The makeup was minimal; almost a visual expression of the feelings she held about herself. She smiled in the mirror and the young lady smiled back; weakly with an almost neglect in her expression toward the real person she reflected. She pulled off the undershirt and threw it in the hamper.

“Ohhhhhhh…” She sighed with little strength. She took the panties from the top drawer; an almost reverence guided her hands as she opened them up and stepped into them. Ivory satin lined with cotton; a marriage of sensual and practical. She pulled them up slowly and adjusted them, pushing and pulling parts of herself she barely acknowledged other than with another sigh; this one disdainful and sad.

“Oh….” She gasped; feeling guilt and shame warm her face as things she had wished to forget remained intrusive and uncomfortable in their familiarity. She shook her head. At one time she would have given into those same shameful sensations and addressed a need now no longer urgent. She smiled at her resolve before returning to the dresser; almost with a mission.

“Blue…Navy…yes.” She said to no one and to whatever capricious deity oversaw her original 'assembly.' She sat down and began pulling on the tights. Convention and practicality worked alongside the nice dark pattern woven into the thick fabric; at least they’d be fairly pretty even if they weren’t as comfortable. She had no choice since being more attractive would garner unwanted attention at the most inopportune of times. Better to be plain and safe than sheer and sorry, since wearing the pretty hose meant addressing other issues about the legs they covered.

“Oh.” She gasped once again as her legs brushed ever so lightly together, giving her a pleasant start. She opened the second drawer down in the dresser, pulling out a soft ivory-colored brassiere; its straps were wide and the satin reflected the dimmed bedroom light. She pulled it on and fastened the back, feeling a sense of accomplishment at her success in being able to perform such a simple task. The ivory full slip came next; quickly slipping over her head and down into place, hugging her body like a third skin over her own body and the other lingerie.

“Charcoal? Ecru? Ice blue? Yes…ice blue!” She grabbed the blouse from the closet; shiny with a neckline unbuttoned just low enough to not show cleavage but tease anyway. A black wool skirt followed; warm but sensual with a black satin lining that pushed the practical aside just a bit.

“Hm….shoes? No…black calf-length boots. Two inch block heel!” She announced the footwear as if she was describing the fashion for a catwalk display. She added a single pearl on a chain around her neck along with a thin silver band on her left wrist. She decided against the clip-on earrings; too easy to lose. A moment later she stood before the mirror once again; her twin waving back at her sheepishly. She grinned to herself just before noticing an expected presence; the all-too familiar face scowled over her right shoulder.

She nodded once to the figure in the mirror; an acknowledgement of surrender before she put her head down and shook as the blows rained against her back….

* * *

“Donnie? Donnie?” He heard a voice called in a ‘loud’ whisper. He raised his head off the bed. Brown streaks covered his face where the makeup had run from the tears; he had vowed he wouldn’t cry, and his shame made the pain hurt twice as bad. The younger boy moved closer to the bed and grabbed his brother’s hand.

“Why, Donnie?” Tears streamed down the boy’s face at the sight of his brother’s pain.

“So you’ll be safe.” The little boy stared at the sight before him; more than disheveled, his older brother was a picture of hurt. The illustration included the physical damage of welts and bruises, and the emotional damage took the form of eyes that felt betrayed, but with almost a hint of relief.

“Go, Jimmy….get out….get out…run!” The boy gasped and fell back on the bed. The younger boy shook his head before grabbing the skirt off the floor. He took the garment and pulled it on; it draped loosely, but he held it up by his hand.

“No, Donnie,” he said. Almost an eternity later he heard the floor creak under the weight of an expected but unwelcomed presence. He turned to find his father standing in the doorway, slapping a belt against his hand.

He stood defiantly, shaking in anticipation while inside he became the bravest girl in the history of the world other than the girl who lay on the bed behind her.

“No, Daddy!”

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