and how she changed my life
by Louise Anne Smithson
A shopping trip with Debbie
I was a little taken aback by Suzanne’s announcement, on our return to her flat, that I could dress as I wished for the remainder of my stay.
‘Oh!’ I said; ‘but I thought you wanted me to remain as Clare until Debbie’s party.’
‘Don’t get me wrong, I’d be delighted to have you remain as Clare for as long as you wish, but if you do so from now onwards, it is because you have decided to do so, rather than because anyone is putting pressure on you.’
‘But you’ve paid so much for me to have these hair extensions and have supplied me with nice clothes to wear.’
‘Yes I know; in addition to convincing Eleanor and Christine, I wanted to give you the opportunity of seeing what it was like to be a young woman. But I’ve been thinking about your situation over the last few days and feel that, from now onwards, you should take responsibility for how you choose to live and dress.’
‘It’s not as simple as that Suzanne. Remember that Debbie is expecting me to go on a shopping trip with her tomorrow. Also, she persuaded me to change into Clare at my flat ten days ago and so I arrived here without any of Tom’s clothes. If I wanted to change back, I would have to go home and collect something to wear first.’
‘Oh yes, I’d forgotten that, but I could always loan you some jeans and a unisex sweater if you wish,’ said Suzanne smiling.
‘I’ll see how I feel about things in the morning,’ I replied, ‘but maybe I ought to call in at my flat to collect some of Tom’s clothes, just in case.’
‘Very well, please do whatever you wish, but from now onwards you must take responsibility for who you are and what you wear.’
As I was removing my makeup and fixing my hair before I went to bed, I went through the events of the previous month in my mind, trying to work out what I thought of it all. I’d initially allowed myself to be changed into Clare, and then, to some degree, had been encouraged to do so again on a number of subsequent occasions. Yet I had to admit that I’d always enjoyed my times spent as a young woman and had not resisted the schemes of my two female friends, as I might easily have done. Now, after having had a most agreeable time, Suzanne was suddenly taking off the pressure from me. I had to decide for myself whether or not I wished to continue with as things they were. Yet it could only be for one more week at most. After all, I had a job, a flat, and indeed a different life to go back to. Eventually, I changed into the nightdress that came with the set Suzanne had given me for Christmas and went to bed without having made any certain decision one way or the other.
On Boxing Day morning I woke and immediately noticed the pleasant sensation of wearing the silk nightdress, and gradually remembered my indecision of the previous night. I sat up in bed and looked at myself across the room in the dressing table mirror, brushing the long strands of hair from my face. I then examined my painted fingernails, and touched the studs that were in my ears, and which no longer gave me any discomfort. There was really no point in my changing back into Tom on that day, or indeed until after Debbie’s forthcoming party on Saturday. If, therefore, I was going to remain as Clare then I might as well make the best of things and enjoy myself. It also seemed silly for me to put on jeans and a sweater, whilst I retained my long hair and polished nails and had so many other nice clothes to wear. I shrugged my shoulders and went for a shower before going to the wardrobe and choosing some feminine looking clothes to wear for Boxing Day.
Suzanne was still fast asleep by the time I’d dressed, so I sat down and fixed my face and hair giving both the ‘full works’, so there would be no question in Suzanne’s mind as to my intention when she awoke.
‘Good morning Clare, you look nice again this morning, ’ said Suzanne cheerfully when she eventually emerged from her bedroom. ‘It looks as if you’ve decided whether you’re going to stay as you are for the next few days.
I blushed before answering.
‘I did promise to Debbie that I would go to her party as Clare and she has offered to loan me a party dress. Also she wants to take me shopping for some shoes tomorrow, so perhaps I’d better remain as I am for the time being.’
‘Alright, you can blame Debbie for your remaining as Clare for the next few days, if you like, but there must soon come a time when you’ll have to take responsibility for deciding in what gender you’re going to spend your time.’
‘I’m sure you’re right, Suzanne, but it is quite difficult to come to terms with the fact that I enjoy spending time living in a different gender from the one in which I was brought up.’
She looked at my quizzically, as if she didn’t quite believe me, but didn’t say anything.
Suzanne was feeling a little stronger that morning, but she still appreciated my help in getting herself washed and dressed, and we chatted together happily as we did so. Debbie also rang during the course of the morning to wish us both a happy Christmas and I confirmed my intention of going to her party in a dress, to which she said she was pleased, but didn’t sound particularly surprised. Debbie was a natural chatterbox, but I doubt whether I’d spent more than ten minutes on any telephone call in my life until then, but now I found myself joining in quite naturally, asking about her presents and what she’d done over the holiday and describing my own and the events of our Christmas. In what seemed like no time, I realised that we’d spent more than an hour talking together.
‘Dad is beginning to make frantic gestures to me about using the phone,’ she said. ‘So what are the arrangements for tomorrow?’
‘What do you suggest?’
‘Dad will be driving me home this afternoon, and he'll stay in my flat tonight. He could bring me over to your place on his way back tomorrow morning. That way I’ll be able to bring over my dress for you to try on. If it suits you, we can then get a tube train into central London to go to the Sales and look out for a pair of shoes to go with it.
‘Alright, but I’ll need to call in to my flat to collect one or two things for Tom to wear after your party. It shouldn’t take long and we can do that on the way to the tube station I said.’
‘You’re not planning to change back before my party are you?’ she asked, slightly anxious.
‘No, but I want to have something of Tom’s to hand, just in case of emergencies.’
‘Can’t you do that afterwards?’
‘I could do so but the house is likely to be empty just now and in any event I’m going to need Tom’s bank card for our shopping trip.’
So what do you think?,’ I asked the others the following morning as I tried on Debbie’s pale pink party dress and looked at myself in the full-length mirror. ‘Does it suit me?’
I was fairly sure it looked good on me, but wanted their confirmation, all the same.
‘It looks lovely on you Clare, and is just your colour,’ commented Suzanne. ‘Of course you’ll have to change the colour of your nail varnish, but I can let you have some that will match.’
‘I knew that dress would be just right for you,’ said Debbie. ‘You’ll look great wearing it on Saturday night, especially if you put your hair up in that style again. So it’s now just a question of our finding you the right pair of shoes to go with it.’
‘Alright then, give me a moment to put on another dress and I’ll be ready to go out,’ I replied.
As arranged, we called in to Tom’s flat on the way to the tube station. As I expected, there was no sign of anyone else in the building at the time and it was very cold.
‘It looks as if the landlord has turned off the heating for the Christmas holiday as nobody was around,’ I said as I turned on the knob to open the vent of the storage heater and got no response.
‘Well you’re not going to be staying here for the next few nights so you needn’t worry about it now,’ said Debbie.
I found Tom’s bank card, and then started to put various items of his male attire into a plastic carrier bag.
‘Clare, you’re not planning to cart that bag around the West End whilst we go shopping today are you?’ said Debbie.
‘Well we’re only going to buy a pair of shoes.’
‘You don’t know that, you may find something else to take your fancy as well. You aren’t going to have need of any of Tom’s clothes for several days, so why not leave them here, for now, and collect them later?’
‘Alright then, I suppose you’re right,’ I said, putting down the bag on top of the heater. ‘Maybe we can collect them on our way home tonight.’
Debbie was right, not only did we find a dainty pair of white strappy sandals, with just enough of a heel to look good, that would go well with the dress, but there was also a matching handbag, both at a bargain price. Debbie also pointed out to me a nice pair of earrings and a matching necklace that would go well with the dress and I bought myself several pairs of tights. The total for all my purchases came to £40 more than the money I’d been given, which was a lot for me to spend on an outfit for a single party, but she was right, they did all go well together. I withdrew the remainder from an ATM, thinking that January was going to be a bleak month for Tom. Debbie also purchased a number of bargains for herself, and so as we made our way back to Suzanne’s flat, all thought of making a detour to collect yet another bag containing Tom’s clothes was forgotten.
How did you both get on today?’ asked Suzanne, when we returned.
‘Pretty good, you can come and have a look at what we’ve bought if you wish,’ I replied.
We showed off our purchases, and I again tried on Debbie’s dress, this time with the new shoes and the necklace and earrings, just to confirm that they looked well together.
‘That dress shows off your cleavage rather nicely, but I do see a slight sign of the join?’ commented Debbie.
‘Yes, I know. Although I managed to stick them on quite firmly I didn’t do quite as good a job as you did. However, I’m getting quite used to having them.’
‘Maybe we should check up on them one more time, just to make sure that everything will be ok for the party?’
I agreed and stripped to the waist and Debbie applied the solvent and then carefully peeled off each breast. I felt a little discomfort as they came off, but once they were off there was no discoloration of the skin underneath.
‘These have been on now for twelve days. Are you sure they’re not sore?’ asked Debbie.
‘I did leave them off for one night before Christmas, but most of the time they feel fine,’ I replied.
‘Good, but I suggest that as you aren’t planning on doing anything energetic for the next couple of days, you should leave them unglued until my party, to give your skin a chance to recover. The forms should be ok as long as you’re wearing a bra. If you wish I’ll help you to stick them back properly on Saturday afternoon.
‘Would that be alright with you Suzanne, if we were to arrive a little bit early on Saturday?’ I asked.
‘Actually, I’ve been thinking this afternoon and I’m afraid that I won’t be coming on Saturday night Debbie. Thank you for asking me but I’m not really well enough to travel across London and stay up late again. I found Christmas day to be rather exhausting,’ said Suzanne.
‘Oh Suzanne, I can’t go without you,’ I said.
‘Yes you can, there will be several people that you know there, and if I were to go with you in a wheelchair, I might cramp your style. You never know you might even meet some dishy guy there, particularly as you’re going to look so good.’
I blushed at the prospect.
‘But I’ll need you to help me get myself ready and I don’t really fancy travelling across London dressed as Clare, on my own late at night.’
‘If you come over to my place during the afternoon, I would help replace your boobs and also help you to get ready,’ said Debbie. ‘You could even stay the night after the party if you’re anxious about the journey home, and don’t mind sharing a double bed with me.’
‘See Clare! You’ll be much better off without me on Saturday night. You and I will be able to spend New Year’s Eve together on the Sunday evening, instead,’ said Suzanne.
I hesitated about leaving Suzanne alone, but now was now looking forward to Debbie’s party.
‘Alright, if you’re sure,’ I said a little reluctantly.
‘Yes, of course I’m sure’
‘In that case Clare, I’d better take the dress and your new shoes back to my flat now and I’ll see you sometime on Saturday afternoon,’ said Debbie.
‘Alright then, and I’ll also bring a change of clothes so I can stay on afterwards,’ she answered.
The next two days of that week were spent by Suzanne and I taking things fairly easy, eating and drinking and watching some girly films on television. Neither Suzanne nor I made any reference to my gender or choice of clothing during this time, we were just two girlfriends taking things easily together. She did however remind me that I would need to change the colour of my nail polish from the deep red to a more feminine looking pink and offered to do it for me on Friday afternoon. I knew she would make a much better job of both my fingers and toes than I would, so I let her go ahead. I’d grown quite used to having long nails and felt that they made my hands look slimmer and more graceful. I did not mind the additional chore of having to look after them.
In retrospect, Suzanne was probably wise in declining to go to the party on Saturday. She seemed to tire quickly and needed help to get up and also to get ready for bed. I was happy to provide this help but was becoming anxious about how she would cope once I returned to my flat after the holiday. It was also just as well that I’d decided to remain as Clare, since Christine and Eleanor called round unexpectedly on Friday evening for a final farewell to Suzanne. They planned to visit relations over the New Year and then would be leaving immediately afterwards.
‘Please look after our friend, Clare,’ said Christine when they were out of earshot of Suzanne, ‘she isn’t at as well as she pretends to be.’
‘I know that and I promise I’ll do my best to keep an eye on her,’ I replied.
I actually meant it. Although I wouldn’t be living with Suzanne in the New Year I’d only be a few streets away, and had resolved to do as much as I could for her until she found some more permanent help.
By the Saturday it had been six weeks since I’d first dressed as Clare, and fifteen days since I’d lived entirely as a young woman. For once I decided to wear some slacks, but my chosen top, my long hair and makeup all proclaimed my adopted gender. I helped Suzanne to get up and ensured that she was set up comfortably for the day, and had everything she might need. I borrowed a small weekend case and packed my makeup and a change of clothing, before leaving the house.
‘Are you sure that you are going to be alright tonight Suzanne?’ I asked as I was leaving.
‘Yes of course, it’ll just take me a little bit longer to get myself ready – that’s all.’
‘You have my mobile number if you get in to any difficulties – I could always take a taxi back.’
‘I would call an ambulance first, now please don’t worry about me Clare, just go and have a good time tonight. You can tell me all about it when I see you tomorrow afternoon.’
I gave her a hug and then made my way to the tube station with a mixture of emotions. I was excited about the prospect of the party, sad about Suzanne’s condition and worried for her future, and also confused about whom I really was and, more to the point, whom I wanted to be. The latter part of 2006 had certainly been a disconcerting time for me and I wondered what 2007 might have in store.
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