Boys' School - Chapter 7

Boy_s_Graphic.pngChapter VII

 
 
 

     "Ha… Hello?"

"Chris, are you awake? It's me, your chemistry teacher."

I tried to sit up quickly to look at the clock. Oh my god, I'd overslept. I couldn't. My head was spinning, and even if that were not the case, the bright sun would have prevented me from seeing the clock anyway.

She told me. "The Nurse said that she snuck in to check you this morning, and you were sleeping through your Wednesday morning breakfast but that we should get you up for lunch."

"What time is it? My alarm is turned off."

"It's almost eleven. Mrs. Pierce said that you've been approved for a pass off campus, and she asked me If I'd mind going with you." She sounded surprised at the reversal of fortune. "That must have been some phone call." She finished.

My head felt so fuzzy. "It was. I don't even know how to tell you about it."

"Don't worry. When I called to check on you last evening, Mrs. Pierce answered the phone. She filled me in on only a little, but I heard enough. I am very sorry to hear but I'm so glad it's all finally out in the open. Now, maybe, you can feel free to smile more, if you want."

I did.

"So how about it. You can go but you have to go in normal clothes."

"Ma'am?"

"Boy's clothes, Chris. No wandering around town in one of Mr. Kinsley’s tutus."

I giggled too.

"I won't. I've got to go in for a two o'clock appointment."

"Appointment?"

"Hair."

I thought she muttered something, but I wasn't sure. "I can't go that early, Chris. I have classes but I can meet you in town about four thirty, if you want, and we can grab a pizza or something."

"I would like that. I may need some help with some of the things but I'll probably just meet you back here first. I'm going to buy your Christmas present and I can't let you see it."

She groaned "You can't do that, Chris, and you know it. What? Are you trying to find a new way to get me fired every week?" She chuckled a little.

"I know. I'd sure like to be able to though. I'll call you when I get back."

She seemed fine with that. "Okay, Chris. Don't wear your uniform, either."

"I never wear that to town. I don't have that kind of death wish."

"Could have fooled me. Now, get up, and get to the dining room before Mrs. Pierce sends out a search team."

"I will, ma'am. I'm starved."

I knew I'd have to hurry but I still went for the bathtub first. I felt a little stiff, and like I just needed the hot water. My room was even neater than usual.

My cell was blinking, so I picked it up and looked at it on the way.

I had a text message in there, from Dad. '2 ft snow. Maybe Sun. Sorry.'

I sighed and set the phone on the toilet seat but it really didn't bother me. I knew he was coming even if it might not be 'til Spring. Being an ocean away was something I was used to.

The phone beeped again.

'Mz P is Funny Dad'

He was on now. I quickly typed in "Can I call?" before I began running more hot water in the tub.

It beeped pretty fast.

'Mtg Sorry'

He was in a meeting. People were there.

I typed in "I need to spend some money" and waited.

"Much?"

I bit my lip and typed "5 0 0". Then bit it again and hit another zero before I hit send.

It took long enough that I checked that the message was in the sent file. I was washing when it beeped again.

'Funny U @ Sch?'

"Y" As usual, I thought.

I pulled the plug and watched till the whirlpool formed before I got out to get dressed.

'1 Min C. Room?'

"Y" I was in my room.

I didn't know if he was going to call or instant message my computer, but he sometimes did that or...

My phone rang.

"Dad?"

I heard "… Jesus Morgan, call your kid. This crap can wait that long…”

Dad spoke then. “Chris?"

"I'm sorry, Dad. I didn't mean to bother you. It could have waited a little."

"Don't worry about that. If I'm with the Pope and the President, and the Prime Minister is serving tea, I still have a couple of minutes for you. What's going on?"

"Did I interrupt anyone important?"

"The Pope and The President, but the Prime Minister is almost done with the tea." He joked, but I got the message.

Brevity edifies.

"I want to do some shopping. I need some clothes and some jewelry and stuff for the dance. The dance stuff will probably be a lot. More than I ever spend."

Dad wasn't annoyed. "That's okay, Chris. Some of these guys’ kids buy speedboats and don't say anything. You've never spent more than a movie ticket. I don't mind, but jewelry? Are you Christmas shopping? What kind of jewelry"

I still had to hurry. "Not much. A necklace or two, a bracelet maybe but I'd really like to get some earrings. Nice earrings."

Dad was silent for a long time. It made me nervous.

"I suppose it's too much to hope you are going way overboard on a girlfriend?"

"Yes."

"I think I understand. Chris, we've already pulled the limit we had set on your card because we thought you might have to get on a plane over here. If you need to do some things and you really feel like you can't wait for me, then go ahead. I trust you, Chris. Just don't go completely crazy, or do anything permanent."

"I won't, Dad. Thank you for understanding."

"I love you, Chris. I have to go though."

"I love you too, Dad."

I saw by the clock on the phone that I really had to hurry. I threw on my jeans and stuff as fast as I could before I grabbed the rest of the things I'd need.

I was practically jogging down the hall toward the dining room amid such calls as "Oh! Look! Royalty! He lives!" "Chris is styling a sort of grunge, all American hero look that perfectly captures…"

I couldn't understand how anyone could think I was the one who was nutty.

Lunch was some kind of Stroganoff thing but it was delicious as usual and I ate a fair portion. The ladies looked pleased no end but the guys at my table kept their hands tucked under their arms till I was finished. I just sneered and showed them my choppers.

 
 

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     Miss Lindsay seemed to be the only one who was surprised, when I turned up at the office to sign myself out near twelve-thirty. She came over with a clipboard and pulled a sheet to leave a blank form on top.

"I didn't really expect to see you, Chris."

"No, ma'am." I tried to smile to let her know I was really better than she seemed to be thinking.

She looked at me, worried, but nodded. "Where to?" She poised the pen over the page.

"Clothes and maybe a little Christmas shopping. I'd planned to hit the little shops down town." I'd decided that, because there were more kids in the mall places, probably even some from Saint Mary's. "I also have an appointment at the hair place down there too."

"Which place?"

"Style Palace."

She looked at me a little strangely but didn't speak.

"After that, I might head to the Mall. Cheaper underwear and stuff."

She held out her hand. "Phone?"

I pressed the keys to display the number on the phone and handed it to her. She wrote it down, and then closed the phone before opening it again to look at the battery charge. She dialed the number she'd written and, as soon as my cell chirped, handed it back to me.

"Just a moment, Chris." She said, and walked back into Mrs. Pierce's office.

Mrs. Pierce came out almost immediately but she had papers in both hands. "How are you feeling, Chris?" She asked, setting the papers down, and looking only at me.

"Very well. Thank you, ma'am." I smiled at her and it probably looked good, because I had plenty of reasons to smile at her.

"Are you planning on going out alone?"

"Yes, ma'am. Only at first though. I'll probably be back here before the end of the day and Miss Lynn and I will go out and get a pizza at the mall later."

That made her nod her approval.

"Good, Chris. Transportation?"

"I'd planned on taking the bus to the hair place and then, if I have to, I'll take a cab to the mall or back here."

"Have you a lot of cash on you? You boys tend to take too much."

I smiled. "No, ma'am. I should be fine." She didn’t want me to get rolled or for other kids have the same happen to them.

"Okay, Chris." She initialed the form. "But I have one condition. You have any problems at all, and I mean any, you call me. Excuses will not be tolerated."

"No, ma'am. I'll be fine. Thanks to you."

She smiled again and nodded before she turned to pick up the papers. "Miss Lindsay, did the heating people call back yet? We need to have the heat on over there now."

"No ma'am. I'm sorry, would you like me to call again."

"No, Miss Lindsay, I'd like you to call everyone in the book. The first one to get it on, I'll pay…"

I nodded to Miss Lindsay, who smiled, and got out of there.

 
 

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     As I sat down on the bus, I landed on the little purse I'd hung on its strap under the same grey coat, causing an older couple to look at me.

There were only myself and the two old people on the bus as we pulled away. I'd never seen very many riders, even though only a couple of buses ran out this way. A lot more ran toward the mall on the other side of the town center. All of them were nice and clean and quiet. Some of the guys had to have rides but I didn't mind the buses at all.

It would be one p.m., by the time I got there. Just enough time to breathe a sigh of relief. As we got closer, I turned to watch the windows of the little shops lining the main street.

The bus stopped on a corner about two blocks away from The Style Palace, but I had plenty of time.

As the bus roared away, I could see that there were several other stores that looked promising, but the jewelry store just across the street looked more so. I'd planned on getting a few more things at the mall but I also wanted to buy a couple of nice things too.

The girls at St. Mary's always wore nice jewelry and not fake nice jewelry either. Even the boys at my school had those things. I wanted to make sure I fit in. No three carat stones, mind you, just something small and pretty, but nice too.

As I walked, I pulled the locket out, to lie on top of my turtleneck.

There was an older woman cleaning a case, so I waited. I worked myself that way slowly as I looked in several of the cases. Much of what was there was not what I had in mind, polished rocks and things, and one had two tiaras that had to be fake, because they looked like the crown jewels or something. The next case had watches for men, that were so big and bulky I'd have had to wear them on my leg. The girl’s watches were kind of pretty and there was one that I liked.

Closer to the back, I found the earrings.

"Hello. Off from school?"

I jumped a little, because I had been looking carefully at pairs of earrings in the case, and I didn't really see her coming until a second before she spoke.

She smiled. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be, ma'am. I'm the one who is sorry for interrupting you. I was trying to wait. I can see that you're very busy."

"You are a very polite … boy." She said looking at the locket on my shirt. "I'm just trying to catch up a little. The girls in the evening don't spend much time cleaning I'm afraid. So tell me now. You are playing truant today, and had to duck in here to avoid the cops?" She smiled but she looked out the window too.

"No, ma'am. I have today off and I'm shopping for some things I need."

"Christmas shopping? For your mom?" She asked her eyes looking me over.

I could feel myself blush, but only a little. I could try and tell her I was shopping for my mother, but I just didn't want to hide, or to lie.

I thought about it too long.

"Are you alright?" The woman asked me stepping closer. "Is your mother or father with you?"

"I'm sorry, ma'am. I'm fine. I was just thinking. My parents are in Switzerland. May I please look at these."

"Those are real diamond earrings. So, you're alone?"

"Yes ma'am, that’s what I’m looking for."

"I don't suppose there would be any harm. How did you get here?"

"The bus."

She laughed as if she thought I was making a joke and I suppose it was kind of funny. She looked like she wanted to ask if it had been a wet ride from Switzerland and I guess I smiled too.

"Here you go." She slid them over but her eyes never left me, as if I were a mystery to break up her day. I was half wondering if she thought I might run for the door.

"May I see these too?"

Her smile faded, and she looked at me for a long time, but she never the less reached in for the other pair of earrings.

"These are much prettier. They sparkle more."

She nodded. "That's right. We don't keep may of these in the cases, but these are blue white diamonds."

"What's the difference?" I asked, not knowing anything about such things.

The woman laughed at my naiveté. "About three times the price per carat in that size."

I looked down at them again. "I don't think the really big ones look very nice."

"Me either." She said, looking at me rather oddly.

"They’re an expensive gift, even for your mother."

"I know. My mother's been ill. That's why she's in Biel. I haven't even seen her for a while." I told her, unsure why.

"Oh. Well they are nice, but…" She just looked at me. "Are you one of the kids from Saint Andrew's?"

"Yes ma'am?"

"I thought it was a high school?" She sought, looking me up and down. "Aren't you a little young?"

"It's a preparatory school, ma'am. They take kids at any age, as long as they can do the work. When I started two years ago, I was one of the youngest."

"You've been in high school for two years?"

"Yes ma'am. Just a little more, because I started just before Christmas a few years ago, so it's about two years. May I please ask, how much are these?"

She was just looking, and looking. Finally she decided to look under the tag.

"These are just under a carat total count, point nine, and are sixteen hundred dollars They are very fine stones. How sick is your mom?"

I looked up, and it was obvious she was feeling bad for me.

"She's getting better now, but she's been sick for over a year. May I please see the ones that are a little smaller…"

She looked like she wanted to smirk, and shake her head at me while saying I told you so, but she was nice, so she reached into the case for one of the little pairs tucked way over to the side.

"No ma'am. Not those. These." I said pointing to the pair that lain just next to the nice pair. They sparkled too.

The woman hesitated but reached for the pair I had pointed out.

"These are square?" I realized.

"That's called a princess cut."

It was silly but that made me grin.

"Do you have any that are about this size, like the pretty ones, but round like the second pair?"

She shook her head just then, but I knew she wasn't telling me that she didn't have what I wanted.

"Honey, I'm never too busy to help, but… are you serious? Do you really want to get a gift like these for you mother? I don't mind showing you. Not at all. If you'd just like to know a little about the stones and things, it really is kind of interesting."

She started by putting the first pair away and pulled out the pair I had not seen.

"No, ma'am." I sighed. "They're not really a gift. The school is having a dance. And…" I didn't quite know how to put it.

I looked at the two pairs together.

"It's a formal dance, a ball really, that they want us to go to, so we know how."

"I heard. I saw you looking at the tiaras. I put them out there, because some of the girls from Saint Mary’s were in looking."

"Are they going to wear tiaras?" I asked, my expression causing her to chuckle.

"No. Not that I know of, anyway. They tried them on but decided they might be a little much."

I could tell that she was still trying to make up her mind about me.

"Those are fourteen hundred." She said. "The dance? Are you looking for something for your girlfriend?" She asked, but her tone told me that she didn't think that was likely either.

I pushed them back slowly and tried to smile again, but it was hard, because of the way she was watching me now. I shook my head no.

"If it's not too much trouble, could I see a pair a little smaller than these little ones?"

She started to take the sixteen hundred dollar pair too, but I put my hand out.

"No. I still like those."

That caused her composure to break a little. I guess it got the better of her. "Are you serious?"

"Yes, ma'am."

I looked at the stones she pulled out from somewhere under the counter and realized that they were just what I wanted.

Looking at the woman, I slid the large pair and the smaller pair over. To me they would be perfect together. "Do you pierce ears?"

"What?” She seemed a little shocked. “Um, yes, honey, but not on someone as young as you without a parent. You have to be sixteen."

"I am sixteen ma'am."

"You go to Saint Andrew's? Not Saint Mary's"

"Yes ma'am."

She didn’t move, obviously knowing that some of the guys had a lot of money to spend, and trying not to be rude, but obviously still feeling uncomfortable.

"I'm sorry, ma'am…"

"I think you should call me Mary." She reached over and handed me a card. "I know you may be able to afford it but perhaps you should come back with your parents…"

I slipped my card and My ID onto the display case and, at the sight of the color of my card, her color turned pale.

She nodded. "Which pair do you like."

"These two." I pushed the large and small pairs toward her.

"And they are for you?"

"Yes ma'am. I'm sorry, ma'am. We are not supposed to give out too much information to strangers." I looked down, "Mrs. Sommes, but yes ma'am. I want them for the dance, unless you think they will look to big on me?"

"Both pairs?" She asked, looking at the credit card again.

"Yes, please."

"Will that be all?" She said in surprise.

"No, ma'am. If you have the time, I wanted to get a necklace too, but I… I'm not sure what goes with what. I want it to be simple but pretty."

She started laughing, as she placed my earrings behind her and pulled out a tray from an adjacent case. “Tell me, what color are you wearing?”

“Royal-blue velvet.”

She laughed and shook her head.

 
 
 

      A woman who came out from the back to help Mrs. Sommes was even more skeptical.

Mrs. Sommes looked from me down to the small pile of jewelry on the counter, that now included a simple gold ring bracelet, and a pretty double diamond pendant necklace whose stones matched the earrings.

She looked at my ID, and at the card, and to her credit she didn't make any faces.

"I have to call your parents, if you want to do this. I’m sorry, but I’ve never sold anything like this to someone so young."

"My father already knows, ma'am. I asked for permission before I came. I doubt you can reach him. He travels every day, and my mother's in the hospital."

The woman from the back said. "Perhaps you should call the school?"

The look on my face told them that I didn't want them to do that, I was sure, but I didn't say not to. I understood.

"Are you sure you can afford this much?" Mrs. Sommes asked, now as worried for me as she was about anything else.

I nodded. I almost told her my dad could, but hesitated to be so open.

I was sure the other woman wanted to refuse but she took the card and swiped it while entering the total. She seemed surprised when 'approved' popped up instantly.

Mrs. Sommes looked over her shoulder before speaking to me. "I will have to verify the sale with the company that issued the card." I think she was trying to give me the chance to back out. "They don't give us any information but they will confirm so that we are protected."

I wanted to say that it was my card. "I understand." I tried to look as if I did this all the time.

She picked up the phone and dialed, before turning about to look at me. I tried to look in the cases in front of me but my eyes just naturally rose by themselves to watch her back. I didn't blame her, because she was very nice about it, but it still made me feel bad.

I heard the words 'verify', and 'minor', and 'such a large purchase.'

I saw her eyes dim a little as she said, "I'll hold."

She covered the mouthpiece and mouthed "I'm sorry."

I nodded. Obviously my expression had not been as nonchalant as I’d hoped.

"Hi, this is… Oh." She listened for a moment. "So you are already aware…" She nodded into the phone, like most people will, then her brows lifted. "I see. Thank you. Oh, you're welcome. Of course we would check. Thank you."

She was looking at me, as oddly as the other woman was looking at her.

"Chris, come on in the back. I won't charge for the piercing. Technically we can do this for a sixteen year old without their mother but only in the ears. Are you sure you want to do this? I'm still a little uncomfortable."

"Yes, I am."

As I walked, I heard the other woman whisper. "What?"

"Unlimited." Mary said quietly.

 
 

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     Getting your ears pierced doesn't hurt as much as I thought it would. Mary and the other girl, Stephanie I think, just talked a lot about what I wanted, the larger one in the lower ear, and the smaller just above and behind. I also told them that I always liked the idea of three earrings in each ear, if they fit, which cause them to tug and feel my earlobes again. Finally, they pulling out a pen and a little plastic gauge.

Even they said they were pretty, once they were in. The girl, Stephanie, asked if I wanted to wear the necklace. I said no. I liked the locket my Mother had given me just fine.. However, Mary surprised me by taking the necklace out of the box and slipping it around my neck. She dropped it inside my turtleneck. “It’s safer.” She said.

Then, they spent so much time lecturing me on how to keep the piercings clean, it was after two o’clock before she would let me off the chair.

I stopped to look in one of the oval magnifying mirrors near the register as they gathered my stuff. I smiled apologetically as, on impulse, I pulled out the compact and lip-gloss and then the mascara.

Stephanie just said "Unbelievable." before she walked away.

I didn't look up, as I quickly put on just a little mascara, but Mary said softly to me, "I’m sorry. I'll talk to her."

When I thanked her for a good-bye, she just said "Good luck, Chris,” as she handed me a little bag with the boxes and the bracelet.

 
 

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      I'd never thought I'd be so late, but it was almost fifteen minutes after two when I got to the door of The Style Palace. I walked in and instantly got the attention of everyone there. Some women looked away quickly enough, but some continued to stare, even as a dark haired woman walked up to me briskly from the other side of the room.

"You Chris?"

"Yes, ma'am. I 'm sorry I'm late, I got…"

"That's Okay." She said and, once she was close, leaned over and finished softly with, "I kind of thought you wouldn't show up at all."

She looked around at the faces watching us.

"The computer's back here. The damned thing picked up some kind of boogieman. A thousand dollar paperweight. Come on, I don't have much time."

I answered "Ma'am?" I didn't have any idea of what she was talking about but I followed her even without hope of actually catching up.

Once in the office, she didn't even sit down before turning. "Sorry. More bad news than the local paper and CNN together, in here.” She was looking me over just like everyone else. "You know why I asked you to stop in?"

I mumbled "Because you are so busy on Saturday?" I asked hopefully.

She smiled "Well that too, I suppose. You said you go wanted to have us give you the works treatment but you also said you were calling from the school up the road. That's got to be Saint A's. I really appreciate your being honest and telling me that you are a boy. Of course, I'd have never figured that out on my own." Her smile became an impish grin.

I nodded, glad that she had said it pleasantly.

"I don't really care, most of the time, but you sounded pretty young. You also called just in time and I have an opening a little later in the day on Saturday but I've got a full book for Saturday morning. So, if you are playing a joke, I'm just not interested."

"No, ma'am. I'm not."

"I'm Jessie, and don't you ever call me ma'am again. I'm not that old and I might just sock you."

"I'm sorry, ma … Jessie."

"Better. You said your hair might be too short, so I wanted to see it while I still had time to give the slot away."

She ran her fingers though it, tugging it at the back, to make sure it was really attached, I suppose.

"At least you use conditioner."

"Yes, m … Jessie…"

"Good one." she responded without looking away from my hair.

I tried to explain. "I got a little bottle in the mall and it said to use it every day and …"

"Good. I think your hair is long enough and plenty thick enough that we won't have any problem. Are you sure you want to do this? I mean nice makeup and all but are you sure?"

"Yes. Very sure."

"You said you had a picture?"

I pulled out the leaf from a magazine. It had a nice style to it, I thought, and the girl looked really cute.

"I need your advice though." I said softly. I expected her to laugh at me.

"Humph!" She said looking at it and at me. "Believe it or not, that's kind of the thing that I would have done for you anyway had it been up to me. How did you pick this picture?"

She had my chin, to look at my ears. She seemed to be about to reach for them, when she asked. "Are these new, or are they infected? Your lobes are red?"

"New. I just got them for the dance."

"Must be nice." She made a pucker like a whistle but didn't make any noise. She looked at the picture and frowned.

"You haven't told me why you picked this style?" She asked again, abruptly.

"I just like it and I think that girl looks a little like me, so I thought it might work. She looks happy." I added quickly for reasons that Doctor Cross would have to explain.

"She does. This is a good style I'd say, but the color." She shook her head. "It's good but this is a dye and highlights. I'd say no, but it's cute, it's perfect, and you have such pretty eyes. Did you know that girl's eyes, and boy's eyes are just the same, especially when they are young?"

I nodded that I did.

"Well the first thing is, that I don't have anything like the time to do anything like this on Saturday. Can you come back…" She closed her eyes. "around four?"

She wanted to dye my hair today! I was trying to think of some way, but…

"Or even better, tomorrow, late. I may not have the time to do both today and I’d like to get it all done before Saturday."

"Tomorrow is better. I have that day off, too." I said tripping over myself not to have to hide the evidence for another day.

"Must be nice, too. Okay, Chris, but, if you're late tomorrow, don't bother to show up on Saturday, because you won't get a seat. I only have two private areas and I won't wait for you. I assume you've got bucks aplenty?"

I nodded my agreement to her conditions. "I won't be late, Jessie, and I have a card."

"If you catch a ride, you can park in the back and come in that way." She seemed to understand.

"Your school's executioner will be here in the morning tomorrow or I'd suggest you have a ride with her, but I'm booked then too." She giggled.

"Ma'am?"

"Not good, Chris. About as not good as you with a buzz-cut in about a minute."

"I'm sorry. Jessie." I said quickly.

"Okay. I'll let you live." She grinned again "This time. I'm talking about your Mrs. Pierce. I asked her what she did one time, and she told me she ran the dungeon at Saint Andrew's - Assistant to the Chief Executioner. I think she'd had a good day."

Mrs. Pierce. She had to have recognized the name of the Style Palace.

"Several of the women from the school get their hair done here, Chris. I'm not going to lose a good customer over this, am I?"

I sighed, even though I knew I was blushing now for real. "I don't think so, Jessie. Mrs. Pierce knew where I was going. She had to sign my pass."

"Really?" She said raising one brow. "Humph! Always thought she had a good sense of humor." She shook her head again and handed the picture back. "Okay, get out, and call me tomorrow. Two of those ladies are coming in the morning, so don't come in earlier."

"Thank you for doing this, Jessie."

"I wouldn't turn one person away just because another didn't like it."

She looked at me for a moment with a funny look on her face.

She leaned over closer, as if she were going to whisper, and asked much more loudly, "Is there anything else?"

I jumped. "Well, I…"

"Spit it out, Chris. I'm a really important person, you know. " She laughed when she said it.

"Makeup. I have some, but I've read that places like this do makeup, too. If someone could help a little…"

She looked at me. "Where did you get what you are wearing?"

"This is just…"

"It looks nice, Chris. You need more mascara though." She started signing with each word. I don't think they were real sign language, because it looked so funny, and because we were both laughing at that point.

"Where. Did. You. Get. It?" The last 't' was a whole word in itself.

"At the Mall. There was a girl. Donna, I think."

"Ah!" She said, and leaned back to hit a button on the phone. "Rachel?"

"Yes, Your Majesty?" Rachel sounded bored.

"The book, and you won't think it's so funny when I make you call me that."

Turning back she asked. "Where in the Mall?"

"Macy's, m… Jessie. There was a girl there. I think they did makeovers too but I don't think she really…" I didn't want to finish.

She looked up. At first I thought to measure me for a buzz but she only asked, "Donna?"

"Yes. I think so. Do you know her?"

The receptionist, Rachel, leaned in and handed Jessie the book, looked at me like I'd just materialized out of thin air, and was gone.

After she’d already left, Jessie said. "Thanks Rache. Donna works here too, Chris. Would you like her to help you? We can do it. We don't get as many requests for makeup at a dance like this. Most of the girls your age can do their own, or their friends help. Still I don't suppose any of the boys would help you?" She was shaking her head and making a prune face.

I had to giggle.

"Well, Donna is on but I'll have to see if she can stay a little later. I think she works at Macy's just about every Friday and Saturday, the poor kid."

"I don't…" I started to say but decided to stop. "If someone else is available, that's okay."

Jessie looked at me without any sympathy at all.

"Don't judge her too harshly. I'm sure I understand, but she actually has a talent for this stuff. She could be out in Hollywood right now, if she had gotten any chance to finish school.

"She has a son. Some shit who pretty much raped her in her first year of college, Chris. She works almost every day, now. Her prick parents threw her out, and if it were not for her grandmother taking her in and watching Billy, she'd be toast. I let her sell the makeup here, and work whenever she can, but it’s not nearly enough help.

"Two years ago, she laughed more and smiled more than even I do." She wrinkled her nose, to take some of the sting out, and flipped the pages to write something in the book.

I understood. "I'm, sorry, Jessie. I feel bad. I just thought she didn't like me."

"I kind of figured. In all fairness this," she pointed at me, "someone such as yourself only happens to one of us a few times a year."

"I'm pretty sure she thought I was a girl, at first."

"Really? Well then you must have been late, and pissed her off too!"

She grinned and leaned down to look right into my eyes, like I was a little kid.

"Now, you are sure this is what you want? If one of those boys thinks you are too pretty, and he kicks your ass, I'm going to be completely pissed after all the work I'm putting in."

I blushed again. "No, ma'am. They all like me. They've seen me before. All the guys are very nice to me. None of them would ever do anything like that. Mrs. Pierce is awesome too."

She kissed my cheek!

"You are so cute. I'll just bet she is." She said, running her fingers through my hair again.

"Thank you, Jessie."

"No problem. However! You called me ma'am again, so get out. Call me tomorrow, mid-afternoon."

"I'm sorry, I ..."

"Yeah, yeah. You are very polite, and you can't help it, and they warped your little mind. Get out anyway." She grinned at me and headed back toward a lady in a chair.

I looked at my phone, and couldn't believe it was only two thirty. It had felt like a two-hour Latin mid-term

 
 

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My very special thanks to Geoff for his invaluable time and advice.

 
 
 
By

Sarah Lynn Morgan

[email protected]

 
 

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