I didn’t know what to say to her, I knew what she was going to ask, I just hadn’t planned on answering her. I should be in my own house by now eating bacon, not sitting with a near complete stranger in her house, dressed as a girl. I took a few moments to think of an answer, but I couldn’t find one, so I asked her a question in the hope she’d forget what just happened.
“Why… shouldn’t you be at work Mom?” I asked, I was starting to get used to calling her Mom by now.
“Oh I decided to take the day off, I didn’t want to wait until later to ask you since you might of disappeared by then.” She replied with a grin, it was as if she enjoyed destroying every chance I had of escaping.
“Disappeared?” I asked.
“Well Kaitlyn told me about your situation, and she seemed to think you’d be leaving soon.” She replied.
I grinned and nodded slowly. I am leaving soon, and you can’t stop me woman. She tilted her head and gave me a sad look.
“Well where do you plan on going?” She asked all the right questions, meaning the questions I didn’t have a straight answer for.
“I’ll find somewhere.” I nodded and gulped down a load of orange juice. I was hoping the glass would hide my ever-reddening cheeks.
“So you’re not even certain? Do you really want to leave a warm comfortable house for a world of uncertainty?” It was like she was trying to confuse me on purpose with her long words, so I’d have no choice but to say yes to her. I shrugged at her and said nothing. That wasn’t saying yes and now she had to do all the work. Two can play at this game.
“I think it would be best if you stayed here for a while.” She leaned closer, her thumb still gently rubbing my hand.
I shrugged and kept silent. I looked out the window and into the distance, so it would look like I was thinking. I was really just trying to ignore her.
“I know what’s best for you Courtney, you won’t survive on your own.”
I continued to ignore her/look like I was thinking. I didn’t care what she said, even if I wasn’t planning on it I knew how to survive on my own.
The cul-de-sac kids always loved playing with Sophie in the nearby woods. We considered ourselves survival experts, but Stephanie wasn’t going to believe that when it came from someone dressed in pink Disney Princess pyjamas.
Stephanie sighed and leaned back into her chair, she looked defeated. All the rejection she was getting from me was really tearing her up inside, but no amount of tears can convince me to remain a girl any longer.
All I could do was wait until tomorrow, Stephanie couldn’t miss work for two days straight could she? Why would she choose protecting a homeless orphan over keeping her job?
“Just think about it okay? For me?” she asked with puppy dog eyes, rarely had I seen an adult use that look.
“I will Mom.” I nodded and finished my orange juice, Stephanie jumped into action as soon as my empty glass touched the table.
“Let’s get you ready for the day then, up you get.” Stephanie was making a habit of doing things before I could react. She was up out of her chair in seconds, holding my hand and pulling me down the hallway when I finally said “Okay.” As we went up the stairs I got another chance to look at all the family photos hanging on the wall, and the thought of me being in one of them was slowly becoming more and more likely.
Stephanie dragged me into the bathroom, which was a pleasant change from all the pink I was seeing. The floor was made of a white rubbery material and the walls were decorated with yellow and white tiles. The bathtub spanned from one side of the room to the other, beside it was the sink and opposite that was the toilet. I would of preferred sleeping in here compared to Harpher’s room, if only there was a bed in here.
“Now when was the last time you had a bath?”
It looked like whatever I said, Stephanie was going to give me a bath anyway. She already pulled off my Disney Princess robe and placed it on a hook screwed to the bathroom door.
“A few days ago.” I replied. It was true, we only had one bathroom in my house and mum and dad had been hogging it for three days, there was hardly any hot water left for me. I must have been dirty enough to be a homeless kid.
“That wont do dear, it’s important us girls stay as clean as possible.” She opened the taps on the bath and it began to fill up with steaming hot water. She poured a purple liquid, among other things, into the bath that turned it into a flowery scented bubble bath. The longer she stayed in the bathroom, the more I began to think that she herself was going to wash me.
That would be the end of me for sure. She would see everything! I was just starting puberty and things were going on down there! The bubbles would be my only hope, they’d hide my hairy legs and my boy parts. Luckily my arms were mostly hairless, and as long as I kept my arms by my sides the small amount of armpit hair I had would be hidden.
She wouldn’t really stay would she? Does she think 12 year olds cant bathe themselves? I knew I could bathe myself by around 6 years old, by 10 I was making my own meals.
Maybe Stephanie ran things differently in her house, maybe this was what a loving family was like.
The bath was ready and Stephanie was making no moves to the door, she stood there watching me, I noticed her foot tapping on the floor.
“Scared of the water Courtney?” she asked.
“No, I just…” I looked at her nervously. Stephanie walked over to me, and began to lift the Disney Princess pyjama top over my head.
“Thought I’d leave?” she finished my sentence. “There’s nothing underneath these pretty pyjamas that I haven’t seen before sweetheart.” She grinned at me as she folded the top and placed it on top of the toilet. Her hands quickly moved the pyjama bottoms that were still hiding the vital evidence between my legs, although she’d still have to remove the white cotton panties I’d worn from yesterday.
She wouldn’t go that far would she?
I stepped away from her prying hands before she could pull my pink pyjama bottoms down. I had to put my foot down for once.
“Mom I’m… eleven, not four.” I wanted to say twelve, but Kaitlyn had already decided I was going to be eleven. Damn that Kaitlyn, wherever she was.
“I know… I just thought you might want some help, that’s all.” She replied, her hands then made another attempt to pull my bottoms down. I was quick to take another step back, almost falling into the bath in the process, and crossed my arms. Stephanie finally got the message and opened the bathroom door.
“Well alright, you just call me if you need anything, okay sweetheart?” She asked as she stood in the doorway. I replied with an annoyed sounding “Okay!” and closed the door for her. I waited for a moment before I took off the remainder of my Disney Princess pyjama set, just in case she came back in and saw me naked. She seemed like the sort of woman who liked to surprise people, but it would be me that surprised her if she saw what hung between my legs.
I waited a good few minutes before I finally decided it was safe to strip off. All this waiting and worrying wouldn’t be necessary if they thought to put a lock on the door. I suppose living in an all female household meant you wouldn’t be seeing anything new if you stepped in on someone.
I pulled the pyjama bottoms and the panties off in less than three seconds and was in the bath after four seconds. I figured the shorter time I was naked, the less chance I had of being walked in on.
Now I was safe beneath the bubbles.
Stephanie shouted from various locations around the house, asking if I was doing all right. She sounded worried every time, sometimes I shouted, “YES” and sometimes I didn’t even reply.
She shouted for me every five minutes or so, what was she so worried about? Did she think I might be trying to escape? There was only one window in here, and it wasn’t big enough for anyone to sneak through, not that I hadn’t thought about trying.
The water was high enough for me to fully submerse myself. I could hide there forever if I could breath underwater. I spent about five minutes scrubbing myself with the sponges placed around the bathtub, along with all the other products that these girls seem to need. By the sink there was a counter filled with tubs, cans, boxes and bath stuff. The bottle that Stephanie had used to get the bubbles came with three other bottles, one in blue, one in red and the other in yellow.
The faint pink colouring to the bubbles meant she had obviously used the pink bottle, which was no surprise to me. Everything that has happened to me in this house so far has had something to do with pink. Stephanie had raised two girly-girl daughters, and in the back of my mind it seemed like she was trying to raise a third, me.
My long hair was the last thing left to wash. I normally left it for last and kept it dry until then, but keeping it dry was so much harder with it being double as long after Stephanie brushed it out. When I wash my hair, I usually just soak it in water a few times and then dry it, that kept it rough and curly like I always had it, but now it was long and smooth.
My hair was always long, but I deliberately made it look messy so people didn’t think I was a girl. But now I had to make it look like a girls hair, and I didn’t know how. I eventually decided I’d just soak it a couple more times than I normally do and then see what happened when it was dry, besides it would be back to normal boy mode soon.
I was about to dip my head underwater to start the hair soaking, when Stephanie opened the door slightly and poked her head through.
“Courtney? Can I come in?” she asked, already stepping into the bathroom before I answered.
I was nearly fully submersed so she wouldn’t see anything, it would be fine as long as she didn’t drop something in the bath and go searching for it.
I nodded at her to come in but she was already inside and closing the door behind her.
“I just wanted to check on how you’re doing.” She walked closer and sat on the edge of the bath, I quickly moved some more bubbles to cover me up even more. I made sure my head was the only thing above the water at this point.
“I’m fine, Mom, no problems.” I replied.
“I noticed you haven’t washed your hair yet.” She was looking at my hair closely, it would have been obvious that most of it was still dry.
“I didn’t know what to do.” I said, and it was the wrong thing to say. Without knowing it I’d just invited this woman to wash my hair for me.
“Oh, I’ll do that for you, I knew you’d need help somewhere.” She was smiling from ear to ear as she left briefly and came back with a chair. Within a few minutes she was sitting down beside the bath, with me sitting with my back to her. She was using the adjustable showerhead to soak my hair thoroughly, and so far she hadn’t seen anything suspicious. It was quite a struggle trying to sit like that in a narrow bath, without my lower half revealing itself, but somehow I managed.
Stephanie spent a couple of minutes spraying my hair with warm water, then moved on to lathering in a load of shampoo. My head was gently being pulled this way and that as Stephanie made sure the shampoo covered every single strand of hair, her fingers constantly massaging my scalp. After a couple of minutes she rinsed my hair with warm water and started over again, it felt like we were there for at least an hour, repeating the process over and over. Stephanie was talking through everything she did, making sure I remembered everything so I could “do it myself in the future.” Yeah right.
I got the feeling that Stephanie had done this many times with her daughters, she was clearly enjoying it and on several occasions called me Kaitlyn or Harpher. I’m glad I was facing away from her, because soon everything she said made me roll my eyes or grimace. Soon every sentence she said referred to me as her daughter or something close to it.
When she ran out of things to say, things were finally going silent. Stephanie rinsed my hair for a final time and grabbed a new bottle that she referred to as ‘conditioner’ and began to comb the new liquid through my hair with her fingers.
I had never put this much effort into washing my hair.
The constant massaging of my scalp eventually made me relax, and I started to think. I could of escaped this morning if it wasn’t for Stephanie’s damned maternal hormones. Everything would of gone to plan. Maybe things still would of gone to plan if Kaitlyn was actually there, she could of snuck me out the front door using her key, whilst Stephanie was in the back garden. It all could of worked out fine if Kaitlyn was there, except… where was Kaitlyn?
“Mom, where is Kaitlyn?” I had to ask her, had Stephanie done something with her daughter? Maybe she had some sort of plan to replace her, with me? Well that would explain why she referred to me as her daughter for the past hour of hair washing. What was wrong about Kaitlyn? Why wouldn’t Stephanie want to keep her eldest daughter?
“Oh I just sent her on an errand, to get some milk.” She replied coolly as if replacing her daughter wasn’t such a big thing.
“Come to think of it, she’s been there for a while, maybe she found one of her friends, she doesn’t see them much.”
What was she talking about? Kaitlyn spends most of her time playing with the rest of the cul-de-sac kids.
“Finally she does something I suggest, she spends too much time with the kids that live in the cul-de-sac and forgets about her school friends.” She said.
“What’s wrong with the cul-de-sac kids?” I asked.
“Oh nothing, it’s just that Sophie across the road, she has a deep hatred for my little Harpher. But don’t you worry about them dear, I’m sure we’ll find you some friends, perhaps Kaitlyn will invite you to a sleepover with her friends. Wont that be nice?” she replied.
“I guess so.” I didn’t plan on making any new friends just yet.
Soph was one of my best friends, but she really did hate Harpher. I remember her calling Harpher a spoiled little brat whenever they were close to each other. Harpher called her an ugly man once, and they’ve been at each other’s throats since then, that’s probably why Harpher was sent to summer camp in the first place.
After a few minutes, the conditioner was rinsed out from my hair and the bath was over. Stephanie allowed me some private time to dry myself and get dressed, but when I went to get dressed again, the pyjamas and the panties were gone. I shouted through the door asking for them, hoping Mom would hear me.
“I’m putting them in the wash dear, I put a cute little outfit on Harpher’s bed for you!” she shouted back, it sounded like she was downstairs so it was too late to argue for my pyjamas. I would have to wear an outfit picked out by Stephanie herself. I expected the worst.
Stephanie had left the Disney Princess robe in the bathroom, which I quickly put it on before she could sneak into the bathroom again. This was the first time I noticed that the robe had a pink hood attached to it, with two little black ears and a pink bow between them at the top of the hood. That must have been what Stephanie used to blindfold me this morning, I would of looked like a right idiot with that hood up. Clearly she did not think so.
I opened the bathroom door and poked my head out into the hallway, no sign of Stephanie anywhere upstairs. I was very paranoid when wearing that robe, I didn’t want Stephanie anywhere near me. I was certain she wanted to see me naked, she seemed to eager to make it seem okay but I was not convinced. I kept thinking she was going to sneak out of somewhere and pull the robe off me, but thankfully I got into Harpher’s room and closed the door before Stephanie could get me.
There wasn’t a way to lock the door, so I moved a chair and wedged it beneath the door handle, something I’d learned from the movies. As soon as I turned around I knew I would see an incredibly girly outfit lying on Hayley’s bed, but when I saw it I was definitely surprised. The outfit wasn’t half as girly as I thought it would be, it wasn’t even pink!
It was a white T-shirt with baby blue polka-dots a pair of blue panties and white polka-dots, black leggings and some shiny looking black shoes.
I pulled the panties on first, then spent several minutes struggling with the leggings.
I’m pretty sure I had the most miserable face in the world whilst I was doing all of this.
The T-shirt slipped over my head easily and the shoes seemed to slip onto my feet without a fuss, as if they were made just for my feet. But that didn’t mean I liked them any better. I definitely preferred the pink converses to these shoes, they just cover up the toes, have slightly raised heels and a strap across the ankle which I assumed was a girl’s version of shoe laces.
I took one shoe off and looked at the label inside, it read ‘Angry Angels Girls Innocent Wedge Shoes, Size 5’
I used to think I was a bigger shoe size, but since these shoes fit so easily, I guess I was wrong. At least when I put them on I felt a bit taller.
When I was finally dressed, I had run out of things to do. I didn’t want to go downstairs because that would mean talking to Stephanie, and I didn’t think I could handle another couple of hours of her referring to me as her daughter. I decided to stay in Harpher’s room, sitting in front of her vanity table until I could find something to do.
Stephanie came in before I could fall asleep due to boredom, I was resting my head on my hand, glaring at my reflection in the mirror when she asked “Courtney, what’s wrong?”
I shrugged and said the honest truth “I really don’t know what to do Mom could you possibly help and braid my hair after you dry it.”
“Well shure sweetie but first we can start with drying your hair, stay right there.” Stephanie rushed out the door and walked down the hallway to what I guessed was her room, she came back holding a lethal looking hairdryer.
“You look nice in that.” She eyed me up and down whilst she plugged in the hairdryer. “Do you like it?” she asked.
“It’s not pink.” I said with a smile, I was genuinely happy that I wasn’t wearing anything pink for once.
“We’ll have to get you some new clothes then, nearly all of Harpher’s clothes are pink.” She replied.
“What about this?” I looked down at my partially blue and white outfit and smiled, I didn’t know how but wearing this black dress was making me feel really good.
“That’s one of Kaitlyn’s old sleepwear and tights, the rest of her stuff wont fit you dear, so you can wear this for a day and then go back to Harpher’s stuff.”
I nodded my reply and smiled, I wouldn’t be going back to Harpher’s stuff ever again after tomorrow, when I was sure to be a boy again. Stephanie turned on the hairdryer and soon my hair was being blown all over the place, she combed through the dried bits of hair whilst still drying the wet bits. When the hair drying was finally over, she went back to brushing my hair over and over.
“Have you ever thought about getting your ears pierced Courtney?” she asked, her eyes w asere looking straight at me in the mirror while her hands continued to work with my hair.
“I don’t know, do I need to?” I replied. I didn’t know what else to say.
“Most girls your age have their ears pierced honey, I got mine pierced when I was ten.” She seemed oddly proud of that.
I shrugged at her. Piercing my ears was another thing I was never planning on doing.
“It really doesn’t hurt, they make sure your ears wont hurt one bit, I promise.” It sounded like she was already planning on getting my ears pierced. I looked at myself in the mirror and I had a look of pure fear on my face, Stephanie smirked and continued brushing my hair until it was silky smooth just like the night before.
But she wasn’t finished there, she pinned back some hair behind my right ear using a hair clip cleverly disguised as a large white flower to go with my long blonde hair.
“There, as pretty as a flower.” Stephanie grinned. I grimaced when she wasn’t looking.
I was finally ready to face the day when Stephanie spritzed me with the same coconut perfume I had been forced to wear the day before. We then had breakfast together, watched TV together and then had lunch together. At no point did Stephanie think I was a boy, and if she didn’t see anything suspicious after spending half a day sitting right beside me, then she wasn’t going to see anything suspicious, period.
Kaitlyn still wasn’t home, she was obviously having more fun with her friends than I was. Every moment with Stephanie was torture, even watching TV was hard when she sat with you. I was the one who suggested watching some TV, and she agreed with me, saying it was a great idea as long as she had control of the remote. Immediately we were watching Girl Meets World, Austin and Ally and Jessie one after the other.
It was the most boring 2 hours of television ever, at least for a boy, I’d imagine it would be super-fun for girls.
When Stephanie had finally caught up on all her shows, she took it upon herself to repaint my nails, this time in a baby blue polish from her own collection. She sarcastically said it was made especially for maturing young girls such as myself, as if to humiliate me even more.
I had continued to chew on my nails during my stay with the Allison family, and this had left them in what Stephanie called ‘an absolutely appalling state’ and decided that she would buy me some fake nails when we went shopping later on. Wait, shopping?
“We’re going shopping?” I asked her.
“Well I was planning on going shopping today anyway, just for food, but we can pick up some stuff for you too, dear.” She was quick to reply, again it seemed like she had planned this all out very carefully.
“We?” I said, my voice riddled with fear. I was –not- going outside dressed like this. My parents would just have to look out the window and they’d see their son dressed like some little girl. I still had hope of returning to my own house but I wasn’t going to return to it just to get instant abuse for being dressed like this.
“You’re too young to be left alone, sweetheart, what if you hurt yourself and I wasn’t here to help? I would never forgive myself if something happened to you.” It seemed Stephanie had not turned off ‘mummy mode’.
“Pretty girls like you should always be outside in the summer, you know.”
There she goes again with that ‘pretty girl’ stuff, and that was it, I’d finally had enough of all this humiliation.
“You know what, I am tired of being called pretty this and pretty that, it’s time this whole thing ended and I went home.” I looked across the living room and through the large front window, without realising that Stephanie had moved somewhere. My mind must have been thinking ‘she’s still next to you, keep talking’
“Courtney doesn’t even exist, she’s someone that Kaitlyn made up so she wouldn’t get into trouble. That’s it. I’m going home.” I tried to emphasise ‘home’ as much as possible, so it was clear that this time, I was really going home.
I looked around, for some reason wanting to see Stephanie’s reaction to my big speech, but she was nowhere to be found. I walked into the kitchen, thinking she was standing in there in some state of shock, but she wasn’t there either. I soon heard her coming down the stairs and down the hallway, holding a Dalmatian print faux fur jacket in pink that looked like it would fit an 11-year-old girl perfectly.
“It may be late June but today it’s a bit chilly, I had to get one of Harpher’s jackets for you, what were you saying? Something about Kaitlyn getting in trouble?” It sounded like she hadn’t heard any of my speech except for the bit about Kaitlyn, I guess I didn’t say it loud enough.
“It was a different Kaitlyn” was good enough to throw her off the trail. My moment was gone as soon as she wrapped the fur jacket around me and buttoned me up before I could do it myself.
Why did she always have to be in such a rush? If she had stayed to listen to me when I finally had the courage to reveal all, then I’d be out of this mess. Would she even believe me if she did hear the whole thing? What if she did hear the whole thing but didn’t think anything of it? I do make quite a convincing girl, even I had to admit it.
Stephanie grabbed a hold of my hand and led me out into the great outdoors, it was such a new experience. I’d left my house to play outside thousands of times, but now I was stepping outside as a girl, a completely different person. I started acting like a completely different person as soon as I took the first step onto the Allison’s driveway, it felt like everyone was watching, waiting for me to reveal myself as a boy. But I’d lost all my courage after that speech. I began to cling onto Stephanie’s hand like a 6 year old girl like she was my only source of protection, and she offered a good hiding spot until we got to the car.
“Someone’s Scared.” Stephaniee pulled me into a motherly side hug before she lifted me into my seat at the front.
“I’m just new at this I've never really been out of my house much my parents didn't ever let me outside.” I sank back into the seat as much as possible to stop anyone from seeing my face.
“Oh poor baby you don’t have anything to worry about sweetheart.” She seemed to think I was talking about going outside. It was true, I was never allowed outside until my parents got home.
The engine was turned on, the doors locked themselves to prevent my escape, and we were off. A large red van was parked in my parent’s drive way as we slowly drove past, one of those trucks that people use to move loads of stuff around. I thought nothing of it, Mom and Dad never told me anything about what they were doing when I was a boy, that wasn’t going to change when I was a girl.
We turned out of the cul-de-sac and onto the quiet little road that connected us to a bunch of other cul-de-sacs. It was a quiet little neighbourhood that we lived in, but the site of two more large red trucks parked alongside the road was starting to worry me. I saw that my Dad was lifting a stack of chairs into the back of one truck, while my mother was talking to one of the workmen beside the other truck.
“Looks like someone’s moving.” Stephanie was quick to point out what my mind wasn’t telling me, the alarm bells were now going off. Stephanie didn’t stop to look, she just kept the car going down the road. The doors were locked and all I could was nervously look over my shoulder as the workmen continued to pack and more furniture into the trucks.
Why would they move without telling me? Without knowing where I was? Did they even know I was gone? Did they care?
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