, I notice her shoes are identical to mine; black leather with a medium heel, T-strap and a heart shaped silver buckle. Collectively we thanked her and smiling directly at me she said, “I love your blouse.” Bashfully I thanked her and felt myself blushing a little.
A while later the waitress returned, placing a burger and fries in front of us kids and a plate of fish and chips each for the grown ups. Following Jasmine's example, I cut my burger in half and ate it in a much more considered manner than I would normally. I couldn't help but consider how prim I must appear in my feminine blouse, conservative skirt and formal shoes.
Mum and June enjoyed their fish and chips as much as Jasmine and I enjoyed our burgers and chips. “It's definitely worth the walk is this place.” my aunt said once we'd all finished.
“And I'll need the walk back to burn off all the calories.” Mum said. They settled the bill after a small dispute over who would pay and were were soon walking back along the riverbank towards the bustling town centre. Having seen another boy dressed in girls clothes, I didn't feel quite so self conscious about mine as I had before. We browsed loads more shops and Jasmine did buy herself a few items; skirt, top and a stripy polo dress she saw in a charity shop window. This was alongside a navy blue sailor dress which according to my aunt is exactly like the one Peter has. “Might fit you that.” Mum said to me.
“I don't need any more dresses.” I grumbled, before admitting that that plainer style of sailor dress is loads better than my prissy take on the style.
“Peter's would probably fit you too.” my aunt added, suggesting that I could try it for size when we get back home.
“I don't need any more.” I reiterated. My aunt clarified that I'd only be trying it on and definitely not taking it home with me because it's one of Peter's favourites. “Oh... OK then.” I said, before fearing that I’d just agreed to actually trying one of my cousins dresses on. “I don't think Peter would want me trying his clothes on though.” I added.
“I don't think he'd mind.” my aunt said. “And he's not back until late so he wouldn't even know.” she added.
After several hours strolling around the small market town, we drove back home over the pan flat landscape. “Can I put my game on?” I asked the moment we returned. My aunt made us all a mocha coffee first and Jasmine tried her new polo dress on, which she clearly liked a lot. For a dress it certainly looks OK. No frills, no flounce, no bows... just a simple casual garment that would be comfortable to wear. “Shall we see if this sailor dress fits?” my aunt suggested.
“Oh yes!” Mum replied.
“Do I have to?”
“Well you did say you preferred it to your own.” Mum reminded me. “And there's a nice photo of Peter wearing it that I think we could emulate.”
“More photos.” I moaned. “Are sure you don't one of me wearing this as well?” I sarcastically asked.
“Well I suppose we should now you mention it.”
“I was being sarcastic Mum.”
“I know you was.” she replied.
I follow them up the stairs, past the room mum and I are staying in to the end of the landing where Peter's bedroom is. “Ooh this is nice.” Mum says as we entered. For a girl, I think as I cast my eyes around. To be fair it's not that girlie; white wallpaper with a blue floral print, power blue curtains and a duvet cover decorated with pastel coloured butterflies. The pictures on the walls are similar to those in the spare room; Edwardian scenes featuring girls and ladies in long dresses and one of a troupe of ballerinas mid dance.
My aunt opens the wardrobe and we peer inside. A resplendent display of all sorts of different fabrics hangs from a rail. Down one side is a series of small shelves on which a collection of handbags are displayed; black, pink, green, brown, blue, floral, spotted... all sorts and seemingly one to match each of the numerous pairs of girlie shoes that are neatly lined up in the bottom of his wardrobe. “May I?” Mum asked before leafing through some of his outfits.
“Course.” her sister smiled
“This is cute.” Mum said, drawing our attention to a gingham dress, the very type junior school girls wear.
My aunt says he only wears that in the summer and shows her a navy blue pinafore dress which he wears in the winter. “I thought he wore the boys uniform at school?” I said.
“He does but he changes into a girls one when he gets home.” my aunt said. “...whilst he does his homework.” she added. “And once that's all done he can wear something else.”
“Three outfits a day?!” I quizzed.
“Four if you count his nightwear.” Mum replied. “I do like these though.” she added, returning the infantile gingham frock. “I bet you'd be a lot keener to complete your homework if you had one.” she said to me.
“I'd probably just rush through it so I could take it off as soon as possible.”
“That's what Peter used to do... but I always checked and if it wasn't up to standard he'd only end up wearing it for longer.” my aunt told us. She leafed through his 'Sunday' dresses; some pink, some frilly, some flowery and mostly very pretty. “Ah... here we are.” she said, removing the plain sailor style dress. Looking at most of his other frocks, I could see why that dress is one of his favourite dresses. Aside from being a dress, it's not feminine like mine is; no broderie anglaise trim, no satin ribbon or bows and no flounce around the skirt. Just a simple navy blue frock with a square white collar that meets in a V at the front.
“Are you sure Peter won't mind?” I said as the dress was handed to me. That was my ham-fisted last ditch attempt of hopefully getting out of wearing it which failed miserably. My aunt assured me he wouldn't and Mum took me to our room to change. “Have you seen the picture in the kitchen of Peter wearing his sailor dress?” Mum asked as she unbuttoned my blouse. I shook my head. “It's very nice.” she told me.
“What is it?” I asked, not that I was keen to find out.
“He's just sat on the swing in the back garden and it's just a very nice photo.” she told me.
With my skirt and blouse removed, Mum smiled and told me how much she liked my peach underwear. “Oh Mum you're embarrassing me.” I coyly said, covering myself as best I could as she removed Peter's dress from its hanger.
“Only because you know how nice it is.” she smiled. “Your underpants'll be boring in comparison.”
“I like boring clothes.” I retorted. Mum brought the dress to me and I raised my arms. Instead of a back fastening, this has a zip on one side from armpit to waist which I found both convenient and curious. Mum asked my opinion. “Erm.... it's OK.” I said, but if anything I felt underwhelmed. “It's nice not having any frilly trim for once.” I added, but in truth its lack of decorative details combined with the listless fabric that features a peculiar stiffness, this dress isn't in the least bit nice. Mum said it looked very smart and rather boyish for a dress.
“Yeah I guess.” I said. “For a dress.”
“Lets go and have a look in Peter's big mirror.” Mum said, which was her way of saying let's show your aunt.
Seemingly she'd spent the time in which I was getting changed rearranging his frocks and before I’d even opened my mouth she said “Oh I knew you'd like it.” when we returned to Peter's bedroom.
“It's OK I guess.” I apathetically said. “The fabric's not as soft as my err...” I sheepishly added, thumbing the above knee shirt.
“Well turn around and have a look.” my aunt advised. I turned to face the big mirror that occupies one third of the long wall. It must be six feet wide and eight feet high, but the mirror itself is not my concern. It's my reflection. A little shorter than my pleated skirt but significantly longer than my mid-thigh dresses, this dress seems both too long and too short and leaves an awkward amount of knee on display. Its waist is cut to my natural waist and is tailored to fit with the stern fabric too close to my skin. My own sailor dress floats freely whilst this one hangs gracelessly. Unimpressed by the utilitarian frock, I focus on the mirror. “Why has it got a banister?” I asked.
“That's a barre.” my aunt said. “For Peter's ballet practice.”
“He does ballet?!” I yelped. My aunt told me in such a manner that I should already know that most petticoated boys go to ballet classes.
“Sorry... I thought it was just a rumour... like wearing nappies and playing with dolls.” I said.
My aunt told me that they go to ballet because it's a holistic and healthy, non-competitive form of exercise. She told me that putting them in nappies was a thing of the past and these days they just wear bedtime knickers. “...and there's a lot to be said for playing with dolls. It's certainly more healthy than playing with tanks and guns.”
Mum was never a fan of so-called 'war' toys so I never really had any growing up. I didn't play with dolls either despite my sister having a room full of them. But I guess she raises a valid point. The atmosphere felt momentarily icy until Mum said “Shall we get this photo taken whilst there's still plenty of light outside?”
“OK.” I said. “Then can I take it off please?” I asked.
“Don't you like it?” Mum said
“It's just... not very comfortable.” I replied. “...and a bit drab.”
“Well it's certainly not pretty like yours is.” my aunt smiled. “C'mon.”
We passed Jasmine's bedroom from which the clunky sound of her electronic keyboard emanated. Does she even know I’m wearing her brother's dress? I wondered as I almost crept past the door. My heel struck the kitchen floor with a clank which always surprises me and before I know it I'm being shepherded into the back garden. “Can't I put a coat on?” I moaned. “It's cold.” I said.
“You'll be fine for a few minutes.” Mum said, marching down the path and through the big hedge, past the shed and raised be to the lawn in the corner of which hangs a wooden swing from a limb of a triumphant beech tree.
“What do I have to do?” I glumly asked as my aunt faffed with the camera.
“Just sit and smile.” Mum said. I sat and clutched the ropes and smiled as best I could, hoping one would be enough... but my aunt says that the best thing about digital cameras over film is that you can take lots more photos, and that she did. She only took about six, maybe seven and we were only out for a few minutes before trotting in my heels all the way back through the garden and finally back in the warmth.
I headed directly to the open fire and stood in front of it. “Is that my brother's dress?” Jasmine asked from the shadows of an armchair.
I jumped out of my skin, almost. “I didn't see you.” I said. “Err... yeah.” I replied. “They kinda made me.” I claimed as my mother and her sister came in chatting about the garden.
“Well you're lucky it's not one of his party dresses.” Jasmine smiled.
“Can I get changed?” I asked. Mum nodded, reminding me to put it on the hanger as I made my eager exit. The simple act of being able to unzip and remove this dress myself felt somewhat empowering, but that's the only thing that's good about it. I couldn't help but feel disappointed that I wasn't overwhelmed with an underwhelming dress. Maybe if the fabric was softer it'd be easier to wear, I wondered as I tried to fathom what was wrong with it. I placed it on the hanger and hung it from the wardrobe and stepped back to look at it. Then I realised that I’m only wearing my peach knickers and training bra, plus knee socks and shoes and quickly dressed myself; favouring my soft cream jumper over the blouse, mostly for ease of putting it on.
I met my mother on the stairs. “Oh that looks nice.” she said. “I was just coming to button you in.”
“I figured this was easier.” I said, looking down at myself; T-strap pageboy shoes, white pelerine knee socks, grey pleated skirt, swaying slightly as it always does, and my new jumper with its curious lettuce edge cuffs.
“That skirt looks nicer with a jumper.” Jasmine said. Bashfully I thanked her. “Shall we play your new game?” she suggested.
“Oh yeah... I'd forgotten about that.”
“Too busy trying on my brother's dresses.” she smugly retorted.
“It was only one.” was the best comeback I could think of... but otherwise she was right.
“Did you like it?”
“Not really.” I said. “I thought I would but the fabric's really starchy and it wasn't very comfy.”
“And it's really plain compared to yours.” Jasmine added as she fired up my PS3.
“Yeah.” I concurred. “Although... strictly speaking, it is my sister's.”
“If it's a hand-me-down then it's yours, strictly speaking.” she reckoned as I handed her my new video game.
Like the Wii Bowling game we played, this one works by miming the action but the mechanics are slightly different. It took Jasmine and I a while to get the hang of it but after a while, we began getting the night scores and the occasional strike. “Yeah!!!” I cheered, triumphantly jumping and punching the air, my pleated skirt swishing furiously. I handed the controller to Jasmine and sat for a moment, straightening my socks before smoothing my skirt over my knees. “What?” I innocently said, noticing Jasmine looking at me. But I knew what. “Did I look really prim then?” I bashfully asked.
“Not really... you were just straightening your socks.” she said. “Peter always needs telling when his get wonky, but you always check.” she told me.
“When I wore my first dress last Sunday, Mum must've told me umpteen times to straighten my knee socks and I cringed every time she said it.” I replied. “So now I check.” I frowned.
“Good.” she smiled. “I know you didn't want to wear girls' clothes but you wear them well.”
“Thanks... I think.” I said, before confessing that they're not as bad as thought they'd be. “I'm still looking forward to just having boy's clothes though.” I added.
“I bet you are.” she empathised. “But... don't you think the occasional dress would be nice?”
“No!” I stated, albeit not very convincingly.
“When you visit us, maybe?”
“That'd be OK I guess.”
“What'd be OK?” Mum asked as she entered from the kitchen.
“Nothing.” Jasmine chirped.
Mum didn't press her and kept my mouth shut. “You look very prim.” Mum told me. I gulped and looked up into her eyes. “In a good way.” she added. “I like that you know to sit with your knees together.”
“Well I can't sit like this.” I said, briefly putting my knees akimbo. “Not in a skirt.” I added, smoothing it properly.
Having taken her shot, Jasmine handed the controller to me and I stood, fully aware that my mother was watching me. “It's very swishy that skirt.” my mother noted as my ball rolled down the alley. “And quite a lot longer than your dresses.” she added as I struck six of the ten pins.
“Yeah.” I said, looking down at its numerous knife pleats. “I don't like the look of it but I quite like wearing it.”
“I can tell.” Mum smiled. “Pity you didn't like wearing Peter's dress... because you like the look of that.”
“Well... I thought I'd prefer it because it's not prissy like mine is.” I said. “But it was stiff and... catchy...” I explained as I tried to recall just how odd it felt. “...and maybe a bit too plain.” I surmised, recalling my drab reflection in Peter's big ballet mirror.
“Well it's a good job I didn't buy you that one we saw in the charity shop widow.” Mum said. “Because I was tempted.” she told me. “But then I thought... when would he wear it? ...there's only tomorrow and you've still got that pinafore dress.”
“Well...” Jasmine chirped up. “...you did say you might wear a dress next time you come to visit.”
“No I didn't.” I quickly deflected. “You said that.” I claimed.
“And you said, that'd be OK I guess.”
“Yeah but... it was hyphonetical.” I replied. They chuckled and corrected me. “Yeah whatever... hypothetical.” I grumbled. “Do you want a go?” I suggested, handing my mother the game controller and thus distracting the attention away from me. Dressing like a girl wouldn't be so bad if people didn't keep talking about my clothes all the time. Since Sunday, barely fifteen minutes have passed without one of 'them' saying something about what one of 'us' is wearing. Peter doesn't comment on my clothing unless prompted, and the same goes for me. But his sister and mother and my mum too, can't go and hour without a comment about my cosy tights, swishy skirt or whatever footwear I'm wearing. I didn't really realise that I was glaring at my feet until Jasmine asked if I liked my Mary Jane’s. “Erm... they're pageboy shoes.” I gormlessly corrected. An awkward silence ensued. “Wh... whe... when boys wear them.” I added, finally ripping my eyes from my feet.
Jasmine wasn't even listening. Fully engrossed in the image on the TV screen... her ball rolling down the alley, taking in perfect side spin, arching comfortably close toward the gutter before swerving beck and hitting the perfect strike. We both leapt into the air, high fiving and cheering. “That was amazing!” I exclaimed. “Does that mean I lost?” I realised.
She grinned mischievously. “Soz cuz.”
We decided to make that the final game since Mum and Auntie June have been busy in the kitchen for ages now. I saunter in and perch on a dining chair, straighten my socks and ask if I can do anything to help as I smooth my pleats over my knees. “You could lay the table.” my aunt suggested, adding that we only need four settings since Peter's at his girlfriend's house. Mum asked, somewhat cautiously, if Chloe's parents' approve of Peter being a petticoatee. “Oh wholeheartedly!” my aunt replied. “Both her older brothers are in finishing school.”
“What's finishing school?” I hesitantly asked as I laid out the cutlery. My aunt said it was just a college, a sixth form, a boarding school. “...for boys like Peter.” she added, smiling but... in a manner that puts a full stop on this particular conversation.
This evening's meal was lasagne and salad. It's always a bit weird eating salad in the winter but it went down well. Afterwards my mum insisted on a game of Scrabble and claiming that Matchmakers and Scrabble is a Christmas tradition, she revealed a box of Matchmakers and we couldn’t refuse.
Considerately, the grown ups played badly and gave us kids a fighting chance. I'm awful at word games and my first go was adding a single letter to form the thoroughly miserable 'at'. My cousin added and an e and s to form 'eats', and on my next turn I added a p and an l to make pleats. “Like on my skirt.” I said. My initial pride quickly ebbed into a more bashful demeanor, but no one seemed to notice. My aunt quickly laid her next word and any attention I'd drawn to my mundane pleated skirt dissipated immediately.
Peter returned home midway through the game. Once again Mum told him how much she liked his jumper[dress] and quite genuinely he thanked her. “How's Chloe?” his sister cooed.
“Yeah, good, thanks.” he shyly replied.
“Stephen tried on your sailor dress. Hope you don't mind.” his mother said, much to my embarrassment.
Stephen said it was fine but if I were him I wouldn't want anyone going into my room and seeing all my things. When I had the opportunity I did tell Peter that I didn't want to wear his dress, but got cajoled into it by our mothers. “Did they take photos too?” he knowingly asked.
“Yeah.” I glumly said. “On the swing at the end of the garden.” I told him. “It was freezing!”
“Are you telling Perter about our little photo shoot?” my aunt chirped as she entered. I skewed my jaw and nodded. “We got some good ones.” she said. “In fact, don't let me forget to put them on your mum's USB stick.”
“OK.” I said, but there's no way I'm going to remind my aunt to give my mum any evidence of me wearing my dresses. God knows how many there are now. Thirty, maybe?
Once again Mum complimented Peter's jumper dress. “Those tights look nice too. What denier are they?” she asked.
“Erm... twenty I think. Maybe twenty-five.” he replied.
Unlike my black tights which only reveal the skin beneath at the bend of knee, Peter's legs can clearly be seen beneath the sheer black nylon. “What are mine?” I enquired.
“Your black ones?” Mum asked. “About seventy denier I think.”
“Right boys.” my aunt chirped. “I've put some hot chocolate on so you two can go and put your nighties on.” she instructed. I glanced at the clock; 7.55pm, then at my mother who reminded me that I'm wearing my pyjamas tonight.
“I bet you're looking forward to everything going back to normal tomorrow.” Peter said as we climbed the stairs.
“Too right.” I said, watching my pleats cascade over my lap with every step. “It's been OK though.” I told him. “It might've been weirder if I had worn boy's clothes...”
“I wouldn't have minded.” he told me.
“...I always felt awkward when we visited before.” I continued. “Do you like being petticoated?”
“Not really.” he replied. “But it's not so bad on days like today when I get to wear something I like.” he said. “I just wish it wasn't everyday.” he sighed. “Even at school I have to wear knickers and a training bra.”
“But... what about when you're getting changed for PE?” I remarked.
“I don't do PE at school.” he said. “I've been excused because I have my ballet classes.”
“What are they like?”
“Tiring.” he bluntly replied. “You might think it's easy 'coz it's just dancin' about but it's really hard.” he stressed.
“And it's compulsory I suppose?”
He nodded. “Do you think you're gonna be petticoated?”
“Dunno.” I replied. “I hope not. But she's spent an awful lot of money just for one week.” I said.
Having chatted on the landing for long enough, Peter headed off to his room. I took a good glance at his outfit and spent no time deciding that that's the best thing he's worn by far, and in the confines of my room I spent a moment looking at my reflection. I don't particularly like the look of my skirt but its longer length and general swishy feel compared to my dresses does make it nicer to wear. And Mum was right about just wearing it with knee socks instead of tights. I was plenty warm enough when we were out. I recalled how nervous I felt going out in public wearing proper girls clothes, and how odd it was that no one seemed to bat an eyelid. I recalled that boy dining with his family in the riverside pub, wearing a blue satin dress and his girlie hair and handbag. I recall the waitress complimenting my blouse and feeling ever so prim and proper as we dined. It was such a stark contrast to me and Jonny slovenly chomping through burgers and chips in McDonald’s using only our fingers.
Mum had already laid out my nightwear. I knew she'd make me wear my pink pyjamas. They wouldn't be so bad if all the frilly trim was pink too, but being white it stands out all the more. I pull on my pyjama pants and feel the frills on the back of my night knickers scrunch inside them. Pushing my hand inside the waistband I straighten the frills before buttoning myself in to the pyjama top and slipping my toes into my ballet style slippers. “Did you hang your skirt up or leave it crumpled on the floor?” Mum asked when I returned to the sitting room.
“I hung it up.”
“Good boy.” she smiled. “...and everything's in the laundry bag?”
I nodded. “Except Peter's socks.” I said, glancing at him. He wears a pale blue nightdress with a teddy bear on the front, curled up and sound asleep on a crescent moon. Jasmine still wears her new polo dress and the nice black tights she'd changed into. I still think it's unfair that only us boys have to get ready for bed at 8pm and she doesn't. Even if we could wear boys pyjamas it'd still be unfair. My aunt suggests we watch one of my Harry Potter DVDs, and after a brief debate amongst us kids, we agree on Prizoner of Azkaban.
The lengthy film took us way beyond our 10pm bedtime, but we were allowed to watch it to the end. Mum followed me upstairs and after climbing into bed, she perched on the edge and smiled. “You don't need to tuck me in.” I bashfully said.
“I know. But it's our last night.” she said, running her fingers over my frills. “So I am going to tuck you in.” she smiled.
“What time are we going tomorrow?”
“Oh sometime in the afternoon.” she said, “I’d like to be back before dark.” she told me. “Have you had a nice day today?”
“Hmm.” I nodded. “It was scary at first but...”
“I told you you had nothing to worry about.” Mum said.
“You're not going to petticoat me are you?”
“Of course not.” Mum replied. “What makes you think that?”
“Because you've spent loads on all my girl clothes and... if I don't have to wear them again, it seems like an awful waste of money.”
“It's been worth every penny.” she told me. “You'd have felt like a fish out water if you did have your boy clothes.”
“Yeah I guess.” I replied, knowing that she was absolutely right. “But what about next time we visit? Or they come to us?”
“You can wear whatever you like.” Mum said. She gave me a hug and bid me a good night, leaving me alone in the darkness.
The next morning I woke to find Mum's bed empty yet slept in. I got up and went down to the kitchen where Mum and Jasmine were making toast. “Ooh you're up at last.” my aunt said as she joined us. It's just gone half past eight and the morning sun is already streaming in through the window. I wondered where Peter, presuming he might still be in bed. “He's popped to the shop to fetch some milk... so if you're after cereal, you'll have to wait.” my aunt told me.
I perched at the breakfast bar with a slice of toast and marmalade and a big glass of fresh orange. In the streaming sunlight my baby-pink pyjamas look so much more vivid than they had last night, and the frilly lace trimmed cuffs cast a lacy shadow onto my hand. “I was just thinking that.” I said when Mum mentioned my PJs in the sunlight.
“So you agree that they're nice?”
“No... I was just thinking they look different... brighter.” I haphazardly replied.
“I think they're nice.” my aunt said.
“Too nice for a boy.” I muttered.
“No such thing as too nice for a boy.” Jasmine commented, smiling, teasingly so.
Peter returned with a big bottle of milk swinging from his gloved hand. In his feet are his shiny black Mary Jane’s, and his legs are clad in white tights sporting a butterfly pattern. His down filled dress coat lands mid thigh where an inch of lilac skirt can be seen. He removed his coat to reveal a pretty lilac dress, covered in pastel coloured dragonflies. It has short puffed princess sleeves and a small lace trimmed collar. Around the waist is a purple satin sash tied in an ornate bow on the small of his back. “It's pretty isn't it?” my mother says, alerting me to the fact that I’m staring.
“Erm... yes.” I said. “I like the dragonflies.”
“They're mayflies.” Peter told me, adding that he'd prefer it without the bow or princess sleeves. “...but at least I can't see the bow when I'm wearing it.”
The sleeves intrigued me; see-through mesh with elastic cuffs gripping his upper arm. They puffed up as well as out and I imagine wearing it would mean they're always in the corner of one's eye. “Shall we get you dressed Stephen?” Mum suggested.
“Did you like Peter's dress or were you just being polite?” Mum asked once we were up in our room. I told her that I quite liked the pattern, but wasn't so keen on the big satin bow. Mum smiled and reminisced over the look of horror on my face when she tied my satin sash in a bow on Christmas day. “...and your look of relief when I took it off.” she added.
“It was a lot better without it.” I told her as she laid out my final girlie outfit; white knickers and training bra, a lace trimmed girl's vest with my name embroidered over the hip. The only item loaned from my sister that I haven't yet worn is the pinafore dress with its dropped waist and box pleats and (surprise surprise) buttons running up the back. Mum pairs this with the white blouse I got for Christmas, along with the burgundy tights I also got for Christmas. “It's going to feel strange tomorrow morning when you don't have to wear a training bra.” Mum said as I casually fastened myself into it.
“It's gonna feel weird wearing undies that don't come all the way up to my waist.” I added. “I can't wait to be normal again.”
“You mean boring again.” Mum grinned.
“I like boring.” I retorted as I un-boxed the tights. I've not worn coloured ones; only black or white and those nude ones with the anchors on so far... so I'm wondering what these will be like as I gather a leg onto my hand and push my toes inside. Being woolly, they conceal the whiteness of my knickers.
Mum says they look nice as she holds my blouse open. I slide my hands into the sleeves and turn. Mum begins to button me in, starting at the bottom and slowly working her way up. I recalled Jasmine claiming that she enjoyed being buttoned in, and I suppose it does feel somewhat reassuring, or maybe somehow soothing, like having ones hair brushed for them. “I know what you're not going to miss.” Mum said.
“Having to be dressed by your mummy.”
“I'd only get the buttons mismatched if I had to do it myself.” I replied. I often manage to do that with my school shirt and that has its buttons on the front! “Thanks.” I timidly said once Mum had fastened the final button. The stony-grey pinafore dress also has buttons on the back but these are big and covered in the same tweed fabric. I step into it and thread my hands through the armholes. Mum faffs with my collar as it settles on my shoulders, making sure it sits neatly on top of my frock. My mother buttons me in and like all my other dresses, this also lands mid thigh. It's just a little shorter than the ends of my fingers and just were my fingertips might brush against my tights. The fabric similar to that of yesterday's pleated skirt but having only four box pleats, it's not in the least bit swishy. It doesn't float around me like my sailor dress does and doesn't have that captivating shimmer that my Christmas dress has. Like yesterday's outfit, today's also feels very prim and proper; like I’m going to a poetry reading or piano recital. “Pageboy shoes I guess?” I supposed when Mum turned me to face her.
“Yes I think so.” she smiled. “You've hardly worn your ankle boots.”
“No.” I said, imagining them with this dress, that skirt, my velvet dress or sailor dress. “I've not got much they go with.”
“They'd go with plenty of boy's clothes.”
“But they're not boys shoes. I couldn't wear them in the city.”
“I was thinking just round the house.” she said as I buckled my shoes. “You could wear those just round the house if you wanted to.”
“But that'd mean wearing a dress as well.” I bluntly replied.
“Not at all.” Mum chirped. “You could easily wear those with trousers or shorts... that's what pageboy's wear.”
“I think I'd rather wear a dress than a pageboy suit.” I said, tittering at some of the hideous outfits I've seen.
“Most boys would.” my mother dourly stated. “Some of them are quite boyish.”
I can imagine the less fussy styles my mother was referring to; normal tailored shorts instead of really short balloon or pumpkin shorts, a relatively plain shirt instead of a really flouncy blouse. “Yeah but... they wear make-up... even we don't have to do that.”
“Well they are at a wedding.” Mum said. “And by 'we', I presume you mean you and Peter?” she knowingly enquired. I nodded. “Good. I'm glad you two are getting along.”
“Yeah.” I said. “Jasmine too. Sometimes she can be really frosty but she's been really nice this time round.”
“That's nice.” Mum replied. “However I think it's sometimes you that can be the frosty one and Jasmine just responds to that. This time round I believe it's you who's been acting particularly nicely.”
“Only because I feel particularly awkward.” I said as I stood.
“You're anything but awkward in those.” Mum said.
“It was more my dress and those knee socks.” I told her. “But Dad did warn me that the first would be the worst.”
“I think we all did.” Mum said.
We went downstairs and jasmine instantly sniped at me with a comment about going to the library. Having already considered how plain and primly I'm dressed, I dryly retorted with two words; piano recital. Jasmine grinned. “At the library.” I added, smiling.
“You'll be looking forward to choosing your own clothes again.” my aunt said.
“Yeah.” I replied. “And being a bit shorter.” I added.
“I keep forgetting you've got heels on.” my aunt said. “Do you.”
“Not really... but I am used to them now.”
“You seemed used to them right at the start.” she remarked. Not a day has gone by when my supposedly superhuman ability to walk in modest heels isn't mentioned. They're not high like Mum might wear and Peter has some higher than mine and with slender heels too. Each time I bashfully take their praise, just as I do when they're talking about my dress or my skirt or my tights, or in this case, the lacy collar on my blouse which goes very neatly with my pinafore dress. “It is the one he got for Christmas isn't it?” my aunt asked.
“Yes.” Mum said. “At least he got to wear it twice before it's consigned to charity.”
“Yes.” my aunt replied. “I've got so many clothes that I haven't even worn twice.”
“Me too.” Mum said. Me too, I thought.
We packed up early so we wouldn't have a last minute rush. I put my PS3 back in its pristine box, made sure I had all the leads and games, checked that all my other Christmas gifts were present; books, CD, DVDs, alarm clock, snowglobe. Then Mum and I packed up our room. She wanted me the empty my laundry bag and check I had all my knickers, vests and training bras. Counting four matching sets with pastel trim, plus my prissy blue knickers and training bra and my peach set, plus five pairs of night knickers. “Twenty one.” I said. “What are we going to do with all this?” I asked as I put the items back in the laundry bag.
“Well... like I said... if I find your bedroom floor strewn with socks and underpants again, you'll find nothing but knickers in your underwear drawer.” Mum told me. “And you could still wear the bedtime ones.” she suggested. I grimaced. “Boys you age are prone to little leaks.” she said. “Which is why they're quilted on the front... to stop it from getting on the bedsheets.” she explained. There's nothing more embarrassing than having my mum find the evidence of a wet dream and whine at me for having to change my bedding again.
We were all packed with several hours to spare. We watched SpyKids3 whilst Mum and her sister made soup in the kitchen. It wasn't the best SpyKids movie so we chatted though much of it, talking about school and stuff. Jasmine said how horrid it is playing hockey in the winter. I empathised having endured rugby on frozen ground. “You're lucky that you only have ballet.” she said to her brother.
“Only in the winter.” he said. “It gets really clammy in summer.”
“Camisole leotard makes a difference though.” Jasmine said. I had little idea what they were talking about, but it quickly transpired that they attend ballet classes together every Saturday morning at a dance school in another nearby town. Like her brother, Jasmine can't stress enough just how difficult and exhausting a two hour ballet session can be. “...and after that we have a tap dancing class for an hour.”
“It's a very busy curriculum for a petticoated boy.” his mother says. Aside from school every weekday, he has a needlework class on Monday evening, D&D on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, dressmaking on Friday and ballet then tap on Saturday mornings.
“Blimey!” I said. “Do you get any time to play video games?”
“Not much during term time... but at half-term and in the holidays, loads.” Peter replied.
“Well you certainly won't get bored with all that on your plate.” Mum said, having overheard the conversation from the kitchen.
“That's the whole point.” my aunt stated. “Occupy their minds fully.” she said.
Mum considered the amount of driving Auntie June must have to do; dropping him off and picking him up from his various evening classes, none of which are in near-by Donnington. “That's part and parcel of living out in the wilds.” Auntie June replied. “The only thing in walking distance is the grocery store... everything else is a twenty minute drive.”
“I suppose we're lucky in the city... the kids can just jump on a bus if they want to meet with friends or see a movie or something.” Mum replied. “You don't get bored do you Stephen?” she asked me, adding that I maybe do spend a little too much time playing video games when I could be a little more active.
“I do three hours PE a week at school.” I reminded her. “And I walk to school... that's fifteen miles a week.”
“True.” Mum said. “I just wish you were a little more keen on completing your homework assignments than completing your latest video game.”
“I usually get it in on time.” I defensively told her.
“Yes but it's always last minute. You should do it as soon as you get home, when the information is still fresh in your mind.”
“Yeah I know.” I replied. “I just want to chill for a while after school.”
“Well I could suggest a new house rule that might help encourage you.” my aunt wryly said.
Knowing what she was hinting at, I gulped and prayed for the conversation to change. It was an uncomfortable silence until Mum said that she'd premised me that there'd be no more girls clothes after today. “Except when you visit us.” Jasmine chirped. I croaked and bit my lip. “You did say you wouldn't mind wearing dresses when you come here.”
“Yeah but, that erm, I mean, err... I'd rather not but, erm, I might feel a bit... out-of-place.”
“Would that mean I could wear boy's clothes when we visit them?” Peter jovially yet hopelessly asked. Jasmine said it would be nice if I wore a dress on those occasions too, adding that it wouldn't be very often, maybe once every two or three months at the most. “You don't have to do that Steve.” Peter said to me.
“No it's OK.” I replied. “I always felt a bit awkward before.” I said. “...when I was dressed as a boy and you were...” I paused. “At least now I know it's not sooo bad..” I told him. “I'll just have to make sure none of my friends call round when you do come over.”
“Well this is unexpected.” Mum said.
“You might not have to send that blouse to charity after all.” my aunt added. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Don't let me forget your pen drive... I haven't put the photos of Stephen playing on the swing on it yet.”
“I hope nobody but us ever sees those photos.”
“Well your Dad and sister will have to see them.” Mum told me. “But I won't be putting them in frames if that's what you're worried about.” she assured.
“Shall we get a final one of Stephen?” my aunt suggested, wielding her digital camera. “In his smart pinafore.” she added, making me cringe a little. It might be comfortable to wear but to look at it is rather formal and mundane, but I suppose that is offset by my very noticeable collar. Mum said that my sister got the pinafore when the 'preppy look' was fashionable one summer some six years previously. “But a dress like that never goes out of style.” my aunt said. “It might never be the height of fashion but it is timeless.”
After a handful of photos taken of me stood by the bookshelf, the freshly baked bread is finally ready and we lunch on a warming winter chowder with warm buttered bread. We sit around the table for an hour chatting about all sorts of stuff. Half the time I spend pondering Peter’s sleeves. I despise their infantile daintiness whilst wondering what they're like to wear. They only touch the arm where the frilly cuff is gathered, and so puffed out they are I expect they'd always be in the corner of my eye. “Right.” Mum announced. “I think it's time we got the car packed up.”
“Ooh.” Jasmine frowned, expressing that she's enjoyed having us around
“So has it been a good Christmas week for you Stephen?” Mum asked as we drove home.
“Yeah.” I replied. “I just hope no one finds out that I spent Christmas week wearing nothing but girl's clothes.”
“They'll only find out if you tell them... and no one's going to ask what you wore on Christmas day, so you won't even have to lie about it.”
“Yeah I guess.” I said.
“So which has been your best dress?” she asked. I was reluctant to decide. “OK, which was the worst one?”
“Peter's sailor dress.” I replied without hesitation. I described how it fit really badly and the material felt stiff and starchy and how it looked really plain and boring. “I think my best outfit was the dungaree shorts... that felt kind of boyish... even though I was wearing tights.”
“Definitely tom-boyish.” Mum smiled. “I liked that too.” she told me.
“So... what was your favourite?” I hesitantly asked.
“I liked them all.” she said. “But I have to say your sailor dress. You looked so coy and cute wearing it the first time, with those lacy knee socks.”
“I felt so embarrassed.” I recalled.
“Only because you knew how pretty you looked.”
“There's no such thing as too pretty.” Mum told me. “Something is either pretty or it isn't.” she stated.
“Hmm.” I said. I focused on the horizon; still pan flat. Nearby shrubs and fences whiz past whilst more distant features tend to stroll by. I can feel the big buttons on the pack of my pinafore pressing in to my back. Not uncomfortably so, but just enough to remind me of their presence. I look down at my dress. Its box pleats sitting neatly on my lap. I consider if this dress is pretty and soon deduce that it isn't. This is smart, inoffensive, unfashionable.. yet comfortable. It doesn't need constantly tending like my sailor dress did, and it doesn't draw my attention like my swishy pleated skirt did. It's easy to wear like my Christmas dress was and if I could make one change, it would be pockets. “I've just realised that I've not had any pockets for a week!” I said, somewhat astonished. “Why don't dresses have pockets?”
“Some do.” Mum said. “But we tend to use a handbag instead.”
“Yeah but... when my hands have nothing to do I put them in my pockets. You can't to that with a handbag.”
“Your hands would be holding the handbag.” my mother informed me. “Thus giving them something to do.”
“Oh yeah.” I realised. “I'm looking forward to having pockets again though.” I smiled. Mum smiled too before asking me which I'll wear first; my favourite jeans or my comfiest joggers.“Oh I don't know.” I said. The idea of which of my boy clothes I might wear first hadn't crossed my mind. “Jeans I guess.” I replied. “Do I have to wait until tomorrow?” I asked. Mum told me that Dad is on a 'twelve-two', which means his shift started at lunchtime and ends at two o'clock in the morning, so I won't see him today. “Okay.” I said. “But Anna's going to be home isn't she?” I knowingly asked.
“Yes.” Mum said. “She'll be fine.” she added a moment later.
“Yeah I know.” I said. “Everyone seems to be fine with it... it's just me that seems to think it's weird.”
“It's not weird it's just uncommon.” she said. “And it can't be that uncommon when they manufacture a whole range of girlie undies especially for boys.” Mum replied “I think there'll come a day when it's quite normal for boys to wear girl's clothes.”
“It's normal at weddings isn't it?”
“Yes I suppose it is these days.” Mum said. “We'd never heard of a flowerboy when I was a girl, and the pageboy dressed like a normal boy.” she reminisced. “I seem to recall a couple of boys at school who had to be bridesmaids though.”
“I know of a boy at school who's been a bridesmaid.” I said, although I don't know him so it might be just a rumour.
“There's probably quite a few.” Mum claimed. “But boys tend to keep such things to themselves.” she told me. Too right! I thought.
By now the pan-flat landscape had returned to gently rolling hills and home was getting closer and closer. I looked at my lap, clad in a cosy burgundy knit and partly covered by my pinafore dress. I realise that I'm getting farther and farther away from the place where dresses feel normal. “I'm really nervous.” I said as the open fields gave way to an urban landscape.
“The worst that will happen is you'll have to endure Anna telling you how nice you look.”
“The worst that can happen is Jonny arrives on his bike just I'm getting out of the car.” I feared.
“Didn't you says he was away this weekend?” Mum knowingly asked. “Then you've nothing to worry about.”
“Hmmm.” I replied. But what if Maureen [the next door neighbour] calls round to borrow something just before we get back? I thought, imagining arriving home to find our very chatty middle aged neighbour in the hallway and I’m dressed like I’ve stepped straight off the cover of an old Mallory Tower's book.
The light had faded significantly by the time we entered our particular suburb of the city so I didn't feel overly exposed in the front seat of Mum's car. All anyone would see in passing is my large white collar so might just presume I'm a girl. I felt more relaxed until we turned onto the driveway then my nerves returned. It'll just be compliments, nothing else, I told myself. “You go straight in Stephen. I'll fetch the cases and everything.” Mum told me.
“Won't you come in with me?” I gulped. “Please.”
“Just because you're wearing a dress doesn't mean you're not a thirteen year old boy Stephen.” Mum told me. “You don't need mummy to hold your hand. You can do this by yourself.”
I stepped out of the car and cast my eyes toward the front door. I glanced down the drive to the street beyond before hastily striding to the door, my heels clacking noisily. Unexpectedly I find myself illuminated by the porch light as I approach and momentarily freeze. It hasn't worked for ages, I thought as I look up and gulp at the spotlight I found myself under. Quickly yet hesitantly I reach for the door handle and turn it. “Mum it's locked!” I pined, glancing fearfully down the drive. My mother had her hands full. I looked up at the light, then towards the street. I felt stuck in the most visible place, stood on the doorstep, illuminated from above. The door opened and there stood my sister. “Sorry I forgot it was locked.” she said. Her eyes looked me up and down as I stepped inside. A broad smile swept her face. I stood in the hallway and let her scrutinise me, not really knowing what else to do. “I had a feeling that dress would suit you.” she said. “And Mary Jane's too.” she added, looking at my feet. She complimented my tights and I corrected her about my shoes. “That makes sense. Pageboys do wear Mary Jane's these days.” she replied. “It also means you're not technically wearing girl's shoes.” she smiled.
“Yeah I know.” I said
“So... did you have a good Christmas?” she asked.
I smiled and nodded. “Yeah.” I said, with just a hint of caution. “...it was a bit weird dressing like a girl but... kinda good because I didn't feel awkward around Peter.” I said. “And I got a PlayStation 3!” I announced.
“Did you!” Anna exclaimed, although she probably knew I was getting one.
“Yeah... and the Rockband Game... and we went to Spalding and I got a ten-pin bowling game too.” I enthused. “Thanks for the book and alarm clock.” I said.
“You're welcome.” she smiled before thanking me for her gift. “Need a hand Mum?” Anna offered as our mother bundled through the door trying to carry four cases and a big carrier bag. Anna took the bag and helped her with two of the cases, one of which was mine. “You may as well take this up now.” my sister said. I could feel her watching as I climbed the stairs. “Oh, and Steve...?” she said.
“What?” I asked, pausing mid step.
“Will you not get changed just yet?” my sister asked.
“Mum said I could wear boy's clothes tomorrow so...” I told her.
“Oh... OK.” my sister said. “Cool.” she smiled.
I continued up to my room and opened the door, pausing for a moment. It felt like far more than six days had passed since I was last in my own room. I expected it would look as it usually does, with socks and T-shirts strewn on the floor but then I remembered having to tidy up before we left. I recalled how it felt wearing a dress for the first time, and consider how it feels today. I can't deny that I don't feel comfortable in my clothes. It's my room I don't quite feel comfortable in. It's a typical boy's room; stripes, zig-zags, blues, reds. Books, old toys and loads of boardgames fill the shelves. Posters of planets and volcanoes cover the walls. I gulp and look down at my feet, woolly tights and tweed pinafore. From my hand hangs my case in which is nothing but dresses, knickers, nighties and frilly pyjamas, tights and training bras. I feel like I’m doing my bedroom an injustice, returning to it like this. I leave the case beside my bed and return downstairs. My mum and sister are making coffee and offer me some. “Yes please.” I reply, suggesting we put some hot chocolate in it like Auntie June does. I fetch it from its cupboard and my sister comments on my clattery shoes. “Yeah.” I said. “They don't let me forget I’m wearing them.”
“You wear them well.” she commented. “Very well.”
“He's been like that right from the start.” Mum said. “Took to them like a duck to water.”
“That doesn't mean I particularly like them though.” I defensively added.
“You don't particularly hate them either.” Mum said.
“Did you wear those ankle boots?” my sister asked.
“Couple of times.” I said. “On Boxing Day.”
“And Christmas Eve too.” Mum added. “He wore your dungaree shorts.”
“Did you like them?”
“They were OK.” I told her. “But I had worn your old sailor dress the entire day before so I'd prefer anything compared to that.” My sister grinned and wished she'd seen me in that. “Mum's got some photos.” I said.
“Top secret photos.” Mum cheerily stated. “F.Y.E.O.” she said, dangling the USB drive that contained them.
“Oooh!” my sister cooed. “Can I see?”
“Later.” Mum replied, “After tea.”
I've only been shown some of the photos on the tiny camera screen and I can't say I’m looking forward to seeing them on a large laptop screen, so I was happy to wait until after tea. “So what else did you wear?” my sister asked. “What else did you get for Christmas?”
“Erm... this blouse.” I said, thumbing my collar. “A dress, some tights, pyjamas...”
“You got plenty of boy things too Stephen.” Mum said. “Did you thank Anna for...?”
“Yeah he did.” my sister interrupted, smiling at me. “I think a less fussy blouse would be nicer with that pinafore.”
“Don't you like it?” Mum asked, somewhat defensively.
“It's lovely.” my sister insisted. “It's just, a dress like that needs a more understated collar.”
“Yes I suppose. But he only has two blouses and wore the other yesterday.”
“My pink one?” Anna knowingly asked. “With the pleated skirt?” Mum nodded and told her that we went shopping to Spalding. “How was that?” my sister asked me.
“Well I was petrified at first but no one seemed bothered... and we did see another boy wearing a dress so it wasn't just me.” I replied, recalling his mother, completely unabashed saying don't forget your handbag Andrew. I'd have felt mortified if that were me.
“Maybe they just thought you were a girl.” my sister suggested, adding that I'd have been wearing some make-up. I shook my head and Mum said I didn't wear any make-up at all. “but...?” my sister seemed surprised.
“Peter doesn't wear make-up.” Mum stated.
“I thought petticoated boys did?” my sister quizzed.
“As far as I know it's up to the parent or guardian.” Mum replied. “It's not a mandatory aspect like attending ballet or dressmaking classes.” she added.
“Ooh.” my sister said. “One of the porters at work was saying her brother's have Sunday dresses... so they're not proper petticoatees like Peter, but the first thing they do every Sunday morning is their make-up.” Apparently they're twins, aged fifteen and always have matching Sunday dresses. “...and apparently they have their names embroidered on the front of their knickers.” she grinned.
“Well that is mandatory for boys.” Mum said. “Stephen's got his name on his.”
“Oh Mu-um.” I whined. “Don't tell her that.”
“No need to feel embarrassed Stevie.” my sister said as I felt exactly that. She turned to our mother and asked, “So did you have him calling you 'mummy' as well?”
“No I didn't.” Mum said. “He was just an honorary petticoatee, weren't you?”
“I guess.” I replied. “Why does he have to say 'mummy'?” I asked. “He always says 'mum' when she's not around.”
“It's just a form of address.” Mum replied.
“It's infantile though.”
“As are many of the clothes boys like Peter have to wear.” Mum replied. “Remember his school uniforms?”
“I thought he dressed like a boy at school.” my sister said.
“He does, but to help encourage him to do his homework, Peter changes into a girl's school uniform when he gets home and he can't change out of that until his days' assignments are all done.” Mum explained, describing an infantile navy blue pinafore with a flower shaped zip pull, and a blue gingham dress he wears in summer.
“It's not much of a motivator if he only has to change into a different dress.” my sister said. “I could see it working on someone like Stephen who'd have normal boys clothes as his incentive.”
“I know but the point was, Peter's school clothes are deliberately infantile, along with most his other clothes. Petticoated boys don't dress like fourteen year old girls for a reason.” Mum replied.
“Aaah!” my sister announced. She recalled when Peter was initially petticoated and asked our aunt why, and June apparently replied to stop him growing up too quick. “I always wondered what that meant... he does dress like a nine year old.”
“And still has to call him mum mummy... when his little sister doesn't.” I added. After a moment I also whined to my sister that we had to get ready for bed at 8pm every night when Jasmine didn't have to.
“You were all sent to bed at the same time though.” Mum replied. “But you're right it should be Jasmine too.”
“8pm's a bit early when you're thirteen/fourteen though.” Anna figured.
“It's just ready for bed, not sent to bed.” Mum said. “And I quite liked it... all settling down once the boys had their jimjams on to watch TV and just chill in front of the fire.” she dreamily recalled. “That was a nice routine.” she smiled.
“It sounds very cosy.” my sister said.
“Yeah it was in a way.” I concurred.
“So what's it feel like? Wearing a dress?”
“This one or dresses in general?”
“Erm... that one.” she said.
“I feel like a belong on the cover of a Girl's Own Annual.” I dryly replied. They both found the analogy amusing and accurate. My sister said that was the sort of look she was going for when she bought my dress, and wore it with nut brown knitted tights, before complimenting my burgundy tights and saying mine look better. Bashfully I thanked her and she asked if I liked them. “I like wearing them... they're cosy.” I said. “I tried some really thin ones too but didn't like those so much.”
“And dresses in general?” my sister pressed.
“They're OK.” I said, before stating that I’m not going to wear them round town or anything.
“But just around the house?”
“I'd rather not.” I replied. “What if Maureen calls round? ...or Jonny?” I said. “Although I did kind of tell Peter and Jasmine that I might wear a dress next time they visit.”
“So you must like them a tiny bit?”
“My cousins or my dresses?” I dryly asked. My sister grinned. “Nah... it's just... I always used to feel really awkward around Peter but this week I haven't.” I said. “...so maybe next time, if I'm not wearing a dress, I might feel all awkward again.”
“Why did you feel awkward?” my sister asked.
“I don't know... it was just weird... the cousin I’d always known as a normal boy was all of sudden wearing dresses and calling Auntie June mummy.” I replied. “I couldn't help but wonder how horrible it must be to wear a pale blue party dress with kittens on the skirt.” I recall that as the first dress we saw him in, some eighteen months previously, soon after Peter's thirteenth birthday. “I guess by making me wear dresses I didn't have to wonder about his.” I deduced.
“And they're not as horrible as you imagined are they.” Mum smiled.
“No but...” I replied, pondering on what the 'but' might be. “...I still don't want anyone to know that I spent Christmas week dressed like a girl.” I said.
“Well they won't find out from me.” Mum said.
“Nor me.” Anna added.
“And you can trust your dad.” Mum told me. After a short moment of silence she added. “...and if you do ever want to wear a dress around the house... or those dungaree-shorts you liked, your dad's fine with that too.” she informed me. “You don't have to wait until Peter and Jasmine visit.”
“Erm... you say it like you think I will.” I hesitantly replied.
“All I’m saying is you can wear anything you like.” Mum told me. “And if that's just boy clothes then that's fine.” she added.
Before long, Mum suggested we unpack and I started with the big bag full of gifts I'd received. The PS3 took pride of place under the big TV in the lounge. Eventually I'll have to move it up to my room and play on my much smaller TV, but for now I can play in the lounge. It looks so shiny and new. I still couldn't quite believe it belonged to me and it really was the very last thing I expected to unwrap.
The remaining gifts I took up to my room where Mum has my case open on my bed. “I don't want that in my wardrobe.” I said as she placed my green velvet dress on a hanger. “I'm not gonna wear it again.”
“You might.” Mum replied. “Maybe when we visit your cousins next?”
“But, it's a Christmas dress.”
“It's just a green dress Stephen.” Mum replied. “It was your snowflake tights that gave it a festive look.” she informed me, hanging it in my wardrobe.
“You're putting them all in there?” I said seeing the pale blue sailor dress, taffy pink blouse and the grey pleated skirt already hanging in my wardrobe. “They should go back in the big wardrobe.” I reckoned, that being the place on the landing where all the old or seldom worn clothes are stowed. Mum claimed the big wardrobe is bulging and there's plenty of space in mine, adding that I don't have to wear them if I don't want to.
Also on my bed is the laundry bag with all my underwear, nightwear and hosiery inside. From the case Mum removes the dusty pink cords and put those in the laundry bag, followed by the black dungaree shorts which she suggests I put on a hanger. “You might wear those again.” she supposed.
“Hmm.” I said, not committing myself.
“You seem to have lost some of your optimism.” Mum told me as she folded my soft cream jumper.
“I'm not sure I'd like wearing girl's clothes here... 'specially when Dad's home.” I told her.
“But it's OK I front of me and Anna?” Mum asked.
“Well yeah because you're women and you like girl's clothes. Dad might think...”
“Your dad won't think anything. He wore dresses too remember.”
“Yeah but... only when his gran told him to.” I said. “The difference is I'd be choosing to wear one here.”
“Which is better, surely?” Mum said. I skewed my jaw. “No?” I gulped and shrugged. “So it's OK to dress like a girl, but only if you've been told to?” she asked.
“Kind of.” I said. “I'd feel weird choosing one.”
Mum followed my gaze into my wardrobe. “You've not exactly much to choose from.” she said. “But Auntie June did say that lots of boys have a Sunday dress.”
“I don't want to wear that every Sunday!” I sneered, clearly referring to the pretty sailor dress.
“But you wouldn't be choosing it.” Mum smiled. “And there's the idea of a girl's uniform for doing your homework.” she added. “I know for a fact there's at least two of Anna's in the big wardrobe.”
I gulped. “But... that'd be five days a week... plus Sunday.”
“It'd only be for an hour or so after school. And a Sunday dress doesn't strictly mean every Sunday.” mum replied. “Too much?” she asked.
“It's six days.” I retorted. “I'd only have Saturday.”
“It does seem like a lot... but it'd be only one full day out of seven, plus a handful of hours. It'd be nothing really. I think we should at least try the homework thing... just for a week.” she suggested. “We'll tell Dad it was my idea.”
“It was your idea.” I replied. “But I'm not so sure.” I said as I imagined what I'd look like and how it might feel. I imagined the routine. “It'd be the same thing everyday.”
“But only for an hour or so.” she said. “And if it does help your grades...?”
“How is wearing a girl's uniform gonna help my grades?” I dryly asked.
“It won't.” Mum smiled. “It's starting your homework straight after school when all the information is still fresh in your mind that will help your grades.” she informed me. “Wearing a girl's uniform is the incentive to finish it.”
“But what will Anna and Dad think if I start dressing like a schoolgirl after school?”
“You'd be wearing it for a reason, not through choice... and I think both will agree that it's a good incentive.” Mum replied. “Plus it won't be until the week after next so we've plenty of time to discuss it.”
That seemed to suggest that I mightn't have to do it after all, which relieved me somewhat. “But... what about the Sunday dresses?” I asked.
Mum thought for a moment. “How about... if you find a dress hung from your wardrobe when you go to bed on Saturday, then that's your dress for Sunday.” she suggested. “I mightn't put one out every weekend and you don’t have to wear it.” she said. “That way you won't have to choose yet you still have a choice.”
“Hmm.” I replied, very much in two minds.
“Plus after wearing the same uniform after school every day... a nice Sunday dress would be just what the doctor ordered.”
“Hmm.” I said. “So long as it's not every Sunday... and not the same one every time.”
“Well luckily for you, there's plenty of potential Sunday dresses in the big wardrobe... so we'll have a good rummage tomorrow, shall we?”
“OK.” I half-heartedly agreed. “But please don't make me wear anything. Tomorrow's my first day as a normal boy and I'm determined to wear nothing but boy's clothes.”
“Fair enough.” Mum said. “But I did leave your white PJs out for tonight.” she told me.
Neatly folded on my pillow is the girlie pyjama set I'm yet to wear. More subtle than my pink set, having white frills on white cotton, but still far too frilly for comfort. Mum Picked up my bag of laundry and said. “Well I’d best get this lot on to wash.” she said, leaving me alone in my room.
I wasn't sure what I'd just talked myself into; dressing like a girl everyday after school and on Sundays too, or just wearing the odd Sunday dress? Feeling somewhat bamboozled, I zipped up my empty case and put it away in the wardrobe. I took one final glance at my small selection of girl's clothes and imagined the rail being full of them. I gulped and shut the doors.
Excellent finish to the story love the way done as usual a great two way conversation and a suggestion is going to happen for the better to help his grades and look.ReplyDelete
Comment on part two - part 1:ReplyDelete
Delighted to read part two.
Love the description of Stephen's first dress. It is a pretty as I had hoped.
I giggled of the reference to Peter's sailor dress as positively boyish.Gosh more mothers might just buy one for their sons. Sweet.
Stephens suitcase is packed with a beautiful cosy array of day and night attire attire from Anna. Very thoughtful Mum also. I'd a wry smile there that he may be fearful of enjoying it, fun but at that stage I understand he grimaced. Fun. A priceless conversation when he's starting to get dressed. Loving his calming Mum. I'm sure we'd all love to see that reflection in the hallway mirror too, gulp, love it though.
A great idea for Mum to record him tidying up the room. Lesson learned fast! and yes more, and yes just a normal boy - thanks Mum. Fun car ride too.
Gosh that is fab fun at Auntie Junes with Peter dressed similarly to Stephen and Jasmine in her jeans.
Jasmine who ends up wearing Peters old dresses, that's really funny, I like it. Again that entire chat over coffee and unpacking is great, I can picture myself there. Definitely his white tights over frilly socks on chilly days anytime.
At their games I smiled, in agreement of course, at "If anything wearing a dress seemed somehow beneficial".
I love that the 1st night and morning times are very enlightening for him. Love they are all girle and Peter has a range of nice attire. And their chores are great to keep them out of trouble and get Stephen used to moving around. Brilliant chats had outside. They are very good pair of helpers having fun together.
Comment on part two - part 2:ReplyDelete
Aww! 2nd night both boys in Nighties, nice.
Magical conversation on Christmas morning even before gift opening time. The neutral starter gifts are a great idea to relax them before the big reveal. Pictures have to be taken it's all part of the fun.
The actual main gifts of Peters and Stephens yummy dresses, nice blouse too, sweet tights and also festive socks. Yup both boys are pioneers to dress nicely.
Love that Jasmine also dressed properly for what must've been a cute photo of the three of them.
The mixture of boyish nice girls jumper for Stephen is perfect. Jasmine getting boyish clothes is nothing to worry about, she'll get some girlish clothes handed down from Peter.
"the uncomfortable conversation" is very nicely written, good siblings and cousins just getting along, I like it. With their main gifts a petticoatee band looms in their future. Smile!
I loved reading where Stephen is able to start rationalising the clothes and figure out which is going to wear when. Great to Lean Anna had a big part to play in pickout out the collection for the week. She definitely deserves to see him dressed pretty too.
For the turbine outing, Stephens outfit is cute, Peters dress hough casual is still pretty, Jasmines skinny jeans outfit is a nice foil to the other two. I guess his training bra is the most difficult to get used too though for his legs he is right a nice pair of tights under them would be better. He's a quick learner. Nice touch him imaging a summers day in a sailor dress.
Nice touch Mum tempting him on the tights under his jeans. Also nice touch Jasmine encouraging him with the dress and tights to go for a walk outside.
Brilliant chat about the styles of sailor dresses. Very logical as usual. Peters thin tights sund lovely with Stephens sailor dress. Understandably he became captivated. Lovely when Jasmine chimes in too.
Funny and nice chat between Stephen and Mum over his Nighty or PJ's.
What a nice frank conversation between Peter and Stephen on their way be bed, shows it has worked as no teasing. Here Peters nightdress really is a nice work of art.
For the trip to town, I love this phrase, "You're just a normal boy wearing a warm winter skirt and knee socks... no one's going to think you're a schoolgirl Stephen. Plus all the schools are on holiday.” Also love, "not unknown many petticoated boys around here have a Sunday dress". Love all 3 attired descriptions.
Interesting Peter has a girlfriend. Not seen this before in this particular familial scenario, but like the idea.
Love this thought: "If boys did routinely wear dresses, I mused as we journeyed over the pan flat landscape, they'd be more like Peter's long casual jumper than the fussy frilly frocks he usually wears."
The descriptions of how the boys deal with their dresses while moving around is perfect. All very lovely that passers by don't fuss. The pub scene with Andrew is very encouraging. Fun shopping too cute conversations and purchases.
Comment on part two - part 3:ReplyDelete
Peter's room is yummy and daily outfits routine is described just so nice! Gald Stephen got to try Peters boyish sailor dress.
I love Jasmin's encouragement “I know you didn't want to wear girls' clothes but you wear them well.” and Stephens "confessing that they're not as bad as thought they'd be". and when he was not very convincing in denial that wearing dresses is nice. and "Chloe's parents' approve of Peter being a petticoatee. " and Stephen will wear a dress when visits Peter & vice-versa.
Brilliant to include the other aspects and the new fashions for boys dresses at weddings. Will be lovely one daily girls clothes for boys are just as normal as boys clothes for girls. That goes for grown ups too.
Delighted Anna got to see him in the grey pinafore dress.
It's intriguing how Stephen feels his room does not fit him now. This is a good though. Makes him think how much nicer things can be.
Happy that Anna is just as encouraging to Stephens dress as her cousin Jasmine. Anna is sweet to be enquiring his trip went well. Which it did of course.
This is a golden piece of information from Anna, said. “One of the porters at work was saying her brother's have Sunday dresses... so they're not proper petticoatees like Peter, but the first thing they do every Sunday morning is their make-up".
For reluctant boys like Stephen is good Mum puts his new dresses in his wardrobe. Brilliant chat from Mum to Stephen rationalising and scheming dress time. Which funnily of course he agrees to with trepidation. Nice.
PJ, this was a great story. Thanks so much for completing it. I appreciate it is difficulty to get all those detailed elements in that you have in this one. From my huge reply here, you see how very much I loved every bit of it. Sorry for 3 parts in my comment as there's a limit on the length of a comment imposed by the site.
Wonderful second part. I love how Stephen's mom guides him through dresses and skirts. There is a specific part of the story in which I feel identified, and that is when Stephen's mother shows him the recording of the moment when Stephen is alone in his room, and the lesson he learns when he sees that when he bows down he you can see her panties. I also like the itchy sensation Stephen gets from the frills of his panties when he's sitting in Mum's car. Great story P.J.ReplyDelete
Thank you for another great story PJ. You really stepped up your game on this one. The way you describe Stephen's conflicting thoughts and feelings about having to wear girl's clothes is very well done. Did you consciously put a lot of extra time and effort into this, or did it just turn out that way? It's great the way you describe him; he rather enjoys some of the clothes (especially the swishy pleated skirt) but knows it's wrong for a boy to even think about wearing girl's clothing, let alone admit to enjoying them.ReplyDelete
"...as I held the sailor collar aloft..." How nautically correct! :-) That one really amuses me.
Dare we hope for a part three? Thanks again for a very enjoyable story.
PJ just a fantastic story! I loved the interactions and conversations between Stephen and his mum and auntie. Stephen/s mummy had things under control and knew much more about him than he did himself and with the help of her sister got him moving in the right direction towards petticoating. Peter was fabulous with telling Stephen he really didn’t mind wearing girls clothes and he likes some more than others and to have a girlfriend that’s supports him while he is wearing a dress. I would have really loved that! I Would have loved to see both boys wearing some level of makeup for Christmas and at minimum some lipstick and mascara day to day. Also some pretty nail polish would have been nice with Jasmine painting both boys toes and fingers. This two part story was one of your best!ReplyDelete
Thanks for gifting this too all of us
Thank you all for the kind comments :)ReplyDelete
Totally needs an Easter sequel!ReplyDelete
Highly unlikely I'm afraid :)Delete
I so love your stories, I wrote something inspired by them - I hope you don't mind: revioletdream.blogspot.comReplyDelete
thank you for that. i hope my other readers enjoy your new story-site too. :)Delete
First of all, thank you for helping me through this gray and rainy time that has started the new year.ReplyDelete
When I read about the thoughts and feelings that run through Stephen's head both before and during his visit with his mother to Aunt June, it is as if the sun is breaking out. There is no one like you who can create and describe characters you can just love and get into, following the development so closely inside Stephen's head is fantastic.
As they walk up towards the windmills and Stephen imagines how his sailor dress would wrap around his legs if it had been a windy summer day is almost tear-inducing as it indicates a bit of a critical turning point in his young life.
The mother must be very clever, as she has somehow been able to read her son's innermost feelings even before he himself knew about them, and all in all the technique she uses to get him on the right path is brilliant. During the acquisition of what he needs before the visit, she always manipulates it towards it is his own choices.
It also comes out strongly during the final part where they unpack his suitcase after returning home, when he admits that it has not been such a terrible week as he had imagined and that he would not mind to wear girl's clothes again when he has to be with his cousins. The way the mother gets it linked to wearing a Sunday dress when he is inside on Sundays, without having to be forced to do so is also clever. The idea of her choosing one and hanging it out on Saturday without him having to choose which one it is, but just deciding whether he wants to wear it or not is brilliant, again there is no compulsion but it's all up to him self.
I can't help feeling a little sorry for the father who is not allowed to see his son dressed in girl's clothes, it could show him the difference between it was a punishment in his childhood but is a partially free wish in Stephen's situation.
Looking forward to next gift from your hand.
As is usual, my only complaint is that the story ended to soon and like most of your stories I want them to continue so I can get to know our hero better.ReplyDelete
Die Geschichte hat mir sehr gut gefallen und würde mich über eine Fortsetzung freuen!!ReplyDelete
Love your stories. I've done a picture seies on Deviant Art vaguely based on some of your stories https://www.deviantart.com/michelleleedsgirl/gallery/86705739/michael-s-schooldays please use any of my art to illustrate tour tales if you wishReplyDelete
I noticed those pictures a couple of weeks ago... they're wonderful. You're very talented and I'm somewhat flattered. Thank you so much! :)Delete