Marcia and Me Chapters 16 - 18

Chris lets his fun loving neighbor style his hair for a gag gone wild
and soon discovers he may not be who he thought he was!

 

Marcia and Me
Chapters 16 - 18

by Rebecca Anderson

Copyright © 1999, 2015 by Rebecca Anderson
All Rights Reserved.

 
Author's Note: Hi, This is the second story I've ever written. It's still incomplete. I hope you like it.

Feel free to archive or otherwise distribute, provided it (and this preamble) is unedited and no fee is charged for access. This story may not be distributed from any site that charges money, is members-only, or uses that ridiculous "adult check" thing (or any similar system).

All rights reserved by the author, who can be contacted at: [email protected] ~Becky

Image Credit: Picture purchased and licensed for use from 123RF.com Stock Photography.

The model(s) in this image is in / and are no way connected with this story nor supports nor conveys the issues and situations brought up within the story. The model(s) use is solely used for the representation of looks of the main character(s) of this particular story. ~Sephrena
 


 
Chapter 16.  
 
 
I woke early, after a bad night's sleep marred by a nightmare. I hadn't had a nightmare in years. Not since I was about seven. I never liked staying in bed after I had them when I was younger, and I followed the same policy now. I got up, showered and was dressed before 8.30am. I crept downstairs quietly, afraid of waking my Dad from his bed on the couch.

After Dad's performance at the end of the night last night I was really unsure of how I should be dressed today. He had really lost it after we got home from the restaurant. I guess a little part of me had always thought his relaxed manner early in the night had been too good to be true, and the end of the night had proved that part of me right.

My Dad was a strange guy.

Whatever.

I decided to try to avoid antagonizing him too much today, so I went without makeup and tied my hair in a ponytail. Even so, I still looked pretty much like a girl. I still wasn't sure whether it was the hairstyle or whether Marcia's work on my eyebrows was most to blame for the feminization, but whatever it was I didn't look much like a guy. I was wearing jeans and an androgynous sweater, since it was colder today. For a few moments I had contemplated going without a bra and breast inserts today, to further placate my Dad, but I had the idea, based on her looks to me last night, that my Mom would take that as an admission of weakness or something, so I put them on. My "breasts" weren't real obvious under my sweater anyway, so maybe Dad wouldn't get too upset. He didn't hear me pass by into the kitchen anyway, which was good.

I had coffee made and was sitting at the kitchen table when Mom came downstairs. "You're up early," she said.

"Uh huh. Couldn't sleep," I said

"Neither could I," she replied, pouring herself some coffee. "I wonder why?" We both smiled. "Don't worry, he'll be better today now he's got that off his chest."

"Jeez, Mom, I hope so," I said. "I mean, I know he's my Dad and everything, but..."

"What are you planning to do today?" she asked, changing the subject.

"I thought maybe I'd hang out with Marcia," I said.

"Hmmm. Okay. Are you planning to be Chris or Jenny?" Mom asked.

"Uh, Jenny, I guess," I said.

"Well, the Wilsons know you as both, but I don't think they've put that together yet. You know, you might want to put some makeup on if you want them to think Jenny." She paused. "Really, they know us so well, I'm amazed they didn't work it all out already. I should probably have a talk to Kath and then you won't have to worry."

"Yeah," I said, "I guess... What about Rob?" There was no way Rob could be trusted not to spread the story about me all over school.

"Hmmm. Well, I guess you'll just have to be careful today, then. If I were you I'd put on something a bit more feminine ... like what you've been wearing the past few days."

I went back upstairs. Dad had raised himself and was in the bathroom, which meant I didn't have to talk to him as I went to my room. I put on a blue silk cardigan that buttoned up the front, to form a kind of v-neck, and left most of the lower buttons undone as I had seen other girls do recently. It only just covered the top of my bra, which made me look like I had bigger breasts, and it showed off my belly-button from time to time, but I think that was the objective of the style. I let my hair out, and then put on a little eyeliner and mascara. With my hair out there was no way anyone was likely to think of me as a guy, I thought.

I thought it was probably a good idea to get out of the house before Dad finished his shower, so I rang Marcia to see if she was awake. Mr. Wilson answered.

"Ah, hi, uh, Mr. Wilson, it's Jenny, is Marcia there?" I was really conscious of my voice over the phone. I hoped he wouldn't think I sounded like Chris. He didn't seem to notice, because he just said hi and went off to find Marcia.

"So, hi," she finally said. "How you doin'? How's your Dad?"

"I'm okay, but I need to get out of the house," I said. "Does that answer both questions?"

"I guess," said Marcia. "Becky and I are going to the mall this morning, wanna come?"

"Uh..." Becky. Great. Just what I needed, the gender police.

"Don't worry, she'll be cool. She's really sorry for last week, okay?"

"Uh, I dunno."

I heard Marcia's voice shift into persuasion mode. There weren't many people who could resist that kind of tone, really. "Oh, come on," she said. "You can't stay home with your Dad all day, and besides, it'll be fun. You do remember fun, right?"

"Okay, okay. Say, Marcia ..."

"Yes?"

"Uh, never mind, forget about it."

"What?"

"No, uh ..."

"Oh, come *on*, Jenny, cut the shit."

"Do you think your parents would freak out if they knew about me?"

"Huh? Jeez, I dunno. I was freaked when they *didn't* recognize you, so I don't guess I'm a good judge of them. I wouldn't worry. Just get your butt over here, okay? The mall opens at ten"
 

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I was nervous. Marcia's brother, Rob, had offered to drive us over to the mall. I had good reasons to be nervous, apart from Rob figuring out that Jenny and Chris were the same person. He had only just got his license, and the car we were riding in, an old Audi that had seen much, much better days, rattled and clunked at every gear change. I wasn't sure we were gonna get to the mall alive, since Rob seemed to think that brakes were things to be applied only at the last possible moment.

At least the nerve-wracking drive took my mind off the other worry, which was Becky, who was sitting beside me in the back seat. She'd been pretty nice when we picked her up from her house, but I still wasn't feeling very relaxed near her. Part of that might have been related to her appearance this morning, which was a heavier goth look than she usually ran to. Did you ever see Fairuza Balk in that movie "The Craft"? The one about the teenage witches? Think Becky.

Rob had the stereo up pretty loud, which I think helped to mask the mechanical distress I could feel through the floor of the car. One of those guy bands I didn't much like, Rancid I think, was screaming in my right ear as we pulled into the carpark. Yeah, it figured Rob liked that kind of stuff.

"Thanks for the ride, Rob," Becky said as the sound died and we could hear ourselves think again. "But you know that band really sucks."

"Hey, bite me," said Rob as we all got out of the car. "I like it."

"That's what worries me," Becky said.

"If you wanna ride home, maybe you shouldn't complain," Rob said.

We hit the mall and Rob wandered off to see some friends of his in the arcade. I was gonna ask a dumb question, like "what do you wanna do?" but Marcia and Becky were already walking ahead, like they were on some kind of mission. Of course Marcia was always on some kind of mission, but she was especially like that in a mall, mostly I guess because she had the money -- well, her dad's credit card -- to indulge herself. The three of us wandered into a couple of stores, looking at clothes, holding things up on one another, but not really finding anything worth trying on. Marcia saw a red skirt she liked, but Becky nixed it as being too "Barbie."

It was kind of weird shopping. I enjoyed looking at the clothes, and was surprised to find myself wondering what some of them would look like on me, but I was also half afraid that someone was gonna ask me what I was doing trying on girl's clothing. I dunno, even dressed the way I was there are some old phobias that die hard.

In the third store we went to Marcia found a couple of dresses she wanted to try on, so she disappeared into the change room. Becky and I hung around the racks, still looking at other stuff while we waited for Marcia to emerge. Becky started to apologize. At least I think that's what she was trying to get to.

As we were standing there Tiffany, this girl from my class, walked into the store, and I think Becky noticed me go kind of rigid.

I had a crush on Tiffany for most of last year, even though she didn't ever acknowledge my existence. She was dating Neil Peary, so there was no reason she would, but the whole experience had left me kind of bewildered. Like, why did I get so strange thinking about her back then? Looking at her now, I realized I was comparing the way she looked to the way I looked, and there wasn't that much she had over me in the looks department.

She browsed the racks, and then noticed Becky and I. She stared kind of hard at us, which made me uneasy.

"What's she staring at?" Becky whispered to me.

"She's in my class at school."

"Uh. Think she recognizes you?"

"Nah," I shook my head. "Sorry. You were saying?"

"I'm really sorry about the other night. I was way out of line. Too much grass, you know? I was kind of paranoid and ugly."

"It's okay."

"No, really. I was pretty weirded out, but after I thought about it, you know, it's pretty cool. You know, people have such fucked ideas about gender. And, you, know, it kind of suits you. I'm still slightly weirded out by it, but -- "

"You're Becky Connor, aren't you?" said a voice from beside me. I turned. It was Tiffany.

"What of it?" Becky said, in a voice that I would have run a mile from. It said 'who are you, to be talking to a senior like me?' Only better, more subtly than I can describe it. A lesser mortal than Tiffany would have been a blob on the floor. I thought to myself that little old me should be honoured to be in Becky's presence.

Tiffany was still giving me weird looks, but she spoke to Becky. "Oh, I just wondered. I'm gonna be working on the holidays for your Dad, and I just thought I'd introduce myself." Becky's Dad ran a mail-order catalogue company. I knew Becky worked for him on her holidays, too. Hmmm. I couldn't see Becky and Tiffany getting along really well. Tiffany was kind of Laura Ashley. Becky hated girls like that.

At that moment Marcia appeared in the doorway of the changing room. "Like, are you two not even interested in how this stuff looks on me? Thanks for the help, guys." So I walked over to see the dress she had on while Becky and Tiffany talked.

The dress looked good on Marcia. Heck, Marcia would look good in a plastic bag, but the dress really did work for her, and I said so. I was kind of nervous because I had this sneaking suspicion, burning ears or something, that said that Becky and Tiffany were discussing me behind my back. And I wasn't sure I trusted Becky completely yet.

Sure enough, after Marcia had paid for the dress and we were walking out Becky said to me "Tiffany was asking about you."

"What? What did she ask?" I had a bad feeling.

"Oh, she just said you looked familiar, and asked how come I knew you, stuff like that."

"And?" I asked.

"I told her you were from out of town, just visiting, and that you were a friend of Marcia's. No big deal, right?"

"Right, I guess." Now Becky had me feeling guilty, like I'd doubted her or something. I swear, Becky could be just as manipulative as Marcia. Just a small change in her tone of voice or maybe the angle she held her head at or something, and she could come over all imperious. The goth look maybe helped with the intimidation, I guess. High formality always does.

We hit a couple of other stores, and then grabbed a couple of salads for lunch. I had pretty much gotten used to the idea of wandering around as one of the girls, and when it came time to go to the ladies room I didn't think twice about it. Except when I opened the door the first person I saw inside was Tiffany, fixing her lipstick in the mirror.

I guess things would have been okay if I hadn't kind of hesitated for an instant. Perhaps if I'd just said "hi" and gone straight to the stall it would have been okay. But I kind of froze and Marcia and Becky, who were coming through the door behind me, ran into me, and I almost fell and I guess I looked kind of stupid. I went to the stall and sat there, trying to compose myself. I must have stayed in there a long time, because eventually I heard Marcia say "She's gone, you can come out now."

I emerged, kind of sheepish. "What was that all about?" Marcia wanted to know.

"I don't know," I said, "I thought maybe she recognized me, or maybe Becky said something, or something --"

"-- Hey," Becky said. "I didn't say anything about that to her, okay? I told you I was sorry for the other night -- "

"-- Okay, okay," Marcia said. "Whatever. What is she possibly going to think, anyway? There's no possible way she could know, Jenny, trust me. But, you know, you're gonna have to act ... more confident, or she's gonna wonder how come you're such a klutz!"

We browsed the mall a while longer, without any further sightings of Tiffany. Eventually we located Rob, hanging out with a two of his friends over at the pizza bar. As we approached them I was mildly apprehensive that maybe they were gonna recognize me, or stare at me like Tiffany had, but from the parts of me they looked at I knew that the stares I was getting from them were of an entirely different kind.

I got introduced to the two guys, Todd and Kevin, and we all headed for the carpark. Rob had offered to drive them home, too, so that was gonna make six of us in an Audi with seats for -- at best -- five. Apart from the fact that it was illegal, it was gonna be uncomfortable.

At the car Kevin took the front passenger seat without asking, and that left Becky, Marcia, Todd and me to look at each other and then at the seat. The spell was broken when Becky got in. Marcia looked at Todd and said "if you think I'm sitting in your lap you're weirder than I thought," and Todd sheepishly got in the middle of the backseat. "You can sit on his lap," Marcia said to me somewhat wickedly. "Because you ain't sitting on mine."

Rob was getting impatient, so I scrambled in the back, with Marcia following. I tried to arrange myself as distantly as possible from Todd. That's kind of hard to do while sitting on a person. Eventually I got kind of comfortable, if you can be comfortable crammed in like that. Rob started the car and we drove off, and in about thirty seconds I could feel something poking into me. It wasn't Todd's hands, one was on his knee and the other was on my thigh -- I would have complained until I saw that the only other thing he could do with it was put it on Marcia's thigh, which really wasn't a possibility in Todd's universe.

Slowly I realized what it was that was poking into my hip ...

Poor Todd. It must have been excruciatingly embarrassing for him, to get that way and to know that I was aware of it, and to not be able to do anything about it. I almost laughed, but instead I tried to pretend I didn't know there was anything happening beneath me. He was really hard, though. I didn't know whether to feel flattered, or embarrassed along with him, or what. So I said nothing, and we drove a couple of miles with his hard-on pressed firmly up against my hip. We got to his house first, and Becky and I piled out to let him out, too, and he immediately stuck his hands in his pockets as he stood up and tried to push the front of his pants out, as though that would hide it. He looked so silly, and kind of sweet. If anyone else noticed it, they didn't say anything.

Soon we were at Becky's, and Marcia and Becky and I got out and the guys went off to wherever it was that Rob went to hang out when he was with Kevin. I mentioned what had happened with Todd to Becky and Marcia and we all rolled around laughing as we came through Becky's front door.

Apart from Becky arguing with her Dad about hiring airheads to work over summer the afternoon at Becky's was a lot of fun. We all talked and laughed and I decided once again that Becky was pretty cool when she wanted to be.
 
 

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Chapter 17.  Monday Morning
 
 
Monday morning the FedEx package arrived, as Mark had promised it would. Only problem was that it was my Dad that signed for it. Like an eejit I was still in the shower, having slept late to make up for the previous night's poor sleep.

I took my time getting dressed, trying to go easy on Dad by being kind of reserved in my clothes, and sticking to a pair of black pants and a little white cotton crop-top and cardigan. Of course, if I'd known what he was looking at while I was dressing I might have thought of going down to the kitchen in my underwear, just as a distraction. By the time I saw him he had the proofs spread out on the kitchen table and was studying some of them with a magnifying glass he'd found in the hall closet.

Mom just shrugged as I entered the room and looked at her inquiringly. Dad looked at me like he was just seeing me for the first time.

No-one said anything for the longest time, so finally I squeaked. "Can I have a look?". I sat down and Dad passed across the photos without a word.

They were pretty amazing, really. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, since Mark was really in heavy demand as a fashion photographer, but... it was *me* in those photographs. Only it wasn't me, it was this girl who looked... fantastic, that was the only word for it. Amazing. I was really kind of shocked. I kind of knew that people didn't think of me as a guy anymore. Only I didn't know *this* was what they were seeing.

"Mark's pretty good, isn't he," I finally said, more to Mom than to Dad. Dad was staring out the window. Finally he stood up.

"I think I'll go for a walk," he said flatly, and then he was gone.

Mom broke the silence. "I think I'd have preferred it if he hadn't seen those yet, I mean after the events of the last few days, but he answered the door when the FedEx man came, so..."

Neither of us said anything for a moment. I got up and made some fresh coffee, and Mom idly ran through the photographs again. I poured for both of us, and sat down again.

"Mom?"

"Yes?" she said, looking up from the photographs.

"What are we gonna do about all this?"

"What do you want to do?"

"I dunno." I looked down at the coffee, and then back at her. "But, like, it's been a week, and school's gonna finish soon, and I know I can take *some* time off, but..."

"I've never heard you complain about missing out on school before!" She smiled.

"Yeah, I know... It's not school, actually. It's just that everything seems so fluid, you know? Like the whole world has shifted around."

"I thought you were enjoying yourself."

"I am. I really am. But you know, Dad might have a point. I need to have a life that I can live, you know, honestly."

"Well, I don't think we should make any decisions just yet. Your father wants to get a second opinion from another doctor --"

"-- Mom! I'm not crazy!"

"No-one said you were, honey."

"A little screwed up, okay. But not crazy!"

Mom smiled. "Well, I'm afraid we have to convince your father of that, really. Now, there's a few things that need doing around the house today, and since you're not at school..."

"Mom!" I groaned, but I really didn't mind.

"Gotcha," she said, smiling.

Mom and I did some housework together for a few hours. By lunchtime, Dad still wasn't back, and I was starting to worry. I mean, I didn't care if I alienated him a bit -- he deserved some aggravation after all he'd put Mom and I through -- but he and Mom had been getting on pretty well, and I didn't want to bust that up.

Mom and I had a light lunch together, and I headed upstairs to my room. I really don't entirely know what came over me, but as soon as I walked in I though "wow, what a mess," so I started tidying it up. Not a lot, but just putting away some stuff that had been littering the floor for a month or two, and dusting down a few things like my computer screen, which I noticed had a film of dust all over it.

It took me about an hour and a half, but it was only after I finished, and lay on my bed for a while, that I realized that what I had packed away, out of sight, was all my 'Chris' stuff -- everything that could be associated with any of the 'guy' pursuits I'd ever done, like my skateboard and stuff. What remained wasn't in any way girly. My room just looked a bit emptier, and kind of drab. But looking at it casually you probably wouldn't know whether it belonged to a guy or a girl. The quilt on my bed was one my grandma made decades ago, and was kind of pretty, but not fussy, just kind of classic. The walls of my room were an off-white color, neither girly or guy-ish, and all the furniture was old shaker-style stuff my grandma had owned too, like a lot of the furniture in our house. I never went in for much decoration anyway, I realized, and the few posters on the wall were promotional ones for bands that both guys and girls I knew liked. Heck, Marcia had the Hole one and the Smashing Pumpkins one on her walls, too.

I leaned over to the Discman beside my bed and put on an old Tori Amos CD that Marcia had lent me a few weeks earlier. I lay back and closed my eyes and listened to it, and while she was singing I kind of drifted away and thought through the events of the past couple of weeks.

As Tori was really getting into it I felt the mattress move beneath me, and I opened my eyes to see my Dad sitting at the end of the bed. I hadn't heard him come in. I took the earpieces out of my ears and sat up slightly, my back against the headrest.

You have to understand here that my father almost never came into my room when he lived with us, unless it was to lecture me on something, or worse. When I was little he used to spank me from time to time, but that stopped when I got older. But having Dad in my room had never been a cause for much joy. So when I sat up, I moved up on the bed as far as I could, away from him. I think he sensed this, and although he'd been about to say something to me, he thought better of it and then swallowed his words.

"Hi Dad, what's up?"

"Um..." Gee, Dad never said 'um' before, either. He was always pretty assertive and firm whenever he spoke to me.

He continued. "I realize that things probably haven't been wonderful for you since your mother and I broke up..."

"It hasn't been too bad, really," I broke in, truthfully.

"...And I apologize for that," he continued, ignoring me. "I know it's been hard, and I know that's my fault. As you get older you'll -- well I see you're already coming to understand -- well..." he was really struggling. "Relationships between men and women can be very complicated, and it's very easy to complicate them more if one of the partners in a relationship feels hurt very badly... Your mother and I broke up because I did something very foolish a few years ago. I won't go into what that was, but it was my fault. But I suppose you already blamed me for the whole breakup anyway, right?"

I nodded. "But that wasn't because of Mom or anything," I said.

"No, your mother is too good at being a mother to do anything like try to bias you. Well, in any case, you were right to blame me. But I was pig-headed at the time, so..." He spread his hands, the way he sometimes did to describe things he thought were best left alone.

"It's okay, Dad." I knew as I said it that I still resented him for hurting Mom and leaving the two of us, but it was kind of weird to hear my father talking in this open, kind of gentle way, and I guess I was unsure of what I was supposed to say.

"I would like to try and make it up to you," he said.

"Does that mean you and Mom are getting back together?"

He looked away for a moment, then turned back to me. "No, I think it's a bit late for that now. There are some things that can't be undone. But I can try and be a better father from now on."

He drew in a breath. Here it comes, I thought. He always drew breath before he spoke whenever he was trying to tell me off.

"I can see while I've been away that you have, well, grown up." He looked me over, and, heaven help me, I don't know if it was nervousness or what, but I giggled. Giggled! Then I blushed because of the giggling.

Dad looked kind of flustered, but he continued. "Now, you've probably noticed I don't approve of what's been happening, and perhaps that's my fault, for not being here when you needed me --"

"Dad, it's nothing to do with --"

He held his hand up to stop me talking. "Let me finish. I'm concerned that, whatever happens, you should be happy. I might not have been too concerned about that in the past, but I am now." He paused. "Your mother tells me that you've really come out of your shell these last weeks. Is that right?"

"I don't know. Maybe."

"Well, you've always been pretty reserved, even when you were young. Your mother and I used to worry about you when you were little, because you seemed very shy and, well, reluctant to do a lot of things."

I recalled how my father had tried to force me into football and every other masculine pursuit he could think of, and how much I had hated it. My face must have betrayed my thoughts.

"Perhaps I was too hard on you about some of that," Dad said, "but I was just trying to do what I thought was best."

He seemed sincere. I tried to push the memories into the background.

"Dad..."

"Yes?"

"I don't know what I want to do, but I know that I like what's been happening. I mean, everyone likes me as Jenny, and no-one ever noticed me as Chris --"

"You never seemed to want them to notice you."

"Yeah, maybe. I dunno."

"Well, I would like you to give it some thought. I'm not in favor of any of this, but I would like to think that we can all work together to work out something that makes you happy."

He put his hand on my leg, and looked at me closely. "I've managed to get an appointment for you with another doctor. I had to go out on a limb for this, and ask a friend of mine to do a favor for me to get you an appointment with this doctor so soon, so I'd appreciate it if you'd go along with this, but I'd like to get a second opinion on what's going on. It's not that I don't trust the doctor you saw, but you know your mother got her number from someone her crazy sister knew, and..." Dad meant Megan. He always thought Megan was flighty and "weird" because she hung out with movie people, which Dad, in his GOP way, figured meant weirdo liberal types. "So, will you see this Doctor?"

"Dad, I'm not crazy."

"There's not too many boys I know would enjoy looking the way you did in those photographs," Dad said.

I turned away. For some reason that hurt. Go figure. Maybe part of me still wanted Dad's approval after all. "Okay, I'll go."

"Thank you. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you. I do care about you."

"I know," I said, although I didn't know at all. Dad had never been good at showing any affection.

"There's only one more thing," he said.

"Yes?" I turned back toward him.

"The appointment is on Friday. Do you think you could go back to being Chris until then?"

"Uh." Mom had said I should stay this way until I got tired of it. Had he discussed this with her? Probably not. It was so typical of Dad -- to come in here with statements like "I want you to be happy", when really he just wanted to get his own way.

"Uh, Dad, don't take this the wrong way, but..."

"The answer is no." He looked grim. "I knew you'd say no." His face was dark, and any tenderness he'd been trying to express in the last few minutes had evaporated. I remembered this response from when I was a kid and I did something terrible. He always got what he wanted then, even if I wasn't very good when I tried to follow through on the promises he made me make, like playing football.

"No, I... I can try." I said, surprised to hear myself say it. I was responding just the way I used to when I was younger. "But --"

"That's all I want," he said. Just for you to try." He shook my leg roughly, in a kind of 'man-to-man' way, and I immediately thought to myself that I'd made a mistake. I hated that kind of hale and hearty masculine shit.

Dad stood up, and smiled, and left the room.

I lay back on the bed for a few moments, then got up. Well, that had done it. No more experiment. I would have to live up to my end of the bargain.

I could see why he wanted it that way, though. First, because just having me around as Jenny made him crazy, and second, because when I went to the Doctor on Friday it would be as Chris, and so the Doctor might not see so much girlishness in me, the way the other one had.

I stood up, and went to get changed. I took off the cardigan and top, and took out the breast inserts and the bra, then pulled an old t-shirt out of the closet drawer and put it on. It hung on me. I'd forgotten how my old male clothes felt. All the guy clothes I owned were all baggy and concealing, not at all like the clothes I'd been wearing the past few weeks. I slipped off the short white socks I had on my feet and pulled on a pair of black 'guy' ones. The jeans and panties I didn't worry about. I mean, he wasn't gonna check that, I thought, and anyway the t-shirt was long enough he wouldn't be able to see that I was still 'tucked-in'.

I took off the mascara I was wearing, and then brushed my hair out. What to do about that? If I left it out it looked way girly. I tied it back, a little lower on the back of my head than I usually did when I tied a ponytail. Hmmm. Maybe I had forgotten what I used to look like or something. I guessed this was about as close as I was gonna get to the old me.

I put on a pair of my old sneakers and went downstairs. Mom raised an eyebrow at me when I walked into the kitchen and I blushed. For some reason I felt like I was betraying her or something. She shot an ugly look at Dad, and he turned to look at me. His face fell. He looked me up and down, and I knew that he was trying to see whether I still had makeup on or something. Whatever it was he was looking for, I clearly didn't measure up to what he was expecting.

"What?" I asked.

"What do you mean?" he replied.

"Well? Is this better?"

"Your voice..."

I tried to put my voice into a deeper register. "You want me to talk like this?" It came out sounding preposterous, like a little girl trying to imitate a man rather than the way my old voice had sounded, and I almost laughed.

"You're not even trying," Dad said.

"Dad --"

"-- I thought we had a deal?"

"What deal?" Mom said, anxiously. "Tom --"

This was getting complicated. I *really* didn't want them to argue, and I *was* trying. My father was beginning to explain our conversation to Mom when the phone rang. I was closest to it, and eager for some respite, I answered.

"Hello, Miller residence." While I talked on the phone I was aware that Mom and Dad were bickering again, the way they did before Dad left.

"Jenny?" It was Mark.

"Oh, ah, hi Mark." I expected Mom and Dad to shut up when I mentioned his name, but Dad was blustering on about how Mom had turned me into a faggot while he was away, and Mom was responding with a bit of invective about how he was the one who had screwed things up, and I tried to block them out and talk to Mark.

"Did you get the proofs yet?"

"Aah, yeah, yes, we did, thanks. They look amazing."

"They do, don't they? Hey, what's going on there? Sounds like a party."

"Uh, no... think of it as a kind of response to the photographs."

"Oh. Oh, that's right. Megan said Tom had come back for a few days. How's that been?"

"A little strained," I said.

"I can imagine. Look, the reason I called is, I had some of your proofs on my desk here this morning while we were doing a shoot for Donna, and one of the agency people saw them when they went to take a call in my office. Anyway, they were very interested, and they asked who handled you."

"Handled me?"

"Yes, you know, represented you. Your agent."

"Oh. Uh... well, I... gee, I dunno"

"Everybody has an agent, even me."

"Uh huh. What did you tell them?"

"I told them you were new, and didn't have one, and they were intrigued."

"I guess that was the truth, huh? What do you mean, intrigued?"

"Well, I'd like to discuss it with Katherine -- with your Mom, as well. But they said they'd like to recommend you to an agent they deal with sometimes."

"I thought you said they were from an agency?"

"Yes, but that's an advertising agency. They think you should meet with an agent who can get you work. An artists' agency."

"An artist?"

"Well, that's what they call the big ones these days," Mark said. "Hardly anybody does straight modeling these days, Jenny. Most good models have agents who can get them movie work, or music deals, or whatever else they're into."

"Well, I guess. They really want to represent me?" I became aware that in the background the argument between Mom and Dad had died down. I turned to face them and saw that both of them were pretty steamed, and that they were both looking at me as I spoke. I turned very red, wondering how much of the conversation with Mark they'd heard or understood.

"Not yet. All you're getting is a referral. You'll have to meet with the agency people -- the artists agency people -- to see whether or not they like you 'in the flesh' as they say. You look pretty good in those photos, if I do say so myself, but there's a big difference between doing one photo shoot and having a career."

"I guess so. You think they'll like me?"

"Let me put it this way, Jenny. If a girl gets referred to an agent by one of the top creative directors at Ogilvy, the agent knows to take the meeting. Honey, the agent knows that with that client alone he can eat out on what you'll make him for a month, and a month of lunches in LA is a lot of eating."

"That's good, huh?"

"Very good." He paused. "I'm not going to ask you to agree, because this is entirely up to you. It's a lot of hard work -- I think you discovered that last week, didn't you? It's a very big step to take, in your position and at your age, and I think you should discuss it with Katherine first. Would you mind if I spoke to Katherine?"

I gestured to Mom to come to the phone, and she shook her head. "Uh, now's probably not the best time," I said to Mark. "Could she call you back later?"

"Sure," Mark said. "There's no rush. I'll be at home in about an hour, for the rest of the day, so any time this afternoon or evening."

"Okay. Say, is it okay if I need to ask you some more questions later?"

"Any time, Jenny. Any time, you just call."

We said our goodbyes and I hung up. Mom and Dad were both still staring at me. I thought they were gonna start quizzing me about the phone call, but instead Mom asked me straight off whether I wanted to come help her with the supermarket shopping.

I was kind of taken aback, since they'd both been staring so intently at me as I finished talking to Mark, but I readily agreed, since I wanted to get out of the *thick* atmosphere in the kitchen.

"Alright," Dad said suddenly, and kind of wearily. "You win, Katherine."

"What?" Mom and I asked at the same time.

"Alright, you win, I said." Dad sat back in his chair. "You're not taking him out like that."

"Why?" I asked. "I thought you didn't want me to wear girls' clothes any more."

"That's right," Dad said. "But it doesn't seem to make any difference, if you won't stop speaking like that. And you still look like a girl from the neck up, anyway. Did you do something to your eyebrows?"

"Uh, yeah, Dad, they're kind of plucked a bit," I admitted.

"A lot, I'd say."

"Not really," Mom chimed in, instantly happier since Dad had conceded. "You haven't seen her for a few years, Tom. She looks pretty without even trying."

Dad let that one whiz past without a response.

"So you want me to keep wearing girls' clothes?" I asked.

"No," Dad said, slumping back toward the table. "But if you go out looking like that --" he waved his hand in my direction while looking at Mom, "-- you'll attract a lot more attention than if you look like a girl." He looked directly at me again. "I might not like all of this, Chris, but I don't want you to get beaten up or anything, and I think looking like that is going to create trouble."

Mom smiled, and I bounded up the stairs in a most unlady-like fashion to get changed. I buried my old sneakers and the t-shirt deep in the back of my closet, and changed back into what I'd been wearing before. After a little attention to makeup and hair Mom and I headed off to the supermarket.
 

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The rest of the day was comparatively peaceful. Mom and I shopped, and I told her about the conversation I'd had with Mark, and we talked it over for a while. When we came home Dad was much more relaxed than he had been, which was a surprise. He even made an effort to try to call me Jenny once, after Mom told him that any slip ups could be damaging to me if someone heard us while we were out.

I phoned up Marcia after school got out and she came over and we talked about my Mom and Dad, but something held me back and I didn't mention Mark's call. Then Paul called and I spent about an hour on the phone with him, and then I helped Mom prepare dinner and, well, after dinner I was just *exhausted*. I went to my room and lay on the bed and listened to the Tori Amos CD for a while, and at some point I fell asleep on my bed, still fully clothed.
 
 

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Chapter 18.  Tuesday to Wednesday
 
 
I woke up early, still in my clothes, and lay in bed thinking about the previous day, and Dad kind of giving up even though he didn't like it, and Mark's talk of modeling and an agent and all that, and -- most importantly -- my discussion with Paul the previous night.

He had asked me out on Friday night, to a party, and all through the next few days, even though there were lots of decisions to be made and appointments to be kept, I didn't think of much else.

Mom rang Mark back, and then she and I discussed the modeling proposition. Who would have thought it? Me not even really a girl! Mom said it was pretty much up to me. Did I want to do it? Sure, why not? The session with Mark had been tiring, but it was kind of fun. Probably a little part of me felt pretty good about being asked. Guess I was vain, huh?

We wondered how to break the news to Dad. He was pretty relaxed for most of Tuesday, although he spent most of the day on the phone or on his laptop taking care of some business. I liked listening to him talk to people over the phone -- his assertiveness and confidence came to the fore when he was working, and although that usually bugged me when he talked to me, I could see how it made him a good businessman. Tuesday night Mom and I made him a specially nice meal, and we opened a bottle of French red wine to have with dinner, and when everyone was nice and relaxed after dinner Mom kind of sprung it on him.

"Tom, you thought those photos of Jenny were pretty good, didn't you?"

Dad's eyes narrowed, like he could sense a trap, which was pretty good because that's just what Mom was doing. Setting a trap, I mean.

"They were very well done," he admitted. "I would never have known you had it in you, Chr -- er, Jenny."

I smiled at him, to let him know I appreciated the effort. He really was trying to be a good father. "Thanks, Dad."

"They were, weren't they. I thought she was quite special."

"Er, yes," Dad agreed, a little nervously.

"We were thinking of having some more done," Mom said calmly, like it was no big deal.

"The same sort of thing?" Dad asked, slumping a little. I could tell he wanted to scowl, but since he and Mom had argued earlier in the day he was trying to be nicer.

"High fashion, really," said Mom, knowing that Dad had only the barest notion of what high fashion was.

Dad looked at me, and I smiled back. For dinner I had changed, into a long black skirt and a very sheer burgundy colored blouse that was open at the neck. My bra could be clearly seen underneath it. That was the fashion, really. I had made up my eyes a little heavier, but not too much, and done my hair up on my head the way Andrea had done for me before Marcia's dinner. It was a bit much for a dinner at home, but Mom had changed, too, and we put candles on the table and made a big production out of dinner.

When I had first come downstairs I think he had been nervous just looking at me. In the kitchen as I got out some flatware I mentioned it to Mom and she told me it was because I looked pretty, and fathers sometimes had trouble dealing with their feelings for pretty daughters.

I thought Mom was going a little overboard with the 'daughters' remark, but I kept quiet.

Anyway, he looked at me while Mom mentioned that we were going to get more shots done. I noticed she didn't say a word about agents, or professional modeling, or anything like that, but I figured she knew better, so I smiled at Dad and got up to clear the table.

"I suppose," Dad began, "I mean... Oh hell, you know I don't like it, but if he -- if she's going to keep doing this then what harm can a few more photos do?" He groaned. "Just one thing..."

"Yes Daddy," I heard myself say.

Daddy? Whoa! I thought. Ease up on the girl-factor, kiddo. You might be a girl, but you're not an airhead!

Dad looked kind of surprised, too. "Just one thing. You'll wait until after you've seen Dr. Colquhoun on Friday before you have too many more outings in public. Dr. Colquhoun might insist you stop this immediately."

"Of course, Daddy," I said as I cleared the dessert bowl from in front of him. "Thank you."

Mom looked *very* pleased.

The rest of that evening I noticed Dad looking at me quite a lot. I made him some coffee, and got him some port, and he and Mom sat in the living room listening to an old Fleetwood Mac record and something else I didn't know that was equally edgar. After I finished loading the dishwasher and cleaning up, I said goodnight and went upstairs to talk to Paul on the phone for a while. As I left the living room I heard Dad say to Mom, kind of grudgingly but definitely sincerely. "You know, for all that I hate it, she does look good, doesn't she?" I couldn't hear Mom's response, but I didn't need to.

Paul and I talked for about an hour, and towards the end he began to talk softly to me, about how he was looking forward to seeing me again, and how he wanted to kiss me and touch me again. He described how he'd like to hold me, and then he started talking about wanting to see more of me, about *needing* to see more of me.

I lay in bed afterward with my head full of some pretty weird thoughts.
 

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Wednesday Mom called Mark, and then a short while later Mom called the agency, and then later in the day, while I was over at Marcia's, the agent called Mom. She arranged for us to meet with him on Friday morning, before my Doctor's appointment.

"Mom, do you think that's such a great idea?" I reminded her that Dad would want to come see the Doctor too, and that meant we'd still have him with us when we met the agent.

She looked thoughtful for a few moments, but said she'd figure it out.

In the afternoon, after school finished, I headed over to Marcia's house. I put the proofs from Mark in an envelope, and carried them in a small backpack, along with my lipstick and a brush. I was getting used to the idea of carrying a purse, or something, and kind of liked having the things I needed on hand at all times.

Marcia's mom was out, her dad was at work, and Rob was working on his car -- I don't think he was even aware of me passing him on the drive. Inside, I found Marcia with Becky, both listening to a CD I didn't know by Dead Can Dance. I figured it was one of Becky's, since it sounded kind of goth.

We talked about nothing for a while. I never realized, before I became Jenny, how much there was to talk about that was just day to day stuff, but needed to be said, you know? Guys, I think they just don't notice a lot of stuff or something. For a start, there was some gossip out about Neil Peary, that maybe he'd dumped Tiffany Driessen. "You remember Tiffany, right?" Becky said. "That girl we met at the mall the other day?" I mumbled sure, and that she'd been in my class, but I left out the bit about having a crush on her. Somehow that seemed so long ago...

Then Marcia and Becky started talking about this new girl in town who had started working part-time at Mitchell's Video store. She was kind of unknown, since she was 17 and had never gone to school here in Santa Rosita, and seemed to have half the guys transfixed, which was pretty funny, except one of the guys who was smitten was Mike, Marcia's boyfriend. Becky said the new girl wasn't as pretty as Marcia, just kind of different. "I think guys have some gene that makes them always want to chase something new," she said.

Marcia wasn't so sure it was Mike's fault, and I could see that the new girl was either gonna find out about the demarcation lines around boyfriends or Mike was gonna stop renting videos.

It was kind of cool, being with the two of them, especially after all the angst at home, and just talking about the things that were going on in everyone's lives. For years I'd always been able to tell Marcia pretty much anything, but, even though I was still kind of wary of Becky, I really enjoyed sitting and talking, the way we had several times. Both of them seemed to have forgotten that I had ever been Chris, and that seemed so cool that -- when I thought of it -- it really warmed me inside. Becky and Marcia were some of the coolest girls in town, even if Becky was kind of goth. And they liked hanging out with me, even though I was younger. Jenny was really liked. *I* was liked.

So eventually, I asked them for advice. Now that the meeting with the agent was confirmed, I had to talk to someone about it. Someone close to my own age.

"You're gonna *what*!?!" Becky said, after I mentioned the photographs and Mark's call and the appointment with the agent.

I explained that nothing might come of the meeting, but they both took it as being big news. "Wow," Marcia said. "Jenny, you're like my kid sister or something --"

I liked that, for some reason.

" -- it's just so wild to think that you're doing this."

"*Extremely* cool," Becky said. Then she seemed to change her mind. "Wait. Does that mean you're gonna become, like, an insufferable bitch?"

"Huh?" I said, confused.

"All those girls are, like, *so* screwed up."

"Becky, I'm not gonna turn into a vampire or anything." Actually, Becky would probably have *liked* that.

"Yeah, but they're like, anorexic and everything."

"Do you think I need to lose weight?" I asked, standing up.

"No, bitch," she said, standing up next to me. "You're totally thin. See, you're insufferable already! I rest my case," she said. I hit her on the arm.

"Ow! Bitch." She hit me back.

"Bitch yourself," I said. I feigned alarm. "Don't bruise me!"

"Oh ho! Now you're gonna get it!" She cackled.

Marcia stepped in to hold us apart. "So, you mentioned photos?" she asked.

Becky and I laughed and we all sat down. "Yes," I said, reaching into my backpack for the envelope containing some of the proofs. "You remember I said yesterday my Dad was all weirded out," I said to Marcia. "I think these were a big part of it. He was the one who saw them first."

Marcia took the prints and she and Becky pored over them.

"I can see why your Dad freaked," Becky giggled.

"So, like, I really need some help, guys," I said.

"Whaddaya mean, help?" Marcia said. "I wish I could look like this."

"Yah, right, Barbie," Becky said, and threw a cushion at her. Marcia scowled. She hated being called Barbie, even though Becky was just doing it to tease. A few years ago Marcia had been one of the first girls to "blossom" in her class, and with her blond hair and newfound curves, one of the bitchier girls at school had given her the tag. It stuck with the girls who didn't like Marcia, even though there weren't too many of them.

Marcia's antagonist had a lot of unfortunate things happen to her that year. I had resolved back then never to get on the wrong side of someone as resourceful as Marcia.

"Becky's right, Marcia," I said. "I mean, you're like way prettier'n me, and anyway, this was like with professional makeup and all that kind of stuff. And Mark is very good. I mean, it's his job, right?"

"So, what kind of help are you talking about?" Marcia asked.

"I don't really know," I admitted. "But I'm pretty nervous. I'm gonna go see this agent on Friday, and I won't have any professional help then, and he's probably expecting to see someone who looks -- well, who looks at least a little bit like the girl in the photos, you know?"

Becky looked at the photographs, and then at me, and said, "Well, you know, I hate to break it to you, but *you* look like the girl in the photographs, kiddo."

"You ever see a model when she's not working?" Marcia asked.

It wasn't like Santa Rosita was exactly overflowing with professional models, I thought. "Uh, no. I wouldn't know one if I saw one, I think."

"Exactly," Marcia continued. "Haven't you ever looked at those celebrity shots in People and stuff? You know, where they show Debbie Harry in the supermarket, or Leonardo diCaprio on the beach?"

"Ugh!" Becky moaned. "That was a real turn on, not!"

Marcia picked up a magazine from the coffee table and showed me pictures of celebrities in their everyday lives. There was Julia Roberts, looking suddenly awkward. There was Kate Moss, who looked like she needed iron supplements or something. There was Calista Flockhart, who looked, well... just strange.

"She's the result of a biological experiment," Becky giggled.

I was sort of comforted, but also disturbed. If these famous beauties looked this awful on their bad days, what did that say about me. The thing none of us was voicing was, on my bad days, I was a boy!

I thought for a moment. "Well, the thing is, I think maybe I'm kind of loony, you know? I mean, what if they find out?"

"What if they find out what?" Marcia asked.

"That she's a boy, dumbass," Becky said, before I had to. She turned to me. "Kiddo," she continued -- and ordinarily I would have been pissed at her calling me kiddo, but I was getting more used to Becky -- "the things is, that's not what they're gonna be looking for. Heck, *I* forget sometimes. What they're gonna be interested in is how you look on camera."

"And these are a pretty good indication of that, right?" Marcia said, waving the proofs.

"I guess..." I said reluctantly.

"Well, it was only when someone saw these that they got interested, right?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"So that part of it is easy," Marcia concluded, as though that settled everything. Marcia had this way with logic...

"Yeah, I guess," I said one more time.

"Too many guesses," Becky said.

"Well, I'm just worried I'm gonna act wrong or something."

"You haven't so far, have you?" Becky asked.

"Well, you know, Marcia had to teach me how to talk and all that."

"Oh jeez," said Becky, suddenly impatient. "Look, you want someone to say it? You're gorgeous, okay? Happy?" She seemed pissed at me.

"That wasn't what I meant --"

"Half the guys at that party two weeks ago were drooling all over you, even though you're like jailbait for them, okay? You got Paul, who is damned straight one of the hottest guys in school, following you around like some puppy."

"I mean--"

"I'm not finished yet," Becky continued, getting really worked up now. "Half the girls in school would kill to look as good as you do, and you're a freakin' boy! I don't care, now, you know. Whatever turns you on. But if you're gonna do this girl thing, and get offered all these opportunities that half the girls I know would, like, fuck their *asses* off for, then, like, just stop whining about how tough you've got it, okay? Just go with it."

She paused for a breath. "I am gonna go get a soda, anyone else want one?"

Marcia and I declined, and Becky went into the kitchen.

"She's right, you know," Marcia said. "If you want to do this, just go with it."

"Yeah, I suppose I should," I said. "I just wish I was more confident, you know, with girls' stuff."

Becky came back with her soda. "I have a solution," she pronounced, like she was delivering the wisdom of Solomon. Then she grinned. "When you're feeling pissy, there's only one thing to do -- let's dance! How do you dance, kiddo?"

"I don't, much," I admitted. "Marcia's been trying to teach me for a few months, but..."

"She's all angles," Marcia said, shrugging. "No flexibility."

"Hah! Becky's school of dancing is now open."

For the next two hours we danced to a whole range of songs. At first I was kind of awkward. I'd always been afraid of dancing much, because I thought I looked funny. But Marcia and Becky made me copy the kinds of moves they made. "More with the hips," Becky said. "Less with the legs. Don't make your moves so big to start with, just move a little bit with the music."

Gradually I started getting the hang of it. You know, guys, when they dance, they mostly kind of jerk around in time with the music. Girls, well, they kind of flex with the music. It was cool. It was fun. We danced to some old Prince stuff, and some Garbage and Madonna, and some really cheesy old 70's stuff, and then some Massive Attack, until we finally collapsed, laughing, after I tried to get some funk moves to James Brown working and nearly dislocated my pelvis.

"I think it's gonna take some time before you're a big threat to Janet Jackson," Marcia laughed. "But you're okay, Jen. You know, you're a lot better than you were a couple of weeks ago."

It was getting kind of late, and Becky and I both had to be home for dinner. We talked for a little while longer, mostly about their graduation and all that, since it was coming up pretty fast, and then it was time to leave. Marcia took my hand as we stood up, and told me that she and Becky would be really pleased to spend Thursday night helping me get ready for Friday morning, even though she didn't think I needed the help. I hugged her, and then Becky, and then headed back home. I was kind of dancing as I came through the door, singing along to Prince's "Kiss", and I did a little spin in the hallway before I realized Dad was watching me.

"Hi Dad," I said, and kissed him on the cheek as I passed on the way to my room. I noticed that he couldn't help a little smile.
 

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After dinner I did the cleaning up again while Mom and Dad sat in the living room and watched some TV. Halfway through my cleanup Paul called, and I sat on the floor next to the fridge again while we talked. We talked about a lot of inconsequential stuff, mostly, but then he started talking about his plans for after graduation, and it sank in to me for the first time that he was going to be leaving Santa Rosita. Worse, he said that after getting an offer today he was reconsidering the internship in LA. I mean, that wouldn't have been so bad, if he'd just been a few hours drive away. At least, I hadn't thought about it. The internship was kind of cool, kind of radical. But Paul had always thought that maybe he should go straight on to college, because maybe if he didn't do it straight away, it might never happen, you know, if the internship had worked out. Most people did internships after college, not before.

I guess I just hadn't thought about what his plans would mean until then.

He had received an offer from a college on the East Coast, which he was kind of pleased about. I didn't recognize the name or anything, but apparently it was a big deal to get the offer.

We talked on for a while longer, and then hung up. I was starting to feel kind of funny inside. He was going to be going in a few months, and then I wouldn't see him again. There were probably going to be cute college girls who would be all over him, and how could I compete with that? I realized I wanted to compete, and then I thought how ridiculous it all was, me, a fifteen year old boy, trying to compete with college girls for my boyfriend's attention.

I stayed sitting on the floor for while after the call finished.

Eventually I pulled myself together, and stood up. I turned on the radio in the kitchen and found a station that was playing some more or less alternative stuff, some of which I sang along with to try to cheer myself up. It's *hard* to cheer yourself up when the station is playing Pearl Jam, let me tell you. When I had just finished wiping down the benchtop Mom came in and I hugged her fiercely, before excusing myself and saying goodnight and going upstairs to listen to Tori Amos songs while lying in bed.

"So you found a girl who thinks really deep thoughts," one of the songs went. "What's so amazing about really deep thoughts, Boy you'd best pray That I bleed real soon, how's that thought for ya."

Yeah. Well, I wasn't ever gonna bleed.

I wasn't even really a girl.

God, I was so confused.
 
 

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To Be Continued...



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