Tales of the Season: Charlene's Story - Chapter 12


Another BigCloset TopShelf story. A surprise guest at Season's Manor.


Tales of the Season : Charlene's Story
Lisa Elizabeth
Chapter Twelve
The First of Many Challenges!
R.O.T.C. Commander Brent Hayden looked at the envelope on his desk. "New orders! I wonder where to this time?" He thought out loud. Brent opened the envelope and looked over the orders inside. A smile slowly came to face. "Never in a million years would I have expected to go back there!"
"Where ya' goin', Brent? Hawaii?" His buddy, Jack Johnson, asked.
"No such luck!" Brent laughed. "I'm headed for Providence Rhode Island. Never thought I'd be going back to that part of the country again, that's all."
"Why? What's wrong with Providence?" His friend asked.
"Nothing! I spent a year in that area at an academy when I was younger, that's all. Being from the Midwest, I didn't think I'd ever go back there. It will be nice to visit the old school again, though. I wonder if it looks the same?" Brent mulled that thought over in his head. He had spent a year at the Thompson Academy when he was fourteen. It had really straightened him out. He now had a career in the military and a future. Life was looking very good for Mr. Brent Hayden after all the trouble he had managed to get into. "Says I have to be out ASAP! Seems the current commander underwent emergency gall bladder surgery!"
A couple of phone calls and all the travel arrangements were made. Commander Hayden loaded his luggage and headed for the military airport.
Jane Thompson looked at her senior student. "Tell me about the entire tour of the grounds. Something has happened and I need to know everything if I am to help Charlene! Start with when you went to change clothes." Jane Thompson's normally smooth brow furrowed with concern.
Joan recounted everything she could remember from leaving Marie after cleaning up breakfast, right through to when Jane entered the bathroom.
"Hmm. Very well. I believe we shall back off a little on Charlene for the afternoon. Give her a chance to settle down. You have enough to occupy you until dinner, Joan?" Jane asked, with full knowledge of the answer.
"Oh yes, Aunt Jane. I have plenty to finish up and do for the rest of the day." Joan replied.
"Very well. I shall see you at dinner." Jane dismissed her senior student with a smile.
After Joan left Jane set about rethinking her plan for Charlene. It appears that her current state would preclude anymore 'dress up' drills today. The possibility of a bit of quizzing on her educational background once Marie releases her from care, was the choice Jane made. Jane was making notes about what to cover when the phone rang.
"Jane Thompson." She said into the phone.
"Hello, Aunt Jane. This is Brent Hayden. How are you?" Commander Hayden said.
"Brianna? I mean ... Brent! Hello! It is so good to hear from you! I received the notice on your promotion to Commander. Very well done!" Jane said, pride evident in her voice.
"Thank you, Aunt Jane and for the gift too. I love it!" Brent said. He had received a large statue of an eagle with a nest of young ones. Jane's note had said; 'Now it is your turn to watch and guide young ones to greatness.' "I called because I have a temporary assignment in Providence! I thought I might get a chance to visit with you and Tante Marie!"
"That would be lovely! When are you arriving? Hmm, I currently have a new student. It depends on how soon you wish to visit." Jane explained.
"I'll be in Providence tonight. It will take me a few days to catch up everything in the office and then to meet the R.O.T.C. group at the college. This isn't a maneuvers weekend so I should have Sunday free?" Brent suggested.
"Yes. Sunday, Sunday... Yes, Charlene should be well-indoctrinated by then! How about you come for dinner at one. That will allow you a leisurely drive here and we can visit afterward! Oh, Brent, I expect you in dress uniform, you know!" Jane was back in 'Head Mistress' mode now.
"Nothing less for you Aunt Jane." Brent smiled into the phone.
"Just so! We shall expect you at one o'clock Sunday." Jane replied.
"It's a date! I'll see you then. Bye Aunt Jane, I love you!" Brent said his farewell.
"I love you very much Brent, good bye!" Jane replied with genuine warmth.
The click on the other end of the line told Jane that the conversation had ended. She hung up the phone and rose from her desk to find Marie.
Marie was just coming down the stairs when Jane found her. "Brent Hayden called. He will be arriving for lunch on Sunday at one o'clock. I thought you might like a little time to plan for the meal." Jane told her friend and confidant.
"Brianna? Jane, that is wonderful! We haven't seen her in, what? Nine years! Oh mon dieu! I have to find my notes! I will have to fix her favorites." Marie headed for the kitchen when Jane rested her hand on her shoulder. "Jane?" Marie questioned.
"Charlene?" Was all Jane said.
"Oh, yes, Charlene is currently resting. I set the alarm for one hour and told her not to move out of bed until the alarm went off. She has an outfit laid out and I told her to do her best with the makeup and then report to you." Marie told Jane. "She was very upset about vomiting like that. She kept saying that everyone would see her as a sissy for doing so. That seems to be a very strong underlying theme with this one." Marie continued. "The girl's name doesn't seem to bother her very much. I think your explanation of confusing Tom settled that quickly. She is still very fascinated by her reflection when completely made up!"
"Very well. Our first concern needs to be Charlene. I am just as excited about Brent's visit, Marie, but I truly have to watch out for my current students. Why don't you go see what our guest's favorite dishes were so long ago!" Jane encouraged Marie to get back to planning this Sunday's meal.
Charlene lay in bed wondering just what had happened today. 'I started with breakfast. Then through that drill of useless clothes changing and inspections. Seeing Joan punished for disobeying Ms. Thompson. Then the walk of the grounds and meeting Tom. ... THAT'S when my stomach took off! When he spoke to us, it scared the pants, umm... panties, off me! I just knew he could see I was a boy under all those clothes.'
The thoughts continued, over and over through Charlene's mind. She must have been exhausted enough for a short nap though, because the alarm Marie had set woke her with a start.
"Must have been tired from all that stuff this morning." Charlene mumbled. She got up and saw the outfit she was to dress in. "At least it appears to be for someone my age!"
Charlene removed the rose colored nightgown and matching panties. She hung both carefully in the closet and set to work dressing.
"Maybe those changes of clothes weren't so useless after all." Charlene spoke as she hooked her bra and garter belt in place. After slipping on stockings and panties, she sat at the vanity to brush her hair and try her hand at makeup application.
The makeup seemed to take forever! Charlene would get part way through a step and have to remove it all and start over. No one had taught her how to repair mistakes, only that you always started from scratch. So her makeup took close to an hour to complete.
"Pretty good, for my first try! I wonder what Ms. Thompson will find wrong with it!" She said to herself in the mirror. A deep sigh and then she slipped into another sundress, this one in a pale yellow. Charlene slid on the neutral color-heeled sandals and she was ready to meet Jane Thompson for the rest of the afternoon. Charlene looked in the mirror one last time and stared at her reflection. "I guess 'Charlene' is a good name for someone that looks like this. In what Charlene would remember as her first feminine gesture, she shook her head and watched her hair settle gently back into place. "Looks like a shampoo commercial on TV! YES! YES-S!" Charlene laughed a very unladylike laugh.
Finally deciding that it was time to go, Charlene headed for Jane Thompson's study. The knock on the door answered by the normal "Enter!"
Jane looked up from the portfolio she was studying. "Charlene, are you feeling better?" was the first question asked.
"Yes, ma'am, Marie took care of me and made me take a nap. I feel much better now, thank you." Charlene replied while assuming the proper stance in front of Jane's desk.
"Very well. I think for the remainder of the afternoon, that we will assess your knowledge, along with what you have retained from your years in public school. If you would follow me." Jane stood and headed out of the study. "By the way, your make up needs to be a bit softer with that outfit, although not bad for your first attempt. Have Marie show you how to correct it before dinner."
"Yes, Ms. Thompson." That reply was almost automatic now from Charlene.
Jane led them into the conservatory. A grand room set with large windows, very heavy oak bookcases and large oak trim. She selected a topic at random and started asking Charlene questions about it. This verbal quizzing proceeded for an hour before she paused for a moment.
"We can accomplish more if you will follow another instruction while we complete this evaluation of your current knowledge." Jane handed Charlene a large volume of an encyclopedia. "You shall continue your walking practice while I ask questions. Make a circuit of the room while you listen to me and answer the questions asked of you."
Charlene looked at the book with doubt. It was larger than the dictionary and weighed a bit more too! Over the course of the next two hours Charlene was quizzed on geography, algebra, civics and geometry. It took her until the start of the geometry review to complete one circuit of the conservatory without dropping the book.
"Very good! I believe I can set up a course of study for you now." Jane stated while checking the large grandfather clock. "You have thirty minutes until dinner, I suggest you find Marie and ask her about your makeup. You will also have to change for dinner. You may go!" Jane motioned toward the door with her eyes. Charlene placed the book on a table, curtseyed and left the room.
While Jane placed the book back on the shelf, she was reviewing the afternoon session. 'Her knowledge is actually better than the school transcripts suggest. This is good, I shall be able to push her education more quickly than I anticipated. Charlene's makeup really was quite good for her first try and her walking has improved remarkably in a very short time. Marie is right about her fascination with her looks, every time she walked past a window she would check her reflection and drop the book from her head. The only time it didn't fall was when she concentrated on the walk and didn't look at her reflection!" Jane took a deep breath. 'Marie may be right! This one may just fall into my program easily for a change!' Jane chuckled a little and said out-loud. "Don't get too uppity Mrs. Jane Thompson-Phillips! You have had that thought before!"
"Another complete change of clothing, just to go have dinner!" Charlene shook her head and proceeded to finish changing after Marie helped get her makeup 'just right'. The full slip and dress were fairly easy to get on after all the contortions of the day. A tea-length turquoise dress with matching lace trim looked very nice on Charlene. There was a turquoise pendant and matching clip-on earrings placed on the bed along with the outfit. Charlene had some difficulty with the necklace and managed to pinch her ear with one of the earrings. She checked her hair in the mirror, rechecked her makeup and headed for dinner with one minute to spare.
Walking into the dining room Charlene noticed everyone was 'dressed' for dinner. Joan was dressed very similar to Charlene and Jane, as always, was just a little nicer. 'Does she EVER have a bad day?' Charlene thought as she stood behind her chair. It was then she noticed the utensils on the table. There were multiple forks, knives, spoons, plates of various sizes, a bowl and a few things she didn't have a clue about. 'Oh Sh**!’ was all she had time to think of before being told to sit.
"Tonight we celebrate Charlene's successes!" Came the comment from Jane Thompson. "You did very well, so I decided a formal dinner to congratulate you would be in order." That comment brought out Jane's 'evil' grin.
Charlene sat there just looking over the table worried about all the mistakes she would make eating this meal. 'Successes? Hmmph! Some successes!'
"Charlene! When one is complimented on a successful action and given a wonderful dinner in appreciation, you should at least thank the hostess for arranging it for you." Jane chastised.
"Oh! Umm... Yes!... Umm... Thank you Ms. Thompson. I am not sure what successes you are talking about, but if you feel I have done well, I am truly happy for that." Charlene stammered.
"You are very welcome. Shall we begin?" Jane nodded to Marie and dinner began.
The dinner was a very strained affair for Charlene. She had never had to deal with so many items before. Each course of the meal had it's utensils that were proper to use. Charlene decided the best way to have this meal was to eat slowly and wait for Jane to pick up the appropriate utensil. This worked well, since Marie always served Jane first.
The majority of the meal was eaten correctly, with only the occasional admonishment to eat more slowly, cut the portion into smaller 'ladylike' bites or to spend more time chewing the food more completely in order to avoid indigestion. Charlene's stomach was in such turmoil by the end of the meal she passed on dessert.
"Charlene, are you not feeling well?" Jane asked as part of her on-going banter.
"My stomach must not be fully recovered from this afternoon. I didn't want to push it with dessert." Came Charlene's reply.
"Very well. That being the case, I wish to see you in my study after the dishes are cleaned up. As you are a part of this household now, I believe it is your turn to help Marie with the cleanup duties tonight." Jane stated as she placed her napkin, neatly folded, on the table.
After Jane and Joan left the dining room, Charlene helped Marie clear the table and rinse the dishes. Marie would not let her load the dishwasher. "Cherie, this is my area and even though you will get to know it well in your time here, there are some things I do not let any of the students do. One of them is to load this dishwasher! Now, put on the gloves, so you do not ruin your nails, and you may wash the glassware!" Came Marie's cheerful response to Charlene's attempt to place a dish in the dishwasher.
Washing the glassware was a larger task than it sounds. Especially after such a formal dinner! Even the unused glasses had to be washed, rinsed and dried. It amazed Charlene just how many glasses were used by only four people! The job was eventually completed, Marie thanked Charlene for her help then ushered her off to meet Jane in the study.
The gentleness of the 'Come in, please!' surprised Charlene when she knocked on Jane's study door. This was an unexpected response when she was only used to the curt 'Enter' of previous forays into Jane's lair. Slightly off guard, Charlene entered the study and assumed her position in front of the chair.
"You may sit." No sternness, no 'head monstrous', just a simple statement from Jane. She took a minute to look over a piece of paper, then spoke to Charlene. "Why, are you here?"
The silence that pervaded the room was deafening! Every tick of the clock, every creak that the house made was amplified in Charlene's mind. 'Why, am I here!' went through her mind, over and over.
Jane sat there watching her newest student. She could tell that the wheels were turning in her head. At times like this, patience was always the best way to handle a student. She also knew that Charlene had to make the first comment or the train of thought would be lost.
"I.. I... I believe I am here to learn how to be a better person. There has to be a different way to deal with people, other than beating them up or ridiculing them. I am still unsure what 'this' has to do with learning what I need to learn, but I gave you my word that I would try and I believe I have done so." Charlene stated with a wave over herself during the 'this' part of her statement.
Jane looked over the coifed and made up teen. After a moment of reflection she spoke. "I believe you are getting closer to knowing why you are here. I also see that you were trying to follow my orders, for the most part, today. You still need to learn about being on time for things and a way to control your stomach during stressful situations. Those are just two of the areas that we will work on while you are here. If you continue to give me your best efforts through dinner tomorrow, I believe we may be able to accomplish what we need to do." Jane said with a smile. Her demeanor changed slightly with her next comment. "Now! About this tardiness! You need to learn more about time. I am going to give you your first assignment. I expect to see how much research you accomplish by breakfast tomorrow. After looking over my notes from today, I see that the latest you arrived for your 'inspections' was seventeen minutes. So, I want a seventeen page report, in eight point type, no margin greater than six-tenths of an inch, on ‘Clocks, Time Keeping, and The Importance of Time in our Society.’ Joan will show you the student research and study area."
"Seventeen pages! Written? I...I... " Charlene didn't know what to say, the words just stopped coming out.
"I could make it longer, if you do not think that will be enough pages to express yourself." Jane offered.
Charlene shook herself and stood to leave. "Umm... No. I mean... I think I can complete the report in that amount of space. I had better find Joan."
Charlene was reaching for the door when Jane called her back. "Charlene? You have not asked to be excused. A lady must ALWAYS remember her manners!"
Charlene froze and came back to reality with a jolt. She turned toward Jane and asked quietly. "Sorry, I was off thinking about... Sorry! May I be excused Ms. Thompson?"
"Of course you may. Joan is probably in the student study finishing her latest project." Jane replied in full headmistress mode now.
"Thank you, Ms. Thompson." Charlene gave a small curtsey and left the study to locate Joan.
Charlene wandered through the house looking for Joan. After looking in all the rooms on the first floor, she decided the best bet was to see if Marie was still in the kitchen. She found Marie digging through a large book, looking at pages and laughing slightly at some of the things she read.
Marie saw Charlene and closed her personal 'Rogue's gallery'. It contained notes on all the favorite foods for every boy that had ever spent time at Season's House. "'Allo Cherie! You look a little lost!"
"I am Marie. I don't have a clue where the student study room is and I need to find Joan and I have this... this... SEVENTEEN page report to do and I ...I... I don't know what to do!" After that lo-o-ong statement, Charlene flopped onto a kitchen chair.
"Ack! Do not sit like that, you stand up and smooth your skirt properly, unless you would LIKE a lecture from Ms. Jane on the importance of keeping your clothes neat at all times!" Marie admonished Charlene.
Charlene jumped back up, smoothed her skirt and sat back down 'properly'.
"I told you earlier, you must be a proper young lady even when you are alone. Remember, part of my job is to make sure you remember that. Now, tell Marie what is really troubling you so." Marie pulled up a chair and sat.
"Well..." For the next fifteen minutes, Charlene told Marie about the fact she was terrible at doing reports. She told her when she was helping her through all the changes that day, she was fascinated that Marie could make her look like five different girls. She also told her she was bothered about the fact that she was getting used to the clothes so quickly, she thought she would hate all this 'girly' stuff. The scariest thing was, that just maybe, Ms. Thompson was right and Charlie would have to learn to be Charlene in order to learn how to behave.
"Ah! Ms. Thompson knows how to make one look at oneself with a very critical eye. It has already started with you and you have only been here one day! The report will just take practice. The same for the makeup and clothing, the more you do it, the better you become at doing it. The fact that you are already used to the feel of the clothes will make it easier for you to be Charlene. As for your last thought, that is something only you can know. You will know the truth both here and here!" Marie touched Charlene's head and then her heart during the last comment. "Now! Let us find Joan, or you will have nothing to show Ms. Jane in the morning!"
They found Joan in the student study busy on one of the computers. She was very intent on what she was typing and didn't hear them come in.
"Joan, Charlene needs to become familiar with the study area and what is available. She has an assignment from Ms. Jane and has to show her research by morning." Marie said, shaking the senior student from her concentrated effort.
"Sure Tante Marie! I'll give Charlene a quick tour and get her started." Joan smiled.
"I'll leave you two to take care of things. I'll be back to get Charlene at nine." Marie said as she closed the study door.
"Nine? What's at nine?" Charlene questioned.
"You still need help getting ready for bed. Tante Marie helped me for the first three or four days until I learned the routine that Aunt Jane requires of all her students." Came Joan's reply.
"Oh. Yea! I don't think I could remember to do all that stuff. I mean at home, all I did was brush my teeth and put on Pajamas." Charlene stated.
"You won’t get away with that here! I swear, she must have peep-holes or she monitors how much soap, moisturizer, cold cream and shampoo is used. She has to have a counter, or a date stamp or something on those rollers, because she just knows if you don't do all of your preparations before going to bed!" Joan said, shaking her head. "I spent two days mucking out the horse stalls dressed as a prairie woman from the early Eighteen-hundreds because I skipped the evening bath and only took a shower the next morning!"
"Wow! Isn't that a little harsh? I mean just for skipping a bath?" Charlene was shocked.
"I'll never forget to bathe every night from now on, I'll tell you that! Aunt Jane has a way of punishing you, so you learn your lesson so well, you will never, even think, about repeating it!" Joan replied knowingly. "She told me if I wanted to 'wallow around in filth' while sleeping, she would see to it that I had some real filth to wallow in. Do you know how much manure Garters and Teddie produce in one day! I know, first hand, actually, I know more about it than I care to know!"
"So-o-o all the rules have to be followed, all the time?" Charlene queried.
"That about sums it up! Aunt Jane is really strict. Sometimes you have no idea why you are being asked to do something, but she ALWAYS has a reason. Eventually you figure it out and she moves on to the next lesson." Joan stated shrugging her shoulders.
"Hmm... Well I guess you had better give me the tour of this place then, so I can start on this SEVENTEEN-page assignment! How am I EVER going to write that much about 'Time, Clocks and Their Use in Society', I'll never know." Charlene said shaking her head.
Joan let out a little laugh. "You won't have any problem filling that many pages on the topic. Mine was twenty-one pages and I probably could have written more. I was really pi..., upset with her when she gave me that assignment. I wasn't going to let her think I could have written more than she required."
"You had to do this too? Could you help me? I mean I don't want you write it or anything...", Charlene asked.
Joan was shaking her head back and forth. "I can show you the reference area, how to get on the Internet for research, and where the printer supplies and scratchpads are located. Otherwise I have been instructed to let you do your own research and papers. You will get the same speech, about 'Doing it for oneself is far better and improves your retention, rather than having it spoon fed to you by another'. Not that it wouldn't be easier if you did have some help but, Aunt Jane would just think up some sort of worse punishment for me, if I violated her rules. I spent enough time as a four-year-old today, I don't want to repeat that too soon!"
Charlene nodded her head knowingly. "You didn't look very happy at lunch."
"I wasn't, it is so.. so... humiliating, to be taken down to acting like a small child. I mean I'm fourteen, not four!" Joan pouted.
"I'm sorry it happened. I guess I should start my paper so I don't end up like that!" Charlene exclaimed.
"Good idea! I need to finish my latest project too." Joan replied.
The two students worked in silence for the most part. Charlene would only ask for help when she couldn't figure out how to use a program or when she needed a password for Internet access. She thought it was funny that her password was 'Charlene'. She was in the middle of doing research when Marie shook her shoulder.
"It is time to start your bed time preparations, Cherie! You need to shut things down now." Marie said gently.
"I.. I don't have anything printed out yet! I won’t have anything to show Ms. Thompson, tomorrow!" Charlene cried.
"Here... just put it on one of these disks. Place the disk on the table in the morning, Ms. Thompson will review it after breakfast." Joan stated, handing Charlene a 'zip' disk.
Charlene made a copy of everything she had found and what she had started to write and placed the disk in it's case. She shutdown the computer, covered it and followed Marie to her bedroom.
Tonight's regimen was a lot shorter than Charlene's first night at the academy. Charlene first removed her sundress and hung it up, then moved into the bathroom where Marie laid out the material for makeup removal. She took her bath, checking for stray hairs as instructed by Marie. Slipping on a pale yellow nightgown and matching panties, Charlene went to the vanity in her room where Marie just did a blow-drying of her hair and put it up in a ponytail for the night. When they were done it was only nine-forty-five!
"That didn't take very long, Marie! Did we forget anything?" Charlene asked.
"Not for tonight, Mon Petite. We did most of the hard work last night, now we will just check things every couple of days to make sure they stay that way. The only thing you may have to redo more often will be your nail polish. Depending on what outfits and activities you are performing the next day." Marie said checking Charlene's hands and toes. "Your nails will be alright for one more day, at least."
"So, what time is normal bed time here?" Charlene asked. Just then, there was a knock on her door. It couldn't be Ms. Thompson, the door didn't open right away! "Oh... Come in!"
Joan entered the bedroom carrying a stack of newspapers. "I brought these up for you to take a quick look through. These are tomorrow's papers, Aunt Jane will ask questions about the news stories and your opinion about them. Be sure you read a little about each article, so you know something about them for breakfast in the morning."
"Oui! She very much expects you to keep up with current events and what is happening in the world. If you do not give knowledgeable answers, I fear you will be writing a great number of reports!" Marie added.
"More to remember! God! What have I gotten into?" Charlene muttered.
"Probably the best place you could be. Although I doubt you would believe that at the moment." Replied Joan with a smile.
"Hmmph!" Was Charlene reply with a shake of her head.
"We will leave you to read and get some sleep! Do not stay up past ten-thirty or Ms. Jane will be knocking on your door." Marie told the confused Charlene. "The light shines under the door and into the hall. When she comes up to bed at that time, she will see the light and stop to check on you."
"Oh!... Umm.... Thanks Marie. Thank you Joan for the papers.... I guess this should be 'good night' then?" Charlene asked.
"Good night Cherie" Marie gave Charlene a kiss on her forehead.
"Good night." said Joan as she left for her own room.
Charlene heard the door close and then the lock click. "I guess that is pretty standard, locking the student into their room." Charlene sighed and then sat on her bed to look over the paper.


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