Diva in Disguise 1

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Diva in Disguise Chapter 1
On the day of the funeral, it rained. I awoke to the sound of it beating against my old bedroom window and the torrent didn’t let up all day. That was fine by me. I didn’t care if it never stopped. I just wished that a flood would sweep away everything I’d known in this town. Hope was at an end here, at least for me.

Throughout the whole ceremony I felt as if I were frozen in a bubble, unheeding as to what was going on around me. My mother, with all her faults, had been the biggest influence on my earlier years. I had always striven to please her. Now that she was gone, what dominated my feelings was a sense of failure. My failure. It seemed that all my endeavours to live up to her expectations had come to naught. Now there were no further opportunities to put things right.

The church service was well attended. Mom was well known and respected in this little town where I’d been born. Most people had a liking for her and held her in esteem. Bringing up two boys as a single parent wasn’t easy in those times and that counted for something in most folks’ estimation. Anyone that didn’t get on with her tended to treat her with kid gloves. She wasn’t the sort of person you would want to cross.


I was wearing a sombre black dress for the occasion. Discreetly veiled, I stayed aloof from the proceedings as much as possible. Presenting myself in the church as the daughter of the deceased was unavoidable given my situation, despite this being open to ambiguous interpretation. Many of those who thronged the building knew our family well. I didn’t care to imagine what any of them might be thinking. There were doubtless many nudges and whispers from those who understood, but I remained mercifully oblivious. All that mattered to me was that my immediate friends were around, and especially Rachel.

The persistent rain soon dispersed the majority of those who had gathered around the grave until only a little group remained. My closest friends were amongst them. Pete, the agent who had kick-started my photographic career, had driven herself all the way back to this my former hometown with Alice, my college student friend. They had made the lengthy journey together and I was grateful for their support. No-one else from the little city to which I’d moved two years before and in which I had made a new life, was present. It was better that way. I was heartily relieved that no-one else from there need learn about my background. My life was already complicated enough.

One consequence, however, had been that I’d had to let Alice in on my secret. It had been sweet of her to insist on attending the funeral, but as a result I couldn’t defer any longer a revelation which she needed to hear. It was after some hesitation that I had taken that irrevocable step.

“There’s something important for you to know about me, Alice” I’d begun when we were alone together. “You might hear things at the funeral which else would be confusing. What I’m going to tell you may change the way you feel about me, but I must ask you to promise to keep it a deadly secret, even if you decide that you don’t want anything further to do with me.”

“Oh, Jennifer! Nothing could stop us being friends” she had loyally protested.

I laid a finger on her lips. “Wait and see. I have your solemn promise?”

“Yes, yes! Cross my heart and… Sorry!”

I smiled at this little faux pas, but wanly. It was with a heavy heart that I continued. “Alice, I’m not what you think I am. You may well find it hard to forgive me for keeping this a secret from you, but please try and keep in mind how necessary it was that I did so. First, I hope you can agree that, though we have been very close, and are, you and I have never crossed the line which separates friends from something more.”

The older girl nodded solemnly.

“We have been in some very intimate situations,” I was thinking of a time when she’d fallen asleep in my bed, “but I hope you don’t think I’ve ever tried to take advantage.”

“No, you’ve always been the sweetest girlfriend. Oh, please hurry and tell me what this is about.”

“Yes. But you see, that’s it. Even though I may look like one, I’m not actually a girl at all. I was born a boy!”

Silence. Alice stared uncomprehendingly while I waited for my words to sink in.


I continued, hesitatingly. “I’m so sorry. You are the last person I would ever want to deceive, but I couldn’t tell anybody. People like me just aren’t tolerated around here. Please say you understand.”

There was a lengthy pause before the red-haired girl broke her silence. “What…? I mean how?” Alice was struggling to comprehend, her eyes alternately running over my face and my figure. Latterly her gaze came to rest on my chest.

“You mean these” I pointed to my well-developed bust. “Hormones. I’ve been taking feminising hormones for some years now, although the way it started was without my knowledge or consent. My mother, rest her soul, had some very strange ideas about disciplining me after my father left us. I guess I must have been pretty unruly, but she made me dress as a girl whenever I misbehaved and that seemed to be quite often. Eventually I was in skirts all the time, plus wearing make-up and letting my hair grow. Only Rachel knows the full story… oh and Pete knows some of this too. She found out by accident. Now you do too. Can you forgive me for pretending to be something I’m not?”

“Oh yes, sure. It’s no big deal. I can’t see why you think you should have told me.”

“Oh, my dearest Alice!” I wanted to hug her. “Because you’ve always been so trusting, that’s why, and we’ve been such friends. Apart from Rachel, you’re the closest of any I have. I know it may not be the same now that you know all this, but I so want us still to be friends. Can we?”
For answer, the girl pulled me to her. I found it a real comfort to be held so. I rested my head on her shoulder and cried. It was the first time I’d been able to grieve openly since I’d heard of Mom’s death, and I sobbed my heart out.


With an effort I pulled myself together. I dried my eyes and continued. “There’s more to tell. When Rachel and I moved in together, she and I became more than just flatmates.”

“I guessed as much, though I was surprised to think either of you were lesbians… Oh! Sorry!”

Alice’s black and white view of life never failed to make me smile, though as always I tried to hide it. “No, and in truth we are neither of us gay. What I was meaning was that she already knew I was male, and that she and I went away discreetly and got married. She was already expecting our child. We kept all this very quiet. Around here everyone thinks her husband is abroad.” I tried to lighten the solemnity of the moment. “But… in reality he only looks like one!”

It took a while before she got the feeble joke!

I ploughed on. “Rachel is my wife and Georgie is my daughter. It was fortunate that my modelling career had taken off about that time because with the money from that and my wages from the salon, I’ve been able to provide for the three of us. Rachel won’t be able to go back to nursing full-time for some years yet, so it mainly falls on me to earn our keep. That’s something I can at least feel good about.”

My friend’s eyes were as round as saucers. She was still trying to digest what she had just heard. When she came up with her considered response, as usual Alice managed to take my breath away. Her declaration now didn’t disappoint. “So, when I was having those feelings for you which you told me were just because I was upset, it was actually because you are a boy, underneath. That makes me feel so much better!”


The older girl went on “If I’d known about you before Harvey and I started going out together, things might have been different for us. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy with my relationship with Harvey. He’s really thoughtful, and he’s so good-looking, but…”

“Well, I think it was probably better this way.”

“Perhaps. Actually, I really miss him, now he’s not here.”

It was an opportunity to change the subject. “Whereabouts in Europe is Harvey being posted?”

Her boyfriend had recently enlisted for military service. Like many others, his aim had been to avoid being drafted to an outfit that was sent somewhere he wouldn’t want to be. Alice’s attention was soon occupied with enumerating her fears and concerns for his wellbeing.

Once my revelation was over, I could be hopeful that she would hear nothing unsettling while she was staying in my former hometown, where many folk would remember that my mother’s children had both been born boys. Hopeful, if not entirely confident.

After the funeral was over, my listless state of mind continued its hold on me. It was several days before I could face into anything, despite there being a lot to be done. There was much clamouring for my attention, despite my lack of heart for it. It would take weeks to arrange for the house to be sold and everything to be sorted out. We decided that Rachel and our baby would return home, while I would remain to settle my parent’s affairs. Pete, my agent’s name was short for Petronella, informed me that she would also stay a while before returning. She was determined that my modelling career would be kept on the boil.


After a week had gone by, the woman was finally ready to leave. “I’ve given a local studio the once over and have arranged for you to have some work while you’re here” she told me as she loaded up her car. “All that you have to do is agree when it's to be. You can call them or you can go and make the appointment in person. Here is their phone number.”

“I’m not so sure about that” I frowned “and the very good reason is that I’m too well known in this locality. I like to keep my real name and my work identity separate as much as possible” I reminded her.

“Don’t look so worried! Trust Pete to think of everything. These people will only know that a model called ‘Mistie Morgan’ will be calling to finalise the arrangements for the shoot. Relax! Your real moniker never crossed my lips. You had better believe that, when you have finished making yourself up, no one will ever be able to recognise Jennifer.”


I could only hope she was right!

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Good Beginning

joannebarbarella's picture

Well written and as usual, your pictures enhance the experience for me.

Thanks for sharing, Erin.