This is the first of four interrelated recollections by a man in the late summer of life, recalling the events of some unusual summers, and the members of the female persuasion who made them so unusual and worth remembering.
My Summer in Wonderland
It was a summer vacation filled with adventure, discovery, and wonder. The time was the late 1950's. The place was a resort island in the Pacific Northwest accessible by car ferry. The island was large enough to sport a few small farms and a couple of tourist towns that had a look and charm right out of a storybook. Still there were enough somewhat wild areas in-between with forests, meadows, and crystal clear streams filled with fish and secret swimming holes. The coastline had a couple of small beaches but was mostly rocky coves and all were covered in driftwood. At low tide there were tidal pools and access to mini islands. In short, there was everything needed to satisfy the adventurous spirit of a young lad of eleven, except for one thing, no one my age to play with, at least where we were.
For the first two weeks this was more of a disappointment than a problem, as I wanted to spend time with my dad anyway. We were staying in a cabin in a small campground well outside of any town. Dad, Mom, and I used this cabin as a base to explore the island either by hiking or driving. We took a lot of great day trips, two of which really standout in my memory. One was a trip to a small beach where I was able to dig a hole in the sand next to a large driftwood log. I had leaned long pieces of driftwood against the log and over the hole creating a shelter. I fantasized being shipwrecked on an uninhabited island, a victim of a battle at sea between tall ships. A fantasy created with inspiration drawn from the pages of C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series combined with Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.
The other trip was up a stream that ran by the campground. We hiked at least a mile upstream to a sizable sandbar. Dad and I carried our fishing gear and other supplies; Mom brought a small stockpot and a cast iron fry pan. After setting things up for the preparation of dinner, Dad and I continued upstream with our fishing gear, while mom started digging in the sand. We hiked about a quarter mile and came to a small three-foot high waterfall. At the base of the falls was a large, deep, well-shaded pool, a perfect fishing hole. We found a ready supply of insects in the underbrush and leaf litter along the stream to use as bait. As soon as either of us found one, we would thread the hook through it and drop our line into the pool. The fish were eager to snap up our seemingly free offerings and we quickly caught enough pan size trout for dinner.
Gathering up our gear and the fish, we returned to the sandbar where we found Mom with a pile of freshwater clams. Dad made a fire pit, and then joined me in the search for wood for the fire. The Pacific Northwest is a wet environment and finding wood dry enough to burn took some doing. We eventually came across a somewhat sheltered, old rotting stump and were able to extract enough dry solid wood from the core of it to cook our dinner. We also gathered some damp wood to be dried by the fire for use after dinner. After Dad got the fire going, he and I turned our attentions to cleaning the fish, while Mom put the fry pan and the stockpot with some water from the stream on the fire. She put a layer of rocks in the bottom of the stock pot and then put the clams and some corn on the cob on top of the rocks to steam. The fish, with some butter, were added to the hot fry pan.
It didn't take long for everything to cook up and we were all serving ourselves from the pot and pan. The cool, crisp open air seemed to make everything taste so much better and we all made trips back to the pot and pan until there was nothing left. It was the best dinner ever. After we cleaned up, we sat around the fire taking in the natural beauty that surrounded us. Just before it got dark, we called it a day and hiked back to camp. I remember how much I wanted to do that again but with a friend along.
At the end of two weeks Dad had to return home and go back to work. Mom and I were to stay for most of the summer as our house was being remodeled and we really couldn't stay there during construction. So we rented a house on the very edge of the main town. Dad would join us on the weekends, which was a lot of fun. The rest of the week was the pits as there were only teenagers around and they didn't want to play with a kid.
One day feeling lonely, instead of going outside, I just sat by the front window looking out. There was nothing moving, all was still. Suddenly from behind the house across the road there appeared a boy about my size and age. He ran off towards a muddy ditch. I called out to Mom that I was going outside and ran for the door. I quickly scanned the road for any traffic and hurried across making a beeline for the ditch. The boy was occupied with throwing rocks into the mud, but turned when he heard me coming. I was in for a surprise.
"Hi, I'm Tom. I saw you from the house across the road and thought you might like to play."
"Yeah, I'd like that. My name is Sam."
"Sam? But, but wait a minute, you’re a girl!"
Horror of horrors, a gross, slimy, disgusting girl!
"It's short for Samantha, but what, you don't want to play with me because I'm a girl? That’s not very nice."
"I'm sorry. It's just that I've been hoping to find a boy my age to play with for the last three weeks."
"Hey, I can do anything you BOYS can do, and maybe even better. In fact, I'll show you that I can right now. I know a really neat secret place, follow me. Oh, and see if you can keep up!"
With that, Sam took off running along the ditch, dogging around bushes and rocks. I took up the challenge and ran off in pursuit, but it took all I had just to stay with her. We followed the ditch to where it joined a small creek that over countless years had cut deep into the earth. Sam more slid down the muddy bank rather than step down and was quickly at the bottom. I followed, gingerly making my way down the bank, coming to stand facing Sam. With a smug look on her face, she turned away and headed upstream, away from town.
We ran along the creek for about a quarter mile to a place where there were a few large rocks in the water. Sam didn't even slow down, she jumped from rock to rock with amazing agility and scampered up the opposite bank. I did my best to match her, but slipped on the last rock and slammed into the bank, getting covered in dirt and mud. Mom was not going to be happy. I managed to reach the top of the bank in time to see Sam running up a steep hill and disappear into the undergrowth. The brush was tall and thick and the trail was narrow and very twisted. I didn't see Sam until I almost ran into her at a wall of bushes and trees.
Sam just looked at me and smiled. Fortunately she didn't say anything, instead she suddenly dropped to the ground and started to crawl on all fours through a small hole in the brush. I was right behind her. After a short way the tunnel opened up enough that we could get up off our hands and knees but still had to bend over. This shortly ended at a clearing, and what a clearing it was. It was roughly circular, about a hundred and fifty feet in diameter, covered in long grass with several large boulders scattered about. The trees and bushes were so dense around the edge that there was no other way in or out. A genuine secret place. I couldn't believe Sam was sharing this special place with me; perhaps girls weren't so bad after all.
"How did you find this place? It's so hidden I can't imagine any one else knowing about it."
"I just happened to be following a rabbit a couple of weeks ago. He disappeared into that hole we crawled through, it looked big enough for me to follow him, so I did."
"A rabbit? It wasn't white by any chance was it?"
"No, why would you think it was white?"
"Oh, nothing, I was just thinking of a movie my Mom took me to see"
We played for a couple of hours climbing and jumping off the rocks, running around the clearing engaged in typical kid games. Soon I began to think of Mom calling me in for lunch.
"Sam, it must be getting close to lunch, we had better head back before our mothers start looking for us."
"Not yet, I've got one last thing to show you, come on."
Sam took off running, scampered up a large rock, and leaped across to a much larger and taller rock. She jumped straight up, grabbed an overhanging tree branch and pulled herself up. I followed suit, although with a little more caution. We climbed as high up as the limbs would support our weight. From our vantage point we could just look out over the treetops and see our houses and part of the town beyond. Way off in the distance we could make out the shoreline of that part of the island. It was one of the most magical moments I had ever experienced; one of several Sam would introduce me to. We briefly enjoyed the view before climbing back down and heading back for home. On the way, I invited Sam to join me for lunch, she quickly said yes. Of course she had to stop off at home and tell her mom where she would be. That gave me some time to run home and get cleaned up. I burst into the house filled with an enthusiasm I couldn't explain.
"Mom, Mom, where are you?"
"In the kitchen dear. Good Lord, just look at you! What am I going to do with you? Oh well, you had better march yourself up stairs and change those filthy clothes and take a bath while you're at it."
"No time for a bath, I asked my friend over for lunch. I'll just run up and change. She'll be here any minute."
I changed clothes as fast as I could and ran back down the stairs. Sam was in the living room with my mother who turned and looked at me in surprise. Me, befriending a girl? I have a feeling that she didn't know whether to hug me in joy, or take me to the nearest doctor. The three of us had lunch in the kitchen. Mother seemed to like Sam, but I suspect she was disappointed that Sam was so much of a tomboy. She probably figured it was a start anyway. After lunch, Sam and I went to her house and met her mom, then back outside to continue our explorations of the countryside.
From that point on, Sam and I were inseparable. We played together every day, except on the weekends, as Sam and her mom had to spend most of the weekend off the island. We became fast friends and it wasn't long before I began to think of Sam more as a girl than a tomboy. Of course, at the time, I didn't know why I had those thoughts, I just did. These thoughts were at their strongest when we visited the secret clearing, especially when Sam crawled into the entrance tunnel. Images from the animated movie Mom had taken me to see kept filling my mind, until one day they got the better of me. Before I could stop myself I blurted out something that would end up having a profound effect on my life.
"Sam, I've been wondering, ummm, how come you never wear a dress? I mean, you being a girl and all."
"A DRESS?! Why would I want to wear a dress? I can't play as hard in a dress as in pants."
"Sure you can, I see girls playing outside all the time, and they're running, climbing, and sitting on the ground."
At the time, I had been thinking of the girl in that animated movie, who was pretty, bright, proper, and could go anywhere and do anything without getting so much as a spot of dirt on herself or her clothing. She was the perfect girl and I thought all girls should be like her. Sam had a different opinion.
"But do you see them sitting in the dirt, or running through the mud? Are they splashing in a stream or climbing up the bank? Are they sitting in a tree? No, because girls are supposed to be prim and proper and do girl things, like tea parties and play silly girl games. Also, they're expected to stay clean. Boys get to play in the mud, splash through streams, run into the bushes, and climb trees. Boys can get as dirty as they want, AND have fun doing it! They don't even get into trouble. Their parents just see it as part of being a boy. It's not fair; boys have it so much better than girls."
"Well, maybe girls don't get to do everything that boys get to do, but I'm sure they can do most things, and still have as much fun as boys. Besides they get to dress up and get to look really nice."
"Sooooo, you think it's so great to wear a dress, think you can do anything and go anywhere. You should wear one and then we'll see just how great you think it is."
"ME?! I can't do that, I'm a boy, and boys don't wear dresses, girls do. You’re a girl, why don't you wear one and show me how awful it is."
"No way, I hate dresses, besides, the only way you're going to find out what it's like, is try it for yourself. Come on, I DARE you to do it."
"How can I? I can't just ask my mom if I can wear a dress."
"I can ask my mom if you and me can eat lunch in the forest and sneak one out in the picnic bag."
"What, wear it outdoors? Someone might see me."
"Of course outdoors, what have we been talking about? Besides, no one is going to see you. We've been playing out here for a couple of weeks and haven't seen anyone yet."
"Well, I don't know, what if…"
"No more excuses, or are you chicken. I DOUBLE dare you to do it."
"All right, I'll do it, but you can't tell anyone, ever, okay?"
"Agreed, we'll do it tomorrow."
As I recall, I didn't sleep very well that night. There was an overwhelming since of excitement that couldn't be explained, countered by a healthy dose of trepidation that could. The fateful morning arrived with the rising sun and the promise of a bright, warm day. I had chores to do but once those were done I was free to go out and play. Sam was waiting for me beside her house with a well-stuffed picnic bag.
"There you are. I was beginning to think you had backed out."
"I just had some chores to do first. So, you've got everything?"
"Yep, everything. Let's go."
We headed off toward the creek. Upon reaching the creek, we quickly descended down the bank to the creek bed. I followed Sam as she headed downstream for about a hundred yards, and then started back up the bank. She paused just before the top, stuck her head up over the edge and looked around.
"OK, the coast is clear, let's go."
Sam made for an old shed that was out of sight of any nearby housing. She spread apart a couple of loose end boards and motioned me inside. Once I was inside she passed the picnic bag in to me, and then she entered and put the boards back in place. The interior of the shed was barely lit by a pair of very dirty windows flanking a door centered on the front wall, but it was enough that I was able to look around.
"Wow, there's some neat stuff in here, but it doesn't look like anyone has been in here in years."
"Yep, it's the perfect place for you to change, so, take your clothes off."
Now there's a phrase that would take on a whole different meaning in several years. Sam rummaged around in the bottom of the bag and pulled out a bundle of red and white checked cloth. She took hold of it in each hand and let the bundle fall open revealing a girl's dress, a little nicer than a typical dress of the time. It had a full skirt with some stiffness to give it a bit of a flared look. The sleeves were white, short, and puffed with white lace trim. The collar was of stiff white cloth with white lace trim. The front had a white bib like panel outlined in wide white lace that went from the neck almost to the waist. At the waist, on each side, was an attached strip of red cloth that hung down loose. Closure was by buttons up the back. My first thoughts were not of how Sam would look wearing it, although I would have liked to have seen Sam wear it, but what it was going to be like for me to wear it. It was a feeling, a curiosity, which I never came to fully understand.
I unfastened my pants and pull each pant leg off over my shoes and put them on top of the picnic bag. I then pulled my shirt off over my head and dropped it on my pants. I started to pull off my undershirt but Sam stopped me. Instead she told me to put my arms out in front of me. I complied. She took the dress by the hem in back and slipped it onto my arms, working the sleeves on over my hands. She ordered me to raise my arms up over my head. I willingly complied. Sam pulled the dress down on to me and fussed a little with the skirt. I looked down to watch what she was doing, and was greeted by a sea of red and white checked cloth that just hid my shoes. I wondered what it would look like if I had a petticoat on as well. It was magical. Sam ordered me to turn around. I quickly complied. She adjusted the dress on my shoulders and buttoned it up. She tied the strips of red cloth into a bow behind my waist and fussed with its shape.
"That should do it. Now turn around and let's see how you look. Hey, you look kinda cute, and you seem to be enjoying it."
"What?! NO! You take that back, I'm only doing this only because you dared me to!"
"Shhhhh, not so loud, someone might hear and come looking. I don't think you'll like that. We better go."
Sam stuffed my shirt and pants into the picnic bag and moved to the end wall. She pushed the end boards apart, stuck her head out and looked around. The coast was clear. She stepped out and held the boards apart for me. I tossed the picnic bag out and prepared to step out. That was the big moment; could I leave the safety of the shed and step out into the open wearing a dress? What if someone should see me? The thought that someone might have heard us and was coming to investigate was the push I had needed and stepped out. Sam put the boards back in place, picked up the bag and headed for the creek. I was close behind trying to use bushes and trees as cover. At the creek Sam stopped and turned to face me.
"Remember one thing; if the dress gets dirty or damaged, YOU are the one who will have to explain to my mom how it happened."
And with that warning, she slid down the bank to the water's edge and headed up stream. I had to follow her from the top of the bank until I came to a rock outcropping that could be used like a stairway down to where Sam was. Even then, I had to be careful not to slip and fall onto the bank or worse yet, the mud at the bottom. As we worked our way up stream, Sam would have to periodically stop and let me catch-up to her. The thought of standing in front of Sam's mom holding (or worse, wearing) Sam's dirty dress had a profound effect on just how aggressively I followed her. I was not having fun.
We eventually came to the spot with the large rocks in the stream. Sam, as usual, turned and crossed the creek by jumping from rock to rock without breaking stride. I had to step from rock to rock, pausing at each rock to press the skirt down so I could see my feet before making the next move. As I crossed, a breeze came down the creek bed, lifting the skirt a bit. It felt so cool on my upper legs. I can still remember the wonderful sensation of trying to hold the skirt down against the air trying to push it up. Of course that created another problem; I couldn't see the next rock and had to stand in place waiting for the breeze to die down before proceeding. Sam was sitting on top of the bank looking down at me, and having a giggle at my expense. I managed to safely cross the creek, although it seemingly took forever.
The next obstacle was the bank, and I quickly decided that it would be best scaled on hands and feet, kicking footholds as I climbed. As I neared the top, Sam extended her hand down to me and helped me up. As I gained the top of the bank, she let go of me, turned away and went off running and weaving her way through the bushes. I had to follow at a slower pace, taking care that the dress didn't catch and tear on the dense undergrowth.
Since entering the clearing would require me to get down on my hands and knees I had to stop and think about how to proceed. Back then hemlines were well below the knee, making crawling on one's hands and knees in dirt not as simple as that little blond girl in that animated movie made it seem. It took awhile but I managed to enter the clearing without damage, at least none that couldn't be brushed off. No snags or tears anyway.
"Well there you are, still think a girl wearing a dress can do anything a boy wearing pants can do?"
"Sure, after all, here I am and still clean. So what if it took me longer than you."
"Ahhhhh, but did you enjoy it?"
"No, but then, I was trying to keep up with you. Now, if you were also wearing a dress, then we would have been moving at the same pace and I wouldn't have been so worried about getting dirty. I might even have enjoyed it."
"Fair enough. Let's see just what else you can and can't do."
We played as we usually did, except I took things easier and shied away from taking risks. Still, I did have fun, and wearing a dress wasn't so bad. There were moments when I actually liked it. Like when the skirt would rise up with the breeze, or after jumping off a rock. I really liked it when we sat down to lunch and I had to spread the skirt out around me so it wouldn't get pinned underneath me and possibly get stained by the grass. It was a mesmerizing effect as it seemed to be floating around me, being puffed up a bit by the grass, grass that was trying to right itself after having been bent over and trampled down by all our play. I had always been curious about girls sitting on the floor at a party laughing with each other with their fancy dresses and petticoats spread out around them. I was sort of experiencing that, and liking it. I didn't know why at the time (and still don't totally today), I just did. It was yet another magical moment.
We continued to play after lunch until it was almost time for us to head for home. That's when Sam suddenly scampered up the rocks and leaped up into the lookout tree. I followed, but stopped on top of the large rock under the tree branch.
"What's the matter, can't you make it?"
"You know I can't climb up there without damaging this dress. That was a mean thing to do."
"I just wanted you to realize that there are some really neat things that girls have to miss out on that boys don't."
"Yeah, well, there are some pretty neat things boys have to miss out on too."
"So tell me about them."
"No way, you'll just have to wear a dress and find out for yourself."
"Nice try, but you can forget that."
"What's the matter, chicken?"
"Oh no, I'm not going to fall for that. It's going to take more than that to get me into a dress. Now, as for you, I think you can change clothes now and then join me up here. I'll come down and help you."
Once back on the ground, Sam untied and unbuttoned the dress, then helped me pull it off. I retrieved my clothes from the picnic bag and put them on as Sam bundled up the dress and stuffed it back into the bag. We then headed up into the lookout tree. We quietly sat there taking in the view of the landscape. Sam was the first to break the silence.
"You handled yourself really well; I think you'd make a convincing girl."
"What, NO! I'm a boy and boys don't look like girls."
"When you first saw me you thought I was a boy."
"From a distance, yeah, but closer up I could see by your hair that you were a girl."
"So, if a boy had a girl's haircut, he'd look like a girl?"
"No, don't forget about the face, boys and girls just don't look the same."
"I think they do, at our age anyway, besides, you have a very soft face. I'll bet that with a girl's haircut you would be mistaken for a girl."
"No way. I can never look like a girl."
"Are you so sure that you're willing to bet on it?"
"What kind of a bet?"
"If I'm right you have to spend most of a day as a girl."
"And if you're wrong, what are you willing to do?"
"Well, since you'd like to see me wear a dress, and even though I hate dresses, I'll wear one for a day."
"That's not much of a bet. I have much more to lose than you."
"Okay, what if you get to decide which dress I will wear for the day, AND which one I'll wear for the following day, AND the day after that. Have we got a bet?"
"Three days to one, all right, you've got a bet, except how can we do it?"
"Easy, next week my mom starts working all day in town. She's going to ask your mom if she can watch me while she's away. We will spend the day together playing alone at my house. We'll just call your mom to let her know what we're doing from time to time, well, not quite everything we're doing."
"OK, but I have short hair, and girls have much longer hair, how are you going to change that?"
"Just leave that to me."
We climbed down from the tree and made our way home. The rest of the week went as usual. We didn't talk about the bet, but it was clear that neither of us forgot about it. As the week progressed, I became excited one moment and scared the next. It became increasingly difficult to keep my emotions under control.
Monday morning arrived bright and warm, but with no change to my state of mind. Part of me wanted to get over to Sam's as fast as possible, the rest of me wanted to find an excuse to stay home all day. I got up out of bed, got dressed and headed downstairs. I ate breakfast and in spite of the struggle within me, managed to walk over to Sam's house. Sam's mom greeted me at the door.
"Good morning Tom, Samantha is in her room upstairs putting on her costume. You can wait for her in the front room upstairs. Oh, and will you do me a little favor?"
"Sure Mrs. H_____, what is it?"
"I'd like Samantha to be more like a girl, so can you say some nice things to her about how she looks?"
"I'll do my best."
"Thank you dear, you two have fun and I'll see you both this evening."
Sam's mom headed out the door to her car and I headed up the stairs. It was a long and lonely climb. My heart was beating fast and hard. I was scared but a powerful curiosity was in control. I just had to find out; could I really look like a girl? At the top of the stairs I turned and walked to the front room. Sam was there. She was dressed the same as any other day and was just sitting in front of the window watching her mom drive off. I was puzzled but didn't have time to figure it out. Sam suddenly jumped up, and rushed toward me. She grabbed me by the wrist as she headed out of the room, dragging me along with her.
"She's gone, come on; we've got work to do."
"OK, but what's the rush?"
"I've waited days for this and I don't want to wait another minute!"
We entered Sam's bedroom, upon which she let go of my wrist and moved to the far side of her bed. On the bed was a large flat box that Sam began caressing with her hands. She looked up at me and grinned like the Cheshire cat in that animated movie.
"What are you waiting for? Take your clothes off!"
I stripped to my shorts and socks.
"Those too, everything!"
"I'm not going to wear girl's underpants, I'll just wear mine."
"Nothing doing. The bet was you were going to spend most of the day as a girl and that means wearing what girl's wear."
"That was only if I look like a girl, and I don't."
"Not yet, but you will. All you need is in this box."
"I'll be the judge of that, open it up and let's see."
"Not yet, first you have to get your underwear on."
Sam pulled open a drawer of her dresser and pulled out a pair of underpants and a full slip. These she tossed to the side of the bed I was on. After some protesting, I sat down on the floor beside the bed, out of Sam's view and slid off my socks and then my shorts. I reached up and took the underpants from the bed and pulled them on. They didn't feel much different from my shorts, just thinner and didn't seem to cover as much. I reached up once again and retrieved the slip. I put it on just like I'd put on an undershirt, a very long undershirt. It was smooth and felt very cool against my skin, something I had not expected. I couldn't help running my hands up and down it as I got up off the floor.
Sam was busy too. She had removed the box lid, turned it vertical, and tucked it onto the long side of the box, hiding its contents from me. She pulled out a full petticoat and came toward me holding it by the waist and giving it a shake. It made a rustling sound that, well, I'd now call seductive, for something in me wanted to experience wearing it. Sam held it open and down low. I stepped into it without hesitation. She pulled it up my legs and let go of the waist. It had an elastic waistband and snapped itself in place. There was some weight to it and it felt strange hanging from my waist. I ran my hands over it, pushing, pulling, and moving it around taking in all the new sensations it had to offer. But the best was yet to come.
Looking up, I found Sam holding a full skirt blue dress with short puffed sleeves by the hem. I knew the routine. I raised my arms up in front of me and she slipped the dress on to my arms, working the sleeves over my hands and up my arms. I raised my arms over my head and she pulled the dress down into place. After turning around, she pulled the zipper up the back, securing me in. It was a little tight but it fit pretty well. Once again my hands started to play, only this time with the skirt. I was so absorbed with the skirt that I didn't notice Sam slipping an apron over my head. She moved behind me and tied the apron behind my waist in a big bow. She fussed with the bow then fussed with the petticoat, skirt, and apron until she was satisfied with the look.
Sam told me to sit on the corner of the bed while she disappeared toward her closet. I ran my hands down the back of the skirt as I sat, mimicking what I had seen girls do. She returned with a pair of shiny black shoes that buckled on the side with a strap, and a pair of knee length white stockings. She rolled up one of the stockings, bent down and slipped it onto my foot and unrolled it up my leg. She did the same with the other one. The shoes were next, and then it was back to the box.
Sam returned and stood before me holding a long blond wig. The bottom dropped out of my stomach. With that wig I knew that I was in serious danger of losing the bet. Sam knew it too and was sporting a devilish grin that went from ear to ear. She slowly moved the wig behind me, as if to tease me, and pulled it onto my head, making adjustments until she was happy with the fit. She took a hairbrush from her nearby dressing table and went to work smoothing out the wig. A thin black ribbon materialized from her pocket. She slipped it between the back of my neck and the wig, and then brought the ends up behind my ears, tying them in a bow on top of my head.
Sam took me by the hands and pulled me to my feet. With her left arm bent across her abdomen, she rested the elbow of her right arm in her left hand, bent her fingers under her chin and gave me a good looking over. She motioned with her head toward a standing full-length mirror just beyond her dressing table. I was scared stiff but my old nemesis, curiosity, got the better of me and I moved to the mirror. In front of me stood a girl in a very pretty blue dress with a white apron. But not just any girl, it was the most perfect girl ever, right out of the movie. It was Alice, and I had just stepped into Wonderland. I was so absorbed with the image in front of me that I didn't notice Sam had come up behind me and was about to whisper into my ear.
"This can't be. It's not possible. That can't be me, that’s a, aaa."
I was spellbound, staring at the mirror in disbelief. I reached up and touched my face and the girl in front of me did the same. I made a quick turn to the side and the girl did likewise, the action of her skirt mimicking mine. She did everything I did, when I did. There was just no denying it, Sam was right, I could look like a girl. I DID look like a girl. Did she know this would be the result before making the bet? Is that why she put up three times what I had to put up?
"How did you manage to get all this, the costume, the wig, and in so little time?"
"It was easy. The local school loans out costumes in hopes of stirring up interest in kids to be in school plays. My mom has been trying all year to get me to take part, and thinks if she could get me interested in being in a play that I might like to dress up and do it more often. All I had to do was give in and choose a costume. The Alice in Wonderland costume came with a wig and that made it perfect for our bet."
"So you knew you could win even before you made the bet."
"That's not fair; I shouldn't have to pay up."
"Hey, a bet's a bet; of course you have to pay up. So, let's play."
From the bottom of the box, Sam retrieved a script for Alice in Wonderland. I was of course Alice, and Sam was everyone else. We acted out scenes from the play the rest of the morning. I quickly came to enjoy the experience, immersing myself in every new sensation, and took many an opportunity to check my self in the mirror. I was having the time of my life.
Just before noon the phone rang and Sam answered it. It was my mom asking how we were doing and if we were ready for lunch. Sam replied that her mom had left us a lunch and she was heating it up. Perfect, that meant I didn't have to change back to a boy, a thought that caused me to pause. I was enjoying being a girl, but why? It was yet another question to be partially answered latter in life.
It was decided we should have a tea party with lunch, a mad tea party of course. We had a ball and lunch got stretched out well over an hour. As we cleaned up a rather large mess, I reflected on the morning's activities, Sam was wrong about one thing; girls could have just as much fun as boys could, just in a different way.
After lunch Sam taught me how to act, play, and talk in the manner of a girl. I got pretty good at it, so good that we started to speculate on whom I could fool into thinking I was a girl and who I couldn't. Our debate quickly turned into a conundrum that we couldn't really solve short of actually going out in public, not something I wanted to do. In the end, we decided that our parents would most likely be able to tell, also not something that I actually wanted to find out. We then turned our attentions back to playing.
All too soon, the day came to an end, and I had to step back through the looking glass before Sam's mom returned home. I really didn't want to, but knew I had to. We retreated back to Sam's room where she helped me strip to the panties, and then left me to put my clothes on by myself. I finished up and joined Sam in the upstairs front room just as her mom's car came into view. We watched in silence as her mom pulled into the driveway, bringing the day to an end. It had been both an eventful and confusing day, and tomorrow would be back to normal.
The next day started out the same as the previous. I met Sam's mom as she was headed out the door. After we exchanged greetings, I went into the house and up the stairs to find Sam in the front room. That's when the day took a left turn. She was standing, with a slouch, next to the front window, half facing the window and half facing me. She had both hands on her hips and a sour, angry look on her face. Sam was wearing a dress. It was a blue denim jumper over a white, ¾ sleeve blouse. I told her that she looked really nice, but she ignored me, and just watched her mom drive off and disappear. Suddenly, Sam rushed toward me, and grabbed me by the wrist as she had before. She dragged me to her room.
"Take your clothes off."
"Why? The bets over."
"So, I don’t want to wear a dress and you do!"
"What do ya mean I do? I only did it because of the bet."
"You enjoyed it! Admit it, you liked it!"
"Okay, I had some fun but that doesn't mean I want to do it from now on."
"I saw you yesterday, you were at the mirror every chance you could get, and I know you didn't want to stop at the end of the day either. I could see it in your face. So stop with the protest and get your clothes off."
"How come you're wearing a dress anyway?"
"Because my mom wants me too, and she says that if I wear one long enough I'll get used to it."
"Why don't you just put on some pants? I won't tell your mom."
"Because my mom took away my pants, so I'm going to wear yours."
I started to feel that Sam's predicament was all my fault. If I hadn't spoke without thinking, if I hadn't taken the dare or agreed to the bet, then this would not have happened. On the other hand I wouldn't have had the adventure of my life either, so I guessed I owed her one. I took off my pants and shirt, tossing them onto the bed. Sam had already taken off her dress and blouse and quickly snatched up my clothes and put them on. She was finally starting to smile. I put on her clothes and turned around so she could zip me up. Turning back around, I found Sam looking me over with a Cheshire cat grin.
"You're right, that does look nice, on you anyway. There's one last thing to do and then we can go play."
Sam picked up her hairbrush and restyled her hair to look more like mine, and then she came at me.
"Hey, what do you think you're doing?"
"I'm just going to make your hair look more like mine did. That way if someone sees us when we're outside playing, they will just think that I'm you and you're me."
"OUTSIDE!? I can't go outside like this."
"Why not? You did the first time. I'm not about to stay in this house all day, there's too much to see and do outside, so let's go out and have some fun. Oh, and this time you won't have to worry about getting dirty."
I was scared but the idea of being outside looking like a girl seemed thrilling and it wasn't long before Sam and I burst out the back door into the open air. We spent most of the day visiting our favorite spots, staying away from any populated places. Still we did come across a couple walking in a meadow, but they were a little too far away to tell who we were, or better still, what we weren't. And I did have a lot more fun then the first time, not having to worry about getting dirty made a big difference, and I did get a little dirty. Still, there were a couple of things Sam could do that I couldn't, but it was okay, as there were things I could experience that Sam couldn't, at least not when wearing pants. Things just seem to have a way of balancing out.
Before Sam's mom returned home, we retreated to Sam's room to exchanged clothes and combed our hair. As we waited in the upstairs front room I kept thinking how nice and how pretty Samantha could be if she wanted to. That ended when her mom arrived, signaling that it was time for me to head for home.
The rest of the week went pretty much the same. I ended up wearing almost every dress she had, and with each time it became easier to do. And as the week progressed, the dresses became less practical and more girlish. Each one triggered its own special reaction in me, but it was the one on Friday that caused a reaction in me that I did not see coming. On that day, I had found Sam in the upstairs front room, standing next to the front window as usual. She was wearing the very same red and white checked dress that I had first worn. At first, I thrilled at finally getting to see her in it. She looked really cute, even with her usual sour face. Then, for reasons I couldn't explain, I became jealous and couldn't wait for Sam to take it off so I could put it on. It was a feeling that would pay me a visit again and again latter in life. It was an interesting way to wrap up a successful week of helping Sam avoid wear a dress. But then there was the weekend, how to help Sam then.
Dad was coming up to take mom and me back home. It looked like Sam would have to wear a dress after all. Dad arrived Friday night and announced that the house wasn't ready. There had been a delay caused by an unforeseen problem and we would have to stay a couple of extra days. Dad was going to stay with us until the house was ready. Perfect, I quickly formed a plan.
"Dad, you remember that beach with all the driftwood? Can we go there Saturday, and on Sunday can we hike up the stream where we had dinner on the sand bar?"
"Sure, we can go there again if you want."
"And can Sam and her mom come with us?"
"We'll ask and see if they can join us. You seem quite taken with Samantha, are you starting to take an interest in girls?"
"Yeah, sorta. Thanks Dad."
Saturday morning came filled with promise of a perfect day. Sam and her mom were delighted to join us; what ever they usually did on the weekend, could wait. Everyone packed for lunch and a day at the beach. Sam was very happy as the beach meant a bathing suit, not a dress. We all piled into our car and got underway.
We arrived at the beach after a pleasant drive across the island. As soon as everything was unpacked and mostly setup, Sam and I took off to explore. We did everything I had done on my first visit only this time it was far more fun with Sam joining in. Our parents had a hard time getting us to stop playing long enough to eat lunch. We rushed through lunch and went back to playing until the sun went down. Sam and I dragged ourselves off the beach and wearily climbed into the car. Both of us fell asleep on the way home.
Sunday started off foggy. The fog lifted by noon but only to reveal an overcast sky. Sam and her mom joined us after lunch. Sam was wearing pants; her mom thought it best after seeing how hard we played the day before. Part one of my plan had worked, now for part two.
We had packed and got underway about an hour later. I was so excited that it seemed to take forever to get to the campground. Dad drove past the campground to a dirt road heading in the direction of the stream. It was still overcast when we arrived at the stream and it didn't look like it was going to clear. It didn't matter; Sam and I were going to have fun any way.
The car was unpacked and everyone picked up a share of all we had brought. After making sure nothing had been left behind, we started hiking upstream. Sam and I were so excited that we kept running ahead and had to be called back by our parents. We got to the sandbar in due time and started to set everything up. Dad noticed how eager Sam and I were to go explore and gave in.
"I think we can set up the rest of this, so if you and Samantha would like to catch some fish for dinner, you can go ahead, just be back by 5:00."
"WOW! Thanks Dad. Come on Sam, grab a pole and let's go."
"Can I Mom?"
"Oh, all right Samantha, just try not to get dirty."
"Thanks Mom, I'll try, I promise."
And with that, we were off. It took us a lot longer to get to the fishing hole then when I went with my dad. Anything along the way that looked the least bit interesting merited an immediate detour. At the falls, we left our fishing gear and continued up stream, just to see what was there. We found a lot of neat things as we worked our way upstream. Eventually the forest gave way to a waterlogged meadow, forcing us to turn around and work our way back to the fishing hole.
At the top of the falls, we waded out into the water and turned over the rocks looking for insects and larvae for bait. It didn't take long to find all we needed. The fish didn't waste any time either; it seemed like they took our baited hooks as soon as they hit the water. All too soon it was time to head back, but first I had to put part two of my plan in motion.
"Sam, I think I have an idea as to how to get your mom to stop trying to make you wear a dress. First we need to roll in the dirt a little, but not too much, we don't want to make your mom cry."
"Right, I did promise to try to stay clean. How's this?"
"That should do it. Now mess up your hair a little and I'll stick this leaf and a twig in it. And lastly, some mud on the arms, hands, shoes, and a couple drops on the face."
"Mom is not going to like this, we've gone too far."
"No no, it's perfect. When we get back we'll run in and with as much excitement as we can produce we'll tell of our adventures. After they calm us down you will say to your mom, 'I want to be a nature scientist when I grow up'."
"I get it. She'll think that from now on I'll be spending most of my time climbing and crawling over everything, and a dress won't be practical. It's brilliant, I could kiss you."
And she did. We gathered up the fishing gear and the fish and head back to put my plan in motion. We burst into camp chattering a mile a minute. Sam's Mom was disappointed at the sight of Sam, but not upset. She seemed to warm up to Sam's announcement, perhaps she thought a scientist in the family would be a good thing. Of course we did pay a price for our makeup job as our moms dragged us to the stream and gave us a good scrubbing with a wash cloth (more than we really needed), along with a scolding. It was worth it.
Dinner was soon ready, and it was even better this time. There was a lot to eat which was a good thing as Sam and I had worked up quite an appetite. After dinner and a quick cleanup, we all sat around the fire and talked until just before it started to get dark. We packed up and hiked back to the car, arriving just as the sun began to set. We couldn't have been on the road five minutes before Sam and I were asleep.
Monday morning didn't get off to a good start. It was still overcast and there was a feeling that something was amiss. I ate breakfast and went over to Sam's house, meeting her mom just as she was leaving. We talked a little about the weekend and then she was off to town. As usual I went up stairs to the front room. I found Sam sitting by the window, dejected, and staring out the window. She was wearing a dress, a plaid jumper over a white blouse with short puffed sleeves. My plan had failed.
I felt terrible for Sam; I didn't know what to say. Suddenly she jumped up and grabbed me by the wrist. I knew the routine. Oh well, if I could help her fend off the inevitable for one more day, then I should be happy to do it. Besides I didn't know then if I would ever have an opportunity to dress again.
In Sam's room I quickly stripped to my shorts and tossed my shirt and pants to her side of the bed. She tossed back a full slip and a petticoat. That caught me by surprise as I had thought it was going to be the same as the previous week. No argument came from me, as I thrilled at the chance to wear them again after my first experience a week before. After slipping the undergarments on, I started to play with them when it suddenly hit me; the jumper Sam was wearing had a straight skirt not a full, and wouldn't fit over a petticoat. Something wasn't right. I looked up and found her wearing her jumper and a Cheshire cat's grin. She was holding the red and white check dress by the hem, waiting.
"Sam, you hate to wear a dress, how come you aren’t changing into my pants?"
"Because, I have my own."
"Isn't your mom making you wear that?"
"No, I put it on as she was leaving."
"You mean the plan worked? Then why am I wearing this, and you that?"
"Because I think you want to, and I have a surprise for you. Since you were so sweet to let me wear your pants last week, and helped me out with my mom, I thought I would give you a chance to experience a real girl's day."
And so we did. After she helped me put on the dress along with a pair of white stockings and shoes, we started to play games that girls played, engaged in girl type conversations, had a tea party (formal, not mad), and so on and so on. I really liked it all, especially the part when I sat on the floor and spread my skirt and petticoat out as far as they would go. It was wondrous, as was the day. But as before, it came to an end all too soon. I reluctantly changed clothes and went back to our temporary home for dinner as Sam's mom returned.
Tuesday arrived with the sun deciding to put in an appearance. But even a sunny day wouldn't help matters; it was still going to be a sad day. It would be Sam's and my last day together. We had decided to spend the morning revisiting all our favorite places with lunch in our secret clearing. We ran around everywhere and tried to have fun, but our hearts just weren't in it. Not even the charm of our secret clearing could cheer us up and we ate our lunch mostly in silence. We spent the rest of our day in town with my mom and dad, exploring all the little shops and the dock area one last time. Tomorrow, I would head for home.
Wednesday morning began with a light fog creeping across the landscape. Dad had wanted to get an early start for home so we had done most of the packing and house cleaning the night before. We finished loading the car and were about to get in, when Sam and her mom came and exchanged good-byes before they headed for town. We climbed in the car and with tears in my eyes, headed for home.
It was a few years before we visited the island again. We rented a house in the same town we had before, only this time it was on the other side and down on the coast. I had little hope of finding Sam still living on the island as my parents had said something about them possibly having to move to the mainland. Still I tried. I walked around as much of the town as I could in the morning and evening, hoping to see Mrs. H_____'s car as she went to and came from work, but with no luck. I posted a note on the community bulletin board in the town square, but it went unanswered. In desperation, I rented a bicycle and road out to the house Sam had lived in, but as I approached it, I saw a woman sitting on the porch steps watching her two young children play. Without stopping, I continued on to the ditch where I first met Sam.
Walking along the ditch with the bike, I made my way to the stream and then to the rock crossing. There, I left the bike, crossed the stream, and made for our secret clearing. The path seemed narrower and not as well defined as I had remembered it. The entrance seemed smaller and I had to somewhat force my way in. The grass in the clearing was tall and thick, clearly no one had visited in a long time.
The clearing seemed to welcome me, inviting me to explore all it had to offer once again. As I walked around, each rock and patch of grass brought to mind a memory of a more magical time. I climbed up on a large rock that offered a view of most of the clearing and reflected on just what Sam had meant to me. It was through her that I got to experience a world that was reserved just for girls, and I had enjoyed it. I had wanted more, but it would be a long time before I could once again enter that world.
The more I thought about Sam the more I missed her, and sadness started to take hold of me. The clearing had lost its magic. It wasn't the same without Sam. I slid down off the rock and made for the exit. Before leaving I turned and said goodbye out loud, I don't know why, I just did. Perhaps it was because at the time I didn't think I would ever return or would want to without Sam.
I worked my way back to where I had left the bike and walked it back to the main road. At the road, I paused for a moment, looking at the house we had stayed at on my first visit. It didn't seem to be occupied, but appeared to be well maintained. Of course, memories of my stay there came flooding back, bringing with them first happiness and then sadness. It was time for me to go. I got on the bike and peddled it back to town.
I never did come across Sam again, or anyone like her. But at least I still have my memories, memories of my summer in wonderland.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudo!
Click the Good Story! button above to leave the author a kudo:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.