Your Promise to Me

Maeryn Lamonte Copyright ©️ 2024

“I don’t really want to go, Janet.”

There, I’d said it. I’ve never known why I find it so hard to be assertive, but it's especially hard with Jan.

She doesn’t like me calling her that, so of course, inside she’ll always be Jan to me.

Call it my little rebellion.

Maybe that’s where I found the courage.

“What do you mean? It’ll be fun. There be free food and free booze and loads of people.”

Yeah. Dried up sausage rolls and cheese and pineapple on sticks. Free stuff is often worth exactly what you pay for it. As for the booze... Imagine a bottle of vinegar with a teaspoon of sugar added.

“You know me and crowds, Jan.”

“Janet, and no I don’t. You’re just making excuses. Just come along. You’ll start enjoying yourself as soon as we get there.”

She would, was what she meant. There would be squeals and air kisses and she’d barely know I was there. I’d find a quiet corner and nurse a drink I could barely stand, while fending off the advances of an increasing tide of lonely drunkards.

Than afterwards would come the interrogations.

“Who was that woman I saw you talking to? Don’t you think she was being just a little too friendly?”

“No, Janet. Not this time. I really do not want to come to your work party.”

“You want to embarrass me, do you? Have me turn up without a partner? Look at Betty-no-mates over there. Can’t even get a date to a New Year’s party?”

“It won’t be like that, and you know it. You’ll forget I’m there the moment you walk through the door.”

“Yeah. You’ll go off and be with your mates, and I’ll go and be with mine.”

“Exactly how many mates do you think I have among your colleagues?”

“You seemed to make a lot of friends at the last do.”

“Yeah, a whole string of lushes, which I seem to remember you didn’t appreciate a whole lot.”

“Yeah, well how am I supposed to appreciate my boyfriend chatting up my mates? Or did you do it to punish me for not showing you enough attention. Honestly, you’re so needy sometimes, I wonder why I bother.”

Me too Jan. Except it would be too much effort to break up with you.

I’d tried it once before, and the screaming histrionics was beyond belief.

I barely remember why we got together in the first place, except it was more her idea than mine. I mean I’ve always been thought of as a bit of a hunk. Six foot two and built like the proverbial brick privy. I should be happy with my body. I mean I know a lot of guys who kill for it, but ever since I hit puberty, it’s been like I grew physically, but not, you know, on the inside.

When I was really young, I got into the laundry and put on some of Dad’s clothes, just for the fun of it. They weren’t the clothes I wanted to try on, but I was too scared to do that. Anyway, Mum and Dad had laughed because I looked like an idiot, and I never forgot how it felt wearing clothes twice my size, especially when I ended up wearing a body that felt the same.

Anyway, Janet thought we’d make a cute couple, and she’s always looked really good, so when she asked me out, I couldn’t help but say yes.

It wasn’t until years later, I figured out I didn’t so much want to be with her as, well, as to actually be her.

I mean not the snarky, superior belittling her. She knew exactly the words to say most of the time to cut me down to size, and I really hated that about her. But her body, her figure. It was exactly how I felt inside.

“I’m sorry Janet. The answers still no.”

Janet! There’s irony in that name. Have you ever looked up meanings of names? I mean there’s irony in mine too. Colin means whelp or cub, and I’ve kind of outgrown it by quite a way, at least on the outside. But Janet means God’s gracious gift. I mean there’s a degree of truth to it if you consider that Janet thinks she’s God and believes she’s her own gracious gift to those around her, but that just means she’s drawn a crowd of sycophants to herself – not impossible given that she is quite stunningly beautiful.

“Colin!” She actually stamped her foot. I mean not hard. Those were delicate shoes and she didn’t want to risk breaking a heel.

“No Janet. My mind’s made up. I’m not your prize bulk to parade around the place for your personal gratification. I want to spend this New Years in the quiet of our own home with a decent bottle of wine. You’re welcome to join me if you want.”

That last bit was a bluff, but not much of one. The office parties were about networking and brown nosing. No upwardly mobile middle manager would dare miss one.

“You know I can’t do that Colin. Look, are you going to make me beg?”

Now that would be a sight, and almost worth it.

“No, Janet, I’m not. But I’m not coming with you either. You’ll barely noticed I’m missing. You’ll have a great time, I’ll have a bit of peace and quiet, and we’ll have nothing to row about afterwards.”

“Except for the way you abandoned me in my time of need.”

“Yeah, well unless you want your taxi to abandon you as well, you’d better get a move on.”

“This conversation isn’t over, Colin.”

I was sure it wasn’t, but at least I’d have an evening’s peace and quiet out of it and, with what I had planned, it would be worth it.

I watched from the window as she emerged onto the street and climbed aboard the cab. I felt the burden ease fro my shoulders as I began anticipating my own celebration.

I hadn’t done anything like this since I began to grow. Back then it had been anything if Mum’s I could find in the laundry, and only when both Mum and Dad were out. It didn’t happen often, and I was terrified of being found out, so I never got much out of those times. There was the thrill of feeling like me – a sort of adrenaline rush but accompanied by a sense of relief rather than terror, except if course, it wouldn’t take long for the terror to sneak in.

Mum and Dad never seemed to leave me alone for long, so I’d have that constant fear of being found out, so I never lasted longer than about half an hour. Just long enough to take the edge of that feeling of being stuck in the wrong life.

It wasn’t the sort of thing I could talk to my parents about either. They were about as old fashioned as you could get and open to new ideas like a clam with lockjaw.

Then I started to grow. I remember the day Mum’s clothes didn’t fit any more. I always loved dresses because of the contortions necessary to put them on and take them off. They sort of locked me into being what I do longed for. The heightened the terror, fir sure, and the nearest I came to being caught were the times Mum had come home, forcing me to run upstairs to my room and wriggle and squirm my way out of her clothes before she poked her head in to check on me. Then I’d have to sneak her things back into the laundry basket before she decided to do any washing.

There had been a few close calls, and I wasn’t sure if Mum had started popping back early in purpose to see if she could figure out what was going on.

Then came the day I put on one of her dresses. A green and white cotton dress with puffed sleeves. It was one of my favourites and I always looked forward to the days after she’d worn it. This time, when I put it in, it was just a little harder than usual to do up the zip, and it felt tight across the shoulders.

Then I’d heard the door closed downstairs. After the last few times, I’d started taking the clothes up to my room, to give me those few extra seconds.

Mum had called up to me and I remember struggling to keep the panic out of my voice as I told her I was doing my homework.

I’d twisted about trying to get at the zip, and the dress has seemed to tighten on me. I’d heard Mum’s footsteps on the stairs and panicked enough that I’d felt something rip.

I stopped fighting the clothes and grabbed my dressing gown off the back of the door. It just about covered everything if I hitched the skirt up a bit. I wrapped it about me and sat at my desk, opening my maths book just as Mum came in.

She made some noise about how I hadn’t got up yet, but I was in teenage territory now and knew what was expected of me. I told her I’d get dressed on a bit. She offered to make me breakfast and told her I’d be down in a bit.

Once she left me on my own, I set about the contortions necessary to get out of the dress. The tearing had eased the tightness a little and I managed to escape my confines without causing further damage.

Subsequent inspection revealed a short section where the zip had pulled away from the material of the dress. I snuck into my mum’s room and borrowed her repair kit. I’d seen her fixing things before – usually mine – so I had a grasp of the theory. It took me a while, because I was doing my best to be accurate, and after fifteen minutes I had a repair done that I hoped would pass cursory inspection.

I slipped some clothes on and came downstairs as quietly as possible, stopping in the laundry room long enough to tuck the dress back into the middle of the pile before joining Mum for the promised breakfast.

She kept a closer eye on me after that, but it didn’t matter. I continued to grow until I reached my dad’s gargantuan size, and there was no way I’d ever fit into her things again.

Probably for the best.

Years passed and I struggled without having some release. I’d try improvising with my bedsheets, except I just felt like I was wrapped in bedsheets. After a bath, I’d wrap the towel around me like I had boobs and make a turban out of another towel, but that was the closest I could come to feeling like a girl. Given the size of me I just looked and felt stupid, and I descended into a sort of morose reclusive place.

Until Janet found me. Then I was just bowled along by the whole whirlwind that life became, never entirely sure that my feet were actually in contact with the ground.

We had it good to start with. I mean, I could still feel that part of me lost deep inside, but Janet and I had everything going for us, so it was actually possible to ignore my disjointed incompleteness for a while.

Eventually, I failed to meet up to some expectation Janet had of me. I’m not sure if that was inevitable from the start, given that she was the sort of feminist that expects failure in a man. If she didn’t find it at first, she’d start looking closer until she eventually found some tiny detail she could take exception to, then her life would be complete. Not only a captive boyfriend, but a foundation on which to build her platform of nagging disapproval.

To be fair, she didn’t have to look far with me. She wanted a strong, dominant man, the sort who was as tough and arrogant on the inside as I looked in the outside.

We’ve already established that was never me. I was a push over, always had been, and when Janice started pushing, over I went.

Our relationship turned toxic, which suited her fine since that’s what she wanted – a way to emulated her mother in her own loveless marriage – and I was trapped.

This New Year wasn’t my first attempt at fighting back, back it was my most successful yet. Especially since I had a box full of goodies to enjoy, courtesy of the Internet.

I’d found a place that catered to people like me. Plus size dresses in fantasy styles. Underwear, extra bits to make the shape more believable, real hair wigs. I indulged the lost little girl in me the pink phase she’d never been allowed to enjoy, and I’d always wanted to be blind. The whole lot had cost me a month’s salary, but I had such hopes for what it would do for me.

With Janet gone, I retrieved the package from its hiding place in plain sight in my office, and opened it up.

I was lucky in that Janice favoured the metrosexual look. Probably a way of feeling she was emasculating me by degrees, but she already insisted on a smooth hairless body. Quite a commitment to maintain given my body’s tendency towards Sasquatch, but I’d fill body shaved recently in anticipation of this evening.

The delight at putting on those clothes. The rush of delight at the feeling of smooth, silky undergarments. The double rush as I felt the weight of admittedly large breasts in my bra. It’s not that I had a fetish, but I needed double Ds to be in proportion with the rest of me. The wig took a few tries to get it right, but I loved the feel of long hair and the look of golden curls.

Lastly came the dress and shoes. I’d never had anything that really fit. The shoes had wedge heels because I didn’t dare trust my weight to anything less robust. I’m not sure if I was a fan, but they completed the look, and I was in heaven.

Have you ever felt so completely caught up in a moment that you had to dance? I mean I looked daft. So amazingly, totally, laugh out loud stupid you wouldn’t believe, but I felt like I’d come home. Odysseus at the end of his ten year journey.

I didn’t even hear the door open, just gyrated slowly around to find Janet’s expression of shocked disgust levelled at me.

“What the fu...!”

Terror replaced delight and left me making goldfish impressions, albeit bug eyed like a lemur.

“Get out of my apartment!” she screamed.

It was our apartment, but I wasn’t ready for a confrontation, and I certainly didn’t want our neighbours looking in on us right now.

“Just let me, please...”

“No! If this is a good enough look for you at home, I think it’ll do fine in the outside too.”

“It’s cold outside.” I’d been tempted to prefix it with ‘But baby’, but she was so far from being in a mood to appreciate that sort of banter. Plus it had been a long time since I’d associated her with any endearments.

“Take your stupid coat then.” She’d used stronger language, but nothing I feel like repeating here.

The coat in question was my duffle coat. As close to anything feminine as I dared. The toggles were on the right, so it was a man’s coat – had to be if it was going to fit me – but I appreciated the slight degree of androgyny it offered me.

While I pulled it on over my pink dress, struggling a little with my long hair and the way my oversized boobs got in the way of me buttoning up completely, she disappeared into our bedroom – I doubted it’d ever be that again – returning a moment later with one of her handbags. She picked up my wallet and phone – not my keys – and dropped them in, adding the lipstick and few other bits of makeup that had come with my girl kit, and shoved it into my hand.

She was tiny compared to me. I could have picked her up in one hand, if I’d been inclined to try, but the force of her incandescent fury stole all the resistance I might have had in me, and I ran, or at least did the best approximation I could manage in the shoes.

I ran out into the street. It seems maybe like a rash thing to do, but the noise Janet had been making meant there were more people inside the building than out. What’s more, I knew more of the people inside, so there was more scope for embarrassment.

Of course, once I was out of the building, I was out for food because I wouldn’t be able to get back in without my keys, or the help of a very kind neighbour.

I didn’t expect a lot of kindness looking like I did.

It was cold. I mean no big surprise. New Year’s Eve in the northern hemisphere generally is, but I hadn’t counted on how little protection my legs were going to have with just a thin pair of tights. I ran for shelter, which happened to be a nearby doorway. Chances were I’d get shooed away from it sooner rather than later, but for now it was a respite from the bitter wind, and it offered shadows to hide in.

It also smelled quite strongly of urine, so I suspected I’d be shooing myself on before long.

I saw Janet leave the building and climb into a car. I recognised Peter as one of Janet’s work colleagues, and the fact that he’d had a close-up look at me as I’d run out. There was a shared exchange between them. Animated with fingers pointed roughly in my direction then shared laughter before they pulled away from the kerb and disappeared into the night.

So, what do you do on New Year’s Eve when you’re locked out of your flat wearing a cute, if massively oversized, pink dress with nowhere to go?

The superintendent for the block of flats would not be pleased to hear from me, especially since I imagined he’d most likely heard from Janet. When it came down to choosing between the super-hot girl and her hulking boyfriend, now dressed up like a birthday cake, I didn’t much fancy my chances, so for now I had next to no chance of getting back to my home and the safety of my normal clothes. None of the shops would be open, so even though I had cash and credit card, I had nowhere to spend them. Beyond that, most public venues would either be shut or only open for private functions. There were a few pubs that might be an option, but most around here had the sort of reputation that would discourage even someone of my size going in wearing pink frills and heels. There were one or two where I might get away with it – alphabet soup friendly as one friend of mine called them. The closest was about half an hour’s walk from here, maybe more in these heels. Then I’d be okay for a couple of hours. New Year’s Eve, pubs closed at ten pm, so unless I got lucky, so to speak, I’d be out on my ear with most of the night still ahead.

It was a plan though, and better than freezing to death in a stinking alcove. Yet again courage failed me so I didn’t call a taxi, but rather set about walking as fast as I dared.

It took forty-five minutes and my calves were burning by the time I arrived. There was a queue, but the bouncer, a burly black man with a bubble-gum pink furry jacket, took pity on me and waved me through.

Inside the club, with warmth returning to my extremities, I was treated to a few meaningful looks, if only I could discern what the meaning actually was. I made my way to the bar and ordered wine spritzer.

A glass of pink fizz appeared in front of me and I waved my card at the machine.

“You’re brave,” the barman said.

“Actually, not so much, but I haven’t had a great last hour.”

“Well, hopefully your luck will change between now and next year. I take it this is your first time? I mean I suspect I’d remember you.”

“First time, yeah.”

He pointed out the different sections depending on if I was gay, TG, TV and any if a number of acronyms, only a few of which I recognised. I decided transvestite came closest to describing me right now, though that was under review. It also made things easier since TG subdivided into those wanting to meet same gender or opposite. TV same gender seemed to prefer the gay or lesbian sections.

“Hang on a minute,” I said. “Are you open past ten tonight?”

He nodded. “Private club. We’ve a license to stay open till one tonight.”

“I don’t suppose you have food on offer?”

“Complementary chips and dips on the tables, but I’m afraid that’s it.”

“Thank you.”

I went and sat where I thought I belonged and nursed one drink after another, being overlooked for almost all of the five hours I was there.

Midnight came and went. At the witching hour, the barman came over and offered me a platonic hug, which I was glad enough to accept.

An hour later I was back outside, wrapped in my duffle coat with nothing to protect my legs. I was going to ruin my shoes, but the best I could do for myself was keep moving.

The streets were pretty empty. I provided a little late night amusement for a few police patrols that had drawn the short straw, but more than anything, I kept moving and shopped windows, taking advantage of my circumstances to indulge in all the shops I’d wanted to browse for so long.

I even had freedom to wander a few covered arcade where, having a roof over my head took the edge off the chill.

Around dawn, I made my way to the bridge. The river wasn’t particularly picturesque, but it had an unimpeded view to the east, and the skies were clear.

I stood in the middle of the span and leaned on the railings. I could hear the water swirling past beneath me in the darkness. It sent a chill upwards, causing me to wonder just how good an idea this was.

Then the horizon began to lighten. Stars winked out as a pastel bruise spread across the sky. A brilliant flare behind a distant building heralded the arrival of the sun, and I breathed in clean cool air.

For the first time in twelve hours, I felt my spirits lifting. Things couldn’t be all bad in a world that could offer a display like that.

Of course, the world tried to prove otherwise. Seven-thirty on New Year’s Day meant not a lot of traffic about. A few cars passed over the bridge, honking their horns and jeering at me as they went past. I was even treated to a few wolf whistles.

I’m not sure if it gave me any insight into how intimidating things like that could be for a woman. They were certainly bad enough for a gorilla in a pink dress.

My handbag vibrated. I noticed a missing sequin or two as I dug into it to find the source of the disturbance.

“Hello?” I answered a little flatly

“Colin?” Not a voice I recognised.

“Who is this?”

“My name’s Kaily. I’m one of Janet’s friends. Well, maybe not any more.”

“What do you want?” I wasn’t sure I wanted anything to do with any of Janet’s friends.

“Where are you right now?”

I really wasn’t sure. I gave it some thought. There was concern in her voice. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to take a chance.

“Down by the bridge.”

“There’s a café at the east end. Could we meet?”

More south east end, but okay. It was early, but the lights were on.

“You do know how I’m...”

“Dressed? Yes. Janet’s been holding court.”

I snorted. “Sounds like her. I don’t know, Kaily, was it?”

“Please, Colin.”

“You know what’s going to happen the moment I set foot in a public place?”

“Probably pretty much what’s been happening to you since she kicked you out, and you’ve coped with that.”

“I’m not sure I have.”

“Colin, it’s not going to get any worse.”

“It’s already bad enough.”

“Then give me a chance to make it better.”

“Why would you?”

“Because...” Her voice faded into silence and it was my turn to be treated to a silence.

“Because I made a promise to someone. I wasn’t there for her, and I can’t change that, but I can be here for you. No-one should have to go through something like this on their own. I know that now, so will you let me? Be there for you?”

She seemed genuine, but I didn’t know if I was strong enough to be knocked down again. She knew how I was dressed, this Kaily, but that still didn’t mean she knew how I looked, and I was already heartily sick of being laughed at.

It occurred to me I hadn’t said anything for a long while, yet she was still on the line

“Okay,” I said, barely whispering my response.

“I’ll be there in ten minutes. Colin, it’s going to be alright.”

A sort of strangled sob escaped from my throat. After the night I’d had, a little kindness was hard totake.

“Colin? Stay with me. I’m on my way.” It really was a kind voice

“I’m not going anywhere,” I said.

“Not yet, maybe, but we’ll get there, I promise.”

I could hear her breathing down the phone. She seemed more upset by this than I was.

“Do you have a name?” The question came out of left field.

“What?”

“Look, I know you’re Colin, but right now I’m guessing that doesn’t fit. My sister went with Toni. It kind of fit either way for her.”

“Is that what this is about? You have a sister who’s... like me, and now you’re trying to add me to the collection.”

“It’s not like that, Colin. I had a sister, and yes, she was like you. Maybe this is a bit about her and me, because we never got to know each other like that, but mostly it’s because the one thing she did show me was how hard it is to do this on your own. I don’t want you to be on your own, Colin.”

She was asking me trust her with a lot.

“Tiffany.” I said at last in a quiet voice. It meant revelation of God, which was maybe a little ironic since he had a reputation for not liking people like me.

“It’s a lovely name,” She was lying and she wasn’t very good at it, but I was grateful for her effort. “Hello Tiffany, I’m Kaily. I hope we can be friends.”

“What are you doing?”

“Honestly? I have no idea. Listen, I’m just around the corner. Where are you now?”

“Still on the bridge.”

“You’re not still thinking of...”

“What, jumping?” I laughed. “I don’t have the courage to do that. Not with my imagination.”

“What do you mean?”

“The water’s about thirty feet down. If I jump, it’ll be like landing on concrete”. I waffled on about all the reasons why jumping would be a bad idea.

“So what are you doing on the bridge?”

“Freezing my nuts off. These tights don’t do much for you, do they?”

“I suppose that’d solve one problem for you.”

That was funny. Yeah, maybe it’d be easier to be a girl if I didn’t have my gonads, but I’d already been given too big a dose of testosterone. Damage done.

It was still funny though.

“So seriously, what are you doing on the bridge?”

“Feeling sorry for myself. Keeping away from people. Not many people walking across the bridge tonight.”

“Well, one more now.”

A taxi pulled up at the south east end if the bridge, and a young woman climbed out, looking very pointedly in my direction, her phone held to her ear.

“So, are you going to make me come out to you, or are you going to join me for a coffee?”

“I don’t drink coffee,” I said. One vice I’d never managed to acquire.

“Tea then, or Bovril or whatever else you might be into.” I could hear the smile in her voice.

She started walking towards me so I did the same. We met half way. She wasn’t as pretty as Janet, but she had kind eyes, which gave her a good shot at being beautiful. I looked down at her and hung up my phone.

“Hello Kaily, I’m Tiffany. Are you sure you want to be friends?”

She gave me an appraising look, biting down on a smile. Evidently this was not a great look for me. The grin settled into a smile.

“Hello Tiffany. I’m quite sure. I understand coffee is a good place for friendships to start, even if it’s tea flavoured.”

She took me by the arm and pulled me towards a future with maybe a little less pink, but definitely a lot more hope.



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