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It was my eighteenth birthday over a month ago. A week later that I order my first breast forms with the request that I be notified when they were being delivered. I know they come in a discrete package, but I need to make sure no one else at my house gets it and opens it. Today I was in my third-period class when I received a text message: ‘Your discrete package will arrive at your house Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. It is now 10:50, Wednesday, February 12.’
I jump up from my seat and yell, “I’m getting sick!” as I run out of class. I threw my books in my locker, don’t worry about my coat and race to my car in the school parking lot. It is a fifteen-minute ride home that I made more quickly.
I drive into our driveway and what I don’t see is mom’s car in the garage because that door is closed. I run into the house, slam the door, lean my back against it and look at my phone 11:05. There wasn’t a package so either I missed it or the delivery truck is not there yet. I look up and Mom’s at the end of the hall holding a package in one hand and a hanger of clothes in the other. “Russ, if you are Shelby, are these yours?”
She takes hold of his hand and leads him upstairs to his room. The closet door was open as well as his underwear drawer. Mom has him sit on the bed and then begins. “Guess my surprise when our neighbor calls about a package to a Shelby Short that arrived at our house? The good news is Darlene signed for the package but didn’t open it… That was an hour ago, so I drove home from the store. The bad news is Shelby’s mom wasn’t as nice and Darlene hasn’t gone home… We agreed that a size B would have better suited you, Shelby.”
I said, “I can explain.” Though I had no idea of what to say.
My mother said she would be happy to hear the explanation. She asked, “Can you… could explain the clothes as well.” Then she told me, “Go into your bathroom and change out of your clothes and put on the underwear in there. Please use the shield in there as well.”
When I walked passed my mom, I saw the package box was open and was now empty. My eyes were filled with tears and the bathroom was blurry as I took my clothes off. That is when I notice the pair of panties and a pastel blue bra. When I lifted the panty, a panty shield landed on the sink counter. When I gasped, my Mom said, “That must be the bra or the panty shield. Please use them both before you come back out here.”
I said, “Mom, I will look ridiculous.” I was encouraged to come out and not worry about how I looked.
When I stepped back into my room I was surprised to see Darlene there as well. I crossed my arms and hands, though it was of little benefit.
Darlene was holding her three-month-old daughter. Darlene was twenty-seven and she was back to looking beautiful. She spoke saying, “I hope Shelby will be open to babysitting in another month or two?”
Darlene watched as my mother put the breastforms in each bra cup. Mom handed me a chemise that I put on over my bra and then the blouse she had. She held the skirt for me to step into. Finally, she had me sit on the edge of my bed and handed me two stockings. I rolled each up and then unrolled them up my legs as I pulled them up into place.
Mom said, “I knew you had some clothes.”
I thought I had kept everything a secret. Mom had indiscreetly said some things here and there that made me wonder. But when I denied any problems she left me alone. She said, “I was probably as surprised as you were when you got home.” She offered me a hand to step into a pretty pair of flats.
Mom took Darlene’s baby and Darlene took a comb and brush to my hair. After a moment she asked, “Is this anything like you would wear it?”
I looked to the mirror that was over my chest of drawers. I couldn’t see my full self, nor had I ever seen my hair done so well. Some of the girl, that I had longed to see was there. She was better than I had imagined. My hands went up to my face as I gasped. “O my!”
Mom led me over to her vanity chair that was now in my room. I knew to sit and Darlene moved a chair across from me. There was makeup on my small table next to her. She took some tweezers and attacked my eyebrows. I whispered no, but she only smiled and continued. Once she was done both eyes she began with a concealer and then a light foundation. “Shelby, I thought I saw glimpses of you. But this is surprising to find out how pretty you can be as a girl… I think you being in denial and secretive was hard on your mother.”
I heard my Mom talking on her phone and gathered she was talking to my Dad or grandmother. Mom held up a finger and whispered, “Don’t worry, I’ll tell you in a moment.”
Darlene was back working on my eyes and she was looking at me with a gentle smile.
“How can you be so nice to me, and I am so ashamed of myself,” I asked?
“You shouldn’t be if this is who you feel like deep inside? Your mother isn’t angry at you; she said she was upset you’ve been dealing with this alone. Did you hear about Hary Weise over in the next county? Your mother is afraid that could have been you.”
I say, “Can you seriously say, you’re not embarrassed helping me? Do you understand people like me? Tell me you don’t think, I’m sick.”
Darlene pulls her hand back and sits up. “Can I call you Shelby? …Do you think I’d be helping you like this if I thought you were sick? Except for one time two years ago, you’ve always been more mature and caring than the average guy. Brock has even come around to liking and trusting you again…
“Do I understand? I can’t say yet that I do.”
My mother was now off the phone and she came to sit with us. “I talked to both your father and grandmother Spriggs. When I told your father that you had shown your colors; he was surprised, but not upset. And I told your grandmother it would probably be better for her to wait until the weekend to come and see us. But both of them send their love to you.”
When things were calm, my mother said, “Why don’t we all go down to the kitchen and have a cup of tea and something to bite on?”
When we went downstairs; I as Shelby stepped in front of the long mirror by the front door to the outside. Darlene said in a soft voice, “You look quite pretty don’t you?” Shelby must have made only a slight smile. Darlene asked, “Would you rather I change your look?”
Shelby said, “No, I look better than I would have imagined. Thank you.”
Mom said, “Shelby, do you like the breastforms and how they help you to look?”
Shelby said, “Aren’t you angry at me? What aren’t you mad at me?”
Mom said, “I’m angry at the two of us. I should have been more forthright and gotten you to open us about what was going on in your secret life. But yes, I’m upset with you. You’re eighteen, I shouldn’t have had a package show up for a girl I didn’t know. You went behind our backs. What if we hadn’t known anything about this. Your father and I would both have been so enraged. This could have blown up into an ugly mess for all of us.”
The outside door to the kitchen opened and Russ’s sister Angie was home from her college classes. She began saying hello to Darlene, to her Mom and taking baby Lea. Angie looked at Shelby, began to say hello and introduce herself, “I’m Angie, I’m.” Then it dawned on her who the girl was with them. “Oh my, Russell!”
It had been ages and only when she was angry with him that she called him Russell. She gave Lea a hug and gave her back to her mother. She then said, “You look too good for this to be punishment.” She smiled, “You must have a name, what is it?”
When I said ‘Shelby’. Angie recognized the name and asked, “Did you take my friend’s name after she moved away?” It was true, I had many names for my imaginary self, but Shelby had stuck.
Angie turned to her mother saying, “I’m surprised you would allow her to stuff her bra like that.” Mom held up a box with a packaging slip to which Angie responded. “You ordered him boobs that size?”
Darlene had sat down, thrown a baby blanket over her shoulder and down her front. She had opened her blouse underneath and took Lea under it to nurse her.
Angie giggled me, “You’re not planning on nursing a baby are you?” With that, the kitchen roared with laughter.
The tea kettle was steaming and mom asked who wanted hot cocoa and who wanted tea. During the following discussion, it came out that I had ordered the package. That it came while I was at school and mom was at work. Darlene came into the picture having signed for the package and called our mom about a package for Shelby.
Mom said, “I was going to order pizza for here until I saw how pretty Shelby looks. I think we’ll go out to eat instead if she won’t be too nervous.”
I am about to say no, when an anxious girl’s voice says, “Yes! I’ll be nervous but not that nervous.” Shelby’s torn between running upstairs and staring at Darlene as she’s shifting the baby from one breast to the other.
Darlene looks up to catch Shelby staring, “I guess, if you’re a girl, you want to see this?”
Shelby’s mouth forms a beautiful ‘O’ like a younger girl of ten. “That is so beautiful. It beats fighting and war games.”
Angie asks, “Is that what you think about breasts, not sex?”
“Ewe, why do you say that right in front of Darlene? They add beauty to a woman, but not as a guy’s sex toy.”
Darlene asks Shelby to lean down and when Shelby does Darlene gives her a kiss on the cheek, “Thanks. That’s so sweet Shelby.”
Angie takes me up to our rooms asking Shelby to show any other girl clothes she has. I apologize as they’re older and two outfits were Angie’s that she had discarded. One was a skirt and blouse hidden under my summer work clothes and a skater dress that was on a hanger under a rain overcoat.
And it took Angie’s asking again before Shelby dug in her drawers for two camisoles, panties, a bra and one pair of teddy bear pj's. Angie had spotted and pulled out one of her old nightshirts. Another pair of panties and pantyhose came out with it.
Angie said, “That blue skater dress is of medium length; why don’t you wear that when we go out to eat.” Shelby argues that it is too short, while Angie teases, “I bet in your imagining you wished it were shorter.” She held up the dress in front of Shelby and it was just to her knees. Both knew it would be above her knees once it was on.
“You should have Mom take you and get your ears pierce and some earrings. Angie dragged Shelby to her room. “Look through my jewelry and tell me what you think goes with the blue dress.” Angie grabbed a dress and some fresh underthings and scooted off to take a shower.
Shelby had sat down without whisking the skirt under her. Her panty clad butt felt different as she sat on the vanity chair. Shelby had picked out a necklace and bracelet that were blue, but she could tell on her own that the blues didn’t go well together. I put aside a delicate silver necklace with pink stones, being sure there would be something wrong with it as her choice. There were things that were too fancy or too bland. I liked a few rings but didn’t want to bring attention to my hands.
Mom had come upstairs as Darlene had taken baby Lea home for a nap. Mom had a package in her hand that included a good size tube of something. “Now disrobe and lie back on your bed. Mom took the breastforms as I took off the bra. His mom centered a form with a hole for his nipple on the left side and used another form on the right side. She was talking about the difference but he wasn’t fully following her. His mother was trying to be diplomatic that while the breastforms were nice that she would help him pick out better ones if she wanted them.
When asked about the cost, I remarked, “They were $99.95 plus tax and shipping.”
Mom was now using makeup to hide the seam of the breastforms where they met my body. “Shelby, I’m surprised by how much you look like a younger version of your sister. The lone exception being your breast size… Now I need you to hold your breasts in place until I tell you to sit up and let go.”
That moment was ten minutes in coming when she told me to sit up and letting go of my breasts. That was an unreal experience. Mom had gotten me one of her bras to better hold my breasts. The added weight tugging at my chest caused me to stand straighter and hold my shoulders back. Shelby was happy and as Russ, I was surprised and caught off guard.
The bra was pretty with lace around the edges and my breasts were partially showing. I pulled the skater dress
down over my head. It all blossomed as mom had me zip up the side. Since Angie was a size B when she wore the dress, it snuggly fit my upper body.
I was worn out by this time and wanted to relax but there was no way I was taking everything off. Angie realized I was tired and said I should sit in Mom’s recliner with her reading pillow.
It was a short time later Mom woke me, saying, “Get up, your sister convinced me that we should get your ears pierced.”
It was like Christmas coming again, I said, “But Mommy, I don’t want others to know.”
She told me, “Don’t worry other boys get their ears pierced. We can get a pair appropriate for Russ as well. You do, want to look pretty for going out to dinner?”
We had gone to Claire’s as school was only now getting out for the day. The saleswoman was glad my mother was there. Mom made an excuse for getting a boy’s pair of earrings as well.
I didn’t know until now why my mother insisted on me wearing socks as she stopped at the nail salon. I was half done when my mother told me she paid for my nails and would see me in the car after I was done.
No sooner did my mom leave and I saw a girl from my school was in the salon. That scared me half to death, but fortunately, Jenny didn’t recognize me. She was amused by my trouble talking. I left the ten dollar tip that mom gave me and rushed out to the car in the cold wearing red flipflops.
Mom was happy to see me and hear that Jenny Rush hadn’t recognized me. Mom said she understood why I hurried into the car, but that when I was dressed in a skirt that I needed to make sure I walked and sat properly.
I said, “Mom, you didn’t even comment whether you liked my nails.” I stuck my fingernails up in her face.
She giggled, “So does that mean you like them?”
Defiantly I was ready to pull at my earrings but quickly stopped and cried when they hurt.
My father was gone on a work trip, and Darlene’s husband Brock decided not to go out with us. But Brock did insist that Darlene go out with us. He offered to babysit Lea but Darlene wasn’t ready to leave Lea behind.
It wasn’t until thirty minutes later when we arrived at The Gallery that I realized we came to a place my mother loved. It is a fashion gallery with wine and teas and finger foods bread and cheese, small sandwiches and quiches.
Mom said, “Welcome to a side of this world that I’m sure you didn’t dream of.” I held Lea much of the time as Darlene, Mom and Angie were looking more closely at first.
A girl named Sofia soon introduced herself to me. “I’m thankful your mother called mine. She doesn’t usually allow me to come to these events. Don’t worry, we’re not the only boys who come here at one time or another.”
I took a step back and it was only then I recognized the Sofia the female version of Sam Wieks.
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