Jacinta, part 10

“…Wow,” Lauren breathes as Ophelia and I step out of her bedroom, dressed in our elaborate costumes.

“Sure you’re wearing enough make-up?” Katie teases.

“Is it ever possible to wear too much make-up?” I ask as I preen and playfully flick my hair away from my face, which has been smeared in a bright white foundation and ‘enhanced’ with thick black eyeshadow, long (and heavy) fake eyelashes and thick black lipstick.

“Think you’re missing the words ‘at Halloween’ from the end of your question,” Katie asks.

“Does it change the answer?” I ask.

“Depends on whether your ambitions include ‘geisha’,” Katie replies. “Or ‘character from Star Trek’.”

“Oh- damn it!” I say, snapping my fingers. “Oh well, I can always go as a Borg next Halloween, hehe!”

“Nah, you’re sexy as you are,” Lauren says with a grin. “AND scary, yes!”

“But as for you, the highly appropriately named Miss Love,” Katie says, making my BFF blush, “you are going to be THE star of the party, hehe!” Ophelia lets out a quiet giggle, before doing a slow twirl in her costume- which might be the single most elaborate Halloween costume I’ve ever seen anyone wear.

Mine isn’t bad, of course- I’m wearing a short, tight bandage dress that’s been covered in black and white sequins and glitter. It hugs my curves beautifully and shows off my (already impressive but still growing) breasts to their fullest. My tights are dyed so that one leg is jet black and one leg is a bright white, and I’m wearing opposite coloured stiletto heels on my feet. Katie’s going dressed in a catsuit that’s styled like a vampire ‘tuxedo’ costume, while Lauren is wearing a dress similar to mine, only ankle-length, much lower cut and covered in a cobweb pattern (and she has cobweb-like threads weaved into her jet black hair as well).

Ophelia’s costume, however, is one of a kind. It’s built on an opaque purple bodystocking (to match this year's hair and contact lens colour), and wrapped around Ophelia’s body (providing strategic ‘coverage’ where needed) is a strip of chiffon with a snakeskin pattern, making it look as though Ophelia is being constricted by a giant python- an illusion strengthened by the ‘snake’ being sewn into her obligatory corset. Pale, deathly make-up and spike-heeled stilettos combine to make Ophelia’s costume probably the most elaborate one I’ve ever seen, and will undoubtedly be the highlight of the party.

“Ready, girlies?” Katie asks with a determined grin.

“Ready!” I cheer, before following my friends out to our waiting taxi, the driver of which still does a double take at Ophelia’s costume despite the fact that he’ll have spent all evening ferrying people to Halloween parties (even though today is only the 29th).

Our cheerfulness only increases throughout the taxi ride, and hits fever pitch when we reach our destination for two important reasons- firstly, the destination is the vast London home of Charlotte Hartley and her family, and secondly, waiting for us (well, me and Lauren, anyway) are two very sexy young men in their Halloween costumes. I giggle as I jump out of the taxi and immediately rush over to give Simon a kiss, which the bespectacled boy eagerly reciprocates- even if it does feel as awkward as it always does, what with my heels causing me to stand six inches taller than him.

“Hey you,” I purr, giggling as I feel a familiar manly bulge push into my thigh.

“Hey me,” Simon says in a cool, sexy voice, before giving me another kiss. “You ready?”

“Not as ‘ready’ as you, by the feel of things!” I tease, making my boyfriend laugh and roll his eyes.

“It’s been ages since I last saw you, give me a break,” Simon moans.

“It’s been 12 hours,” I retort, making the young man giggle.

“Enough already!” Lauren- whose hand is firmly pressed into her boyfriend’s left buttock- moans. “Party now! Other things later!”

“Hell yeah!” I cheer as Simon grabs my hand and leads me into the already-bustling party.

It’s hardly the first time Simon and I have been out this month- or even this week- but I’m still excited every time I’m out with my ‘Potential Prince Charming’- and those occasions are getting more and more frequent.

Immediately after getting together with Simon in the summer, we spent virtually every day we both had free visiting each other in either London or Brighton. The latter visits were awkward at first, thanks to dad and Ophelia’s less-than-total approval of my boyfriend, but the more they got to know Simon, the more they grew to like him, and the more Simon and I got to know each other, the more we grew to like each other- and that’s putting it mildly. Simon is sweet, kind and funny, he’s genuinely interested in my life (as I am in his), and best of all, he’s not just okay in being seen out with a transgendered girl, he’s actually proud of it. When he introduced me to his parents, he said- and I quote- ‘this is Jacinta, who I am proud to call my girlfriend’. Fortunately, his parents like me just as much as my dad likes him. If anything, they were faster to accept me than dad was to accept Simon- which I assume, or at the very least, hope is something to do with the difference between girls and boys (something else Simon’s parents had no problem with).

In September, Ophelia and I returned to university, once again sharing a flat, though this time, it mercifully has two bedrooms. Not that I sleep in my room all the time, of course- many nights are spent at Simon’s house, which is always kind of awkward as he still lives with his parents- who aren’t a problem, as described earlier- and his younger siblings, who kind of are, especially his younger brother, who is all of eight years old and has a strange fascination with staring at me whenever he sees me. Though that's definitely an improvement on his younger sister...

However, it’s not Simon’s sibling’s approval that matters to me the most- it’s my own sibling’s approval. Every time I go on a date with Simon, there’s a niggling feeling at the back of my mind that I’m somehow letting Ophelia down. Every time she wakes up alone in the flat, I KNOW I’m letting her down. Ophelia's never lived alone before- even though her family are crap, they were at least always there. Ophelia says she doesn’t mind, of course, she says she’s happy I’ve finally found my ‘Prince Charming’. I just wish I could be 100% sure that Simon IS my Prince Charming…

“Hey girlies!” Nikki and Sarah squeak as they greet the four of us with tight hugs. “And guys too, I suppose!”

“Will try not to take that personally,” Michael says with a snort of laughter.

“Now THAT,” Sarah says, stroking Ophelia’s ‘snake’, “is probably the best costume I have EVER seen!”

“You have my thanks,” Ophelia says with a smug grin as she twirls and shows off her costume. “Yours is very good too, Sarah!”

“Thank you,” Sarah says with an equally smug grin, doing a twirl in her elaborate mermaid dress, causes the embellishments to splay out almost like tentacles.

“She’s been working on it for weeks,” Nikki says as she adjusts the cleavage of her skin-tight violet catsuit. “Though she found SOME time to work on mine, hehe!”

“Easier now we’re living together,” Sarah giggles.

“Even easier now that Sarah can make a catsuit or a leotard for me without taking certain ‘other’ things into account, hehe!” Nikki squeaks, pulling a sexy pose for us.

“Ahh,” I giggle. “SO can’t wait for mine!”

“Still waiting until after you finish uni?” Nikki asks.

“That’s the plan,” I reply. “Figure I’ll still only be 22 by then, plenty of time to, you know, ‘put it to use’, hehe!”

“Cheeky!” Lauren teases. “…And I think we’re about to make the boys cry with all this talk of vaginas, hehe!”

“Go and get us some drinks!” I order Michael and Simon, giving the latter a long kiss before letting him head to the bar.

“You two still steady, then?” Nikki asks me.

“Yeah,” I say. “We’re having a lot of fun…”

“But…?” My fellow transgendered girl asks.

“But…” I sigh. “I dunno, you know? Thought it’d be more, you know, ‘electric’…”

“Not everyone falls in love at first sight,” Nikki shrugs. “Give it some time. Hell, look at Jamie and Stuart- they started out as best friends, and they’re getting married next year!”

“I guess,” I shrug.

“She’s taller than him in heels, too!” Nikki says with a wink as our drinks arrive and takes a deep swig before leading her fiancée onto the dancefloor. Naturally, Simon and I soon follow, and as the alcohol ‘lubricates’ my tension, I find myself having more and more fun, especially when Simon and I retreat to one of the sofas and indulge in a brief public display of affection- which earns us a little attention from one of the party’s hosts!

“Get a room!” Jamie teases as she and Stuart (her fiancé) sit down next to us. “And no, you CAN’T have mine!”

“Sorry, sorry if we were a bit ‘obvious’!” I giggle.

“It’s Halloween,” Stuart shrugs. “Trust me, you’d have to work REALLY hard to be ’obvious’!”

“Which, in fairness, we were,” Simon says, making me giggle and playfully roll my eyes.

“More drinks, boys,” Jamie commands, giggling Simon jumps to his feet, followed by a slightly slower Stuart, before both men head to the bar.

“Great party!” I compliment the hostess, who smiles smugly in response.

“Thanks!” Jamie giggles. “Halloween’s always been our biggest party of the year. Hope the cameras aren’t too much of a nuisance?”

“No, not at all!” I reply. “Hell, I think even Ophelia’s enjoying the attention, and that NEVER happens!”

“She deserves the attention, thanks to that costume!” Jamie giggles. “And I mean that in a good way- it is AMAZING! Already seen, like, loads of the Angels get photos for their Instagram pages.”

“She’s been working on it for ages,” I say. “Our flat’s basically 10% living space, 90% workshop, hehe!”

“Even when you’ve got your fella staying over?” Jamie asks, making me grimace.

“…He’s only little, doesn’t take up much space,” I shrug.

“Let me guess- not exactly the type of guy you thought you’d end up with?” Jamie asks.

“He’s not exactly ‘Prince Charming’,” I say. “I mean yes, he’s cute, he’s got a huge heart, even if other parts aren’t, well, ‘huge’- though it’s not like he doesn’t, you know, ‘make the most of them’…”

“Stuart hasn’t been able to make ANYTHING of his- well, ‘his’ yet,” Jamie says quietly. “Don’t spread this around, as I know he’s sensitive about it, but- well, we’re both girls, right?”

“Last time I checked,” I reply.

“Stuart’s 5’ 7”,” Jamie says. “He’s got a slender build and has yet to use his ding-a-ling at all. Doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s the sexiest guy in the room. By miles. And not just because none of the things I mentioned are even remotely his fault. Know why?”

“Because you’re soul mates?” I ask.

“D’aww,” Jamie coos. “Well… Yes, there’s that too. But want to know why I know we’re soul mates?”

“Go on,” I say.

“I don’t know why,” Jamie confesses. “I only know that there is literally no one I’d rather spend my life with than Stuart.”

“Aww,” the transman playfully coos, making his fiancée roll her eyes as he hands her her drink. “You two coming to the wedding in May?”

“We’ll be there,” I say, smiling as Simon wraps his arm around my waist.

“Though we’re going to enjoy this party first!” Simon says, finishing his drink and waiting for me to finish mine before leading me back out to the dancefloor.

We stay at the party until just after 1am, at which point we head back to Simon’s house, where we spend the rest of the night indulging all of our most basic desires. When I wake up the following morning, I experience my customary moment of hungover panic as I find myself in an unfamiliar room, before turning over and discovering the sleeping teenager wedged next to me in the bed.

“Hey,” I whisper, gently shaking Simon’s shoulder and causing the young man to moan in pain.

“Hey,” Simon groans into his pillow, making me roll my eyes. He’s obviously worse off than I am- then again, he IS smaller than me. In height AND weight…

“So, we- we getting up today, then?” I ask, giggling as Simon FINALLY rolls over and wraps his arms around my waist.

“…Maybe,” Simon sighs, giving me a gentle kiss that makes me giggle. “I’d rather not, though…”

“…You still REALLY taste of booze,” I say.

“I know,” Simon moans. “Ugh, we HAD better get up, I’ve got work today…”

“I’m off today, thank god,” I sigh. “When do you have to be in work?”

“Midday,” Simon replies.

“Well, it IS barely 9am,” I say with a sly, sultry grin as I press my slick, naked body against my boyfriend’s, grinning as he gently kisses my shoulder, then my neck, then my mouth…

Half an hour, with both of us covered in a fine sheen of sweat, we both finally get out of bed, Simon changing into his work uniform while I pull on a clingy, long-sleeved striped top, a pair of shiny black tights and a tight black miniskirt. After last night, I opt for a pair of cute flats instead of the killer heels I wore with my costume (which has been unceremoniously stuffed into the same carrier bag I used to bring my clothes to Simon’s), though I still make sure my hair and make-up are immaculate before leaving Simon’s bedroom, as I know I’ll need all the confidence I can get…

“Morning, you two!” Simon’s mother says as we enter the small kitchen.

“Hi, Mrs. Clarke,” I say, trying not to grimace as Simon’s 8 year old brother immediately spins around in his chair, almost Exorcist-style, and stares straight at my made-up face.

“Jenson, it’s rude to stare,” Mrs. Clarke says, causing her son to lower his gaze, though within seconds, his eyes slowly start to raise until they are, once again, fixed on my face. Knowing a losing battle when I see one, I simply sigh and pour me and my boyfriend a cup of coffee each, bracing myself for the inevitable second round of ‘interaction’ with Simon’s siblings.

“Did you two have fun last night?” Simon’s mother asks.

“It was great!” I say with as much enthusiasm as my hungover brain can manage. “All the costumes were SO amazing, heh!”

“It was seriously crowded, though,” Simon says, placing his hand in front of his brother’s eyes, which averts his stare from my face- for all of ten seconds.

“Nikki says it always is at Halloween,” I say. “New Years is busy as well.”

“Which I plan on going to as well, just so you’re aware,” Simon says.

“Well, you’re an adult now,” Mrs. Clarke says with a heavy sigh. “It’s your life to live how you want. Just as long as you don’t let you know who know ab-“ Simon’s mother immediately shuts up when the kitchen door opens and Simon’s sister enters the room.

Like Simon, Ally is short, slender and wears glasses. Unlike Simon, however, she’s fifteen years old, clad in a pair of pink pyjama bottoms with an Angel wing design and a t-shirt proudly displaying the logo of Out of Heaven. More significantly, she’s not hungover, she knows exactly where Simon and I were last night, and when she sees the two of us sat at the kitchen table, I can actually see her heart rate increase.

“Oh my god!” Ally squeaks as she sits down next to me and stares at me in a way not unlike her younger brother. “What was it like last night? Were Out of Heaven there? Were any other celebrities there? What was Jamie-Lee Burke’s costume like? Who-“

“Ally!” Simon’s mother admonishes the teenaged girl, making her blush and visibly shrink in her seat.

“…Cool, all four of them, a few of them, and cool again, in that order,” I answer, making Simon snort with laughter.

“Did you get any selfies?” Ally asks, before a loud cough from her mother silences her. “Sorry…”

“As if you haven’t gone through every Instagram account you follow before coming down here,” Simon teases. “Jacinta’s included!”

“She might not have uploaded the photos yet,” Ally shrugs, before her face one again lights up with excitement. “Oh my god, do you have any photos no one’s seen yet?”

“…We ought to get going,” Simon says as his sister gets more and more fidgety. “Don’t want to be late for work…”

“Don’t want to be late for, umm,” I mumble as I look at the desperate face of Simon’s sister and the creepy, fixed stare of his brother. “Well… Bye!”

“See you soon, Jacinta!” Mrs. Clarke says, waving as I and her son leave the house, both of us breathing a loud sigh of relief once we’re outside.

“No offence, but I feel SO sorry for your mother,” I say.

“Feel sorry for me,” Simon says with a snort of laughter. “I’ve been living with them for years…”

“D’aww,” I say, giving my boyfriend a playful cuddle- which is, as always, awkward due to my being taller than him.

“…Thanks for wearing flats today,” Simon whispers, making me giggle awkwardly. “See you tomorrow after work?”

“Halloween party at uni,” I sigh. “It’s the LGBT society so kinda something I can’t get out of, being one of the committee there…”

“Are you still out with the society on Tuesday as well?” Simon asks.

“Yeah,” I sigh, before giving my boyfriend another kiss and giggling as he grabs a generous helping of my nylon-covered thigh. “And I definitely don’t want you running off with any of the boys there, hehe! We’ll work something out. Wednesday, maybe.”

“See you Wednesday,” Simon says, giving me another kiss before heading off to his work place, leaving me to walk the short distance to the nearest tube station for my ride home.

As always, I get a lot of male attention on my way home, and despite my ‘unavailable’ status, I can’t help but grin every time I catch someone staring at my chest, or my legs, or my waist- or even, sometimes, my face. No amount of make-up or hair styling can disguise the shape of my skull, or my jaw, or even my shoulders, or ribcage… But two and a bit years of oestrogen have given me the body I want, both on the inside and the outside, and it’s clear that for every person who ‘susses’ me and sneers at me for being who I really am on the inside, there’s at least one other person who wants my body as well- just in a different way than I ‘want’!

I pause as I walk up to the front door of my flat- there’s no sound of a TV or a radio coming from the inside, which there normally is at this time of day, especially if we’ve had people staying over, like Lauren and Katie said they would (hence why I didn’t feel too guilty about sleeping over at Simon’s last night). Sure enough, when I enter the living room, the lights are off and there are two semi-naked unconscious bodies sprawled out on our sofa bed, still wearing the make-up and some of the costumes they wore last night. A wicked smile creeps across my face as I tiptoe toward the living room light, which I slowly reach out for…

“Rarrrrrrr!” Lauren and Katie suddenly yell, sitting up in bed and making me sigh and roll my eyes.

“Oh- come on,” Katie pleads. “Nothing?”

“I was going to scare you!” I say. “I was already, you know, ‘adrenalined’.”

“Ugh, fine,” Lauren sighs.

“Besides, you were a vampire and you were a witch last night,” I say to Katie and Lauren respectively. “Zombie impersonations don’t make sense.”

“I could always be a zombie vampire,” Katie shrugs. “God, I felt like it when I woke up, heh.”

“You’d better not have puked in my sofa,” I warn my freckled friend. “Or got too much make-up on my pillows.”

“Oh whatever,” Lauren shrugs. “One night a year, you can let us off.”

“Why aren’t you sleeping in my bed anyway?” I ask as I head to the kitchen area to prepare a pot of coffee.

“It had two lesbians shagging in it last night,” Katie candidly replies, almost making me drop our coffee pot. “They’ll probably be up in a bit.”

“And Ophelia’s gone out to fetch breakfast from McDonald’s,” Lauren explains. “She was the least hungover of the five of us so, yeah.”

“Fair enough,” I shrug. “Should’ve texted me, I could’ve gone to meet up with her.” For some reason, this causes Katie and Lauren to exchange a knowing look.

“She’ll be back in a few minutes,” Lauren says. “And would I be right in assuming that Snikki weren’t the only ones enjoying ‘company’ last night?”

“I’m just surprised that you didn’t,” I say to the black haired girl, who simply giggles in response.

“Sisters before misters,” Lauren says.

“You’re only let off because your relationship with Simon is still new,” Katie informs me. “And Snikki needed somewhere to sh- sleep, hehe! If you were worried about US pumping bodily fluids into your upholstery…”

“I’ll make sure to burn those sheets, then,” I say. “And thanks, like, for keeping Ophelia company…”

“She’s fine,” Katie says. “She honestly is happy for you, Jacinta. Even if ‘happy’ does sometimes mean ‘concerned’.” I pause to think about how I’d respond to my friend, before we’re all interrupted by the sound of my bedroom door opening and two very dishevelled-looking teenaged girls emerging, ‘dressed’ only in my bedsheets.

“Ah, good morning!” I say to the young women, who simultaneously groan in response. “Hope my bed was comfortable?”

“Assuming you didn’t spend all night sleeping on each other?” Katie teases.

“Ugh, give us a break,” Sarah moans. “Got any aspirin?”

“Or morphine?” Nikki snorts.

“I’ve got coffee,” I shrug, pouring the two grateful girls a mug each. “And Ophelia will be here soon with some breakfast from the golden arches.”

“…I’d have preferred actual food for breakfast, but it’ll do,” Sarah sighs. “What’s everyone got planned for today?”

“Other than dying and becoming a zombie?” Katie says with a tired snort of laughter. “I dunno. Coursework probably.”

“Same here,” I say. “Because Miss Phillips and I will be right back at it tomorrow night!”

“And Miss Thomas as well!” Nikki interjects.

“You’re not helping to organise the party,” I say.

“For once!” Nikki giggles. “It’ll be nice to be more ‘demand’ than ‘supply’, heh.”

“This the LGBT society party?” Lauren asks, smiling as Sarah and I nod. “It’s pretty cool that you two are getting so into, like, the culture of the uni.”

“Um, hello?” Katie asks. “Who’s a part-time photographer for the university zine?”

“You spend at most an hour and a half a week doing that,” Lauren retorts, before letting out a loud sigh. “Looks like it’ll be coursework for me too today. Unless there’s anything good on TV?”

“Let me see,” Katie says, checking her smartphone. “There’s an American Football game at Wembley today if anyone’s interested?”

“Have a wild guess,” Sarah snorts. “Can’t think of anything worse, heh!”

“Rugby, maybe?” Nikki asks, sharing a knowing stare with me. “Especially if you’re forced to play it.”

“Ugh, you have NO idea there,” I assure my friends. “Especially as rugby players are, like, Picasso faces as well, with broken noses and teeth… American Football players at least wear helmets to protect the important bits.”

“Like this guy?” Katie asks, showing me a picture of a VERY attractive man in an American Football uniform.

“…Yes, very much like him!” I giggle. “Who is he?”

“Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots,” Katie replies. “Supposed to be, like, the Cristiano Ronaldo of the sport.”

“So rich as well?” I ask, my spirits quickly perking up as my friends share a good-natured giggle. “What? I’m not allowed to fantasise about a tall, rich guy who’s built like a brick shithouse?”

“Not when your current boyfriend’s a short guy who lives with his parents and is built like a doll’s house,” Katie says, making me blush and bite my lip. She has a point- especially because as much as I hate to admit it, I’m having a lot more fun with the girls than I usually do when I’m out with Simon… But wouldn’t that be the case for any guy? ‘Sisters before misters’, as Lauren puts it?

“Also can’t help but notice that you’re showing a lot more leg today than you did last night,” Katie teases, snickering as I tug down the hem of my skirt.

“Why wouldn’t I?” I retort, earning giggles from the other girls.

“Touché,” Katie giggles, before a wide grin spreads across her face as the front door of our flat slowly opens, allowing in the smell of hot fast food… And one of the most unexpected sights of my entire life.

There, carrying three bags full of food, is Ophelia… Dressed in a pair of jeans and a plain grey sweatshirt. She’s clearly wearing her corset underneath her sweater and a pair of heels on her feet- and her usual thick make-up- but she looks so plain it takes a while for me to register that it’s actually her.

“O… Phelia?” I ask.

“Here is your breakfast,” Ophelia says with a distinctive growl to her voice as she drops the bags on top of the still-supine Lauren. “Now if you will excuse me, I must change.”

“Wait a second,” Sarah says, grabbing her phone from where she must have left it last night on the kitchen counter. “Got to get a photo of this…” Ophelia’s frown deepens as she shoves her hands into her pockets and poses for Sarah’s photograph, before letting out a loud sigh and heading into her bedroom.

“I bet her that you’d be back before 10:30,” Lauren explains. “If she won, I’d have gone and got the food myself. As I won… Well, you saw.”

“And as you got back at 10:50, I’d say you kinda owe her,” Katie giggles.

“Is it still that early?” I ask.

“Time didn’t fly while you were with Simon, then?” Katie asks, before biting her lip as she realises exactly what she implied.

“…I can’t talk about girl shit with him,” I shrug.

“’Girl shit’!?” Nikki says with a giggle. “Char-ming!”

“What?” I shrug. “Boys are great for some things, but for others… You just have more fun with girls sometimes, you know?”

“Girls CAN be good for both things, of course!” Sarah says, playing wrapping her arms around her fiancée.

“Not saying that they can’t,” I reply.

“And in fairness, it’s not like cuddles here didn’t skip out on her fella entirely,” Katie says as she wraps her arms around a reluctant Lauren.

“…Though I may or may not have fucked him in Charlotte’s downstairs toilet,” Lauren says with a wink, which earns excited gasps and coos from the rest of us.

“Seriously?” Sarah asks. “Is it possible to be a slut if you’re in a committed monogamous relationship?”

“Oh- shut up,” Lauren moans. “So I wanted a bit of man flesh, whatever. Not like I’m you-know-who, shagging a random guy in a Spanish toilet…”

“Let me guess- Dannii, right?” I ask.

“Who else?” Nikki snorts.

“You know, as much as I miss her at times,” Lauren muses, “I had a LOT more fun last night without her, hehe!”

“We can still be naughty without being, you know, ‘Dannii’,” Sarah says with a grin, which only widens when my BFF emerges from her bedroom, dressed in an elaborate knee-length dress with puffy shoulders, as well as lacy black tights and stiletto heels. “And speaking of ‘naughty’…”

“I do not know what you could possibly mean,” Ophelia playfully protests.

“Exactly,” Katie concurs. “Hardly drinks, doesn’t smoke, no casual sex, Ophelia’s practically straight edge, aren’t you, O?”

“I am,” Ophelia says with a smug smile. “In public, anyway…” I grin along with the rest of my friends as my BFF teases us- something that would have been unthinkable for Ophelia as recently as a year ago, but nowadays, she’s just as ‘naughty’ as the rest of us- albeit only when it’s just the six of us in private.

“Girls behaving badly!” Nikki cheers, a cheer that the rest of us eagerly echo.

“’Bad behaviour’ including ‘coursework’ and ‘ironing’!” Sarah giggles.

“I dunno,” Katie says with a wicked grin. “Ironing could be bad behaviour, it just depends on whether or not Nikki does it, and what she wears while doing it…”

“Oh- like Sarah needs ideas putting in her head,” Lauren snorts as Nikki and Sarah both start to blush.

“I just want to know one thing,” I say with a sly grin. “…Can I borrow the ‘outfit’?”

Our four friends remain at our flat until mid-afternoon, which has the side effect of making my ribs hurt from laughing so much at the fun we have. We don’t ‘do’ anything other than chat, eat lunch and drink tea and coffee, but as always when it comes to having fun, the ‘who’ is far more important than the ‘what’, the ‘where’ or anything else. Ophelia is my best friend, and always will be, but I love Katie and the others almost as much, and I can’t (and don’t want to) imagine my life without them in it. They’re easily the best friends I ever had- though I am, of course, aware of the famous saying ‘you can never have too many friends’!

Another person who’s aware of that saying is my BFF, who- with a wide grin still plastered on her face- kicks off her shoes and carefully lowers herself onto our sofa once our friends have left.

“Tired?” I ask.

“I need to regain my breath,” Ophelia replies. “Laughing that much while wearing a corset is… Uncomfortable, hehe!” I half-giggle and half-grimace as Ophelia’s uncharacteristic giggle causes her to wince in pain.

“You could always loosen your corset,” I suggest, earning a tired look from my BFF. “Point taken. But the fun was worth the discomfort, right?”

“Without doubt,” Ophelia replies. “Sometimes I wish that all of us could live together all the time.”

“You’re not worried that it’d get really old really quickly?” I ask.

“No,” Ophelia bluntly replies.

“…Okay, then,” I say, moving Ophelia’s legs (despite her protest) and sitting myself down on the sofa.

“Make yourself comfortable,” Ophelia says with a sarcastic snort.

“Says the girl laid on her back,” I retort, making my BFF smile.

“…Sometimes I wish that I WAS a lesbian,” Ophelia says, making me frown with confusion.

“You could always, you know, give it a try,” I shrug.

“The… ‘Mechanical nature’ of it does not appeal to me,” Ophelia replies. “And more to the point, the same could be said of you.”

“I’m flattered, but I’ve got a boyfriend,” I reply, making my BFF roll her eyes.

“And do you have as much fun with your boyfriend as the six of us had today?” Ophelia asks, making me frown.

“There’s no reason why I couldn’t,” I reply. “No reason why YOU couldn’t, either.”

“I believe that,” Ophelia says. “If I were dating the right man…”

“Are you implying that I’m not?” I ask.

“I’m not implying anything,” Ophelia replies. “Shall we watch television?”

“Yes,” I bluntly reply as I pass my BFF the remote control.

We spend the rest of the evening watching TV and doing coursework, eventually getting to bed just after 10pm- though in my case at least, ‘bed’ doesn’t automatically equal ‘sleep’.

‘Hey,’ I type into my phone once I’m tucked up underneath my warm sheets. ‘You still awake?’

‘Course,’ my boyfriend replies with ‘smiling’ and ‘kissing’ emojis. ‘You?’

‘In bed but still awake,’ I type. ‘Uni tomorrow, got a lot of work this semester.’

‘You’ll be great,’ Simon types, making me grin. ‘You get up to much today?’

‘Just hanging out with the girls,’ I reply. ‘How was work?’

‘Long,’ Simon replies. ‘Getting ready for the new Harry Potter film in a couple of weeks. Not as bad as Star Wars last December but still pretty mental.’

‘Sure you can’t get away tomorrow and come with me to the party?’ I ask. ‘Won’t be a problem smuggling you in, especially if you’re in costume.’

‘I’ll be in costume but I’ll also have to be in work,’ Simon replies with a ‘frowning’ emoji. ‘They’re doing a horror movie marathon- Halloween and all- so it’s all hands on deck.’

‘Boo,’ I type with a ‘sad’ emoji. ‘Going as anything sexy?’

‘Assuming you call a beige boiler suit and a huge backpack ‘sexy’,’ Simon replies. ‘Not many Halloween costumes for guys with glasses!’

‘Who you gonna call?’ I type with a ‘laughing’ emoji. ‘I could always come wearing a nightgown? There is no Jacinta, only Zuul?’

‘Sorry Hanley,’ Simon replies. ‘I’m aroused beyond the capacity for rational thought.’

‘Lol!’ I reply with a ‘laughing’ emoji.

‘And I really am,’ Simon types. ‘Not many sexy girls who you can quote Ghostbusters to, even fewer would quote it back!’

‘I grew up watching my dad’s old VHS tapes from the eighties,’ I explain. ‘Must’ve seen Ghostbusters thirty times. And Back to the Future fifty times lol.’

‘Make me even more aroused will you?’ Simon types with a ‘sticking out tongue’ emoji. ‘Gonna be hell waiting until Wednesday to see you again.’

‘It’s the right time of year for it,’ I reply with a ‘hugging’ emoji. ‘Better get to sleep. Talk soon sexy!’

‘Night babe xxxx,’ Simon types.

‘Night sexy xxxxx,’ I reply, before tossing my phone back onto my nightstand and letting out a long, happy sigh. Who says that I can’t have as much ‘fun’ with my boyfriend as I can with the girls?

Naturally, though, I have a grin on my face the following morning when Ophelia and I meet up with Katie, Lauren and Sarah at the front entrance of the college, with hugs being exchanged by all of us (even Ophelia, who’s become quite the hugger over the last few months) before we head to our respective classes.

“Still allergic to covering up your legs?” Katie teases as she gestures toward my nylon-covered legs and the same skirt I wore yesterday.

“Uh- you can talk?” I reply, gesturing toward my friend’s legs- which are just as exposed as mine, if not more so.

“It’s different rules for when you’re wearing shorts instead of a skirt,” Katie informs me with a smug grin.

“’Shorts’, maybe,” I retort. “How sure are you that they aren’t denim underpants?”

“Oh- shut up,” Katie snorts, before letting out a loud giggle. “What time’s the party tonight?”

“Starts at 7pm,” I reply. “Dunno how late it’ll go, being Monday and all… You’ll be there, then?”

“Uh- yeah!” Katie giggles. “Sure, I’m not L, G, B or T, but I’m still cool enough to come, right?”

“Sure!” I giggle. “All allies are welcome… Will be nice to have someone to go with, ‘cause Simon can’t make it.”

“I saw a picture of his costume on Facebook,” Katie says. “Him and the rest of the ‘ghostbusters’. Only saw the movie once but I always thought the one with the glasses was the tallest?”

“…Common misconception,” I shrug, trying not to let my friend see my scowl.

“Meh, either way, his loss!” Katie giggles as we head into our first class of the day.

Luckily, I’m able to immerse myself in my work so as to not get too hung up over what Katie was saying- I’m all too aware that physically, Simon isn’t the most ‘impressive’ guy I’ve ever dated, but he’s still funny, cute, great in bed- both in the ‘regular sense’ and ‘texting Ghostbusters quotes back and forth’ sense. The topic of Simon stays off the table at lunch, though plenty of laughs are exchanged between the five of us, especially when I told the girls about the ‘difficulty’ Ophelia had with her corset yesterday!

After an afternoon spent editing photos in the university’s computer lab, Ophelia and I head back to our flat, where we once again don our costumes for the party- though tonight’s costumes are very different from Saturday’s. One advantage of living with a fashion design student (and being friends with two others) is that you have unlimited access to someone with the ability and the will to create new items of clothing quickly without skimping on quality, and given how much Ophelia loves making ‘eccentric’ clothes, this year I had a wide choice of costumes to choose from!

“A good choice,” Ophelia muses as I step out of my bedroom in my chosen costume. Unlike Saturday’s short dress, tonight’s costume is based around a long-sleeved leotard, made of crushed velvet and embellished with cobweb-like fringing. Two pairs of tights cover my legs- the bottom pair is a shiny tan colour, the top pair is made of dark fishnet, and a pair of suicidally high platform stilettos complete my look. Naturally, my hair has been teased to maximise its volume (and it’s weaved in with the fringing of my leotard) and my make-up is a deathly pale colour. My favourite part of the costume, though, has to be the 3” long pointed black nails on my fingertips!

“Thank you, Miss Love,” I say in a playful, posh femme fatale voice as I pose in the elaborate (not to mention tight) costume. “Might I compliment you on yours as well?”

“Thank you, Miss Hanley!” Ophelia says as she poses in her costume. Like Saturday’s costume, it’s based on a bodystocking or a catsuit- when you’ve spent so many years torturing your waist to get a sexy figure, I suppose even Ophelia would want to show it off- only instead of a ‘snake’, Ophelia’s wrapped her body in white chiffon ‘bandages’ (which again hide her corset) that cover her whole body, including parts of her face. Her hair is completely concealed underneath the bandages, and her make-up, like mine, is pale and sickly.

With wide grins on our faces, the two of us head down to our waiting taxi, which whisks us the short distance to our university’s student union bar. The bar has been decked out in the usual Halloween decorations- tombstones, ghosts, zombies, skeletons… And as the party is being organised by the college’s LGBT society, there are also copious amounts of rainbows and even a fair few transgender pride flags. The best decoration is easily the seven foot tall zombie that’s wearing a prom dress, a pair of Elton John-style sunglasses, is covered in rainbow flag stickers and is smoking (what I hope is) a cigar.

“Hey girlies!” Sarah- one of the committee members of the LGBT society responsible for tonight’s party- squeaks as Ophelia and I arrive. “LOVE those costumes, hehe!”

“Thanks!” I say, doing a twirl in my elaborate get-up. “Love yours too!”

“It’s the same one I wore on Saturday!” Sarah giggles. “But you’re welcome, heh! Bit too busy getting this place ready to come up with another one- especially as I’d have to come up with two new ones!”

“Hey girlies!” Nikki- who’s also dressed in the costume she wore on Saturday- squeaks, giving Ophelia and me a hug each as she approaches.

“Hello Nikki,” Ophelia says with a grin. “I see they were able to sneak you past security, then?”

“Nah, I’m just sleeping with one of the people in charge,” Nikki shrugs, making Ophelia and I giggle as she gives Sarah a long, deep kiss. “Are Katie and Lauren with you?”

“Think they’re making their own way here,” I say. “I LOVE what you’ve done with this place, it looks AWESOME, hehe!”

“Thank you,” Sarah says with a smug grin. “I can’t take ALL the credit, though… Hey! Becky!” I grin as the chairperson of the LGBT committee- a short, curvy 22 year old girl on a post-graduate course- skips over to us with a wide grin on her face.

“Hey you four!” Becky says with a grin. “Ah, I LOVE your costumes! Especially yours, Ophelia- is your corset part of those bandages?”

“It is indeed,” Ophelia says, doing a twirl for the petite girl and lifting part of her costume at the back to show the laces of her corset.

“Ah… SUCH a pity you’re straight, hehe!” Becky giggles.

“Great turnout tonight!” I say. “We should do the Halloween party every yeah, heh.”

“Damn right we should!” Becky says. “Your piece of meat joining us tonight?”

“No, he’s at work,” I sigh. “I’m basically just here to look sexy and be girly tonight, hehe!”

“Sounds good to me!” Becky giggles, before heading off to greet more partygoers.

“I really like her,” I muse.

“Thinking of asking her to be a bridesmaid, actually,” Sarah says. “One of MINE, obviously!”

“The girliest wedding of all time!” I cheer, earning excited giggles from all of my friends, which only increase when Katie and Lauren arrive, both also wearing their costumes from Saturday.

“Hey girlies!” Katie squeaks as she exchanges hugs with the four of us. “LOVE those costumes, Jacelia!”

“Thank you,” Ophelia and I reply as we do simultaneous twirls for our friends.

“Already regretting these shoes though,” I say. “And not just because I’m 6’ 4” wearing them!”

“They’re DAMNED sexy, though!” Katie giggles. “Your whole getup is, in fact! What are you, zombie, vampire, showgirl, thing?”

“Something like that,” I reply with a quiet giggle.

“Well- dibs on th-“ Katie shrugs, before being hastily interrupted.

“Dibs on that next year!” Nikki hastily blurts, earning an angry stare from Katie, before both girls burst into fits of laughter.

“Any reason why all six of us can’t be, like, a vampire showgirl chorus line next year?” I ask.

“Me trying to stuff my thighs and my tits into a costume THAT tight?” Lauren replies.

“Nah, you’ll be fine,” Sarah says. “You’ll be even sexier, hehe!”

“Especially if your costume isn’t up to the task of keeping them in!” Katie says, giggling as Lauren gives her a playful punch in her arm.

“And besides, you are an expert at modifying clothes,” Ophelia says. “You could always alter your costume to provide more coverage.”

“True, I suppose,” Lauren shrugs.

“Or less coverage…” Ophelia teases, giggling loudly as Lauren motions to give her a punch too, only to loudly sigh instead.

“We NEED alcohol,” Lauren announces, earning cheers from the rest of us.

Naturally, within half an hour, the six of us have been sufficiently ‘lubricated’ and are spread throughout the crowd, dancing, drinking and having fun. Sarah and Nikki are holed in a corner somewhere by themselves, while Lauren and Ophelia are comparing costume design tips with other girls from their course, leaving me and Katie dancing in the middle of a packed, heaving crowd. Naturally, with my heels making me one of the tallest people in the room, I- and my costume- are getting a lot of attention!

“You are HOT tonight!” Katie giggles into my ear as the two of us soak up the male attention from the crowd. “See anybody you like the look of?”

“Umm, I have a boyfriend?” I reply.

“Well- yeah,” Katie concedes. “But still- you know, right?”

“…I know what?” I ask.

“Like, umm, look but don’t touch?” Katie says. “Sure, we get on the boys’ backs about this, but we can do it, right? And there ARE a lot of cute guys here tonight!”

“Well- ugh,” I spit. “Time for a refill.”

“Took the words right out of my mouth,” Katie says as she follows me to the bar. “Same again, please.”

“Coming right up,” the barman says as I try not to get angry at Katie’s comments. “Jacinta?”

“Same,” I say as Katie’s smile starts to turn into a frown.

“What’s up?” The freckled girl asks me.

“I’m not here to pick up guys,” I tell my friend.

“Never said you were,” Katie retorts. “Though… You know?”

“Again, I know what?” I ask.

“You’re, like, showing a LOT more skin than you did on Saturday,” Katie observes. “Simon was there on Saturday, but he’s not here now…?”

“So- what?” I ask, biting my lip to try to control my anger. “I’m dressed like this because I want a quick, cheap fuck?”

“I didn’t say that!” Katie protests.

“Did you think it?” I ask, groaning in frustration as Katie hesitates before answering. “Never mind! I’m going to sit down somewhere. Somewhere ELSE. And not on some random guy’s lap!”

“Oh- Jacinta…” Katie moans as I take my blood-red drink and try to disappear into the crowd. My first instinct is to try to find Ophelia and see if I can persuade her to get an early night (we do have university tomorrow, after all), but as I’m walking through the crowd, I see a sight that actually makes my jaw drop with shock.

Sat at one of the corner tables, dressed as a mortician, is the unmistakable figure of Tom Randall, and cuddled up next to him, dressed as a sexy pirate, is a face I haven’t seen in over four years, and haven’t spoken to in almost seven.

“Hi Tom,” I say with a nervous wave as I approach the table. “Hi… Caitlin.”

“Oh, hi Jacinta!” Tom says with a grin as his girlfriend looks on in confusion. Does she really not recognise me?

“Hi,” Caitlin says with an equally nervous wave. “Do- do we, like, know each other?”

“We do from Brighton,” I explain. “I’m- or rather, I- I used to be Jason Hanley.” I bite my lip as Caitlin’s eyes go wide from the revelation.

“Oh- my- you- you!?” Caitlin responds.

“I did tell you I ran into her last year,” Tom says, gesturing to me to sit down.

“I know, but- really?” Caitlin says as I can’t help but giggle. “I thought you meant she was, like- wow.”

“Good ‘wow’ or bad ‘wow?” I ask.

“Just- wow,” Caitlin says.

“Didn’t the fact that I only ever hung out with you and the girls AND joined in all your costume parties give you a clue that I wasn’t quite, you know, ‘boyish’?” I ask.

“I just assumed it was because you didn't have any male friends,” Caitlin replies. “But- wow! How- how have you been?”

“Great!” I squeak. “I’m in my second year here, I’m averaging a 2:1, I’ve got plenty of friends, a cute boyfriend…”

“Boyfriend? Really?” Caitlin asks. “So… Is he, like, gay too?” I decide not to bother biting my lip, as nothing would prevent the frown on my face from showing through.

“Umm, no, we’re both straight,” I explain. “He’s a guy, I’m a girl… Yeah.”

“Yeah, but- you know,” Caitlin shrugs as my frown deepens. “Eh… Never mind. Umm… How’s your dad?”

“He’s okay,” I reply, shrugging off Caitlin’s insult- she might just be misinformed. After all, not everyone is familiar with gender identity issues (even though I know for a fact that she still lives in Brighton), she might just need a little education, that’s all. “Still lives in Brighton, he’s getting REALLY excited by Albion’s season.”

“Not surprised, hehe!” Caitlin replies as my smile slowly returns. “So, you- you got many friends here in London?”

“A few,” I shrug, trying not to grin too much about what I’m about to say. “I was actually at a Halloween party at Charlotte Hutchinson’s house on Saturday…”

“Who?” Caitlin asks, making my face fall. Perhaps not, then…

“She was on Strictly in 2012,” Tom explains. “She’s part of that modelling clique, you know, the ones who’ve just been signed to Amazon Prime? I'm sure you've watched their show before..."

“Oh, THEM,” Caitlin snorts in a way that makes it very clear that not only is she not a fan, she’s not likely to be one any time soon. But that’s okay, not everyone has to be a fan of the Angels, she could still be cool…

“They’re actually pretty cool once you get to know them,” I say. “They’ve got this saying, you know? ‘You can never have too many friends’? They do genuinely mean it.”

“Well- I guess,” Caitlin shrugs. “Still not going to sign up to Amazon just to watch them, heh.”

“…You have an Amazon Prime account anyway,” Tom reminds his girlfriend as I find myself feeling more and more awkward.

“Anyway,” I say. “You- you still working at Primark?”

“Umm, yep!” Caitlin replies. “There’s a supervisor position opening in a few months, reckon I’m gonna go for it… You working anywhere or, you know, studying?”

“I’ve got a Saturday job,” I reply. “Just a bit of pocket money really, but it’s better than nothing!”

“Yeah,” Caitlin giggles.

“You never fancied uni yourself?” I ask.

“Not really my thing,” Caitlin shrugs. “Though- though it’s cool that you’re going.”

“Yeah,” I say, my awkward feeling not subsiding. “I- I like your costume! You make it yourself?”

“What? No, heh!” Caitlin replies. “Just off the rack. Did- did you make yours?”

“My best friend’s doing fashion design, she did it for me,” I say, standing up and doing a twirl in my skin-tight costume.

“I figured you didn’t get it from, like, Ann Summers,” Caitlin says, making me giggle- though I’m not sure whether or not I’m giggling at the memory of mine & my friends’ last visit to the infamous shop…

“Not this time, heh!” I giggle.

“Do- do they, you know, let you in Ann Summers?” Caitlin asks, and again, my smile disappears.

“Why wouldn’t they?” I ask.

“Because- well, you know…” Caitlin asks. So much for ‘education’…

“Honestly, tell me, why wouldn’t they?” I ask.

“Okay, it’s been fun,” Tom says, standing up and trying to get his girlfriend to follow.

“Look, Jason,” Caitlin sighs.

“Jacinta,” I correct my former friend.

“No, Jason,” Caitlin says, making me growl with anger. “You can’t just put on a- whatever that is- or a dress, or a skirt and go ‘I’m a girl’ any more than that stupid-looking girl in the corset can wrap herself in bandages and go ‘I’m a mummy’.” And that’s the last straw, I think to myself.

“Obviously I haven’t missed much the last seven years,” I sigh. “I’m not just dressing up as a girl. I’m not just a girl on the outside, but the inside as well. I’m taking hormones tablets, I’m looking into surgery-“

“If you get the surgery then all you’ll be is Theon Greyjoy,” Caitlin snorts.

“How can you live in Brighton, of all places, and sincerely believe that?” I ask. “And you’re at a party hosted by the LGBT society, for god’s sake!”

“Because I know you, Jason,” Caitlin says.

“You obviously fucking well don’t,” I snarl.

“O-kay then!” Tom says, forcibly standing his girlfriend up and moving her away. “Been nice catching up, Jacinta.”

“Yeah,” I say, letting out a long sigh Tom and Caitlin walk away, the tall young man mouthing a silent 'sorry' toward me as he leaves.

When I was a child- a boy- Caitlin, along with our friends Jessica and Noor, were my best friends. When we grew apart during secondary school, I assumed that it was down to puberty, with the girls becoming women and me becoming, whether I liked it or not, a man… Even after befriending Ophelia and the other girls, I’d occasionally think back to my primary school days and wonder what it’d be like if ‘Jacinta’ met the trio. We’d go on a night out, talk about our lives, gossip about boys, swap fashion and make-up tips… Now I know not to bother wasting any more time fantasising about my old friends, especially when all the things I wanted to do with them I can do- and have done- with my new friends. With ‘Jacinta’s friends, the ones who accept me for who I really am. One of whom I owe an apology to…

“Hey,” I say as I approach the table where all five of my friends are sat.

“Hi,” Katie says stoically.

“Look, I- I’m sorry I snapped at you,” I sigh, biting my lip to stop me from crying as Katie almost immediately smiles. “You just- you kinda touched a nerve, that’s all.”

“Apology accepted,” Katie said, standing up and giving me a hug. “And I’m sorry too, obviously you’re dressed for fun and not for- well, something else that begins with an ‘F’, heh!”

“Apology accepted!” I giggle, tightening my hug to the freckled girl’s dismay. “Mmm… Soft!”

“Get off,” Katie snorts, before tightening her hug. “Mmm… Girly! Maybe I should give lesbianism a go…”

“I highly recommend it!” Sarah says with a grin. “Not that I’m attracted to any women other than the one I already have, of course!”

“Ditto,” Nikki says as she and Sarah share a gentle kiss.

“Well unfortunately, I am 100% STRAIGHT,” I say. “And you know what that means, right?”

“Same thing it means for me, Ophelia and maybe Katie!” Lauren says, before shrieking as Katie plops down next to her and tries to ambush her with a tight hug. “Hey! Careful of my tits!”

“What do you think I’m going for?” Katie asks, making all of us giggle as she gives Lauren a long kiss on her cheek. “We’re at an LGBT party, and when in Rome…”

“Oh, fine, just don’t put any ideas in Michael’s head,” Lauren says, before giving Katie a long, deep snog that makes all of us howl with laughter. “Knew I shouldn’t have quit smoking…”

“You love it really,” Katie teases.

“…Ophelia?” I say, leaning in toward my BFF.

“Don’t you dare,” Ophelia replies with a giggle.

“Good,” I say, blowing a raspberry at my BFF that elicits a fit of laughter from her.

“Ah,” Katie- who has finally finished snogging Lauren- says with a laugh. “We are SO finding you a nice slab of meat to cuddle up against…”

“If you can find one that meets my standards, then by all means,” Ophelia replies.

“Now that IS a challenge!” Lauren giggles. “But one for another night. Tonight, we are six young, sexy women, and we are going to par-ty!”

“Yeah!” We all cheer as we spend the rest of the night drinking, dancing and having fun. I truly couldn’t ask for a better group of friends.

The following day, after uni (and a pretty sizeable hangover), Sarah and I head to the small room that’s been set aside for the LGBT society’s fortnightly committee meetings, and after that, as per usual, we head to the student union bar (which looks VERY different after having been stripped of all its Halloween decorations) where we meet up with Ophelia, Nikki, Katie and Lauren- and one unexpected guest, who puts a very wide smile on my face!

“Hey you!” I say to my boyfriend, after greeting him with a long, deep kiss. “I thought you were working today?”

“Yeah, I thought so too,” Simon says with a giggle. “Asked for the day off, thought it was only fair after missing yesterday.”

“Aww!” I coo, giving Simon another kiss as my friends all sigh happily. "When do you have to be home?"

"Tomorrow morning," Simon replies with a sly grin that earns very loud 'ooh's from all of my friends!

"Behave, you two," Katie playfully cautions. "Note that I didn't say 'get a room'!"

"As we're already way ahead of you on that!" I giggle as I sit down in Simon's very welcoming (and very 'restless') lap.

I hadn't thought about my life before becoming Jacinta in a long time, and apart from Ophelia and dad (and maybe Tom), I don't have anyone in my life who ever knew 'Jason'. Katie, Lauren, Nikki and Sarah only ever met 'Jacinta', but they chose to accept me into their lives as a girl without question or hesitation, and they always have a place in my heart as a result. Caitlin's actions, however, show that Ophelia deserves an even more special place in my heart than she already has- she knew Jason. She saw me change my life, saw her friend transform before her very eyes, and she didn't so much as blink. If I didn't love her before today, then I certainly do now.

And I think I love Simon too. Sure, he isn't perfect, sure, there may be other, better looking guys out there, or more fashionable guys, or guys who are better in bed... But no one's perfect, right? Nobody truly knows what their 'Prince Charming' will look like until he comes along. And as I sit on his lap, giggling at the feel of his hand on my nylon-covered knee, I can't think of a single person I'd rather be cuddled up next to- or single group of friends I'd rather spend time with.

'Jason's life is my past, and the past is where it belongs. I am Jacinta, and I am a girl, no matter what anybody else says or thinks. My father knows I am, my boyfriend knows I am, and my friends know I am. Caitlin and her bigoted kind can just piss off. My life's going great right now and they are NOT going to get me down. Because from now on, the only way for me is up!

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