by Louise Anne Smithson
I was quite relieved that Julie’s choice of clothes the following day was reasonably restrained — the sort of things I might choose to wear. She’d put on slacks, a tank top, some white socks and a pair of low-heeled shoes. She’d retained the boobs that I’d made for her and I noticed that she’d also put on a pendant and a bracelet from her mother’s jewellery box. She was wearing a trace of lipstick and some mascara (again not too much), and had put on the wig again which she had brushed it into a style. All-in-all, she looked pretty much like an ordinary fifteen year old girl.
Quite a pile of letters arrived in the post that morning, most of which related to the financial affairs of Julie’s mother. There was also one official letter addressed to me, from the Probate Office in Oxford, giving me an appointment to come to their office in two weeks to answer any further questions relating to the grant and to swear the Oath. We could have applied for an interview in Reading but it would have involved a wait of three months or more. Presumably there had been no problems with our application so far, but nothing further could be done until after I’d sworn the Oath. I would then become the executor of my father’s will and have access to his assets so that I could pay the legatees, including the estate of his late mother. Apart from a couple of bequests to charities, the only surviving beneficiaries were now Julie and me. Although she had now largely completed the paper work relating to our father’s estate, Julie started work on drawing up the application for the grant of representation allowing me to be to act for her mother. As I was not directly related to her I would have to swear an affidavit, which would be then supported by evidence showing why none of her surviving relatives could do so. We arranged with the probate office for me to do this at the same time as I swore the administration oath. It was all very complicated and a little bit beyond me, but Julie seemed to understand exactly what was happening
‘I think it’s time for me to start listing details of all Mummy’s assets onto a spreadsheet so we can start to complete the relevant forms and work out the inheritance tax payable,’ said Julie. ‘However we’ll not be able to apply for probate for Mummy until after Daddy’s has been settled as most of his estate automatically became Mummy’s when he died. When her probate is eventually settled I’ll be able to transfer the house into my name and then think about putting it on the market, but that’s going to take a few months.”
‘What’ll you do then?’ I asked.
‘I’ll probably look for somewhere small and private to rent until I can have my sex-change operation,’ she replied in a matter of fact way.
I thought it best to try and change the subject as I could see there would be difficult times ahead for her and I didn’t want to get involved too deeply in her long term future if I could help it. I’d my own issues to face after all. Fortunately, a text message came through on my phone as she was speaking. It was from Susie.
My day off - can U join me in Reading? Have sum news 2 tell! luv Sooz
‘Julie, since you appear to have plenty of things to do today, would you mind if I went into Reading for a while to meet my friend Susie, it’s her day off?’
‘No of course I don’t mind,’ she responded, ‘you don’t have to stay in looking after me all the time.’
I responded to Susie and arranged a time to meet her off the train.
‘By the way, will you be telling your friend about me or leaving it a little while longer?’ she asked as I was about to leave
‘She’s bound to ask how I’m getting on. Do you mind if I tell her the whole story?’
‘Go ahead, if you think she might be able to help me and she’ll be discreet.’
‘I’ll see what she thinks. However, please keep away from the front windows in the meanwhile, and don’t answer the door to anyone. You may look like a girl, but there’s still a danger that you’d give yourself away if you met someone at close quarters.’
Julie looked a little disappointed by my comment.
‘Julie you’re doing really well, but you must realise that it’s going to take time and practice to get things right. You mustn’t rush things; otherwise you might give yourself away. It’s taken me eighteen years to learn how to act like a young woman.
‘And I’m still not very good at it!’ I added in my own mind.
‘I suppose you’re right Jenny, sometimes I do get over enthusiastic about being a girl, but it’s something I’ve always longed for. However, once I’ve finished working on the spreadsheet I’ll search the internet and look at some videos on You-tube and try and work out and practice how teenage girls speak and use body language.’
‘That’s a good idea, and I’ll bring you back some girly magazines to read as well. You need to immerse yourself in being a girl, but we must be careful not to turn you into a complete ‘bimbo’ along the way.’ I said, laughing.
‘At least not until you have finished working out how to apply for our father’s probate!’
Susie and I had a couple of hours looking round the shops together and catching up with one another’s news. She’d managed to find herself a boyfriend during the week I’d been away and was anxious to tell me all about him. She even offered to ask him whether he had any decent looking friends, who might suit me, but previous experience has shown me that decent looking guys tend to have spotty sex-starved midgets as their friends, so I told her not to bother until she knew him a little better. Inevitably, the topic of how I was getting on babysitting my little brother also cropped up at an early stage in our conversation. We were then waiting in a queue to pay for a top that she’d chosen for herself and might easily be overheard.
‘It’s turned out to be quite an interesting job, but I’ll tell you about it over lunch, if you don’t mind waiting,’ I said.
She agreed to wait, but it had clearly whetted her appetite, for as soon as we sat down at lunchtime, she was back on to the subject.
‘OK Jen, let’s hear it, what it is that’s so ‘interesting’ about this younger brother of yours?’
‘Before I tell you anything — you do understand that this is strictly confidential, only between us.’ I said in a tone that indicated that there was no question involved.
‘Jen, you can trust me. After all, I never told anyone when you got blind drunk at that party and we had to smuggle you back into your house without your parents realising.’
‘And I’ve never told anyone about your various escapades with those two Italian exchange students last summer,’ I replied.
‘Point taken, I promise that my lips will be sealed, so what’s the big secret?’ she asked eager to know more.
‘My so-called little brother wants to become my little sister. He has been taking tablets to stop him from developing into a man and was on the point of going to Thailand to grow a pair of boobs, when his parents were killed in that car crash. Now she wants me to help her to live as a girl named Julie.’
‘Good heavens. How extraordinary. Who else knows about this?’ asked Sue.
‘That’s just the point, nobody else knows about it except for me - and now you. He, or perhaps I should say she, is still a minor and won’t be sixteen until the end of August.’
‘And are you sure that she’s not going to grow out of the idea in a month or two and want to become your brother again?’ she asked.
‘I think all of that was gone into by a psychiatrist some time ago. Apparently she has always thought of herself as being a girl, in the wrong body, and now seems determined to live as a woman, come what may. She says that she’s going to have a sex-change operation just as soon as she’s eighteen, and she’ll have more than enough money to pay for one.’
‘I’ve heard about people like that, they are known as transgendered,’ said Sue.
‘Yes, I’ve been reading up on the subject on the Internet as well,’ I admitted. ‘It’s far more common than you might think.
‘But is it embarrassing for you staying with … her?’ she asked.
‘No, not so far, in fact Julie makes quite a convincing and attractive girl.’
‘Well good luck to her I suppose, but what are you going to do?’
‘Well, in a funny sort of way I quite like my new sister Julie and would like to help her, at least until I have to leave to go to University. I’d like to help her to live as a girl if that’s what she wants. She’ll be secure financially until she’s an adult but needs some advice with her appearance and the way she presents herself if she’s going to pass successfully.
‘You should send her along to one of my demonstrations, in the salon, I could give her a makeover,’ suggested Sue.
‘I don’t think she’s quite ready to venture out on her own as yet,’ I replied. ‘However, if you were willing, we could certainly benefit from your advice and assistance.’
‘What sort of advice and assistance?’
‘You know - what clothes would suit her best, what to do with her hair, advice on makeup, finger nails — you’re so much more knowledgeable about these things than I am. I expect she’d be willing to pay you a reasonable fee for your time.’
‘It can be a difficult task to make a man to look like a convincing woman, I’ve heard stories from other beauty workers who have tried and not achieved the results that their clients were hoping for.’
‘I don’t think it would be so difficult in this case.’
I showed Susie the picture of Julie that I’d taken the previous day on my mobile.
‘Wow she doesn’t look at all bad,’ she replied.
‘I know, but I still think she could do with a little ‘fine tuning’ before I let her loose on the world.’
‘Alright. I’ll see what I can do, but I make no promises. When would you like me to make a start?’ she asked.
‘Whenever is most convenient for you. You could even come out and meet her this afternoon if you want, and then I’ll drive you back to Bracknell afterwards.’
‘Alright then. I’ve finished my shopping for today, and this sounds as if it might be an interesting assignment.’
On the way to the bus stop I picked up some teenage magazines for Julie to read and sent her a text message explaining that Sue and I were on our way to see her and suggesting that she might wish to change into a dress.
‘You’ll need to be gentle with her Sue; my sister is a little bit fragile and unsure of her self at the moment and is liable to dissolve into tears at the slightest thing.’
‘We’re not all as hard-hearted as you are Jen. I think it would be quite understandable for anyone to cry a little, given her recent circumstances,’ she replied.
I didn’t reply, but felt a little hard done by. After all, I can’t remember when I’d been more considerate to anyone than I’d been to my little sister over the last week.
‘Julie, this is my friend Susie, Sue this is my sister Julie.’
Julie had put on a dark red dress and matching high heels; she’d also changed the colour of her lipstick to co-ordinate. She looked quite pretty, but still a little shy and diffident, as she shook hands with my friend.
‘Hi Julie. I was so sorry to hear about your parents.’
Julie nodded and thanked her.
‘I understand from Jen that you’d like some advice from me, but I can’t really see what she was worrying about, you make a very presentable young lady,’ said my friend, kindly.
‘Thank you, but I’d appreciate any comments or advice you may wish to offer,’ she answered.
‘Alright, we’ll begin by looking at your hair and work downwards. That’s a fairly good quality wig you are wearing which would pass in most circumstances, but it still looks a little artificial. Would you mind taking it off for a moment, please?’
Julie did as she was told, and in my opinion still looked like a girl without it.
‘You have nice thick hair that, but is not yet long enough to style properly. Would you consider wearing hair extensions until your own hair has had a chance to grow?’ asked Sue.
‘I hadn’t really thought about them.’
‘They would cost you around £40 to buy and would either be clipped into place or I could sew them in for a further £20. Sewn extensions would be more secure and also look better, but they would be semi-permanent, lasting between six weeks and two months before they need to be re-sewn.’
‘What do you think Jenny?’ asked Julie.
‘It rather depends on whether you’ll need to make an appearance as a young man during that period.’ I replied
‘I can’t really think of a situation where I’ll need to appear in person over the next few weeks. I don’t have any family or friends other than you, and we have never been particularly friendly with the neighbours. Now that the funeral is over I doubt if there’ll be any more official visitors to the house. If anyone does come looking for Julian, you could always say that he has gone away to stay with his Aunt in Australia, and provide them with my email address. Then I could either phone or email them back.’
‘Well if you’d like to try hair extensions and you don’t mind the expense, go ahead,’ I said.
‘It’ll be fun to have my own long hair to style,’ she said.
‘I’ll cut and style your hair when I put in the extensions but you’ll have to learn how to look after it for yourself and to put it in rollers,’ said Sue.
‘I’ll be able to help you with it to begin with, but remember that I’ll not be here beyond mid September so I’ll expect you to learn how to cope with your own hair soon,’ I said.
‘Alright, when can you put them in for me?’ she asked.
‘I’ll take a sample of your hair now so that I can match the colour.’
‘Actually I quite liked the idea of being blonde, if that is ok?’ said Julie looking towards me as if she were seeking my permission.
I rolled my eyes and let out a little sigh,
‘What do you think, Sooze?’ I asked
‘Alright then, but it would mean that we’ll have to colour Julie’s own hair first,’ she replied. ‘I won’t charge any more for my time, but I would charge her for the materials.’
‘Of course,’ said Julie.
‘Do you want the same shade as the wig you are wearing?’
‘In that case let me take several strands of the wig so I can match the colour and also some of your hair so I can do some strand tests. I will have the extensions and hair colour by Saturday. Would you two be able to come to my place on Sunday?’ asked Sue.
‘I’d rather assumed that you’d fix them here, I’m still a little anxious about Julie venturing out, just in case the neighbours should see her.’ I said.
‘I’ve everything that I need at my house, and I’d also be able to extend Julie’s finger nails there if she wishes,’ said Sue to me.
‘I could provide you with a set of acrylic nail extensions and a manicure for twenty pounds,’ she said to Julie.
‘Oh yes please,’ she answered excitedly.
‘Julie, are you sure you can afford to spend this money before we receive your father’s grant of probate?’
‘Yes, Julian had saved a few hundred pounds in a separate account to buy Julie some clothes this summer, but it now it looks as I will not need to buy as much as I am wearing mummy’s clothes and those that you gave me.’
Oh well, I suppose if we do run out of money I would be able to loan her some from the overdraft which the bank had promised to me.’
‘Why don’t you have your nails done at the same time Jenny?’ I would charge thirty pounds if you both have them done together,’ Susie said looking towards me.
‘Oh please Jenny, let’s have our nails done together, I’ll pay for both of us, it’ll be such good fun,’ said Julie like an excited school kid.
‘Thanks a lot Susie.’ I thought. But Julie is definitely beginning to sound more like a girl.’
‘I’ll see how I feel about it on Sunday,’ I replied to them both.
‘But isn’t there a danger that your mother will want to know who the girl was who arrived with me wearing a blonde wig and left with extensions,’ I then said to Sue.
‘If you both come round at about ten in the morning, she’ll be out for most of the day.’
‘Alright, Julie we’ll go to Bracknell, but you’ll need to get in to the car when it’s inside the garage and keep your head down as we drive away.’
Both Susie and I received an excited hug from our young protégé.
‘Three whole days, I can’t wait until Sunday,’ she said, as she replaced the wig and brushed her hair.
I looked over to Sue and raised my eyebrows. She smiled in response, but Julie remained blissfully unaware of our amusement.
Whatever has happened to that super intelligent little runt that I first met three weeks ago?
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