Orphan ~ 13

Sheila shooed me off to the lounge where the other girls were watching TV. Blue Peter was on and Valerie Singleton was doing something with sticky back plastic.


Orphan 13
Susan Brown

Orphan 13

The first thing that I noticed was that were two strange cars in the drive. One was a ropey old Mini and the other car was a brand new Mark 3 Cortina GXL no less. I hadn’t seen one of these before. It was bright yellow with a black vinyl roof. It was brilliant and nearly took my mind off things as I walked through the doors and into the Home.

Sheila shooed me off to the lounge where the other girls were watching TV. Blue Peter was on and Valerie Singleton was doing something with sticky back plastic.

As I walked in all heads swivelled around and I got several wolf whistles.

Tracy, never backward at being forward just had to say it...

‘Who’s the hot looking chick then?’

I could feel myself go all red. I had several shopping bags in my hands, the product of Sheila’s shopping spree and I plonked them down and then sank heavily into an old armchair. The girls gathered around making appreciative comments about what I had done at the salon. My ears were aching a bit from being pierced and I was to say the least worn out with trying to be a girl.

In seconds, like a swarm of locusts the girls grabbed the shopping bags and emptied them out.

‘Wow, this is nice!’

‘Cool, or what?’

‘I couldn’t fit in this!’

‘Can I borrow this skirt?’

‘I like the colour.’

It all sort of went over my head. I had my eyes closed, thinking that if they thought I was asleep they might not…

Suddenly I was yanked out of my comfy chair and rushed up to the dorm. It appeared that I had to do a sort of fashion show. That could be a problem, as I didn’t want to flash my flesh to all and sundry as they might see my added extras!

Tracy saw the problem immediately and said. ‘Hang on, Steph is a bit shy of changing in public…’

‘What for?’ said Paula. ‘There’s nothing she has that we haven’t.’

‘Shut it Paula. We don’t all let it hang out like you do.’

‘Ooh you cow!’

That started it. I think that it was Tracy who threw the first pillow and then everyone joined in. Not wanting to be out of place, I clonked one on Paula’s face and she returned the favour. There was a lot of shouting and screaming and suddenly, through the din we heard a whistle. Everything stopped. It was as though there were several statues, heavy breathing ones, but you get the drift. We all stood there, panting; it was so quiet, I could hear my heart beat thumping away some where in my manly…erm girly like chest.

‘What is going on here?’

It was the Matron and she didn’t sound very happy.

‘Unfreeze,’ she said in a tone that would chill hot porridge.

We all relaxed a bit and looked around. Apart from the Matron, there was Sheila and Miss Cathcart with a look on her face like she had trodden in some doggy doo. Then there was a lady in a tweed suit, she looked more male than I was in my boy guise, she had a mole on her chin and I noticed that there some tufts of hair sticking out of it like sparse black grass on a hill or mound. I was fascinated by her mole and couldn’t take my eyes off it. I was shaken out of it by the Matron’s next words.

‘Well, what is going on; is anyone going to tell me?’

‘Sorry Matron; things got carried away.’ Said a contrite Tina.

‘’You all know full well that pillow fights aren’t allowed. They ruin good pillows and we haven’t got money to fling around buying new ones. Now get this room tidied up and then I want you all downstairs in the lounge; you have ten minutes.’

With that she swept out followed by all the others. The mole lady had a final look around and then her eyes met mine. She frowned then shook her head and smiled at me.

I smiled back. For a minute there I thought that she knew my secret, but no, I think I was safe. The lady followed the others out leaving us to tidy up.

‘Don’t worry,’ said Rachel. ‘Matrons bark is much worse than her bite.’

Nevertheless, we tidied up in quick time. At least I got out of the fashion show!

In nine minutes flat, we were in the lounge. Apart from the adults that we had seen upstairs, there was a man sitting at a table reading some papers. He was about thirty I suppose. He looked quite tall, even though he was sitting down as his long legs were stretched out before him. He had a smart suit shirt and tie on and looked like an advert for Burtons Menswear.

‘I bet he owns the Cortina,’ I thought, ‘and mole lady has the mini.’

‘Right girls,’ said Matron, ‘find yourselves a seat and settle down. We all milled around a bit like doing musical chairs. I found myself on the sofa squashed between Rachel and Tina. Tracy managed to get in the deep leather armchair and was looking smug about it.

‘Right girls, as you know, the governors have an occasional inspection. They like to see that everything is going ticketyboo; they have been here a few hours and are fairly happy with how things are. However, they wanted to have a quiet chat with a few of you, in private so they can gauge how you like or don’t like things around here. So Mr Jameson here, who some of you may know is the chairman of the board, will pick two of you to speak to; Mr Jameson?’

He got to his feet and smiled.

‘Hello girls, I here you were in a pillow fight. I remember those from my boarding school; happy days; anyway enough of that, lets see, can we speak to you and you.’

The first you was Paula and, you guessed it, the second one was me!

I looked at the matron who looked none too happy.

‘Erm, Mr Jameson, Stephanie has only just joined us, so she isn’t used to how we erm, do things. Would you like to pick someone else?’

‘No, that’s fine; her first impressions will be a good thing to talk about; we will see, erm?’

He looked at Paula.


‘Yes, Paula first and then Stephanie; OK?’

‘Fine,’ said Matron in a voice that clearly sounded as if it wasn’t.

Mr Jameson and the mole lady left with Paula and Matron came over to me.

‘Can I have a quiet word, Stephanie?’

I got up and followed her out of the lounge and into her office.

‘Sit down dear.’

I sat down on a hard wooden chair, wincing slightly as again I forgot to sweep my hand under my dress as I sat down and had a shock on my bum from the cold. Luckily, Matron didn’t seem to notice.

She sat down on her chair behind the desk and then looked at me, a slight smile playing on her lips.

‘I like your hair and everything. It makes you look more of a girl than some of the others here.’

I think I blushed as I could feel my face go red.

‘Thanks.’ I said, not really knowing why I was thankful.

‘’That’s OK dear. Now Mr Jameson and Miss Phipps are going to ask you questions. Erm…how can I put this…I don’t want you to lie, but I don’t think that it would help your current delicate situation if they are made aware of your, shall we say unique situation.’

‘Will I get into trouble if they find out?’

‘No, but if they do find out, you will have to leave here and probably go to a different area to be looked after. Do you want that?’

I looked at her and shook my head.

She rubbed the bridge of her nose and sighed a bit.

‘Look Stephanie; I know that this is a very strange situation that we have here and the council have put us all right in the doo doo, but I have spoken to Sheila and she has told me how you feel. You told her that you want to stay here, is that right and are you sure about this, because if you are not, I will tell the governors that you are not feeling very well and when they go, I will get you transferred out of here…as a boy and you wont have to pretend any more; so you decide.’

I thought a bit about it, running stuff through my head.

‘Matron, if I stay, you all might get into trouble. Why are you doing this; why don’t you just send me away?’

‘We aren’t all ogres you know. Everyone who works here does it because we love looking after kids who have had a rough time. With government cut backs and everything, the council can’t always help the most needy people as well as they should. You have suffered a lot, you lost your parents and then had to come here and pretend to be someone else. If you want to stay for a while until you feel that you are able to move on, then I am willing to take a risk and so is everyone else who works here.’

‘Does that mean all the staff know about me?’

‘Yes, I thought it wise to let all the staff know because if there is any trouble, we can nip it in the bud. Everyone likes you and doesn’t want to see you hurt, so if you have any problems, see one of us, OK.’

‘Yes Matron.’

‘You haven’t answered my question, do you really want to stay and are you happy acting as a girl while you are here?’

I looked down at my pretty dress; my hair gently brushing my face at I took in my polished nails. Somehow, strangely, it felt OK.

I looked up at Matron and said, ‘I would like to stay, if I can but if I am asked about if I am a boy or girl, I won’t lie.’

‘ I agree, if they do find out, then we will sort it. If any of the girls find out, you may have to go anyway, but we will cross that bridge, if and when. Now is there anything else you want to say?’

Recalling that there is one girl who knew about me, made me feel a bit uncomfortable, but I felt in my bones that Tracy wouldn’t do anything nasty and didn’t think that it would help if I told Matron about it.

I hesitated and then looked up at her. She had a kind face. Her smile was a bit like my mum’s. I felt that I could trust her and I needed someone I could trust.


‘Yes dear?’

‘I…I think I like being a girl.’

‘But you’ve only been dressing like one for a few days.’

‘I know, but it just feels right…I don’t know why.’

‘OK, we haven’t time to speak about this now, but when the governors have gone, we will have a chat again; OK?’


‘And don’t worry, if you have feelings like this and it’s not just a passing whim, I will do all I can to help you, OK?’


‘Now pop back into the lounge and wait there to be called.’

‘Thanks Matron.’

‘That’s all right, now shove off.’

I shoved.


To be continued...

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