It Had To Be You.
“So the country lad says to his girl, are you game? She nodded, so he shot her.” The comedian hadn’t changed his material for about fifty years by the sound of it. I was glad when the interval came and we retired to the bar. He’d paid for the tickets so I offered to get the drinks while he found a table.
A yard from the bar I thought I saw her and tried to turn away as if listening to someone. “Hoy,” she called and I pretended not to notice. I stepped away to the side but a moment later she pulled at my arm. “I thought so.”
“I beg your pardon?” I tried to play it as if she was mistaken.
“It is you.”
“Don’t shit me, Julian, I know who you are,” she hissed at me and I felt myself erupt in a blush which couldn’t be any worse if I were on the menopause.
“Look, I’m with someone, can this wait?” I pleaded.
She looked at me suspiciously, “Girl or boy?”
The erythema flowed over me again, as I said quietly, “Boy,” my throat constricting and making any sort of speech difficult.
“Does, he know?” she asked pointedly.
I couldn’t speak so shook my head. She smirked. I pleaded with my eyes and she gave me a hard look, through eyes that resembled the blue you sometimes see in icebergs. I’d never noticed the colour of her eyes before when we’d been in school together.
“Ring me tomorrow.”
“Make sure you do, the number’s the same.”
I nodded again and she smiled with her mouth but her eyes remained icy cold. I looked round and she’d gone. I felt like making a run for it but remembered my duty to pay for the drinks for my date. I finally got to the bar and paid for the order—what a rip off.
Dave tried to make the rest of the evening pleasant but I couldn’t get Vickie Porter out of my head and what would happen after I called her tomorrow. When Dave took me home, I pecked him on the cheek and he said he’d call me. So that was probably the end of that—my first date in a whole year—and she has to turn up, talk about shit happens.
Back in my flat, a one bedroom variety with a combined sitting room and kitchen and a separate bathroom, I shut the door and leaned against it—I felt exhausted yet it was only ten o’clock—the night could have been still young, and here I was again with my milky drink going to bed with a good book instead of a good man.
In bed, I couldn’t concentrate to read my mind kept returning to Victoria bloody Porter and what she wanted. I hadn’t seen her since she humiliated me in school some seven years ago. For some stupid reason I let one of the girls, Hannah Baines, dress me up as a girl for the end of term party which had been decided as a fancy dress one. In some ways I was in heaven, having known for several years that I should have been a girl, but doing something about it was different.
I was nerdy sort of kid, long straggly hair, skinny and singularly lacking in anything which resembled muscle. However, the bullies amongst the boys left me alone after the first few months because I didn’t react—sort of passive resistance—they left me in their hunt for more amusing victims. I tended to hang out on the edge of a mixed gang, mainly girls, and they sometimes used us—that’s Paul Carter and me, as verbal punch bags.
I suspect Paul was gay, he was even more feminine than I was, and he had the knack so many gays have of being able to inject pure vitriol in some of the put downs he used to defend himself. Even Porter was scared of Paul. Sadly she wasn’t scared of me and occasionally used to pick holes in me or my appearance in front of the whole group. I’d be wounded but would survive, now she’d probably have followed it up with attacks by text or facebook—thankfully then, that didn’t happen.
My tummy rumbled, I often got a bit of wind or indigestion when I was worried which showed my bravado earlier was just that, bravado. I tried to reason to myself, what could she do? I’m officially a woman now—got the paper to prove it—have been for three years—oh bugger, why did it have to be her?
I live in what they call stealth, which means I don’t tell anyone who doesn’t need to know, like the doctor—but he knows anyway, he referred me in the first place—nice guy Dr Goode—aptly named. So my employer doesn’t know, my landlord doesn’t know, nor does Dave with whom I work—well we’re in the same office. That could be a problem tomorrow—oh bugger, why didn’t I move away to a larger town instead of staying here?
I’d decided to miss out on uni I needed to work to pay for my transition; so I left home on some pretext or other and began a double life working as a boy but spending every spare minute as a girl. I finally finished my computer course at the local college which taught me things like word processing and basic website stuff, html, that sort of thing. I thought it would be easier to get a job as a girl with that and amazingly that’s what happened.
My diploma showed me as Julian Rowntree, but I managed to erase the ‘n’ and became Julia. It was good enough to get me my first job on the other side of town, on a small industrial estate, where I did the typing and website support for a firm of plumbers. By this time my doctor had been informed and he referred me to a specialist clinic in London where they put me hormones and I’m pleased to say my body responded very well. I was still skinny but at least the fried eggs on my chest and my narrower waist were all mine. Since the surgery, they’ve become poached eggs, but that’s another story—they’re still all home grown, sort of free range ones. I snorted at the image of my boobs walking round the room pecking at the carpet.
To my astonishment, the money I’d been saving for the op wasn’t needed, the local NHS agreed to pay for it—so I was able to afford the flat I had now instead of the ropey bedsit I shared in a house full of students or alkies, dunno which was more frightening. I’d also done a couple more courses by distance learning with a university up north, and they enabled me to get a better job with my current employer after I’d been recycled down below. I still don’t know what Thailand looks like, but one day I might get out there for a holiday.
My thoughts went back to Vickie Porter—I tried to think of anyone who worked with me, who might know her. No one came to mind, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t happen. I’d just have to brazen it out—why should I have to live in fear of her or move because of her. No, I had as much right to be there as anyone else.
Then I thought of how my mother found out, came home to see her waiting by my front door. My dad still doesn’t know, neither of us think he’d cope, but I do see my mum occasionally and bless her, she sends me cuttings she sees in magazines usually about trannies but occasionally a picture of a dress or hairstyle which she thinks would suit me, and now and again she sends me the money to buy it. Not a perfect relationship, but she’s done really well considering how upset she was at first.
Now it would be me that would likely be upset thanks to Vickie—well, I’d decided I was over twenty one and could live my life as I wanted. It cost me quite a bit of sleep though, and the next morning came far too soon. I’d told Dave I didn’t feel very well, the way I looked in work the next day, tended to bear out my story. I got through the day, and to my surprise told me we’d go out again when I felt better. Good ol’ Dave, better than bag of chips and ‘Celebrity Come Dancing’ on the telly any day.
When he went for his lunch, I called Vickie who invited me round for dinner that evening. Invited? Not quite by royal proclamation, but you get my drift. I went home and changed and put on my tightest jeans and skinniest rib sweater to show off what figure I had. She’d be able to see just a gap between my legs so perhaps she’d wouldn’t need to ask too many questions. I checked my makeup—waterproof mascara—it isn’t, but it might make some difference to looking normal when I come home after she’s pulverised me.
I caught the bus and got to her place right on the dot of seven as per her summons. Her mum opened the door and let me in, “Sorry, I don’t know your name?” she said.
“Julia, Julia Rowntree,” I said then realised I hadn’t needed to give my surname, which would be the thing which might have betrayed me.
“Victoria, your friend is here,” she called up the stairs, then to me, “come through, love, she’s still changing.”
I had to pinch myself as I imagined her turning into a werewolf or something as the light faded, and I wanted to laugh—not sure why, if she was she’d strip the flesh off my bones even more quickly. I tried to remember if she’d invited me to eat of come for dinner—shades of Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. That stopped my mirth before it got started.
“Come on, Victoria,” her mum shouted again, “It takes her so long these days, ever since they diagnosed the brain tumour, but then you already know that. She’s had all these old school chums round for dinner—seems to think she wasn’t very nice to them or something—I suspect it’s the tumour, it does things to her. Still, you were in school with her were you?”
I was in total shock and had to make a real effort to follow what her mother was saying. “It’s inoperable, so she’s making the best of things—she didn’t bully you, did she?”
“Um—no, Mrs Porter—no she didn’t,” I lied and had to hold back the tears, shit happens as they say.
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