He finds a future, comfort and joy
In things girly, dolls and dresses,
As he dreams of gowns and tresses.
Chapter 1: Humiliation and a Dream
The exit doors at the Banks Township Elementary School were clogged with parents, mainly mothers, a few grandparents and one tow-headed boy, about 12 years old, all waiting for the children exiting from their school for the day.
Brian Kendall, the boy, was tall for his age so that he measured the same height as most of the women. The boy, his blonde hair long and neatly brushed, had a gentle face and sparkling blue eyes, and he seemed always to be smiling. The boy was pale and appeared to be a bit chubby, his body a doughy softness.
Suddenly the tiny grade schoolers, all ranging in age from 4 to about 7, were excitedly exiting the school, giggling and pushing a shoving in an easy exuberance, many trying to avoid the eyes of their caregivers, waiting on the sides to take them safely home. The mothers, grandparents and even Brian were all eagerly looking for their particular charges, waving and yelling for each child, claiming them and removing them from their clusters of young friends to begin the trip home.
Brian didn’t yell, though; he waited patiently, knowing that his six-year-old sister, Marietta, would find him. She loved her older brother, who had become as much of a mother to him as the children’s own mother. Because their mother, Amy Kendall, had been deserted by their father years ago, Brian when he reached age 11 was given the responsibility of escorting little Marietta home, watching her and preparing supper for the two.
“There’s no other choice, honey,” Amy told Brian at the start of the school year. “I can no longer afford letting Marietta stay for the after-school program, and I know I can trust you.”
Brian had accepted the chore, even though his mother placed strict rules on him: No others in the house, just you and Marietta . . . only one hour of television . . . homework done by suppertime. “After supper, you and Marietta can play together until her bedtime at 8:30,” she ordered.
“Oh honey,” his mother said, placing her arms about his shoulders. “You’re such a good boy and mommy hates to do this to you when I know you’d much rather be out playing with your friends.”
“That’s OK, mom,” he replied.
In truth, Brian had no real friends in the neighborhood, and he hated playing with the boys, anyway. They were always so rough and crude, he thought, and he was scared of all of them. Even though he was as tall as most, he didn’t like fighting; perhaps it was because he’d always lose, since he knew most of the boys were stronger than he was. Yet, the real reason was that it really wasn’t in his nature to fight or dislike people.
“You’re mommy’s helper, and I love you so much,” she said, rewarding him with kisses and hugs.
He loved being drawn into his mother’s soft ample body and pressed against her large bosom. Like her son, Amy Kendall was somewhat overweight but nicely proportioned. She had a dimpled softness that belied her strength and toughness, qualities that she needed as a single mother with two growing children whom she loved.
Amy was troubled by her decision to use her son as a caregiver for little Marietta, a dimpled, blonde girl with a lovely disposition. She was comforted by the fact that her two children seemed to enjoy each other. Since their ages were significantly different so as to ward off any sibling rivalry, there were few fights between the two. She knew Brian would be a good substitute mother but she worried about what effect this enforced chore would have on him in robbing him of chances to play with friends.
Amy Kendall, however, had no other choice it seemed; due to the recession, she had gotten laid off from her computer programming job at a local company and forced into a second shift position as an admissions clerk at the St. Vincent’s Community Hospital, where she was promised eventual promotions as openings might occur for computer programmers. The job included all the benefits, particularly a great health insurance program, and was too good an opportunity to pass up. Amy accepted it.
“Let’s hope, Brian, I’ll soon be on first shift,” she told the boy. “Then I’ll work from 6 a.m. to 2:30 and I can pick up Marietta. You’ll just have to get her up and ready for school.”
“That’s OK, mom, I don’t mind. I don’t play with those boys much anyway, and I like playing with Marietta.”
Amy wondered: did her son merely want not to make her feel bad about the decision, or did he really enjoy being with his little sister?
Brian didn’t have to yell and wave to attract the attention of his little sister; she always eagerly looked for him, and this day was no different, except that she pulled along another dark-complexioned little girl whose dreadlocks were adorned with colorful beads.
“Bri, can Tamara come home and play with us?” she said, using the name she always called her older brother.
Brian knew all about Tamara Henderson who had become his sister’s best friend in the first grade. Marietta talked about her everyday when they walked home from school. “Tamara did this . . . Tamara did that . . .” Both Brian and his mother had encouraged the friendship and had discussed the possibility that one day Tamara might want to play at the Kendall home. Their mother had agreed that Tamara could come over after school if the girl’s mother agreed to it.
Brian noticed a tall, handsome African-American woman approaching as the two girls stood expectedly in front of him. It was obviously the girl’s mother.
“Are you Brian?” the woman asked.
“Yes ma’am, and my little sister wants Tamara to come home with us this afternoon. Is that OK?” he replied.
“Yes it is, Brian,” she said. “Didn’t your mother tell you she and I talked several days ago on the phone?”
“No, ma’am, but she’s been so busy at work.”
“I know, Brian, but I was concerned about having an 11-year-old boy in charge of two first-graders, but your mother said you’re very responsible.”
“I try, ma’am.”
She suggested driving the three of them to the Kendall’s upstairs flat so she could see the place and know where to pick them up. The woman gave Brian her phone number and said to call if he had any problems, assuring that she’d be by to pick Tamara up at 5:30.
It was a warm late September day, and Brian changed into a tank top and shorts when he got home, two bits of clothing he rarely wore since he was self-conscious about his chubby thighs and breasts that showed through the thin, tight-fitting cloth. But the flat was hot and stuffy.
“Can you be the mommy?” Tamara asked Brian when he joined them on the floor of the living room where the two girls had gathered all of Marietta’s dolls.
“He’s always the mommy when we play,” his sister informed her friend.
“Goody, she’s a pretty mommy,” Tamara said, displaying a toothy smile.
The girls had decided they would dress their dolls as teenage girls who were planning to go shopping together. Brian joined them on the floor, tucking his legs under himself, copying the position of the two girls and grabbing a doll that the girls had designated as the mommy.
The three had lots fun, Brian using his imagination to alternately be the stern mommy and then a kind mommy, bringing giggles to the girls. When he finally agreed in the role-playing that the girls could do their fictional shopping with the dolls, the two climbed onto him to give him hugs of thanks. As they hugged him, he felt Tamara’s hand grab onto the soft flesh of one of his breasts which hung noticeably inside the tank top. She had been trying to adjust her position and grabbed onto the breast, feeling his nipple.
“Mommy’s like a real mommy,” the child said in all innocence, her hand tracing the contour of the breast with her hand.
“I told you she’s like mommy,” Marietta said. “She cooks and washes and everything.”
Brian was taken aback. “Marietta,” he said sternly, gently pushing the two girls out of their hugs. “I’m your brother. Call me ‘he,’ not ‘her.’”
“But you said in our game I could call you mommy and her,” his sister replied.
“OK, I did, but the game is over. I have to fix supper, and Tamara, you need to get ready since your mommy is coming soon to pick you up.”
“Are you mad at us, Bri?” Marietta asked.
“No, honey, I like you both and I like playing, but it’s time to quit.”
Brian left the room, leaving it for the girls to pick up, and went quickly to his own room to find a shirt to wear over the tank top when Tamara’s mother arrived. He looked at himself first in the mirror of his room.
His breasts showed clearly against the cloth, and even the nipples protrusion was prominent. He looked at his arms, soft white flesh and raised both arms in a fruitless attempted to show muscles. No muscles appeared and the soft fat hung limply from each arm. “I look like a fat girl,” he said softly to himself. Or, as Tamara had noticed, like a mommy.
Tamara’s mother arrived ten minutes early, before Brian could get the girl ready to leave; the two girls had joined Brian in the kitchen, where they were going through the motions of helping him bake cookies, which was to be the treat Brian was preparing for their supper. He wore one of his mother’s frilly aprons as prepared the batter.
Suddenly the doorbell rang, and he sent Marietta to the top of the stairs leading to the front door entrance of the flat and yelled, “It’s Tamara’s mother.”
“Let her in Marietta and tell her to come up,” Brian said, quickly wiping his hands that were dusted with flour.
Marietta led Tamara’s mother into the kitchen, before Brian could take off the apron and be more presentable. He knew he was sweating in the hot kitchen; even though all the windows were wide-open, there was little breeze to provide much relief.
“You’re baking in all this heat, Brian?” the woman said, with a look that was full of curiosity.
“Marietta was bragging to your daughter how good my cookies taste,” he said, flicking his longish blonde hair from his eyes.
“And you bake, too?” the woman said. “Even my older daughter won’t even try. I ought to have you teach her.”
Brian blushed, knowing already that the woman must have guessed that he must have appeared to her to be such a sissy boy. The woman must have sensed she had touched a sensitive nerve in the boy, and quickly added:
“Nothing wrong with a boy learning to cook, Brian,” she said. “Most of the world’s best chefs are men. Marietta’s lucky to have such a nice older brother as you. Your mother must be proud of both of you.”
“She is,” Marietta interjected eagerly. “Mommy always says Brian is a good boy to be such a mother’s helper.”
Mrs. Henderson was tall, slender and quite athletic-appearing. She carried herself erectly, almost like a general would in inspecting the troops. Later Brian learned the woman had been an officer in the Army and now worked as a top administrator at a local hospital. She had a ready, welcoming smile.
“Come on,” she said to Tamara.
“Can’t I wait for the cookies, mommy?” she asked.
“No honey, they have to bake first, and by then we’ll be home.”
Brian offered to save some that Marietta could bring to school and give to Tamara to take home.
While Marietta and Tamara ran off to get Tamara’s school materials, Mrs. Henderson said: “You do this everyday, Brian?”
“Yes, Mrs. Henderson, beginning this year. I’m glad to help mother out.”
“That must mean you don’t get much chance to play with you friends, dear.”
“That’s OK,” he said. “I know mother can’t pay for a sitter. It’s so hard for her.”
“I’ll tell you what we can do,” she said. “If you’d like, sometime you can bring Marietta over to play with Tamara and then you can play with your friends. I can ask Tamara’s older sister to watch them, though I doubt she’s a good with the girls as you apparently are.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Henderson,” he said. “Maybe if Marietta likes the idea.”
“Call me Sylvia dear,” she smiled. “By the way, I can’t wait to eat the cookies.”
“They’re nothing special, Mrs. . . . ah . . . Sylvia.”
“I bet they are,” the woman said with a smile, as she guided her daughter down the stairs and out of the flat.
Brian let out a sigh of relief. He felt so embarrassed, being dressed in a frilly smock and hoping the woman didn’t notice his breasts; I must have looked like a girl, he imagined.
The truth was, Brian liked his breasts; he enjoyed lying on his side in bed, cupping and massaging the soft mounds of flesh, tweaking the nipples so that they grew hard and creating cleavage. So too he relished such moments when he’d caress his soft arms and fleshy thighs and imagine himself in dresses like the 6th Grade girls wore for special occasions.
What he didn’t like was the truth that he was not a girl, but a boy with a penis like other boys, only his, he suspected, was smaller than most. What he didn’t like, too, was that he was supposed to act like a boy and do things boys do, such as play sports and fight and run around, none of which he could do well at all. In fact, he was a downright disaster: he couldn’t run fast and always was last in the make-shift races kids do. They laughed at his breasts, tweaking them when they could. Some like, the Merriman boys down the block had begun to call him “Sister Brian” while Stanley Poloski had taken to call him “Bernice.”
On the Saturday after Tamara’s visit, Brian decided to go for a bike ride; he enjoyed riding his bike and it was the only real exercise he got. He loved riding through new neighborhoods, seeing different types of homes and businesses. He was able to imagine what kind of people lived in the houses or what kind of work they did; he liked looking at groups of girls play, wishing he could join them in hopscotch or jacks or just standing around giggling.
He was day-dreaming as he approached his own block, musing about being a girl, as he seemed to be doing more and more often. He knew it was a pointless dream, since he was a boy and somehow would have to be more like one; why couldn’t he just have been born a girl so that he wouldn’t have to go out and play sports and do all the things boys do? Why couldn’t he be happy playing dolls, learning how to cook and dress pretty?
These dreams were shattered as he turned the bike onto his own street, where it seemed the whole neighborhood of kids was playing a makeshift street football game. There must have been over a dozen, boys and girls alike, all within a year or two of Brian’s own age.
“Hey you’re in our field, Bernice,” yelled Stanley Poloski, using the name that he always used when speaking to Brian.
Brian tried quickly to pull off the street and head onto the sidewalk to avoid the game, but as he did so, he collided with Megan Tompkins, a girl his same age who was running out for a pass. She was a tall, angular girl with close-cropped dirty blonde hair and muscular legs showing beneath her shorts.
“Watch where you’re going, fairy boy,” she said, as he stopped and she bounded into his bike.
The girl hardly brushed the bike, but in swerving suddenly Brian lost his balance and tumbled to the ground. Megan looked down at him, and appeared to offer him a hand to help him get off the ground. He offered his arm, and she grabbed it, pulling him to his feet, quickly twisting the arm around his back.
“Let go,” Brian said, realizing the girl was stronger than he was.
“That’ll teach you to ride your bike into our game,” she said, a mean hiss to her voice.
“But I didn’t know you were playing here.” The girl tightened the arm lock.
The pain was becoming unbearable and Brian could only yell, “Ouch, you’re hurting me.”
As he tried vainly to fight back, he realized the girl was in total control. His arms were too weak to offer much resistance. He started to sob, quietly trying to subdue the crying so as to avoid further humiliation.
All the kids gathered around, many asking Megan if she was OK from the minor collision with Brian’s bike. Then, someone yelled out: “Girl fight. Girl fight.”
There was laughing and more hoots and hollers. He heard the name “Bernice” echoing through the crowd, adding to his shame. “Even a girl is stronger than him,” someone giggled.
Megan held Brian firm, her face so close to his it was like they were about to kiss, and Brian was aware that his breasts were protruding against the cloth of his tee-shirt, the nipples prominent focus for the protrusions.
“My God,” Megan said loudly. “Look at the boobs.”
“They’re bigger than yours, Megan,” said Timmy Merriman, who was a year older that Brian, and always ready to tease. A real bully and someone to be avoided, Brian knew.
Megan laughed and said in derision: “How I’d like a pair like that. How did you get
Megan relaxed her hold a bit, but not enough to let Brian escape, just firm enough to force him to stand like a freak show performer in front of gawking, insulting kids.
“Let me get a feel,” Timmy said, approaching and putting a hand on each of his breasts, cupping them.
“Come feel,” he urged the others, and a few boys did, some tweaking his nipple as they did so, often accompanied by remarks like: “You need a bra.” “Squishy like a girl’s.” “Yuck!” Brian by now was in full tears.
Some of the kids in the group held back and didn’t say anything; Brian noticed several of them, two girls and a boy, with whom he had played often and enjoyed having fun with. Finally, the boy, Mark Eaton, who was a year older and already developing into quite an athlete, yelled out:
“Let him be. He didn’t mean to run into Megan.”
“Right,” said one of the girls, Janet Gleason. “In fact Megan ran into him and she wasn’t hurt. He’s the one who fell down.”
Megan looked at him, smiled and said. “You can quit crying now, girl.” She let him go.
The kids returned to the street to resume their game, and Brian picked up his bike, and began walking home, still shaken by the events and his total humiliation.
Mark, the boy who had called a halt to the whole incident walked over to him. “Are you all right, Brian?”
Still fighting the sobbing, Brian nodded. “I’m not hurt . . . just a bruise on my leg.”
He was conscious of his breasts bouncing against the tee-shirt as he walked.
“I’ll walk you home,” he said.
“You don’t have to,” Brian said.
“I’m sick of playing with those Merriman boys,” he said. “They always cheat.”
Brian liked Mark; even though the boy was a year older and easily the best athlete on the block, Mark had always treated Brian fairly. They weren’t friends, by any means, but they had shared some talk together, particularly about music, since Mark played both the guitar and trumpet while Brian was taking saxophone. Both liked older style jazz and some blues, tastes rarely shared by the other kids. It developed both of their mothers loved jazz and Mark’s mother occasionally sang jazz vocals at a local club.
“Maybe we can jam sometime, Brian,” Mark offered when they got to Brian’s place.
“That would be fun,” he said.
“You’ll be OK now,” he said.
Brian walked up to his house, locked the bike in the garage, and went up to his room. He began crying again. Soon, however, he began fingering his breasts, which had so recently been the center of so much humiliation. Strangely, he felt satisfaction as he felt them, cupped them and played with his nipples. Soon he was imagining himself in a black, strapless gown, the cleavage appearing at the top of the bodice, so enticing. His tears soon ended, soon to be replaced by a placid smile.
Sylvia Henderson wondered about Brian, worrying that the boy’s apparent pleasure at playing with younger girls offered a sign of something more disturbing. Was the boy a budding pedophile? Did he take liberties with his sister and her friends?
Her instincts rarely deserted her; usually she found her judgments of people to be sound, proven definitely by her marriage to her husband, a fellow Army officer she met at Fort Bragg. The man she married had already a reputation as a womanizer when they met, but Sylvia sensed a decent man existed within his philandering exterior, and she was proven to be correct. The pair remained deeply in love, even after 15 years of marriage.
Her instincts in Brian’s case were that he truly was what he appeared to be, a sweet, loving older brother.
She quizzed her daughter diplomatically about whether Brian had ever touched her or Marietta anywhere, and girl, oblivious as to the reason for the question, answered matter-of-factly, “no.”
What bothered Sylvia, however, was that the boy was so physically undeveloped with apparently weak arms and an androgynous body. Always an athlete herself, Sylvia hated to see the growing obesity among children, particularly in her own black community, and while Brian was not exactly obese, his relatively slenderh body seemed to be layered in soft flesh. He could easily pass as a girl if he wore a dress, she thought.
Several more visits of Tamara with Marietta — followed by discreet questioning of her daughter — soon satisfied Sylvia that her instincts were still correct: Brian was an excellent baby-sitter, if that was the correct term. To add to her growing comfort about the boy, he seemed to have a gentle, sweet disposition. Tamara could benefit from his patient example, perhaps even as an antidote to her often more volatile, more emotional reactions.
Sylvia called Amy Kendall with a proposition: She would welcome hiring Brian to pickup Tamara two days a week — when she had important meetings at the hospital — and watch her for about an hour and a half along with Marietta. “I’ll be back by about 5 o’clock, Amy, if that’s OK with Brian and you and, of course, Marietta.”
Amy was a bit surprised with the proposal, since she was concerned about leaving two first grade girls under the charge of a sixth grade boy, even one as responsible as Brian was proving to be.
“The girls seem so fond of Brian,” Sylvia persisted, “And he seems to be happy with them, too.”
“Yes, I know Marietta talks constantly about your daughter, but together they could be full of mischief.” Amy replied.
“I know, but I seem confident your Brian can handle the situation. I’ll give him my cell phone number and he can call me if there’s any problem.”
“Great Sylvia,” Amy said, still not totally comfortable with the idea. “We’ll give it a try, but first I’ll have to ask Brian and I’ll call you back.”
Amy Kendall’s problem with the idea didn’t stem from the obvious one: the leaving of six-year-old girls under the watch of an 11-year-old boy. Strangely, she was certain Brian would be a responsible, caring person, better than hiring a 15- or 16-year-old girl for the same task.
Her concern was that she was robbing Brian of being a boy: His after-school hours were already consumed with caring for his sister, and now he’d be given an added burden. There’d be no time to play outside and do any sports; yet, the boy always assured her he preferred staying in the house reading in his room, helping his mother or playing with his younger sister.
She came upon the boy in the kitchen, where he was sitting at the kitchen table poring over, of all things, recipe books. His long, blonde hair was draped over his narrow shoulders and Amy couldn’t escape the feeling that she was looking at a girl. Had she made him this way? Had her reliance upon him, once her husband left her, created such a feminine-looking creature, a girl in nearly every sense who could cook, bake, do the laundry and care for a younger sister?
Her concerns had grown even more intense after she found him crying in his room on the Saturday he had been beaten up by Megan Tompkins. She had returned home after shopping with Marietta, surprised at not finding Brian in the kitchen preparing the evening meal, a treat he had promised his mother before she went shopping.
“I want to make you a delicious soufflé tonight,” he had promised Amy.
Hearing the sobbing, Amy rapped on Brian’s door, asking, “What’s wrong honey?”
The words were accompanied by sobs, which proved “nothing” was the false answer, and Amy entered the room, seeing her son in a fetal position on the bed, still dressed in his shorts and tee shirt from the bike trip, looking soft and pink.
Amy sat on the bed, coaxing the boy into her arms and held him tightly against her cushiony body, patting his head gently. The sobbing soon ceased and finally Brian felt some peace.
He told his mother everything, every humiliating last detail, crying intermittently through the story. She listened, saying little, letting him pour out his feelings.
“And, mommy, they all laughed at my chest, saying I should have a bra. . . (sobs) and Timmy Merriman started calling me ‘Bernice,’ and . . . (more sobs) and they all called me ‘Bernice.’”
The two had discussed his growing breasts before, and Amy had tried to diffuse the problem by saying, “Lots of boys have breasts like that at your age, but outgrow it.”
“Mommy, why wasn’t I born a girl?” he said finally.
“Because it just happened that you were born a boy,” Amy said. “It’s nature, darling. Mommy couldn’t choose what she wanted. Nature does that.”
Amy held her son tightly, tears welling in her own eyes. What was to be done for this sweet, gentle boy? How could he ever grow up a man in a world that looked to men to be hard and fighters?
“Sometimes, I wish I was a girl, mommy,” Brian said after a while.
“Oh Brian, dear. You’re a good boy.”
“No mommy, for real. I could be such a pretty girl. I think about it so much now, mommy.”
“Oh darling, don’t bother with that idea,” Amy said. “You’re a boy. You have your pee-pee, remember?”
“I know, mommy, but I’d be a good daughter for you,” the boy said, his eyes brightening with the prospect.
“I know you would, honey, but you are really being an even better son by helping mommy out,” Amy said. “Maybe I’ve tied you down with this too much, and I should make sure you get out and learn to play with the other kids.”
“Oh mommy, I can’t,” Brian said. “They’ll tease me and call me ‘Bernice.’”
Amy knew that Brian would face problems, since she was well-aware of his physical ineptness and androgynous body. She vowed to find something to help build the boy’s self-confidence. Brian, meanwhile, was finding he liked the idea of being a girl, only he didn’t really like the name “Bernice.”
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