Only Sixteen 5

Inside, there was a woman there looking at me.
She had a long feather duster in her hand and she was waving it about suggestively...

Only Sixteen 5

By Susan Brown

I am not a doctor or solicitor, so please forgive me if the medical and legal stuff isn't accurate. Let's face it. It's only a story. If I was a doctor or solicitor, I would be much richer than I am now!
16

I arrived back at the cottage slightly puffed out. It was a bit of a climb up that lane and I think that I needed to get back into condition. Whilst in Penzance shopping with Hannah we had gone into a sports shop and I bought some running gear. Hannah, for some reason, wasn’t that keen on running with me.

‘No way will you get me running. I don’t do getting puffed out. God invented cars and bikes if you want to get about. Legs are for standing on, walking and dancing and that’s okay with me.’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that keen on running myself, but it helps keep me in trim for tennis. I hadn’t played any tennis for a while as I had a lot on my plate. I promised myself that I would find a club somewhere and play there. Or maybe the college had some courts and a club. I would look it up on the internet.

Anyway, as I say, I bought some girlie running gear and I promised myself that I would get up early and go for a run, as long as it wasn’t like a monsoon out there in the morning. I knew what it was like in Cornwall, one-minute glorious sunshine, the next moment, raining cats and dogs as Grandma used to say.

I opened the cottage door and jumped slightly.

Inside, there was a woman there looking at me.

She had a long feather duster in her hand and she was waving it about suggestively.

I don’t know who was more startled, her or me.

‘Erm hello,’ I said.

She frowned and then looked at me more closely.

‘You must be Chris?’

She was a little bit plump, about fifty, I would say, with hair going slightly grey. She had one of those pinny-type things on, what are they called? Oh yes, a tabard.

‘Yes, I was Chris but I changed my name to Emma.’

She had a strange look on her face that I couldn’t fathom.

‘Whatever. Right, well, I’m the cleaner and hubby is the gardener. He’s out the back doing something with the roses and then the lawn. I don’t get involved, can’t stand gardening.’

She wiped her hand on her slightly grubby tabard and then held it out, her hand not the tabard.

‘I’m Ivy and hubby is Len.’

I shook her hand.

‘I, er, have a cleaner and a gardener then?’

‘Didn’t Ms Ponsworthy mention it?’

‘She said that the place was being looked after and it would be until I was eighteen… Mind you, I have a whole load of stuff I haven’t read yet and it’s probably all in there.’

‘Never mind. Do you want a cup of tea?’

‘That will be nice, I’ll make it.’

‘No you won’t! Not while I’m here. I had a row with your grandma when she was here, God rest her soul, and told her that I would make the tea when I was here. Let’s go into the kitchen and have a chat.’

I obediently did as I was told. She reminded me a bit of an old schoolteacher I had when I was in primary school. She wouldn’t take any guff from anyone, but inside she was as soft as nougat.

Only time would tell if Ivy had a soft or a hard centre.

*

We sat at the kitchen table. I sipped my drink as Ivy chatted away. I could hear the sound of a petrol mower as Len did his thing, I noticed in passing that the mower kept stopping and I could hear what I took to be cursing and swearing coming from outside…

‘It used to be nice when Gladys came to stay,’ said Ivy, slurping her tea rather loudly, ‘I was so sad and so was my Len when we heard that she had passed away. Your neighbour Claire told me after it happened and I must admit to having a few tears. Never mind, it was for the best and we didn’t want her to suffer. Now you are here. I must admit that I was surprised about you. I thought that you were a boy, but there you go, I must have misheard. Now, I bet you think that you can look after yourself and don’t need a cleaner or a gardener for that matter.’

‘Well, erm…’

‘You don’t want to put us out of a job, do you?’

‘Erm.’

‘And I bet you haven’t cleaned a cottage or done much gardening have you?’

‘No…but.’

‘There you go then. That’s settled. You just get on with your education and leave the cleaning and gardening to us. Ms Ponsworthy, funny name that, has this covered and she’s looking after the billing side of things until you are eighteen, although I don’t know why you are living alone a young girl and at your age, what is it sixteen?’

‘Yes…’

‘Had a row with your mum and dad? I know what it’s like. Couldn’t wait to leave home. My Len put me up the duff when I was seventeen. Blimey, only did it once in a hay barn, me bein’ a virgin and that. Couldn’t believe he hit the target first time. Anyway, we had to find a flat in Penzance to bring up the baby. Hard times that but Mum and Dad came around eventually after we got married what with me bein’ seven months pregnant and the size of a beached whale. You try and get in a white wedding dress when you’re that size. Mum had to let it out with yards of extra material…anyway enough of that. Finished your tea? Good, I can’t stop to natter all day, I’ve got to finish and get around to Molly Sugden’s house. I do her three days a week, what with her knees, she can’t get down to scrub anymore and her husband…well he’ll be down the pub, lazy sod.’

With that, she was gone from the kitchen leaving me slightly shell-shocked.

I stayed out of the way as I didn’t want to be assaulted with a feather duster or bombarded with more verbal diarrhoea. I did wonder in passing if she was all there…

I had a look through the information ring binder on the table and saw a section that mentioned her and her husband. What she said was true, she was the cleaner and her husband was the gardener and they were contracted to come and do their stuff three days a week. I’m not lazy and could have done it myself, but as she said quite succinctly, I would be doing her out of a job if I did the work. At least I could concentrate on my studies. Qualifying for a medical degree would be hard enough, even if I was accepted when the time came, and the less time doing household chores meant more time studying.

It sounded a plausible reason to let them continue to me!

After a while, I heard hurried steps and the kitchen door opened suddenly.

‘Right, we’re off, see you Wednesday.’

‘Okay, thanks for coming.’

She hesitated, looked at me with piercing eyes and said, ‘you look lovely, you could never be a boy in a million years, bye.’

She closed the door quietly.

I looked at the closed door. Did she know about me all along, if so why didn’t she say so? Was it some sort of test?

I had a feeling in my tummy that she knew all about me and I wondered how many others knew about my unique circumstances.

I sighed, what a day.

Hannah had a college thing going on that night so I was home alone. I could have gone next door for company, but I didn’t like to intrude. People say things like “oh, come over when you like” but I’m never sure if they mean it or not.

I think that I am naturally insecure, not surprising with my upbringing.

That evening, I sat in the sitting room with the log fire burning away. It was a little bit chilly as happens sometimes even in the hottest of summers. I was in my satin jimjams, robe and bunny slippers, all newly bought.

A few of my nails looked a bit chippiefied (is that a word?) so I cleaned them off. For some reason I love the smell of nail varnish remover, am I weird? I then decided to experiment with a bit more colour. I had bought a nail set from Boots with several lovely colours. I decided to be daring and tried strawberry red and loved it, it brought out the colour and shape of my nails beautifully.

I decided that I should also paint my toenails as I had never done that. I wasn’t that good at it though. Your toes are a lot further away than your fingers and it took a while to get my act together. After four disastrous attempts, I managed to make them look okay, not wonderful but okay. I liked the look and now my toenails looked the same as my fingernails!

I yawned; it was getting late now. I didn’t realise how long I had been doing my nails. I decided to go to bed with a cup of hot chocolate.

After making sure everywhere was locked up, I went up and was soon tucked up in bed.

I sipped my hot drink and nibbled at a Hobnob. Then I picked up my phone and texted Hannah.

I had already given my new number to everyone on what I considered to be my safe list. Needless to say, that did not include anyone in my old family.

Hi Hannah, had a good day?

There was no immediate reply so I read a teen magazine bought that day. I must admit that it was a bit of an eye-opener, especially the Dear Carol pages. I thought that I had problems!

Of course, I was jealous of some of the girls in the magazine, they were obviously models with perfect complexions and perfect bodies.

I sighed, we can’t all be perfect and I was just glad that I could pass as an ordinary girl!

My phone made a pinging noise.

Hi Emma, had a normal boring college day, how about you?

Too much to talk about but saw Steph today, she’s cool. Are you busy tomorrow?

Free in the afternoon. Want to do something?

Sounds good, let’s see what the weather’s like.

OK, see you tomorrow. Missed you today.

Me too you. Love you lots.

Love you more. Night xxx

Night night, xxx

Smiling, I put the phone down, yawned, turned the bedside lamp off and went to sleep.

17

I was awake early the next day as the seagulls decided to serenade outside my window. Getting up, I looked out and saw wall-to-wall blue sky and the sun already climbing up into the sky.

Looking at my trusty phone, it told me that it was already 18 degrees outside. I decided that this was a good time to go out for a run… I say run, but more like a jog.

I went into the bathroom and did the usual and then coming out of to the bedroom, I stripped off my jim-jams and rummaged through my drawers to find my new running kit. First I put on a sports bra, as I didn’t want the girls to jiggle about too much. Then I slipped on a pale pink vest and black shorts, quite loose as I didn’t want to wear anything too tight because it tended to hurt my rather delicate bits. I had white socks and running shoes with pink laces to finish things off.

I put my hair in a ponytail, it was just long enough for that, and then, I was ready to go.

I ran quite fast down to the quay, as it was downhill. Whether I would be running quite so fast back up the hill was another question. I was conscious of my budding breasts. A weird but somehow nice feeling as they bounced up and down slightly even in the confines of my bra. I just hoped that I wouldn’t get the dreaded nipple rub!

There were a few people about and they smiled as I went past them. I went along the quay. At the other end, there was a narrow path that led along the shoreline. It was very pretty and it was so nice to have the freedom to just go where I felt like. The path finally went up. It was all part of the South West Coastal Path and was fairly well-worn but in places a bit rocky, where I had to literally climb over large boulders. The scenery was wonderful. To my left were some hills and to my right, the sea shore with waves gently lapping up the golden sandy beach. A few people were out there walking their dogs and I saw a couple of people running down by the water’s edge. I fancied doing that and decided that I would do it as soon as possible.

Of course, being slightly out of condition, I soon got out of breath and was sweating quite a bit. I was obviously out of shape and I promised myself that I would get out at least a couple of days a week to get my fitness levels up. My watch told me that I had gone about a mile, it felt like 20, so I turned around and made my way back.

By the time I arrived home, I was a wreck, wheezing away like an asthmatic sheep. The only thing I was proud of was that I didn’t resort to walking!

I quickly stripped off and had a shower, which made me feel a lot better. I washed my hair with some new shampoo that made it feel soft and manageable. The conditioner made my hair all nice and silky. Hark at me, sounding like a shampoo commercial!

It took a while to dry my hair with the dryer. Looking at the mirror I decided that I would like to go blond. My hair was normally a mousy brown colour, not wonderful, but I always thought that blond would suit me. Yes, I wanted to go blond. From what I read, it was a two-stage process, the first being to bleach the hair and then after a bit, use some blond colouring. It sounded good to me. No way would I do that myself, I would find out where the best salon was and go there.

I went to the toilet to do my business and as always I sat down to pee. I had never done the stand-up and pee thing that boys do and never, ever used urinals in public toilets. I felt my scrotum, as I occasionally did. My testicles were aching slightly, as usual, but maybe a bit more after jiggling them about on my run. I wondered if they would be taken out soon. They were hard and small and in all probability non-functioning, not that I would ever have a use for them. I had once looked up information on them on Uncle Google and wished I hadn’t…

Anyway, enough of that.

I put on a white top, control pants and leggings then I changed my mind, always conscious of those horrible things between my legs and how the bulge might be a bit of a giveaway despite the control panties. so I put on a short black skirt which hid the offending bits and then went downstairs. I looked forward to the time when I could wear what I liked but for now, I would have to be patient.

I had my normal breakfast of a couple of slices of toast and some tea. I heard the letterbox lid go and I went out to the hall. There on the mat was a letter, a thick brown one.

Picking it up, I went into the sitting room, noting that the fire still had some glowing embers and then sat down to see what the letter was about.

It was from the college; it included a student card. The photo that I had taken of me before I left the college the previous day was on it. I didn’t like it, I thought that I looked a bit shifty. Still, I felt a slight thrill to see my new name, Emma Penhaligon on it.

The other things were details of my courses, what books I should get, several internet links regarding my studies and a short note from my new tutor.

Dear Emma,
Welcome to the college. I hope that you have every success in your studies.
I would like to see you on Thursday if you are available at 10 am. The map of the college with my room circled is attached. Please email me if you cannot make it.
Have a good look at the documents that I have sent you and if you have any questions please let me know. I attach my card with my email address and phone number on it.
I look forward to seeing you on Thursday,
Regards
Olivia Hatcher

Well, not long to wait, I thought.

I would have to spend my time getting to know my courses. I was looking forward to it. Unlike a lot of others at my school, I loved learning and if I wanted to be a doctor, I would have to knuckle down. Boring, I know for some. Many of my peers were more interested in having a good time at my old school. It wasn’t a very good one and it was a miracle that I managed to learn anything.

My phone rang.

I noticed that it was Claire.

‘Hello Emma, everything okay?’

‘Yes, fine thanks. Just got back from a run. I’m out of shape!’

She laughed.

‘Join the club. I used to be a runner at college, but I think I would struggle to jog let alone run at the moment. What I’m ringing you about is that John, my husband would like to have a word with you, nothing bad. Have you got the time?’

‘Yes, of course.’

‘That’s good, he could come over to you or you can come here. I have a very nice fruit cake that I would like your opinion on if you come here.’

‘You’ve convinced me. When do you want me to come?

‘In about an hour suit you?’

‘Yes, that’s fine, see you then.’

I put the phone down, shaking my head. I hadn’t stopped since I arrived in Porthlowen. Still, no time to get bored. I wondered what John wanted. I would find out soon enough.

*

I spent a bit of time on my makeup. I wasn’t vain about it, I just wanted to look nice. Why bother when I was only going next door?

I had this nagging feeling that I might look too much like a boy without makeup, so it was like putting on my girlie face. Anyway, I thought that I looked nicer with makeup on. Not that I ever slapped it on like some girls, I believe that less is best and that’s what I wore. I wasn’t wonderfully good with eye makeup. I was okay applying eye shadow, but not so good with liner or mascara. I hoped that practice and help from Hannah would solve that.

Even though I had red nail varnish, I wasn’t keen on red lipstick. I just didn’t think it suited me, I applied my usual pink shimmer lipstick as I think that it looks nice and brings out the shape of my lips which, I was pleased to say, were one of my nicer features.

Soon, I was ready and I went next door.

I knocked and it was answered by Claire.

‘My, you look nice today, come in.’

I blushed, not being used to such compliments.

She showed me into the living room.

‘Sit down, I’ll call John, do you want a drink?’

‘No thanks.’

‘OK, he won’t be a moment. How are you coping in the cottage?’

‘It’s nice, it feels like Grandma is still there. Is that strange?’

‘No, she loved the cottage even though she didn’t spend as much time as she wanted there. Remember that we are always here if you need us.’

‘Thanks, you are all so nice.’

‘Especially Hannah?’ she said slyly.

I felt my face go red again and just nodded.

‘I won’t embarrass you any more, I’ll go and chase up John.’

I sat there and waited. It was a nice cosy room with a fireplace and comfy settees.

Hannah would be in college today and I was missing her. I sighed and wondered if she was missing me…

The door opened and John came in.

‘Hi Emma.’

‘Hello.’

He came and sat opposite me.

‘Settling in all right?’

‘Yes thanks. That’s good. I suppose that Claire has done the ‘we’re here for you,’ thing?’

‘Yes, you are both very kind.’

‘That’s OK, we have to look after Hannah’s girlfriend.’

He said it with a smile. A warm smile. One that I would never get from my father. I felt a small amount of jealousy for Hannah. She had wonderful parents. I shouldn’t be jealous, but I was, a tiny bit anyway. They had let me into their lives and I hoped that the love and affection that they obviously had for Hannah, would somehow rub off on me.

‘Now, I have to put my police hat on for the moment. We received an email from Antonia Ponsworthy about you.’

‘Oh?.’

I wondered what it was about and then remembered.

‘Oh, regarding my leaving home?’

‘Yes, that’s right. I need to ask you if you are happy to do this?’

‘Yes, of course. I left home because I needed to.’

‘I have to ask this, it’s procedure. Were you ever physically abused when you lived with your parents?’

‘No.’

‘Mentally?’

I nodded my head.

‘I told Auntie Claire about it.’

He smiled slightly for some reason.

‘Would you like to tell me?’

‘All right.’

‘Before we start, if you don’t mind, I’ll ask Claire to come in.’

‘OK.’

Soon, Claire joined us and I told my tale again. I won’t repeat it, as I have already explained what happened.

Of course, the waterworks started again and I was glad that Claire was there to give me hugs. After I pulled myself together, John continued.

‘Are there any independent witnesses to all that happened to you?’ asked John.

‘No,’

‘Pity, it’s difficult to charge or convict with that. Unfair, I know, but that is the way it is.’

‘I don’t want to have them charged or convicted. I just don’t want anything to do with them. Outsiders might think that the things that have happened to me are trivial, like never getting nice presents or being ignored or being shown no real signs of affection. It was the drip, drip of being treated differently from my brother and sister and my brother’s contempt of me that I hated the most. My sister ignored me and had her own set of friends so she wasn’t around me a lot. I wanted so much for a sister to look up to and ask for advice and to tell her how I really felt about how I was, but I thought that I might be rejected even more by her, even worse, I feared that she would tell Mum, they are very close. So, I said nothing.’

‘Well,’ said John, ‘you’ve certainly had a bad time of it and to be honest, between ourselves, I think that you are probably going to be happier and safer here than in your former home. I liked Gladys a lot and can see the resemblance very clearly. She was a strong character and I think, so are you. I’m not sure about you living alone at sixteen but we will all be there for you and if it’s all too much for you, you can stay here. Am I right Claire?’

‘Yes, of course. What with you and Hannah being so close, and us all being related, we think of you as part of the family. Family is very important to us. With that in mind, here is a key. You can come and go as you please and don’t bother knocking on the door.’

I was almost overwhelmed by their kindness and gave them both a big hug.

‘Right,’ let’s have some of my homemade cake!’

I stayed there for a while and, for the record, her cake was melt-in-your-mouth stuff.

Eventually, I had to go back home to do some studying so I left them with more hugs.

As I went John said, ‘Emma, I know that you have a brand spanking new Auntie Claire, it would be an honour if you called me Uncle John.’

Cue more waterworks. I would run out of tears if things like this set me off!

That afternoon, after making myself a sandwich for lunch, I spent the time looking at the coursework sent to me via email from my tutor. Looking at it, it seemed straightforward enough and luckily, much of it had been covered at my previous school. I think I was slightly ahead of my new fellow students in some of the studies and this gave me confidence that I might do well.

Time goes quickly, I find when I am concentrating on something. It was nice to get back into the groove of things. Unlike some, I enjoyed studying and learning new things, I had a thirst for knowledge and I needed to do my best if I was to fulfil my dream of eventually becoming a doctor.

I jumped slightly as my phone rang.

Picking it I noticed that it was Hannah calling me.

‘Hi Hannah.’

‘Hi yourself, what are you up to?’

‘Just studying.’

‘Booooring! Want to come over for a sleepover tonight? I haven’t got to go to college tomorrow until the afternoon, so I don’t need to get up early.’

‘Erm, who’s going to be there?’

‘I take it that you haven’t had one before?’

‘Never, my sister used to go to quite a lot of sleepovers and parties but never me. Boys don’t do the sleepover thing much and anyway; I didn’t have anyone who I was friendly enough with to stay overnight.’

‘Aw, poor you. Anyway, it will be just you and me, call it a tester. If you have a nice time, maybe we could ask other girls like the twins next time. I know that we are incredibly old now, but as far as I’m concerned, as long as you’re breathing, you can enjoy a sleepover.’

‘Hey, I’m only sixteen!’

‘Yea, I know. Sweet sixteen and all that. Not that I’m sweet sixteen, I’m more your sophisticated, knowledgeable, woman of the world type.’

‘Your mum says that you have at least one dolly and a teddy bear on your bed and your duvet has pink hearts and flowers and you suck your…’

‘Never mind all that. Do you want to come or not?’

‘There isn’t some sort of secret initiation ceremony involving satanic rituals, drinking blood and stuff like that?’

‘What books have you been reading? That sounds too freaky. Anyway, normally you have several girls, do games, truth or dare, or something involving TikTok. As it's just us and it’s all new to you, we’ll keep it low-key. Like, watch a film or two, gorge ourselves on sweets and popcorn, play about with hair and makeup and dig the dirt on people who aren’t here, not really, that’s just me being catty, and do a lot of giggling and if you are really, really good, you might get a kiss or three. So what do you think, are you up for it?’

‘You bet!’

‘Cool.’

‘Right, come to tea and then the fun will begin. You have…hang on.’

I heard her shout something, but I couldn’t catch what she said.

‘Mum says in about an hour, you okay with that?’

‘Yes, that would be great. What shall I bring?’

‘Your night things, toothbrush, change of clothes for tomorrow and makeup and hair stuff. Oh don’t bother putting on any makeup, we’ll experiment when you come.’

‘Okay, see you soon, bye.’

‘Bye hon.’

18

I smiled as I put my phone down. I would be spending the night with Hannah, my girlfriend. It gave me a warm feeling in my tummy. I had only been in Porthlowen for five minutes and I was happier now than I had ever been in my life.

I went upstairs and picked up the things that I would need for the night and the following morning, including everything that Hannah had mentioned. I took my small case so I could put my clothes, toilet bag, makeup and hair things in it.

I decided to have a quick shower but put on my shower cap as I didn’t want to have to dry my hair.

Soon I was back in the bedroom and trying to decide what to wear. It was going to be a casual affair; so an evening dress and tiara were out!

It was quite warm so I decided on a pink vest top and a black pleated short skirt.

A short time later I was knocking on the Seashell Cottage door.

Hannah answered grinning.

‘You should use your key.’

‘Sorry, I forgot.’

‘Never mind. We are so, like going to have a great time!’

She gave me a quick kiss and then dragged me in.

I wondered in passing what I had let myself in for!

We went into the kitchen. Claire was there.

‘Hello Emma, you look nice.’

I did the usual red-faced, hot flush thing. I just wasn’t used to compliments.

‘Hello Auntie Claire,’ I replied shyly.

‘Wow,’ said Hannah enthusiastically, ‘I have a new cousin!’

We all laughed.

‘Hannah, take Emma’s things upstairs please.’

‘Okay Mum; Emma, coming?’

I smiled at Claire and followed Hannah out of the kitchen and up the stairs, which were a bit narrow. The cottage was, I think, a similar age to mine and also like mine grade 2 listed, so you couldn’t do much in the way of alterations without a lot of hassle.

At the top of the stairs, we turned right. There were a few closed doors. One of them Hannah opened.

‘This is the bathroom.’

Then, walking on, she stopped at the next door, which she opened and went in, with me following close behind...

‘This is my bedroom,’ she said.

It was light and airy and had a nice if small window which overlooked the garden with the village and sea beyond. Her bedroom was obviously feminine with cream walls, a few posters of girl bands and one of the Melchester Girls Football team. The single bed had the now infamous hearts and flowers duvet and sitting, propped up on a pillow was a small doll and a teddy bear. To one side was a large white wardrobe. By the windows was a dressing table with a mirror.

I smiled.

‘Nice room,’ I said.

‘I like it. My friend Maria is into black goth stuff, but I’m not that sort of girl.’

‘Nor am I,’ I replied, ‘where will I be sleeping?’

‘There’s a pull-out trundle thing under the bed. We’ll pull it out and you’ll be sleeping there if that’s okay?’

‘Great.’

She looked at me.

‘I’ve missed you.’

I nodded.

‘Me too you. Can I have a hug?’

We kissed and hugged tenderly, her lips felt warm, slightly moist and soft. She had some sort of flavoured balm on her lips and it tasted wonderful. I would have to find out what it was.

Nothing like that wonderful kiss had ever happened to me. I could feel the fast beat of her heart as we held each other tightly. Our mouths opened slightly and then her tongue touched mine. We opened our mouths more and then our lips entwined. It was an experience I would never forget.

After what seemed like forever but could only have been a few minutes at most, our lips parted and we stood holding each other and feeling slightly breathless.

‘Wow.’ I said.

‘Yea, wow. I’ve never felt like this. I’ve had a few girlfriends but this is something else.’

‘You’re my first.’

We smiled.

‘Girls, lunch!’

The call came from downstairs and we went down.

Claire looked at us quizzically when we came down, but said nothing, for which I was grateful. I assumed she knew what we had been doing as Hannah’s pink lipstick or balm was a bit worse for wear and I wondered what mine looked like!

I would have to invest in some smudge-proof lipstick.

We went into the small dining room and had bangers (sausages) and mash. It was lovely. She followed it up with ice cream for dessert.

‘That was really nice, thank you Auntie.’

‘That’s all right dear. It would be nice if someone else said thanks like that sometimes,’ she said looking at Hannah pointedly.

‘I do say thank you, erm, sometimes,’ protested Hannah in a pained voice.

‘Where’s John, I mean Uncle John.’ I asked, trying to change the subject before things got heated...

She smiled and I wondered whether she really minded my calling them auntie and uncle. The only person that had shown me any love and affection before was Grandma. Hannah was holding my hand under the table and Claire was looking at me, I think, affectionately.

‘He’s at work in Penzance. He works funny hours sometimes.’

‘It must be hard being a policeman or woman,’ I said.

‘Yes, a lot of it is very rewarding but he sees some pretty bad things. Anyway, you two go off and do what you need to do but keep the noise down. I trust you not to do anything silly.’

I wasn’t sure what she meant by that. Hannah scowled slightly.

‘Mum, as if.’

‘Hmm, off you go and you might want to repair your faces.’

Hannah and I looked at each other and giggled. We did look a bit worse for wear!

‘Do you want us to help with the washing up?’ I asked.

‘Oh Emma, you should come here more often and take that sour look off your face Hannah! No, go on up and enjoy yourselves. Cakes and hot chocolate later, if you like.’

‘Yes please,’ we both said in unison.

*

In Hannah’s bedroom, she took charge of the proceedings. I didn’t mind that because I hadn’t a clue!

It was fun!

I realised that I had missed out on a lot when growing up. Anne, my sister, was always full of it when she came home from one of her sleepovers. It was strange, we never had one at home as far as I remember. Come to think of it, she rarely had friends around either. I did wonder why sometimes. Maybe that atmosphere at home wasn’t conducive, if that’s the word, for her to have a good time with her friends.

Anyway, first thing first, we did the face mask thing. I borrowed an old t-shirt from Hannah, as I didn’t want to get my top dirty. Her t-shirt had seen better days and was proof, judging by the stains on it, that this wasn’t her first experience of having a face mask. Before we started, Hannah cleaned off her makeup and then we were ready to go.

We applied the Korean clay face mask and it was really strange when it dried on my skin. It was all we could do not to talk or giggle, as we didn’t want to get the dreaded face cracks. We both looked so funny!

We kept it on for about 20 minutes and then washed the gunk off. I must admit that my face felt softer afterwards.

After that, we did our nails, several times in some weird and wonderful colours. We tried nearly all the colours of the rainbow, or so it seemed. The only colour I didn’t like was black. In the end, I kept the white colour as it was so different for me. Hannah went for sky blue, which was rather pretty.

As we applied the nail polish, I told her about meeting Stephanie and telling her about me.

‘Steph’s cool, and so is Sophie, they have no hang-ups. Let’s face it, they like me so they can’t be that bad. Also, they won’t blab to anyone about like, what you’ve been through.’

‘I can imagine that my being trans won’t be a secret for long at college.’

‘No, these things tend to get out there. But I haven’t heard of any nasty things happening there. After all, I’m a lesbian and it seems that the attitude there is “so what”?’

We talked about going to her favourite nail salon in Penzance soon so that I could try gels. I rather fancied that!

I was getting better at painting my toenails, helped by nifty toe separators that Hannah had.

I would have to get my own set.

We tried to do something with my wayward hair but in the end, we decided that I needed professional help. There was some talk of extensions…

We experimented with makeup and Hannah helped me with eyeliner and lashes, not my strong point. I must admit, having my eyes properly made up did wonders for my eyes and I loved the look, not for every day, but for when I wanted to look a bit special.

It was amazing how time flew and it was soon time to watch a film. We decided to change into our night things. I went into the bathroom and changed into my cream satin shortie pyjamas with pink hearts.

I loved the look and feel of my pyjamas.

We decided to leave our makeup on until we were nearly ready to go to sleep. I know it’s a pain to take it off when you are tired, but, I just wanted to keep it on for as long as possible.

Hannah was also wearing satin PJs, hers were black with pink piping and she looked edible!

Soon we were on the floor together, covered in a nice warm duvet and watching Princess Bride. I had never seen it before and I thought that it was a hoot! We had our promised hot chocolate and cake which Claire kindly brought up and then we watched Mean Girls, which was great and another one that I have never seen.

It was so nice holding hands and cuddling up to Hannah and having the occasional kiss. It was a wonderful evening.

After Mean Girls, we were both yawning like mad, me especially, after the day that I had had.

We got ready for bed and after another extended cuddle and kiss session we went to bed.

I think that we both would have liked to take things further, but we respected the fact that Claire and John were trusting us and we also didn’t want to get too heavy yet. After all, we were still very early in our relationship.

I had thought that my sex drive was very low before meeting Hannah, but now, I had feelings that I never had before. She had awakened something in me that was wonderful.

However, even if I was able to have an erection, I would never have had sex with her like a boy-girl thing. As far as we were concerned we were in a lesbian relationship, irrespective of what was between my legs.

To say that we felt a bit frustrated would be an understatement!

It was so boring trying to be sensible like a boring responsible adult!

So Hannah was in her bed alone and I was in the truck bed alone, next to her but not with her, if you know what I mean. We spoke for a while with the lights off, but soon we drifted off.

*

I was back at home, living with my so-called family. It was night time and I was in bed. I had bolted my door and had taken a chance on wearing my nightie. I loved my nighties, and girlie PJs and occasionally wore one of them to bed. Bolting my door meant that there was little chance of being found out.

I had been reading a teenage mag, feeling envious of all the girls in there but was tired. I had an exam the next day and needed to be at the top of my game, not that my family cared. I could be top or bottom of my class. It just didn’t matter to them.

I yawned, looked at a pretty dress some model was wearing and wished that I was her, sighed, got up and put the magazine under the mattress. I then got back into bed, turned my bedside light off and went to sleep.

There was a loud crunching, breaking sound coming from the door. I shot up in bed and there was an axe poking through the door. The axe was pulled back and then again, it loudly smashed at the door, breaking chunks off it. The hole the axe made was large now, as the door was thin and fragile and no match for that gleaming sharp blade. Light was flooding into the room as the hole was made larger.

A large slightly hairy hand came through the splintered opening and reached for the bolt. I was terrified. My legs were up against my chin and I was shaking uncontrollably. I was numb with fear.

The bolt drew back and the door was pushed open.

Dad was there, axe in his hand and his eyes looking wildly at me.

‘Christopher, I warned you about wearing girls' clothes. You are going to pay for this. You are a boy, not a girl. You should never have been born, you pervert!’

He came towards me, wielding his axe, murder showing on his face.

I screamed.

Then I heard a voice, a kind voice, a sweet voice. I was being hugged and cuddled and the terrible scene seemed to slip away and I felt happier and calm. I couldn’t catch the words she was saying but I was relaxed again and I fell back to a dreamless sleep.

*

I awoke the next morning to the sound of the door opening. There was a warm body pressed up against my back and I felt a soft breath on my neck. It felt so nice. Blearily looking up, I saw Claire with a tray.

‘Well girls, you look comfy.’

‘Hi Mum,’ yawned Hannah, ‘Emma had a nightmare and so I joined her. She needed a hug and settled down after that.’

I sat up, stretching.

‘Yes, it wasn’t nice. I didn’t realise that Hannah came into my bed but I’m glad she did.’

I blushed for some reason.

Claire went over to the bedside table and placed the tray on it.

‘I trust you girls. I know that you are legally allowed to do more now that you are both sixteen, but take things easy and get to know each other before you get into anything heavy.’

She sat on the bed.

‘Now Emma, do you often get nightmares?’

‘Sometimes.’

‘Can you remember what they are about.’

‘My family not accepting me and my dad getting violent, although he has never hit me or anything. They are just nightmares. Last night’s one was pretty bad but I don’t want to talk about it.’

‘Fair enough, but you will probably have to see a counsellor or psychiatrist about your gender problems and it might be a good idea to speak to him or her about it.’

‘Okay,’ I replied doubtfully.

‘Right girls, I’ll leave you to have your drinks and get dressed. Breakfast in forty minutes.’

With that, she went out and shut the door.

Hannah looked at me, brushed some wisps of hair from my face, gave me a tender kiss and smiled.

‘You didn’t mind my coming into your bed, did you?’

‘Of course not. I think you helped stop that nasty dream and anyway I like you in bed with me. Waking up to you spooned into my back was one of the nicest things to happen to me apart from that wonderful French kiss we had yesterday. Mind you, I have a terrible memory, can you show me how you do it once again?’

‘No problem.’

To be continued...

Please leave comments and let me know if you want this to continue. Oh, and if you can, please do the kudo-thingie... thanks! ~Sue



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