A bolt of panic shot down my spine when I heard the key settling in the lock. My eyes flickered over towards the door: it had to be Aunt Cathy! What was she doing home so early? She'd headed off to her bridge club less than fifteen minutes ago; I wasn't expecting her back for several hours. My pulse lept into overdrive as key slid into place with an audible clack!
Noooooo! I thought, feeling the colour rise in my cheeks. My lips parted in a silent gasp. My greatest fear was about to be realized; my deepest secret revealed. I stepped backwards in rising alarm, nearly tripping over the coffee table.
This couldn't be happening. Not here, not now. Not after I'd spent so many months hiding my true identity in the shadows. I glanced wildly about the room, mentally calculating the odds of making it across to the stairs unseen. Every nerve in my body started screaming with electric fire. Aunt Cathy was home, I could almost see her standing out on the landing, chatting way with her friends from the bridge club. Any second now, the door would open and they'd step inside, eyes widening at the spectacle of a twelve year-old sissy-boy dressed in frilly blue panties...
Turning away from the door, I caught sight of myself in the cheval mirror I'd set up near the sofa. It showed me as I truly am; a petite little girl with long blond hair and full, crimson lips. How could I explain this, account for my sudden metamorphosis? In all the months since I had come to live with her, Aunt Cathy had never seen me as my real self. She would never understand: very few people could, even in this day and age.
I've never really understood it myself.
The door swung open.
Aunt Cathy stepped across the threshold, adjusting her sunglasses and leading a flock of gabbling matrons into the living room. Frozen to the spot, I turned to face them, self-consciously covering my mouth with both hands.
A deafening silence fell upon the house as half a dozen babbling voices halted in mid-sentence. The moment seemed to spin out to eternity: how was I ever going to explain this?
An infinite span of time later, Aunt Cathy decided to break the insufferable tension with a single word.
"Chris?" she asked in a voice laced with honeyed arsenic. She stared me up and down with a long, measuring gaze, barely capable of hiding her amusement. I nodded, opening my mouth but unable to form a reply. What was she thinking? I could read nothing from her expression, apart from the faintest trace of mockery.
She knew! I realized in sudden, breathless clarity, she knew all along! Worse still, she'd set me up for this gratuitous humiliation.
I've never forgiven Aunt Cathy for what happened next. The house filled up with housewives and homemakers, spanning the Parlor from pillar to post. They milled about in conspiratorial groups, casting furtive glances at my thighs and panties.
I glanced towards the stairs, feeling two dozen pairs of eyes crawling all over my half-naked body. If my Aunt hadn't been blocking my path, I would have bolted for my room and locked the door. Noting my obvious anxiety, Cathy suddenly called for attention.
"Ladies" she began, looking around at her friends, "you all know my nephew, Chrissy?" A murmur of assent rose from the crowd, which was now closing in around me in a loose semi-circle.
"Well, as I mentioned earlier, he's agreed to put on a show for us", Cathy continued in a bright, conversational voice, "as a matter of fact, he's been so eager he seems to have begun without us."
Some of the older women were laughing now: soft, placid chortles for the time being, but that would soon give way to vicious, waspish cackling. The younger ones were smirking at one another, virtually incapable of keeping their faces straight. Aunt Cathy motioned them towards the armchairs and sofas, encouraging them to find a ringside seat.
"Chris has been working on this routine for months now," she explained merrily, "from what I can gather, he models his underwear every time I'm out of the house."
I groaned in utter despair. What did she mean, what was she going to make me do? Whatever she had in mind, it was certain to rob me of my last vestige of human dignity. I bit down hard on my lip, holding back the whimpers that threatened to escape my throat.
I knew most of these women by sight, having accompanied Aunt Cathy to several of her Bridge nights earlier in the year. One of them I placed as Mrs Rhodes, the president of the local P&T. The others I couldn't pin a name to, although I had the impression they'd all dropped by our house several times over the past six months.
Worse still, I was fairly sure they all had children, most of whom attended my school. Any hope of secrecy had flown out the window the moment these blue-rinse horrors walked in through the door. By this time tomorrow, the gossip would be all over town; everyone in Chamberlain would know the colour of my undies.
I stood to one side of the chattering group, trembling with barely suppressed panic. I wanted to run away, hide in my bedroom, but Cathy had no intention of letting me off that lightly. She'd spent weeks, possibly months planning this moment, and nothing was going to rain on her parade.
Taking her place by the antiquated stereo system, she switched on the radio and tuned into the Melodies station. Low, sensuous "elevator" music drifted about the living room, setting the mood for the afternoon's festivities. Once the preparations were finished, Cathy addressed her audience, extending a hand in my direction.
"As I was telling you, Chrissy has ambitions of being a fashion model. This is probably why he's been stealing knickers off the neighbours' washing lines."
My jaw dropped in astonishment. That was an outright lie. I hadn't stolen anything; I'd saved up my allowance for months on end, buying all of my costumes via mail order. She must have known that; she seemed to know everything else I was doing. This was just an excuse, a flimsy pretext for the ordeal she was about to put me through.
"Noooo, Aunt Cathy, I didn't –"
"And, as he seems to have his sights set on lingerie modeling," Cathy went on, cutting me off in mid-sentence, "I thought we should give him a chance to perform before a live audience."
My eyes bulged from their sockets as I realized what my Aunt had been saving up as the Grand Finale. For one second the floor seemed to lurch beneath my feet. I shook my head in utter disbelief: this simply couldn't be happening. Even she wouldn't do this to me; wouldn't subject me to such total humiliation.
How wrong I was.
"All right, pay attention everybody," Cathy exclaimed, taking me by the wrist, "It's time our little model put on his show."
"Please Aunt Cathy, I don't want to do this," I whimpered hopelessly, trying not to stammer my words, "everyone will make fun of me." Cathy laughed her response.
"Oh, what are you so worried about? You make a beautiful little girl."
"But I don't want to look like a little girl, Aunt Cathy!!"
She leaned in close, lowering her voice and impaling me with a searing blue gaze.
"Well – I guess this is what you get for sneaking around behind my back, young man. You're going to model your panties in front of everybody, and that's the end of it!"
Faced with this intractable sentence, I immediately found myself begging, sobbing for clemency: No, please Aunt Cathy, don’t make me do this, I promise I’ll never do it again, please.
All to no avail: Cathy deflected my pleas with a careless wave of her hand, dismissing my fears as inconsequential. I pressed on regardless, appealing the verdict in growing desperation. Again, I should have known better. It was a doomed venture from the start.
"You're the one who wants to be a lingerie model," she said, effectively terminating any further discussion on the subject, "so here's your big chance."
"Noooooooo!" I wailed as she led me to the centre of the floor. I stumbled along behind her, blushing all the way to my eyebrows. An urgent, feverish heat filled my tummy: this was really happening, she was going to make me dance in my underwear before a houseful of complete strangers.
I stared around the Parlour, heart thundering in my rib cage. The living room was a mass of babbling, wild-eyed housefraus. They were literally squealing with delight, eyes shining with feral pleasure. This was one show they weren't going to miss. I felt surrounded, trapped, hemmed in.
"No, no, please no!" I cried, heart pounding in my throat, "take me up to my room! I don't everyone to see!" A rash of laughter rippled through the audience. Some of them chortled over my childish modesty, others sighed with maternal pleasure. Someone patted me affectionately on the bottom: there there, baby, no need to be shy.
"Don't be silly, Chrissy," Cathy replied gaily, "you're a little girl, no one minds seeing your panties." She pushed me slightly ahead of her, then walked back to the stereo, leaving me alone in nothing but my blue satin petti-pants and lacy white girl-socks.
More laughter from the audience; high-pitched giggles of sheer derision. Several of the elder Moms clapped their hands in ribald encouragement. Overwhelmed with misery, I stepped away from them, only to discover my exit blocked by Mrs Rhodes and several grinning conspirators. The message was clear: I wasn't going anywhere.
Gasping with shame, I tried to to cover my flimsy little briefs with both hands. The action prompted a chorus of amusement from the audience: Isn't he just the sweetest little thing, look at him trying to hide his underpants, you'd never guess he was a boy, would you?
By this time, my face was blazing the colour of a ripe tomato. Even now, decades after the event, I can still recall the breathless, gasping shame of that moment, the leering, contemptuous cheers of my audience. That was how it seemed to me at the time; twelve year-old boys are terribly self-conscious about their bodies, particularly where strangers are concerned. Of course, none of that mattered to Aunt Cathy. She and her company were enjoying the spectacle far too much to consider a child's emotions.
"OK, let's get this show on the road," Mrs Rhodes said behind me, her high, warbling voice pregnant with excitement, "Cathy, ramp the music up a little".
I cast a final, imploring glance at my Aunt, but found no sympathy there. Her face was hard, stern, accusing. I knew that expression from painful experience. You're going to do this, it said, right here, right now, and without another word. You'll do it, or so help me, I'll take your pants down and SPANK you in front of the entire room!
I choked back on my tears, knowing there was no room for debate, no room for negotiation. She'd reached her decision long ago, and nothing was going to alter her judgment. I would probably get a spanking later on anyway; the only question was whether it would take place in front of these screeching harpies or in the privacy of my room upstairs.
Cathy dialed up the music, then nodded her head in my direction, her eyes narrowed and threatening.
The moment had arrived. It was time to model my lingerie.
My vision blurred as I strode reluctantly into the middle of the Parlour. Hot tears streaked down my cheeks; I had never felt such utter degradation before in my life.
Here I was, surrounded by a haggle of old maids, clapping and leering with delight. I shimmied my pelvis from side to side, sauntering around in a wide circle, allowing everyone a close-up view of my gauzy blue underwear. I felt trapped, cornered, exposed: practically nothing was left to the imagination.
Cronish hands wandered over my body as I strutted past, stroking my waist and tummy. Some of them slapped hard at my bottom, leaving sharp, red handprints. I wept as much with pain as anxiety, resisting the temptation to rub my stinging fanny.
Others commented on my slim, coltish legs, remarking that I should wear a pair of thigh-highs next time. My eyes widened with horror at the thought – what did they mean, next time? Would Aunt Cathy force me to go through this ordeal again? I sudden understood how desperate my situation had become. They wanted to see me decked out in suspenders, stockings and a training bra.
"We should make this a weekly event", Mrs Rhodes suggested, prompting a chorus of agreement from the hen's club, "bring our kids along to see what we do with knicker-pickers."
I voiced a tiny scream, wincing at the fresh burst of shrewish laughter. This was so unjust – I wasn't a 'snow-dropper', I'd never been anywhere near the neighbours' clotheslines. Needless to say, it made no difference whatsoever. Nobody would have believed me over Aunt Cathy. I was a child, she was an adult, as far as they were concerned, my guilt had already been established.
Cathy forced me to complete five more circuits of the floor, then decided to put the finishing touches on the afternoon's entertainment. I knew exactly what she had in mind as soon as her fingers closed around my wrist.
"No, Aunt Cathy, please! Not a spanking!!"
A rousing burst of applause followed us across the room as I was led towards the straightback chair. I stumbled along in tow, sobbing and pleading for mercy. Struggle as I might, I simply couldn't break that iron grip.
"Doris – could you hand me the hairbrush from my purse?" Cathy asked Mrs Rhodes, "I think it's time we dealt with our little panty-thief here."
"No!" I cried at the top of my lungs, "not the hairbrush, noooooo!!"
The forementioned brush was instantly produced and passed along to my Aunt, who placed it on the footstool next to the chair.
"I think we'll do this on the bare, young 'lady'!" Turning me around to face the audience, she slipped her thumbs through my knickers and peeled them down to my ankles. Squealing in childish shock, I crossed my hands in front of myself, much to the amusement of the assembled witnesses. Unfortunately, Aunt Cathy wouldn't countenance any 'false' modesty. Taking me by the forearm, she pulled me firmly over her lap, centering my position so that my naked bottom-cheeks were staring at the ceiling.
"Don't!" I wept in absolute terror, "please don't Aunt Cathy!! It'll hurt!!"
"Oh, you can bet this is going to hurt, little girl," she replied, raising the brush high over her right shoulder, "now stop struggling or I'll make this a lot worse for you!!!"
Please, I whimpered as the brush flashed down over my upraised bottom-tops. Aunt Cathy had always spanked hard, within a few minutes, my buns were scorched bright pink. Whipping my head back and forth, I thrashed my legs in exquisite agony. The Bridge Club cheered their appreciation as my hynie blazed with scarlet heat. At some point during the proceedings, my knickers flew off my feet, leaving me in nothing but my frilly white knee-socks.
The spanking continued for twelve endless minutes while the brush seared my plump, round orbs, alternating left to right. There was no escape, no respite. I was going to take my punishment no matter how much I yowled and begged for leniency. By the time she finished, I could only lie exhausted over her knee, my bottom glowing a deep, tortured violet.
"Now – up to your room", Cathy ordered, concluding the afternoon's jubilations, "I'll be along to deal with you later."
Finally released from her tender mercies, I fled naked to the stairs. Peals of raucous laughter echoed along the passageway as I threw myself weeping onto my bed.
I'd been sobbing into my pillow for over an hour when I heard Cathy's heavy footsteps approaching my door. I turned over and watched in trepidation as she entered the room, bearing the brush in her right hand. My nerve broke at the sight of it, I lapsed into a litany of frightened pleas.
"Please don't spank me again, Aunt Cathy," I blubbered like a six-year old, "it still hurts really bad, I can't stand it, please don't -"
"All right, that's enough," she snapped, eyebrows knit in clear disapproval, "it's time we had a talk…Chrissy."
Adopting her sternest posture, she laid down the law in no uncertain terms. The journey I'd taken over her knee today would be nothing compared to the punishment I'd receive if I didn’t do precisely as I was told. She'd known all along that I was a tranzi, more or less since the first time I'd raided her underwear draw. There would be no more secrets between us, no more skulking around like a coward. From now on, I'd be modeling my panties in public!
Noooooo! I cried out in disgrace, but a single stroke of the hairbrush cut my protests short. Aunt Cathy was deadly serious and meant every word she said. Over the next few weeks, my Friday afternoon lingerie parades became a regular event (exactly as Mrs Rhodes had implied), where I was forced to traipse around the living room with my frilly underwear on open exhibition.
I swiftly discovered there was no defying her authority, and my life became a living hell as she ground me under her thumb for the next four years. There was no escape, no respite. She had me in lace, skirts and dresses right up to the day I moved out to attend college. Even after that, I was still a laughing stock, a mockery to everyone who'd known me throughout my tormented adolescence.
And in the end, I guess it was no more than I'd earnt.
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