Sisterhood's Untold Stories: A Carol for Christmas

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December 2021 Christmas Holidays Story Contest Entry

This story is my first in a series called 'Sisterhood's Untold Stories' which will be about the bond between trans and cis women.
A Carol for Christmas is about love, friendship and being true to oneself.

 

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Sisterhood is the most precious thing. It’s a bond which brings girls and, later on, women together in the sharing of the feminine experience. My sister did more than that for me. She literally made me come into being.

Of course, she is not my biological sister but really, is that important at all? Biological sisters can bicker and fall out and never reconcile. They were thrown together by absolute chance. Blood may be thicker than water but spirit is thicker than all.

Carol and I met in pre-school. We were both five. It was break time, a few days into the term when our parents stopped waiting for us outside while school was going on. Mine never waited at all. A few girls had gathered in a circle and were talking about their dolls. It was also the first time in school I had heard something which actually interested me.

I had seen Barbies advertised on TV before but did not dare to ask my parents again for one after that disastrous first time. They had, without any gentleness or tact, told me what boys who played with dolls were called (the ‘s’ word). I was made acutely aware that they saw me as a boy and boys were not meant to play with dolls or wear pretty dresses. My parents were none too happy with me already as I was not rough and tumble enough for their liking. I was not rough and tumble at all , in fact, and mostly kept to myself with my books, RPGs and pc games.

The girls were gushing over which dolls were best and prettiest when one of them turned to me and said:

“You’re a boy”

It wasn’t said with any particular feeling of malice that I could feel or the need for my removal. It was simply a statement of fact with an implied question – why are you here? It was enough to make everyone in the circle turn to me. My first sign from the world telling me how they saw me. As if my parents’ constant reminder wasn’t enough.
Then I heard a voice for the first time, a voice I would come to know as well as my own, “No, he’s not. He can play with us”

I have replayed that exchange in my mind a thousand times. Why did she say that? Notwithstanding the mean giggling with it evoked and the mixed pronouns that I now am seeing, I like to think she truly saw me just then.

I turned to look for the voice who uttered those words and saw her for the first time. Carol. She was so beautiful. Golden blonde hair, porcelain skin, full lips. When you want to look a certain way, you notice that look on people. I was the dowdy, boy version of her. Someone whom she would possibly look like before some fairy godmother made her into a girl. Even the dowdy school uniform didn’t diminish her beauty. I fell in love on the spot.

She actually led me by my shoulders away from the circle.

“So do you have any Barbies at home?”

“No, I’m not allowed”. I said with a little sadness and resignation.

“Oh why don’t you come to my house? I got lots. I can lend you some”. My heart was melting. Human kindness goes a long way. I never knew about it till that moment. My parents were generous with material things but distant. I did not meet their expectations and hence did not deserve any warmth.

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In primary school, Carol was my rock. She kept me from being waylaid by the mean kids as weird kids like me are wont to do. She stuck to me all the time (except bathroom breaks, of course). We would wait for each other at the school gate. Once the other arrived, we would walk in together. We were in the same class for all of primary school which was quite impossible, statistically speaking, as the school would reshuffle pupils every year. That serendipity just made us inseparable.

And it wasn’t as if I was her handmaiden either, her lady-in-waiting. She could have easily hogged the limelight as beautiful people often do and simply dismiss anyone else who would dare to speak up steal focus. She would often turn the conversation to me.

“Agnew, ohmygod, did you watch Jem last night?”

That was my name, Agnew. It’s Greek and I was named after a distant relative of that extraction. Carol called me 'Aggie' which I like to think was her acknowledgement of my girlishness.

I would affirm my assent and go on to talk about Jerrica (Jem’s alter ego whose fashion sense far suited me) and her dress in the episode. The other girls would not bat an eyelid. If Carol accepted me as a girl, so did they.

We would often get together at her house, never mine. She had such lovely parents who insisted I called them by their first names, Jim and Pam, instead of Mr and Mrs Johnson although, rather ironically, they would call their own daughter by her full name, Carolyn. They were so understanding and kind. They never had a problem with us being alone together in her room. Or maybe they saw me as their daughter did.

Her room was a little girl’s heaven. From a pink themed décor with scores of posters of Jem, Barbies, Care Bears and a bevy of beautiful dolls. I truly shed my outer skin in there. I could feel my true spirit rise and take over. My entire demeanour changed, like an animal no longer in the wild with its guard up. I had found my cave of wonders.

As Carol was always happy to have me – we were both without siblings – I was constantly there. My parents, whose exasperation with me could never reach explosive levels due to my own unreasonable pacifism and docility, were only too glad to have me out of the way.

Even on Christmas day, when families are meant to be together, they would drop me at Carol’s in the afternoons. It was a tradition which started when we were both nine. My parents had the good sense of rewarding Jim and Pam with wine and chocolates for that but they didn’t need to. Jim and Pam were happy to have me., Pam especially, she knew I wanted dolls like Carol’s and she used to give me really pretty ones for Christmas and she never patronised me by saying ‘it’s ok for boys to play with dolls’ either. They had to stay at Carol’s though.

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We floated on to the same secondary school as if nothing had changed but the buildings and teachers. Some friends left us, we retained some and made some new ones but Carol and I were always together even when not in the same class. I was more or less accepted by then. To them, I was the boy with the group of girls. Yes, a curiosity to be sure, but only difficult to accept if you’re from the sticks. That was the 90s with Friends having a significant lesbian character. LGBT people were not that significant as they would be with Ellen and Will & Grace a few years later but TV was less shocked by it than it was with certain Cheers and the Golden Girls episodes.

They say change comes without you noticing. Like your hair going grey or the sudden influx of wrinkles. They creep up on you and one day you notice them and where they did not exist before, they suddenly came to exist with a vengeance.

Carol’s relationship with me changed one fateful day when we were about fourteen. We were studying for a test which was not that big and not at all difficult so we really didn’t feel like focussing on it.

“Oh you know, I got a new dress for Charlotte’s birthday!”, she said, excited. She did love her dresses, this girly-girl. She had a wardrobe full of them!

“Oh, let me see, let me see!”, in my true, unsubdued voice. I had never been fake when were alone together. I didn’t have to be.

She took a dress from the wardrobe and held it against her chest. It was a cotton orangey-reddish number with stripes and spaghetti string straps. I felt a twinge of jealousy.

“Why don’t you try it on?”

I must have misheard her. Our elephant in the room, ignored for years, had finally spoken.

“Wot?”

“Try it on, Aggie! I’ve been showing you new stuff for years now. Absolute nightmare to see the longing in your face”

“Longing?”

“We’ve been hanging together in my room for like, ten years? I know you want to dress as the real you. So do it. I’m so done seeing you live vicariously through me”, she did love her big words.

I could have fought against her, I know. She would have relented after a while but somehow, at that moment, we both knew: it was time. The true me was ready to come out of his shell. Her shell. I took the dress and entered her adjoining bathroom.

I came out in her dress which she helped to zip up. I refused to look at her bathroom mirror because it wasn’t full length. Her wardrobe had one on its doors. I came out, looked at myself. My face, wet with some tears. I felt liberated yet ashamed and simply not able to say a word. I was now me.

“There now, girl, that looks so pretty on you!”

She took a hairband with a little trio of roses on its side, placed it on my forehead and pushed it over, brushing my shortish hair upwards. She had some tears as well now.

“Agnes, I’m so glad you’re finally here”, her voice steady despite the tears.

“Thank you, Carol. I love you”

“I love you too, Sis. I’m so, so happy for you. I’ve waited so long.”

“So, I’m Agnes now?”

“Mm-hmm, always have been. But we’ll call you that just in here though, ok?”

“Ok, but if I’m gonna be Agnes, I wanna be Agnes Carolyn”

That last thing finally broke the both of us. We both sat on her bed, hugged, cried and rocked together. Neither of us could say a word more. It was too overwhelming for us.

So began a new phase in our lives. After school, I would be my true self as there was no one at home. Her parents trusted her implicitly to be at home alone or better yet, with me.

Carol had my entire weekly clothes all set in her mind. I had been seeing her skirts, blouses and dresses for years and now I was in them! She even had some make up items which she nicked from her mum. We would try them on each other and go for all sorts of looks. This was before the internet revolution so we only had women’s and teen girl’s magazines to go on. As with the case of everything one enjoys, one becomes an expert without even noticing. Before long, I becam an expert in fashion and doing make up. I even bought my own stuff which I kept at hers. Jim and Pam would never barge in so I was safe.

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I did not know that my uninhibited happiness was soon coming to an end though.

Again, the change happened suddenly after brewing in Carol’s soul for what I imagine to be a long time. One day, we were happy together and then once again, something hit us and our lives would never be the same again.

“Oh my god! Who is that!”

I had never heard that tone of excitement from Carol before. Not unless it was about Jason Priestly!

I turned around and saw this new boy. Only he wasn’t new at all. It took me a second to recognise him. It was Brian Halloran. Over the summer holidays, he had had a heavy dose of human growth hormones. He was tall, taller than every one of his mates and had the beginnings of a mustache.

And now Carol was head over heels.

She had been having attention from boys for a few years by that point and she was polite but never really thawed. She had never really given them her attention at all. And why should she? She had me and I was all she needed. We did everything together but now...

“Oh wow, is that Brian Halloran? He looks so cute now!”, gushed Carlie, a busybody, flirt of a girl. She hated me for my closeness with Carol. Sometimes, she would speak with exaggerated feminine gestures to mock me.

Carol did not respond, she tended to keep these feelings to herself when in public but she did blush a little. There was no way to hide that blush.

Later on, I saw them talking when I came looking for Carol after gym. Boys and girls had separate classes so we would meet afterwards for our next class. Carol was talking to Brian! Not only talking but twirling her hair a bit and flashing her smile and laughing at his jokes. I was not a happy camper.

“What do you think of Brian Halloran?” There two or three other Brians so she needed to be specific although I would have known whom she meant if she only said his first name.

“He’s ok”. Brian was not like other boys in gym. He never made fun of those who were less athletic like me. He was no Gladiator himself (like the TV Gameshow) but he had respectable performance. I’m guessing he’ll be a lot more than respectable now though.

“You don’t like him?”
“No, I don’t not like him. I just don’t know him much. You know me, I need to get to know people before I decide if I liked them or not.”

“Ah, yeah, you’re so up yourself!” She teased. I giggled. “Ah, you know, you should like him. You know all the nerdy stuff you read? Dungeons and Dragons and all those RPG computer games you spend hours on? He loves those too!”, she persuaded me.

Then she said something that was to end life as I knew it.

“I’m going to the pictures with him on Saturday”

“What, to see Clueless? I thought we would watch it together.”

“I can go see it again with you. It’s got great reviews plus you know how I love romcoms”

I tried to nod my assent as nonchalantly as I could. I was not good at hiding my feelings with her but that day, she either didn’t notice it. Or maybe she chose not to.

And that was the end of our uninterrupted, undisturbed blissful time together. Just like that.

Brian and Carol fast became an item. Clueless was their first date, then it was the arcades, then a picnic in the park before autumn gave in to winter. Soon, they were holding hands, a sneaky peck on the cheek and finally, she called him ‘my bloke’. It was unrelenting.

I felt her lack of presence quite acutely. Gone were the days when we spent every day together. I was not cast away completely. I suppose she couldn’t justify to herself that she had ‘study dates’ with Brian. Pawing each other was not studying. I felt like McDonald’s when a Burger King opened across the road – I was grateful to retain even half my customers.

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We all did brilliantly in GSCE’s (high school exams) and went on to A levels, the qualification needed to get into a good uni. ‘A’ levels was the time to get serious. It was, after all, so difficult and thorough that students used to say, if you know your ‘A’ levels, you’ll breeze through your first year at uni.

Uni was something all UK kids looked forward to, just to get away from home but let me tell you something about our town: unlike most other small towns, students from here tend to not want to go to uni (what you call ‘college’) away from home. Our town is a satellite town to a big city with one of the best uni’s in the country. Students from here could easily commute to uni and come home.

Of course, there is the fun of living on your own in dorms as well but when you could have the comforts of home, that outweighs the dorms. After all, you had to take student loans to pay for room and board. Plus our parents weren’t squares. We could come and go as we pleased and still live for free.

Carol and I had been planning our uni life from even before our GCSE’s She was saving up for a car and I promised, she wouldn’t need to spend a penny for petrol as I would take care of that. We were going to enjoy life and really have fun (but also work hard!) for the next 3 years. But for now, we need to shine in our ‘A’ levels as the requirements (two A’s and a B) in order to make it.

I had another reason to start uni. I wanted to be in an environment where people were mature enough to accept my transsexuality. I was ready to be Agnes Carolyn in public and would take steps toward physically transitioning to female.

She had enough sense not to include Brian in our study group. He had his own group with the nerds anyway. They were like the Big Bang Theory type people who would relax with RPGs and computer games.

And it wasn’t as if Carol and Brian didn’t get together at all. They still had lunch together with Carol sat between Brian and I. She did her best to pay equal attention to each of us but I still resented him all the same.

The two years of ‘A’ levels came to an end with the actual exams. We did well on the mock exams so we were not expecting terrible results. Our teachers had said, if you do the time, you’ll get your A’s. We took the exams and as we promised ourselves, never talked about it afterwards. Instead, we just went out and had fun all summer long.

“Have your got your results yet?”, she asked me one day over the phone. At our school, the results came in the mail.

“No, you know our post comes after lunch. Have you?”

“Yes”

I knew when her answers are curt, something was up.

“What happened, Caz? Tell me!” I was panicking. Surely she hadn’t failed.

“I got 2 A’s and a C”.

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! She didn’t make it! I tried to compose myself. My pause was due to reining in my need to start crying.

“But there’s still the clearing”

The clearing is UK university candidate’s last ditch attempt to get into any university. It takes place in a huge auditorium where students would go and basically clamour for any place available left over from students who took other options. In our case, the clearing was a lost cause. Students from the various colleges in our town did not change their minds, not for our course, computer science, anyway.

Carol did eventually find a place but it was in in a respectable uni in the Midlands. In the month leading up to us starting our new lives, a cloud hung over us. Brian and Carol tried to spend as much time together as they possibly could. They promised to stay true to each other. I did believe then that they were truly soulmates but where did that leave me?

“Carol, I’m going to have a sex change”, this was said in the last few days before she would leave.

“I know, hun. You were always on track for it”, I knew she knew but it had to be said.

“I’m so scared to do this alone, Caz”

“I know hunnie, come here”, we took each other in our arms. My tears started coming out. This room was where I shed my outer shell, after all.

“Look, Agnes”, she continued, “We go to uni to meet new people. Support groups. Every uni has got them now. Just make friends. You’ll be ok”.

And that was all there is to it. I was to go through the biggest process of my life without my Carol to back me up. She was my shield and now I was totally exposed.

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I decided not to stay at my parent’s house (it was never really ‘home’ for me anyway) after all. Without Carol to commute with, what was the point? I was close enough with some girls from college that they invited me to live with them as they didn’t want to live at home either. They already knew about me so my transition could potentially be smoother.

The internet was just burgeoning then. My first search string on the now extinct Infoseek was, of course, for ‘transsexual’ (as it was spelled back then). I was utterly surprised to find a wealth of information and support groups.

I finally bought female hormones privately without the aid of the GP. It was from a store that caters to transsexuals that was in the middle of the city. Going to that store was my first overt admission of my true self. They were very kind to me there and advised me on how to take hormones safely.

I did not want to do ‘before’ and ‘after’ type change overnight. I grew out my hair to past ear length. Pierced both my ears and wore some foundation with some eye make-up for my daily look in class. I guess I passed as a young woman but even if I did not, I faced no problems in uni. Sadly, I underestimated the rest of the city.

Some girls and I were at the cinema one day, about to watch a Jennifer Aniston ‘still with Friends but branching into movies’ flick, She’s The One. We were tittering in the lobby when I suddenly heard the dreaded ‘s’ word.

“oi, sissy”

I turned around and saw this group of boys, around my age, mocking laugh at me.

“you lookin for a boyfriend, fairycakes?”

I knew enough not to respond. People like them were simply egged on by victims answering them back. I turned back to my group of friends.

“im talking to you, you little..” he was suddenly close and grabbed my arm. But he never to finish his sentence as a big karate chop landed on his other shoulder.

“Right, let’s see you fight with someone your own size, mate”, it was Brian!

The louts all turned on Brian but before they could do anything, the security guard had arrived. Clear off, clear off, he shouted, or he would call the police. They had the sense to leave but promised they would rape and kill me when they saw me next. When they got sober, would they even remember the incident, I wondered. But wow… Brian!

“You ok, Aggie?”

“Yes, I’m all right. He only just grabbed my arm. Thanks, Brian”, I was warm with gratitude.

“Not a problem. You going in to see this movie?”, he gestured at the chick flick. I nodded.

“We should go get a drink later in the week?”

I was a little surprised at his request. Here was the man who took Carol’s attention and time away from me and now he wants to make up for it? But I did not, could not, hate him just then. He didn’t have to step in earlier. He could been harmed himself but he did it anyway.

“Okay. Here’s my number”. I wanted him to call as I barely had any minutes due to gabbing with Carol!

We did meet later that week, on Friday night. Brian did have a class with me, it turned out but since it overflowed with students (it was a HTML class for the new internet generation), we hardly noticed each other. Brian was past his nerdy stage but he did not graduate to hunk-ness. He was just the same old Brian, quiet, unassuming and always up for a laugh.

“so wot you been up to?”

“oh you know how it is, Brian. Uni life, first year, not that tough, more about the fun”, I giggled. “Have you visited Carol at all?”, I asked and he shrugged.

I called Carol every day at first. Then it was once every few days. Now it was a weekly call but I had to squeeze in between she woke up after a drunk night out and another drunk night out. She had worked hard all through school and now she was having her fun.

Brian and I met regularly after that. We hung together after class discussing HTML and I think he really helped me understand it better. I had long since passed the point of hating and resenting him. As we got to talking, we found a similar interest in the nerdy stuff as well. RPG’s were still being played in person then although there were chatrooms in MIRC. His friends found me to be an enigma but they didn’t complain. I was the closest thing they had to a girl gamer.

By the time Christmas break rolled around. I had filled out a bit but not much. Carol who had come home for Christmas seemed more sophisticated. Her beauty had become emanating now, she was a glamour girl. But as always, she was never up herself enough to not notice the changes I had. She even helped me get bra’s fitted. That was my awesome sister.

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The first year ended well for Brian and I as we had top scores in our results. Not that it mattered in the long run. To get a good degree, you needed to do well in the second and third years.

I did not want to go home that summer. My parents were planning a holiday and I didn’t want go along although I did visit them every couple of weeks or so. They had grown more distant from me over the previous year with my changes in looks and demeanour. The inevitable was coming.

Carol went off with her parents, Jim and Pam who were travelling through Europe and living in a series of shared villas. Carol had found a job somewhere in Greece and would be sharing a house with uni friends. She did promise to visit me at the end of summer though.

My housemates had all either gone home or on holiday and I had all the flat to myself. I was never one to shy away from my own company so it suited me just fine. I had a job doing data input which was tedious but with this job, I could pay for rent and board for my second year. Life was good even without Carol.

The intercom buzzed. It was early evening, around eight-ish. Still bright outside so I wasn’t too worried.

“Yes, who is it?”

“Aggie, it’s me, Brian. Are you free? I’m so bored!”

As it turned out, I wasn’t reluctant to have company that evening. I had just got the Titanic VHS out and was ready for a fine evening with myself and some Chinese food. I buzzed Brian in.

“Oh boy, I’ve never seen you in a nightie before”

I panicked for a second. Oh my god, I had gotten so used to being myself that it did not occur to me that I was in a nightie! It wasn’t anything sexy or glamourous but it was definitely a woman’s item. There was no excuse around that.

“I’m sorry, Brian. I’ll go change”, I did not want to creep him out.

“No, no, don’t. Please”. He touched my shoulder, smiling. “I’m glad you’re happy like this now”

“I am happy. This is me. For real”

“I know. Shall we watch a film?”

He groaned when he saw it was Titanic. I giggled. Boys and Titanic, am I right? He tucked in to the Chinese food and I was glad there was a minimum amount to qualify for delivery. It had meant that I ordered more than I needed which I tended to keep for leftovers. That night though, Brian gobbled it all, promising to take me to dinner the following week. I didn't care, I was just glad for his company.

During the boring bit of the film, eyes on the tv, I casually asked,
“When did you last speak to Carol?”

He did not answer.

“Brian?”, I turned to him. He just staring ahead, not at the TV but at the wall

“Brian?”, I took his shoulder. It would not fit in my hand.

“She left me, Aggie”, he had started tearing up. His voice changed.

“Oh my god, when? Why didn’t you say so?!”, I could not tell him that I was far from shocked. We had both lost Carol in the previous months, after all. Me more gradually and subtly.

“A week ago. Today was the first day I’ve come out of the house since her phone call”

“She actually said ‘it’s over’ to you?”

“No.”

“What did she say then?”, this was five years after the ‘we were on a break’ episode in Friends but people were still cautious about that!

“She said that, we should meet people while we still can.”

“That doesn’t mean…” but I couldn’t go on. I knew. Brian knew. It was over.

“Oh, you poor dear…”, I gently turned him to me then hugged him. There was a comforting warmth. We held each other for what seemed some moments. Leo and Kate were doing it at the back of the car.

“I love you, Agnes”

WHAT?! I let go of him then What did he just say??

“How did you …”, it was a stupid question but it was a shocking moment, to be fair. It was Carol. Carol had betrayed me.

“Well, Carol told me. One day, we were together and the subject came up. You, she saw you as a sister. I said ‘brother, you mean?’ and she very seriously said ‘no, she’s my sister. She is Agnes”

“Carol…”, my hand was on my mouth

And what, did Brian say after? That he LOVED me??? We have grown close over the last 9 months, yes. We were good friends. I had long since even lost my resentment for him. But this…?

“I love you too, Brian”, who was saying this cuz it certainly wasn’t me.

“You do?”

“Yes, I have never wanted a man before. I was asexual but the way to you took care of me since that night at the cinema. The way you’re concerned about me…”, I was tearing up now. The hormones, after all...

“Shhh, honey…”, as his head came to kiss me. I gratefully accepted.

Our lips met and we opened our mouths at the same time. I ran my hands over his body. It was so hard, so different from mine. He had been working out, for sure. I felt his hand on my derriere and when he squeezed, I squealed but not loudly.

“Brian, I want you. Please make love to me the way you made love to her…”, I begged.

“Oh, it’ll be better”, I loved his confidence.

He literally picked me up and carried me to the bedroom. I was drunk with lust and intoxicated with desire. My mind rationalised on the fly, it was Carol who dumped him.

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I woke up the next morning as if I had a hangover. I felt all over my body an afterglow of pleasure but since I was alone in bed, it must have been a dream.

“Honey, I got you some coffee”, it was Brian.

“Oh my god, Brian! What did we do last night?”, I did not believe it. For all the evidence, I did not want to believe it.

“Wot, you want a minute by minute account?”

“Don’t joke about this! We did it, didn’t we?”, my heart was filled with agony.

“Yes but you said ‘yes’. I would never…take advantage of you”, I had taken the wind out of his sails.

“I know, I wasn’t saying that. I know you wouldn’t do that but what WE did to Carol was…”

“Agnes, she dumped me. You know it, I know it”

I did not answer him. I had no answer to give.

“But I cant do this to her, Brian. We were sisters long before you came into our lives. She would never speak to me again if she found out”, I wailed.

“It was she who left us. She went crazy over the last year and just left us both in the dust. I know you’re in denial about this but Carol isn’t the same person anymore.”

“Brian, I’d like you to leave”, I couldn’t look at him just then. It was too overwhelming – disgust with myself and….for him. Something had awaked in me.

“But it doesn’t have to be…”, he did not finish his sentence. He knew. It was over.

After he left, I tried contacting Carol. She was in Europe somewhere but wasn’t reachable on her mobile. So I emailed her. Back then, there was no mobile internet so she would have to get to a cybercafe but why would she? People were not obsessed with it back then. It may take weeks to even get a reply.

By nightfall, I had returned from work and was feeling quite dejected. I missed Brian. He was never unkind to me and did not take advantage of my loneliness, I was sure of that. But we made a big mistake. I wanted to explain this to him.

“Brian, it’s me..”, click. He put the down down.

I tried a few times more through the night but it was obvious what had happened. Brian had left my life.

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Carol returned from her European summer job looking all tanned and full of life. I arrived at her doorstep and Pam, her mum, complimented me on how well I looked. She did not mention the transsexual thing which I found quite fitting. She knew me like her daughter.

In Carol’s room, I found that the atmosphere had changed. Of course, the décor had changed over the years but now, even Jason Priestly was gone. The room was very sedate, very adult.

She had had a marvellous time in Europe, met a lot of cute guys, she said. She did not mention the situation with Brian although I waited patiently for that. As always, she allowed me to talk freely about myself. I told her about the changes and she said, she noticed! She was so happy for me.

She listened intently because she still cared about me. Sisters do go through periods of separation. It was temporary and eventually, they would be together again and stay together for the rest of their lives.

She asked me if I had met any cute guys. It did bother me that she automatically assumed that I was actually into guys but what was the point in denying it? She knew me better than I even knew myself, after all.

By the time the evening ended, I still really could not bring myself to tell her about what I did with Brian. I knew how she looked when she got disappointed and I did not want to see it just then. Of course I was being self-centred but I already lost Brian who I cared deeply for. If I lost Carol, I just would not be able to live with myself

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I lost Carol. Not to the truth, that would have been better, but to death.

I stood at the cemetery grounds by myself, away from the funeral. I was wearing my dark suit, now rather tight around my chest and hips, thanks to my hrt, and loose in other places like my shoulders. I could have worn a sedate black dress – Jim and Pam would have understood – but I did not want to steal focus from Carol’s last moments above ground.

Carol had been mowed down by a drunk driver whilst on a night out. She was just coming out of a club with some mates when it happened. She died on the spot. What more needs to be said?

I received a call from her mum and dad. To say, they were distraught would be an understatement, they had gone beyond distraught, even beyond being utterly destroyed to being eerily calm. They told me to sit down, then just said Carol was gone.

It was around 3 in the morning and I simply sat on my bed till dawn. The sheer unceremonious-ness of it all still baffles me to this day. Our normal lives just changed one singular event. Forever.

I sat at the front row of the memorial service. When it ended, I was about go help Jim and Pam with their after funeral gathering.

“Hey, you’re back to your old self?”, it was Brian.

Brian was here! Of course, why wouldn’t he be! He was Carol’s bloke for 5 years!

“Brian”, it came out with a relief and sadness. “I’m so sorry. For Carol. For what happened”, I began but was interrupted.

“Brian, Agnes. Would you like to come by tomorrow. I’m going through Carol’s things so we can see what to keep and what…not”, Pam’s voice broke on the last word.

We muttered our agreement and Pam, for once, walked away to her husband. It was all too much for them. I then realised that she called me ‘Agnes’ and of course, Carol must have told her. My sister was gabbier than I thought!

“Brian, please can we be friends again? I’ve missed you..”

“I don’t think so, Agnes. We crossed a big line. I can’t do that anymore”, he sighed after a long, agonising pause.

“Oh…I..”, I couldn’t go on. I was choking. Thankfully he walked off.

After a sombre night at my parent’s home, I was at Carol’s house (not anymore, I suppose) bright and early. Jim and Pam were early risers. Pam let me in and excused herself. She and Jim had to make sure some older relatives got home. This was a relief for me. I could have Carol’s room all to myself before Brian came, if he came at all.

To my surprise, Brian was already in her room! He had arrived early because he didn’t actually leave from the day before. He slept on the couch. He was already looking through her books.

“Wow, she had quite an interest in heavy books”, he said, holding a copy of ‘The Tao of Physics’.

“I knowww, and she actually understood them!”, we both giggled.

Her books was going to a charity bookshop, I think. They wouldn’t even fetch much, barely a fraction of the price. But her clothes, wow. I really should ask Pam for them. I even found the first dress I ever tried over five years ago. I was sad to gain from my sister’s death but hey, why let strangers have them.

“Wow, look. Carol’s school documentations, Agnes!”

“Wow”, Carol had a brilliant school career. We started leafing through her results, reports and finally, an envelope with Carol's name and that of the A Level exam board. To this day, I don't know why I opened it.

“Oh my god. Brian! Look at this!”

“What is it?”

“Carol's A level results! She got three A’s! So why did she not…”

We were both speechless as we looked at each other. We were thinking the same thing. Or maybe he thought Carol wanted to have fun and aiming for a gentle, gradual break up. I didn’t know but to me, Carol’s plan was clear. Why else would she go for a second choice uni, right?

It took me some moments but I made my final my final try. “Brian, I love you. Carol’s gone. I don’t want to live in guilt anymore for what we did. I deserve some happiness in my life and it would so much better with you. If you can get over the transsexual thing then…”

His face, at first firm and resolute, was softening.

I pressed on, “You know she would have wanted this, Brian. She loved us both. She wouldn’t mind if we…”

“I still love you”, was his sweet interruption. “I have never stopped. I just didn’t wanna be the source of your guilt.”

This kiss was better than the first. It was a bit awkward since I was in boy mode but after some adjustments with Carol’s blouse and make up, both he and I felt comfortable.
Jim and Pam were unduly late so Brian and I just cuddled and talked. We reminisced about Carol and why things turned out the way they did.

Christmas that year was both sad and happy. Sad that it was without Carol but also happy. More happy than sad, if im honest. Brian and I drove home with me in male mode since he was to drop me at my parents. It was the last time they were ever to see me pretending to be a boy. We spent Christmas morning together opening presents. I told them how I’ll be the next time they saw me and they acquiesced. They said I would be still welcome. I saw their discomfort and never went back.

I arrived at Carol’s home by mid-day. The party was just heating up before Christmas lunch. Brian hadn’t arrived yet.

“Agnes, your present is in Carol’s room”, said Pam with a mischievous smile. I gave a little shriek and ran upstairs. The box itself was so pretty. I opened it…

It was a dress. My first dress. Pam had got a new one for me! It was a beautiful green dress with straps but bare shoulders.

I took a quick shower, wore my best lingerie, thanked my luck for being able to dispense with padding and quickly put my new dress. I was actually shaking with excitement since my bloke would be seeing me all dolled up!

I heard Brian’s voice downstairs and was ready to make my entrance. I walked downstairs as softly as I could but everyone was waiting for me. They turned to me and awwww’ed

“Welcome, Agnes…”, began Pam.

“It’s Agnes Carolyn, Pam. I took that name after her”

“Then may I call you Carolyn?”, she started to tear up. We hugged and cried together with family and friends. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Brian roll his eyes. I giggled. Women.

Twenty years has passed since Carol’s passing. Brian and I have been together since then and although less often, Brian still desires me and I him. We were married right out of uni. I had my sex change by then. We both found jobs during the IT boom and have had very fulfilling careers since. The most fulfilling thing for me though is being a mum to our three adopted kids.

Every year, we would go to Carol’s house. Jim and Pam are in their seventies now and treat us like their own and they love to spoil their grandkids. Pam and I are especially close. She and I have an unspoken understanding. She does not expect to take Carol’s place. I am my own person, not my sister. But in honour of her, I would be Carol for Christmas.



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