Peter ate his breakfast carefully. Even though he wasn't wearing one of Veronica's more elegant dresses, he still didn't want to ruin his friend's outfit. Luckily, there was only so much mess a person could make with scrambled eggs and hash browns, but he did opt for not smothering his plate in ketchup.
He spent the rest of the early morning sitting at the kitchen table watching his mother go to and fro completing little checklist of what she needed to accomplish that day.
“About that time, Kiddo,” Mrs. Connors said gently as she looked up at the clock and noticed that it was getting close to when her son needed to leave.
“I know,” Peter said downcast. “In a few hours I'll know if summer is going to be ruined.”
Mrs Connors put her hand on her child's back. “What can go wrong? You are wearing Veronica's lucky test taking outfit, aren't you?”
Peter smiled. “Oh yeah,” he said while trying to muster all the courage he had in him. “I almost forgot about the skirt. I hope it really works.”
“I'm sure it will. Good luck, Sweety.” Mrs. Connors opened the cabinet under the sink where she kept the more harsh cleaning supplies and pulled out her child's math textbook.. “Don't forget this,” she said as she handed the book off to her son.
“You hid it,” Peter said as he stood up.
“Your father and I didn't want you waking up in the middle of the night to cram some more studying in and then being exhausted this morning. We know how important this is to you.”
“Let's just hope this is the last time I need this.” Peter held up the book and then tucked it under his arm.
Mrs. Connors smiled. “We're pulling for you.”
Peter knew there was no delaying the inevitable and that it was time to leave in order to take the dreaded math final. All he needed was a B, that couldn't be that hard. It wasn't like he needed to get an A+ or a hundred percent. He had gotten As on test in math before this year, before Xs and Ys and quadratic formulas, certainly he can get a B just this once.
Plus, he had on Veronica's lucky outfit. That would help him, he said as he made it to the door, as long as he made it to school in one piece that was.
Peter opened the front door of his house just a crack and peaked out from behind it. No one was there and he let out a sigh of relief. He had a good reason for wearing this particular outfit on this particular day, but he wondered if he had to explain it to someone if they would understand or even believe him.
The boy cautiously strolled down the walkway from his house to the main sidewalk. It was an interesting sensation that he wasn't quite prepared for. The feeling of the skirt swishing on the outsides of his thighs felt strangely familiar and brought his an enjoyment that he didn't remember getting from wearing pants. It was a strange comfort, a feeling of being carefree and unencumbered. He would have thought more about it, but there were more pressing needs on his mind.
Satisfied that there was no one coming down his block, Peter made a mad dash towards his friends house. There was no use having an encounter with anybody that he wasn't prepared to. Sooner or later someone would see him in the outfit, but at least he would have Veronica around to back up his story.
Peter made it to his friend's front door in under ten seconds, beating his own world record soundly. He waited a few seconds as he caught his breath and imagined what Veronica's reaction would be when she saw him dressed up in her clothes. She would probably squeal and raise a fuss, and that vision brought a sly smile to the boy's face.
After taking just one more deep breath, Peter knocked firmly on the door. He took a step back, this way when Veronica opened the door she would be able to get a complete view and appreciate how he looked.
After reaching a count of seventeen, the door finally opened and Veronica stood right in front of him.
“Surprise,” Peter said enthusiastically with his arms held out and a big, goofy smile on his face.
Veronica looked at her friend in confusion. “Surprise, what?” she said as she stared at her friend's face.
“Ta-da,” Peter said as he placed his arms on the skirt, grabbed it from the hem and pulled it a little way from his thighs.
“Are you trying to do a magic trick,” Veronica said plainly as she stared at the boy.
Peter rolled his eyes and groaned. “I'm wearing your lucky skirt,” the boy spelled out to the girl.
“Of course you are,” Veronica said matter of factly as she closed the door behind her. “What else were you going to do, eat it?”
Peter pouted as they walked down the path that led from his friend's house. “You aren't surprised that I put it on?”
“Heck no. I knew you would. There is no way you're going to miss out on Hawaii.”
“I almost didn't,” Peter said as the two walked down the block hand in hand.
“Fat chance of that happening,” Veronica said straightly. “I bet that even without the math test you wouldn't be able to pass up the chance to look pretty.”
“Would not,” Peter countered.
“Would too,” Veronica said and then started laughing.
The two got closer and closer to the school and their conversation died down. Peter was prepared to defend himself and hoped no one decided to pick a fight on the way into school. All he wanted to do was to get the test over with and get back home, hopefully to enjoy his summer vacation.
The closer they got, the more and more kids joined them on the sidewalk. Peter looked around and noticed some of the kids that he knew. At first he was concerned when he saw someone he recognized, because surely they would say something and he would have to come back with a snappy reply in order to keep his dignity, but that didn't happen.
The other students would simply walk past him and didn't say a word to him. In fact, they didn't even give him a second glance.
“Here comes Charles,” Veronica said of one of the more athletic boys in their math class.
“Great,” Peter said in a whisper. Charles was none for making cutting comments and was quite adept at it.
Charles got closer and closer to them.
Peter wondered if he should duck behind a tree or, in the least, bury his face in his textbook. There was really no time to do either and look inconspicuous about doing so. He just kept his eyes forward and tried to act as naturally as he could.
“Hi Charlie,” Veronica said in her sappy way she spoke to boys that she found cute.
“Hi Veronica,” Charles said as he caught up to the pair and started walking in pace.
“Ready for the math test,” Veronica asked politely.
Peter just turned his head and tried to plead silently with his friend not to hold a conversation right at that moment.
“Ready or not, here it comes,” Charles answered. His eyes then fell upon Peter.
Peter could feel that he was being scrutinized and wondered why his classmate didn't say anything.
Charles looked the boy up and down. There was something familiar about the person he was looking at, but he couldn't quite nail it down.
“Hey!” Charles said in a moment of clarity.
Peter gulped. He had been found out and he was still a block away from school. If Charles wanted to fight there was no way he would be able to outrun him. Hopefully the boy would just make some stupid kind of wisecrack and outside of being embarrassed, Peter would be none the worst for wear and could get on to the business of passing the math class.
“Your friend is wearing the same outfit you usually wear on Fridays.”
Peter snapped his head towards the boy. He didn't recognize him as someone who had been in the same class all year long. Was he going blind? The boy didn't know whether or not to be relieved or insulted.
“It is the same outfit, Charlie. It's my lucky test taking skirt and she needed the luck more than I did.”
Charles smiled as he looked at the skirt and the legs that came out from under it.
“It looks good on either of you,” he said with a dopey smile.
Charles continued to smile as his eyes focused more on Peter's legs than it did his face. “I'll catch you in math class, maybe later on you and your cute friend will want to hang out. We're playing basketball after school.”
“Maybe,” Veronica said.
“Cool, see you then,” Charles said and then walked on ahead of them in his power stride.
“He didn't even know it was me,” Peter said in awe.
“Didn't you know, Charlie never looks at a girl's face,” Veronica said easily. “He's such a horn ball.”
“But, I'm not a girl,” Peter responded in a hushed whisper and then looked around to make sure no one overheard him.
Veronica laughed once more. “In that outfit, who could tell. Maybe I should be mad at you.”
Peter looked at his friend in confusion. “Mad at me? Why?”
“You got a better pair of legs,” Veronica said as she looked down at the knee highs the boy was wearing.
Peter turned completely red.
They were finally at school. Peter was preparing for some sort of controversy, but the other students simply walked right by him without saying a word. He doubt anyone even realized he was there. The school was filled with a certain buzz being the last day. Maybe the other kids were too eager to start summer vacation to realize that there was a boy walking through the hallway wearing a miniskirt. He walked right past the principal, who was standing outside of his office, and not even the principal seemed to pay him any mind.
“Why isn't anyone making jokes about the skirt,” Peter whispered into Veronica's ear.
“Jokes? I'm surprised you aren't getting a few whistles,” Veronica joked with her friend.
Peter scrunched up his face like he always did when he was frustrated. “No one even notices.”
“Is that such a bad thing,” Veronica said firmly.
“No. But still.”
“Don't worry, the boys will pay attention to you after school is out.”
“That is not what I meant.” Peter stopped and stomped his foot.
Veronica laughed. She was enjoying herself. “I'll explain to you why after the test, but come on, the bell is going to ring.”
Peter was unsure if he wanted to hear such an explanation, but didn't want to dwell on it. In a few moments he would have a test paper in front of him and his entire future would be held in the balance. Maybe not his entire future, he mused to himself, but the very near future at least.
The pair made it in front of the class. Their classmates walked right past them without a second glance or saying a word.
“I forgot my textbook in my locker,” Veronica said. “I'll be right back.”
With those final words, Peter was left alone in front of his math class as his friend scampered off. It didn't matter much, he thought, if anything happened the teacher would be there to put an end to it. Peter took a deep breath, turned and then walked into the classroom.
The class was unusually chatty, but that was because the morning bell had yet to sound. The little groups talked amongst themselves as the teacher sat at his desk keeping a watchful eye. No one looked up, no one made a joke, no one even noticed he had walked into the room.
“Oh well,” Peter said silently to himself. “It could be worst.”
Peter walked over to his desk, and put his textbook down on top of it.
“Ms. Appleton,” Mr. Johnson said loudly, above the chatter.
Peter assumed that his friend had just walked in behind him and didn't pay much attention to the teach.
“Ms. Appleton,” the teacher said even louder, “Your desk is on the other side of the room, young miss.”
Peter realized that the teacher was actually talking to him and he stood up straight and turned around. “I'm not Veronica,” he said as he faced the teacher.
At that very moment, his friend walked into the room and the morning bell sounded.
The room got quiet quickly and all eyes snapped to the one corner of the room.
The teacher looked at Peter, then looked at Veronica, then back at Peter.
The class quickly caught on to what was happening. There were a few snickers and whispers that quickly escalated to laughter as his fellow students started to point at him.
Mr. Johnson stood up behind his desk. “Enough,” he said firmly and the class turned immediately silent. “Mr. Connors, outside, now.”
Peter hung his head and trudged towards the door. “So much for staying inconspicuous,” he muttered to himself.
The teacher stood by the door and faced the class. “I don't expect to hear a word from in here while I'm outside this door,” he said as a warning.
Peter stood against the wall and waited the brief few seconds for the teacher to present himself.
Mr. Johnson came out shortly. “Care to explain yourself?”
Peter looked up at the towering man. He hoped that he wasn't in any trouble, he hadn't thought this all the way through. At first, Peter thought he would play dumb, but figured that would only make the situation worst. It was quite obvious what the teacher was referring to and why the entire class was laughing at him. “Veronica said that this was her lucky outfit and that it would help me pass the test.”
Mr. Johnson shook his head. “Did you ever think about studying?”
“I have studied. I studied harder than I ever studied before, but, I need all the help I could get.”
“I see.” Mr Johnson got down on one knee. “Are you sure that the test is all this is about?”
Peter looked at the teacher blankly.
“Peter, if I can still call you that,” the teacher said gently.
“Yes sir,” Peter choked on the words.
“Are you wearing this outfit because you think you should be a girl? It's okay if you are. Some of your other teachers and I suspected that you may not be comfortable being a boy.”
Peter's eyes grew wide open. “You have?”
“Nothing to be ashamed of. If you ever need to talk, I'm available, even during the summer. Now, lets see if Veronica's lucky skirt works for you.”
Peter was dumbfounded. What did his teacher mean that they suspected that he wasn't comfortable being a boy. He was a boy. Wasn't he? He had the parts other boys had, that made him a boy, plain and simple.
Peter sat back in his seat. He could feel a few eyes fall upon him, but at least the snickering and whispering was over with. As long as he made it home afterward, and passed the test, everything would be just fine.
“Now class,” Mr. Johnson stood in front of the chalkboard. “You have two hours to complete the test, if you are finished beforehand, you can turn it in and leave, or, if you simply can't wait, you can stay around, quietly, and wait for me to grade your paper and tell you your final grade. There will be no talking, and no looking around at other papers. I'll be watching.”
Peter took a deep, worried breath. This was it.
Mr. Johnson handed out the test to the class.
“You may begin,” the teacher said, even though a few students started as soon as they had their paper in their hands.
Peter wrote his name neatly on top of the paper. At the very least, he thought, he got that right.
“Peter, if I can still call you that,” floated into his consciousness.
Peter shook his head and began to work on the first problem. Something he recognized from early on in the year before things got really hard.
The clock was viewed often by the students, who each looked up at random intervals.
Peter crossed his legs at the ankles and was swaying his feet under his desk. It was a lovely feeling, one that seemed to relieve him of stress as he worked on the twenty-seventh problem. As he circled the final answer he looked up and noticed that the teacher was looking his way.
Mr Johnson smiled and gave a knowing nod.
Peter tried not to blush and returned his attention back to the test.
“You think you should be a girl?” The words drifted across his mind as he tried to get X by itself on the thirtieth problem. What happened to problems 28 and 29, Peter wondered. He flipped back to the previous page and saw that they were already answered.
“You think you should be a girl.” The words returned as he fought hard to concentrate on the task at hand. Weren't those words suppose to be a question, but now they seemed to be a statement.
Peter worked diligently on the test. The questions were getting progressively more difficult, but he still understood what he was suppose to be doing. He looked up, one of the nerdier kids in the class was already turning in his paper. Peter glanced at the clock. An hour had just gone by and someone was already done. He looked down at his paper, he was on question sixty-two, ahead of schedule.
More and more students began to turn in test as Peter whittled away, taking his time, making sure he was doing everything correctly. He had just answered question eighty, and if he had gotten everything correct, he would earn a B, but he still had half an hour to finish the test.
Peter finished yet another question and then remembered looking at himself that morning in the mirror.
“This is really me,” he heard his own voice in him mind.
Was he asking a question or making a statement.
He shook his head to regain his concentration. He heard movement from the back. Charlie was getting up and walking towards the teachers desk. Charlie might be mad about being tricked earlier that morning and the small boy hoped that the jock wasn't going to wait around to pulverize him into oblivion.
Peter watched as Charles handed in his test and then started to walk toward the door. Just before the boy was to pass Peter's desk, he slipped a folded piece of paper under Peter's test.
Peter tried to be discreet as he placed the folded note into the small pocket of the miniskirt. He looked around the room, the only other student that was left was Veronica, though she seemed to just be sitting there, waiting.
“Fifteen minutes,” the teacher announced to an all but empty room.
Peter had two more questions to go. He was at least going to complete the entire test, something he oft times had trouble doing. They weren't extremely difficult questions and Peter finished answering them and still had seven minutes to spare.
The boy stood up, grabbed his test paper and walked towards the teacher. He placed his exam on the teacher's desk and then sat back down. Veronica handed in her test right after her friend.
Mr. Johnson looked at the boy curiously. It was evident that the teacher was thinking about something.
“I just want to see if I pass,” Peter said.
“You certainly do,” Mr. Johnson let slip out. “Oh, you mean the test.”
Peter had a look of utter disbelief on his face as he tried to understand what the teacher could have been referring to.
Mr. Johnson got to grading the boy's test, knowing that is why both of the students were hanging around.
Peter decided that while he waited he might as well read the note the Charles had left him. Certainly it was going to be some kind of threat or insult, but it might be clever or even a warning that would need to be dealt with.
Peter unfolded the note.
'Veronica's friend,' it read in sloppy cursive writing. 'I still think you're cute and if you want you can still hang and watch us play basketball. Charlie.'
The note had a huge heart drawn around it.
Peter blushed, folded the note quickly and put it back into his pocket.
“Ms. Connors,” Mr. Johnson said with a grin. “I've graded your test.”
Peter noted how the teacher addressed him, but didn't even know if it bothered him or actually made him feel good about himself. “Yes sir.”
“I have some bad news for you.”
Peter pouted. “I didn't get a B.”
Mr. Johnson frowned along with the child. “Sorry, no.”
Peter felt as if he would cry.
“But that isn't the bad news,” Mr. Johnson said before a tear had the chance to fall.
“It isn't?” Peter was caught off guard.
“Not at all. The bad news is that I won't be seeing you around my classroom during summer school.”
“But I didn't get a B.”
“No. You got an A.” Mr. Johnson smiled at his student. “Good job.”
“An A,” Peter exclaimed excitedly as he spun into a pirouette. He completed two full turns and then pumped his arm. “Yes.”
Mr. Johnson chuckled. “And Ms. Connors,” he said as he watched his two students embrace.
“Yes sir,” Peter said breathless.
“I'm glad you are starting to be comfortable finally being yourself. It takes some bravery for you to do what you did today, no matter what the reason behind it was for.”
Peter paused in his elation. “I guess its something to think about.”
“Any time you need to talk,” Mr. Johnson said as he jotted something down on a piece of scrap paper, “this is my number.”
Peter took the paper and folded it. “Thank you.”
Peter and Veronica turned to walk out the door.
The teacher watched as Veronica walked out the room and just as Peter was about to leave behind her he called out, “Ms. Connors.”
Peter stopped and turned around. “Yes sir?”
“For what it is worth. You are a very cute girl and I'm not just talking about your looks, would be a shame if you went back to hiding it.”
Peter blushed. He didn't know what to say and simply walked out the room.
The halls to the school were empty. It was in between periods and there was still fifteen minutes before the bell would ring for lunch. Peter didn't want to delay leaving any longer than he had to and made his way towards the exit.
“So, what did it say?” Veronica asked as they made their way through the school.
Peter gave Veronica a confused look. “What did what say?”
“The note Charlie gave you, don't think I didn't notice.”
Peter blushed ever so slightly. “Oh, that.”
Veronica giggled. “Yeah, that. Come on, was it good? Was it bad? Did he propose?”
Peter stopped and turned towards his friend. “No!” he said and stomped his foot.
Veronica smiled, she knew she was getting the best of Peter. “Then what, or I'm going to start picking out bridesmaid dresses.”
“He just said that I could still watch him and the other boys play basketball,” Peter told her as he resumed towards the exit.
“I think he has a crush on you.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “He does not. He knows I'm a boy, it's not like I'm fooling anyone.”
“Except, maybe yourself,” Veronica said shortly as she opened the door leading out of the school.
Peter's face got tense with anger. “And what's that suppose to mean?”
“Don't be mad, okay?”
Peter tried to calm down and remember that he got an A on his math test, that seemed to help. “Okay.”
“I'm not saying this about everyone, but there have been a few people who think you are a tomboy.”
“I'm a Peter boy,” he said before catching on. “Hey! How can I be a tomboy if my name is Peter? Why would people think that?”
Veronica shrugged. “I'm just going by what people have told me.”
“And just what have people told you,” Peter said as they made their way from the school.
“I'm not going to say who, but a few of the girls this year asked me if I could get you to quit wearing boy clothes and when I asked why, they said because they think you would be prettier if you wore a dress.”
“But, but,” Peter couldn't think of an objection.
“It's just that since you always hang out with me and never with other boys, I guess they just assumed.”
“They assumed I was a girl? Why didn't you tell me?”
“I didn't want to get you upset?”
“I'm not upset,” Peter said evenly.
“Then why are you biting your lip?”
Peter stopped at the street corner and took a deep breath. “Okay,” he said calmly. “I'm not upset. But why would people think that I was a girl named Peter?”
The pair crossed the street together and continued on the way home. Peter stayed silent for a little while, things were definitely not behaving normally.
“I can't be a girl,” he finally said as they got to their block.
“I got a penis,” he said in an embarrassed whisper.
“They can fix that you know?”
Peter was getting frustrated, but he didn't know why and couldn't verbalize his feelings.
“You do look pretty though,” Veronica said as she tried to change the subject somewhat.”
Peter smiled. “Thank you.” He wouldn't admit it out loud, at least not then, but he felt pretty.
“Can you do me a favor though?” Veronica said as they reached her walkway.
“Sure. After all, you did help me pass the math test and now we get to go to Hawaii.”
“For just one day, could you quit pretending to be a boy.”
Peter stopped dead in his tracks as his friend walked towards her front door. He wasn't mad at what she had said, but he was confused. Could it be that he had been pretending all this time, or was he simply losing his mind?
Author's note: Once again a story takes on a life of its own. I accomplished all that I wanted this story to, but it seems to have opened up even more things than I intended. Originally it was just suppose to be a story about a boy wearing a skirt in order to pass a test, I think it graduated from that (for better or for worse). The problem is, I really enjoy these characters and as things go on, it seems that I am taking off guard by the revelations that come up. I think everything has been consistent, even with the admission that there have been a few that assumed Peter was a Tomboy. I don't think there was anything in the story prior to contradict that, other than the teacher calling him Mr. Connors in the first chapter. I was going to have Peter talk about being referred to as Ms. Connors, but the conversation wound up going a completely different way. I kind of got side tracked by Charles note and things cycled from there. I think in the next chapter I will go back to address some of the teacher's comments, because they seem revealing. I think I just have one (now probably two) chapters remaining, but I think these characters will continue in another adventure later.
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