Seasons of Change - Book 1 - Part 2 of 3

Seasons of Change
Part 2 of 3

by Joel Lawrence

Copyright © 1989,2012 Joel Lawrence
All Rights Reserved.


Admin Note: Through prior verbal and written agreements between the author Joel Lawrence, and Tigger, this story is being posted here with Tigger's permission to be included in sequence with his works. Seasons of Change belongs to Joel Lawrence and the text, along with the textual errors remains as is. Copyright © 1989 and reposted by Karen Mitchell in the summer of 1996 at other sites. This is the story that inspired Tigger to delve within Mr. Lawrence's universe and to create his sequence of stories involving the character of Ms. Jane Thompson. ~Sephrena

Chapter 5.
When Michael entered the dining room he saw Beth wearing the same preposterous attire as he. Beth's was a pink princess dress with a gauzy apron and the shoes were matching pink Mary Janes. Like his own dress, the hem of the skirt floated on an overabundance of stiff petticoats. Though the dress was as immature and childish as his own, it did not seem that outlandish on a girl, and he was more than thankful that he was not clad in pink. Ludicrous as he felt, the turquoise satin was far preferable to pink! Beth did not speak to him, and the downcast eyes betrayed to him a sense of shame. He surmised that this was some form of punishment, and he wondered what had happened to prompt Jane to impose this indignity on Beth. Before he could ask, Jane swept into the room, sat down and motioned them to do likewise.

Jane smiled to herself as she watched the two be-ribboned moppets struggle to sit in their juvenile frills, perched on their chairs atop billows of ruffled petticoats.

Michael sat quietly and despondently through the meal, clearly ill at ease, while Beth was practically sullen. Michael's discomfort was evident by his constantly shifting positions; he was positively awkward with the layers of satiny slips beneath the short dress and was further troubled by the need for constant concentration on emulating the mannerisms and demeanor that Jane had demanded and about which Beth had coached him the night before. Dressed as he was, though he was nearly loathe to admit it, he almost longed for the more mature ensembles he had worn that morning.

That sentiment was intensified by having to endure Jane's gratuitous comments about how adorable they looked both and how sweet the dresses were. She lavished what he thought were totally unnecessary compliments about everything from the flounce of the undergarments to the curls and ribbons in their hair.

"Michael," she had said at one point, I have seen few young boys in life that looked as pretty as you do dressed as a girl. Those lashes of yours...some girls would envy them; long and full. I think I like your hair that shade, and it's a pity it isn't quite long enough yet for you to have your own lovely curls."

To Beth she remarked, "It's been a while since I've seen you in that cute dress, Beth. Pink is really your color, you know. I think you should wear pink more often. And those bouncy crinolines! Such a lovely little doll."

It was appallingly humiliating to Michael, a teasing, taunting degradation, and he silently endured the hour long lunch in near silence, except for quietly acknowledging one of her "compliments". Jane had made a remark about his peaches and cream complexion and how wonderfully the make-up made his face soft and feminine. When he remained sullen, she angrily harshly scolded him for being impolite in not thanking her for the liberal she was showering on him.) His face reddened as he mumbled a "thank you", but he remained taciturn for most of the meal.

Jane guessed that Beth's brooding disposition stemmed largely from being forced to revert to this immature state. In fact, that was true, but Beth's reticence was not solely due to this reprimand imposed by the domineering grand dame opposite her at the table. In fact, Beth felt an odd mixture of emotions about Michael as well; pitied his condition and knew well how he must feel being disgraced in this manner. Having experienced the early stages of this harassment, it was easy to sympathize with the hapless lad. Beth acceded to a small degree of resentment directed at Michael as well, for it was precisely as a result of her obedience to Jane's order to tutor Michael (on the belief that it would hasten the end of Beth's own discipline) that she had rebelled last night. It was not rational to blame Michael, still it was easier for Beth to direct a degree of anger at him than it was to rebel against Jane. After all, though she had not got into trouble BECAUSE of Michael, she had been chastised over her role in his being here.

When lunch was over, Jane lectured them both on the importance of obedience and that punishments such as these were the automatic consequence of defiance. She asked them each in turn if they had learned their lessons about obedience and respect and if they wished to get out of these darling outfits. Without much pause, they both emphatically agreed.

"Fine," she said, "then you should both change into something spring-like. I think this would be nice day for you to show Michael the grounds, Beth. "Marie is upstairs waiting for you, Michael," Jane said, "and I had her put out an outfit which is an special favorite of mine. Run along now and see to changing at once."

The prospect of going outdoors did not appeal to Michael at all, but if the trip were limited to the grounds of the estate, he felt less fear about it. At least he would not look like Shirley Temple out there. He followed her command to take his leave while Beth remained behind at Jane's behest.

Michael felt a mixture of relief and anger as he left the dining room, conscious of his gait and carriage so as to avoid further disaffection by Jane. As he passed through the foyer and began climbing the stairs, he was conscious of the rustle of the skirts again and the reflection in the mirror at the lower landing. He paused at the mirror, glancing around to see that no one was looking, and looked closey at his face. Turning his head this way and that, he examined the lashes she had praised. With the ginger-hued mascara on them, they did seem longer and curlier than before. He had been teased about his eyelashes before, in words very like those Jane had used. Each time he heard that insipid remark about girl's being jealous of boys with such long, abundant lashes, he winced.

He had to admit to himself, however grudgingly, that the clothes and other adornments did make for a pretty girl. He ventured to himself that any girl who wanted those lashes and that complexion could have them and good riddance. He had no need of those girlish attributes.

The perceptions gave rise to that strange wave of dread mixed with delight that he had experienced more than once since yesterday: the enigma of being so dressed and the peculiar thrill that it gave him. His aversion to this image of himself preempted his thoughts, and the "pleasant" part of the feeling passed. He focussed on just the despondent uneasiness he felt.

Tomorrow was Friday, a deadline Jane had mentioned to him yesterday. Perhaps he had read too much into her statement, but he hoped against hope that the vague promise of respite from this ordeal would come true. He did not know how much longer he could endure this inanity. He knew it was imprtant to go along with her to get a favorable report to the school. He only hoped that he could be rid of these skirts.

As he moped across the upstairs hallway and toward the doorway of the bedroom, his anxiety increased. Behind that closed portal lay the pastel torture chamber he had been forced to endure for nearly thirty-six hours. Beyond the door, he knew, waited Marie, a woman whose faithful execution of her mistress' directions resulted in his continued exposure to silks and satins and colorful pigments that transformed his features into a mockery of his real gender.

The cold lump of frustrated resignation curdled the lunch in his stomach as he turned the knob.

Beth, too, was lost in thought as she mounted the stairs moments later. Jane's last lecture had indicated that the transgressions of last evening had been partly assuaged by the humiliating costume at lunch, but that Beth's management of the afternoon's activities would determine the final disposition.

Beth remembered first coming here six months before as Brian. It seemed odd to think of that name in this context. Just days after he came through the walnut doors dressed in trousers and a blazer last December, Jane had rechristened the crinoline-clad youth as Beth, and so it had been in this house since. Soon Michael would learn he was to stay indefinitely and he, too, would assume a new name just as swiftly as he had been put into skirts. Henceforth Michael would be Michelle or somesuch. Indeed, sad to say, Jane had bestowed on Beth the ultimate task of choosing a name, for Jane's instructions for the tour of the estate emphatically included the condition that their walk include the stables, where Beth was to ensure a meeting took place with the two hired men. A new name for Michael's introduction was needed, and Beth was to make the choice for the new "girl". Beth cringed, recalling her first meeting with them, when, as Brian, the men had been encountered on the lower road, and Brian had turned to jelly inside, praying that nothing would betray to them the true gender of this skirt-clad boy who was not the "girl" they perceived him to be. The men had graciously greeted this new girl and the secret had been preserved until now. Soon it would be Michael's turn, and Beth felt a compassionate pang of sympathy for him.

As the word "him" formed in her mind, Beth paused again. The words "him" and "he" as they applied to Michael would be thrust into limbo this afternoon and hereafter. Janes system of feminization had a profound affect on even simple pronouns. From now on, the choice of "he" and "she" would depend not only on the surroundings, circumstances or persons present, but also upon the diabolic vagaries of Jane's disciplinary schemes. At varying times, the application of either masculine or feminine pronouns could be derisive to her "pupils." Michael might be "she" sometimes, a reference that would further assail his manhood. On the other hand, the masculine pronoun applied to a boy in dresses and ribbons carried with it the unmistakable connotation of sissy, and that was a word Jane was not hesitant to apply with a mocking vengeance.

Tonight or tomorrow, Michael would likely also receive the cruel news that Friday was not to be a parole for him. He would learn that he was to embark on a journey that would challenge his very essence and be an assault on his masculinity until Jane broke all resistance and reduced him to the meek and submissive subject she desired. If he were lucky, he would learn to accommodate the life he was to lead with the boy that he was inside, and learn also to balance his masculine and feminine sides. Only when Jane was satisfied that the lesson had been learned would she be likely to release him from this dainty reformatory.

Such an adjustment was possible, Brian/Beth knew, and one to be hoped for for Michael. It became easier when one yielded. It was never fully comfortable for a normal boy to relish swishing in skirts or engaging in the diversions that girls of his age found so exciting. On the other hand, if one did yield a bit of his inner masculinity, Beth knew that there was some delight to be experienced in pretty clothes and soft textiles, and a mischievous thrill in conveying a winsome pretense of a real girl to the world. This last effect, Beth knew, grew out of an initial sense of survival: to master techniques of femininity to avoid discovery. Though Brian never fully overcame his underlying abhorrence and mortification at being made to dress as a girl, there were times when it was like play-acting.

So she sympathized with Michael, hoping it would not be too painful for him. Perhaps it was last night when Beth had encountered Michael in his first dress outside Jane's study that Beth first felt stirrings of comradeship for this boy who was just started the journey. Brian/Beth recalled the strange emotion he felt during that meeting, himself a boy teaching another boy how to maintain the bearing and carriage of a girl. That, of course, was the Jane's inevitable goal: to force the surrender of the yin to the yan, to achieve a state of perfection in the boys she taught to look and act like girls. That moment last night may have been the consummation of these months of conflict that Brian/Beth had endured. Jane probably knew that already, Beth thought, recalling the conversation that had just ensued. Perhaps unwittingly, by the careful tutoring of Michael, Beth was moving closer to resurrection as Brian; a new Brian, to be sure, but a boy once again nevertheless. When Michael was ready, Brian knew that jane would allow him to leave.

As he stood outside the pink-trimmed bedroom, Brian reflected that the way he felt at this moment, with the prospect of release coming closer, must be the way prisoners about to be released must feel: a new anxiety about returning to a world so long removed and distant. it was puzzling and unsettling.

Brian opened the door and went in to change.

Within an hour, both boys were seated quietly on the love seats in the parlor, looking radiant in their latest outfits. Michael had come down first, and Jane could see that Marie had once again worked her magic. He wore a pinafore-style dress of blue-on-white dotted swiss, with puffed cap sleeves and just the right amount of underslip. The straps of the training bra were not visible on his bare shoulders, and Jane correctly assumed Marie had substituted a strapless version, a fact she confirmed when she saw the creases of the corselet through the fabric of the dress. A wise choice to provide some pubescent curves while ensuring that Michael's lack of a bosom would not have a halter bra slipping down inside the dress. Marie had coiffed his hair in a caplet of golden curls which framed the lightly painted face. Jane was pleased that he had entered after a polite knock on the door and had moved across the room with painstaking steps and daintily seated himself with the correct smoothing of his skirts. He say upright with feet firmly on the polished floor and with hands folded neatly in his lap, looked fetching.

As she was complimenting him on all of this, Beth entered, in a pale yellow sundress and matching pumps. She had taken pains to fashion her hair in a French roll, her neck elegant in contrast. Jane noted with some glee that Beth had unquestionably selected the new bras she had put in Beth's dresser, the larger cups accentuating a more mature girlish figure. That this choce of attire had been volitional by the boy who only an hour ago had appeared to be a rebellious waif in juvenile crinolines gratified the mentor of these two, and Jane again accepted the fact that Beth's tutelage was bearing fruit and soon Brian would reemerge to leave the estate. The seeds of his femininity had been sown and nurtured, and Jane was sure that he would be a better man for the recognition and acceptance of his feminine side. There was some reward from this work.

But Beth could not leave until Michael...soon to be Michelle...was further along in his training. Things would begin progressing more rapidly these next few days, and Jane estimated it would be two or three weeks an she might consider releasing Beth. Meanwhile, she bade the two goodbye and watched as they crossed the veranda and began a slow amble down the path.

The two were gone for about an hour when Jane saw them returning. Even from the house, Jane could see that Michael was visibly upset as he stormed toward the house, Beth struggling to keep up in the heeled shoes she wore. Michael burst through the door and plopped down on the Parson's bench inside the door. Beth appeared a moment later. Michael was flushed and traces of tears filled his eyes. It was the turbulence of bruised masculinity, Jane thought, and she suspected its cause. Rarely did the first expedition outdoors fail to evoke indignation in a new beginner.

"Exactly what is the problem here?" she asked.

Michael fumed with arms folded, not responding. Beth replied that while they were strolling near the stables, they had met Tom and Hal and Beth had introduced Michael to them.

Michael interrupted at this point: "She called me Michelle to those guys. A god-damned girl's name she used. It's bad enough to be embarrassed meeting two guys while I'm in these frigging skirts, but why in hell did she call me that?"

The outburst was not unexpected, but Jane certainly could not let it go unnoticed. She assumed her best scornful expression and let the silence continue as she let her sense of outrage filter across to the angry boy.

"I WILL NOT TOLERATE THAT KIND OF LANGUAGE OR THAT ATTITUDE!", she announced loudly. "You will apologize both to me and to Beth at once."

"Like hell I will. This shit has gone too far." Michael was visibly angered and he stood up and began roughly yanking off the dress in his haste to rid himself of the hated garment. As a result, the buttons broke and the bodice hung ridiculously from one shoulder, exposing the lacy corselet. "I'm out of here."

Jane stepped resolutely forward and stung his cheek with a resounding slap. The action and its pain shocked him and he stopped in mid-sentence, giving way to his frustration and sinking onto the bench, the tears silently flowing. He felt lost.

"That is, I hope, the last time I will ever have to do that, young man. I will brook neither your temper nor your foul language. I made myself clear to you yesterday: that I alone will decide how to direct your life until you develop some manners. If you have forgotten the deal, Michael, then feel free to leave. I will call your Mother and Dean Hartwick at once." She glared at him, and his impudence began to dissipate.

"Do you understand me?" she queried. He nodded and she repeated her question more imperiously, this time evoking a meek "Yes ma'am."

Michael was devastated. At the moment he saw the two men near the stables he had felt an immediate urge to flee, but Beth had caught his arm and led him, unwilling, over to them. Both men doffed their hats at the approaching of the girls, and Beth had greeted them and then introduced her friend "Michelle" who was to be a visitor to the house for a while. At the sound of the word "Michelle", panic erupted inside him. He mumbled something in response to their "Glad to meet you, Miss Michele", and as soon as Beth said goodbye and began to move away, Michael made a beeline for the house.

Beth had called after him to no avail. Michael was angry and humiliated, and he had had enough of this. He would find a way to get the hell out of here today.

His rage overcame reason and he let the fury boil over in the words he shouted. The frilly clothes were a curse, and he tugged and flayed to be rid of them. The slap across his cheek burned, and the tears welled in his eyes involuntarily. The blow startled him, and quenched his temper at once. Brought back to reality so abruptly, and seeing the infuriated woman who had done it brought him back to that reality. He kew that he had blown it. He might as well kiss St. Andrews goodbye. After this, he thought, she's booting me out of here.

"Now you will apologize clearly and correctly."

He struggled with his feelings, a turmoil within of anger and subjection. At last he stammered "I....I'm sorry."

"No," she corrected, " 'I am very sorry to have lost control and offended you both and I beg your forgiveness for my insolence.' "

He meekly parroted her words, staring at the floor in shame. He could never remember feeling so low in his life.

"Now, go into the parlor and wait for me." He obeyed and shuffled into the sitting room, leaving Jane to further quiz Beth about what had happened. In a moment or two Jane came into the room and slammed the door behind her. She was still obviously provoked by the scene that had happened outside in the foyer.

"So this petticoat punishment rankles you, does it Michael? You chafe under those skirts and that pretty facade we've given you. Well that is hardly surprising. It was not meant to thrill you. The operative word, young man, is 'discipline'. All this would have no effect, no meaning if you LIKED it. You might GROW to like it, but for now it is supposed to be degrading and humbling and embarrassing!" She was in high dudgeon now.

"But that scene your just played out there comes close to being the last straw. I'm very close to simply washing my hands of you."

He had no response to this, and sat dumbly. She was going to eject him. 'There it goes.' he thought to himself.

"I thought you had some intelligence, Michael! I told you yesterday that based on what changes you would make by Friday we would take a new look at this. Well, my little smart-mouth, I can well see after that last outburst just what the authorities at that school put up with. I can't see how you can possibly think I could give you an endorsement."

She folded her arms with an exasperrated sigh and stared out the window.

"Don't like the ruffles and bows, is that it? Wish you could be back wearing rough and tumble boyswear. Well, maybe we can arrange that, my pretty little fellow."

He was heartened by this statement, yet perplexed by the sarcasm that permeated the way she had said it.

"Yes indeed. maybe we can find something around here more to your liking. But not before you make up for tearing that dress and shouting profanities at me. I will also tell you that that dress you have ruined was quite expensive and you will pay for it one way or another. Look at yourself, you are a mess!

He sulked under her mocking gaze and tried to hold the torn bodice over the exposed lingerie beneath. It was, he was aware, an extremely feminine pose, and it annoyed him.

The ceaseless clicking of the clock pendulum permeated the stillness of the room as Jane continued her private deliberations.

"Michael," she finally uttered with a faint sigh, "what are we going to do with you? Your mother has been my friend for over twenty years. I am fond of her. You saddened her deeply when you were suspended. It was as a friend that she turned to me for help. I am deeply concerned about helping her, and that is why I took this on. I care about you, as well. But you won't cooperate. I've resorted to this approach because I think it works. As I said, you aren't meant to like it. But you ARE meant to submit to it. There are benefits to be derived that you are not even vaguely aware of right now."

The reference to his mother gave him some pause. He did not want to hurt her. But surely even she would not tolerate this abuse that her "friend" was subjecting him to. He wished he knew how to call her, to talk to her. But she had, for her own reasons, left all information on reaching her in Europe with Jane, and Michael thought it unlikely Jane would allow him to call her.

Jane went on. "Well, I'll tell you this: I am not giving up until tomorrow. We will see by then what is to come of this. In the meantime, you will remain as you are, skirts, curls and all. Now if I am willing to give it another another chance. I will allow you to put on a new dress and clean yourself up. I will expect you to behave. Your eyes are a mess. Go take off that gown and clean your face and come back down here. I want to give you some time alone this afternoon to think about all this. Now get out of my sight until you look presentable."

The dismissal was unmistakable and he quickly left the room, feeling really blue. He ran up the stairs and slammed the bedroom door, falling onto the bed and crying tears of defeat.

Beth came into the parlor.

"Well, Beth," Jane said, "that went about as expected, though I hardly anticipated the degree of his outburst. I think young Mr. Nash has just sealed his fate for the next few months."

Beth made no reply. She knew how Michael felt and sympathized with him. At the same time, being familiar with Jane's techniques by now, Beth knew that there was truth in the conclusion.

"He wants out of dresses and petticoats; I think we might give him his wish. " Jane went on. "I had intended to delay the first trip to town until we could get up to Kingston. I have appointments for you both next week at Carolyn's"

Carolyn, of course, referred to Carolyn Beale who was the co- owner of Marisha Chalet, a posh Kingston beauty salon that was situate in Jane's village of choice for shopping and hairstyling for her wards. In fact, Carolyn and Sandra, the other owner, were both cognizant of Jane's activities and both knew that the pretty young things that came in for adornment were, in truth, young men. Carolyn was quite enthusiastic about her role in these activities, for it just happened that she was married to one of Jane's former proteges and she had often told Jane what a gem he was. Carolyn was a true believer in the results of this method Jane employed and thus was more than willing to go along. Her partner, Sandra, Beth thought, had a streak of disdain for men in her, and relished subjecting boys to the delicate rituals of her craft. Thus, though the motivations were different, Jane had devoted allies at Marisha Chalet.

Though the salon catered to the more elegant style for women, it was unisex in clientele. Beth recalled the anxious feeling of sitting in those chairs before the mirrors, with both male and female customers in attendance, trepidatious that either Carolyn or Sandra might find it a "lark" to let the victim's true identity slip out. That fear, coupled with submitting to the elaborate beauty treatments visible in the reflection was a sublime torture.

Jane went on as she searched for something in the desk. "Michael wants to be out of skirts, Beth, back into something less feminine. And I think we will indulge him a little. Did I ever tell you about David?"

Jane had, in fact, recounted numerous anecdotes about the boys she had taught over the years, but Beth was not certain which tale she had referred to. Jane's question was, of course, only a rhetorical prelude to the new story she would surely narrate.

"David was here about three years ago. He was very rebellious, in much the same way as Michael. He once pulled the same stunt you just saw, so I gave him his wish and let him wear something less frilly. I want you to go up to the attic storage closet and bring down a pair of grey slacks and a tailored white blouse you'll find there. They may not be quite what Michael envisions, but they will suit our purpose. Anyway that is what he will wear if he wants to. I have to pick up a few things in Hampton, and I think it advisable that you both come along too."

Beth nodded acknowledgement.

"He is in for a big surprise, our intransigent guest. I have the feeling that he will be even more malleable when we return. Our time is a little limited, Beth, so we have to move more quickly with Michael. Normally I would prefer to wait until next week, but I cannot afford to have him find out I lied about possibly releasing him tomorrow....and you must NEVER tell him. I need to gain his trust if this is to be successful."

Beth assured Jane she would be discrete, hating the deception she was being made part of, but more interested in her own well- being.

Jane finally found what she had been rummaging for and pulled out what looked like a lipstick, an eyeliner pencil and a compact of eyeshadows.

"You have never seen these before, Beth. I had no reason to use them with you. They are specially formulated cosmetics. They are far more long-lasting than regular makeup and even thorough cleansing leaves faint traces of color. Despite all his efforts to scrub this off, there will be a hint remaining. With those darling curls and dainty eyebrows and a nice glow, our macho friend may find he passes better as a girl than as an effeminate boy."

Beth shuddered imperceptibly at the diabolical twist that Jane was planning. 'Cripes,' she thought, 'I'd die if that happened to me. Michael will be devastated if someone notices.'

"So our rebel will remember the day he ventured out as an obvious sissy. I think he will be fairly begging to be back in petti's after he sees how impossible his situation is." Micahel, meanwhile, had stopped his pitiful sobbing and removed the torn dress. He chose a white blouse and plaid jumper to replace it. He removed the tear-blotched makeup to comply with Jane's command. The curls in his hair still remained fairly neat and he managed, somewhat ineptly, to coax the few wayward strands back into place. He was basically presentable and he returned downstairs.

Knocking softly at the door of the parlor, he was permitted entry and Jane assessed his outfit without comment. Then she said, "Come over here. You look fairly presentable. Why no makeup, Michael?, scrutinizing his fair face.

"I...I wasn't sure..."

She interrupted, "Never mind. You look like you've been crying. Come here and I will fix it and make you pretty again."

He hated when she said things like this. He was keenly aware of Beth's presence as he submitted to this indignity once again. Jane very carefully drew the fine line of light sable pencil inside the lashes of both the upper and lower lid of each eye, then creamed the pale blue shadow on the lids themselves. She used the lipstick as a rouge, daubing spots of carmine and then blending it into his cheeks with her fingertips. Next came the inevitable application of lipstick to his lips. Jane applied the red wand liberally.

"There now," she said, handing him the blotting tissue. "You look adorable. Try to behave."

Jane left the room with the announcement she would see them both at dinner. Beth excused herself shortly. leaving Michael alone. He paced the room for a while and, out of sheer boredom and the need to divert his thoughts, hunted for a magazine or something. Unfortunately, this room., like every bloody room in the house had only outdated copies of Mademoiselle and Seventeen and other insipid girls magazines. Their covers announced articles that must keep young girls occupied for hours, trying "Ten-minute makeovers" and "The 50 hottest new hairstyles." God! What trash.

He picked one up out of tedium and tried to divert his depressing thoughts. But as he turned the pages, all he saw was pages adorned with adolescent girls enjoying the obsessive recreation of clothes and makeup. Outwardly he resembled them in his present condition, but he felt little kinship or joy in any of it. He read therough the magazine, glancing at the illustrated articles of before and after pictures of girls being redone by professionals, then, dusgustedly, tossed the magazine away and retreated into the cavern of self-pity.
Chapter 6.
Jane had entered the parlor just as Michael pitched the magazine aside. She smiled inwardly knowing that his distress continued to bother him. She had thought about the situation and decided that she would not wait until Friday to issue the final ultimatum. She would increase the pressure in the waning hours of this very afternoon, and Michael had given her the means to achieve her end.

"You mentioned that wanted to wear something less feminine a while ago, right, Michael. Well I have decided to let you. How does that sound?"

"Fine," he readily agreed. "I'd like that."

"Mind you," she went on, "our supply of male attire here is quite limited. Your trunk is coming express and I sent your travelling clothes out to the cleaners. But Beth is looking for something now."

She went on. "I have to run some errands in town and I want you to come with me. I suspect you'd like a change of scene. We'll leave right in about half an hour. Alright? That will give us time to get back for supper at seven. I have a dear old friend coming for supper and she will be here by then."

He pondered this offer of hers with some skepticism, but the prospect of getting back into male attire was a welcome change, and he readily agreed, thankful that she had offered this alternative.

"I had Beth find something and put it in your room, so you are free to go and change. Please don't dilly-dally, because we have a lot of errands to do. I will expect you back here in half an hour."

He stood to leave, then pause.

"What about this hair. I mean it....well, you know."

"It is curly. When you have something to say, just say it, don't mince words." She approached him and inspected his locks. They were indeed curly, with glimmering golden highlights. Imagining him dressed as a boy, with these curls and the sculpted arch of his brows, she concluded that he would look very fragile; cherubic, perhaps.

"I can see to that when you come down. Hurry up, now, we'll be late. Mind you, I am simply letting you change because we are going out. I have not yet decided about tomorrow. Now hurry up."

The prospect of getting away from the house and wearing boys attire elated him. He bounded up the steps and found the clothes on his bed.

They were not quite what he had hoped, but they were more or less more masculine than the clothes he had on. The tailored shirt was made of a soft fabric and the buttons were, like always, damnably backward. No one would notice the buttons, and he convinced himself that the light fabric would likewise go unobserved.

No underwear was provided but he logically removed the despicable brassier and cast it into the corner. He kept the panties on and slipped into the shirt. He longed for a broadcloth shirt as he buttoned the blouse. He wondered if he'd been had, then resigned himself to what she had provided. The sleeves seemed a little full at the wrist, but passable. The slacks were soft grey flannel, and the tailoring of both seemed curiously different. He searched through the dresser for some sox, hoping at least the knee-high white ones from yesterday were there, but they had been consigned to the laundry, and he was forced to choose a pair of anklets with lace trim. he surmised that as long as the pants cuffs covered them, they, too, would pass detection. He slipped his feet into the cordovan loafers. They were a style he had always hated as being a little effete: the kind some fools put pennies in. But they were all he had.

Glancing in the mirror he again saw a problem with the makeup. He creamed and tissued his face, but the remnants lingered. He scrubbed again and still wasn't sure if he'd got it all off. He finally convinced himself that it was his imagination from seeing his painted visage these last two days, and that his face was clean or at least nothing would be noticed. If he rubbed any harder, he would simply further redden the eyes, cheeks and lips. He searched for the traces of color; they were faint and he concluded that whatever was there was not that noticeable. His hair was a problem, but Jane had agreed to fix it.

As he was rushing to finish, he heard the car horn. He had to get going. Only as he reached the door did he think about his nails, and holding his hands up to the light saw the shimmer of the polish. He had no time to take it off, and didn't even know how to. He would have to keep his hands hidden. He went downstairs. He caught one glance in the full-length mirror and thought he looked so much better than he had. All of this was, to be sure, a rationalization. He was so grateful about the contrast that this appearance made over that of just a few minutes before that he accepted a self-delusion about how he looked.

Jane of course noted the synthetic appearance, finding him to look quite effeminate. He fussed with his hair, and though she pretended to minimize its curliness, she had, in fact, amplified it. She hustled him out of the house before he could get a good view in the mirror. They got into the BMW, with Beth driving, and went downtown.

Beth and Jane were absorbed in conversation about some people he did not know, and Jane occasionally gave the young girl a gentle admonition about her driving. In less than half an hour they entered a village named Hampton and proceeded to a mid-sized shopping mall. Beth parked the car, and Jane bade him follow them into the mall.

It was moderately crowded for a Thursday afternoon. Like every mall he had ever seen, it was comprised of open interiors and side-by-side stores of all types. Their first stop was a 1 Hour photo developing outlet where Jane left some film and was assured it would be done in sixty minutes. From there they went down the corridor, stopping here and there to look at displays of apparel modeled by expressionless mannequins. Jane was the more animated of the two women, asking Beth's comments here and there about dresses, shoes and other attire. Michael thought it vaguely odd that Beth, though a girl much like those in the magazines he had looked at that afternoon, was not all that intrigued by any of this and certainly did not gush over it. Perhaps the "magazine girls" were the figment of some merchandisers zeal.

Passing through the mall corridor, Michael was vaguely conscious that his eye would from time to time catch another eye staring. When visual contact was made, it was quickly averted. But from the corner of his eye he saw the gaze return. This happened more than once. They were quizzical eyes, and they made him uncomfortable. More than once he had caught someone sizing him up from head to toe. Not that they were hostile, for one woman had smiled amicably. But he was acutely aware that his presence was commanding more attention than he cared for. As if to seek refuge, he followed Jane and Beth into a place called Nicole's. Stretching from the full windows in the front to the very back of the store were racks of all sorts of feminine apparel. There were fewer people in here, and they seemed not to pay much attention. Jane and Beth's meanderings took them finally to the Lingerie section, and Michael saw myriads of those odious garments on display. Jane and Beth were making a few selections, he saw Jane glance his way more than once. He distanced himself from the pair, feigning disinterest and boredom and these most intimate garments.

He was startled then by the voice of a salesgirl who said "Are you being helped." He spun around and felt his face redden as he mumbled that he was simply waiting for someone. The girl's gaze grew more intent, scanning his face and seemingly finding something there that was enigmatic to her. She fixed her eyes on his hair, and cocked her head as if she were trying to assess what she saw and draw some conclusion. Painfully conscious of her scrutiny, Michael turned and sped out of the shop to wait for Jane and Beth in the hallway.

The shop was teeming with mirrors and he saw his reflection with a sense of dread. Even ten yards away he radiated the look of an effeminate teenage boy. On closer inspection, the countenance was worse. Whatever misconception he had about how he looked before was deflated by what he now saw, in the wake of the curious stares. He wished her were a thousand miles away!

Soon Jane and Beth emerged with packages and after just two more stops, where he tried to camouflage his presence from the intruding stares, Jane announced they were about done. The compounding pressure of all this, of being scrutinized and wondering what the minds behind the eyes were seeing and concluding, Michael was relieved to be out of here and back to the safety of the car.

It was while he waited for Beth outside Spencers and Jane was getting the car that the trouble began. He had tried to ignore the stares of the patrons and salesclerks in the stores. Nothing had been said to him, but he was self-conscious that his appearance was provoking the quizzical glances. He felt acutely uncomfortable.

As he stood there, wishing Jane would hurry, he was aware of the gaggle of boys and girls in the small circle a few yards away. He ignored the stares, glancing furtively at the store entrance and the lot seeking either of the women. He ignored also the derisive giggles in the hope he would be soon out of here. Two of the oldest boys and one of the girls detached themselves from the group and walked over to where he was standing. they eyed him a moment, then one of the boys spoke.

"Say there, Tiger, we been having a discussion. Are you a boy or a girl?"

Michael winced and felt the now all too familiar sense of panic take control of him. He looked furtively at the exit to the store for Beth, then surveyed the parking lot again for Jane's blue sedan. Seeing neither, he cast a quick glance at the questioner. His delay in responding and his elusiveness prompted the next comment.

"I think its a boy, but it is the most sissy boy I have ever seen. What do you think, Mark?"

The girl spoke now. "What kind of boy wears crepe shirts and ...hey, did you see those sox!"

Michael remembered that while he was trying to scratch his leg he had pulled the cuff up enough to allow someone to see the anklets. The girl was pushy and pulled at the leg of the slacks, revealing the dainty edging. He brushed her hand aside, another mistake for she now saw the gleam of polish on his nails.

The boy named Mark picked up the taunting dialogue. " I think he's a boy, but he looks like a sweet thing. Maybe he's a fairy." Shit he's wearing nail polish."

Michael felt real panic now. The distasteful term rankled him and he was nearly doubling his fists to react when he realized he was outnumbered.

"Bet he's wearing cute little panties under all that too," the first boy said, fingering the thin crepe material of Michael's shirt. "Maybe we should kick the shit out of him."

The girl again, inspecting his face. "It looks like he wears makeup and he has pretty little curls.... Hey you guys," she shouted to the others, "come see this cute little thing."

Michael prayed this ordeal would end or that either Beth or Jane would come and extricate him from this. He realized now that all of his earlier justifications about how he looked were self-deception, and that what he presented to these people was what they saw. He recalled the facility with which he had been accepted in far more feminine attire by Hal and Tom earlier that day. Clearly, as he now appeared, he could pass as a girl, but he was preposterous posing as a boy. He felt again like this had been set up, he thought, but in the same thought he longed for being attired in a way that would not have prompted this confrontation, whether in true boy's clothes or girl's.

He was about to succumb to some physical act from them when, miraculously, Jane's car drove up and he could dive for the safety of its interior. As they drove away, he could hear the derision of the group ringing in his ear. He felt paralyzed with fear as the adrenalin pumped through him.

Jane either ignored what she might have seen or did not see it. Beth was waiting a dozen yards away, and climbed in as Jane stopped for her. He sat sullenly and quietly in the back seat waiting for his pulse to stop racing as they headed back to the farm.

Michael was still brooding over the incident as he sat on the veranda fifteen minutes later. Jane came out and spoke to him.

"Michael, Mrs. White will be here in half an hour. I want you to be polite to her for she is one of my oldest friends. Edith is quite fond of Beth. We will have cocktails alone, but you and Beth should see to helping Marie."

Michael shot a glance at Jane, remembering now that there was to be a guest for dinner. His mind weighed a real dilemma: a strange woman was coming to dinner. The furtive and fleeting glances of this afternoon would become more studied and intense in the closeness of the dining room. The prospect was a nightmare!

"Couldn't I just skip dinner, Jane. I'm not very hungry."

"Well, of course not. If you're not hungry you can just take smaller portions. But Edith knows you're staying here and I will not make excuses for your absence. Dinner is at seven and I expect you there!"

What was he to do. He could not afford to be seen as he now was. He felt that chronic sense of paradox again, this time in the context of this very bewildering afternoon. Much as he was mortified by meeting the two gardeners in a frilly dress this afternoon, they had accepted him as they saw him. Contrast that, he thought, with what happened at the mall.

Jane had gone back into the house and Michael followed, hoping to plead his case again. He caught his gaze in the hall mirror and carefully examined it. The curls and the delicate arch of the brow...the traces of color that no scrubbing seemed to remove. These were signals of incongruity that were all to easy to be intercepted. He was panicky...what to do, what to do.

He followed Jane into the dining room where she was assessing the table setting.

"Jane can I please stay in my room. I can't meet your friend like this."

"Whatever do you mean, Michael? you look fine."

"You know what I mean. Do you know what happened downtown? Everybody was staring at me. A bunch of kids teased me and made fun of me. I can't go through that again."

"What are you suggesting. Michael? You certainly weren't mocked by Tom and Hal when they met you. Why Hal just told me a while ago he thought you were a very pretty girl."

The dilemma again. He could pass as a girl in the hated skirts, but not as a boy in this altered attire and appearance.

"I frankly don't care what you wear to supper tonight. Mind you, tomorrow will be back to where we were. But it is of no consequence to me whatever what you do tonight. It was your idea to change into those clothes, not mine. I simply made available what we had."

Michael did not know what to do. He knew that there was immediate safety for him to go back to being dressed as a girl, but that loathsome prospect nauseated him. But it was equally certain that he could not carry on as he was now dressed.

As he mused, he knew that regardless of what respite these boyish togs offered him now, he would be back in petticoats in the morning. He bowed to the inevitable.

Before he could say anything more to Jane, she had left the room. After a minute of reflection, he walked into the kitchen and meekly asked Marie if she could help him with something. He went back up to the misery of the bedroom.

It was just after seven, and Jane was in the parlor mixing drinks. She handed the icy Manhattan to Edith White and sat down in the overstuffed chair near the fireplace.

Jane had known Edith for nearly 15 years. Edith was the widow of Jonathan White, the banker and financier whose family's tenure in this valley went back to Colonial days. Edith was a charming, eccentric woman who lived well and lavished almost indecent amounts of money to various organizations and community projects in a veritable eleemosynary crusade. The silver-haired dowager (now in her early sixties, Jane guessed) saw herself as a model of breeding and refinement. Jane had, after all these years, distilled Edith's passions down to three: an obsession with the historical traditions of the area, an abiding obsession with fine arts, and a phobia that modern young people were being reduced to crass philistines by the seduction of cheap rock music and inferior drama on the screen and television.

Underpinning this tripod of zealous endeavor was Edith's abiding infatuation with a faded past, a past of beauty and gentility that spanned the halcyon traditions from ante-bellum through Victorian to the debutante days of her own youth. Edith was a bit of an anachronism, crusading with her time and money to provide young people with opportunities to experience values she deemed eminently preferable to current fads. The woman abhorred the jeans-clad boys and girls she saw daily in Hampton and Kingston and the other townships, and in her longing for these lost qualities, she persisted in funding pageants, theatrical groups and elaborate cotillions. To all of ventures she persistently appropriated funds and recruited her friends. Though the results were mixed, Jane humored Edith and lent her support, for Jane had occasionally found in them opportunities to further her own aims.

Edith was prattling on about her latest activity: A celebration parade and pageant for the upcoming bi-centennial of Kingston County. She waxed eloquently over the Manhattan about the last minute details for the event, and complained about details that still needed attention. Her main grievance, it seemed, was the lack of sufficient participants to round out what was to be a panorama commemorating various periods in local history.

Jane was smiling and nodding politely at this soliloquy, fitting it in with thoughts that were taking shape in her own mind. The conversation was interrupted by a faint knock at the door, and Beth entered at Jane's response.

"Beth, dear girl, how nice to see you again," Edith gushed as Beth came in.

"Good evening, Mrs. White. How are you."

"Well as I was just telling Jane, these galas I get myself into will be the death of me. Anyway, dear, you look lovely tonight as usual."

Beth had, over these last months, become accustomed to these effervescent adulations from Edith White. Jane had always insisted that when the woman was a guest here, the choice of clothing was to be both elegant and dainty, a gesture of deference to the elder woman's taste. Of course, Jane knew well, these very beautiful feminine dresses were equally pivotal to the management of her charges.

Beth looked elegant, in a rose-colored taffeta dress whose full skirt was buoyed on the crinolines beneath; an appropriate coupling of modern and traditional. Most significantly, Beth's whole look radiated innocent girlishness. Jane was pleased, for the events of tonight played a role in her near-term plans, and she had engineered what she hoped would culminate in Edith's own proposal.

She wondered if Michael would present a problem. Beth had told her that Michael had asked Marie for some assistance. Jane hoped this request portended his decision to comply a little more. THe Hobson choice he found himself in, trying to resolve the conflict of his appearance amid this coercive dominance in which he found himself. Jane was taking a gamble that after today's events, and her insistence that he be in attendance at dinner; that he would opt for returning to the governance of the women of the house, and act accordingly would provoke the expected response. She glanced at her watch and hoped Marie's skills were both brisk in their execution and fetching in their results.

She heard movement on the upstairs landing and excused herself, leaving Beth and Edith in polite conversation. She went to the door and saw Michael mincingly descending the staircase. She was pleased with what she saw. As he descended, looking somewhat dejected and crestfallen, Jane motioned for him to follow her into the study. He entered and closed the door, a woeful expression on his face.

Marie had done well in the short time she had had. Michael was once again in the blue middy blouse and taffeta shirt, with white knee sox and patent shoes. Marie had done an exquisite job with the hair, piling the cascading pony tail high at the crown, tied with a shimmering ribbon, and twining the composite of his own hair and the wiglet into pirouettes of tendrils at the neck. A dainty wisp of hair brushed each cheek at the hairline near his ear. Just the right, demure touch of color enhanced his angelic face.

"Michael, you look darling! But what prompted this? I thought you had decided to wear your boy's clothes to supper."

"You know I couldn't do that," he replied, his eyes modestly downcast, "not after what happened today. Especially not in front of a stranger."

"Well, I think that was a wise choice. You make a very pretty girl, and not a very convincing least not these days. Now, I am going to introduce you to an old friend of mine. She is very fond of sweet young girls, and I know you will make a good impression. She does not know you are a boy, you see, and so we must introduce you as something other than Michael. Do you understand me?"

"Yes", he reluctantly mumbled, his thoughts straying to the stables earlier in the day.

"Well, then. On your best behavior... a curtsy I think when you meet her. And impeccable manners at table. You look very convincing. If you don't want her to wonder about you, I'd suggest some attention to manners as well. Come along, Michelle."

Edith was quite captivated with the new girl, and proffered a bevy of the same flattery she had showered on Beth. Michael endured the debasement her words caused him, and he managed to even force a passable smile and convincing thank you. Polite conversation ensued through the meal, though remarks directed and him and Beth were occasional. Mrs. White dominated the conversation, railing on about some parade.

"Jane," the older woman said finally. "I have a wonderful idea. I need some more girls for the pageant. Why not let Beth and Michelle take part. It would be so good for them and would certainly please me.

"Well, Edith," Jane replied, "We will have to see. I am sure that Beth will be available, but we are not sure how long Michelle is to be here. Her mother is in Europe and I have to confer with her and with the people at Michelle's school about her stay. I shall call you this week about it."

Michael sensed the implied threat in that statement and he remembered again the reason he was here. He dared not look up at either Jane or Beth, fearful his concern would show.

It was nine-thirty when Edith bid them all goodnight, with more cloying sweet talk directed at Michael that burned his ears. A sidelong glance at Jane and the imperceptible blaze of her eyes prompted him to manage a dainty curtsy as they said good night to the woman at the foyer entrance.

Jane took Michael back into the parlor and modestly commended him on his behavior. She sipped at a cordial as she sat expansively on the love seat opposite him.

"I have come to a decision, Michael, and I felt it important you hear it tonight. You recall I told you yesterday that I would wait until Friday to see if I wished to continue with your training. I confess the way that you have behaved and especially that outburst today had led me to a decision to decline this task."

He squirmed a little, anticipating something that was likely to be both auspicious and dreadful at once.

"You were very nearly exemplary this evening, and you redeemed yourself. I have decided to give it a try."

"Does this mean I will have to wear these clothes?"

"If you wish to stay here, yes. It is part of the course."

He grew depressed again, realizing that his hopes of freedom on Friday were dashed. He was equally chagrined that this so-called petticoating was to continue. He did not have great reservations about staying here, but it could be done without this sissy bullshit that he detested.

"You know, Aunt Jane," he ventured, "I don't know if my mother would approve of any of this. Nor the school, I'd bet."

"And you'd tell them, is that it Michael? You'd tell them about this wicked woman who made you dress like a little girl and primp and preen and curtsy and all that?"

He nodded, and this gesture drew a wry smile to her lips. She stared at him a moment, sipped at the cordial and walked to the desk.

"I think not," he heard her say, as he watched her pick up an envelop and return to the settee, placing the envelope on the coffee table between them.

"You see your mother already knows. That is precisely why she sent you. I'll admit it was a last resort, but your mother is perfectly aware that her sweet little boy is sitting here in skirts. She and I spoke of it before you ever arrived."

He gulped, astonished that his mother would allow this.

"As for the school, I would suggest that that is not an admission you'd make to them or to anyone else. How embarrassing it would be to even admit that you had been in dresses. On the other hand, it night be a revelation I'D make if I don't get your continued cooperation. Take a look at that," indicating the envelope.

He picked up its bulk and opened the flap. His hand drew out a sheaf of photographs and it began to tremble as he saw the first one. In vivid color was Michael in various costumes, being made up and wielding cosmetic applicators on himself. There were shots of him in curlers and with Marie affixing ribbons in the finished mass of curls. All in all, there were over two dozen pictures which appalled him.

"Give some thought tonight, Michael, of the effect those darling photos would have on the other boys you go to school with. If you don't want to be totally humiliated, I'd suggest you keep your threats to yourself. I doubt that even if I CAN get you reinstated at St. Andrews you'd want to return under the cloud of being the campus sissy. Think well on that."

Jane dismissed him at that point, sending him back to his room. Michael later lay in the dark room and stared at the canopy. He had undressed and taken a bath. When he hung the dress in the closet, he was somewhat surprised to see that the blouse and slacks were still there. What did that mean?

He had opted for tailored pajamas rather than a feminine gown, but the smooth silkiness of the peach colored coat and trousers, with the little bows and appliques, were a burlesque parody of his intention to wear something more masculine. He was still a sissy in a girl's room. And now, with photographic proof of his dalliance in these girlish pursuits, Jane had yet another lever to wrest his submission. He turned off the light and sank into deeper despondency as he fell asleep.
Chapter 7.
In the frenzied days that followed through the weekend and into Monday, Michael was exposed to more femininity and girlish activity than he had ever imagined possible. The curiosities, sights and smells of living a girl's life were thrust on him at a dizzying pace. There were mannerisms and postures to assimilate. He practiced for hours with rollers and makeup, his arms tiring from the unfamiliar reach required to roll the wands into his hair. He learned about colors and combinations in clothes, shoes and accessories. He practiced curtseys, polite phraseology and locutions that sounded effete to his male ear. Adjectives that he would have shunned at all costs as a boy began to seep into his speech.

Indeed, speech and mannerisms seemed the hallmarks. Inflection conveyed more than anything, Jane tutored, and he chafed as he mimicked the exaggerated intonations she prompted. He practiced gestures and walking and light hints of poise like tidying his hair and the right way to examine his face and dresses in a mirror.

He was ceaselessly being fussed over and busying himself with dainty little detail. He spent what seemed hours perfecting the application of a myriad of colors to his face, his nails. He submerged himself in bubbly baths, shaved practically invisible hairs from his legs and arms. It was a seemingly perpetual routine that started early in the day and ran till late at night.

Not only learning a facile walk in pumps, but becoming nimble at daintily swaying an ankle while balanced on the other foot. The girlish positioning of the hands on hips as opposed to the "arms akimbo" stance of a man. Crossing the legs just right when sitting, exposing just the right amount of leg beneath the hem of the skirt. Care in both sitting and rising from a chair so that the movement flowed gracefully and smoothly.

The subtle and vain fluff of the hair that primped it in place. A winsome manner of correcting makeup when others were watching so that the actions seemed less pragmatic than attractive. All of these subtleties had eluded him when, as a boy, he watched girls. There was so much to learn and master.

He submitted to this drill grudgingly, maintaining an outward facade of equanimity about it, but inwardly astir with emotions. He detested the role he had to play, especially when something he did or the way he looked prompted a comment from Marie or Beth or Jane which emphasized his growing grasp of girlish ways. Some of it, to be sure, had become tolerable because of its familiarity. He confessed to himself an enjoyment derived from the touch of the smooth fabrics on the most sensitive parts of his body. He had to admit that when he viewed the girl in the mirror as some detached persona which coexisted with him, it was a very pretty girl. The fact was, he had to admit to himself, he did present the image of a pretty girl. This realization caused him great consternation.

He began to think of himself as a sissy. If he did these things, and evinced an occasional pleasure in doing it and what he saw accomplished, what did that make him? The thoughts troubled him and he wondered if there were not some subtle internal change taking place. He hoped not, for he knew this must all come to an end and he had no desire for these events to seep into his return to a male world.

Ironically, it was this dualism that preserved his equanimity and kept his panic in check. He could partially detach his boyhood from the repulsive things being done to him and simply go along. That submerged self still felt the distress of every sissy thing he was made to experience and he was demeaned by the results these women forced upon him. Yet another part of him puzzlingly identified with the "girl" in the mirror, and strived to perfect the right characteristics to project her femininity.

This constant see-saw and the alternative and conflicting emotions made him queasy and often disgusted with himself. A more profound torture seemed unimaginable.

Fear motivated him most, even fear of the reaction of Beth, Marie or Jane to what he did or failed to do. When he did his make-up just so, appeared before them with curls in place and dainty girlish garb accurate in every detail, he felt abject embarrassment. If he were chastised for a mistake, or called a sissy for doing it well, that chagrin heightened. He comprehended that even when he made a passable girlish gesture or speech, his competence led to the inevitable conclusion that he was being feminized as a boy, being constrained to act as a girl.

He was most grateful that, at least, these feminizing activities took place within the sanctuary of the house. He dreaded going outdoors like this, but Beth had warned him that such trips were to take place in the near future. He panicked each time he thought about it, and hoped nothing would go awry as it had on his last outing. The realization that he could conceivably deceive outsiders if he handled himself appropriately was the singular motivation in absorbing all the elements of this effeminate pantomime. On the one hand, he worried about discovery, and yet he strongly sensed that if he acted the perfect girl, he would pass. Yet in so doing, he did injury to his male persona. It was a cycling paradox.

And so the prospect of being made to go out again constantly distressed him with its devastating possibilities of shame and embarrassment. Did the trapped animal feel like this, he wondered.

He was made to do things that transcended mere clothing or adornment. Jane had sat him down and suggested that some exposure to dance might improve his grace and movement. Beth was to be his preliminary instructor in this area, though it was conceded by both Jane and Beth that she was merely passing on the lessons she had learned at her own dancing class and that the practice would be very elementary. Beth led him to a chamber that had once been a medium-size ballroom. Here she taught him the elements of dance. He submitted to donning leotards, tights and a short dance skirt, and tap shoes that were like the Mary Janes except that they tied at his ankles with a black satin bow. After several hours of repetitive drill, he had begun to master the heel, toe and shuffle that were the elements of tap dancing. Beth was as diligent in imparting tips on the proper carriage of the arms in a graceful style as she was in teaching the syncopating cadence of the metal taps on the wooden floor. At one point he saw Jane surveying the duo from the doorway and felt a moment of self-consciousness. He was less disconcerted doing these foolish little steps and skips with Beth alone, but the adult presence rankled him.

Ballet steps, too, were practiced, and Jane insisted that a tulle-skirted costume was a necessary ingredient of this routine. He felt really silly assuming the flamboyant poses of that style, especially perfecting the graceful stance that Beth seemed to have mastered.

He frequently felt a dreamlike detachment from his true self. As though he were dreaming and all of this would go away when he awoke. But, in truth, he woke each morning in that same fragile room, reorienting himself to its strange but ever-more-familiar atmosphere. And each morning when he woke, the turgidness of his erection grazed the sheer material of his gown and he savored the sensations it sent through him. One morning he succumbed to the urgency and, with very little effort found, release. In retrospect, that event was unlike any other solitary adolescent autoeroticism he had engaged in. It was as if the sensuous surroundings and titillating feel of the garments themselves conveyed a certain erotica. To the extent that he fantasized about a suggestive figure during the act, he kept seeing the petite reflection of himself he had seen in the mirror.

Jane watched the events unfold with satisfaction, seeing the transformation develop superbly. Michael was assimilating a truly feminine air. Jane knew instinctively that the boy's repugnance of this business was undiminished, but he had begun to display somewhat less resistance to it. Indeed, she had caught him more than once preening in the mirror or fingering the ruffled edge of the dress. She knew that this abandon was, in part, due to the sanctuary that the house itself afforded, a security she would shatter later this week. But each day brought him closer to total submission to the control of flounces and frills.

Perhaps if Michael knew the exhaustive plans that Jane had been making that were sure to affect him, he would have been less hopeful and sanguine about what might happen to him this week.

On Monday morning, as she sat alone drinking her coffee on the veranda, she was musing and making notes while scanning the local paper. She had been mildly pleased by the change in attitude she had witnessed in Michael these last three days, and felt another two days of the same exercises would be in order. But he was growing altogether too comfortable in these surroundings. Not that he was accepting any of it, but the resignation he evinced needed some additional challenge. He needed to be jarred out the complacency and security that the house gave him. The creation of new tensions was indispensable principle of his development.

To this end, she was making a list. She had planned hair appointments for them both, and she had to call Carolyn or Sandra to set the stage for that. She picked up the phone and reached Carolyn, who expressed eager expectation at the arrival of a new neophyte for them to work on. In her excitement, it was she who suggested Wednesday, for that morning she had a charm class scheduled. Carolyn conducted classes for young girls in hair care and makeup. A group was coming in on Wednesday morning, and Carolyn suggested that Michael could be made to act as the model for her lecture. Jane thought this a capital idea, and the date was set.

Checking that item off her list, Jane scanned the paper for the weekly advertisements. Several sales at shops she liked caught her eye, and a note was made of these as well.

Jane next dialed Edith White and caught her at home. Michelle, Jane told her friend, would, in fact, be staying a while after all, and both girls would be available to participate in Edith's festivities. Edith was thrilled. She told Jane that the costumes for the girls were available at Milady's Closet in town, and since the only requirement was that the girls sit poised and pretty on the float in the parade, she left it to Jane to select the appropriate costume. Jane added another item to Wednesday's agenda. In less than half an hour she had scheduled the Wednesday activities, including lunch at the Heritage Inn. Michael would encounter the full range of a girl's day on the town.

Her next call was to Margaret Warden, who ran the dance studio that Beth attended. Jane told her she had another young girl staying with her for the summer, and thought that a few lessons in tap and ballet would be worthwhile. Margaret, of course, sensing the tuition income, agreed. Jane allowed as how this young lady was inexperienced and slightly awkward, but with a dance instructors overstatement, Jane was assured that even a total neophyte could be graceful in just weeks. Jane penciled in Thursday for the first lesson.

Another item in the paper caught her eye. It was a call for auditions at a local children's theater. Jane knew the people who ran the program and decided to call them as well. Another element of fine arts would both do Michael good and expose him to yet another regretful situation. It was a full schedule, fraught with numerous exposures of her young be-ruffled boy to people and places that would prove disquieting to him. The list provided ample appointments for her to demand his involvement in these distressing locales. Jane was sure that she could think of one or two items to add to the list that might even escalate that uneasiness.

The day whose arrival Michael had been dreading most turned out to be Wednesday. Jane had announced the night before that he and Beth would be going into town with her for some shopping and errands. Beth had forewarned him of the upcoming trip to Kingston. But she was reticent and sketchy about the details, and when Michael had expressed anxiety about another trip to town, Beth had offered the reassurance that when he was completely dressed as a girl, and meticulously done up, he was very convincing. It was simply a matter of remembering all that he had been taught and not betraying a single sign of being a boy. Despite that encouragement, the memory of his last appalling trip into town plagued him and he expected the worst on this next venture.

They were all up early on Wednesday morning and had finished breakfast before 8:30. Jane instructed Michael to shower and get dressed. He was to put on the panties and bra that she had shown him the preceding evening, garters and hose, and a full slip with a single net layer between two of taffeta. She had selected a short, slightly puffed sleeved, mauve polyester/rayon dress, it's skirt modestly billowing out over the petticoat, and adorned with a gray ribbon sash. The dress suggested maturity, but at the same time the fullness of the skirt, its narrow lace trim, and the cut of the sleeves suggested a design more suited to a child. He was to simply brush his hair and apply a minimal touch of makeup.

Michael went to his room solemnly. The cold feeling of dread he felt was not even dissipated by the warm jets of the shower. He dried off and returned to the hushed blue shadows of his room, and selected in turn each item of lingerie. The superfluous bra produced satiny busts over his own male nipples. It closed easily in front, although he had by now nearly mastered the technique to fasten nearly every type of lingerie without Marie's help. He tugged on the panties, sensing again their tight smoothness on his buttocks and groin and slipped the hose up snugly and affixed their tops to the four garter straps that dangled from the belt around his waist. As he donned the lacy underwear, he felt the familiar butterflies in his stomach.

The tingling stricture of the nylons brought a different coolness to his smooth legs. He slid the slip down over himself and it encased his body with a soft caress. The dress was the usual problem, its zipper in the back out of reach. With some contortion he was able to slide the zipper to its top, and finally managed to clasp the tiny hook at the top. He stepped into the two inch pumps and sat at the vanity to brush his hair, and inserted the barrettes as he had been taught at each temple. He brushed a light blush over his cheeks and along his chin line and across the brow. A light touch of mascara was followed with a touch of pale lipstick. He did not look nearly as eye-catching as he had on other occasions, but it seemed to suffice. Ironically, as he scrutinized his appearance further, he thought of last week when he was searching for traces of makeup to diminish all traces. Now the situation was reversed, and after some consideration, Michael frowned at what he saw as not projecting enough femininity. He decided that a little more color would be prudent today, dressed as he was in these girlish trappings. Selecting a brighter shade of cosmetics, he reapplied color to cheeks and lips. As an afterthought, he added a small strand of pearls and a bracelet. Michael picked up his small purse and draped its handle over his left wrist as Jane had instructed. He paused in front of the full length mirror to view his image and was torn between his admiration for the pretty reflection, and the revulsion he felt at the acknowledgement that she, was he.

Michael got the usual laurels about his prettiness when he arrived downstairs. Abashedly brushing them aside with a muted "thank you," he steeled himself to departing the security of the house and got into the car.

As the trio approached their first stop, Michael recoiled in shock. His hesitation was momentary, however, as Jane quickly realized his reluctance, and firmly grasped his hand. She brooked no unwillingness on his part as they neared the door. "Let's not have any boyish nonsense now Michelle", she instructed. "Remember, if you act completely and entirely as the charming young lady you appear to be, no one need be the wiser. On the other hand, if you do not, you will either be found out or I may simply trumpet the fact you are boy who loves dressing up like a sissy."

Michael winced at her use of the feminine "Michelle", and the forewarning of misery if he was exposed, but he realized the sense in her advice, even if it was worded in her usual, gratuitous manner. He was so preoccupied with his own concerns that he failed to realize that Beth too seemed subdued with the thought of spending several hours in this environ.

They walked into the Marisha Chalet and Michael's mind reeled with disquiet as he looked about the chic beauty salon. The success of the establishment was evident by the large number of patrons that were there even at this early hour. Michael saw both women and men having their hair done. This setting, especially when he contemplated what well might be coming, made him inwardly shudder.

They were greeted by someone to whom he was introduced as Carolyn, one of the owners. She indicated that she would be doing Beth and that Sandra would take care of Michelle. When she looked at him, Michael could have sworn there was a wry, knowing smirk on her face. She led him to the shampoo basins.

The shampoo girl was the second person he met, a pretty lass of 17 or 18 named Shelly. She worked silently, placing a shiny cape around him, fastening it at the neck and draping its broad folds around him. She turned the chair around and gently lowered his nape to the edge of the basin, mixing the water to proper temperature, wetting and then lathering his hair. After a repeat of this, she wrapped a towel around his head, returned the chair to its upright position and led him over to the place where the operator's booth's were located.

The booths were slight indentations into the wall. They were not fully separated from either the adjacent stations, nor were they invisible from the rest of the shop. He saw that Beth was being worked on in the adjacent booth and on his other side the cubicle was vacant. He hoped it stayed that way.

Sandra came over, told him her name halfheartedly, and started to work without other comment. Michael was content to bear this burden without conversation, and so invited none. She removed the towel and began combing through the wet strands of hair, aligning them and separating them into sectors around his scalp with pins that left her field of work free. She drew wide strands through her fingers and, with scissors, she clipped only a small snip from the end of each strand. Again and again she repeated this, scrutinizing the progress in the mirror, cutting more or less here and there, styling as she went. This aspect was not remarkably unlike any haircut he had ever received in a store such as this. Perhaps he was most surprised by the small amount of hair her snips removed, and the fact that her next act was to use a razor to shave parts of his hairline that had never felt a razor before. She worked silently and briskly.

When she was finished, she shook out the clipped hair from the cape, and replaced the shawl-like garment over him. She next wheeled a circular tiered tray alongside his chair. Each tier held a myriad of pastel-colored rollers of varying diameters. She had just begun to select the implements necessary to give Michael his first permanent wave, when she leaned over and whispered in his ear.

"So you are Jane's latest sissy-in-residence." Her words electrified him and he turned ashen in the mirror. Involuntarily, he started to turn in her direction, but she pressed his shoulders down as she continued. "Calm down, sweetness, or you'll mess up my work, and I just hate that! The last time that happened I told everyone in the place I had a sweet, little femmy boy here getting his hair nice and curled up." It did not take much, at this point, to make him speechless. He glanced around the room with his peripheral vision through the images in the glass searching for someone who might have heard what she said. No one seemed to have noticed. Sandra watched his eyes darting fearfully about the room and smiled.

"I'm glad you learn quickly hon. Now cutie, you just act as sweet as you look, and maybe you and I won't have any problems," she teased. Her words had jolted him and he settled back into the chair paralyzed with fear and a new found submission to this frightening woman. Michael tried to slow his breathing while Sandra asked Caroline over to his chair. She joined them shortly with a large magazine, like a catalogue. Caroline leaned over the motionless boy and spread the book out on his lap. "Here, Michael....", she said in a low voice, which she immediately corrected with a gleam in her eye, "I mean MICHELLE. Why don't you look through here and tell us which style you'd like for your permanent."

Michael mutely gazed at the first page, horrified at both the word "permanent" and the picture confronting him. The girl in the photo had a glorious head of full, luscious blonde curls, cascading beyond her shoulders, the bangs styled and fluffed with mousse. He realized that his hair was thankfully too short for such a style, but was petrified at what the next page might hold. His silent stare continued for several moments, until Sandra leaned over as if to work on his hair near the right ear. But instead, she grasped the lobe of the ear and pinched it fiercely, whispering, "Real girls LIKE to do this, Michelle! So unless you want the people here to know you're a boy in a DRESS," she hissed, "You'd better start to show some girlish enthusiasm! I know you have a girl hiding inside you", she added, her voice now full of teasing enthusiasm, "So let's see her enjoying her trip to the beauty parlor."

Michael winced at the pressure she applied to his ear, no less than at her comments, but realized he was at a make or break moment in his time in skirts, and capitulated. He flipped the page, and without even thinking, turned his head towards Sandra and said, "Oh! Isn't this one simply wonderful? Do you think I could wear it?" Caroline grinned at the forced, yet to the public's eye and ear, apparantly genuine, feminine query from him. Michael blushed and turned his eyes down, and for the first time saw the style he had referred to. It was worse than the first, if for no other reason, because his hair was short enough for the style. The girl's hair was nearly shoulder length, fashioned in tighter curls, yet still with a very full shape. The bangs were again left uncurled, to allow for their arrangement into a variety of shapes, as the upswept style on the model clearly demonstrated. The final touch was a lace ribbon, wrapped from the back of the neck, up behind the ears, and tied in a large bow towards the right side of the head. The ribbon caused the hair to fluff out even further than it might have fallen naturally. Michael was ready to turn the page, hoping to find something less stylized, when Caroline took the book off his lap.

"A perfect choice, Michelle," she said as she closed the book, and turned to walk away. Looking over her shoulder at him, she loudly added, "I'm sure everyone here will want to see how it turns out!"

He cringed inwardly at her words, but managed to smile, afraid that to do otherwise would risk exposure. Sandra then began her work. She stroked her comb again through his hair, once more isolating sectors and clipping them aside. Her actions now were slower and more deliberate. She wetted his hair with a solution whose pungent aroma matched that which permeated the shop and which he had noticed when he came in. The liquid ran away from his hairline in places and she sopped it with the towel. For a moment, the parts of his face that it touched burned slightly, but this passed.

As he watched her in the mirror, he saw that she isolated a strand of hair, held it with one hand as she took a tissue and smoothed it down the end of the strand. Holding this wrapped tress tautly in her fingers, she selected one of the colored rollers and spooled the lock of hair around it, drawing it up tight to his scalp and fastening the elastic device that held it in place. Though she was meticulous and fastidious with each curl she fashioned, it seemed only a short time before she had completed the top of his head and was working down the back.

He was sitting in the chair silently when she softly spoke again. "You're not the first little boy we've prettied up in this place, and I suspect you'll be sent back for more. So just keep calm. Piss me off though and I'll let that guy down on the end know that I have a little boy here who plays like he is a girl. Or maybe that little girl over there. I'll bet she'd want to take you home to play dress up. How'd you like that, pretty little Michelle?"

A renewed alarm surged through him and he fought to retain composure. He was cornered. He could not bolt and yet he had to suffer the abuse this woman seemed to enjoy heaping on him.

He sat stunned as she relentlessly continued. "You have such nice hair, Michelle", rolling another strand into the tangle of curlers that adorned his head. "Nice, golden hair. After I'm finished, you'll be amazed at what I have done. And these curls won't go away. They are permanent and will stay and stay."

Her voice was subdued, and almost husky. Under other circumstances and with different dialogue, it might have been seductive. Her taunting whisper continued as she worked.

"After I'm done, Carolyn has something especially wonderful for you. You'll be a perfect little doll when we're through with you." He trembled with a mix of expectation and dread. "We are going to do a real job on you today. Jane said give him the works, we're going to give you the works." Another wand, another strand affixed itself to his scalp. "So far, I think, the amateurs have had you. Wait and see what the pros can do to you."

He had often sat in a hair stylists chair and listened to the idle banter they made; small talk that seldom evoked anything more than a perfunctory reply. This dialogue was like getting an obscene phone call, a tete-a-tete which communicated flutters of anxiety through his every fiber. He longed to be out of this place. The pointed, teasing barbs continued as he was forced to watch in the mirror as she performed these most feminine procedures on him. He prayed fervently that no one else could hear her murmuring derision. He prayed even harder that she would not suddenly blurt out some revelation to this whole crowd.

She finished rolling up his hair and he saw a profusion of pastel pink and blue curlers doing their work on his hair. Some new solution was applied, its pungent odor a stronger version of what he had smelled on first coming in here. She set the clock for 45 minutes, then moved a table beside the chair and sat down. She seized his hand and with a saturated cotton ball, removed all trace of polish from each nail. Shaping each in turn with an emery board, she applied nearly five layers of clear polish to each finger.

Beth was visible in the mirror, seated beneath the hood of a hair dryer, looking a little melancholy, he thought, as she idly turned the pages of a magazine. Regardless of what Sandra said about "feminine enthusiasm", Beth wasn't showing much more than boredom...and something else he couldn't quite put his finer on.

Carolyn wandered over, her own customer now between procedures. She was carrying a handful of various cosmetics, and she began to experiment idly with lipstick shades and eyeshadow colors, daubing a spot on, scrutinizing it, then wiping it and trying another. She and Sandra discoursed about color. He felt very exposed, knowing instinctively that this experimentation was somewhat unusual and feeling every eye in the place was scrutinizing the discussion.

Amid this seemingly nonessential exercise, Carolyn and Sandra continued small taunts, mocking queries about his petticoats, derisive comments about his sleek legs encased in the sheer nylons. Through it all was the abiding forecast of the detailed feminization that they planned to wreak on him this morning.

Michael felt gloomy and distressed.

The clock showed nearly "time" when Sandra had done with the manicure, and he could see the high gloss her efforts had imparted, appearing much thicker because of the successive layers. Sandra held up one of his hands and examined the nails.

"It's too bad that it's just a neutral shade, but that's what Jane ordered. Maybe someday I'll get to paint those little boy nails a pretty bright red." She spun the chair around and leaned him backwards again, washing away the chemical which she had applied and methodically removing each roller and dropping it into the sink. When she had done, she gently towelled the hair and turn him back around to see the springy curls that lingered in place of the rollers. She played with the little curlicues of hair, drying and styling it into the hairdo he had viewed in the picture. The curls were sprayed and the bangs teased until she was satisfied. Last, she took a lace ribbon, matching his dress, and twined it into the hairstyle, tieing it into

a bow. When she was through, Michael's glance in the mirror confirmed his deepest fears. His hair looked exactly like that of the model in the photo, and would stay that way for months to come. Finally, she pulled away the cape and let him free.

She leaned over and spoke again in her stage whisper. "See you in two weeks, Michael. Always fun to make a boy pretty. Now go let Carolyn get to work on you and make sure you say goodbye and let me see you before you go. Wait till you see what she does! A pretty little fella in lace and curls. And remember, there are still a few guys left in here, like those two near the door that can't keep their eyes off you. So don't forget," and she leaned closer and murmured with a broad smile on her face, "Your a girl now! Now smile, dammit. Make me think that you love this!"

Michael turned to glance towards the door, but Carolyn was there in a flash, leading him toward yet another chair. A group of teenaged girls was assembled in a semi-circle around it. Something was going to happen, he thought, that will make me the center of attention of that group. Despite everything that had happened thus far, he again felt panic. As she propelled him across the salon floor, Carolyn continued the taunts that Sandra had imparted.

"I noticed you had long eyelashes, Michael. Did anyone ever tell you that? We are going to do a real number on those eyelashes and every other feature of your face. God. Those girls you are about to meet would die to have lashes like those!" Michael cringed at her use of a masculine name while she talked and the abhorrent reference to his naturally long eyelashes. His fears were already running rampant without her intentional taunts, and his heart raced as they approached the group. He noted that the girls were dressed comfortably, most of them in jeans or casual skirts. The swishing of skirts and pettis about his knees reminded him that he was dressed more like a girl than they.

Carolyn directed him towards the chair after introducing him with the hated name of Michelle. Michael seated himself with a graceful swish of skirts and was grateful for Jane and Beth's training of such feminine mannerisms. He sat neatly before the girls with hands folded in his lap, and knees and ankles pressed tightly together. "Michelle is going to be our model today and I am going to show you how to make up for something more than regular day wear. Some of you may be in the pageant and parade this week, and there is a different technique for that. Now as I told you last week, make-up is about the most dramatic way that a woman has to project herself.

"We could almost imagine that Michelle, for example, is a boy, given how little makeup she is wearing . . . except for all those cute curls." The girls giggled their disbelief, and Michael trembled that Carolyn was taunting him by suggesting the truth to these girls. He flashed a wan smile at the girls.

As she talked, she had smeared cream over his face and removed all trace of makeup with tissue. Without the faint hue of cosmetic, his face had taken on a more boyish look.

"Well of course she couldn't be a boy. Look at those lashes." Her words drew the girls' attention to his eyes and they obviously approved of this naturally girlish trait.

"Now we want to start with a foundation that highlights that lovely complexion without looking pasty." She daubed dots of the flesh-colored compound over his face and smoothed it into his skin. After setting it with translucent powder, she moved on. "Now we start with the eyes . . . the window of the soul," she said. The girls giggled gratuitously in their excitement at this frolic. He felt like the personification of one of those silly articles in the magazines back at the house.

Caroline pulled a pallet of eye shadows from its case and spread them before the girls for all to see. Then she turned to Michael, and asked, "Michelle, honey, your eyes were really very underdone for such a pretty outfit and your new hairstyle. Tell the girls which colors you think are best to compliment your look."

Michael shot Caroline a quick, imploring look, but her response indicated no mercy would be granted. He turned back to the makeup pallet, now sitting on his lap, and began to consider the possibilities. "What about these blue ones?", he meekly inquired. Several of the girls surrounding him must have thought this girl to be awfully shy. Anyone of them would have gladly traded places, yet they couldn't know that he would just as willingly have agreed. Caroline chided him for his choices, sinking him even lower.

"Girls.... Michelle has just made an all too common mistake.... blue eyeshadows are very overused by you young ladies. You ought to spend more time reading Glamour or Seventeen, Michelle. You'd learn quite a bit. I'll suggest that to your Auntie."

With that one of the girls chimed in about a recent issue, and within moments all the girls were chattering over eye colors, each coming up with new combinations for Michelle to wear. Their gushing enthusiasm had a strange effect on him. His thoughts drifted to the reality known only to Sandra, Caroline, Beth, Jane, and himself..... that here was a boy, sitting neatly, indeed primly, before a group of teenaged girls in his pretty dress and new permanent wave, while they openly discussed his feminization. He felt a renewed sense of the enormous degree to which he had been changed, and seemed acutely aware of the sensations imparted by each item of his feminine clothing... the tingle of his petticoat on his knees, the constriction of the bra and garters, the tension in his calves from the modest heels. These thoughts flashed one after the other in a matter of seconds, and when he finally broke their spell, he realized he was becoming hard inside his panties. Michael squirmed at this unwanted development, acknowledging that at least the full slip would probably conceal his erection from the girls. His fidgeting didn't escape Caroline, however, and she pushed the makeup case down into his lap with a leer as she took it back..... causing him to nearly moan out loud.

Caroline proceeded to apply the eyeshadows, followed by mascara and liner, blush, and finally, lipliner and lipstick. She chose a rose colored lipstick, and made a big show of its proper application, using a fine camel hair brush coated with the lipstick to outline the lips, then telling Michelle to apply the first coat. His erection had, if anything, grown stronger, and it pulsed as he took the tube from her and leaned towards a mirror held by one of the girls. As it had before, and nearly every time since, the act of gliding the fragrant shaft over his lips brought home his plight with force. Caroline touched up his artistry, and stepped back to view the finished product.

She directed Michael to stand and face a mirror so that he could gain the full effect. He was by now used to a feminine visage when he looked in the glass, but, even so, was taken aback by what he now saw. The makeup, in conjunction with his new permanent, formed synergistically to create an astonishingly pretty girl. A "covergirl" was the word that crossed his mind.

Caroline wouldn't let matters rest. "Michelle.... why don't you walk to the end of the salon..... over near that boy near the door, and then turn and walk nicely back so we can see the effects from a distance." By now the other customers had become interested in the group at the end of the salon, and all turned their heads to see the results of Caroline's class. Michael took an imperceptibly large breath, and trying not to appear too self- conscious, slowly walked past the staring customers, mincing with the classicly short strides Jane and Beth had taught. The flutter and bounce of his skirts reenforced his never ending self-consciousness, but he was able to nevertheless exude a sense of some confidence as he approached the obviously pleased lad near the doorway. Michael caught his eye for a moment, and then evaded the gaze, utterly appalled at the thought that a boy would find him attractive. He turned in a swirl of petti's, and retraced his steps to the group, hoping that the swelling in his panties would remain hidden from his audience.

After a few additional moments of effusive praise from the girls, Caroline directed Michael over to where Jane was standing near the front desk. Beth was herself finished, and stood next to Jane with her own crown full of curls.

Michael's renewed journey across the salon was interrupted by Sandra. She was standing near a store room door and called for him. "Oh Michelle! Don't forget.... you're supposed to show me how pretty you turned out." He reluctantly changed directions, and followed her into the store room, where she closed the door. He didn't look forward to any time alone with Sandra, but felt the room would at least provide a modicum of security from the clients' stares in the salon.

Sandra stood back and surveyed the lovely boy. She grinned from ear to ear as he stood demurely before her, hands clasped neatly and properly behind his back at the bow neatly tied in his sash. But his telltale shifting of weight, as well as the knowing glances she had seen on Caroline's face, clued her into his secret. "Michelle, honey, you look absolutely darling! Didn't I tell you how much of a DOLL we'd make you? And that dress is just so sweet. I'll bet that's a petticoat you're wearing underneath it", she coyly inquired. Michael nodded his head, but was unprepared for what she said next. "Let me see it dear..... lift you're skirt up nice and high for me."

Michael hesitated, but knew he had no choice in the matter. He fingered the skirt for a moment, his nails gleaming brightly, and slowly began to raise the skirt, exposing inch by inch the lovely frills of his petticoat. The skirts rustled as he did so, creating a new urgency in the erection which continued to haunt him. Sandra urged his hands higher and higher, until the skirt's hem rested near his waist. Feelings of boyish shame, and arousal, swirled about his head as he stood before her.

"My goodness, but they are pretty," she exclaimed with glee. Michael didn't move as she came closer and stood over him, the skirts staying high, and his penis pulsating with each heartbeat. "I'll bet you really like this, don't you Michelle?", Sandra inquired, her twinkling eyes holding his in a gaze. "You know, being such a pretty girl," she said, thrusting the knife of her words in my deeply, and twisting it. Michael's silence was met by Sandra's outright laugher. "Of course you do, silly! LOOK!", and she swiftly scooped up his petticoats to expose the swelling at the front of his panties. A darker wet spot shone clearly through the thin material of the delicate garment.

"Well, our little sissy is excited! You must get a bang out of being the effeminate little wimp that you are, Michael."

Michael jerked away and dropped his skirts, trying uselessly to find a remote spot in the room to hide. Sandra quickly grabbed his arm, preventing his escape, and he collapsed against her, emotionally traumatized by her discovery of his condition. He was unable to comprehend what or why he felt this arousal, and Sandra stood back to leave him briefly with his thoughts. She took a high stool and sat on it before him. "Perhaps, Michelle, you are beginning to realize the significance of this treatment your Aunt has prescribed?" He finally mustered some words, and spoke more sharply than he had in seemingly weeks. "But I'm NOT a sissy!.... I'M NOT!", he exclaimed in defense of his masculinity. He limply threw his wrist at her as he said it, and instinctively reached next for his head to retrieve a stray curl that had bounced in front of his eyes. His performance was remarkably feminine, and Sandra wouldn't let it pass.

Her words cut to his core. "You can say that all you want, dearie.... but the fact remains that you are the swishiest little "sissy" I've ever worked on." She gestured towards the door, and laughed. "Now go run to your Auntie.... she want's to buy you some cute dresses, doll face!" Michael paused briefly, trying his best to regain some composure, and left the false security of the room for the full salon.

"Oh, and Michael, I'll be waiting to do you all over again in a week or so. Ta-ta, you sweet little pixie."
Chapter 8.
Michael followed Beth and Jane out of the beauty salon and into the passageway of the mall.

We'll do our shopping and try on the gowns first and then have a nice lunch. Come along girls," Jane announced as she swept up the arcade. She and Beth made a beeline toward the far end of the arcade, a determined woman with two young "debs" in tow.

Michael, trying studiously to look and move gracefully in the demi-heels, lagged slightly behind the pair. His separation heightened his anxiety and he struggled to catch up, but he knew that he dare not lapse into a more boyish dash or commit some gaffe that would betray him. As it was, his paranoia interpreted every lingering glance or admiring smile from passersby as a sign of their suspicion that he was not really a girl at all.

It is, of course, not uncommon for a young girl to blush and feel awkward when her appearance attracts attention, but Michael did not know this, and he interpreted his feelings as the sheer embarrassment of being judged by these strangers as a boy masquerading as a girl. He hoped that the store they were heading to would be sparsely occupied and without the throngs that strolled in the concourse.

Jane finally stopped outside a boutique whose marquee identified it as "The Style Shoppe" and in smaller lettering, "Elegant Fashions for the Young Miss." It stood adjacent to a stored named "Milady's Closet", and the open archway that he could see between the two stores behind the display windows suggested common ownership.

In the display windows, several mannequins stared vacantly into space, their manufactured limbs motionless in graceful yet stilted ladylike positions. This immobile tableau stood modelling various lingerie, blouses, and skirts. One was elegantly resplendent in a formal gown which bared the shoulders and then fell from a burgundy satin empire bodice to cascading tiers of organdy and chiffon. Michael could not help but notice that the shiny brilliance of the mannequins' curled coiffures and the exaggerated vividness of their painted features mimicked his own face as he recalled the image which stared back at him back in the beauty salon when Carolyn had finished her ministrations on him. In a bizarre way he felt like one of these fashion dummies: a counterfeit girl, painted and draped in finery.

He caught up to Jane and Beth to find Jane engaged in a conspiratorial conversation with another, older woman. He fretted at the glances that the other woman cast in his direction, and he tried to avert his glance and appear detached. Finally he was summoned over by Jane and introduced (with the loathsome feminine soubriquet "Michelle") to a woman named Miss Brenda Franson. She was near Jane's age, an attractive woman wearing a tailored tan suit but with and elaborate frilled jabot blouse which added much femininity to her working attire. Her hair was carefully styled and she imparted the look of a woman with taste and style who took great pains with appearance. She was, Michael learned, the co-owner and manager of this department. He took in the somewhat wry grin she graced him with, and the tone of her voice and suspected strongly that she, like the girls back in the salon, was one of Jane's intimates in this game of feminization. That suspicion was validated as they waled through the store, and Miss Franson spoke softly in his direction.

"I hope you have learned well from Jane, young man. You wouldn't wasn't to broadcast your real self to my salesgirls or all these customers. Michael blanched, eyeing the half-dozen young women clerks waiting on an equal number of shoppers.

They proceeded through the shop toward its rearmost area. Michael saw a couple of unaccompanied women, probably mothers or aunts shopping for a niece or daughter. Three other women had girls in tow. Some of them were examining the dresses and skirts that hung on the racks and display stands throughout the store. At one brightly lit alcove of mirrors, a girl his own age was holding up a pale rose dress to herself in that way that women have of doing as they visualize how a garment looks before trying it on. This place was, he sensed, a most feminine domain and one that, scarcely two weeks before, he would have been loathe to even be seen in.

The quartet marched toward an arch which separated the main store from a smaller area. There were fewer racks here, but many more mirrors. Two small settees, covered in off-white watered silk thrust their curved feet into the plush gold carpet. To one side stood a circular pouf upholstered in velvet of the same off-white shade. The valances were draped with diaphanous fabric, lending an elegant air to the room. A panel of switches and knobs suggested that the lighting was adjustable. To one side was a small raised platform like a tiny stage, and beneath the shallow proscenium arch were other lights, these with colored lenses. Michael guessed that fashion shows were held here. The room itself was probably a semi- private viewing and selection room where wealthy mothers could have their debutante daughters model prospective purchases. Michael grew a little weak as he realized he was the likely exhibition today.

Jane and Miss Franson were examining the dresses and other garments that were hung in the room, including both casual and formal outfits. There was a large display of diaphanous, dainty gowns. Michael would be made to try them all on, Jane thought. It would be a most absorbing time for her, and an instructional and humiliating one for her young charge.

Jane spent a lot of money in this store, as she would today, and that fact afforded her the near undivided attention of one or two of the salesgirls, or, as today, the manager herself. Not that money was any object or obstacle, for in addition to Jane's own, she had virtually unlimited carte blanche from Michael's own Mother. Michael was about to star in his first fashion show, and Jane would manage to ensure him an excruciatingly uncomfortable time of it.

Michael, resplendent in his elegant curls and professionally made up, sat despondently on the velvet pouf and gazed at his image in the mirror. He noticed to one side that there was a long walnut table on which were arranged an array of lingerie and other intimate attire. He surmised that all the items here had been pre- selected by Miss Franson at Jane's behest. Not that exhausting these items would necessarily limit the length of his ordeal. From front to back of the store were racks of more of the despised female paraphernalia. For the next sixty minutes or more, he was going to be subjected to true abasement. He saw a small zippered case on the table and assumed they had even prepared for the possibility that a touch-up of his makeup might be needed. It would be an agonizing prospect, here in public.

He glanced out through the archway to survey the prospect of intruding glances. Though the shop was off the path of the mall corridors, he was aware that passing patrons could observe what happened in most of the interior. His relief, therefore, at the semi-seclusion of this room, was tempered by that fact. Once or twice he caught the passing voyeur unobtrusively eyeing the women shopping in the store. In addition, several more women and girls were shopping, two with their husbands or boyfriends in tow. As patrons passed the fitting area where he would be trying on gowns and dresses and petticoats, these strangers would easily be able to view him resplendent in feminine finery. The prospect made him wonder if they would notice anything amiss. Would anything about him, he wondered, convey to them that he was not, in fact a girl, but a male masquerading as one: an unfortunate boy condemned to parade as a sissy in organdy and satin at Jane's demand?

The women ended their conversation and Jane beckoned him to come over. As he approached, Miss Franson reached into an alcove and parted the draped curtain which hid the doorway to a small alcove of a fitting room.

"Go in and slip out of your dress and slip, Michael, dear.

Someone will be along in a minute to help you."

Michael prayed that the "someone" would not be some stranger who would further add to his anxiety about all this. To his consternation, however, a girl of about twenty came into the room just as he was removing the slip. He had nothing on but a bra and panties.

"Hi, hon," she said with a smile. "I'm Sally and Miss Franson wants me to help you."

Her words did not clue Michael in as to whether or not she thought of him as a girl or was in on the conspiracy. He decided to play it safe, threw back a wan smile and busied himself hanging the dress and slip he had just removed.

Sally carried a pair of tap pants of brilliant satin and a matching camisole. These she laid down on the bench along with a camisole and petticoat. She exited the room, and Michael presumed that he was to get into these new items. Taking advantage of the solitude of the room, he slipped out of the panties he wore and into the tap pants and cami. The petticoat was just being pulled into place when the curtain parted and Miss Franson came in to observe that he had donned new lingerie and then summoned him back out into the larger room.

Though this area of the shop where dresses and lingerie were shown and modeled was separate from and hidden from the rest of the store, it was brightly lit and adorned with mirrors. Standing there in his petite camisole and petticoats, his shoulders bare except for the spaghetti straps, as Jane and the salesgirl chattered about the dresses on display, he felt exposed and insecure. He was an object on display in these shimmering skirts, and the occasional patron who glanced his way, though they found nothing untoward in seeing a girl in her underwear, made him feel imperiled nonetheless. He remained as motionless and unnoticed as he could, a feat not uncomplicated in this apparel.

One by one dresses and gowns of many variations were brought and he was put in them. Each time, Jane bade him to either stroll around the room or to mount the stage so that the trio of women could observe the clothing on him and chatter about each. From time to time Jane indicated her choice of the garments he modeled, and he knew that that item was being purchased for his future use.

Beth remained peculiarly aloof from all of this and her silence was a bit bewildering to Michael. He reminded himself to ask her about this when they got home.

It then came time to find the costume that he was to wear in some parade they had babbled about. The first gown Jane selected was ante-bellum, like something out of Gone With the Wind. It was a tightly bodiced dress with sleeves that exposed the shoulders. The skirt overflowed in a plethora of layers comprised of sheer organdy over a satin underskirt. In order to wear this dress properly, he was made to don still more petticoats which billowed the skirt outward. In the interest of time, he was not required to don the other undergarments that went with this ensemble: ruffled pantalettes and a chemise that laced with thin ribbons of velvet.

But Sally, the salesgirl, gushed to Jane about the historical authenticity of these wispy undergarments. Instead, she had him temporarily don a strapless bra in the fitting room. This requirement, needless to say, discomfited him greatly, for he feared she would notice some manliness about him that would negate his girlish pretense. He made sure that he fastened the initial clasp, holding the foam pads of his bogus breasts in place, and only sought her assistance in fastening the other hooks he could not reach. he was sure she either did not notice or was too polite to make mention.

He next was put into a satin princess gown of white and silver whose ruffled hem brushed the floor. For this outfit, his feet were thrust into silvery slippers. It was regal and very exquisite. As with each item he modeled, he was made to cavort about the area, prompted by Jane to pirouette the skirts and to strike poses that she found to be most becoming.

After two hours of trying on gowns and dresses and skirts, and array of articles had been chosen and consigned for delivery.

Michael was glad to be back in the less flamboyant dress he had donned that morning and even more relieved when the car finally pulled up at the house.

They carried a profusion of gaily wrapped packages into the house, and more were to be delivered by messenger. In addition to the array of feminine attire that hung in Michael's closets and teemed in the drawers, these new items were to be added.
To Be Continued...

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