Just One Day Of Your Life

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Just One Day Of Your LifeChapter One:I had been moved out of my mother’s house for two weeks now, and I stillcouldn’t believe it. I had made it! I was Dale Simmons, college man! Nomore high school, no more curfew, no more cleaning my room or Saturdaydetentions…it was like I was living in a dream world.I looked out my apartment window over to campus. It was so big, soexciting. I began to fantasize about all the football games I wouldattend, all the parties I would throw, all the lovely women I woulddate. God, the next four years would be ecstasy.True, college life wouldn’t be all fun and games. Unlike a lot ofstudents, I wanted to graduate with honors. I had taken out a stiffstudent loan and could not afford to flunk out or barely graduate. I haddreams of becoming a lawyer, and I sure as hell wouldn’t get into lawschool with a 2.3 GPA.”Hey Dale, say cheese!” I turned around to see the one major problem Ihad with college life. When I first was accepted to this school, I haddecided I would rather not live in the crowded dorms and had answered anad in the ‘roommates wanted’ section of the paper. The apartment wasgreat: two bedrooms and within walking distance of campus. I should havechecked out the roommate more carefully, though.His name was John, and well, he was weird. A tall guy with scraggly hairand an unkempt beard, he certainly wasn’t a traditional guy. He was abassist for an obscure local band and I was constantly subject to a loudstream of ‘power chords.’ He would laugh insanely at times for noapparent reason. To make things worse, he was a photo-journalism majorand was constantly snapping pictures of things around the apartment,including me. Not exactly my dream roommate (that would be ElleMacPhereson), but he was likeable in his own way and I guessed I couldtolerate him for a year or so.Click. John snapped a picture of me. I really wasn’t in the mood foranother photo shoot, so I went over to visit my sister, Jenni.When I arrived at Jenni’s dorm, I found her doing what she did most ofthe time: chatting on the internet. It was a good thing the collegeoffered free internet service, I’d hate to see what her monthly billwould have been otherwise.Now I don’t want to give the impression that Jenni was some kind of fat,ugly computer geek who couldn’t make friends otherwise. Far from it.Jenni was a college sophomore, sophisticated, funny, and in my opinion,pretty. She was slender, with long black hair, fair skin, and delicatefeatures. If the world was a fair place, she would have been constantlybombarded by guys who wanted to ask her out. Unfortunately, the world isnot a fair place.When Jenni was eleven years old, she was in a very bad car accident. Shesurvived, thank God, with no lasting health problems. Unfortunately, herface was very badly burned in the wreck. Now the entire left side of herface was a mass of scar tissue.From that moment on, Jenni went from being a pretty young lady to anintroverted, scared young woman. She had never gone to prom, never goneon a date, and never, to my knowledge, kissed a boy. It certainly wasn’ther fault; she tried to get dates. It was just that there were few menwho were willing to look past the scar tissue to see the wonderful girlinside. Jenni still had a lovely body and, in my opinion, a greatpersonality, but what guy would notice that now?To make matters worse, there was my mother. Back in her day, Mom hadbeen quite the beauty queen. She was won a lot of contests and been arunner up to represent our state in the Miss America pageant. From themoment Jenni was born, mother had began molding Jenni in her own image.When Jenni was six-months-old she took first prize in a beautiful babycontest. She kept right on winning c***d beauty contests until theaccident. That ended her career as a beauty queen. The worst of it was,once Mom realized that the scars were permanent, she cruelly lost allinterest in Jenni. It was like she only cared about her when she waspretty and had no interest in a non-perfect daughter. As for me, Mom wasnever interested in my rough-and-tumble, boyish ways. Jenni and I grewcloser, but we both grew apart from Mom.This was why Jenni talked on the computer so much. Through the magic ofthe internet, Jenni was not the poor, scarred girl. She was a pretty,fun lady who all the guys wanted to get to know. Her personality showedthrough, it seemed every time I talked to her she was telling me aboutsome new guy who had asked her out. It was too bad that this only workedthrough the internet; she could obviously never meet any of these guysin person.Jenni had once confided in me that she would have done anything,anything, to meet a special guy. I told her the same tired things: shewas beautiful, she would meet someone, any guy would be lucky to haveher…but we both knew how empty comments like that seemed.”Hey s*s,” I called, “you wanna grab a cup of coffee or something?”Jenni seemed embarrassed. “Well, I’m kinda chatting with Steve rightnow.”Ah, Steve. While Jenni had dozens of cyber-admirrers, Steve wasapparently something special. She constantly gushed about him, Steve-this, Steve-that. It made me a little sad. Steve lived on the coast,he’d probably never come out this way. Even if he offered to, Jenniwould probably refuse.I went off to try to meet some women, leaving Jenni to her romance withSteve. I had no idea at the time how much Steve would end up changingher life…and mine.Two days later a received a frantic phone call from Jenni, asking me tocome over to her dorm right away. When I got there, she seemed bothexcited and terrified. I asked her what was wrong.”I just got this letter from Steve,” she replied.”An actual letter? I though you guys only sent e-mail.””Just read it. C’mon!”I took the letter from her and began to read:Dearest Jenni,It was so good to talk to you last night. It seems like my entire dayrevolves around my conversations with you. You know we’re always sayinghow great it would be to get together? Well, I think I might have founda way! My cousin is getting married on the west coast, and my flightmakes a stopover in your city! I’ve worked something out with theairline so that I can stay there for a whole day for no extra charge.What do you say? Can I come see you, honey?SteveP.S. I just got the pictures you sent me. Wow!I looked back at Jenni. “Pictures?” I asked. “You mean, he knows?Jenni looked away. “Not exactly.” She handed me a couple of photos. “Ihad your roommate, John, take these for me.”I looked at the pictures. They were glamour shots of Jenni. She lookedeven lovelier than she did in her days as a beauty queen. The thing was,all the pictures were shot from the right. From what I could see, it wasimpossible to tell she was anything but a beautiful woman.I looked at my sister. Before I could say anything, she was interrupted.”Dale, I know what you’re thinking. But listen, guys don’t want to flyacross the country to see a human freak show. They want to see a girlwho looks like the one in this picture.””Jenni, he’s coming across the country to see you. What you look likeshouldn’t matter.””But it does matter, Dale. If I sent him a real picture I bet you hisflight would be mysteriously rerouted the moment he learned the truth.””So…” how could I put this without sounding cruel? “you’re just goingto let him find out when he gets here?””I can’t do that either. He says he’s in love with me, but I don’t knowhow serious he is. If he was coming three months from now I would knowif that love would be enough to love me as is. I just can’t tell rightnow. If he sees me now, that’ll be the end of it.””Then you’ll have to tell him not to come. Make up an excuse.”Jenni sighed. “That’s not an option either. Everyday I tell him thatmeeting him would be the thrill of a lifetime. Now, no matter what Itell him, it will sound like I don’t really love him.”Don’t really love him? She loved him? “Jenni, I can’t think of any otheroptions. Either tell him the truth and see if he’s man enough to loveyou for real, or postpone until you are sure of it.”Jenni looked nervous. “Actually, Dale, I thought of another way thatjust might work out.””Really? What’s that?””Have you ever read ‘Cyrano de Bergerac?'””Uh, I saw the movie.””Well Cyrano is a wonderful, loving man. He’s in love with Roxanne, butdoesn’t dare tell her, since he’s so ugly. Instead, he writes herpoetry, and has a good-looking guy, Christian, pass it off as his own.In the end, Roxanne realizes that she is in love with the poet, not thepretty face.””Yeah, but don’t both guys end up getting killed at the end?”Jenni ignored that. “I was thinking, what if I got someone to go on thedate in my place? Someone pretty, that Steve would be proud to be seenwith. That way, he’ll know I want to see him and I’ll have a few moremonths to build him up for this.” Jenni pointed to her scars.”I dunno. Seems pretty self-defeating to have another girl go in yourplace. Who did you have in mind?”Jenni looked my right in the eyes. “You, Dale.””No, seriously.””I am serious. No, listen. If I hadn’t sent Steve those pictures then Icould have any girl play me. But now, he’s expecting someone who couldpass as my twin sister.””Jenni, this is ludicrous. I’m not listening.””Dale, please. Give me five minutes to explain.”I looked at my watch. “The clock is ticking.””OK. Now you and I look a lot alike. You are slim, you have pale skin,and you’d have nice longish hair if you’d ever comb out those hippielocks of yours. I think that if I dress you in some of my clothes, giveyou a make over, add a lot of padding, and give you lessons infemininity, you could pass for me for a day. I’ll tell Steve that I’dlove to see him, but I never feel comfortable kissing on the first date.That way you don’t have to worry about that aspect. Steve flies home andin a few months I tell him the truth about me and say that you were justa friend of mine. We all live happily ever after and neither of us bringit up again.””Are you finished?””Yes.””Then my answer is no. Dress like a woman? Date a guy? Have you lostyour frigging mind?”I think I could have withstood almost anything from Jenni: threats,appeals to logic, emotion, family, or whatever. But when she startedsobbing, my heart broke.”Please Dale,” she said between tears. “Just one day of your life. Onelousy, stinking day! You’ve been on dates. I haven’t. You’ve beenkissed, I never have. You know what it’s like to be special and I neverwill. I’m not exaggerating here, Steve might be my one chance athappiness. My one chance! I’m begging you Dale!”I was struck dumb, I’d never seen her this upset. Steve was obviouslyvery special.Jenni wiped away her tears. “Look Dale, I don’t expect you to agree tothis right now. Tomorrow, why don’t I try dressing you up like me inprivate? If you don’t think it will work, well, then I guess I’ll justhave to face the music.”I numbly nodded.Chapter Two:The next day I sullenly sat on my couch. Jenni would be over soon to’feminize me.’ I didn’t like the sound of that. John was off playing oneof his infrequent gigs so Jenni and I would have the apartment toourselves.It saddened me how much Jenni was deluding herself. I had looked in themirror the previous night and came to the conclusion that my passing asa girl was never going to happen. True, I did bear a strikingresemblance to my sister, but so what? I was a guy, plain and simple. Ihadn’t been mistaken for a girl since I was two years old. The onlyunmasculine thing I could see about myself was a general lack of facialand body hair. Just a couple of sad strands on my chin and some fuzz onmy legs. But what of it? Lots of guys don’t have facial hair. It wouldtake more than that to make me into Jenni.Jenni knocked at the door and I let her in. She was carrying a hugemakeup case and a couple of garment bags. I helped her carry them in.”Well Dale, are you ready? Jeez, you look like you’re going to you ownexecution.””That would be a slightly more welcome experience,” I grunted.Jenni looked at me sternly. “Dale, this can be as miserable anexperience as you want to make it, but listen to me. This is nothingmore than a costume. You are doing your sister a favor, nothing more. Ididn’t tell anyone, and I assume you didn’t. Now you can either makethis the worst night of your life, or you can think what a great personyou are for helping out your s*s.”I grunted neutrally. Jenni directed me to go take a shower and shave mylegs and armpits.”Shave my legs? No way!””C’mon Dale, who’s going to notice? It’s getting colder already, it’snot like you’ll be wearing shorts soon.”I went into the bathroom and closed the door. I stepped under thecascading shower and washed. When I could no longer put off theinevitable, I took out my seldom used razor and began to run it along mylegs. Several nicks later I was done. My legs felt smoother, but not bya whole lot. Jenni was right. I had so little hair there in the firstplace no one would look twice.The pits were a little more difficult. I had to have Jenni toss me somescissors to trim most of the hair. I took the rest off with the razor,ruining the blade in the process. The denuded armpits were morenoticeable. I would have no remember not to wear a tank top until thehair grew back.I stepped out of the shower. “OK, Dr. Frankenstein, what now?” I calledout.”Put these on,” called Jenni as she tossed something through a crack inthe bathroom door. I picked it up. It appeared to be the bottom of abikini, only it was made of sturdy rubber.”Jenni, these are too small! Women don’t wear things like this!””Yes,” she replied through the door, “but men who want to look likewomen do. You have extra parts that we can’t have ‘popping up,’ whileyou’re dressed like me.”The thing was miserably tight. I felt my testicles migrate up into theirrecesses and my penis turn inside out. Jenni was right though, all thatwas visible of my manhood was a small bump.Jenni then tossed a pair of cotton panties through the door. “Jenni, doI have to wear panties? Who’s going to know?””Dale, does it really matter at this point?”I supposed not. I slipped them on. Jenni tossed me something else. Ilaughed.”Now Jenni, don’t you think you’re taking this woman thing a little toofar? Maxipads? What could I possibly need those for?””Not to use them, Dale. They’re for padding. Slip ’em in your panties.One down each hip vertically, and two around your butt, horizontally.That should give you a more girlish rear end and hips.””Now how could you possibly know that?” I asked.”I read it on the internet.””Of course.”Jenni then passed me a bra. Only it wasn’t really a bra. Each cupcontained a fluid-filled sack. “They’re for women who’ve hadmastectomies,” Jenni explained. “It’s supposed to simulate a woman’sbreasts. I got it from a friend who works at the hospital.”I put it on, untangled it, took it off, and finally put in on correctly.It was a little like those body holsters some policeman wear. I lookeddown at my body. I looked as silly as I felt. Well, maybe I had a newHalloween costume, but I didn’t see how this silly padding job wouldchange anything.The last thing Jenni handed me was a girdle. It was an uncomfortable fitand it pulled my sides in painfully close. I started to open my mouth tocomplain, but then thought the better of it. It made me look soridiculous that I figured wearing it would actually help convince Jenninot to ask me to dress like this.”Anything else?” I asked Jenni.”No, c’mon out.””But I’m half naked!””Then throw on a robe or something. Nothing that pulls over your headthough, I’m doing your makeup next and I don’t want it to get smeared.”I pulled on a pair of boxers and one of John’s old button-down shirts Ifound on the floor. As I was about to leave, I caught a glimpse ofmyself in the mirror. All of a sudden, what I was wearing wasn’t sofunny anymore.Now that the padding was covered with clothes, I looked different. Myhips and rear stuck out like a girl’s. My sides curved inward, giving mean slight. hourglass figure. Worst of all, the mastectomy bra made itlook like I had breasts! Medium-sized, pert little feminine breasts!Every part of my body that was covered with clothes could have easilybelonged to a woman.Still, I wasn’t that worried. Padding can change some things, but myface was still mine. I still had that rugged, handsome face I looked atin the mirror ever morning. So she slapped some paint on it, big deal.No way could she make me look convincing.I stepped out into the living room. Jenni had me sit in our big reclinerand tilted me back. She moved my reading lamp over to my side to get abetter look at my face. Then she began.First, she combed and brushed out my hair. She berated me about what thecheap shampoo I used was doing to my hair until I agreed to let her buyme some she approved of. I refused her request to get a permanent oranything like that, though I did allow her to trim off some split-ends.She took out one of those cloth covered elastic things that women call a’scrunchie’ and tied my hair back into a pony-tail. Then she went towork on my makeup. She smiled.”This isn’t going to be so hard,” she said. “Your jaw isn’t tooprominent, and you don’t really have a beard. I’ll give you a makeovertonight, but you’ll have to learn how to do this on your own.””And people said I’d never learn anything in college.””That’s the spirit, keep up your sense of humor.”Jenni went to work. She slathered my face with a variety of eyeliners,mascara, lipstick, rouge, and blush. Several times she would wipe myface clean and start all over again. I began to see why women spend sucha long time in the bathroom. I even caught her plucking my eyebrowsuntil I realized what she was doing and made her stop. Finally shedecided I was presentable. I tried to get a glimpse of myself in hermakeup mirror, but she refused, saying she only wanted me to see thefinished product when I decided if I could pass for her.”Jenni,” I asked, “do you really think this makeup is going to do anygood?””Absolutely,” she tittered. “By the time I’m done with you, you won’teven believe you’re a man.”That made me mad. “I’m sorry Jenni, but there are just some things thatmakeup cannot change!”Jenni looked surprisingly hurt by the comment. Then I remembered. Forquite some time Jenni had tried to cover up her scars with makeup. Shehad eventually realized how fruitless this was and abandoned herattempts. I felt bad about accidentally striking a nerve, so I didn’tsay anything else.Jenni handed me some nylon stocking which I slid on with difficulty. Shewas rummaging through her garment bag. “Ah, here it is. I think it willbe perfect for you. Very conservative and goes well with yourcomplexion.”It was a plain black dress. The sleeves were full to the wrist and itlooked like the bottom seam would reach the floor. The neckline, whilelower than a man’s garment, wasn’t too deep. I regarded it sourerly.”What’s the matter, Dale? What did you want, a prom dress?””Just remember why I’m even doing this, Jenni.” Jenni took the hint andshut up, though I was secretly relieved that the dress was soconservative. I had half expected her to dress me up like a Las Vegasshowgirl.Jenni helped me into the dress and zipped me up in back. She thenclipped two faux-pearl earrings on my ears and a pearl necklace aroundmy neck.Then she did my nails. They were too short to paint, so she applied someof those plastic, press-on kind. She told me I would have to stopclipping my own until Steve got here so that she could paint them then.Little did she know there that this was the last time I would dress likethis.Last came the shoes. She said she had a hard time finding anything in mysize, but hand managed to get a nice look pair of flats that weren’t toosmall.After she adjusted my makeup one more time, she led me to the mirror. Iwas sad to see her deluding herself like this, thinking that I couldever make a convincing girl. In a few moments I would have to bring herdown to earth. Still, I might as well have a look at the damage.I expected to see a reflection of some ridiculous guy dressed like agirl, kinda like Benny Hill in drag. I guess that’s why I let out aninvoluntary gasp when I saw the mirror.Jenni was looking back at me from the glass! My God, I looked exactlylike her! Glossy, well combed hair, a delicately painted face. Smallhands with painted nails. A cute little dress. A curvy figure with awoman’s chest. The only major difference was that I had no scars. Ilooked like the woman Jenni would have been, the woman she should havebeen. The woman she almost was.This was a catastrophe! All night I had assumed that I would look sofunny in a dress that Jenni would see her error and give up the plan.Now what could I do?”So what do you think?” asked Jenni, excitedly.”I guess I look OK.” Much as I wanted to say I looked horrible, Icouldn’t. The resemblance to Jenni was too striking. I couldn’t insultmy looks without insulting hers.”You look great, Dale!””I do not. This is never going to work, Jenni.”Jenni was about to protest when I heard something that made all myprevious fears seem like nothing. There was a key turning in my lock! Ithad to be John, he was home from his gig at least three hours early!I panicked. John barely knew me. What if he thought I was gay, or that Iliked dressing like this for fun? What if he got his kicks beating thecrap out of guys who wore dresses? I wasn’t in the mood for a fist-fight, especially dressed like this. From the scared look on Jenni’sface, she had come to the same conclusion.John staggered in, reeking of rum and smoking what I hoped was a hand-rolled cigarette. “God damn sons of bitches shut down the frigging club.f—in’ board of health, not like anyone’s never found a rat’s head intheir beer before!” John turned in our direction. His eyes narrowed inrage.”What in the hell is going on here?” he bellowed.”John, listen, I can explain…” I began.”Explain, yeah, someone had better freaking explain!” John was literallyquaking with anger. He was even madder than I had feared.”It’s not what it looks like,” Jenni said meekly.”It better not be!” John continued to rant. “I mean all I ask is for youto tape the Giant’s game while I’m out, and I can see the VCR isn’t evenon!”It took Jenni and I a couple of seconds to realize that John wasn’tlooking at me, but at the television.”Oh,” I stammered. “The game was rained out. They’re playing tomorrow.””Oh, OK,” said John, chucking his pungent smoking material into thewaste basket; his anger almost instantly dissolving. He looked at me.”So what’s with the whacky get-up?””Well, Jenni met this guy on the internet…”John had already wandered into the kitchen. “No k**ding,” he said, notpaying attention. “Hey, are these your Sugar-krispies? Can I have some?”When John had finally stumbled into bed, Jenni looked at me and smiled.”There, you see, John saw you and didn’t think there was anythingstrange going on.””Jenni, if a herd of elephants in tutus paraded through here, Johnwouldn’t think anything strange was going on. I’m sorry, but thiscostume doesn’t convince me.””Well it convinces me. Maybe both of us are seeing what we want to see.We need someone else to decide.””Great,” I said sarcastically. “Why don’t we invite some sorority chicksto come in here and judge?””Not like that. Listen, I know this little bar in a town about twentymiles from here. Why don’t we go there and have a drink. If anyonerealizes that you are not a girl, then I’ll never ask you to do thisagain.””Great. And I’ll become the laughing stock on campus. This guy who likesto dress like a woman.””Dale, do you know anyone on this campus besides me and John?””Well, no.” What with all the chaos of moving, I had only managed tomake a couple of casual acquaintances.”There you go,” replied Jenni. “No one knows you, and even if someonerealized you weren’t a guy, which I doubt, they’d never recognize you asDale Simmons. We’ll be miles from campus anyway.””Sorry Jenni. This is my social life on the line, not yours. No way.”Jenni looked sad. “Dale, I could sit here all night and tell you whatSteve means to me. I could beg you, or threaten you, or cry, but I’mnot. I’m just going to say one thing: please.”I looked at Jenni, my nineteen-year-old sister who had never been lovedby anyone but me. I thought of how happy a boyfriend would make her. Twowords kept running through my mind. One was ‘Jenni.’ The other was’please.’A few minutes later I had put my wallet in a purse Jenni had brought,and we were off. Jenni was driving and kept insisting that I sit upstraight. For some reason I found it more comfortable to ride sloucheddown near the floorboards where no one could see me. Finally, we arrivedat the small bar. It was a secluded little place, I’d have to rememberit for the next time I wanted to take a girl somewhere quiet.”OK,” I said. “Here’s the plan. We go in, drink something, and get thehell out. We should be in and out in under five minutes.””Dale, we’re going out for a drink, not pulling a bank job. You know,it’s possible for you to have a good time tonight.””Yes, but since I’m not at home watching football, I really don’t seehow that will be possible.”Jenni smiled, shook her head, and we walked inside.The place was crowded, most tables were occupied. Several couples dancedto the pop music that poured out of the jukebox. I was frightened to seeseveral people wearing shirts with my college’s name on them.We sat down in the back and ordered sodas, since we were u******e. Iguess I was anxious to leave, I had chugged mine and was asking to gobefore Jenni had even taken a sip or hers.I froze in horror when a big frat guy from my school started coming ourway. I prayed that he only wanted to use the men’s room, but he made abeeline for our table. I had been spotted! He recognized me! I was adead man. I hoped that he didn’t have any v******e on his mind. Maybe hewould just be content with humiliating me and wouldn’t want to fight orto spread my dress habits all over campus.”Hi!” he said when he reached us. “I’m Chris, a Kappa Alpha man!” Bigdeal, I thought. “So,” he said, looking at me, “would you care todance?”I was very nearly sick. He didn’t want to hit me, he wanted to hit onme! To say I was embarrassed would be an understatement. And in front ofJenni! Now I could never tell her the costume wouldn’t work.I managed to stammer out a negative answer. He turned to Jenni. “Wellthen, how about y…” he then saw Jenni’s face, full on. “Uh, I gottago,” he stammered and practically ran off.”What an asshole,” I said to Jenni. Then I saw the horribly hurt look onher face. I was sure pissed, that guy practically told her he wouldn’tdance with her because of her scars. It wouldn’t have killed him todance one number with her and would have made Jenni’s night. I wanted toask him to step outside, but I really wasn’t dressed for heroics.”Jenni, don’t let that jerk get you down. He’s not worth it.”Jenni smiled a fake smile. “Don’t worry. It’ s not like that’s neverhappened to me before. Let’s just get out of here.”All the way home I kept trying to think of ways to cheer her up. Therewas only one thing I knew that would accomplish that.We pulled into my driveway. “Night, Dale. See you round,” she saidflatly.”Jenni, listen.” Her eyes brightened, almost imperceptively. “Would itmean a lot to you if I went on this…” I couldn’t say date, not with aman. “If I met Steve in your place?””Dale,” she replied with no exaggeration, “it would mean the world tome.””All right. No kissing, nothing stupid, but I’ll do it. For you.”Jenni gave me a huge hug. “I’ll never forget this, little brother. I’llmake this up to you for the rest of my life. And I want you to know thatSteve and I will always welcome you in our home.”I thought she was rushing things a bit, but it was good to see her sohappy. I told her good night and went inside.I took of the silly women’s clothes, washed off my makeup, and climbedinto bed. ‘My God,’ I thought. ‘What have I agreed to?’Chapter Three:We had exactly one week until Steve arrived and Jenni seemed bound anddetermined to replace eighteen years of male programming in seven days.It was rough. My only consolation was that once Steve was gone thiswhole business would be over, and hopefully Jenni would be a lot happierfor my efforts.The first day of my ‘training’ was spent reading and rereading lettersand e-mail that Jenni and Steve had exchanged. I was forced to listen topointless lectures about Steve: his family, he likes and dislikes, hisschool, etc. It was all hideously dull for me, but Jenni wanted me to beprepared. She didn’t want Steve to bring up some past conversation oftheirs and for me to not know what he was talking about.It also kind of irked me when I found out how much she had shared withSteve, how she had told him many private, intimate thoughts that she hadnot even shared with me. I knew it was natural for a girl her age toopen up to a boyfriend more than a family member, but it was all new tome. Most guys come to grips with their sisters’ dates during middleschool, not college.Steve’s letters disturbed me a little, as well. He was always going onand on about how he ‘desired’ Jenni, how he ‘longed for her,’ and how he’wanted to hold her in his arms.’ He sounded pretty turned on to me.Jenni assured me they had a relationship based on much more thanphysical encounters, but I wasn’t so sure. Steve was flying half wayacross the country to see Jenni. I wasn’t sure if he would be contentwith ‘no kissing.’ I would have to watch myself constantly.Jenni was a tough teacher. I just figured that she’d show me how to puton lipstick and eyeliner and that would be enough. Not so. Jenni claimedI looked the part, but she wanted to make sure that I acted the part.First came the posturing and walking lessons. Back and forth across themy living room, wearing a dress and wobbly high heels, every day forwhat seemed like hours. John had mysteriously vanished several nightsago. I had no idea where he was, but I figured he would be back by thetime classes started. At any rate, we had the privacy we needed forJenni to teach me how to walk again.”No Dale, stop slouching! Chest out, head high! I swear, you walk like acaveman! One hip forward at a time, atta boy, or should I say girl?Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of those heels. It took me a while,too.”Then the makeup and hair lessons started. While Jenni was going to helpprepare me for the date, she wanted to make sure I could adjust my hairand makeup on my own. While my nails wouldn’t be long enough in time,she kept them manicured and clipped nicer than they had ever been undermy care. Soon I understood the basics of making myself up.My voice presented a problem. While I didn’t exactly talk like JamesEarl Jones, I didn’t have a falsetto voice, either. Jenni worked andworked with me. She told me to talk like I was yawning and whispering atthe same time. While I thought I sounded silly, at least I could managea passable woman’s voice for a while.What I had the most trouble with were her lesson on deportment. It wasso easy to forget that now I couldn’t pick my teeth, sit with my legsspread, or go into the men’s room. She reminded me over and over againnot to be aggressive, to let the guy make all the decisions, to besubmissive. It galled me. I hated this. At least now I had a slightlybetter understanding of what women have to put up with. I made a vowthat next time I took a girl out on a date, I would be damn sure tocompliment her on her clothes, dress, hair, and anything else she mighthave worked hard on for me.Finally, it was the night before Steve was scheduled to arrive. Jenninervously dressed me in outfit after outfit, trying to find one that shethought that Steve would like. She was so nervous, you would havethought it was her going on the date instead of me. In a way it was her,I certainly wasn’t going for my own personal enjoyment.As she laid out my outfit, she spoke to me. “Dale, you know how I toldSteve I, well you, wouldn’t kiss him, right?””Right. And I hope you said it like you meant it.””Well, Dale, I’ve been thinking. Steve is going to be flying hundreds ofmiles to see me. I’ve been telling him for months how much I like him,and I worry that he’s going to think that I don’t if I don’t give him acouple of kisses.””No!””Just one little kiss goodbye. Just touch his lips with yours, notongue. How hard could that be?””We had a deal Jenni. Not in a million years.””Well, could you at least hold his hand?”I was getting pissed. “Why don’t I just stay home tomorrow? That’s whatI want to do.””Dale, you’re not being fair.””No, you’re not being fair,” I snapped back. “Do you know how many guyswould do something like this for their sisters? None! I don’t even knowwhy I’m doing it, but I said I would and I am. But don’t push me oryou’ll have to do this on your own.”Jenni dressed me in silence. First I slipped on some nylons. When I hadfirst tried to do this I had torn them in three places. Now, thanks toJenni’s training, I could easily slide on nylons and hose, even whilewearing the fake nails. Next, I stepped into a little black skirt thatshe had picked out. The weather was unseasonably warm, therefore, in myopinion, the skirt was unreasonably short. It only came down to myknees! It was pleated, and buttoned on the side. This took a while toadjust to, I was used to having a zipper in the front.Next, I put on a blouse. It was poofy and white and dipped down too farin the front. It was tight and you could see the mounds of my ‘breasts’quite clearly. Finally, there came a black silk vest. It was sleevelessand left my arms bare to the shoulders. It buttoned in the front, the’wrong’ way (buttons on the left).I stepped into some little black pumps that I still felt unsteady on.Some silvery jewelry on my wrist, neck and ears and a black leatherhandbag completed the picture.”So,” I asked grimly “how do I look?””See for yourself,” replied Jenni, with a sad smile.I looked in the mirror she indicated. Thanks to the week of training andmakeup practice, I looked even more like Jenni than before. I could havebeen her identical twin. God, why couldn’t I have been born extremelytall? Why couldn’t I have been tough and muscular? Why couldn’t I havebeen super hairy? But no, I was skinny and short and there was nodenying how much I looked like my sister.”Dale,” asked Jenni “what do you think Mom would do if she saw you?””I know exactly what she’d do. She’d probably fuss with my makeup andenter me in the Miss Teen USA pageant.” I laughed at my attempt athumor. Jenni didn’t. She looked at me with a strangely intense look onher face.”Dale, promise me something. I don’t expect you to kiss Steve, I guessthat is too much to ask. But don’t act miserable. He’ll be able to tell.Please act happy. Act like you’re in love. Act like Steve is the manyou’re going to marry. Dale, that’s how I feel. Please Dale, do this forme. I can’t. For one day of your life, be pretty and charming and inlove. It’s only an act for you, but not for me. Please.”I nodded, not knowing what else to do.The next day I drove Jenni’s car to the airport. “Relax,” I told myself.”Be happy. Have a good time. This is for Jenni. You are going to makeher happy. Steve will be gone in exactly 23 and a half hours.”I recognized Steve before he saw me. He looked just like his picture:brown beard and hair, blue eyes, tall, and I guess you would call himgood looking. I took a deep breath and called out his name.”Jenni!” he shouted across the terminal. He rushed to me and, before Icould prevent it, gave me a huge hug. I had to restrain myself fromwiggling free. A guy flies all this way to meet a girl, a hug’s not alot to ask. I would just keep having to tell myself that Steve thought Iwas Jenni and was reacting in a normal way. I would also have to remindmyself to react how Jenni would.I told Steve how happy I was that he had come, trying to sound sincere.Steve gave me a small bouquet of roses. I smiled, thinking how happyJenni would be when I gave them to her. “Thank you,” I told him.”No problem,” he said. “So what do you want to do?”I suggested that we grab something to eat. We drove to a nice littlerestaurant near the airport. Fancy, but not too pricey. We sat in acorner booth and talked. Well, Steve talked. I hated to think anythingbad about Steve this early on, but he sure seemed vain. All theconversation pretty much revolved around him. This made things a littleeasier for me, since I didn’t have to talk about myself too much orworry about making my voice sound feminine. Still, I was bored. I timedSteve on the clock behind him. He once talked for 23 minutes withoutrequiring me to say anything.I finally suggested that we leave and go somewhere else. “I couldn’tagree more,” said Steve. Before I realized what he was doing, he hadgrabbed my hand. It took a lot of willpower for me not to yank it away.He looked into my eyes. “Why don’t we get away from here and gosomewhere dark and quiet, where we can be close.”Yikes! I knew what that meant. “I couldn’t agree more,” I replied,trying to sound flighty. “Let’s go see a movie!”Steve was obviously disappointed, but tough for him. Jenni had said nokissing and he’d just have to deal with it. But there was something onmy mind. The nagging, unpleasant sensation that I had forgotten to dosomething. Something important. As we got into my car, I realized whatit was.”My God Steve, I forgot to register for classes!” It was true. In allthe hubbub of getting ready for this farce of a date, I had forgottenthat it was also registration week! Today, being Friday, was the lastday to sign up. If I didn’t go in today I wouldn’t be registered at all.Then I couldn’t join a class until someone else dropped it, which mightnot be for weeks. It would be academic suicide, to say the least. Iexplained the situation to Steve, sweetly saying that it was due to myexcitement of his arrival that I had forgotten to sign up.Much to my surprise, Steve seemed rather put out. It would only take mea half an hour, but he acted like it was the world’s biggest imposition.Well, he could handle it.I walked into the registration building, nervous as hell. Could I evenregister dressed like this? There was no time to go home and change,besides, I couldn’t just ask Steve to hang out on campus alone for anhour or so. Well, I thought, Dale can be a woman’s name. I’ll just signup as is, and a few days later I’ll come back and tell them that theyaccidentally marked me as ‘female.’ Shouldn’t be a problem.The chain-smoking registrar put my name down on the class lists withoutgiving me a second glance. He’d probably had a rough day and wasn’tthinking about anything other than going home. I felt a moment of panicwhen I realized that I would also be having my photo taken for mystudent ID as well. Then I remembered that John had told me you couldhave an ID replaced for five dollars. I’d just say that I’d lost mineand have a real picture taken.I left the building, all signed up for school and ready to go. Stevegreeted me with friendly “So are you finished yet?” Jeez, what did Jennisee in this guy? He must have been more charming on computer. Or, maybeI was just judging him harshly. I probably wouldn’t think any man wasgood enough for my sister.We bought tickets at a theater near campus. I had wanted to see “Revengeof the Kung Fu Robot,” but I figured that that would have been a mostun-Jenni like selection. Instead I insisted on seeing some foreign filmthat seemed more in character. Steve didn’t seem to be happy with thechoice, but at least now I wasn’t the only one going to see something Ididn’t care for.We sat next to each other in the darkened theater. The film wassurprisingly good. It was about a World War I soldier whose wife leaveshim the day before he ships out to the front. I guess I got a little tointo it; I didn’t notice Steve reaching to put his arm around me untilhe had already succeeded.It was a tense situation for me. He had really overstepped himself now,with his arm d****d casually over my shoulder, his hand resting on mybare forearm. But what could I do? If I were to shrug him off, then he’dthink I, or really Jenni, didn’t like him. It didn’t make much sense forme to go to all this trouble to help Jenni, only to ruin her chanceswith Steve. Besides, it was just a friendly half-embrace. I had donethat to any number of my dates. That was a disgusting thought: how manyof my dates had wished I wouldn’t touch them?I tried to get back into the plot of the movie while ignoring the largemale forearm wrapped around me. It was not easy for me to relax knowingthat its owner was probably now thinking about how he could get me inbed. I just kept telling myself to persevere, that this would all beover before I knew it.Then it happened. During the scene where the wounded hero kisses a nursein a field hospital, I saw Steve’s head coming at me. I jumped up justbefore his lips met mine.”Where are you going?” asked Steve, shocked.”To the bath…to the ladies’ room,” I mumbled and was off like a shot.Remembering to use the correct restroom, I rushed into the women’sbathroom. It was the only place I could be rid of him and think. I wassurprised at how clean it was compared to the men’s room. No graffiti,no trash on the floor, it was an interesting sight.Just then a movie let out somewhere and the washroom was filled withwomen using the facilities, checking their makeup, and gossiping. Not todraw attention to myself, I touched up my lipstick.My thoughts were racing. Steve had broken his ‘no kissing’ promise. Thatbastard! I ought to just leave him stranded here. I hated him. But, soonI began to calm down. It’s not like he whipped out his dick or anything,he just ventured a kiss. If Jenni really were here, he’d probably havegotten one. And how often had I tried to kiss a girl I didn’t know thatwell? I shuddered when I remembered how embarrassing it was to try tokiss a girl and be denied. Now I was experiencing a date from thewoman’s point of view. It was so humiliating! Is that how I appeared towomen? I certainly hoped not.The problem at hand, though, was Steve. What should I do? I obviouslycouldn’t kiss him. But what would he think? I didn’t want him to thinkthat Jenni didn’t like him.I came up with a plan. I would go for a walk with him. I would lay it onthick and heavy about how much I liked him. I would tell him softly andsincerely that I couldn’t kiss him on the first date, but the next timeI saw him I wouldn’t be so shy. That way he’d know that Jenni liked himand he would be willing to come back. At the same time it would save mefrom kissing him.When I stepped out of the theater, I realized that the movie had ended.Steve stood in the lobby looking perplexed. He seemed to cheer up when Isuggested taking a walk.I lead him to a park behind the geology building. It was dark andsecluded. We sat on a bench. “Steve,” I began “I really, really likeyou…” that was as far as I got.”I like you too,” he said. Then he grabbed me and kissed me. I tried tostruggle, but he was too powerful. I remember all the sensations: hisscratchy beard, his painful grip, the slobbering pressure of his lips.He would not let go! I couldn’t get away! If I opened my mouth to yell Iknew he’d just jab his tongue in. I was trapped!Then the solution hit me. I stopped struggling and sucked my lips intomy mouth. I stood stock still, without moving or responding. I hadguessed correctly, Steve soon lost interest.As soon as my mouth was out of danger’s way, I lit into Steve. “Youpromised me no kissing!” I hollered.”Give me a break Jenni! Do you think I flew all this way for ‘nokissing?’ Or for just kissing? Now stop acting so coy!”I stood up and jumped away. “Steve,” I began, barely able to keep myvoice feminine “I’m going to drive you to your hotel now. You’ll forgiveme if I ask you to take a cab to the airport tomorrow.”Steve glared at me. “Forget it, slut. I’m walking.”Steve stormed off, turning only to shout at me. “Bitch!”I drove home well in excess of the speed limit. I had known that thisday was going to be horrible, but I didn’t think it would be this bad.Jesus, I could still taste that jerk’s slobber in my mouth. I’d have todrink some scalding hot coffee when I got home.The worst part was I didn’t know what to say to Jenni. I didn’t thinkshe’d blame me, once I told her how he had assumed she wanted to sleepwith him and cursed me when he realized otherwise. But it would breakher heart. She was probably already picking out baby names, she was sosure that things were going to work out for her and Steve. How would Itell my own sister the man of her dreams was a total prick? She would beby in the morning to pick up her car. I would have to think of somethingby then.I walked into my apartment, counting the remaining seconds until I couldget into some decent male clothes. Much to my surprise, I realized thatJohn was back. He was passed out under the coffee table, cradling anempty bottle of vodka like it was a teddy bear.”sleep tight, amigo,” I muttered to him as I walked towards my room.Suddenly, a voice from behind me made me turn. It was Jenni.”Dale!” she yelped excitedly from front door. “I couldn’t wait. Tell meevery detail!” Jenni looked as excited as a c***d on Christmas morning.I wished that I could tell her of the wonderful, romantic evening that’she’ had just experienced. But she deserved the truth.I asked her to sit down. I told her everything, not leaving anythingout, but not trying to make any moral judgments, either. He joy quicklyfaded. By the time my story was done, she was sitting morosely with herhead in her hands.”So he was just like all the others. Just wanted to screw a pretty face.Just wanted to get laid. I never meant a thing to him. He’s probably gota bunch of cyber-girlfriends.”I wanted to be comforting, but I wasn’t sure what to say. “Sorry Jenni,”I said, lamely.Jenni looked at me. Much to my relief, she didn’t look angry, at leastnot at me. “Dale, you did more than anyone would have expected you to.I’m surprised you put up with so much before you told him off. Thanks,little brother.””Jenni, it wasn’t a big deal.””Of course it was a big deal! I guess it was a stupid idea for me tohave you go in my place.”I looked at my sister. “Yes, it was stupid. It was stupid that youthought you had to have this elaborate ruse to get some guy to like you.Promise me you’ll never do that again. When you meet someone special,and I know you will, then you can proudly look him in the face.”Jenni was about to sob, but she was smiling. “You really think so?””I know so.” We hugged. Jenni cried, and I shed a few tears myself.Finally we calmed down. “So,” said Jenni, “what was being a woman like?Was it that bad?””Jenni it was horrible! Now I know what I look like to my dates! Yuck!”Jenni laughed. “I doubt you’re as bad as Steve. Well, now that it’sover, you can forget it ever happened.””Almost over. Remember, I had to register as a female. I still have toget that straightened out.”There was a loud, painful ‘whack!’ as John sat bolt-upright and crackedhis head on the bottom of the coffee table. He staggered around theliving room, clutching his head and howling like a cat in a blender.Finally he managed to find words. “Regist…regist…classes? No! No! Yacan’t…ya…no!” He was still quite drunk.”John, what in the hell are you babbling about?”John tried to answer me, but then stopped. He clutched his stomach andran to the bathroom. For the next few minutes Jenni and I were treatedto the lovely music of John vomiting into (I hoped) the toilet.”I don’t remember eating that,” mumbled John as he staggered out of thebathroom and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. He seemed a little moresober now.”John,” I said, with extreme patience, “what were you talking about backthere? About classes?”As John brewed a pot of coffee, he explained. I was a freshman, Jenniwas a sophomore. John, a junior (well, actually a third-year sophomore)knew something we didn’t.Three years ago, the school ran rampant with cheating. Grad studentswould openly take tests and write papers for wealthy undergrads. Peoplewould have friends attend classes for them and take their tests. It gotto be so bad that you could literally graduate with honors, never havingtaken a test or attended a class.Academic papers had listen our college as ‘a joke of a school.’ TV newsshows gleefully exposed ‘Party U.’ No one who wanted a real educationwould enroll. The state was about a hair’s breadth from revoking ouraccreditation, and therefore malatya escort any state funding.The school had done the only thing it could possibly do. It went on theoffensive. Academic dishonesty became a suspendable offense. Anyone whotook a test or wrote a paper for anyone else would be kicked out ofschool. In order to enforce this, students had to present their studentID to the professor on the first day of class and at every test. If youtried to use someone else’s ID, or if you showed up at a class that youweren’t registered in, you could face suspension for a full term. Therewould be no chance to make up the credit and no reimbursement oftuition.The school never made an exception when it came to the rule. Two yearsago some star football players had paid some cheerleaders to take theirfinals. Everyone involved was suspended. It cost the school its firstbowl game in ten years, but at least the state was satisfied. They kepttheir accreditation and funding.The horror of my situation began to dawn on me. I had registered as afemale. Could they actually think I had done that so I could have somewoman stand in for my classes?”John,” I asked, “do you really think that just because my file says’FEMALE,’ they’ll kick me out?”John mulled this over. “Maybe no one would care. Maybe. Your problem isthat picture on your ID.”I was getting mad. “You told me it was easy to get an ID replaced!””Replaced, sure. But your picture’s on file in the computers. They’lljust use the same photo. They never change photos, too expensive.””So now I’m stuck with a woman’s ID! How can I go to classes? How can Itake tests? No one will ever believe this picture is of me!” I waswaving around my woman’s ID, furious. I turned to John and got right inhis face. “Why the hell didn’t you warn me?””Don’t blame me. How was I supposed to know you’d register dressed likethis?” He grinned at my costume. I was embarrassed to realized that Iwas still dolled up like Jenni, and to make matters worse, my phoneybreasts were pressed right into John’s chest. I backed up.”Did you go to your freshman orientation?” continued John. “They explainabout IDs there.” I hadn’t. I tried to think of a way to blame Jenni,but what was the use? It was my job to register and I hadn’t.”So what do I do now?” I asked, desperately. The three of us discussedit and came to the following conclusions.1. I couldn’t risk trying to change my ID or just using the one I had.If I got caught I could get kicked out. That would ruin my collegecareer. I doubted that any school authority would believe I had’accidentally’ registered in a skirt.2. I couldn’t put off going to college until next year and thenreregistering as myself. I had no where to go, I had paid two monthsrent on this apartment, and I didn’t want to work some minimum wage jobwhile I waited for next year. To make matters worse, I would still owestudent loans, whether I was in school or not.It was Jenni who came up with the solution I eventually adopted. “Dale,”she asked “How important is going to this particular school to you? Imean, would you be willing to go somewhere else?””Sure,” I said, “but that’s not an option. If I drop out of here I don’tget all of my tuition back. I won’t have enough money to register atanother school.””Yes, but what if you transferred to another school next year? Sinceyou’re only taking basic freshman classes this year you won’t have toworry about them accepting your transcript. Since I know you plan tostudy hard, you won’t have to worry about not having a good enough GPAto be accepted somewhere else.””Sure, I could transfer. But that doesn’t get me out of the woods thisyear. I’m stuck with this female ID!””Well, supposing you were a female.””But I’m n…” Then I realized what she was implying. “Oh, no! I’ll bedamned if I’m going to go to school as a girl! No way!””Dale, can you think of another way?” I tried to but failed.”But Jenni, I can’t just attend classes as a girl and then go home andbe a guy again! Someone would catch on! I’d be caught.””Well, you could dress full time.””Well you could dress full time,” I mimicked. “Yeah, great. Live as awoman for a damn year. I’m really going to do that.””Dale, I think it’s the only way.”I didn’t feel like having this conversation anymore. I ran to my roomand slammed the door.Chapter Four:It was the first day of classes. As I sat in my desk in my freshmanEnglish class, I wondered why I was so nervous. Maybe it was because itwas the first day or classes, or that I was worried about doing good inschool. Or maybe it was because I was dressed like a freaking woman!Here it was, my first day of school, and I’m wearing a dress and highheels. I had begged Jenni to help me find something that would make melook frumpy and ugly, but she had insisted on making me look like a cutelittle coed. My hair was tied back in a pony tail, my face was made up,and my nails were painted (my real nails now).Jenni had laid down several rules for my new life. No more working outat the gym, women don’t have big muscles. No dating, women don’t dateother women. No belching, or drinking beer, or bashing heads in the moshpit, too unladylike.The worst thing was how I was treated by guys. They flirted with me!They went out of their way to talk to me or ask me if I needed help. Iwondered if they knew how obvious their intentions were. Probably not.Every time a guy hit on me I my manhood would be questioned. It wasbeing questioned almost every day now.I looked around the room. There were at least four women whose telephonenumber I would have loved to have had. I sighed as a guy who was nobetter looking than me sat down next to one of them and easily started aconversation.”Hi, how you doing?” I heard a voice next to me. Some big jocktype wassitting next to me. He was smiling intently. Christ, not again. I wasn’tin the mood to fend off his flirtations, so I mumbled “Fine,” and turnedaway. Maybe his feelings would be hurt, but what of it? He could get adate later, I couldn’t. I adjusted my dress again. It was such a pain,constantly having to make sure I wasn’t sitting with my legs spreadapart.The professor came in. The first thing he did was collect IDs and checkthem. Some schmuck who had forgotten his was forced to go home and getit, thus missing the entire class. I guess John had been right, I neverwould have gotten away dressing like a man and having a woman’s ID.The class was interesting, but I didn’t care. I never volunteeredanything and only answered questions when I was called upon. I had gonefrom being the high school class clown to a shy college girl. I didn’tlike it, not one bit.After class, a pretty girl in a sorority sweater came up and startedtalking to me. “Hi,” she said with a cute Boston accent “I’m Stephanie.””I’m Dale,” I replied.”That’s an original name. I like it. You seemed nervous back there, wassomething wrong?”Stephanie had short dark hair, big brown eyes, and a nice figure. I wasenraptured. “Oh, nothing,” I answered. “I’m just new in this area andthe campus is a little overwhelming.”Stephanie smiled. “Oh, you just need to make some friends. My sororityis having a mixer tonight. Why don’t I pick you up and we’ll gotogether?”My soul soared, then crashed back to earth. She wasn’t asking me out,she was just being nice to what she thought was another girl. If she hadseen me as a guy she might not have given me the time of day. I gave hemy address.That night, I got ready for the party. Jenni insisted that I wear one ofher skirts, but conceded that if I wore a sweater it wouldn’t look outof place. She cautioned me to be careful around any drunk frat guys.Stephanie rang the bell a few minutes later. She seemed surprised tofind that John was my roommate. As we were driving away, I told her thatJohn and I were only friends.”Maybe so,” she said “but be careful. Guys only have on thing on theirminds. Don’t be surprised if he comes on to you one day.”I thanked her, though I figured that John would probably be able tocontrol himself around me.When we pulled up in front of the sweltering Greek house, the party wasgoing on in full swing. Music was blasting, people were dancing,everyone was having a good time. As soon as we got inside, I knew Iwasn’t going to be able to enjoy myself. If I had been dressed as I guyI would have already been off hitting on some girl. Now I stood quietlyat Stephanie’s side, wishing I hadn’t come. It didn’t help that the bigfrat guy who was watching the door made a pass at me.Stephanie introduced me around. I met several pretty girls who I wouldnever be able to ask out and several guys who you would have thoughtwere being introduced to my chest, from where their eyes were fixed.”Hey, Steph, baby!” someone called out. We turned around to see some guywho made John look like a spokesman for a temperance society.Moronically drunk did not even begin to describe him. He stumbled overto Stephanie and leered at her.”Back off, Howie,” she yelled at him above the music. “I told you it’sover. We’re through.”She pointedly turned her back on him. He tried to say something, butonly managed to puke all over her back. “Oh, gross!” she screamed, andran for the bathroom. Without thinking, I followed.We were alone in the bathroom. I shut and locked the door. When I turnedaround, I was shocked to see that she had removed her shirt and wassoaking it in the sink. I nearly fell over when her bra followed.After senior prom last year I had made love to my date. That had been myone sexual experience. The sight of the female body still was new andvery exciting to me. Here Stephanie stood, not three feet from me, hernaked chest fully visible.She tried in vain to look over her shoulder. “Did that jerk get any barfon my back?” she asked.”Yes,” I replied. There was some, but only a spot the size of a pencillead.”Would you mind?” she asked, hanging me a wet washcloth.I ran the warm, wet cloth down her bare back, shoulders, and neck. Ifelt my penis strain against the sex hiding panties as it tried to geterect. I wanted to grab her, kiss her, tell her she was gorgeous.Instead I simply handed her back the cloth and told her that she wasclean.Stephanie hung her shirt over the shower curtain and began telling meabout her relationship with Howie. I turned my head so I wouldn’t becaught starting at her perfect breasts. I stared at them in the mirrorinstead.I felt bad. Stephanie was telling me all her life’s troubles, notrealizing that I was just some guy who was paying more attention to hererect nipples than to her story.She was interrupted by a banging at the door. “Out in a second!” shecalled. Then the door burst open. I had locked it, but the lock was oldand ill fitting. It was that puking drunk, Howie.”Get out of here!” Stephanie screamed, covering her breasts with herhands. Howie didn’t listen. He just pinned her against the wall andbegan kissing her. She couldn’t get away without exposing her barechest.”Get away from her!” I shouted.”Quiet, you!” Howie shot back at me, and grabbed Stephanie’s rear.That was assault, no matter how you looked at it. I had to do something.Without stopping to think, I punched him in the back of his head. Hestaggered, fell, banged his head on the sink, and was out like a light.I think the booze was mostly to blame.Stephanie was too shocked to say anything. I knew I had to get her outof there. Her top was still too damp to wear, so I ran out, grabbed mycoat, and threw it over her shoulders. I then picked up her shirt andbra and lead her by the hand out a back door.By the time we got back to the car, she was sufficiently recovered todrive. When we got back to my place she thanked me for my heroics.”Oh, I was just helping out. It was no big deal.””Of course it was a big deal. Where did you learn to punch like that?””I, uh, took a self defense class.””Well if paid off. Men are such jerks. I don’t know why we even bother.”I felt obliged to defend my sex. “Well, not all men are jerks.””Sometimes it seems like it. Good night, Dale.” She kissed me on thecheek and drove off.I walked inside. I had just saved a girl from an assailant and all I gotwas a ‘men are jerks,’ speech. God, how could I survive for a yearwithout hope of a date?When I first walked into my bedroom I thought that I had somehowwandered into the wrong apartment by mistake. Nothing was familiar. Butthe room was the same. It was everything that was in it that wasdifferent.All the male clutter that had characterized my room since as far back asI could remember was gone. Everything was neat and tidy. But that wasn’twhat was strange.All my stuff was gone! My posters of football players and swimsuitmodels had been replaced by prints of nature scenes and angels! Thecruddy sheets on my unmade bed were now replaced by a pink comforter,frilly pillows, and a teddy bear! There was a vase of dried flowers onmy now neat desk and some dumb clown knick-knack on my window sill.There was no sign of my catcher’s mitt, my fake executioner’s axe or mypipe. Floral curtains covered the previously bare windows.I yanked open my closet. All my clothes and my hockey stick were gone.All that was left were the few outfits I had borrowed from Jenni. All myunderwear was missing from my chest of drawers. In its place were somenew pairs of panties in various colors. There was also a new makeup kit,a woman’s razor, and a bag of cotton balls.Who had done this? I read the mailing label on one the fashion magazinesthat had mysteriously replaced my ‘Sports Illustrateds.’ Just as Ithought, Jenni.As if on cue, she walked into the room. “What do you think? It tookhours for me to change everything,” she said happily, as if I would beproud of her efforts.I lost it. “What do I think? What do you think I think? Where’s all mystuff?””Relax. I put it in storage.””I will not relax! You had no right to do this! My room is the one placeI can be myself and you destroyed it! It looks like a woman lives herenow!””That’s the idea, silly. You’re such a social a****l, I knew it wouldonly be a matter of time before you had friends over. You couldn’t verywell have them see a picture of Kathy Ireland on the wall or yourjockstrap hanging on the door, could you?””That’s not the point! And you!” I yelled at John, who had just walkedin. “How could you just stand by and let her do this?””I make it a point never to get involved.””Never to get involved in what?””In anything,” he replied, and smiled idiotically.”I wanna talk with you,” I barked at Jenni, “right now.”We both sat down on the living room couch. John, uninvited, sat betweenus. He never added anything to the ensuing discussion, though he wouldrotate his head 180 degrees to stare out whoever was talking.”Jenni, ever since I had to start dressing like this, you’ve developed abossy streak that I don’t like.””That’s because you don’t know the first thing about being a woman. Youneed my help. It’s for your own good.””Yeah, stealing all my stuff. That’s for my own good. When I need yourhelp I’ll ask for it. Until then, stop trying to run my life, I’m doingfine as it is.””Yeah, you’re doing real fine,” Jenni shot back sarcastically. “I justcalled a friend who was at that party you were at. Seemed some ‘girl’knocked out a big dude. Sound familiar?””Oh, now you’re checking up on me, huh? Yeah, I hit him. He was sexuallyassaulting a friend of mine. Should I have just sat back and watched?””You should have called for help. Someone would have been there in twoseconds.””That’s not the point. If you had had the guts to meet Steve, I wouldn’tbe in this stupid situation!””Hey, I’m not the one who was too dumb to register. You need my help,you can’t even run your life as a guy!””I don’t need your help. I don’t especially like having you around. Infact, I’m not even sure I want to see you anymore!””Fine by me, asshole!”We had never been that angry with each other before. I’m not sure whatwould have happened had John not shaken up the beer he was drinking andspritzed it all over the both of us.”What the hell did you do that for?” we yelled in unison.”To shut you both up. You were acting like a couple of three-yearolds.Last week you two were so close, what’s gotten into you? No, don’tinterrupt, listen to me. Dale: you don’t have the slightest idea how tobe a woman. I know you hate it, but your sister knows what she’s doingand she’s only trying to help, so listen to her. Jenni: Dale’s right,you have gotten really bossy lately. I know you’re only doing what youthink is right, but it’s at least partially your fault this happened, sohave some tact. No more doing things without telling him.”There was a long silence. “What happened to ‘not getting involved?'”Jenni finally asked John.”No, he’s right,” I said. “Jenni, I’m sorry. You know this hasn’t beeneasy on me and I didn’t mean to blow up at you. I know you just wantedto help.””I’m sorry too Dale. It is partly my fault you have to do this, I justam trying to make things easier in the long run. I’ll be nicer from nowon.””Friends again?””You bet, little brother.” We hugged.”You know, Jenni, I don’t think that it’s that I mind learning how to bea female so much. It’s that I hate being reminded that I’m a guydressing in drag. It’s so humiliating, even around you. I think if Icould take femininity lessons from someone who didn’t know I wasn’t awoman, then things might be easier on me. I guess that wouldn’t bepossible, though.””Hang on,” said John. He held his head, as if all this unaccustomedthinking was causing him pain. “I had this friend last year. He had areal bad speech impediment.””Did his stutter?” asked Jenni.”Worse than that, he was from Georgia. He wanted to be an actor, but hesounded kinda silly, reciting Shakespeare with the drawl of his. ‘Tahbe, orah naught tah be.’ Anyhow, he met this guy over in the dramaschool. He set my friend up with some self hypnosis tapes that cured himof his drawl in a year. He said they had all kinds of tapes for actors.I think he said they had something about acting more feminine, you know,for them ‘tea and crumpet’ type rolls.””Self-hypnosis? I don’t like the sound of that.””Well, you might as well go over to the drama school and see if they canhelp you. What was the name of that guy with the tapes? Uh,Leonard…Larry…no! Leroy! Leroy Brown.””John, that’s a song.””Yeah, that’s why I remembered his name. Leroy Brown, same as the song.Well, g’night all.” John finished his beer and went to bed.”So what do you think?” asked Jenni.”About what?” I replied.”About what John said.””I dunno. Sounds pretty far fetched to me.””About the self hypnosis?””No, about John having a friend.”We both laughed. “Seriously, Dale. It might be just what you need.””Well, it sounds too much like brainwashing to me.””You might as well check it out. They might not even have the tapesanymore.””OK, I’ll stop by tomorrow after classes.”Chapter Five:The next day after classes, I stopped by the fine arts building. It wasrun down and badly in need of maintenance. The drama department was ineven worse shape. Though classes had started, the drama school part ofthe building seemed deserted. Finally I ran across two guys in one ofthe classrooms. They were moving a desk (or so I thought at the time.Now that I think back on it, they might actually have been trying tosteal it).”Excuse me, is this the drama department?” I asked.”It sure is,” said one of the guys, dropping his end of the desk. “Areyou here to try out for ‘Midsummer?'””Excuse me?””Midsummer Night’s Dream. That play we’re putting on. You want anaudition?” He seemed rather desperate.”Uh, sorry no. I’m looking for a man named Leroy Brown.”I expected them to laugh at what I was sure was a made-up name, but theother guy remarked that Leroy was in the prop room. I thanked them andleft.The prop room was in the basement of the building. I walked down a dingystaircase into a dimly-lit room. Crates and boxes were piled everywhere,rows of dusty costumes lined the walls. In the back of the room I couldmake out the figure of a man.”Leroy? Leroy Brown?” I called out.The figure turned and I got a good look at him. The song ‘Leroy Brown’describes Leroy as “The baddest man in the whole damn town/ badder thanold King Kong/ meaner than a junk yard dog.” If this guy was LeroyBrown, he certainly didn’t live up to his name. He wasn’t much tallerthan me. He was skinny and seemed a little awkward. He wore thinkglasses that seemed a little too big for his face. He was dirty fromworking in the messy prop room. On the other hand, he seemed to be wiryand strong, and had a friendly face. He was the kind of guy that Jennireferred to as “Charmingly nerdish.” Good looking, but a little unsureof himself; someone who would be more willing to accept the faults ofothers. Jenni often went after that type of guy in hopes that he’d bewilling to date her. It had never worked.Leroy smiled, and then shocked me by saying “Oh Helen, nymph, goddess,perfect, divine! To what, thy love, shall I compare thine eyne?”I didn’t know how to react. “I’m sorry?”Leroy seemed embarrassed. “Whoops. They told me someone was coming overto addition for the part of Helena, I thought it was you.” He looked athis watch. “Guess she’s not showing. Damn, we were counting on her,” hesaid disappointedly.”Is this for that Midsummer play?” I asked.”Yeah. You’ve heard of it?””Only in this building. What’s up?””Well, you might have heard that enrollment in the drama school hasreally fallen off over the past few years. They say they’re going toshut down the school next year. Me and some other drama students thoughtthat maybe, if we put on a good play, I mean a really good play, then wemight make the administration realize that we add something to theschool. I was all set to play Demetrius. We’re still short a few castmembers, though. Would you like to be in the play?”I was flattered, but had to decline. I didn’t exactly want to appear onstage dressed as a woman. I felt sad for Leroy, though. If the dramaschool shut down he’d have to change majors or change schools.”That’s OK,” said Leroy. “It was just a thought.” He wiped his hands ona rag. “What can I do for you?””Well, I heard that you had some self hypnosis tapes. You know, to helppeople with their behavior and such. Do you really have anything likethat?””Yeah, though I haven’t seen them since some guy from Georgia needed towork on his accent a couple of years ago. Let me have a look.”Leroy began hunting around in the morass of boxes and crates. It seemedlike a thankless and tiring task. I very much doubted that he would godigging through all these boxes for another man. That was one advantageof womanhood, men were always willing to help me out. Finally, he pulledtwo old shoeboxes out of a larger box and sat them on a barrel in frontof me. He opened one, revealing dozens of dusty tapes. ‘Stop stuttering’read one. ‘Commanding stage presence,’ read another. “The psychologydepartment helped make these up in the late 50’s,” Leroy explained.”They were originally on records, but someone must have dubbed them tocassette since then. What exactly do you need?””Well, this might sound silly, but I need something to help me act morelike a woman.”Leroy snorted. “That does sound silly.””I’m serious! You see, I’ve always wanted to be an actress…””You have? Well, this Midsummer role…”I silenced him with a look, a trick that I found only worked when peoplethought I was a woman. I continued. “I want to do some acting, but Ijust don’t feel ladylike. My gestures are too masculine, I don’t reallyhave the right female mindset. Could your tapes help me with anythinglike that?””Well, I still say the problem is all in your mind, but let’s see whatwe got.” He rummaged through the boxes and pulled out a tape. Femininedeportment,’ read the label.”So how exactly do these tapes work?” I asked.”You play them while you sleep. They sound like music, but they have avoice on them that only your subconscious mind picks up.””I don’t understand. What exactly does the voice say?””Well, these tapes work on the same principal those ‘stop smoking’tapes. The voice tells your mind to do something that you lack thewillpower or knowledge to do. Eventually your mind starts listening tothe message and doing what it says.”That sounded scary. “What if I don’t like what the message tells me todo?””Don’t worry about it. Despite what you see in the movies, you can’thypnotize someone against their will. It’s just like the stop smokingtapes. If you don’t really want to quit, no amount of tapes can makeyou. Besides, I wouldn’t worry about these tapes. They’re designed foractors and actresses. They’ll help you walk and talk like a female, butwon’t transform you into June Cleaver or anything.””How long do the effects last?” I asked.”As long as you want them too. Remember, your mind is in charge. Thetapes can help you make changes as long as you want them. Stop wantingthe changes, the tapes stop working. Of course, if you want the changesto be permanent, like not smoking or acting ladylike or whatever, youonly have to listen to the tapes for a while. Once the desired behaviorbecomes second nature you won’t need to be hypnotized any longer. Butthat would be an extreme case. I’ve never known a smoker who didn’toccasionally sneak a cigarette. If you really want to make permanentchanges, you’d probably have to listen to this tape for years.”That was a relief. I had had fears of being hypnotized into behavinglike a woman and then not being able to change back when the time came.I took the cassette. Leroy, after telling me once again he didn’t thinkI really needed it, offered to show me out. I really didn’t need helpgetting out of the small building, but I didn’t feel like an argument.As we were leaving the theater, I noticed a poster for the film I hadseen on my infamous date with Steve. It was playing at a local theaterand I remembered that, thanks to Steve’s raging hormones, I never hadseen the ending.Leroy noticed me reading the ad. “Do you like that film?” he asked.”Yeah, I guess. I saw it once, but never got to see the end.””Well, I’m going to see it this Friday. Do you want to come with?””Uh, yeah, why not? I’ll have to ask to borrow my sister’s car, though.””Don’t worry about it. I’ll pick you up.”We sat a time to meet and I left.When I returned to my apartment that afternoon, I found Jenni was there,reading a magazine. Ever since the start of the school year, it seemedlike she had practically moved in with me. Not that I minded, I enjoyedher company. John was busy blasting out the heavy metal version of TheWilliam Tell Overture on his bass guitar.”Hi Dale!” shouted Jenni over the noise John was making. “How’d thingsgo at the drama school?””Not bad. I got the tape. I doubt it will do me any good, but it’s wortha try. Anything to help me get adjusted to this crazy life.””Well, I hope it works. You’ve had a rough couple of weeks. What do yousay I take you to dinner this Friday, my treat?””That’d be great. Oh, wait, I can’t. I told some guy from the dramaschool I’d see a movie with him.”The was nasty sound as John hit an even more sour chord that usual. Ithen realized that both John and Jenni were staring at me with shockedexpressions on their faces.”You…you have a date?” asked Jenni uncertainly.”Hell no! What are you talking about? I’m just going to the movies witha friend.””Who’s idea was it?” she asked.”Well, it was his and…stop looking and me like that, you two! It’sjust two friends going to see a film.””Are you going Dutch?” asked John.”Well, no, he said he’d get the tickets from the box office, but thatdoesn’t mean anything.””Are you meeting him there or is he picking you up?” asked Jenni.”He’s picking me up, but what of it?””Well” said John, “I’m no Casanova, but if I asked a girl to see a moviewith me, and I was picking her up and paying for it, I would justassume…”It then hit me. How could I have been so stupid? Leroy had clearly askedme out and I had stupidly said yes! That’s what comes from thinking likea man and living like a woman. I had thought Leroy was just asking abuddy to see a flick, while Leroy had obviously thought I had agreed toa date. Maybe the hypnosis tapes would help me avoid situations likethis.I felt like punching the wall. “So what do I do now?””Easy enough,” said Jenni. “Just call him and cancel. Say something cameup.””But I don’t have his number! All I know is that he’s a drama student.””Well,” said Jenni, “perhaps you can find him at the drama school.”John shook his head. “No dice. The drama school’s almost bankrupt. Thebuilding’s only opened on Mondays and Tuesdays.” It was Tuesdayafternoon.”Well,” I said “that settles it. I guess I’ll just have to wait untilFriday and then tell him I’m sick.””Yeah, that would be just great!” said John in a surprisingly angryvoice. “Just let him think he has a date all week, and then stand him upon Friday night. That’ll do wonders for his self esteem.” Clearly Johnhad been on the receiving end of this treatment before. He obviouslydidn’t care for people who stood dates up at the last minute, whateverthe reason.”Well, John, what am I supposed to do? Be his girlfriend? He’s not goingto get anywhere with me, that’s for damn sure.””Just see the movie with him. When it’s over, tell him you just want tobe friends.””And you think he won’t be hurt by that?””Of course he’ll be hurt! But it won’t be as bad as getting stood up atthe last minute.” John seemed very bitter. I wondered what had happenedin his past romantic life that made him so defensive about the feelingsof others.”I’m sorry John, I just really don’t want to go out with him. I knowit’s my fault, but I’m not going to do it.””Look,” said John, somewhat calmer, “if you don’t feel safe, why don’tJenni and I go with you? A double date. We won’t let anything happen.””You’re going to badger me about this until I do the right thing, aren’tyou?”John smiled his moronic smile. “Yep.””Fine. I’ll do it, but only because he was nice to me and I don’t wantto be mean in return. And that’s the ONLY reason I’m doing it. The firsttime I hear either of you act like I want to do this, I’m history.”Jenni and John smiled innocently.The next afternoon, Jenni took me to the mall to go clothes shopping. Ididn’t really feel up to it, but since I only had two or three outfitsin my wardrobe I figured it was a necessity.The first things we bought were shoes, since I only had two pairs andneither of them really fit. It wasn’t easy finding them in my size, buteventually I managed to get some high heels, some pumps, and a pair ofwomen’s sneakers.Next, Jenni dragged me into Victoria’s Secrets. I refused to buy and ofthe lacy feminine undergarments she picked out for me. I simplypurchased a set of female pajamas and a matching bathrobe.Then Jenni took me through practically every clothing store in theentire mall. It was a strange feeling, ducking into the women’s dressingroom to try on a skirt, but I soon got used to it. Jenni helped meselect all the clothes I would need for the coming year: t-shirts,jeans, skirts, dresses, blouses, a coat, a jacket, and sweaters. As theclerk rang up our purchases, I realized something.”Jenni, how can you afford all this?” She pretended not to hear me. Iasked her again.”Oh, I saved up a little. Don’t worry about it.””Saved up a little? Jenni, you were broke last week. How can you pay forall this?””Well, I sold my computer. It’s no big deal. John said I could use his.”I was stunned. All John had was a crappy old laptop that didn’t evenhave a modem. “Jenni, how could you do that? You loved that computer!””Well, it’s mostly my fault that you have to dress this way, so I mightas well dress you in style. You couldn’t really go through the yearwearing whatever I happen to have clean. Besides, your comments about mebeing afraid of Steve got me thinking. I have been hiding on theinternet. I’ve been afraid to face the world. I think it’s time that Iget out there and make friends that I don’t have to be online to talkto.”I smiled at her. I hoped she was telling me the truth. I knew how muchshe liked that computer and I hated to see her get rid of it on myaccount.”Thank you Jenni. I think you’re doing the right thing, getting outmore, and believe it or not, I do appreciate the clothes. Is thereanything I can do to make it up to you?””Maybe there is. I was thinking that clip-on earrings don’t look righton you. You’d really look a lot better with pierced ears. Lots of guyshave pierced ears and the holes would heal by the time you went back tobeing a guy.”I won’t bore you with a long transcript of my protestations. Suffice itto say that I left the mall that day with two small gold studs in mylobes.Chapter Six:That night I got ready for my non-date date. I just wanted to throw on at-shirt and go, but Jenni insisted that I take a shower and put onmakeup. I drew the line at wearing a pretty dress. Lots of women hadgone out with me wearing a sweater and jeans and I figured that was goodenough for me tonight. Jenni, on the other hand, was dressed to thenines. I guess she was making good on her resolution to get out more,she seemed to enjoy the idea of a night on the town. She looked awfulpretty, even with the scars. Who knows, maybe the idea of her having aboyfriend wasn’t so far fetched.John wore his least smelly t-shirt and combed his hair. For him, thatwas dressing up.At the appointed time, Leroy showed up, freshly showered and shaved.”You look great,” he said.”So do you,” I replied without thinking.Leroy seemed a little disappointed that John and Jenni would be comingwith us. It wasn’t hard to figure out why. It’s not easy for a guy toput the moves on a girl when her friends are around. I was glad theywere coming, now maybe I didn’t have as much to worry about.We drove to the movies in Leroy’s car. This time, it was playing in oneof those ‘art’ theaters, the kind that show foreign films and otherflicks without car chases. Jenni loved that sort of place. John was putout that they didn’t sell Milk Duds or candy bars. Leroy seemed to beenjoying himself. I just wanted the evening to be over.As soon as the lights went dim, I had a horrible thought: what if Leroyput his arm around me like Steve had? I was planning on telling Leroy Ijust wanted to be friends after the movie. That would be a lot harder totell him if I had let him hold me during the movie; he might think I wasa tease. On the other hand, if I shrugged away or told him to back off,that might really hurt his pride. While I had no desire to get physicalwith him, I really didn’t want to make him think he was unlikable. Hewas a nice guy, but I wasn’t interested in nice guys.As it turned out I had nothing to worry about; he never made an overtmove. He did, however, keep inching his hand towards mine. It wasobvious that he was hoping that I’d move my hand closer to his and we’dend up holding hands. Every time I noticed him doing this, I pretendedto adjust my hair or scratch my wrist to get my hand out of the dangerzone.Finally, the movie was over. Despite the fact that John had made gunfirenoise during the many combat scenes, it was kind of a fun experience.Still, I was more than ready for it to be over.As we walked to the car, Leroy asked “So who wants to grab a bite toeat?” I made up an excuse about having a headache and asked to be drivenhome. I felt like slugging John when he said “Well, I’m damn hungry.C’mon Jenni, I know a place near here where you can get ten burgers forten bucks!”They were off into the night. I was so pissed! They knew I didn’t wantto be left alone with Leroy and they just went off to grab some food.Some friends.Leroy seemed pleased with the turn of events. He was clearly hoping thatI’d invite him inside and then offer to slip into something morecomfortable. Fat chance of that happening.Leroy walked me to the door of my building. “Jenni, I had a really goodtime tonight,” he said.”So did I,” I replied. That was all it took. His face was slowly movingtowards mine, going in for the obligatory good-night kiss. Not tonight,pal.”Listen Leroy,” I said, backing away, “I like you, you’re a nice guy,” Itook a deep breath and then said it, “but I think we should just befriends.” There. Short and nasty, but honest. I didn’t want to hurt him,but I sure as hell didn’t want to lead him on.Leroy took it like a man. “OK,” he said. “I understand. But if youreally want to be my friend, will you do something for me?””Uh, what did you have in mind?” If there was one thing I had learnedrecently, it was not to promise anything without thinking first.”It’s about the play. We have every part cast except for the role ofHelena. If we don’t start practicing soon, and I mean like this week,we’re sunk. You’d be perfect.”Ug. “Leroy, I dunno…””Look, practice is only two nights a week, and the performance is rightafter Christmas break so it won’t take up that much of your time.Besides, you told me you wanted that tape to help you become an actress.Well, here’s your big chance!”There was that old familiar feeling again. I felt like I was the onlyone who wasn’t controlling my life. I couldn’t back out on Leroy withouthim thinking that I had been lying to him. I agreed; if anything I’d behelping out some struggling actors. Besides, Jenni wasn’t the only onewho needed to get out more. Maybe acting would be a fun way to meetpeople, if only for a while.After Leroy drove off, I consulted some old reference books I had lyingaround. I finally found a synopsis of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Thecharacter I would be playing, Helena, was a shy girl who falls in lovewith, and eventually marries, a man named Demetrius.I had heard the name Demetrius before. That was the role Leroy had saidhe would be playing.Summer turned into fall, and fall into winter. John had a few more gigs.Jenni, although she never managed to get a date, was more sociable thanshe had been in a long time. It was good to see her getting out more.She seemed to have a lot more self esteem.As for me, I was enjoying college life. Despite everything, I wasmanaging to make friends and get out of the apartment. Every day I wouldrise an hour earlier than I had when I was living as a guy. I wouldshower and then do my hair. Jenni had arranged for me to have a perm,now my hair had a slight curl to it. Instead of just letting it hangfree, I had to decide how I wanted to wear it that day: down, in a ponytail, in a bun, braided, or whatever.After I had my hair fixed the way I wanted, I would start on my makeup.Due to months of practice, I had finally gotten to the point where Icould make up my face satisfactorily. It was a dull process for me and Ienvied the many women I knew who didn’t use makeup. Unlike them, theydidn’t need to prove to the world that they were women. I did. Still,that deception was getting easier and easier every day. I learned that alittle makeup can go a long way. Another thing that helped was theelectrolysis treatments I used to get rid of the few hairs on my face. Iresigned myself to the fact that growing a beard really wasn’t in myfuture, and to tell you the truth, it was nice not having to shave myface every couple of days. Unfortunately, I still had to shave my legs.When my makeup was finished I would decide what I wanted to wear thatday. Gone were the days when my only wardrobe decision dealt withwhether my jeans were too smelly to wear another day. Now words like’style,’ ‘matching,’ and ‘accessorize,’ had meaning to me. I would oftendress myself, decide that I didn’t like what I had on, and change.When I was finally ready to go, I would walk to class. I had been trueto my promise to do well in school, I was excelling in every subject.When classes had first started, I would rush home and stay in myapartment for the rest of the day. Now I would usually stop for a coffeein the student union or go to the gym and work out. I didn’t pump ironlike I used to, of course, but I did do a lot of jogging and aerobicswhich helped me slim down.Twice a week, in the evenings, I would go to play practice. At the firstrehearsal I had realized that all of the other cast members were far andaway better actors than I was. That meant I had to practice twice asmuch. I would often read my part over and over again at home, with Jenniand John reading the other lines. If this play didn’t save the dramaschool it wasn’t going to be because I didn’t try.Despite my early misgivings, my social life really took off. Though Imanaged never to get roped into another date, I did have a lot offriends to hang out with. Most of them were cast members from the playwho always included me in their parties, road trips, and nights out.They were a great group of people. Sometimes I would see a movie or havea cup of coffee with Stephanie, the girl who had taken me to my firstcollege party. Other nights I would hang out with members of the campusGreenpeace organization that I had recently joined. Sometimes Jenni,John, Leroy and myself would rent a movie or just sit around and talk.Leroy had taken my request that we just be friends very seriously. Hemight not have stood a chance with me romantically, but he seemedgenuinely interested in being my friend. He showed me around town andintroduced me to a lot of his companions. He was a real nice guy and Ienjoyed hanging out with him, but only platonically, nothing more. Hewould still occasionally try to hold my hand or give me a hug, but healways took my rejection in stride. I guess it was true what they say: aguy could never truly be friends with a pretty girl. He’d always thinkof her as a sex object, if only subconsciously.I didn’t like the fact that in a year I would never see any of my newfriends again. They were a lot of fun to be with, but I couldn’t verywell keep hanging out with them once I changed colleges and went back tobeing a guy. It was hard on me, a lot of them had gone out of their wayto help me fit in and I was going to leave them without any explanation.Still, I was counting the days until I could toss away my panties andskirts forever.I was listening to the hypnosis tapes every night. I have no idea ifthey helped or not; like Leroy said, the effects could be almostanything. I did notices that I had gradually gone from thinking ofmyself as a perverted man in a dress to more of a double-agent typeroll. I felt like I was living someone else’s life and that soon I couldgo back to being myself. It did me good to think of my life that way. Icould stop focusing on what I was missing and start concentrating onwhat fun I could be having at the present time.The thing that really bothered me was the fact that I had no chance ofgetting a date for an entire year. I was eighteen years old and myhormones were raging. Every time I saw a pretty girl, I would go nutswith unfulfilled desire. Once I had approached Jenni with the idea ofjoining a lesbian organization in hopes of meeting a woman who wouldlike me as I was. Jenni had practically forbidden me. She was right, itwas a dumb idea. I’d probably get caught and then my secret would beout. Besides, it would be mean to play with the emotions of some poorgirl who thought she was dating a woman.One night back in late August I was sitting in Jenni’s dorm. She wasgiving me a pedicure. I didn’t enjoy it, but she seemed to, and I didn’treally mind. Once again, I broached the subject of my date-free life. Itwasn’t the current absence of women in my life that was really gettingme down, I said. It was the fact that the absence would continue onuntil the summer with no chance of letting up. It really bummed me out.”Well Dale,” replied Jenni, putting away the toenail polish, “you are atthat age where about all a guy thinks about is girls. It’s those raginghormones that are doing it.””I know, but I guess there’s nothing to be done. Jesus, I feel like I’min prison here. I figured I’d already have a girlfriend by now, and ofcourse I don’t.””Listen Dale, I was on the internet today (though Jenni had sold hercomputer, she could still access the internet at the library). I foundout about a chemical that could reduce your sexual desires greatly. Doyou think that would make life easier for you?””Yeah, I think that it would. It seems like all I think about is women.What’s this chemical called?””Well…estrogen.””Estrogen? Female hormones? Sorry babe, I’m not that desperate.”Jenni pulled out some computer printouts. “Would you let me explain?””Explain what? That I’d grow breasts and start to like guys? Gimme abreak!””It’s not like that, Dale. Now listen.” She consulted her sheets. “Yourtesticles, as you probably know, are producing a chemical calledtestosterone. That’s what makes you a man. It make you like women, andhave facial hair and rough skin and such. But if you were to starttaking estrogen pills, then that would sort of neutralize thetestosterone. Your sex drive would really drop off. Of course, you woulddevelop some secondhand female characteristics. Your body fat wouldredistribute into a more womanly figure, so maybe you could get rid ofsome of that padding I know you hate. Your skin would get a littlesofter are more girlish, so you might be able to go without makeupsometimes. Your penis would grow smaller, so you could get a looserundergarment.”I snorted. “And next year I could just register as a girl again, sinceI’d practically look like one!””Don’t be silly Dale. The estrogen would be fighting your testosterone.As soon as you stopped taking it all the new effects would go away.You’d slowly start to feminize, but you’d turn back into a man much morerapidly.””But what if I started to like guys? I can’t risk that!”Jenni shook her head. “No chance. Sexual persuasion is all in the mind.Hormones can lower your sex drive, but not change it.””Would I grow boobs?””Well, they say that your nipples enlarge and become more sensitive. Fatis redistributed to the chest, so I guess you would eventually grow tinyones, though I’m not sure that you’d have time to do that. Just like allthe other characteristics, they’d disappear when you stopped theestrogen. Here, look at this.”She handed me a color printout. It was contained two columns of photos.On the left where pictures of guys, ranging from wimpy to studly. On theright hand side were pictures of various women, ranging from plain tosexy. It didn’t take long for me to realized that the women wereactually the men after hormone therapy.One picture showed a skinny, black-haired guy standing on a beach. Hewas wearing swimming trunks. The corresponding photo showed a curvy,topless woman posed erotically before a fireplace. She had very smallbreasts, but they were definitely something you would not find on a man.The nipples struck me especially; they were dark and erect. Her paintedfingers covered her crotch and, I supposed, ‘her’ penis.Another picture showed a blonde guy with his arm around a woman. ‘Tim,’the first picture was labeled. The other picture showed a lovely, longhaired blonde, wearing a one-piece bathing suit. ‘Tamara,’ said theother photo.I handed the paper back to Jenni. “I dunno, s*s. This seems like adrastic step.””Think of it this way, Dale. You’ll stop having to worry about nothaving dates, and you can ditch those pads and the girdle. You dresslike, live like, and act like a woman. Would looking a little more likeone really hurt?””Jenni, if I agree to do this, please don’t tease me. Don’t act like I’menjoying this.””Dale, I swear to God I wouldn’t do that. I know things are rough foryou and I’m not liking it either.””Thanks Jenni. OK, I’ll take the hormones.”Jenni immediately placed a call to a distributor in Germany. The pillswere Fed-exxed to me within the week.Chapter Seven:Soon it was winter. I had been on the estrogen pills for four months nowand could already tell a difference. For starters, my sex-drive was nowall but non-existent. I no longer brooded about not being able to get adate. Even when I was in the women’s locker room I never even looked atthe naked women around me (well, maybe once or twice).Of course, not all the changes were mental. My penis seemed smaller andI could no longer make it hard. Thanks to the hormones, I bought a muchlooser sex hiding device. There wasn’t as much to hide, now.My skin seemed much softer. It was like it wasn’t my own any more, itseemed too delicate. My hair also felt a little silkier. My muscle tonedecreased. Feats of strength that I had taken for granted in the pastnow were difficult, if not impossible. I sometimes had to ask John tohelp me move things that I had easily lifted months ago.The fat on my mardin escort body began to redistribute itself. Instead of excess flabcongregating in my belly, it began to gather in my chest and hips. I nolonger needed to stick the Maxis in my panties; my rear and hips werenow large enough not to require them. I also ditched the girdle. While Istill didn’t have an hourglass figure, I felt I was shapely enough on myown to do without that uncomfortable thing.My chest was also swelling. I didn’t have anything close to a woman’schest, but I was ‘blossoming.’ There were definite mounds under mynipples that had not been there before. I wondered how big they would beby the summer. My nipples were a much darker shade of brown than beforeand they seemed to cover a larger area. They were also a lot moresensitive. While caressing my penis no longer produced the sexualstimulation it once had, playing with my nipples turned me on a little.I really didn’t care for all these changes, but they were tolerable.Getting rid of the padding was nice and the lowered sex drive certainlymade me a lot calmer. Besides, all these effects were only temporary.School ended in June, I could survive another half year like this.In retrospect, I think my plans to change back into a guy over thesummer would have gone perfectly, had it not been for the greattuberculosis outbreak.They still talk about it on campus. That winter, the state was hit bythe worst TB outbreak of this century. Half the campus was sick. For thefirst time in the university’s 150 year history all classes werecancelled. Play practice was suspended indefinitely. The campus dininghalls shut down. Everywhere you looked you’d see miserable studentsshuffling around, coughing.While John and I managed to avoid the illness, Jenni and Leroy both gotit bad and were bedridden for a week. I played nursemaid to both ofthem, bringing them chicken soup and taking care of them. I knew takingsuch an interest in Leroy would make it appear that we were more thanjust friends, but I had no choice. His parents lived out of the stateand he was in no position to take care of himself.Then, just when it looked like everyone was going to recover, I got somebad news. It seemed that the campus health service feared anotherpossible outbreak of TB, this one worse than before. In order to preventthis, every student, faculty, and staff member had to go to the campushospital for a complete physical. A clean bill of health would berequired to register for the next semester.I was scared. I didn’t want to go to my appointment; a doctor might seethrough my disguise. I voiced my concerns to Jenni, who told me not toworry. “They’ve had to see so many patients this week that they won’tspend any more time with you than necessary. Just tell them you feelgreat and they probably won’t do anything more than take your pulse.”Nervous, but knowing that I really had no choice, I went to myappointment. The sign on the office door I was directed to read “Dr.Alice Auger, M.D.” I was eventually summoned inside.The doctor told me to sit on the examination table. She was rather youngto be a doctor, she couldn’t have been older than thirty. She was prettyin a no-nonsense type of way. When I entered she was leafing through amanila folder. Finally she looked up.”So Mr. Simmons, would you care to tell me why you’ve been pretending tobe a woman this year?”I felt dizzy. The nightmare had come true. I was found out, and by aschool authority at that. All she had to do was report me to the deanand I’d be flipping burgers for the rest of my life. I tried to actsurprised. “Pretending? Whatever do you mean?”Dr. Auger’s grey eyes turned cold. “Why I mean, young man, is that youcan falsify your college records, but your medical records are with youfor your entire life. Look here,” she said, indicating an old testresult “Simmons, Dale R. MALE.”I tried to laugh it off. “You obviously have the test results of someother Dale.”The doctor handed me a photo out of my file. “Look familiar?” she asked.I recognized the snapshot. It was a Polaroid my old doctor had taken ofme after the physical I needed to play high school basketball. He saidhe took pictures of all his patients so that their records couldn’t bemistaken for someone else’s. He was right, now I couldn’t say the filebelonged to anyone but me. Thanks a lot, doc!”I’ve been looking at your school records,” continued the doctor. “youregistered as a woman, and since you haven’t had any trouble going toclass, you must be dressing like this full time.” She snapped the fileshut, angrily. “Now should I have you kicked out of school now, or doyou want to try to explain this?”I explained. It was like a dam bursting; once I started I couldn’t stopmyself. All the truth came out, about Jenni, Steve, the internet, Leroy,and the hormones. I pulled a snapshot of Jenni out of my purse to proveshe wasn’t a fabrication. I ended by telling the doctor that she couldcall Jenni or John if she wanted to confirm my story.I couldn’t bring myself to look at Dr. Auger the story. By the time Iwas finished I had my head in my hands, crying. All my struggles thisyear, everything I had worked for, all my desperate attempts not to getkicked out of school had just blown up in my face. I just wanted to packmy things and leave town. Start all over in another city.I was shocked when I felt the gentle pressure of Dr. Auger’s hand on myshoulder. “You poor thing,” I heard her say. I looked up at her. She wasno longer looking at me with anger, but with pity.She turned and rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands. “You’ll haveto forgive me Mr…uh, Ms…you’ll have to forgive me Dale. Thanks tothe health crisis, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over a week. Ishouldn’t have blown up at you like that. I didn’t think you could havea reasonable explanation for your deception, but you did.”I let out a half laugh/half cry. “So you’re not going to report me?”Dr. Auger looked strangely distant. “No, I’m not.”I did laugh this time. “So everything’s OK?”She shook her head. “I’m afraid not.”My spirits sank. “What’s wrong?” I asked, dreading the answer.”Well, for starters, I don’t like this mail-order hormone business. I’mgoing to prescribe you some myself, you should be under a doctor’s care.But that’s not our main problem.” Despite my worry, I noticed that shesaid ‘our’ problem instead of ‘your’ problem.”Our main problem,” she continued “is that in order for me to check yourlungs with a stethoscope, I’ll have to ask you to take off your shirt.And then the fact that you are a man would be obvious, even if I hadn’tlooked at your file. If I don’t report this, then I’d be falsifyingpatient records, which goes against my medical ethics.””I don’t suppose you’d bend the rules, this once?” I asked, hopefully.”Bending the rules isn’t the issue, Dale. If you were ever to be foundout, then people would know that I had helped you deceive the school.Either that or they’d think that I did such a shoddy examination that Ididn’t even know your true sex. Either way I’d be fired, and probablylose my medical license.””But,” I protested meekly “I won’t get caught! I’m extra careful and Ionly have to do this for one more semester.”The doctor shook her head. “You can’t guarantee that. You could getspotted in a rest room, or tear your shirt on something, or be in anaccident and get rushed to the hospital. I’m sorry, but I doubt ifemergency room doctors will be as understanding as I am.””But those are crazy situations. They probably wouldn’t happen!””Dale, I’ve busted my ass in medical school to become a doctor and I’mstill not even close to having my loans paid off. I can’t risk all thatI’ve worked for, my entire future, on ‘probably won’t.'”I was glad I was in a hospital, I felt positively ill. I knew I couldn’task her to risk her whole career for me. “So what do I do now?” I asked.”Drop out?”The doctor gave me her pitying smile again. “Well, there may be a wayout for both of us. I think I can trust you to keep what’s in yourpanties a secret until June. Your lack of breasts, on the other hand,well…that’s what scares me.””Would more hormones give me breasts?” I asked, not sure that I reallywanted my own set, for whatever reason.”No, not in the time frame we’re looking at. What I had in mind wasimplants. I have a colleague who has developed a new type of breastimplant. Nothing revolutionary, they’re just a little more durable thanwhat’s available now. In order for him to get them approved by the FDAhe has to allow a group of volunteers to use them for eight months. Youknow, to make sure there are no side-effects. I’m sure there won’t be,but rules are rules. I’d like to sign you up for this study. If you havebreast implants then I’m willing to not say anything about your truesex. You won’t be charged anything for the surgery and you can have themremoved in late August.”I was flabbergasted at her suggestion. “Implants? Are you nuts? I don’twant breasts! I didn’t ask for any of this, it was all forced on me. Icouldn’t have them removed in August anyway. I’m going to use the summerto transition from a female life to a male one.””Dale, the FDA requires eight months. Their rules are very strict. Soare mine: implants or drop out.””You know I can’t do either!””One or the other.”Christmas break was nearly over. Jenni and I had no real desire to spendthe holidays with our mother. Instead, we had just had a quietcelebration in my apartment.Christmas break was also the time I had scheduled the surgery for. As Ifigured it, there was no other way out. Eight months with breasts ordrop out of school.The day after classes let out for the break I checked into the hospital.Dr. Auger (who had since insisted that I call her Alice) had made allthe arrangements. She helped me to my room, explained to me exactly whatthe process would entail, and was even there when the anesthesia tookeffect.”Don’t worry,” I remembered her saying as I went under. “Everything isgoing to be all right. And when you wake up you’ll have a lovely pair ofbreasts.”What I woke up with was a dull ache in my chest. My upper torso wastotally swathed in bandages, I couldn’t tell what the results of thesurgery looked like. I felt heavier up top; it was like they hadbandaged over my falsies.That was almost a month ago. It was now early January and classesstarted tomorrow. It was time for the bandages to come off. True, thedressings had been changed weekly at the hospital since the surgery, butI had always closed my eyes while my chest was scrubbed and rebandaged.I knew my new breasts would look pretty torn up after the operation andI didn’t want to see them until they were as healed as possible.I stood in front of the full-length mirror that Jenni had bought me forChristmas. I was in my room with the door locked. I was wearing only mysex-hiding underwear and the bandages on my chest. Even practicallynaked, I felt that I looked damn girlish. The hormones had certainlydone their job, I now looked more like a woman than I ever had. I wasworried about the next school year: if I had to stay like this allsummer then there wouldn’t be much time for me to ‘change back’ beforeclasses.I picked up the pair of hospital scissors that I would use to clip thewrappings. I hesitated. I put them down and picked them up again.Finally, I closed my eyes and cut. I felt the bandages fall away andopened my eyes.There they were. The objects I had fantasized about since I was elevenor twelve. Breasts. Boobs. Hooters. Tits. Still slightly bruised, theyhung from my chest down to the bottom of my rib cage. My enlargednipples were no longer under my shirt pocket, but a couple of incheslower. The cold air caused them to harden. They certainly looked more inplace now!I swayed a bit to the left. So did my new appendages. I felt the rightone rub against the left one. That was another odd sensation:sensitivity in places that didn’t even exist before. I leaned ahead. Mybreasts swung forward like two fatty pendulums. I could almost touchthem with my face. I lay down flat on my back. They flattened out,gently sliding down upon my chest.I still hadn’t had the nerve to touch them. They seemed so unreal!Finally, I reached up my hand and ran it down the left one. Soft, notunlike a water balloon. I ran my finger through the cleavage (I hadcleavage now!). The valley was warm and yielding. I touched the nipple.Hard, and much more sensitive. I held breast in my hand. It was heavierthan I had thought it would be. It was a strange and stimulatingsensation. Just last year I had been thrilled by my one and only contactwith human breasts. Now I had an even bigger pair growing on my ownbody!I sat down on my bed and stared at them for a good fifteen minutes. ThenI looked in the mirror and studied my body. A stranger now stared backat me. Who was this woman in the glass? Were was that college man whohad so confidently moved in here a few months ago? Where was themasculine figure, the manly face? Wherever it was, it sure wasn’t in theglass. What was between my legs was all that was left of my past.I felt dizzy and sat down again. This wasn’t right! How could helping mysister have gone so far? Whose fault was it? Before, I could have justchucked the female side of me whenever I felt I couldn’t take itanymore. Now I was stuck as a woman until I could arrange for thecorrective surgery.Could I live for eight months like this? Could I go back to being a manafterwards? Would I ever be able to forget this side of me? I didn’tknow, only time would tell.I spent a good three hours ‘getting to know’ my new chest. That may seemlike a long time, but keep in mind I had developed my breasts in oneday. With real women the process takes years. Finally, I decided to getdressed.First, I tossed the mastectomy bra in my bottom drawer. Another piece ofpadding gone. All that was left was the rubber thing that kept my penishidden. When I got right down to it, I could even go out without that ifmy clothes were loose enough. My penis was now small enough that itreally didn’t show. I had even taken to peeing sitting down. In publicrestrooms I sat so no one would be surprised by an upright pair of legsunder the stall door. Now it was second nature.When I thought about it, the only thing (besides my penis, or course)that distinguished me from an actual woman was my failure to menstruate.To myself, to John, to Jenni, I was a man. To the world at large, I wasa woman.I pulled on a bra that I had stolen from Jenni. It was too small. Ipulled on one of the ones I had recently purchased at the departmentstore. That one was a little big, but adequate. I figured I was about a’C’ cup. The bra supported me in a way that was reassuring. It was niceto be able to walk without the darn things bouncing around, and a lotless uncomfortable.I pulled on some jeans, and then a front-buttoning blouse. It no longerfit; my real breasts were bigger than the fake ones had been. I pulledon another shirt. It fit, but tightly. I unbuttoned the first fewbuttons and let the cleft of my breasts show. Erotic, I looked like thenaughty secretary on some porno video. Finally, I put on a sweater. Eventhrough that I could tell how huge they were. They also looked morerealistic than the fakes. They moved and jiggled more like the realthings.I made up my face. Then, with some stage makeup I had got at the dramadepartment, I covered up the surgical bruises the best I could. When Iwas finished I called Jenni and asked her if she wanted to have dinner.She said she’d be right over.I had decided not to tell her about the surgery. Up until the lastminute I had been afraid that I would wuss out. I figured if she knewshe’d force me to go through with it. Now I figured there’d be no pointin hiding them.When Jenni came over, I lured her into my room on a pretext. I thenasked her what she thought of the sweater I was wearing.”To tell you the truth Dale, I don’t care for it. It doesn’t match yourcomplexion. You know, there’s something different about you. Did you dosomething new with your hair?”I smiled, the picture of innocence. “Nothing new I can think of. Let mejust change real quick.” I pulled off my sweater.Jenni’s scream was so loud that it brought John pounding on my lockeddoor, asking if we were OK. “We’re fine,” I hollered back.It took Jenni a few seconds to be able to say anything. “Dale…how?”she stammered.I explained everything to her. She just sat there, staring at my chestlike a drunk frat boy, her eyes as big as saucers.”So, what do you think?” I ventured.Jenni shook her head, as if to clear it. “Dale,” she began. “I don’twant you to take this the wrong way. I don’t want to hurt your feelings,I just think you need to know the truth.”I was a little shocked by this. I had figured she would havecomplimented me on rising to the occasion and doing what I had to do.”Dale,” she went on, “you look absolutely adorable! They’re beautiful!Please don’t be hurt, but you’re a doll.””Well, better to have them look good than to look bad, I suppose.” Atleast Jenni liked them, for a second I was afraid she was going to say Ihad made a big mistake. Two big mistakes, I guess.”Why didn’t you tell me, you silly person? Why the surprise?””Like they say at the drama school, ‘the entrance is everything.’ Youwere pretty taken aback, right?””To say the least! We have to go clothes shopping! You’ll need lots ofnew tops, especially for warm weather. Why, you could even wear a bikinitop now!””Calm down Jenni. Eight months, no more. I’ll buy whatever I need to,but no point in throwing money away.”Jenni looked a little sad. “I know, but you do make a great woman. Don’tbe offended, it’s true. I don’t suppose you’d like to try it for twoyears? Not many guys get to experience life from a woman’s point ofview.””Not many guys want to. Sorry. Come August, off they come.”Jenni nodded, wistfully. “Well, enjoy them while you can then.” Athought seemed to hit her. “Hey, does John know?””No,” I replied. “He just got back from his parents’ place today.””Well, what are you waiting for? Go give him a shock!”I pulled on a blouse and unbuttoned it almost to my navel. We found Johnin the kitchen, reading the Sunday comics. Though it was seven at nighthe was wearing his bathrobe and sipping coffee like he had just gottenup.”Hi big boy,” I said, it my most sultry voice.He glanced up, then went back to his funnies. “Hey Dale. Hi Jenni. Boy,I would not want to be in Beetle Bailey’s shoes right now!”Jenni and I walked back to the living room. A few seconds later we hearda crash as John half jumped, half fell out of his chair. He rushed intothe living room and stared at me, as if to confirm what he thought hehad seen. His face asked the question that his mouth couldn’t.”Wouldn’t you like to know?” I replied coyly. I buttoned my blouse andleft for dinner with Jenni, leaving behind a very confused John.Chapter Eight:It was now early February and I was not in a good mood. Play practicewas going slowly. We were afraid that we wouldn’t be ready for the bigperformance that was coming up. My classes were hard and I didn’t havemuch time to enjoy myself. To make matters worse, I hadn’t had a goodnight sleep in over a month. All my life I had slept on my stomach. Now,thanks to my breast implants, I could no longer sleep like that. It wasjust too uncomfortable. I slept on my back, which I was not used to anddid not enjoy.I was in an especially bad mood when I came home from theater practicethat night. I had blown several important lines and embarrassed myselfin front of the whole crew. On top of that, I realized that I hadforgotten my purse in the dressing room. I had to walk all the way backto the auditorium to retrieve it.When I got to the auditorium, I realized that some sort of performancewas happing there that night. I looked at the poster in the lobby:”Brian the Great and his lovely assistant, Rhea, performing amazingillusions, death-defying escapes, and miraculous feats of magic, tonightonly! Admission, $10.”I had always enjoyed stage magic, so I decided to catch a bit of the actbefore I went to get my bag. I was friends with the security guard so helet me in for free. I took a seat near the front.The magician, Brian, was a tall guy, not bad looking, with a somewhatcrazed expression on his face. I couldn’t tell if that was his naturallook or if he was just hamming it up for the audience. He reminded me abit of John.His assistant, Rhea, was very pretty. She was quite thin, with long redhair, well formed breasts, and lots of freckles. She was wearing a veryskimpy bikini. It had no shoulder straps and her chest constantly seemedon the verge of busting (pardon the pun) out of her top.”What a tease,” I thought “She’s just showing off her figure. What’s thepoint of wearing a costume that tiny?” Then it hit me. Here I was,looking at a gorgeous woman in a skimpy swimsuit and all I could thinkof was her need for modesty. I rubbed my temples. I had been acting likea woman for too long.Brian strapped Rhea into a large, frontless box, with her arms tiedperpendicularly from her body. She looked absurdly like a sexycrucifixion victim. Brian then slid two large metal sheets into the box;one right below her shoulders, the other right above her hips. It seemedlike he had divided her into thirds. He then grabbed the middle of thebox and pulled. Rhea’s midsection, containing her breasts and bellyseemed to slide away from the rest of her body. It was as if her torsowas several feet to the right where her head, arms and legs were. Thatexplained the lack of straps on her bikini: the metal sheets would havesliced through the straps, ostensibly severing the bikini and baring herchest.Brian leaned over and kissed Rhea on the lips. I borrowed a program fromthe guy next to me and read a little bit about the magical duo. It wasjust as I has suspected, they were a husband and wife team. Their actwas quite good, but I didn’t really feel like hanging around for it. Iducked backstage to the dressing rooms before Rhea had been reassembled.I stole into the room where I had changed for rehearsal. As I picked upmy purse, I noticed some things in the room that hadn’t been therebefore: a suitcase, a couple of swords, and a chainsaw. Of course, Brianand Rhea must have been using this dressing room. I decided I had betterleave before they caught me trespassing in what was supposed to be theirprivate changing room. I figured members of a magic act wouldn’t takekindly to someone snooping around their props.Just then there was thunderous applause from the audience, followed bysome footsteps coming very near the door. Damn! Cutting Rhea up musthave been their grand finale. The door started to swing open. I quicklyducked into the closet.I didn’t shut the door all the way so that I could look out and see whenthe coast was clear. Much to my horror, Brian quickly locked the doorand grabbed Rhea around her now intact waist and kissed her.”You were incredible tonight,” she told him when their lips parted.”I owe it all to you honey,” he replied. “But if you want to seeincredible…”Much to my horror, he began undoing her bikini top. No, not here, notnow! I could be stuck in this closest all night! All I had wanted to dowas grab my purse, not spy on a married couple making love. I knew thatI was stuck and couldn’t get home until after I was sure they were gone.Rhea began unbuttoning Brian’s shirt. “You men,” she said jokingly,”always one thing on your minds.”I had ducked back into the corner of the closest when Brian saidsomething that made me do a double take. “Hey Rhea, don’t bad mouth men.Up until a couple of years ago, you were one!”Had I heard him right? Did he just say that Rhea, his lovely assistantand wife, used to be a man?Rhea helped Brian off with his shirt. “Well, if I hadn’t fallen for youI’d probably still be a man. But to tell you the truth, I still onlyhave one thing on my mind…” She rubbed against him in such a way thatleft little doubt as to what that ‘one thing’ was.I couldn’t believe it! Rhea used to be a man! I wondered how the changehad come about. I never would have pegged Rhea for a transsexual. It wasmind boggling. I thought about trying to find her later and asking herwhat had happened, but thought the better of it. Her past was herbusiness and I had no right to intrude. I would just hide until theyleft and try to forget what I had heard.Unfortunately, I was rather clumsy that night and managed to knock overa stack of boxes while making myself comfortable. I heard Rhea gasp inhorror. Seconds later, Brian yanked open the closet door.”What the hell are you doing here?” he yelled.”I was just getting my purse,” I tried to explain.Rhea began to cry. “My God, she knows, she knows,” she sobbed. I feltterrible. I wanted to tell her that they had nothing to worry about, butBrian interrupted me.”Listen, whoever you are,” he said while pulling on his shirt, “youheard something you had no right to hear. I’ll give you $300 to keepyour mouth shut. It’s no one’s business but our own.”I tried to tell him I wasn’t out for a bribe, but “No…” was a far as Igot.”Not good enough for you?” said Brian, desperately. “OK, $500.””No, you don’t understand….””OK, one thousand bucks, just to keep your mouth shut. One grand not toruin our lives. Deal?”I tried to explain that I wasn’t trying to blackmail them. “Please, Idon’t want that.”Brian yanked out a checkbook and appeared to check the balance. “$1,305and 55 cents!” he shouted, on the verge of panic. Rhea sobbed harder.I couldn’t take it anymore. Even if I promised to keep my mouth shut forfree, they’d always live in fear that I’d blab. I figured that they hadgone to considerable lengths to cover up Rhea’s past and I had no rightto destroy their domestic tranquility. I had only one option.”Please listen to me,” I told them, praying I wasn’t making a mistake.”I’m not going to tell. You see…I’m a man.””What?” said Brian, taken aback. He looked me over critically. “Don’tgive me that crap.””It’s not crap,” I replied. “I never would have guessed that your wifewasn’t born a woman. You shouldn’t find it hard to believe that I’m aguy.”Rhea had stopped crying. “You really are a guy?” she asked, her voicehoarse from crying. “Wow! I honestly can’t tell. And here I thought Iwas an expert on transsexuals!””Oh, I’m not a transsexual.””Really?” asked Rhea, pulling on a robe. “They why do you look so muchlike a girl? If I’m not mistaken, those are real breasts.”I looked down, embarrassed. “I wish I could tell you, but I doubt you’dunderstand.”Rhea took my hand in hers. I looked up at her. She certainly was pretty,but close up she didn’t resemble the sexpot she had been on stage. Sheseemed more like the girl next door. The small town high school promqueen. She smiled at me and asked me my name.”It’s Dale,” I replied shyly.”That’s a nice name. Listen Dale, you’d be surprised at how well I couldunderstand what you’re going through. It might shock you to learn thatwhen I first started dressing like a woman I had no desire to becomeone. Would you like to hear my story?””Yes, if you don’t mind telling me.””Do you promise that whatever I tell you doesn’t leave this room? Brianwasn’t exaggerating, if my secret got out our lives would be ruined.””I promise. Hell, if my secret ever got out, my life would be ruined.”Rhea looked questioningly at Brian, who nodded. She then began hernarrative.”Three years ago I was a guy named Ray who lived in a stink hole of atown called Dead Springs, Nevada. Brian was a magician at a hotel there,I was a stage hand. Things were going great for Brian, he had justsigned on to perform at a large hotel in Las Vegas. Unfortunately forhim his assistant, Tracy, had just gotten engaged and wanted to leavethe act to raise a family. That stuck Brian without an assistant, andwithout an assistant he was out of an act. In desperation he asked me todress in drag and be his lovely assistant for the year. I was so brokeand desperate to escape the poverty level that I agreed.”Brian placed his hands lovingly on Rhea’s shoulders. “As you can see,”he said “things didn’t go quite as planned. I couldn’t resist thislovely young woman.””And after dressing as Rhea for a year, I couldn’t resist this handsomeyoung man.” Rhea reached up and kissed Brian (author’s note: if youwould like to read Rhea and Brian’s whole story, check out ‘PrestoChango’ by this author).”So now you know our story,” continued Rhea. “Now would you tell usyours? You know that we wouldn’t tell.”I explained everything. As I was telling them how I had turned from acollege guy into a man with soft skin and breasts, I began to think. Ihad never meant to let this many people in on my secret. Jenni wassupposed to be the only one who knew. John found out because he livedwith me. I had told Dr. Alice because I had no choice. Now here I wastelling two complete strangers my history. I would have to be morecareful, I couldn’t afford to let anyone else in on my secret.When I had finished, Rhea turned to Brian and asked for a moment alonewith me. Brian kissed her again and left. Rhea turned to me.”Dale,” she began “I know I don’t know you that well, but I think Iunderstand your situation enough to offer you some advice. Please,please be careful. You are playing a dangerous game. I don’t just meanthat you could get caught. I mean that you might find it’s not as easyto go back to manhood as you think. At one time I was sure that I wouldgo back to being Ray the first chance I got, now look at me.”I was confused. “What exactly are you saying?” I asked.”What I’m saying is that the longer you dress like a woman, the harderit will be for you to come back. You may find you don’t even want to.”I snorted. “Please. Maybe you like being a woman, but I don’t. ComeAugust I’m leaving this life behind!”Rhea smiled at me. “I hope you’re right. But remember one thing. If youshould decide that you do want to stay this way, then don’t fight it.You might regret it. I…I once told Brian that I wasn’t interested inhim, that I wanted to go back to being a man. That was the biggestmistake I ever made and I almost lost him. Fortunately I ended upfollowing my true feelings and having a sex change.” Rhea’s voice wasunsteady, the memory breaking up with Brian was obviously a painful one.”Well, I’m happy that you’re happy Rhea, but I think you’re wasting yourtime telling me this. I’m not going to fall in love with a guy.””That’s exactly what I said when I first started dressing like this. Itcan sneak up on you, so watch yourself. Be especially careful of thatLeroy guy you told us about. Sounds like a girl could fall for him ifshe’s not careful.”I rolled my eyes.Rhea handed me a business card. “Well, no matter what happens, pleasekeep in touch. If you ever need advice about anything, just call me.”We hugged. Despite her crazy history and even crazier advice, I likedher, she was a good person who meant well. She stood up. “Now if youexcuse me, I need to go find my husband. There’s a hot tub back at thehotel with our names on it.”I took the hint and left. All the way home I thought about what shesaid, and dismissed it at nonsense. Me fall for a guy? Me decide to staya woman? Please.Chapter Nine:While the audience thunderously applauded, I linked hands with the restof the cast and took a bow. It was a glorious feeling that I had neverhad before. To have a hundred plus people applauding, laughing at, andenjoying our performance. To be in the center stage, the lime light! Allour hard work had paid off. ‘Midsummer’ was a smash hit. We hadperformed to three sold out houses. After the second night we receivedword from the administration that, due to our fine performance (not tomention all the money we brought in), the drama school would be aroundfor at least another year.Every performance had gone flawlessly. No one missed a cue or botched aline. This was my first acting experience but I thought I had donepretty well. Even though this was closing night, when actors are usuallytired and not up to par, we were still sensational. I would certainlymiss all this when I went back to being a man next year. Maybe I couldtry my hand at being an actor some day.The audience kept applauding, so we bowed again. I discreetly placed myhand over my chest as we did so. All female cast members (and myself)were wearing frilly period dresses. That meant the neckline was quitelow and much cleavage was visible. While I had suffered through thiscostuming without complaining, I didn’t want to give the audience a full’tittie shot’ when I bowed.Then it happened. The man who played Oberon turned and kissed his loveinterest, Titania. The audience went nuts, they loved it. Next, the manwho played Theseus kissed his love interest, Hippolyta. There was morecheering from the crowd.Up till then I didn’t think anything was strange. The guy playing Oberonwas married to the woman playing Titania in real life. Theseus andHippolyta were dating. But then something strange happened. The manplaying Lysander kissed his love interest, Hermia. I was shocked. Theycertainly weren’t romantically involved. In fact in real life theydidn’t seem to really like each other, even as friends. Still, Lysandercontinued to kiss her and she didn’t seem offended at all.There was only one more couple in the play, Helena (me) and Demetrius(Leroy). Well, three out of four couples wouldn’t be bad. Surely Leroywould know better than to…My thoughts were interrupted when Leroy gingerly placed his hands on mycheeks and kissed me. I was too shocked to offer any resistance.When Steve had forced a kiss on me it had been a gross and disgustingexperience. His jabbing tongue, his slobbering lips, his groping fingersall coupled with the knowledge that he wanted to sleep with me…I stillcringed when I thought of it.Leroy’s kiss, though unwelcome, was different. His hands didn’t feel meup, they tenderly touched the sides of my face. His tongue wasn’t eagerand probing, he kept it in his mouth. His lips weren’t rough andviolent, they were soft and kind. With Steve, kissing had been a meansto an end, with Leroy it had been an end in itself.Leroy pressed our lips together and held me for what felt like thirtyseconds, but was probably more like three. Then he let go.I managed to bow one more time and then exit with the rest of the cast:women to stage left, men to stage right. As we made our way to thewomen’s dressing room, my blood began to boil. The nerve of Leroy! Justusing the play as an excuse to kiss me! What a jerk, all that talk aboutbeing friends obviously meant nothing to him. He saw me as nothing morethan a sex object!My mind burned with revenge. I wanted to burst right into the men’sdressing room and call him every name in the book. I wanted to humiliatehim in front of the entire cast, to make him so embarrassed that he’dnever act again. No, I’d wait until the cast party when I knew thateveryone associated with the play would be there. God, getting back atLeroy would be sweet!It took a fellow cast member to bring me back to earth. I was sitting atthe makeup table removing all the grease paint and powder. Next to mesat Lisa, the girl who had played Hermia. She was the other girl who hadbeen unexpectedly kissed by her partner. Maybe she’d want to join me inhumiliating the men (I thought that without stopping to think that I wasa man). I turned to her.”Can you believe those guys kissed us like that? The nerve!” I expectedher reply to be equally as vitriolic, but she merely shrugged.”Aw, boys will be boys. Besides, I think it ended the play nicely, whatwith all four couples kissing and all. Remember, ‘Midsummer’ is aromance.”That brought me back to reality. Of course. Leroy wasn’t kissing me forthe sake of kissing me. He just wanted to end play on a happy note. Itwould have looked odd if we were the only couple who didn’t kiss at theend. I couldn’t believe how vain I had been to think that he had onlywanted to kiss me for selfish reasons. Thank God I had talked to Lisabefore I had made a big ass of myself in public.When I came out of the dressing room, Leroy was walking by, carrying abox of props (that’s one problem with amateur theater, the actors haveto help break the stage when the play’s over). “Hey Helena, er Dale,” hesaid as he hurried by. “I hope I wasn’t out of line back there.””Don’t worry,” I said “I know you only kissed me for the sake of theplay.”Leroy had his back to me as he left the hallway. There was a mirrorleaning against the wall and I could see the reflection of his face. Isaw his lips move. He had said something, but only to himself. Aftermonths of watching the prompter whisper me lines, it wasn’t hard for meto read Leroy’s lips. After I had told Leroy that I knew he had onlykissed me for dramatic purposes, he had mumbled ‘maybe.’The next week I was enjoying having more spare time than I had had in along time. Now that the play was over, I suddenly had several morenights free a week. On one such night Leroy invited me to shoot somepool with him at a local bar.After Leroy had won three games we sat down to have a drink. Leroyducked into the john. I pulled out a compact and touched up my makeup abit. Suddenly, I heard a brash, drunken voice from behind me. “Heyhoney, can I buy you a drink?”I turned to see two huge guys standing behind me. They were both muscle-bound simians. I was annoyed to see that one of them was Chris, the fratguy who had been so rude to Jenni the first night I went out as a woman.”No thanks,” I muttered, and turned back to the bar. They weren’t to bedenied that easily. Both of them sat down next to me, one on each side.”C’mon honey, said Chris. “Ben and me are lonely and just wanna talk toyou.” Beer fumes hit me in the face. He tried to hold my hand but Iwouldn’t let him.”Go away!” I fairly shouted at them.”One drink, that’s all,” leered Ben.”Leave her alone.” I had never been so glad to hear Leroy’s voice. Weall turned to see him standing there with a slight grin on his face.”She’s with me,” he said, almost proudly. I let it slide. If the idiotsthought I was dating him, then they’d buzz off. Or so I though.”Hey shrimp,” said Chris to Leroy, “we’re just trying to talk to thelady, Why don’t ya go back to the nursery school?”Leroy seemed livid, I was just mad. The nerve of those assholes! If, forthe sake of argument, I actually was actually dating Leroy, why the hellwould I be more interested in them? Leroy I could at least have aconversation with.”I said she was with me,” repeated Leroy. “Now get lost.” I nodded inagreement.I was horrified to see Chris and his friend stand up and get right inLeroy’s face. “You wanna start some trouble?” Chris asked, deadlyserious.I knew things had gone far enough. Both guys were bigger than Leroy andI certainly didn’t want him to get hurt. If they ganged up on him hewouldn’t stand a chance.”Let’s get out of here,” I told Leroy.”But…” he protested.”We’re leaving, now,” I told him in a voice that wasn’t to be arguedwith.As we walked to the door, the two big guys shouted insult after insultat Leroy. “Hey shrimp, when your girl wants a real man send her our way!Hey, I think he’s crying! Look at the crybaby!” They shouted so that thewhole bar could hear. Leroy wasn’t crying, he was pissed. At everyinsult he would stiffen. I kept gently pushing his shoulders so that hewouldn’t be tempted to go back and do something stupid.We were at the door, he literality had one foot outside, when Chris’friend Ben said something that made Leroy stop. It wasn’t an insult tohim though, it was an insult to me.”Hey shrimp, your girl’s a slut!”Leroy turned around and walked slowly back to the bar. Much as I triedto hold on to him, he wouldn’t be stopped. He faced the two frat guys.”What did you say?” he asked. His voice was shaking from what might havebeen anger or might have been fear.”I said,” the guy replied, emphasizing every word, “that your girl’s aslut. A tramp. A bitch. A WHORE!””You take that back!””You gonna make me, shrimp?”Leroy punched Ben in the face. He staggered back against the bar, hisnose a bloody mess. Unfortunately, that was the only punch Leroy landedthat night.Both guys jumped him and began beating the crap out of him. Chris heldhim in a full Nelson while his buddy rhythmically landed blows toLeroy’s stomach and face.I began to scream and cry. “No, stop it! Can’t you see you’re hurtinghim?””Shaddap,” sneered Chris. “After we get done with your boyfriend we’regonna show you what real men are like!””Someone help!” I shouted, but the few patrons quickly looked away. Noone would get involved.Leroy collapsed on the ground, to weak to rise. blood oozed from hisnose and mouth, I wasn’t sure he was even conscious. He glasses had beenknocked off his face, Chris ground them under his heel. Then, much to myhorror, he pulled back his foot to kick Leroy in the face.”No!” I screamed. I wanted to close my eyes, but I couldn’t.”Well, well, well, what do we have here?” a familiar voice called. Ilooked away from the fight. There, at the door, stood John. He wasclutching a half empty bottle of tequila and smiling. Next to him stood’Smeg,’ the keyboard player for John’s band. Smeg had a shaved head, aKaiser mustache, and was the same size and shape as an industrialrefrigerator. He wore a permanent frown.”What do we have here?” repeated John.”Well,” replied Smeg, slowly, “it looks like two big guys beating thesnot out of a smaller guy. Say John, isn’t the smaller guy a pal ofyours?”John’s smile widened. “He certainly is. Now the question remains, mydear Smeg, what are we going to do about this situation?”John and Smeg advanced towards the two Neanderthals. They quickly backedaway. Smeg was huge, and John, while not gigantic, seemed to enjoy thethought of a bar brawl. “Hey, we don’t want any trouble,” said Chris,meekly, and Ben nodded in agreement. That showed their true colors. Theywould gang up on someone smaller, but wouldn’t dare fight someone whostood a chance of winning.”That’s too bad,” said John “because trouble’s found you.” John noticedthat Leroy had managed to stagger to his feet. John slapped Leroy’s handlike they were tag-team wrestlers and John was now taking over. “Dale,why don’t you take Leroy home and get him cleaned up? We’ll finishthings here.”I put my arm around him and half carried him to the door. Before we werein the parking lot I could hear blows landing.I drove Leroy to my house. He was half conscious, occasionally holdinghis stomach and groaning.I was utterly ashamed of myself. While my friend was getting beaten up,all I had done was stand there and scream and cry. I hadn’t jumped in tohelp, I hadn’t tried to pull them off, I had just stood there. It hadbeen so cowardly, so pathetic, so….womanly.I had done exactly what a woman would have done. I couldn’t hope to beatthe guys up now that the hormones had ridded me of my muscles. All Icould do was stand there feebly and hope that someone else would savehim. Thank God someone had.I helped Leroy inside and removed his shirt. I tenderly pressed onvarious places on his torso and ask them if they hurt. “Yes,” heanswered sleepily, every time. Still, nothing seemed to be broken. Ilaid him down on the couch and, with a wet washcloth, began mopping theblood off his face and body. I then made an ice pack and held it to hishead. This seemed to bring him fully around.”Dale, ” he said thickly through his swollen lip, “I’m sorry.””Sorry? Why are you sorry?””Those jerks were insulting you and I couldn’t stop them. I had to letJohn do it for me. I’m sorry.”I looked at him angrily. “Leroy, what in the hell are you talking about?There were two of them and one of you. I wanted you to leave but youwent back. What does it matter if someone insults me? I could care lesswhat some drunk says about me.”Leroy sat up, wincing with pain. “I care,” he said intently. “I can’tstand to have anyone say anything bad about you!””Why, Leroy?”Leroy put his face right in front of mine. “Because I love you Dale. Iknow you said you just wanted to be friends, but I can’t do it. I triedto deny what I feel, but I can’t. You’re the only woman I think aboutany more. I know other girls, pretty girls, who’d go out with me, but Inever even asked them.” Leroy took my stunned face in his hands. “I’d doanything for you. I’d get beat up by every guy on campus to protect you.All I want is to make you happy.”I was stunned. All this time I thought Leroy had been harboring a tinycrush on me, but apparently his feeling were much more serious. Whatcould I say?Leroy took advantage of my silence. He leaned over and kissed me. Andkissed me. It was a much more passionate kiss than before, but stilltender and gentle. He kissed and kissed and kissed me.’Stop,’ I wanted to scream as I closed my eyes. ‘This isn’t right,’ Imeant to say as he wrapped his arms around me. ‘No, I’m actually a man,don’t kiss me,’ I should have told him as I opened my mouth to receivehis sensual tongue.I placed my arms on his bare back and just let him hold and kiss me. Onmy mouth, my cheeks, my ears, my neck. Why wasn’t I stopping him? Was Ifeeling guilty that he had been beat up to protect my honor? Yes, butnot so guilty that I felt I had to let him touch me. It was somethingelse. It was as if I had been resisting him because I felt I had to, notbecause I wanted to. Jenni had said hormones couldn’t change your sexualpersuasion. But could living as a woman make me see Leroy differently?Could I have gone from thinking of him as a friend to thinking of him assomething else without realizing it?I thought about these things while we kissed. It was different thankissing a girl. He was the aggressive one, I was the shy one. Finally,Leroy did the inevitable. He reached down to unbutton my shirt.”No Leroy, not yet.” Even as I said this I regretted it. ‘Not yet,’ meanthat someday I would be ready. “Leroy, I need to think. Can I drive youhome?””No, if you drive me home in my car, how will you get back? Trust me, Ifeel fine enough to drive. Hell, I’m on the top of the world!” He lookeda lot better than he had a few minutes ago, that was for sure. He pulledon his shirt with a big smile, kissed me again, and left.I sat up all night thinking, trying to make sense of my situation. Icouldn’t.John came home a couple hours later, sporting a torn t-shirt as his only’injury.’ He seemed almost as happy as Leroy had been when he left..”Tell Leroy next time he tangles with someone, make sure they’re notcollege boxers. Those guys just wouldn’t stay down!” He trotted off tobed, tossing a handful of hard white things on the coffee table as hepassed. I looked at them, then quickly looked away. They were brokenhuman teeth.When morning came around I was no closer to figuring out my problem. Whyhad I let Leroy kiss me? Now he’d think that we were dating orsomething. But what could I do now? Make out with him and then say Ijust wanted to be friends? He had told me that he loved me and I hadkissed him. He had allowed himself to be beat up, just to avenge mybeing insulted. I couldn’t very well walk away from all that. I didn’twant to lose his friendship.Still, reality was reality and no good would ever come of me leading himon. When it was a decent hour I would go to his house and explain thatour dating would only end up hurting him. I wouldn’t be lying either.The Dale he knew would be gone by the end of the school year.At around 8:00 am there was a knock at the door. It was Leroy, holding adozen red roses, which he awkwardly handed to me. “For you,” he saidunnecessarily.Once again, I was stuck in an uncomfortable situation. How could I dumpa guy who had just probably spent over a hundred dollars on flowers forme? I faced him. His face was still pretty black and blue from lastnight, and he wasn’t wearing his customary glasses. But he had aconfident air about him, a self assurance that hadn’t been there before.Maybe it was from standing up to two bullies, or because he thought hehad won the heart of his dream girl. I knew that as soon as I dumped himthat confidence would be shattered.”Leroy…””Yes?””Leroy, I think…””Yes honey?” Honey. He called me honey. He bought me flowers and calledme honey and said he loved me.”Leroy, I think they’re beautiful. The flowers, thank you.”Leroy didn’t say anything. He kissed me. He kissed me and held me, andthen took me out to breakfast.So began the last two months of that school year. My emotions were in awhirl. One minute I would be having a great time with Leroy, then elazığ escort Iwould feel horribly guilty that I would be leaving him that summer. Oneminute I would be passionately kissing him, then I would be ashamed athow I was locking lips with a man. I cared about Leroy, but at the sametime I was revolted at the thought of what I was doing.I kept telling myself that I would soon think of a way out of thisrelationship, but I never did. I never really tried. The truth was,Leroy was a kind, loving man. He treated me like a princess and I wasalways happy to be around him. True, I didn’t enjoy our physicalrelationship, but I didn’t hate it either. Sometimes I would close myeyes and pretend I was kissing Christy Brinkley. Those fantasies didn’tlast long, however. I would inevitably be thinking of Leroy before thekiss was over.I noticed some changes in Leroy. He no longer seemed like a shy youngman, but a confident adult. He never replaced his glasses but was fittedwith contacts instead. He worked out three times a week. I think hewanted to be sure he’d stand a chance if he was ever in a fight again.He would put his arm around me in a proprietary fashion. Not like heowned me, mind you, but like it was his job to look out for me andprotect me. He would refer to me as his girlfriend, something I neverdenied.I kept thinking back to what Rhea, the magician’s assistant, had toldme. She said transforming back to being a man wouldn’t be easy, and thatfalling of a guy would make it much harder. Well, I knew that I hadn’tfallen for Leroy, but I did like him. I didn’t want to hurt him and Ididn’t want him out of my life. I hated thinking about what would happenin August, so I simply avoided thinking about it. I foolishly hoped thatit would sort itself out.Jenni seemed intrigued, and at the same time upset, by my relationshipwith Leroy. She tried to ask me what was going on several times, but Imade it clear that I didn’t want to talk about it. What could I havesaid? I didn’t understand it either. Jenni stopped bringing the subjectup, though she seemed anxious about Leroy and I.John never batted an eye the first time he saw Leroy kiss me. I wasn’teven sure if he remembered that I really was a guy. He had stoppedreferring to me as ‘the dude he lived with’ and no longer lounged aroundthe house in his briefs. It was hard to figure out how John viewedreality, it was quite possible he now believed I had always been a girl.Spring break rolled around. Most of the drama club decided to spend aweek at the beach. Leroy and I went along. It was a wonderful time.Every day we would all swim, play volleyball, and barbecue. At night wewould have a campfire and roast marshmallows. Leroy would hold me tightunder the beach blanket.I took many romantic walks along the beach with Leroy. He held my handand kissed me under the moonlight. I had given up feeling guilty orworried. As long as I was on vacation, I reasoned, I might as well enjoymyself.On the final night of our trip I sat on the sand with Leroy, his armaround my shoulder. It was night and the beach was deserted. Leroy waswearing nothing but his trunks. I was wearing my swimsuit: women’strunks (I still couldn’t hide my penis in a real bikini bottom) and askimpy bikini top. More of my breasts were uncovered than were covered.Leroy was kissing me. He had been kissing me for the better part of anhour. I had been swimming all day and was exhausted. I just let him holdme. Soon I was laying in the beach and Leroy was next to me, on hisside. He kissed me. My long damp hair tangled with his. He kissed me.The warmth of the beach, even at night, made me tired. He kissed me. Ifelt warm, no, hot all over. He kissed me. I fell into a half sleep. Ifelt turned on, erotic, sexy. Then I realized it.Leroy’s hand was resting on my breast. My bare breast. He had rolleddown the top of my bikini without me realizing it. I had been too intokissing him to realize it until after the fact. His fingers were gentlycaressing my nipple. His hand gently cupped my breast. He kissed me.I didn’t resist. He rolled on top of me. I wrapped my legs around him.We kissed for a long time. He reached for my shorts.”No Leroy, no further.”Leroy nodded. I expected him to get up, but instead he locked his armsaround me tightly. It seems he took ‘no further’ slightly differentlythan I had meant it. He apparently assumed that anything under my shortswas off limits, but anything else was ‘fair game.’ He explored mybreasts with his fingers, hands, and mouth. He kissed me on theshoulders, on the stomach, and between my shoulder blades. He held meand used my body to make him feel good. ‘I can make him stop anytime Iwant,’ I thought. ‘All I have to do is tell him to stop and he’ll let mego.’ Instead, I wriggled one of my hands free and slid it down the frontof his shorts.By the time I got back to my hotel room I was plenty tired. I wassharing a room with Lisa. She gave me a sly look when I came in, it wasobvious what she thought we had been doing. Truth be known, she wasn’tthat far off. It was almost time to drive back home. I went into thebathroom and changed. As I was doing so, I looked in the mirror.Tangled, sandy hair, twisted bikini straps, and a large hicky on myneck…well, I certainly looked like I had being having sex. I alsonoticed something else. My time in the hot sun had had an unexpectedresult. I now had a bikini tan.Chapter Ten:It ended quicker than it had begun. Finals were over, it was midJune.Leroy and I were at the gym, working out together. Leroy was busyinglifting some dumbbells. His biceps swelled under the strain. He hadcertainly become pumped up recently. He was definitely much strongerthan me. When we were alone, he would occasionally pin me down on thecouch and then kiss me all over. Of course it was just a game, all I hadto was tell him I was uncomfortable and he’d let me go. It was just thatI never asked him to.I was lifting weights too, but mine were five pounds each, as opposed tothe 40 lb. ones Leroy was using. I looked down at my pencil thin arms. Icertainly couldn’t see any results, but at least our trips to the gymwere keeping me slim. I was wearing a leotard and an athletic bra. Icould only fit into that outfit if I kept in shape. Then again, I couldhave done without all the stares I was getting from the male athletesaround the gym.Leroy grunted and placed his dumbbell back on the rack. “That’s enoughfor today, honey. Any more and I won’t be able to move tomorrow.””You poor thing.” I punched him playfully in the shoulder. “How about Igive you a backrub later?””Ooh, I feel better already.” He kissed me. “Listen Dale, I”m drivingout to see my parents this weekend. Would you come along?””I dunno. Sounds like a family thing. Do you really want me to bethere?””Of course I do. I…well, I think it’s time that you met my family.”Met his family. My God. Introduce me to his parents. Leroy was huggingme, he didn’t see the shamed look on my face. Leroy’s parents lived agood eight hours away. He wouldn’t take a casual girlfriend all that wayto have dinner with his folks. It was obvious he thought much more ofme. Much, much more. Perhaps he even thought of a permanentrelationship. He had been discussing the future a lot. Even when hespoke about life after graduation, I was in his plans.What had I done? I had lead him on, that’s what I had done. For all thetime we had been dating I had pretended I was in love with him (at leastI thought I was pretending, sometimes I wondered). Now what? In a fewweeks I would leave this campus for good. How would that make Leroyfeel? I couldn’t just disappear! how could I have ever thought thiswould work out for the best?I had been a cold-hearted bitch. There was no other word for it. I wasacting like the kind of woman John hated: someone who seemed like sheliked a guy, and then dumped him for no reason. Hell, I was being thekind of woman that I hated. That every guy hated! The worst part was Iwould hurt Leroy, a man who had done nothing to hurt me. He stood up forme, he took care of me, he loved me. I would repay that love by rippingout his heart.One thing was for sure, it had to be over now. I couldn’t just go onpretending that we’d be seeing each other next year. I certainlycouldn’t meet his parents. I pulled away from him.”Leroy, I think we should see other people. I want to break up.””What?” asked Leroy, half laughing. I knew he was hoping that I wasjoking.”I want to see other people. We’re just getting too serious for mytaste.”For half a second, Leroy looked like he had been kicked in the groin. Hequickly recovered. He face became a mask, unreadable. His drama traininghad really paid off.”Dale,” he said, his voice steady and clear “we don’t have to see myparents. If you want to cool things for a while, I…understand.”He was taking it hard. I had dated him for months and could see rightthrough his poker face. He was dying inside. But giving him false hopewould have been even crueler.”I don’t want to cool things. I just want to end it. I’m sorry, it’sbeen fun, but it’s over.”Leroy opened his mouth, then shut it. He swallowed, coughed andswallowed again. “OK Dale. I thought we had something special, obviouslyI was wrong. Goodbye forever.” He walked off quickly.”Leroy,” I called after him, “don’t take it personally, It’s not you,it’s me.”Leroy stopped and turned around. He had a strange half smile on hisface. He snorted, shook his head, and continued out the door.I numbly went into the girl’s locker room, showered (in a well secludedstall, of course), and changed into a dress. I walked out into the warmspring air.I had done it. I had dumped him. I had hurt him, but at least now I hadnothing holding me back. Recently I had been having alarming thoughts.Every time I thought about how I would spend the rest of college, Iwould find myself thinking of myself as a girl, and still dating Leroy.Now Leroy was gone. Now I had no excuse. It would be rough but I’d doit. Have my breasts removed, have injections of testosterone, I’d be aman again. The first thing I’d do is go to a bar and pick up some sleazywoman and have some meaningless sex. Yep, that’s what I’ll do, I thoughtjoylessly.I was too wired to go home. I walked around campus until dark.Everywhere I went, something would remind me of Leroy. A coffee shop hehad taken me to. The park where we would kiss at night. The librarywhere we’d study together. The people I ran into were no help either.They not only reminded me of the friends I would be leaving behind, theyreminded me of Leroy as well.”Hey Dale, tell Leroy I have that book he wanted to borrow.””Dale, glad I found you. I’m having a party this Friday, I hope you andLeroy can make it.””Hey, I saw you in that play a while back. Y’all were great. You andthat Demetrius guy work well together.”And so forth. What would all my friends think when Leroy told them how Ihad dumped him? Classes would be over soon, I doubted I’d even see anyof them again. But what about after I had gone? I had always kind ofimagined that my friends would miss me after I left them. Now, after Ihad been so cruel to Leroy, they’d never speak kindly of me again. Ithurt to know that I wouldn’t be fondly remembered.The more I thought about it, the more nervous I became. Had I done theright thing? Could I go back to being a man? Should I? All I had to dowas rush to Leroy’s house and tell him I had been stupid. That I wasscared, but I was over it. He’d forgive me, he’d take me back.What was I even thinking about that for? I didn’t want to be hisgirlfriend, I was a man, for God’s sake! Besides, even if I wanted toget back with him, I couldn’t. I was a man, and was certainly not theperson Leroy thought he loved.Soon it was dark. I still couldn’t go home. I couldn’t face that emptyapartment, the couch where Leroy had first kissed me, the kitchen whereI had cooked for him, the TV where we had watched horror movies and Ihad pretended to be scared. I needed to talk to someone. I thought aboutcalling Rhea, the magician’s wife, but it was a little late at night forthat. I decided to go see Jenni and see if she could help me make senseof things.I went into her dorm building and banged on her door. No answer. Damn,where was she? I knocked again. From down the hall came a young womanwho looked like the stereotypical valley girl, and a guy who looked likehe belonged on a California beach somewhere, surfboard in hand.”You’re, like, looking for, like, Jenni, right?” asked the girl. I swearto God she said that.”Uh, yes I am. You wouldn’t happen to know where she is?””Like, no. Sorry, but, she like left with her boyfriend.”Boyfriend? “No,” I said, “you’re thinking of someone else. I’m lookingfor Jenni Simpson, dark hair, bad scar on her face.””Dude,” said the guy. “Yeah, I know the chick. Kinda cute but with thatgnarly gash on her face. Dude, seriously, she left with some big dude.”Just talking to this couple was giving me a headache. “Thank you verymuch,” I said.”Like, no problem.””Dude, take care.”Jenni, the one person I could have talked to, was gone. I decided justto go home, drink a warm glass of milk, hop into bed, and pretend thatthis was all a bad dream. That I wasn’t really living like a woman. ThatI didn’t really have breasts. That I hadn’t broken the heart of a dear,sweet man.I unlocked my door and stepped inside. I could hear John in the kitchen,singing.”Oh what a night! Sweet surrender back in ’63, she was everything Idreamed she’d be, I remember, what a night!”Oh Jesus, not that song. John only sang that song when he had ‘gottenlaid,’ as he put it. A couple of empty wine glasses on the coffee tableand a strange pair of panties on the couch confirmed my suspicion. Ishuddered to think of what sort of green-haired, body pierced, heavy-metal groupie had staggered home with him. I certainly was in no mood tomeet her. I just wanted to get something to drink and hide under thecovers.John was standing by the stove, cooking some eggs. He was wearingnothing but some boxers. “Oh I…I got a funny feeling when shewaaaaalked in the room….” he crooned.”Hey John.”John turned with a start. “Dale! What are you doing home? I thought youwere going out with Leroy tonight!”Et tu, John? “Change of plans,” I told him. “Don’t let me bother you,I’m going to bed in a second.”John kept nervously looking glancing at his bedroom door. “Uh yeah,well, good night,” he said pointedly. What the hell was his problem? Didhe have a married woman back there or something?”Fine John. I just want to get some milk.””I’ll bring it to you!” John shouted. He sure seemed desperate for menot to meet his date, if you could call her that.”Hey John,” called out a voice from his bedroom. “Those eggs done yet?”His door opened. Out stepped a woman wearing one of John’s shirts. Shedidn’t seem to have anything on underneath. He hair was tussled and shewas smiling in an exhausted way. She stopped short when she saw me.It was Jenni.I was dumbstruck. I just stood there gaping. Jenni and John grinnedsheepishly. Jenni took John’s hand in hers. “I didn’t expect you home soearly,” she said.A few seconds later I was alone with Jenni in my bedroom. “What thehell’s going on?””Well….” Jenni smiled sweetly. “You kept telling me I’d meet a specialguy. Well, you were right! Dale, I have a boyfriend!””Since when?””Since spring break. You were out of town, I was here with John, andwell…things just happened!””For Christ’s sake Jenni, what the hell are you thinking? You can dobetter than that! I know you want to be loved, but don’t settle forJohn!”Jenni jumped up and glared at me angrily. “Let’s get something straight,Dale,” she shouted, pointing at me. “I am not ‘settling.’ You might notbelieve it, but I do have standards when it comes to men. You might alsofind this hard to believe, but John is more than a drunken punk. He mayact stupid, but he’s a hell of a lot deeper than everyone gives himcredit for. Especially you.”John, deep? I found that very hard to believe.”Look at this,” Jenni continued. “It’s a poem John wrote for me.”I took it and read:’Jenni, my darling, my rose,All I ever think about is you.I just want to look into your eyes,to spend an eternity hearing your laugh,to lay down my life to bring you joy…’John had wrote this?’…and you got, like, a really nice butt.’Yes, John had wrote that. I began to think about it all. True, John wasa slovenly lunatic who left toenail clippings on the floor. But was thatall he was? He certainly was someone who stood up for his friends. Heheroism in the bar fight proved that. I really couldn’t see John evercheating on Jenni, he seemed too zealous about being true to your datesto run around. And I knew he’d never hit her.Could it be that John, the man who had once gotten his head stuck inpasta pot, was also the man who could see past Jenni’s scars to the realwoman inside?”Jenni, I’m sorry about what I implied. Does he really make you happy?””Yes, he does. This might be it, Dale. He might be the one.””Jenni, I can’t say I see what you see in him, but if he makes youhappy, if he treats you right, then I’m happy for you. For both of you.”We hugged.”Dale,” Jenni said, “I’m sorry.””Sorry? For what?”Jenni pulled away and turned her back. “For doing this to you. Insteadof trying to help you out of dressing like a woman, I forced you intoit.””Jenni, it’s not like I had a choice.”Jenni still wouldn’t look at me. “True, but I gave you a lot of badadvice. I changed your room, I bought you women’s clothes, I told you touse the self hypnosis takes and to take estrogen. I shouldn’t have donethat.”I laid my hands on her shoulders. “It’s OK Jenni, you were just lookingout for me.””Maybe, maybe not.”I retracted my hands. “What are you saying Jenni?”Jenni didn’t speak for a while. “What I’m saying, is that, well, youlooked, well, you still look so much like me. I guess sometimes I wouldfantasize that I was you. That I was the pretty girl that all the boysliked. Even with Leroy, I probably should have told you not to go nearhim, it was too risky. But I just stood back and watched, like it was megoing on all those dates. It took John to show me I didn’t have toexperience love and romance vicariously.””Jenni, that wasn’t very nice or responsible. But don’t blame yourself.If there’s one thing all this has taught me, is that you’re alwaysresponsible for your own actions. Everything I did, I did because Ichose to. Now I have to live with the consciences. That’s why I broke upwith him tonight.””You…you broke up with him?” Jenni didn’t seemed to know how she wassupposed to react.”I did a stupid thing. I played with his heart and now I’ve hurt him.” Istarted crying. Jenni held me.”You poor thing. I’m sorry. I knew you cared about him. I guess youbroke things off because you couldn’t love another man?”I shook my head. “I broke things off because I have to go back to beinga man. If I didn’t have to, well…aw, what’s the point? I have to be aman again, there’s no getting out of it.””Dale, are you sure about that?”Before I could answer, there was a knock at the door. John, now fullyclothed, stuck his head in. “Uh, everything OK?””Everything’s fine, John,” I replied.”I mean, uh, are we OK?” said John, pointing to himself and me.”We’re fine John. Just treat Jenni right, that’s all I ask.”John grinned. “D’ya mind if I come on in?”Jenni looked at me questioningly. I nodded.John sat down on the bed and laid his hand on the back of Jenni’s neck.He then noticed my puffy red eyes and tear-stained cheeks.”Dale, hey, what’s wrong?”I laughed, a quick, humorless laugh. “Oh nothing. It’s just that it’salmost time for me to stop living this life, and for some reason I’m notsure I want to.”John pondered this, then spoke. “Hey, I just read that when guys get outof prison after like twenty years, a lot of them go out and rob a bankor something and get sent right back!”What the hell did Jenni see in this guy? “Thank you, Beavis,” I said,meanly. “If you’re not going to be serious, then I’d like to be alone.””No, don’t you get it?” said John, as if he had been giving sage advice.”It’s not that they were evil or had criminal minds. It was just thatafter so long in jail, they couldn’t adjust to life on the outside.They’d commit some violent crime just to get sent back to the only lifethey knew anymore.””John, is there a point to any of this?””Well,” he said, “I’ve never done either, but I figure that being awoman is a lot easier than being in prison.”Shockingly, John’s ramblings actually made sense. I had build up acollege transcript, a network of friends, a feminine demeanor, and alove life as a woman. It wouldn’t be so easy leaving it all. It wouldalmost be simpler to forget that I had ever been a man.”So what now?” I asked Jenni and John.”It depends on you, Dale” said Jenni. “Like you said, you make all yourown decisions. Do you want to go back to being a boy?””Yes! Well, sure. Maybe…I don’t know.””It’s Leroy, isn’t it?” asked John.”Yes, it’s Leroy. This is insane. I’m a guy! He’s a guy! Why can’t Istop thinking about him?”Jenni took my hand. “Because he’s a caring, wonderful man that you havefeelings for. You don’t want to hurt him and you’re afraid to go back toa life that he’d never be part of.”I sighed. “That about sums it up. But why are we even discussing this?Leroy thinks I’m a girl. If he found out the truth, he’d freak.””You sure about that?” asked John.”Oh, right. I’ll just tell him ‘Hi Leroy, I’m actually a man. Oh, andI’m not sure if I want to continue being a woman, so could we keepdating while I decide?”John seemed to mull this over seriously. “You probably should put itmore delicately…””John, would you be serious?”John looked confused, he thought he was being serious. “Well, I thinkyou ought to tell him. If he gets mad, well, you’re leaving campusanyway. But he might possibly be more understanding than you think.””Get real.””Dale,” said John, “I never asked out your sister because I thoughtshe’d never say yes. But I finally took that risk and it paid off. Idon’t know how you feel about Leroy, but don’t give up on him justbecause you think he won’t understand.”My headache was savage. “Thank you John. Thanks, both of you. Iappreciate your advice. I just need time to think. Maybe things will beclearer tomorrow.”They both said good night. I laid on my back, thinking about Leroy andlistening to the rhythmic squeak of John’s bedsprings next door.Chapter Eleven:I spent the next few days locked in my room. I couldn’t seem to get upthe energy to get out of bed. I just couldn’t face the world. Jenniseemed terribly worried. She would constantly come over and beg me tocome out. I kept telling her that I was fine, that I just needed time tomyself. That was a lie of course, but I didn’t want to keep her fromenjoying her time with her new boyfriend.Finally, I made a decision. I had to go to Leroy and talk to him. I hadto explain everything. Odds are he’d hate me forever, but I couldn’t gothrough life wondering ‘what if?’ If he somehow understood, we couldwork out what to do about the future together.I showered, shaved my legs, and did up my face. I put on my tightestpair of jeans and a shirt that was almost absurdly low cut. If I wasgoing to tell Leroy that I was a man, I wanted him to remember that Iwasn’t that much of one.Jenni and John were just leaving the apartment when I came out of myroom. They had a picnic basket and blanket in hand. They invited mealong, but I declined. It was obviously going to be a romantic picnicfor two, and besides, I had to talk to Leroy. I couldn’t put it offanymore.As soon as they left, I began to hesitate. Just like with any unpleasanttask, I kept looking for excuses to procrastinate. I touched up mymakeup, rebrushed my hair, and paced throughout the apartment. I evencalled his house and hung up when his roommate answered.I was stuck. How do you tell a man that you’re not the person he thoughtyou were? How do you tell him you’re not even the sex he thought youwere?I was beginning to think that I’d never get up the nerve to face himwhen I noticed an old shoe box on the coffee table. I opened it. It wasfilled with scores of old photos John had taken for his journalismclasses. In order to put off the inevitable, I began glancing throughthem. John certainly had chosen some interesting subjects for hispictures. I didn’t even know there was a slaughterhouse in the area.I was about to finish with the pictures when a snapshot near the bottomcaught my eye. I picked it up and examined it. It was exactly what Ineeded to help me break the news to Leroy. I put it in my purse and tookoff for his house.Leroy rented a two-bedroom house a ways from campus. I stood on thesidewalk, trying to build up the courage to ring the bell. Would he eventalk to me? I thought that he would. Finally I walked up to the door andknocked.Leroy’s roommate, Frank, answered the door. Frank was a black guy whowas known on campus for two things: his huge dred locks which hung downalmost to his hips, and his ever-present, friendly smile. When Frank sawthat it was me, his smile instantly turned to a glare.”Oh, it’s you,” he said contemptuously.”Frank, is Leroy in?””No, Leroy is not in. I don’t know where he is,” Frank answered coldly.”Please, I really have to talk to him.””Why? Did you forget to tell him he wasn’t man enough for you? Or didyou just want to savor his misery?”Jesus, Frank was pissed off. It wasn’t hard to guess why. I had justdumped his friend for no good reason. He obviously didn’t think veryhighly of me.”Please Frank. I have to talk to him. I…might have made a mistake. Iknow you know where he is. For his sake, tell me.”Frank snorted and cracked his knuckles. “Well,” he eventually said. “Youdid not hear this from me, but I happen to know that Leroy’s uncle has afishing cabin off route 55 in Shannon County. If my heart had beenripped out and stomped upon by the girl I loved, I might just go to aplace like that to try and recover.””Thank you, Frank. I really appreciate this.” I turned to leave.”Oh Dale?””Yeah?””If you are going to see Leroy to get back together, then that’s fine.And if you just want to try to talk to him, to explain why you dumpedhim, I guess you deserve a chance. But if you see him and act like youlike him and then break his heart a second time…well, I can guaranteeyou’ll never have a friend on this campus again. Leroy’s a good guy,people won’t stand for you jerking around with his emotions.”I didn’t know how to answer, so I left. Jenni’s car was at my place. Itook the keys from her hiding place and sped off towards where Frank hadsaid Leroy was. As I drove, I thought about what Frank had said. He hadsaid that if I hurt Leroy I wouldn’t have a friend on campus ever again.It sounded like he was just making idle threats to protect his friend.Then again, I didn’t have many friends here who weren’t also friendswith Leroy. I doubt any of them would want to stay friends with me afterI hurt Leroy. I’d have to start over with a new circle of friends, somaybe Frank wasn’t just shooting his mouth off. Then again, if thingsdidn’t work out with Leroy then there’d be nothing keeping me at thisschool anyway.It took me forever to find the secluded cabin, but I eventually locatedit, far back on a country road. It was pretty run down; it looked likethat shack the Unibomber lived in. Nearby there was a lake, I guessedthat was where Leroy’s uncle did his fishing. I knocked on thecorrugated iron door. There was no answer. I swung it open.Inside it was dark. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. It wasfilthy. There was little furniture other than an unmade bed and a tablewith fish guts and tackle s**ttered all over it. There was an oddcontraption in the corner. When I examined it, I realized that it was anhonest-to-God still for making moonshine. Apparently Leroy’s uncle did alittle more than fish up here.A shadow fell across the door. I turned to see Leroy walk in. He wascarrying a fishing rod and several fish on a line. He looked terrible.Unshaven, filthy, and still wearing the ragged sweats he had had on thelast time I saw him. He must have come out here soon after I had dumpedhim. He probably hadn’t bathed in days and was living on whatever fishhe caught. I hated to see him in this state; who would take care of him?When he saw me he froze.”Dale!” he gasped. His shocked expression became guarded. “What are youdoing here?””Leroy, we need to talk.””So talk.” He wasn’t risking anything. It was clear he was afraid ofbeing burned again.”Leroy, this may take a while. Can we sit down?” Leroy motioned me tothe bed. He sat opposite me on an orange crate. He lifted a stone jugoff the table and took a pull. He grimaced and offered me a swig ofwhite lightening. I shook my head.”Dale,” said Leroy, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. And a lot ofdrinking. Drinking and thinking. Look, if you want it to be over, Iguess I have to deal with it. But tell me the truth. You said you wantedto break up because you wanted to see other people, but I don’t believethat. That’s not you, Dale. You’ve never talked about other men, nevermentioned a previous boyfriend, never swooned over anyone famous…Ithink I deserve to know what I did wrong. What I did that made you wantout.”I took Leroy’s hand. He didn’t return the grasp, but he didn’t retracthis hand, either. “Leroy, it wasn’t you. I…I don’t think I reallywanted to break up. But…I have a past. A secret. Something you’d neverunderstand.””Jesus H. Christ, Dale!” he bellowed. “Nothing, NOTHING, in your pastcould make a difference to me! I don’t care about whatever it was youdid! All I care about it you! The past isn’t important!””This is. You’d hate me, I know you would.”Leroy let out a frustrated yell. “Dale, I love you. I love you! I…Iwas even thinking that maybe someday…that you’d be my wife. This isn’ta crush, Dale. If you don’t feel the same way, well, I guess I’ll haveto survive, somehow. But don’t give me any bullshit about some ‘deepdark secret.’ I think after all this, I deserve better.””Leroy, I’m a man!”Leroy stared at me with contempt. “First you dump me, then you tell meridiculous stories. Just get out. Get the hell out.””Leroy, calm down and listen. Don’t say anything, just listen.”I told him. Starting with the day Jenni first talked to Steve, I toldhim everything. About my date with Steve, about meeting Leroy for thefirst time, about my confusing feelings about him, about the estrogen,the implants, about Jenni and John, everything. I finished by handinghim the photo I had taken from the shoe box. It was the photo John hadtaken of me the week before I dressed as a woman the first time. It wasof me, the male me.Leroy didn’t move throughout my narrative, except to take more swigsfrom his jug. He stared at the photo for a long time.”The eyes,” he finally said.”What?””The eyes. Everything else has changed, but your eyes are the same.Windows to the soul.”He sat there quietly for a while, looking at the photo. Finally I spoke.”Leroy…””What is it, you bitch? Or I guess I should say bastard!” Leroy laughed,a cruel hateful laugh.Tears formed in my eyes. “Leroy, I never meant to hurt you…”Leroy had an almost deranged expression on his face. “I never thoughtyou could do anything to make me hate you, but damned if you didn’tprove me wrong. Just make a guy love you, but fail to mention thatyou’re a FUCKING GUY!”I began to cry. “Save it for the next sucker,” he sneered. “To think Iever kissed you.” He then make retching noises.”Leroy…” I looked up at him, hoping that I’d see some sort ofquavering, some sort of friendly emotion that I could latch on to.”I said get the hell out!” He slammed his hand down on the table, theninexplicably doubled over in pain. I realized he had slammed his hand ontop of the pile of tackle and now had several fishhooks imbedded in hispalm. Without thinking, I ran to him to help him.He snarled at me, an a****listic growl. “Go away,” he said. He voice hadno strength, I think he was sobbing. “Just leave me. If you ever caredabout me, then don’t ever come near me again. I couldn’t take it.”I walked slowly to the car, hoping that he would call me back to him. Hedidn’t.”I want you to take these breasts off! Amputate them! I hate them!”I was sitting in Dr. Alice’s office. Since it was obvious that Leroywould never love me again, I couldn’t stand the thought of beingbreasted. I was going to go back to being a man ASAP, and this chest wasgoing to be the first thing to go.”Calm down, Dale. Please, tell me what’s wrong.””What’s wrong? Everything’s wrong! I think I’m in love with a guy whohates me, I’m a man with tits, and I have to change schools and leaveeverything behind! My life SUCKS! I want these breasts gone. I read thelegal papers of the implant experiment. Any time I want out, the doctorhas to remove them. He’s legally required.””Dale, there’s only a few weeks left in the testing process…””God damn it, I don’t give a shit about your ‘testing process!’ You’renot the one who has to live with these things!””Dale, calm down and listen to me. Everyday, hundreds of people walkinto plastic surgeons’ offices and demand breast jobs, or nose jobs, ofliposuction, or whatever they think they need to be happy. 80% of thosepeople never go through with it. People have a problem and they thinksurgery will solve it. That’s not always the answer and it is neversomething you should do when you are upset or emotional.””Well, doctor,” I said with anger in my voice “I don’t recall you givingme this speech when you convinced me to have these put in in the firstplace. Or don’t you remember?”Dr. Auger looked a little guilty, maybe she was having regrets aboutsuggesting implants to me. “Look Dale, I’m not saying you can’t havethem removed, I just want you to calm down and thing about what you’reasking. I can’t schedule the surgery now, it would be tantamount tomutilation. Come back in a week and we’ll see what you think.””What I think, doctor, is that you had better schedule me some surgeryright now. It’s the law. You can’t force me to stay in your friend’sexperiment against my will.””True, but I can say you’re running a fever and surgery would beunadvisable at this time.”I was shocked. “You mean you’d actually lie and force me to keep thesethings? You’re nuts! I’ll sue you! I’ll have your licence!””Dale, I’m doing this for your own good.””That’s what everyone says. Well, people doing things for my own goodhas ruined my life. Thanks for nothing, see you in court.”Alice looked at me with concern and pity. “Come back in a week,” shesaid as I left.I drove back to my apartment, plotting revenge on Dr. Auger. It hadnever occurred to me that she would actually deny me my right to havethe implants removed. I began mentally writing the letter I would sendto her bosses to get her fired.First things first, though. When I got home, I went into my room andlocked the door. Then I took off all of my clothes. I looked at myreflection in the mirror. Except for my small, withered penis, I lookedlike a woman. Long hair, breasts, smooth skin. I’d fix that! First Itook out an Ace bandage and wound it around my chest as tightly aspossible. It didn’t hide my breasts as much as I had hoped that itwould. Well, as they say, clothes make the man. I had got Jenni to bringme back a couple of my old male outfits. First I put on a dress shirt.Then I pulled on a pair of men’s slacks. I completed the outfit withblack socks, dress shoes and a tie. There! Now I looked like…now Ilooked like…like a woman wearing men’s clothes.The shirt would hardly button in the front. Even with the bandages, Iwas still very clearly breasted. My chest caused my tie to stick outabout 15 degrees from my body. The pants, though tight in the rear,wouldn’t stay up; I had lost weight this year and didn’t have a man’sbelt with me. The only articles of clothes that really fit were myshoes. My nails were still painted, my hair was long, my featuresdelicate. I was stupid to think that just throwing on some clothes couldundo a year of this lifestyle. What could I do? I began to think. Well,if Dr. Auger let my have my implants removed next week, if she helped mestart on male hormones, if I could just go away somewhere alone for awhile, maybe eventually I could pass as a man. Of course, that was a lotof ‘ifs.’ One thing was for sure, there was no point in me wearing men’sclothes now. I looked utterly ridiculous.”You look utterly ridiculous.” I turned around to see the owner of thevoice. It was Leroy. He had come up to my bedroom door without mehearing him. He was now showered, shaved, and sober. He reminded me ofhow he had looked that day, many months ago, when he had come here totake me to the movies for the first time. His hand was bandaged fromwhere he had tangled with the fishing lures.My first instinct was to run into his arms, but I restrained myself. Ididn’t know why he was here and I couldn’t stand it if I tried to hughim and he refused. “Leroy…” I called out, my voice barely a whisper.”Hey, Dale,” he said evenly. “I was in the neighborhood. Care to go fora drive with me?””Yes!” I said, ecstatically. I knew I should play it cool, but I didn’tcare. Against all odds, here was Leroy again.”OK,” he said. “But put something decent on, for goodness sake.”Leroy left the room so I could change. I removed my male clothes, andwithout a moment’s hesitation, tossed them in the garbage. I knew what Ihad to do. If Leroy was still even remotely considering a future withme, I had to move fast. I pulled on some fishnet hose, some spiky highheels, a mini skirt, and a halter top. I spritzed myself with perfumeand put on some more makeup. I looked in the mirror and giggled. Ilooked like I should be at the docks, propositioning sailors. But Ilooked sexy. That was all I wanted. Leroy would know that I had dressedlike this for him and for him alone.Leroy silently beckoned me to his car. I got in and he took off withoutsaying a word. When I asked him where we were going, all he would saywas ‘for a drive.’I was disappointed, and a little scared. Leroy hadn’t even seemed tonotice my clothes. Where were we going, what was on his mind? He seemeddeaf to all my questions and attempts at conversation. I guess he didn’twant to get back together. Maybe he just wanted to talk. He probablyjust wanted to clarify some things, maybe say that he still wanted to befriends. Then again, maybe I wasn’t even that lucky. Maybe he justwanted my word that I wouldn’t tell anyone he had dated a man. And hereI was dressed like a slut. That certainly wouldn’t raise his opinion ofme.After a long, agonizing drive, we arrived at our destination. Leroy hadtaken a different route, so I didn’t recognize the fishing cabin untilwe were right in front of it. What were we doing out here? I guessed itwas pretty obvious. Leroy was now ashamed to be seen with me. He wantedto take me somewhere that no one would see us talking. He couldn’t evenbear to be with me in public.Leroy wordlessly walked into the cabin. I followed. It was still darkinside, Leroy lit a candle. When my eyes adjusted, I couldn’t believewhat I saw. The filthy cabin was now swept and clean. The fish guts andfishing gear were gone. The table was now covered with a table cloth.The jug of home made whiskey had been replaced by a bottle of champagneand two glasses. The bed had been covered by clean sheets which Irecognized from off Leroy’s bed. A single red rose stood in a glass onthe window sill.It could only mean one thing. I turned to Leroy. Before I could sayanything, he kissed me. All I wanted to do was swoon in his arms, but hegently pushed me away and held me at arms length.”Dale,” he said, “I still love you. All last night I tried to hate you,for dumping me, for lying to me. But I couldn’t. Just like you can’tdecide to fall in love, you can’t decide to fall out of love either. Asmuch as I wanted to do otherwise, all I could think about was driving toyour house to get you. So that’s what I did. I figured after all this,we were both entitled to a romantic evening together.”He kissed me again. He held me, seemingly u*********s of my joyfultears. Then he said something that nearly destroyed my rapture.”Besides, I know you’re not really a man, Dale.”I pulled away. My God, he was denying it! He was trying to pretend likenothing had happened. “Leroy,” I began uncertainly, “I wish it weren’ttrue, but I really am a man.””Oh really?” asked Leroy, pulling me back to him and kissing me. “Thenwhy are you dressed like that? Men don’t were stockings, or makeup, orhalter tops.”I was a little nonplused. “Sure, but…”Leroy began kissing my face around my mouth. “If you’re a man, where’syour beard?””I…I don’t have a beard.”Leroy’s kisses moved down to my neck. “And if you’re a man, why is yourskin so silky and soft?”My neck was my number-one erogenous zone. His kisses there left meparalyzed, all I could do was moan.Leroy’s kisses became more intense. I was turned on. Leroy then slowlyremoved my top, revealing my bare breasts. He began rolling one of mynipples between his fingers. My nails dug into his back, I wanted topull him on top of me. “If you’re a man, then what are these?””They…they’re my breasts.””Men don’t have breasts,” he replied. He then did something to them withhis mouth that made it impossible for me to answer him. Thank God Dr.Auger hadn’t let me have them removed!Leroy turned me around, facing the bed. He then roughly grabbed me frombehind, kissing my bare neck and shoulders, holding my chest. He hadremoved his shirt, his chest pressed against my naked back. In the backof mind I knew that he would find out that I really was a man soonenough. I didn’t linger on it long. At least afterwards I would havethis memory.Leroy pulled off my skirt and panties. All I was wearing were my shoes,stockings, and the sex hiding garment. Leroy grabbed the garment by itssides and pulled the rear of it around the bottom of my tush. My peniswas still covered.”Dale, I don’t care what sex you were born as. All I know is that youmake a lousy man and a great woman. I love you. I love you as a manloves a woman. All I need to know now is the answer to this question.Nothing else is important. Do you love me?”I could feel his erect penis already tickling the cleft of my buttocks.”Yes, Leroy. Yes…yes! Oh, Leroy, yes! My God, yes! Oh, yes, oh, yes,OH YES!”Epilogue: Three Years LaterI sat in the living room of Jenni’s new apartment, freezing in mybathrobe. “Would you hurry up, Jenni?” I called. “The ceremony starts ina few hours and you still have to do my makeup and my hair!””Hold your horses, Dale. I’m coming. Sheesh, don’t be so impatient!”Jenni entered the room, carrying her large makeup kit.”Sorry!,” I replied, pretending to be angry. “It’s not like I getmarried every day!”Jenni just shook her head and smiled. “Well, I for one was beginning tothink you and Leroy would never tie the knot. If you ask me, it’s abouttime.”I blushed. “We wanted to wait until after graduation. Besides, you knowI couldn’t get married legally until, well, you know. After theoperation.””I know. So…will you let me see the results of the surgery?””Jenni!” I was shocked that she’d even suggest such a thing.”C’mon Dale. It’s not like you’re my brother anymore. Please? Just apeek? I’m curious.”I sighed, and stood up. I took a deep breath and opened my bathrobe.Despite having lived as a woman for three years I still felt awkwardabout been nude around my older sister.Jenni looked at my body critically. My firm breasts, my flat stomach, myrounded hips. But what she was most interested in was what was betweenmy legs. I no longer needed to wear the sex hiding device. All that wasdown there was a small patch of brown hair and a moist, tender, secretcrevice. The word ‘FEMALE’ on my college records was no longer amistake.Jenni shook her head in amazement. “Wow! The wonders of surgery. So haveyou two, shall we say, taken it for a spin?”I pulled my robe closed tight. “No,” I replied, embarrassed. “It tookforever to heal, and by that time we were so close to the wedding…Ifigured that Leroy could wait until the honeymoon. Besides, this way Ican still wear white!”Jenni did my makeup. As she painted my face, I remembered back severalyears ago when she had done the same thing for the first time. It wasshortly before my date with Steve. God, how times had changed.Jenni helped me into my dress. The first time she had done that, it hadbeen a black, conservative number. Now, it was a snow-white weddinggown. It had a plunging neckline and left my shoulders uncovered. I worean antique silver chain around my neck. Something old. At the end of it,occasionally getting lost in my cleavage, was a locket that Jenni hadbought me as a wedding gift. Inside was a picture that John had taken ofLeroy and I, the day after he had proposed. Something new. A pair ofJenni’s earrings hung from my ears. Something borrowed.As for the something blue, Jenni was now putting it in my hair. I hadn’thad long hair for a year and a half, I thought I looked much better withmy hair short. Why not? Long hair no longer mattered. I now looked toofemine for short hair to make a difference. It had been Jenni’s idea forme to wear flowers in my hair. She clipped them in, finishing with ablue violet. The ring on my finger completed my trousseau.After we were both convinced that I looked perfect, Jenni got dressed.She looked lovely in her maid of honor gown. No one had thought of heras ‘that poor scarred girl’ in years. Finally we were about ready to go.”You look great, little sister,” said Jenni. I smiled. Little sister. Iguess I had to get used to that. I glanced at my reflection in themirror. I looked so innocent, so pretty. Like a bride should.”You look pretty good yourself Jenni.”Jenni sighed. “Always a bridesmaid…”I hugged her. “Don’t worry, your time will come.””Yes, it has,” she replied absently.”What did you say?”Jenni looked startled. “I said…I said ‘Yes, it will.'””No you didn’t. You said ‘Yes, it has.’ What did you mean?”Jenni looked nervous. “Well….””C’mon, out with it.””But I’m not supposed to say anything! John said that this time wasspecial for you and Leroy and we shouldn’t steal your thunder.””Jenni, what are you saying?””Well…John proposed to me last week. He said we’d announce it nextweek, but I guess I can’t keep anything from you. You’ll be my maid ofhonor, of course?””Oh, Jenni…” was all I could say. I hugged her, already tearing up.”Now hush, Dale. Stop that crying, you’ll smear your mascara.”It was a storybook wedding. I know that’s the oldest wedding cliche inthe world, but it was true. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect, sunny dayfor an outdoor ceremony. Leroy had suggested getting married in thewoods, in front of the cabin where I first gave myself to him. The areawas decorated in flowers. All of our friends were there. Frank, Leroy’sex-roommate and best man. Jenni, my maid of honor. Rhea the magician’sassistant, and Dr. Alice, my bridesmaids. John, the weddingphotographer. And of course who else could play the wedding music, butSmeg? He had had to drive two states away to find a tux in his size.Smeg tore into the wedding march. Holding my bouquet, I approached theminister and took my place by the groom. “Dearly beloved,” began theclergyman “we are gathered her today in the sight of God to witness thejoining of this man and this woman in holy matrimony.” Woman. Bride.sister. So many new words applied to me now.”Do you, Leroy James Brown, take this woman to be your lawful weddedwife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, as long as you bothshall live?””I do.” Leroy’s theater-trained voice rang out through the forest grove,sure and confident.”Do you, Dale Raymond Simpson, take this man…” There was mutedlaughter at the mention of my middle name. After all the paperwork andbeauracratic nonsense I had to deal with to achieve legal womanhood, Ihad asked Leroy if I could keep my masculine middle name. It was areminder, and the only reminder, of the man I once was. I had lived asthat man for eighteen years, it didn’t seem right to remove him fromexistence completely. Leroy had consented. He said it would remind himof what I had given up to be with him.”Then, by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife. Youmay kiss the bride.” Leroy’s kiss was tender, as tender as that firstkiss on the stage after ‘Midsummer.’ It was my first kiss as a marriedwoman. The first kiss from my husband.And so ends the story about how ‘one day of my life’ turned into therest of my life. About how my sister realized that she could be lovedfor who she was. And about how I fell in love with the man of my dreams.As Shakespeare said, “May joy and fresh days of love accompany yourhearts.” I couldn’t think of a happier wish, nor a truer one.

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