All Change at No 42 Acacia Avenue

“Hello Darling” said the man to the slightly younger woman who had just entered the Brasserie at lunchtime.

They briefly kissed each other and sat down.

“All set for your interview then?” asked the man.

“Yes. I really want this job. It will mean a lot more money.”

Inwardly, he sighed.
“Well, you deserve it. We both know that old Higgins won’t promote you any further because you don’t play golf.”

They both laughed at the ‘old golf club cabal’. That was one thing he didn’t miss about the ‘greasy pole’ of ‘The Office’.

“And I can’t play golf with him even if I wanted to because of those silly club rules stopping women playing during the week.”

“Well, then it will be his loss. You have really got the company working well since you arrived. The bottom line is a whole lot healthier and it is all thanks to you.”

She smiled back at him. He was right about that.

Then she did more than smile. She kissed him passionately. It was nice to have his support in her quest for a better job.

Once they’d ordered their lunch, he looked at her and said,

“Paula, I don’t mean to criticize or anything but I kinda think that trouser suit has seen better days. How old is it?”

After a moment of anger, Paula thought about her husband’s comment.

“I suppose it is but I’ve nothing better to wear. I only heard that I’ve been shortlisted for the position late yesterday. What can I do?”

He smiled sweetly.

“What can we do you mean?”

She looked at him strangely.

“Peter?”

He stood up.
“Lets get out of here and get you something decent to wear for that interview. Ok?”

“What about our lunch?”

“Sod the lunch. This is more important isn’t it?”

She didn’t’ need asking twice.

She stood up and collected her things. Peter meanwhile slipped a £10.00 note under a plate and then helped her on with her coat.

An hour later, Paula was really ready for her interview.

Gone was the decidedly shabby black trouser suit. In its place was a black two-piece. The jacket fitted a lot better than the old one. In place of the trousers, she wore a skirt.
This one was well above the knee and cut pretty tight. On her legs she wore the latest patterned tights and completing the look, she wore a brand new pair of black patent high heels. Heels higher than 1in or 2in were not normally part of Paula’s wardrobe. These ones were well over 3 inches.

“How do I walk in these?” She complained.

“Slowly and deliberately” replied Peter smiling as he watched his wife.
“Oh well, I suppose it is just for the interview.”

Peter nodded his agreement but he knew differently.

It was he who’d arranged for Paula to get the interview. He also knew that what she was wearing was standard office wear for women at the company where she was going for the interview.

Paula looked at her watch.

“Come on, we’d better get going.”

She took his arm and then proceeded to stride off down the road.

She’d gone about 10 paces when she started cursing the skirt.

“Why did I ever let you talk me into getting this skirt?”

“Because my darling it looks fantastic on you.”

She glared at him.

“Just walk slower and take smaller strides,” he suggested.

“Humph.”

She did however do what he suggested and very soon realised that he was right. Smaller steps certainly made walking in the tight unyielding skirt and high heels an awful lot easier.

Despite her now reduced stride they soon reached the entrance to the offices where the interview was going to take place.

He kissed her once more on the cheek, being careful not to spoil her freshly applied lipstick. Again, this was one item that Paula normally eschewed. Peter had been insistent in the store. ‘Put on a little makeup. It really will help’ he’d suggested several times before she relented.

As she applied it in the ‘ladies’, she did realize that he was right. Just a little in the right places and her lovely eyes, the very things that had attracted Peter to her in the beginning began to stand out.

“Good luck,” he whispered.

“Knock them dead darling.”

She smiled back.

“If I do that then there won’t be a job will there?” She replied half joking in an attempt to hide her nervousness.

Peter stood there watching her tight ‘ass’ climb the steps of the office building. He smiled and thought, ‘god she looks good in that.’

With a big sigh, he waved at her as she went into the building.
Then he turned and headed off back to his work.

As they lay in bed that evening Paula said.

“You knew didn’t you?”

“Knew what?” replied a sleepy Peter feigning ignorance.

“About the de-facto dress code. That’s what.”

“Yes why?”

“You could have told me. You know told me why you got me all dolled up like that,” she replied somewhat indignantly.

“I could have done so but then we wouldn’t have had such fun kitting you out then would we?”

“Humph,” grunted Paula.

“The thing is, you think you got the job. Isn’t that what matters?”
“Yeah but… I’m going to have to get dolled up like that every day.”

“And you look fantastic all dolled up like that as you put it.”

“Are you saying that I wasn’t before?”

He paused before answering.

“In a way yes. Ok, so you were never one for much ‘dolling up’ before we got married. But…”

“I know, I know, I have let things slip a bit,” she replied trying to remember the last time she’d even worn some Lipstick before that day.

“Exactly.”

She looked at Peter and smiled.

His honesty was one of the redeeming but also often the most annoying things about him. She had to put any possible insult he might have made to one side.

Then she slid on top of him and kissed him.
“Thank you for today. Now its time for your reward,” she whispered.

[a little over three months later]

Paula drove her car into the driveway to their home. She got out and went into the house.

She did so quietly as Peter was most likely still working. He had been working from home as a software designer for almost all their married life.

She slipped off the ‘flats’ that she wore to drive the car and headed upstairs. She was home to collect an overnight bag as an unexpected meeting in Paris had been called and she was to deputise for her boss who was on Holiday.

She was about to enter Peter’s office when she heard him speaking to someone on the phone. She waited patiently outside. The boundaries between work and home life was important to both of them.

When he’d finished she stuck her head around the door to his office.

When she saw him, she let out a shriek.

Peter was wearing a dress, high heels, make-up and even a wig.

“Peter! What on earth?” she cried.

He looked at her. His heart had just about stopped.

“Paula… I wasn’t expecting you back yet?”

She just glared at him.

She was extremely angry but part of her mind said ‘now do you understand?’

“Well stand up then. Let me see what sort of dogs breakfast you have made of yourself.”

She desperately needed time to think.

She walked over to Peter.

She looked at his makeup. It was almost faultless. In fact, it was more expertly applied than hers despite her recent daily practice. That fact alone irritated her.

“Turn around,” she commanded.

He did as she’d asked.

“Not bad,” she thought.

Then she caught herself. What was she saying?

She stood there for well over a minute desperately trying to think what to do next.

Finally, she made a decision.

“I came home to pack an overnight bag. I’m going to Paris for a meeting. Then I find you like this. I really don’t know what to say. It is just as well that I have a plane to catch. Jacques is on Holiday and I have to stand-in for him. Just go downstairs and make me a sandwich. I’ll eat it on the way to the Airport.”

She turned and left him standing there open mouthed. His Wife was an expert at leaving important things unsaid. He knew he was in deep do-do, shit, call it what you like, he was in it.

Some fifteen minutes later she carried her freshly packed overnight bag into the kitchen. Peter was standing looking out of the window. He didn’t move when she came into the room.

A freshly brewed travel mug of tea was standing on the table. Sitting alongside the mug was a freshly made sandwich wrapped in a bag.

She was about to tear him off another strip but just in time, she saw the black streaks of mascara down his face. He’d been crying.

Paula picked up the items. She held them for a second or two before putting them down on the table.

“Peter. Just answer me one question.”

She looked at him. He didn’t move.

“How long? How long have you been dressing up like this?”

“Since I was a child. Maybe ten or eleven,” came his answer in a voice just above a whisper.

This was not the answer she’d even considered. What really shocked her was the fact that she’d not even considered that he was that serious a cross-dresser.

Paula started to say something but stopped herself.

“I’ll see you tomorrow evening. I’ll call from the airport. Then we can talk this through.”

She picked up the sandwich and the tea and left Peter alone in the kitchen.

[The following Evening]

Paula called Peter as she’d promised from the airport.

The phone rang and rang. Eventually, it switched to the answering machine.

“I’m at the airport. I should be home in an hour,” she said hopefully in a cheery voice although none of the calls she’d made home in the previous 24 hours had been answered by Peter.

As soon as she’d boarded the plane to Paris the previous day, she’s realised that she’d made the wrong decision. By then it was far too late to back out. All the time she was away, the only thing she wanted to do was give her husband a big hug.

It was actually closer to two hours later before she pulled up at her home. The place was in darkness.

A very concerned Paula opened the front door and called out.

“Peter. I’m back.”

There was no sound in the house.

The answer-phone light was silently flashing the number ‘8’.

Peter hadn’t listened to any of her calls. This made her very worried. She’d almost not boarded the flight to Paris the previous afternoon such was her concern.

The one thing she’d not considered was that he’d walk out on her.

The stillness of the building told her that the house was empty. She found no note explaining why or where he’d gone.

She went upstairs and looked in their bedroom. Still no sign of him. She looked in his ‘sock’ drawer. There was plenty of everything lying there. Then she tried his wardrobe. As far as she could tell, all his clothes were still there.

She was puzzled. Where was he?

Half an hour after she’d returned, she had singularly failed to find him, so she sat down in the Kitchen and poured herself a very large Scotch. All that he could find was his mobile phone. She’d found it in his office. There were a number of missed calls and Voicemails waiting for him. She sat looking at his Mobile Phone on the table. He never went anywhere without it. To her, this spelt trouble.

Slowly, and idea formed in her mind.

“What if?” She muttered to herself.

She managed to give herself a little smile as she stood up from the table and headed for the back door.

The smile broadened when she found it unlocked.

Quickly, she put on a pair of pink spotted Wellington Boots that ‘lived’ close to the back door of the house.

She stepped out into the darkness. The rain that had been falling when she was travelling home from the airport had thankfully now ceased.
Then she headed down the garden path. Her route was lit only by the sporadic bits of moonlight that poked itself through the gaps in the cloud. She kicked a brick and cursed not searching for a torch before leaving the kitchen.

She could just make out her destination as her eyes adjusted to the available light.

Her gaze settled upon a rather elegant wooden structure. Peter had used it a few years previously to work in when they’d had the builders in adding an extension for their as yet invisible children.
It was a fully equipped Office and well insulated. She hoped that Peter had decided to ‘hide’ away at the bottom of the garden. It had become his ‘man cave’.

There was hardly any sound apart from a gentle rustling of the wind in the now nearly bare trees overhead. She smiled inwardly to herself as the thought that if this were a Hollywood ‘epic’, there would be at least one hoot of an owl by now.

She slowly opened the door and her eyes made out the shape of Peter. He was sitting in a Wicker Chair.

“Hello Peter.”
He said nothing.

She entered the building and sat down next to him. The chair creaked a bit as she sat. The only other sound was their breathing.

She reached over and took his hand.

“I love you,” she said quietly.

“I want you to come up to the house so we can talk things over.”

He said nothing.

They sat in silence for a while.

Eventually, he replied.

“Why? Why would you even want to talk to me? To even see me? I’m a freak. A nobody. Why?”

“Peter, darling. You are not a freak. Of course I want to see you, to speak to you.”

Suddenly, Paula shivered.

Goosebumps covered her arms.

“Lets go into the house so we can talk things over in the warm.”

Calmly yet firmly, she took his hand and led him out of the Summer House cum Office and back up the garden path. As they neared the house she thought she smelt some smoke.

She pushed it from her mind as their nearest neighbour had been burning leaves a few days previously.

She led him inside, shut the door and they removed their shoes.
Almost immediately, she felt a lot warmer.

She sat him down at the kitchen table.

Peter looked like ‘death warmed up’. He was pale and emotionless.

She went to the large Welsh Dresser that dominated one wall of the room and poured him a generous slug of his favourite Single Malt.

She also poured herself one as well even though this particular Malt was actually a bit too peaty for her liking.
Then she placed the glasses on the table. After turning back to the sink she filled a large glass with some water from the filter.

Finally, she sat down next to him.

Paula felt really deflated. It was really hard work trying to get Peter to open up. She decided upon a different tack.

“Peter, you are not making this easy for me,” she moaned.

“I’m trying to understand the person I love but it is almost like talking to a complete stranger.”

“You can’t really say that you love me? After what I have done to you?”

She tried to suppress a small giggle.

“Dressing in Women’s Clothes is not a capital crime in my book. Don’t I wear Jeans and things?”

“It’s different for you. For women, it is accepted.”

“So? Why can’t you wear what you want?”

“People.”

This time she laughed.

“People? Why should they know who you are?”

“Because I look like a man wearing a dress.”

This angered her.

“From what I saw yesterday, you looked pretty good.”

“But…”

“No buts about it Peter. Your makeup was as far as I could tell nigh on perfect.”

“But…”

“For Christ’s sake stop saying but.”

She took a deep breath.

“I got the shock of my life yesterday when I saw you dressed like that. God knows how many times I nearly didn’t come back tonight. But I couldn’t get the fact that I love you out of my mind. I spent a lot of last night searching the Internet for information about Transvestites and Transsexuals and everything in between. Believe me when I say, that there is a lot of people out there like you. More than you’d imagine. That is not to say that some are held to ridicule. In some places, you could even be stoned to death but here in merry old England, we are pretty tolerant.”

Peter didn’t say anything.

Paula chuckled.
“Some of the fiction stories on the Internet are laughable. Sometimes I had a really hard job sorting out the fiction from the reality. But in the end, I think I started to understand a bit of what you might be going through.”

She kissed Peter gently.

“At first, I felt sorry for you then I felt angry, then sorry. I was all mixed up. Eventually, I fell asleep.”

She laughed.

“What’s so funny about this?” Asked a very hurt Peter.

She smiled back at him

“I just remembered the meeting today. I was naff all use there. I’d only had a couple of hours sleep and you know how grumpy I get when that happens.”

For the first time since she had returned, Peter gave her a small smile.

“Anyway, I sat in the meeting looking at the people around the table. I guess I was daydreaming but I noticed that Pierre, my new boss is probably having an affair with Claudia LeGrande, who is the boss of the Paris Office. They were playing footsie under the table almost all day.”

“What has this got to do with us?”

She smiled back

“I started imagining what it would be like if all the men were wearing dresses and things. At one point, Claudia asked me if there was anything wrong with me.”

“Was there?”

“Yes, I was having trouble stopping myself from laughing at the thought of Pierre in a dress. It would be laughable. Then it hit me. I realised that you were an awful lot better dressed than most women these days. All those little hints and such you’d given me when clothes shopping over the years suddenly made sense.”

“Pardon? I don’t understand what you are saying?”

“If you were to walk down the street in town tomorrow, you’d see many women. Most would be dressed casually, often in Jeans and Trainers or those awful leggings. Don’t even get me started on those ‘Ugg’ ugly and shapeless boots that everyone seemed to wear all year round now.”

“So? What has that got to do with us here and now?”
“Everything.”

She took a swig of Scotch. She grimaced at the taste. She should have poured her own brand instead.

“I got to thinking. You know when I was in Paris. The French women are supposed to have this ‘style’. ‘Je ne sais quoi’ I think they call it. Well some do but many, frankly you can see the same crap on any high street over here.”

“Exactly where is this going?”

“It is going… Well, I don’t know. From what I saw yesterday, you looked great. Certainly a lot better than I would do in an outfit like that. You have good legs you know. I think it was that that surprised me more than everything.”

“Are you trying to butter me up?”

She smiled.

“Yes my darling I am. You look like death warmed up and I needed to cheer you up.”

Paula took his hands in hers.
“I love you Peter. I’m not saying that things are going to be easy between us but I want to try to work this out. If it means accepting that you like wearing a dress and make-up then I am willing to try.”

He said nothing but her gripped her hand a bit tighter.

“If you want to be the ‘other woman’ in my life then I am willing to let you… well at least try. I know that underneath is the person I fell in love with and still love dearly. But…”

Peter sighed. His gaze that had been so hopeful was wiped away in an instant. His eyes fell to the floor.
“But what?”

Paula swallowed.
“If you are going to be the other woman in my life, then it has to be full time. Peter has to go.”

“I don’t think I follow you?”

“What I’m saying my darling is that I am willing to accept you in whatever role you decide but it must be one role. None of this switching between Peter and… I don’t know what you call yourself when…”

“Diana.”

Paula smiled.

“That is a very pretty name. Diana it is then.”
Then she carried on.

“As I was saying, there has to be none of this switching back and forth. If it doesn’t work out then of course Peter can reappear. If you are really transgendered then don’t you deserve to give that side of you the chance to emerge?”

Paula paused.

“I’m making an awful hash of this. What I’m trying to say is that if you want to have a go at living full time as a woman than I’ll be here for you.”

Peter sat there open mouthed. This was the very last thing he’d expected from her.

“Yes I’d like to try”

Then he gripped Paula’s hand and smiled.

“Diana would like to try.”

[Six months later]

“Di! Come on we are going to be late.”
“Just a moment darling.”

Paula stood in the doorway at the front of their house waiting slightly impatiently for her lover.

“Women! Always late.” She said to herself with a broad grin on her face. Over the months since Diana had emerged, their relationship had developed into ways that she could only have dreamt of before. They were now best friends as well as lovers and a couple. Their love life was a lot more varied than before. Everything was as if a great cloud had been blown away from their past life.

From being very close to leaving him, she was so much more in love than she could ever imagine. If only she didn’t look so much better in heels than her….

A full five minutes later Diana appeared in the hallway.

“Let’s go.”

With a sigh, Paula led the way outside and to their car.

Diana locked the door and got in the car on the drivers side. She slipped off her heels and put on a pair of flats to make driving easier.

The subject of heels had been one of the few disagreements between them during Peter’s transition into Diana. Not only was she better at applying her makeup than Paula, she was more comfortable in high heels.

An hour later they arrived at their destination.
Diana parked the car and sat for a while looking straight ahead. Paula sensed the apprehension that her lover was going through. She gently took hold of her hand.

“Don’t worry darling. I’ll be right here with you all the way.”

Diana squeezed her hand tightly.
“Ok. Let’s do it,” she said in a slightly stuttering voice.

Paula got out of the car and waited while Diana put on her heels and emerged.

Then hand in hand they walked up the drive to the house that was their ultimate destination.

Paula pressed the bell push. They could hear the chimes echoing around the hallway within.

A human shape appeared on the other side of the frosted glass of the front door.

The door opened and a man was standing there. He smiled when he saw Paula. Then he saw Diana.

“Hi Dad” said a hesitant Diana.

“Hello So… Diana,” replied his father. He still had trouble accepting that his son was not his daughter but a lot of talking to by his wife had gotten him on board.

“Come on in. We weren’t expecting you until next weekend, for your Mother’s Birthday.”

They entered the house and went through to the sitting room at the rear of the building. Diana’s Mother was sitting there knitting a scarf.

“Hello you two. This is a little unexpected.”

Diana gripped Paula’s hand.

“We have two bits of news that couldn’t wait for your Birthday,” said Diana.

“You are going to be Grandparents. I’m pregnant,” said Paula.

“And I’ve had my breasts done,” added Diana.

All of them laughed at two pieces of exceedingly good news.

[The End]



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