October's Bright Blue "Whether"

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Brandon’s girlfriend wants him to make some changes. His mother isn’t sure exactly just what Brandon is. Who will help Brandon find peace?

October’s Bright Blue “Whether”
by Angela Rasch

Copyright  © 2010 By Angela Rasch
All Rights Reserved.


 
Megan and I stood together against the south wall of the gymnasium. We were just five feet around the corner from the open courtyard. Most of the other freshmen went there for a few minutes after eating lunch in the cafeteria before going back to the tedium of Wilson Junior High. Our choice of spots to meet offered two advantages:
1.) Some privacy — and,
2.) We were out of the surprisingly-bitter-for-October-29th wind.

“I’m glad they separated the Halloween dance this year so that we don’t have to party with the seventh and eighth graders,” Megan said.

A gust blew a bit of long, blonde hair over my girlfriend’s face causing her to blink her eyes rapidly, which in turn made my heart race.

“Uh huh.” I’ve always had a way with words around Megan. We had been a “couple” for over a year, but hadn’t really had much opportunity to do anything really physical about it because my mom had a rule about having to be sixteen before you could date.

Somehow my over-stimulated brained engaged for a moment. “Megan . . . I’ve got a surprise for you.”

She smiled and my heart once again kicked into overdrive.

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to please her.

“Is it diamonds?” she teased. “The good thing about having a highly sensitive boyfriend, like you, is that you come up with great surprises. I love diamonds.”

I laughed. “I can’t even afford zirconium.” I really can’t. I spent nearly all my lawn mowing money on a Captain Jack Sparrow Halloween costume after Hannah whispered to me that Megan is going to the Halloween dance as a “Sassy” Victorian pirate. I had found a picture of her costume on line and nearly died from a lethal hormonal rush imagining how great Megan would look in that short-skirted, brown, crushed-velvet dress.

“What’s your surprise?” she asked, poking me lightly with a fingernail covered with sparkly stuff.

I came back to reality from my daydream of Megan and me in our Halloween outfits standing at the helm of a pirate frigate somewhere far away from the real-life, frigid breeze that was raising goose pimples on my arms. “I can’t tell you. That would ruin it. But, let’s just say you’re going to be really happy at the Halloween dance.”

My relationship with Megan is a constant struggle. She always seems to want me to act more manly, thus the Captain Jack Sparrow outfit. It had set me back nearly $300 for its long jacket, shirt, vest, across the chest belt with buckle, royal blue sash, two waist belts with big buckles, pants, buccaneer boots, hat, bandanna, and sword.

I had paid extra for the goatee and mustache kit, which I really needed because I hadn’t even started to grow fuzz on my face. In contrast, Joshua, the school gangsta, had a five o’clock shadow to go with his abnormally large biceps. I had been his punching bag for the past nine years as we progressed from first grade to the pinnacle of junior high.

The sad part is I’ve always felt Joshua and I could be really good friends if the circumstances were different and I became really popular -- or suddenly I grew four inches taller.

“I’ve been thinking about the dance. . .a lot.” Megan said with a grin. “I’ve also been thinking about last summer when we “accidentally on purpose” ran into each other at Valley Fair.”

Even though we couldn’t date, no one had made any rules about us just happening to see each other at a public amusement park. We had spent the day together riding on Excalibur and the Corkscrew. But our favorite had been the Ferris wheel. We had taken advantage of a brief stop at the top to share our one and only romantic and highly sexual kiss.

I had stuck my nose into a soft spot on her neck to inhale of the essence of her perfume to better remember the moment. She had tasted like cheese curds and Mountain Dew, but I knew at that moment that we would soon be locked together in Nuptial Bliss — or what the experts call “coitus”.

“I think about Valley Fair -- too. . .sometimes,” I admitted. Sure some of the guys think I’m pussy-whipped because I'm at the mercy of my high-maintenance girlfriend, but they’re just jealous.

She blushed. “Hannah told me that there’s a special place that people go to during school dances if they want to be alone.”

I gasped. “The boiler room!” I said it much too loud and showed way too much emotion. Dad got really mean when I got “too excited about nothing”. BUT — I had heard rumors about girls and boys who went into the boiler room and did a lot more than just kiss. One guy in shop class called it Phil Latio’s room.

Megan’s hand touched mine. “I was thinking maybe we could sneak off and see what the boiler room looks like.”

I almost passed out from the unbridled lust that shot through my every nerve ending. I imagined myself in my Captain Jack Sparrow outfit, having to loosen the cinches on the tight bodice she was wearing so she could breathe, after she blacked out from an overdose of passion. “Uh huh. Maybe if things get dull at the dance we could take a walk and see what makes the boiler room. . . .”

“Now I’ve heard everything,” Joshua bellowed as he came around the corner. He leered at us with a maniacal grin on his face that usually preceded a melvin or some other sadistic torture. “I was just standing around the corner of the building, minding my own business, when I heard the two of you talking about the boiler room. . .as if either of you is an expert on things like that.”

“We. . . .” I quit talking when I noticed my voice had slipped into a whine, something it did involuntarily around Joshua.

Megan looked to me as if she expected me to stick out my jaw in defense of her honor.

Wanting to keep my jaw attached to my face I acted with deference. . .and said nothing.

“Megan,” Joshua said, shaking his head, “you’re a cheerleader. You qualify for someone from the top shelf, not a douche like Brandon. He’s the kind of guy who goes to the movies by himself. . .he’s addicted to masturdating.” He laughed like an idiot. “He’s the only guy in school whose IQ exceeds his weight.”

“I like Brandon,” Megan insisted. “He’s nice, not like someone else I could mention who thinks he’s a big deal because he’s the best football player in the city.”

“That I am,” Joshua chortled, “that I am. Now Megan. . .I’m trying to make up my mind which lucky girl in our class is going to get the honor of going to the boiler room with me. If you want me to toss your name into the running, just say the word. I’m not saying I’ll pick you, because some of the girls have been working overtime for that honor, but I will give you con-sid-er-a-tion.”

“Yuck!” Megan’s face looked like she had sucked a lemon. “Even though Brandon has some things to learn about what a girl wants a guy to do for her, he’s a lot nicer than you.”

“You bet — Brandon’s a real sweetheart and will make some lucky fella a wonderful catch, but enough about her, let’s talk about me. I might even let you dance with me,” Joshua bragged. “I learned how to dance because I heard that’s the gateway drug to getting laid.”

“Look, Joshua. . .” I started, somehow finding the courage to speak.

His fist shot out and caught me in the middle of my chest nearly knocking me off my feet.

He pulled his punch. Had he hit me with even a fourth of his total strength I’d still be flying.

He laughed menacingly. “Gotta keep your guard up, Nerd. Okay Megan — T G I -Freakin’- F. I’ve gotta go watch football film, but in about eight hours I’ll be at the Halloween dance. If you get lucky, maybe I’ll find some time for you.” He turned and walked away.

“Dickhead!” I said under my breath.

The bell rang and Megan and I ran to get to our first afternoon class. From what she said on our way into school I could tell that all her excitement about my surprise had been forgotten. She seemed upset, saying several times that I needed to make some changes.

That’s okay. Her face is going to light up tonight when she sees Captain Jack Sparrow come into the gym.

***

I threw my backpack on the kitchen table and opened the refrigerator door to find something sweet, salty, calorie-free, and satisfying. It had been nearly three hours since lunch, and I was starving.

“Brandon,” my mother called from the living room. “Is that you?”

“It’s me,” I shouted back. I could picture her downing her drink, and then chewing the ice cubes. “When I came in from outside there were a half dozen terrorists ready to attack the living room, but I threw a fragmentation bomb and they blew out of town.”

“What was that, Brandon?” she called back.

“I said. . . .” I stopped and reconsidered. Grabbing a half a glass of milk and a Toll House cookie from the jar, I went into where my mother was sitting.

“You . . . there,” she commanded, pointing directly across from the sofa where she sat in judgment. The chair she put me in had first been used by the Tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition.

She looked strange in slacks and one of my father’s old shirts. Up until being laid off a few months back she had been a mid-level executive with General Mills. She had worn business outfits every day with high heels and jacketed suits.

What now?

“Brandon, I thought you and I had reached an agreement?” she asked ominously.

I nodded. There have been about a hundred and thirty-nine formalized “agreements” reached between Mom and me. Her idea of an agreement is like the one-sided treaties Andrew Jackson forced on the Seminoles and Creeks while he slowly took their land and left them with bingo rights and docile crocodiles to wrestle.

“You should have kept your side of the bargain,” she admonished.

Oh shit. Prelude to a punishment! I suppose Dad caught me doing something he termed “girlish” and is having Mom handle it by proxy.

I looked out the window at the crisp late October weather and wished I was anywhere else but in the spot I had evidently created for myself.

She shook her head and looked equally miserable. “I hate to have to do this, but every crime must have its consequence.”

Oh no! She can’t be thinking about grounding me. I had passed a note to Megan in American History and she had checked the “yes” box sealing our rendezvous in about five hours — in the boiler room. Please — anything but grounded.

“Brandon,” she sighed. “I don’t know what the fascination is with you and my lingerie drawer. . . .”

“I didn’t. . . .” I started frantically.

She held up one finger to silence me. “Don’t add the sin of lying to what you’ve done already.”

I’m dead. I squirmed in my seat and shut my eyes, wishing the world would just go away. “You always say I’m lying,” I complained.

“If your dad knew about half the fibs you tell -- or even a tenth of the vile things you’ve done. . . .”

There was no need for her to finish. My dad travelled for Honeywell. He was in Europe and wouldn’t be home for about ten more days. Invariably when he got home my mother would meet him at the door with a list of my indiscretions. She never told him everything so that she could hold some of the things I did over my head. He never hit me, but he could make me feel lower than dog shit.

“You know your father has a bad heart. When you screw up, it damn near kills him.”

I bit my lip. My mother is the Queen of Guilt. I love them both, but if I could wake up tomorrow, be twenty-two, and have my own apartment, I’d be the happiest person alive. I should have stayed away from her bedroom — damn!

“Like I was saying, I have no idea what goes on in your twisted mind, but things have got to change.” She stared at me -- waiting for my reaction.

What can I say? For the last two years I had become steadily more fixated on her bras. I liked everything about them. Whenever I could, when she was out of the house, I would go into her drawer and look at them. I would sometimes take them out, lay them on her bed and stare at them for what seemed like hours. When I would hear her coming in the front door I would shove them back into her drawer and act like nothing had happened. But somehow she always seemed to know.

“What do you have to say about yourself?” Her glare had caused me to freeze.

I understand entirely why hunting Bambi with a spotlight is illegal. “Nothing,” I choked out.

“It’s not like you’re a bad person,” she said sympathetically. “I’ve read some things about transvestites and. . . .”

“Shit — I’m not a transvestite,” I shouted. Why do people always think those things about me? Our minister told Mom he was praying that someone would find a cure for people with my lifestyle.

She got up and walked to the window before turning to talk down to me. “One more outburst like that and I’ll call your father and have him fly right home. Do you want your mouth washed out with soap?” She wrung her hands. “You don’t realize how hard it is to find a job these days. People can’t afford to be different. You have to make sure your closet door is shut tight. Do you understand?”

Understand what? I examined the tops of my shoes.

“Brandon,” she said loudly, “listen to me when I’m talking to you. You need to keep certain things about yourself secret. Don’t you realize that?”

What kid doesn’t know that they can’t tell their parents anything? I nodded.

“It’s not me who cares if you want to dress up like a girl. . . .”

“I don’t. . . .” I said much more quietly.

“Brandon, for gosh sakes. I fold my clothes meticulously. It’s something I have my mother to thank for. She was such a martinet. You’re lucky to be born in a day and age when kids rule the house. It’s not your fault you’re not the swiftest turtle in the race. Brandon, I can always tell when you’ve been trying on my bras and panties.”

“I never. . . .” I started to get out of my chair to launch a full protest.

“SIT . . . down.”

I sat. “That was last week. . . .” I said without carefully considering what I would say.

“Thank you for the confession. At least you don’t stretch out my things when you wear them . . . or get semen spots on them.”

“I don’t. . . .” Ewwwwwwww.

“It’s okaaaaaay. Didn’t I just say I don’t care? But, I don’t make the rules for life. There are people out there getting killed because they don’t have sense enough to dress the way they should. I can’t stand to think what would happen to you in prison if you somehow got arrested wearing my under things.”

My mouth fell open. Mom always screws things up in her head, but this time she’s missed by a mile. I just like to look at her bras.

She folded her arms. “You need a good lesson.”

Oh no! I hate her “lessons”. Dad’s lessons about how to be a man are even rougher.

“You march upstairs. I just drew a bath for you. You get in it, and I’ll be right up. Don’t dawdle. I’m going to finish my afternoon gimlet and you’d better be undressed and in that tub.”

Tub? One thing she’s never done before is to punish me by making me take a bath.

I went directly to my bedroom on the second floor and stripped. Our house had three bedrooms on the second floor in addition to the master suite on the first floor where Mom and Dad slept. At one time in their planning they must have thought they were going to have two or three more kids.

After taking off all my clothes in my bedroom I grabbed my robe and opened the door to my bath. As she had said, my tub was already full. I dropped my robe on the floor and eased into the steaming water. She made it just right. This isn’t too bad, but why all the bubbles?

I had barely gotten in when the door to the hall opened and Mom marched in carrying a bundle of her clothes.

What is she doing in here? “MOM?” She must be moving some of her things to the attic.

“How do you like my Coconut Cream Bubble Bath?”

“Bubble Bath?”

“When you get done soaking, your skin will be fully-hydrated. Don’t you just love the smell of coconut, almonds, and musk?”

Oh no! “Mom — how long does it take to wash this stuff off,” I asked hurriedly, thinking about trying to rise out of the tub and wondering how I could do it modestly with her in the room. “I have to go to a dance tonight?” I better not look like I’m taking things for granted. “Unless . . . I’m grounded. Please don’t ground me on the night of our Halloween dance. I’ll do anything else.”

“You’re going to do something else, all right,” she said maliciously. “For a start you’re going to stay in that tub for a full half hour and scrub your skin until it’s rosy pink. I’ve got some things to get ready in the other room, but I want to hear you scrubbing yourself. If I don’t, I’ll come back in and wash you myself.”

The look on her face left little open to negotiation. For the next eon I ran a washcloth and loofah repeatedly over my skin. She checked on me after about ten minutes and added more liquid into the tub out of a white bottle. Feeling the water’s temperature she thoughtfully added some hot to make it more comfortable before she left again.

I would have expected that I would wear away my epidermis, but the water seemed almost oily. Although my skin did get pink it wasn’t rubbed raw.

“Let’s get you out,” she said sweetly while she stepped back into the room. She held a large towel for me to step into.

“Mom?” I said questioning her discretion. “I’m naked.”

“Do I have to remind you how you came into this earth? I saw your little bottom before the doctor slapped it. Now quit acting like a little fool and let me dry you.”

I stood red-faced as she very deliberately made sure every inch of my body was toweled dry.

Then she opened a squatty, round white jar and scooped out something with the fingers of her right hand. “I’m going to spread this body butter all over your arms, legs, and torso. It will keep your skin feeling nice and soft.”

“Mom!” I took a step back. “That stuff smells. . . .”

“Nice. . . .” she injected while moving in and starting to smooth the lotion on my arms. “It smells very nice, as it should for the price Sephora charges.”

“But, I’m a boy and I. . . .”

“I’m not sure what you are, but you will do exactly what I say or you’ll be grounded until you’re old enough to draw Social Security. Got it. I’m plenty angry about you violating my personal privacy. A little of the same coming right back at you won’t hurt.” She gave me a look that told me I had done something so unthinkable that I should probably just shrivel up and die to properly atone. When she started to coat my upper thighs I didn’t have it in me to object.

“I’m sorry, Mom. I won’t do it again.” A tear trickled down my cheek as I felt total remorse for having made her so unhappy.

“That’s what you said last time, but then you went ahead the first chance you got and got into my things.”

I had. I deserve punishment. The lotion does smell nice.

“Do you want your dad to hear about what you’ve been doing? What if I told him about you crying like a little girl? You know how he hates that.”

I froze. Dad is a great guy, but he was in the Marines and would never understand my compulsion to look at Mom’s bras. He’d probably chew my head off.

“I think we can keep things between the two of us, if you do exactly what I tell you to do for the next few hours.”

I nodded repeatedly. Whatever she wants I’m willing to do, just so she doesn’t tell Dad.

“Good. Now I’ve always wanted a daughter for Halloween, and you’re going to be that daughter for tonight. My guess is you’ll find being a daughter a lot less stressful than acting like a boy has been for you.”

“What?”

“So that you know, your father and I agreed before we got married that we would have at least one daughter. He promised me, swore an oath, that we would keep on having babies until I got a daughter. I didn’t have sisters, and it was my dream to have a daughter. Do you understand?”

I’m going to miss the dance, but I can’t say a word or she’ll tell Dad. Sometimes Dad is just that guy who knocked up Mom. I nodded slowly.

She continued to spread that pretty smelling goo all over my body, rubbing it in deeply. “When you were born there were complications, so I can’t have anymore babies. I’ve never pushed you toward being a girl for me, but it seems like that’s just one more little trick fate has sprung. You’re pretty close to what I wished for, if thing just would work out tonight. . . . Well I always say -- when the world hands you lemons make lemonade. If you want to dress in a bra and panties, I’ll let you . . . for Halloween. It’s for your own good.”

My Captain Jack Sparrow costume, I thought forlornly. Maybe I can wear it next year if I don’t grow too much.

“For the next twenty-four hours you’re going to be my little girl. I’ve spent the last three days shopping for you, and I’ve got everything you’ll need, including a fun Halloween costume, so you can hand out candy at the door.”

“Nooooo.”

Smack!!

I jumped.

Her bare hand had whacked my backside. “Now see what you’ve made me do. I’ve never raised my hand to you before. . .but. . .I just had to. Do you have any idea what your father would do to you if I told him about what you’ve been doing in my bedroom?”

I rubbed where she had hit me and shut my eyes against my dilemma. “I’ll do what you say. But, if I’m going to answer the door in a girl’s costume you have to give me a mask and make sure I’m not recognizable.”

“Of coooourrssee,” she said, as if she would never embarrass me.

She forgets the things she yells at me from the stands about my masculinity when I make an error playing baseball.

“Now let’s get you started. Pull on these panties. It’s a good thing the puberty fairy hasn’t made her call yet. We won’t have to tape up your little thingie.”

My face felt like it was on fire.

“That’s nice,” she said after I put on the panties. “You don’t even have an unseemly bulge. Evidently you can control your excitement.”

“Mom. . .please. . . .”

“Oh, don’t fuss.”

We moved to my bedroom where I saw a small mound of clothing spread on my bed.

“I’ve got several changes of clothing for you,” she said excitedly. “I even have three different nighties so you can make your own selection about what you’ll wear to bed tonight. I want this to be a fun, mother/daughter time for us.”

She’s got to be kidding. Either that or the stress of not having a job has driven her crazy. If she is crazy I have to be careful. There’s no telling what she’ll do or who she’ll talk to about me.

She spread a dry towel on the floor of my bedroom. “Even though you’re not developed as a boy, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have started growing something up top as a girl, by now. You know girls are quicker to bloom, don’t you? Have you even noticed girls yet? I suppose not.”

Megan. Damn. I’ll have to call her to tell her I won’t be at the dance so she doesn’t go and wait for me. . .and my surprise.

“No, I’m sure that girls are far into your future, if ever. So relax and let’s have a sweet time tonight. You’ll get to do what you’ve always wanted -- with clothing in your size, for once. And, I’ll have a daughter of my own for an evening. Like I always say — the punishment should always be to the point. . . and never cruel. Lie down.”

She pointed to the towel she’d put on the floor, and then I sat down on it.

She gently spread my legs and arms until my back was flat on the floor. “Now lie still. From now on I’m going to keep a count of your childish objections. I’m going to be fair about this. You’re going to try your absolute best to be my girl for the next twenty-four hours. If I have to be sharp with you, I’m going to write it down as a violation of our agreement.”

A flash went off, and I looked up to see her holding her digital camera.

“If you play along we won’t have a problem,” she said sweetly, “but if I have to continually argue with you -- or you don’t try hard enough to be my daughter, AND LOVE IT, I will write it down. Three strikes and I’m going to have to call your father and send him an email with pictures.”

I shuddered and remained quiet.

“There now.” Her hand caressed the side of my face. “When I was your age I filled a B cup. You’re a little smaller than I was, but I think your frame will still look sweet with that amount of development.” She opened a tube of something and applied it to a flesh-colored mound of plastic which she then carefully positioned on my chest. “This glue is what they use to close surgical wounds. If you’re good I’ll use the solvent to remove them tomorrow evening. If we have our little problems, I’ll leave them on you and you can explain them next week in gym class.”

My entire body tensed in anticipation of what the boys would do and say if that ever happened.

“Lie still. My goodness, I know you’re excited to finally have your dream come true, but you have to wait for the glue to set.” After a few more moments she repeated the operation on my other side.

About ten minutes later she had me stand.

I looked down and saw what I had imagined naked girls my age looked like from the waist up.

“I did a good job matching your skin color. A little of this special concealor and no one could ever tell what is and isn’t you. My — now you really do need one of those bras you’ve always wanted.”

The bra she fastened around me was quite a bit smaller than those in her drawer, but just as ornate. It matched my panties in color, texture, and lacey design.

She fussed with the straps making adjustments until she finally clasped her hands together. “Perfect.” She backed up about ten feet and put hand around her chin. “My heavens, Emily; you’re going to be a looker.”

Emily?

“We found you just the sweetest little Halloween outfit that you’re going to just love — but first let’s do something with your hair.”

Is she going to do what she’s always threatened and cut my hair? Dad and I argue about it all the time. I like to wear it really long, because the girls think it’s cool.

She handed me a silky robe and slippers with heels.

At first I had a little trouble walking, but she gave me some quick lessons and things became easier.

We then went down to her bathroom where she washed my hair.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about getting a haircut. Who ever heard of a boy having hair down to his shoulders like yours? But now I’m happy I didn’t force the issue. This chemical I’ve put into your hair will lighten it, and then I can style it so that no one would ever suspect you were ever Brandon.”

Lighten? I’ll have to get a buzz cut tomorrow night.

She wrapped a towel into a turban around my damp hair. “Sit down, Emily.” She pointed to a chair in front of her dressing table. “I’m going to have to clean up your eyebrows.” She began to pluck hairs from over my eyes.

I thought about running out of our house to the police, but sensed everything would be okay if we just made it through the evening. I’ll put on the witch mask and costume, or whatever she has for me, and then hand out candy for a few hours to the little trick-or-treaters. No one I know will see me. They’ll all be at the dance.

“That’s much better,” she said after about ten minutes of painful eyebrow pulling. “Now you have sweet, little eyebrows like a girl your age should have.” She flashed another picture.

I looked in the mirror and saw she had left me with a narrow line of eyebrows that were highly arched. “ARE YOU NUTS?” I jumped up and squared off with her. “This has gone too far.” I turned to walk out of the room but stopped when she called to me.

“Emily, I want you to think about what your dad will say,” she said quietly.

I turned and calmed myself while watching her take a small notebook from her pocket and jot something down.

“That’s ‘one’,” she said. “You don’t want to make things worse. Let’s just have a fun evening, shall we?” She pointed to a chair, and I obediently sat down.

For the next hour she worked on my make-up and hair. All the time she referred to me as her “princess”, and gushed about how beautiful I was under my “false” exterior. “You know, Emily, I went through a lot to get this all ready for you, and I hope you appreciate it.”

I found a crack on the wall to examine. I soon lost count of the number of bottles and tubes she opened and wiped on my face.

“I was going to put false eyelashes on you, but your own are so long and lush. . .with a little mascara you look like a china doll.”

I groaned silently.

“This lip gloss has a chemical in it that will make your lips tingle. Don’t worry when you feel it because it’s supposed to do that so your lips will get nice and puffy. That’s when they look the most kissable.”

Kissable!

“You’re going to love these nail extensions,” she said with a grin.

Soon I had long, light-pink fingernails that matched the toenails she’d painted.

After using a blow dryer, scissors, various brushes, and a curling iron, she sprayed my hair liberally and placed a bright blue headband on me.

“Oh my,” she said with some trepidation, “it’s already 4:30. The little tykes will start coming around 5:30; we need to step up our pace.”

She placed something around my waist and pulled on the strings until I thought I couldn’t draw a breath. Then she drew a silk stocking up my leg and fastened the tops to “garters” hanging from the thing she’d tied around me.

“Now sit still and I’ll get your costume.” She left the room and returned in about two minutes with a gown on a hanger. “It’s 100% sateen,” she sang merrily. “Every girl should be Cinderella at least one Halloween.”

“Mom, please. . . .” I begged.

“Now, now, Emily, you’re doing so good. Don’t make me get out my little notebook.”

I cast my eyes down and allowed her to do up the gown in back, although I could feel that most of my back was exposed. The bright blue dress had those white hanging things on each hip. OMG! Those things are meant to give the impression that my hips are wide enough to easily give birth.

“That ruffled overskirt is called a peplum,” Mom explained. “Doesn’t it make you look all the more sexy?” She steered me in front of a mirror, where for the first time I saw my hair.

“I’m blonde,” I said nervously -- less than enchanted by the fairy tale figure I presented.

“Uh huh, I told you I put a little lightener into your hair. Who wants to have dark-brown hair when they can be a blonde?” She had given me bangs and piled most of my hair on top of my head in back.

The dress I was wearing had white shoulder epaulets and was so long its hem touched the floor. Since it was sleeveless my muscle-less arms were exposed and looking almost. . .right.

She came at me with a necklace. “This is called a choker, it’s made of rhinestones. We don’t have time to get your ears pierced, but these dangly earrings match your choker and will screw tight so they won’t fall off.”

The amount of pressure the earrings put on my lobes made me wonder if they weren’t designed to make holes in my ears while I wore them.

“These rings of mine fit you perfectly and make your hands look exquisite.” She had me smile into the camera while she took more pictures.

When she brought out the shoes for me to wear I thought I would die. They were clear plastic with long, long heels.

“I won’t be able to stand in those,” I said matter-of-factly.

She snapped them onto my feet.

When I stood my gown no longer dragged on the floor.

“These shoes are special ordered for a Cinderella like you. I’ve locked them on your feet. The key is hidden in the house somewhere, and I won’t take them off until the clock strikes midnight.” She laughed gaily as if she had made a joke.

That’s too much. I sank into a chair. “Please think about what you’re doing,” I said. “I’m sure I’m already going to need therapy and I might break an ankle.” A tear ran down my face. “I can’t do this.”

She looked at me sternly. “Emily, you little fool. You’re ruining your make-up and wrinkling your gown. Get yourself under control. You’ve got just over thirty minutes to master those shoes and learn how to move gracefully so you can hand out candy without being recognized as a boy. Now stand up.”

I stood and stared at the woman who was supposed to be nurturing me.

“That was strike ‘two’,” she said while writing in her notebook. “One more strike and it’s out of my hands. You’ll have your father to deal with. He isn’t going to like cutting his trip short and flying back here to straighten you out, but I’m sure he’ll see his duty and respond like a true Marine.”

“I can do it,” I said resolutely. “I’ll answer the door and pass out candy."

“Good,” she said handing me a small, white, silken eye mask. “With this on, no one will know the difference.”

I smiled, because I knew she expected it -- while she buttoned long, white gloves up my arms passed my elbow.

I’ll never be able to take them off without her help.

For the next half hour I had a crash course on what I would say, and she gave me pointers on how to move “elegantly”.

When the doorbell rang the first time I minced to it in what she had told me were four-inch heels. Standing at the door with her mother was a little girl wearing an outfit almost exactly like mine, only much smaller.

I gasped at the shock registered in the little girl’s eyes, before recovering my composure and realizing she was simply amazed that there could be two Disney princesses.

“Are you going to the ball?” the little girl asked.

Her mother giggled from behind her. “I’m sure someone as beautiful as her has already met her Prince Charming.”

“Oh — she has,” my mother said from behind me. “Her boyfriend is the captain of the football team.”

“Joshua?” The woman acted surprised. “Joshua is my nephew, and I don’t think his mother allows him to date.”

I’m dead.

“Shhhhhhhh. It’s a secret.” My mother put a finger to her lips. “It’s okay though. I think their little romance is all in their heads.”

I told the little girl how much I “loved” her dress, just like my mother had taught me and gave her a piece of candy.

She curtseyed to me, like my mother had predicted some of the little girls would do. I curtseyed back like Mom had instructed.

“You’re so lucky,” the woman said to my mother. “There aren’t many girls your daughter’s age who will help their mothers with Halloween. Most of them are too busy thinking about boys.”

My mother laughed like a conspirator. “It took a little blackmail.”

“Aren’t you going to the dance, tonight?” the woman asked me. “I know Joshua is going.”

“No,” I answered with real sadness. “I’ll be helping out here all evening.”

The woman brightened. “I’ll tell Joshua you’re stuck at home; I’m sure he’d love to help you. He’s always helping me with my housework. He’s such a dear.”

“Please,” I begged as earnestly as I could. “Please don’t mention me to Joshua, it could ruin everything.”

She winked. “I know how it is to have a crush on a boy and not know for sure how he feels. I’ll keep my lips sealed.”

After she left I sank against the door frame -- completely exhausted.

“That was perfect, Emily. You made that little girl very happy. Just keep it up for a few more hours and you’ll have gotten through the worst of it.”

I stood up and straightened my skirt as mother had shown me. “It’s not so bad.”

“I didn’t think it would be.” She hit me with a spray of perfume that smelled like the coconuts I’d bathed in. “There. . .that will make you feel more alive.”

For the next several hours we had a steady stream of goblins, fairies, super-heroes and undeterminables whose identities were locked in the imagination of those who had created their costumes.

Without fail the mothers and a few ultra-creepy dads complimented me on what a gorgeous Cinderella I made. One dad, who smelled of liquor, had moved in close under the pretense of taking his child’s hand, and had pinched my bottom.

At 8:30 my mother shut off the front, outdoor lights. “Well, that’s that. You did an excellent job, Emily.”

Other than that one dad, it had been fun. The kids were all so cute and most of them thought it was awesome to get their candy from a “real pretty” Cinderella. I even enjoyed being taller in my heels. For the heck of it I ran as quickly to Mom as I could in my high heels and gave her a girlish peck on the cheek. “I did have some fun,” I admitted.

“You’ve earned a reprieve,” my mother stated, obviously enjoying my little kiss.

Is she finally going to allow me to explain that I really don’t like dressing like a girl, that I only like looking at her bras. Gosh, I forgot to text Megan!

“That first woman who was here tonight was right,” my mom said. “You should be allowed to go to your dance.”

“Great,” I said, “if I hurry I can take a shower to get off this feminine odor, switch into my costume, and get to the dance for the last half hour.” Plenty of time to still see the boiler room with Megan.

“There’s no reason to change,” my mother said. “Here, let me refresh your make-up and perfume. You’ll be the belle of the ball.”

Before I could raise a fuss she took out her small pad and waved it to remind me of the consequences for refusal.

“Emily, no one will know who you are. You can go into your dance, walk around, and see what it’s like to be a young, beautiful girl in public. I’ll take your picture by the trophy case, and then we’ll leave. That way we’ll always have a lasting memory of tonight.”

Like I’ll ever forget it. “And if I don’t do it I suppose you’ll send an e-mail to dad with the pictures.”

“And to your school guidance office so that they can work with you on your fetish.”

Fetish? “You wouldn’t?”

“Let’s just fix your lipstick and face so that we never have to find out.”

“We’ll go, take a picture, and then leave?”

She nodded.

I can do this. No one will ever know. Tomorrow I’ll apologize to Megan for standing her up at the dance and life will pick up where it left off.

She handed me a small, white purse with a long gold chain “to hold my necessaries”. Fifteen minutes later I was standing in front of the junior high trophy case smiling in the direction of my mother’s camera -- when a large hand circled my wrist.

“I’ve danced with everyone here who’s easy on the eyes, but somehow I missed you.”

I peered out through the eyeholes in my tiny mask and saw. . .Joshua.

“I have to leave.” I tugged my arm, but he wouldn’t let go.

“Go on and dance,” my mother said from behind me. “I’ll get a glass of punch. Have fun for as long as you want. I’ll just talk to the chaperones until you’re ready to go.” She gave me a meaningful look that carried an implied threat.

I turned to face Joshua. “You don’t know me,” I said. “Why would you want to dance with me?”

He laughed, which I expected, but I was startled when I heard uncertainty in it. “I bet you’re one of the cheerleaders, because you’re so cute.” He pulled me out onto the floor.

The girl who put together the mix had stuck in an oldies slow dance. I stuck my arm through the gold chain and allowed the purse to dangle from my elbow. Joshua held me tight and we rocked together in time to the beat. Actually it felt good to have him help me maintain my balance on my heels. I found it worked best when I place my head against his chest. I was surprised how loudly and fast his heart was beating. In my heels we’re the perfect size for each other.

I relaxed when I realized he had no idea who I was. Looking around the room I spied several of my friends.

After the song ended Joshua pleaded for one more dance. It felt strange and a bit wonderful to have him begging me for anything -- so I accepted.

As we cuddled, more than danced, I finally saw Megan — dancing with Larry Fisk. I didn’t even know he liked her. They were holding each other like they were life rafts in the North Atlantic.

Larry was wearing a Captain Jack Sparrow outfit — just like the one hanging in my closet. He suddenly moved her head in line with his and KISSED her.

I could almost see their tongues interlocking. Despite a huge effort not to -- I lost it, let out one almost stifled sob, and a big tear fell from my eye.

“Did I do something wrong?” Joshua asked, clearly worried. “I’d kill myself if I ever did anything to hurt you.”

I tried to smile. “It’s not you. I’m just being silly.” Fine, if that’s how Megan wants it. I’ll just find someone better. . .even if it’s a random stranger.

“I suppose it is a strange night and all. . .” Joshua said. “. . .Halloween and all — and everything.”

It was a shock to see how nice Joshua could be.

I need to go somewhere — where Megan and Larry aren’t around. “Let’s get out of the gym for a little while,” I begged.

Joshua grinned. “I know just the place.” He led me by the hand.

I was lost in thought about Larry and Megan and what might have happened between Megan and me — and just tried to stay upright in my heels -- when I looked around and realized we had ended up -- in the boiler room!

“Joshua, you’re making a mistake,” I said biting my lip.

He smiled broadly and touched my cheek gently, his face inches from mine. “I don’t think so. . . .” He drew in a deep breath. “You smell good enough to eat. . .Brandon.”

***

Mom was waiting by her car when I came out about twenty minutes later. I had stopped in the girls’ lavatory and fixed my lipstick.

All in all I was surprised by how things had turned out, but realized that ogling at bras was all in my past. I had better things to do with them.

“Mom,” I asked while she drove in the direction of our home, “did I hear you say I have several nighties to choose from?”

“Yes. I want you to be happy tonight.”

“You’re a wonderful mom.” I reached over and touched her elbow. “If I decide I want to keep the nighties in my drawer after tonight, will that be okay?”

“You can keep all the clothes I bought for you,” she said happily. “They’re yours.”

“Mom,” I said with a sigh, “I would be in heaven if Dad was as smart as you.”

“He’s smarter than you think. I sent a text to him when you were dancing with Joshua with a picture that said a million words.”

“No,” I exclaimed. “Why would you do that?”

“I wanted him to know that our plan had worked. He’s thrilled.”

“Oh.” Sometimes I have to marvel at how those two operate. “Mom?” I asked dreamily. “Would it be all right with you if Joshua sleeps over tomorrow night?”

The End



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