Secret Lives Part 2

It's pretty hard to keep a secret life hidden from your twin.

Secret Lives
Part 2

By Joanne Foxcourt, 2004

Homepage: Joanne Foxcourt

Forward

Welcome to part 2 of my story about Melissa "Josh" Stevens. If you haven't read the first part (chapters 1 - 7) then you probably should or none of this will make a lot of sense!

This is a work of fiction so any resemblance to persons living or dead, in whole or in part, is purely coincidental. All of the usual copyright rules apply, but this story may be posted freely on any site that does not require a fee for accessing it. Also, the usual rules about legal restrictions on accessing stories like this apply according to where you hail from.

I hope you enjoy, Joanne

Chapter 8: Beginnings

Denise regarded Melissa steadily, but you couldn't mistake the pain in her eyes. Denise had dreaded this day, a day she knew was coming based on the advice of Dr. Patel, Melissa's therapist.

"I, uh," Melissa stammered, suddenly finding herself unsure under the gaze of her mother. Even the subtle 'thumbs up' from Lisa wasn't helping. She started over with a deep breath. "Mom, I know you don't want to hear this, but I have to tell you," she rushed out.

Denise felt her eyes narrow, despite her best efforts. "Here it comes," she thought.

"For the longest time," Melissa continued, not seeing the increased tightness in her mother's features, "I've felt that something was wrong. I didn't always know what it was, why, or even how it could be. I just knew, somehow, that it was wrong. It wasn't until I got older, learned a few things, that I began to understand."

Denise continued staring. She didn't speak, nod, or even mutter inarticulate things that would have encouraged this discussion.

Melissa took another deep breath, feeling it shudder in her chest. "There was a mistake, or something, but I should have been a girl, not a boy!" Melissa felt a weight lift from her. She knew that this was hardly news to her mother, but even still, it was the first time that she had come out and said it so directly to her.

"A mistake?" Denise asked, surprising even herself at the coldness of the question. Denise hadn't intended that, but the sudden blow of the "mistake" insinuation bothered her in a way she couldn't really define.

Melissa felt the coldness of the question and tried to hold back the tears that threatened. "I don't mean it like that, Mom," she replied. "I meant that nobody could control it, it just happened."

"I see." Intellectually, Denise knew what her child meant, but her emotions were cutting raw. She was too caught up in her own hurt to see the hurt that she was causing. In that, she wasn't alone, the same could be said of Melissa.

Melissa bit back her reply and settled in again. "Amy and I talked it over," she continued, almost trance-like in an attempt to get this painful episode over with. "We think it would be a good idea for me to experience life as, well, as a girl."

"I see."

"She told you this Mom!" Melissa flared.

Denise sighed and her stare relented. "Yeah, she did. That doesn't mean I like it."

"I . . ." Melissa faltered.

"I don't like it," Denise continued. "I gave birth to two beautiful children. A boy and a girl; perfectly formed and so alike accept for one detail. I was so proud, and so was your father. How much better could it get? We always wanted two children, a boy and a girl. To get them both, at once, was something special."

"Dad," Melissa whispered. She closed her eyes and struggled to hold back the memory of her mother holding her and Lisa, explaining the car accident.

"What would your father think now?" Denise asked, almost in spite of herself.

"That's enough!" Lisa flared, jumping into the discussion for the first time.

"Lisa, stay out of this!"

"No! You're being unfair. Do you think Melissa asked for this? Do you think it's any fun for her?" Lisa had the full-on anger of a twin protecting her sibling.

"What about me?" Denise shouted back. "I'm losing my son!" Denise collapsed back into the chair and started crying, voicing a low "my son" every few seconds.

Lisa softened her stance a little. "Melissa isn't doing this to take Josh away from you," she said, trying to comfort. "She is trying to become a whole person, a complete person."

Melissa touched her arm and shook her head lightly. "Mom, I love you and I need you. I need you now, more than I ever did. I have to know who I am, who I should be. This is the only way."

"Is it?" Denise asked, looking up with a tear-streaked face. "Is it really?"

Melissa nodded, looking resolute. "I tried hard to be your son."

"What about school? Your classmates?"

Melissa shrugged.

"It's not that easy!" Denise exclaimed. "Do you think they won't react? Kids are cruel."

"They already are," Melissa said.

"What?"

"They already are. I hear the whispers behind my back. I'm not deaf. They call me a fag, a homo, a queer. Names don't hurt."

Denise sat back, stunned. "They call you those?"

Melissa and Lisa nodded. "Even if I didn't do this, that wouldn't change."

"What if they get physical?"

Melissa shrugged again.

"This isn't some casual matter to shrug off," Denise told her. "There are people who do that sort of thing. I don't want my baby coming home in a box!"

"What would you have me do Mom? Live my life by someone else's prejudices? Or hide in fear because of what might happen? I can't do that. I have a right to be me."

"Why now? Why not wait?"

"Mom, waiting isn't going to change anything. It will just make it worse for me, harder. The time is right for me. Amy wouldn't suggest this if it wasn't."

"I don't like it," Denise repeated, sounding a little tired.

"You'll support me, though?"

"Of course I will. I don't have to like it to support you. When?"

"Beginning of the school year."

"You two are getting part-time jobs," Denise decided. "I can barely afford one teenaged girl and her clothing, two is out of the question."

Melissa let out the breath she didn't realize that she had been holding. She smiled happily at her mother and accepted the weak, tentative, smile in return. "It's a deal."

"Hey!" Lisa protested, receiving an elbow to her ribs. "Alright, it's a deal."

Chapter 9: [] M or [] F

"What should I check off?" Melissa asked Lisa as they filled out the application forms.

"What?"

"M or F?"

"I don't know," Lisa admitted. "What do you think?"

"Well, technically I'm still a boy," Melissa said. "It's a legal document."

"I guess, well, that you should check off the M then. Do you have the letter from Amy?"

Melissa nodded. She never went anywhere without the letter from Amy, it explained her situation in case she was ever questioned by authorities. "Maybe we should have waited for the name change papers to go through," she added. "It's a woman's fashion store after all."

"I hadn't thought of that. What did you put down?"

Melissa showed her the form.

"They're going to be so confused when they see this," Lisa noted as Melissa nodded and shrugged helplessly. "Oh well, if we don't get the jobs, the confusion should be worth a giggle."

Melissa laughed and finished off the last bits of the form. Since school had finished for the summer, she had been presenting as a girl the entire time. Today, she was wearing a light sundress and low-heeled sandals, similar to Lisa. They wanted to be presentable for their job hunts, but neither of them considered the quandary that would pose for prospective employers.

"Here goes nothing," Melissa said as she carried her form to the receptionist.

The lady at the desk looked over the form and then looked back at Melissa. "Well," she said, "either you've made some terrible mistakes on the form or there is a deeper explanation to this."

"I guess it would be the second option ma'am," Melissa told her and offered the letter from Amy.

The receptionist quickly read the letter, her eyebrows raising and then narrowing. "Well, that's certainly a surprise! I wouldn't have guessed. I think I'll need a copy of this to attach to the form."

Melissa smiled nervously and agreed.

"Why don't you sit with your, um, sister?"

"She is really my sister," Melissa assured her.

"Okay. I'll bring you your letter back in a minute."

Melissa sat back down with Lisa and let out a deep breath.

"Well?" Lisa asked.

"I haven't a clue."

"She seemed to take it okay."

"I guess, maybe. I don't think I'm going to get this job," Melissa decided.

"Never say die!"

"I didn't," Melissa grinned. "I think it's more of a coma."

*****

Melissa knocked on the office door tentatively, surprised that she was even being interviewed. "Come in," came the brusque, but strongly feminine voice from the other side. Melissa opened the door and said, "Hello."

"Hello, um, Josh? I don't think that's really quite right, is it?" The well- dressed woman said as she stood up.

"My name is being legally changed to Melissa, ma'am."

"Pleased to meet you Melissa, I'm Judy Burke. Have a seat."

"Thank you Ms. Burke," Melissa replied shaking hands and sitting down at the offered seat.

"I must say Melissa, I'm rather taken aback by this situation and by you."

"I see," Melissa said, trembling a little. "I'm sorry if I wasted your time." She made to stand up.

"Sit," Ms. Burke instructed. "I didn't say you were wasting my time. In fact, I'm quite impressed by you."

"Really?"

"Yes, really. First, you look fabulous. I half expected a football player in a mini-skirt, but if I didn't have a copy of this letter and your application form, I wouldn't know better at all. Second, you have a great deal of courage and honesty because you didn't lie on your application in the first place."

"Thank you," Melissa smiled and relaxed slightly.

"I really prize courage and honesty Melissa, they are hard traits to find in many people these days. So, tell me if you can, why?"

"Why this job or why Melissa?" Melissa asked.

Ms. Burke laughed, "Yes."

"Well ma'am, this job interests me because I'm learning. I don't have the advantage of my sister or you; I didn't grow up a woman. I really think I can learn a lot here, about things I never had a chance to learn before."

"Your sister? Lisa? I think she's next."

Melissa nodded. "We're twins," she explained.

"That's delightful! Is she as pretty as you?"

Melissa blushed, "She's prettier."

"Somehow, I think you're being modest. So, why Melissa? Please tell me if it's too personal, this isn't a job question, it's honest curiosity on my part."

"It's okay," Melissa smiled. "I'm not sure I can explain it though."

"Do your best."

"Well, have you ever wondered what it would be like to be someone else?"

"Everyone does, from time to time," Ms. Burke assured her.

"For me, it isn't from time to time, it's every time. Every day, every minute, I live in another's skin and wonder why. When we were kids, my mom used to dress Lisa and I alike because it was fun and I never paid much attention to it. When we got older, she dressed us differently and I didn't understand it. We were the same, weren't we? But mom said we were different, a boy and a girl. I didn't even know what a boy was, but that's what I was told."

Melissa took a deep breath and Ms. Burke smiled encouragement.

"As we got older, I resisted what my senses told me and tried to be a boy. I thought that it was just a phase, nothing special, childhood fantasy. It didn't go away. Then I thought it was wrong, bad, evil maybe, and so I fought it even more. Finally I couldn't fight it. I surrendered? Or maybe I finally realized the truth. Lisa and some friends caught me. At first I was scared, like my life was over." Melissa paused and laughed at that. "Only, it really meant that my life had just begun."

"Oh my," Ms. Burke said, her voice catching slightly. "You are quite the remarkable young lady, I think."

Melissa blushed again and tried to shake her head.

"Don't disagree with me Melissa," Ms. Burke told her. "While I expect my employees to offer opinions, I also expect them to agree with me when I've made a decision."

"Does this mean?"

"Yes, it means I want to hire you. I have a feeling that you are going to do very well here."

"Oh thank you Ms. Burke, you won't regret it!" Melissa gushed.

"No, I don't imagine that I will," Ms. Burke smiled. "Ms. Brown will take care of all the details and arrange your first day. Why don't you tell her to send in your sister on your way out?"

"Thank you ma'am!"

*****

"She adores you," Lisa said as they made their way home after the interviews. Both were glowing with their success at getting hired.

"You're imagining things," Melissa said. "We just had a good interview."

"You had an interview; I had a dissertation on Melissa. I think she hired me as an afterthought."

"Oh come on!"

"She spent fifteen minutes talking about you and then asked me if I would like the job," Lisa laughed. "I'm not complaining, Carla said her interview was a nightmare of questions. They even asked her how M&Ms were made!"

"For a grocery store?"

"She wanted to be a manager trainee."

"Did she get the job?"

"Yeah, she told them that M&Ms were made by machines!"

Melissa had a giggle fit. "Are you looking forward to the job?" Melissa finally asked.

"Yeah. You?"

Melissa nodded. "I'm a little scared, though."

"It's a ritzy place."

"Uh huh. Real feminine too."

"You'll be fine. Just don't talk about tampons."

"Lisa!"

"Well, you've never had to use them you know," Lisa reminded her.

"I've what?"

"Mind you, I doubt it would come up at the store."

"Gawd, I hope not!" Melissa exclaimed.

"What department do you think you'll be in?" Lisa asked.

Melissa shrugged, "No idea."

"I'd put you in lingerie," Lisa grinned.

"What!"

"I'm evil that way."

"I don't think they'd do that," Melissa decided, sounding just a little disappointed.

"There's still some Josh in you," Lisa observed, not missing the tone of the response.

Melissa blushed. "Well, I am human."

"You don't prefer boys?"

Melissa thought about it for a few minutes. "I don't actually know, you know? I can't find myself attracted to a male body right now because I don't much like my own, you know? But when I look at girls, well, I get jealous instead of interested. It's way too confusing."

"I'm sorry," Lisa told her.

"Why?"

"I shouldn't tease you about it."

"You're the only one who can," Melissa smiled and shrugged. "Still, it would probably be better if I didn't work in lingerie. I can't always control Josh popping up to say hello."

"Popping up to say hello?" Lisa giggled.

Melissa shrugged. "I hate it, but there's nothing I can do about it. Heck, even a bus ride can get it going."

"Gah! I'll take the cold and my nipples any day."

"Band aids."

"What?"

"Band aids," Melissa repeated. "They help prevent that. Doesn't work for downstairs though."

"Who told you about that?" Lisa asked.

"I have my ways," Melissa laughed.

"I guess! Maybe you know more than I thought."

"I'm still not going to talk about tampons at the store."

"That's probably a good idea," Lisa agreed.

*****

"Are you sure about this?" Arlene Brown asked as she sorted the papers for hiring Melissa and Lisa.

"What do you mean?" Judy asked as she glanced at the wall clock and unwound her hair from the tight bun it had been placed in.

"Josh is a boy."

"Melissa actually, or soon anyways. She's hardly a boy."

"Wearing a dress doesn't make you a girl either," Arlene pointed out. "This is a store dedicated to women."

"Do you think anyone would have guessed otherwise?" Judy asked.

Arlene shrugged, "It doesn't matter. We know."

"So?"

"So, we've never had a male work here, the customers wouldn't like it."

"We still won't be having a male here. That child is no more male than you or I."

"That child wasn't born a woman, how would that child know what it was really like?" Arlene asked, her hostility rising.

"This side of you surprises me Arlene. If you felt so strongly, why did I ever see her application?" Judy asked, her eyes narrowing a little.

"I figured you would laugh him out."

"You don't know me as well as you think, apparently. There is nothing to laugh about in regards to Melissa. She's experienced a lot more pain than you have realized."

"It's wrong."

"Enough of this! I've made my decision and I'm certainly going to stand by it. You have two choices Arlene, sort out the paperwork or leave. If you leave, don't come back."

"Fine! I'm leaving!"

"Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out sweetie," Judy called out as Arlene stormed from the office. "Well," she added to herself, "that was a real surprised. I didn't think Arlene had that sort of hostility in her."

*****

"Judy?"

"Yes Marie, what is it?" Judy asked, sounding a little tired as she looked up from her desk and regarded her floor supervisor.

"What happened with Arlene?" Marie asked.

"A difference of opinion over a hiring decision. She decided to leave."

"Oh. It's just that she shouted something about 'faggy boys' taking over the store. What does she mean?"

Judy sighed and rubbed her temples with her fingertips, trying to abate the incipient headache she could feel coming on. "She's upset about a young transsexual girl that I decided to hire."

"A what?" Marie asked, looking confused.

"We had a pair of twins apply for part-time jobs today. Beautiful girls, they'll fit in nicely. Arlene's problem is that one of them was born a boy."

"Wow."

"Does that bother you?"

"Should it?" Marie asked, looking confused again. "I don't understand it, but so what?"

"I like you Marie, that's the right attitude to have."

Marie blushed. "Why doesn't Arlene like it?" She asked.

"I wish I knew. Arlene has had some problems with men in the past, I know. She's fairly deep into the lesbian scene these days too. There's an undercurrent of dislike for transsexuals in the lesbian community from what I've seen. A bit of a tinfoil hat syndrome there."

"A what?"

Judy laughed. "Let's just say that some of them think that transsexuals are really men who have surgery just to spy on them. I've never managed to figure out what is so great about them that any man would want to do that for espionage purposes, but that's probably a good thing for my own mental state."

"Well, I don't see any harm in it," Marie decided. "If that's what this girl wants to do, more power to her. Does she look okay? Not like a boy in a dress?"

Judy laughed again. "I'll make a wager with you. On Monday morning, when they start, you tell me which one was born without ovaries and I'll give you a five hundred dollar bonus on your paycheck."

"If I lose?" Marie grinned.

"You can buy all four of us lunch."

"It's a deal!"

Chapter 10: Rumblings

"You both got a job on your first application?" Denise asked, sounding very surprised. "In the same place?"

Lisa nodded. "Mostly thanks to Melissa," she admitted.

"How?"

"The owner of the store, Judy Burke, really liked Melissa. I think she hired me in order not to lose her."

"Really?"

Lisa nodded.

"Did you tell her the truth," Denise asked, turning to Melissa.

"Yes Mom, of course I did," Melissa said, sounding a little peeved. "I also gave her a copy of Amy's letter."

"And she hired you, this Ms. Burke, even knowing the truth?"

Melissa nodded.

"Wait a minute, isn't she the owner of The Regency?" Denise asked.

"Yep."

"It's exclusive to women!"

"Yep." Melissa was openly grinning now.

Denise shook her head in disbelief.

*****

Arlene sipped her beer in the bar and looked around at the other women. Pickings, she decided, were slim tonight and she wasn't even sure was really in the mood. She was still stinging from the confrontation this afternoon.

"What's got you down Arl?" A soft voice asked from behind.

"Marty! What brings you out tonight?" Arlene asked, feeling a little happier to see Martina, one of her closer friends.

Marty shrugged and pulled a stool up beside Arlene and signaled for more beers at the bartender. "Bored. Don't you have to work tomorrow?"

"I quit."

"You quit? I thought you loved the place? A regular estrogen heaven you called it."

"It was until today. Burke hired a drag queen."

"Come on!"

"Seriously, some fucked up kid who thinks he wants to be a girl. Burke got upset when I tried to talk her out of it."

"A tranny at The Regency? The society birds will be all a-flutter over it."

"If they figure it out," Arlene admitted before she could stop herself.

"You're having one on me. I haven't met a tranny I couldn't spot a block away," Marty asserted.

"Not this one," Arlene said morosely. "Dead ringer for the real sister. Twins and you can't tell them apart."

"How do you know he really isn't a girl then?"

"He admitted it on his application and gave me the shrink's letter."

Marty dropped some bills on the bar for the drinks. "That's pretty freaky. I wouldn't figure that Burke would go for that even still."

"Me too, I figured her for a closet butch, you know. She's pretty tough when she wants to be."

"My Mom'll have a fit," Marty suddenly laughed. "She still calls my lesbianism 'the sickness' when she thinks I can't hear her. When she gets wind of this, she'll avoid The Regency like the plague and take her society friends with her."

Arlene suddenly grinned. "That's true, isn't it?" She asked, sounding a little more pleased.

*****

"Hello? Ms. Burke?" Denise asked as she knocked on the door to Judy's office.

"Yes?"

"Sorry to bother you, my name is Denise Stevens. I believe you just hired my children yesterday?"

"Well, hello Ms. Stevens, please come in!" Judy said as she smiled and stood.

"Denise, please. I'm sorry to bother you Ms. Burke, but . . ."

"Judy. It's no bother. You're not here to tell me you won't allow them to work for me, I hope?"

"Of course not," Denise assured her.

"Well then, what do I owe the pleasure of this visit to then?" Judy asked, her curiosity even stronger.

"Well, I was rather surprised that you hired them I guess," Denise began, sounding a little unsure. "I wanted to be certain that you were in possession of all of the facts."

"About Melissa who is still Josh for now, I assume?"

"He did tell you!"

"She," Judy replied, stressing the pronoun, "was quite honest and forthcoming. I must say, I was quite impressed with Melissa."

"I see."

"That bothers you, doesn't it Denise?"

"I . . ."

"I'm not judging you. I imagine that it's quite a difficult situation for you."

"I'm losing my son!"

Judy sighed. "Would you prefer that I rescinded the offers?" She asked.

"No!"

"That is a relief for me, I must admit. I'll be honest with you Denise, I think you are gaining quite a bit as well."

Denise stiffened.

"I don't intend offense," Judy assured her. "I'm stating a fact because my frame of reference is Melissa. She is, as I said, quite a remarkable person."

"So is Josh."

"They are one and the same."

Denise shook her head. "Why am I telling you this stuff? I didn't come here to relieve my burdens, I just wanted to make sure that you had the truth."

Judy waved the concern away. "I've been told that I have a way of drawing people out," she smiled. "Your worry is gratifying; I see where the honesty of your children come from."

"Aren't you concerned for your store?" Denise suddenly asked.

"In what way?"

"What if people find out?"

"So what if they do? I don't serve bigots. If they can't deal with it, they can shop elsewhere."

"I don't understand this, I really don't."

"Well," Judy smiled. "For one thing, I don't need the store, it's a hobby. Secondly, I think I saw something in Melissa, and in Lisa too, that made me stop and think. It was probably in that moment that I decided that there is very likely to be a battle and that I wanted to be on the good side of it."

"A battle? I think that's a rather strong term," Denise protested.

"No, I think it's quite accurate. Melissa is determined to be herself, but she's just turning sixteen and that means she's still in school. She is going to need strong, helpful, and resourceful people around her if she is going to make it through."

"Why?"

"Why me, I assume? I'm not really sure, but I liked her immediately and decided then and there that she would be helped, if she needed it. It's my fervent hope that she won't, but I doubt either of us believe that."

Denise looked pensive and nodded, almost absently.

"Does all that put your mind at ease, Denise?" Judy asked.

Denise nodded. "It's also given me something to think about," she added.

Chapter 11: Monday Monday

"Nervous?" Lisa asked.

"A little," Melissa admitted as the two approached the store. "This is the first time I'm going to be spending a lot of time in front of people, talking to them."

"You'll be fine."

Melissa knocked at the entrance to the store which was still locked up before opening. "Maybe I'll be in the stock room. You think?" She suggested as they waited.

"I doubt it," Lisa disagreed as the door opened.

"Hi! You two must be Lisa and Melissa," said the young, cheerful looking woman that opened the door. "I'm Marie Anderson, the floor supervisor here. Come in and we'll get you all sorted out for your first day."

"Thank you Miss Anderson," Melissa smiled.

"Marie, please! Miss Anderson makes me sound so old. Anyways, the first thing we need to do is sort out your wardrobe."

"Our wardrobe?" Lisa asked.

"Oh yes, everyone who works for the store wears its clothing. That's a must both on and off duty, when in the public eye. Judy expects us to represent the best in fashion, appearance, and demeanor when there is any chance that one of the customers may see us."

"I don't know if we can afford it," Melissa chimed in, looking worried.

Marie laughed. "None of us can, sweetie, we get an allowance for selection. In other words, each month, we are told that we can select some amount worth of clothing and then we shop! It's a lot of fun because it's staff a only event."

"I would guess that you would have a lot of clothes now," Melissa observed.

"We donate them to charity after a while. Fashion is a fast-paced business, so styles don't usually stay around long." Marie led them into the back area of the large store as she continued, "However, your first selection of clothing has been personally picked by Judy. She has both casual and work oriented clothing as well as some formal wear selected."

"Oh my," Lisa and Melissa breathed at the same time as soon as they saw the two racks. It wasn't a large wardrobe, but it was of obvious high quality.

"I think I said that very same thing when I started," Marie laughed. "Now, you have to try them all on, which I'm sure will be a hardship for you both, but I'd guess that all of them fit. Judy almost never misses on sizes just by looking. After you have tried everything, put the ones that don't fit on that rack over by the wall and they'll be adjusted later. Finally, put on the suits at the front of the rack before coming back out to the floor."

"How much time do we have?" Lisa asked.

"How about an hour? Will that be okay?"

Both girls nodded.

*****

"So?" Judy grinned.

"I owe us lunch," Marie smiled. "I couldn't tell, I could only guess by flipping a coin."

Judy laughed. "Yes, she is almost perfect. In many ways, she is lucky because it is so much easier at her age in many ways."

"Really?"

"I did some research on the topic," Judy admitted. "The younger they transition, the better it will be for the outcome."

"Oh. So, are you going to tell me?"

Judy just grinned at her. "Nope," she said. "You have to figure it out."

"You are way too cruel," Marie laughed.

"You could just ask them," Judy suggested, her eyes still twinkling.

"No, really, I couldn't. Could I?"

"I have a feeling that she would tell you. If you asked."

"I can't."

"Suit yourself," Judy laughed again. "I'm not the one in suspense."

*****

"Oh my," Melissa said for the seventh or eighth time as she held up the formal gown that Judy had provided. The gown was a classic black with white trim that ran diagonally across the bodice.

"You're like a kid in a candy store," Lisa grinned.

"Better than that! This clothing is amazing." Melissa felt her eyes glaze as she looked at herself in the mirror, the gown hugging her curves. She felt herself being transported the same way she did when she had held her mother's gown in front of her. In her minds eye, she could picture the grand entrance to the ball, her hand gently on the arm of her handsome escort. The introductions were barely over before he had swept her onto the dance floor and led her gracefully . . .

"Melissa, earth to Melissa! Come in Melissa!" Lisa said, waving her hands in front of the mirror.

Melissa gave herself a small shake. "Wow."

"What on earth were you doing?" Lisa asked.

"Day dreaming."

"What?"

"I just went to a place that I always wanted to be," Melissa said as she carefully removed the dress. "Did you know that I used to spend hours staring at Mom's ball gown?"

"It is gorgeous, isn't it?" Lisa smiled agreement. "I did the same thing. I never tried it on though."

"Me neither, I was afraid I would damage it."

*****

Marie and Judy smiled as the twins finally made their way onto the main floor of the shop. Both were smartly dressed in tailored business suits and it was impossible for Judy to tell them apart.

"I think we're going to have to put you both at opposite ends of the store or the poor customers will get confused," Judy laughed as the two approached. "Which is which?"

Lisa smiled and pointed, "I'm Lisa."

Marie handed them both name tags.

"I trust everything fit okay?" Judy asked. "Nothing on the alternation rack?"

"No ma'am," Melissa replied. "Everything fit perfect."

"Please, Melissa, my name is Judy unless there is a customer around."

Melissa flushed, pleased. "Alright, Judy," she said.

"So, first things first, there is some paperwork you both have to sign, agreements and such. Then we begin your training sessions. You will both need to learn a lot about fashion and do it very quickly. I expect all of the ladies who work here to devote some portion of there spare time reading up on fashion, the trends, and whatnot."

Melissa and Lisa felt their eyes widen.

Judy laughed at their alarm. "Don't worry; we're going to make sure that you are armed with enough initial knowledge." Judy led them both back to her office area.

"Is Miss Brown okay?" Melissa asked, noting the empty desk.

"Arlene and I had a parting of company," Judy said, her eyes hardening.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Melissa responded.

"It's okay Melissa."

*****

"All sorted out?" Marie asked as Lisa and Melissa returned to the floor. Both nodded, smiling. "Good. So, for the first week, each of you is going to shadow another employee. You'll help them out a little, but your primary job is to learn. Next week, we throw you to the wolves!"

All of them laughed at that.

"So," Marie continued, "Melissa is going to be paired with Jennifer in the lingerie department today and Lisa is going to be paired with Annie in the shoe department. We'll move you around departments all week so that you can learn the various spots."

Melissa gave Lisa a stricken look. "Uh . . ." Lisa shook her head.

"Something wrong?" Marie asked.

"Um, no, I guess not," Melissa sighed as she tried to smile gamely.

"Okay then! Follow me and I'll introduce you to your partners for the day. Before I forget, I have good news for you both, lunch is my treat."

"You don't have to do that," Lisa protested.

"I do, actually, but I don't mind," Marie told her. "I lost a bet with Judy and she'll be joining us."

"A bet?"

Marie nodded. "About you two," she admitted.

"It's me," Melissa told her with a wry smile.

"Pardon?"

"The bet. I'm the one you had to guess."

Marie laughed. "Honey, you're sharp. Yes, that was the bet and I gave up, so I have to buy lunch for us all today. That's okay though, because I think I would have anyways. You two are going to do very well here."

"You don't mind?" Melissa asked.

"Should I?"

"I hope not! Do you still want to put me in lingerie, though?"

"I hadn't thought of that," Marie admitted. "Are you going to suddenly turn all boyish and ogle everyone?"

"Never," Melissa said, standing straight.

"Good enough for me," Marie said. "Judy thinks you're honest, and that opinion carries a lot of weight. Just be Melissa and everything will be fine. You have to learn that part of the store anyways, we all do."

"I'll do my best," Melissa promised.

"Good enough."

*****

"Wow," Melissa said as she sat beside Lisa in the break room before lunch. "I had no idea that breasts came in so many sizes."

"Like fish in the ocean," Lisa agreed with a grin.

"If I didn't know better, I'd think my evil twin set me up for this."

Lisa laughed. "You have to admit, it's pretty funny."

"Frightening, actually."

"Nothing happened?" Lisa asked, slightly alarmed.

"No, nothing silly like that," Melissa replied waving her hand. "It's just that some of the things these women want to buy, with their bodies, are frightening. I may be permanently turned off sex from this experience."

The peals of laughter from the doorway announced Marie and Judy. "Oh my," Judy said, trying to catch her breath, "I did say you were honest!"

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Melissa said, jumping up from her seat.

"Relax Melissa," Judy said, regaining her breath. "You've only said much the same thing most of us have said over the years. It's part of life in the retail clothing business. You see something of everything and not all of it is fun to look at. Now, are we ready for lunch?"

Chapter 12: Uncle Charlie

The first week turned into a blur for the girls as they moved from department to department in The Regency clothing store. Both were tired, but excited by how much they had learned in the process, especially Melissa.

"I can't believe this clothing," Denise commented as she took stock of their wardrobes. "However, I'm very grateful that I don't have to pay for it."

"Are you still okay with this," Lisa asked.

"Mostly," Denise told her as she winced looking at Melissa. "I have some news, though, that will put a crimp in this a little."

"What?" Lisa and Melissa asked at the same time.

"Uncle Charlie is coming to visit for a week."

"Uncle Charlie! When?" Again, in unison.

"He'll be here on Monday."

"Monday!" Melissa sounded alarmed.

"Monday. He called the other day because he was coming down here anyways and thought it would be a good time to catch up."

"Uh."

"Precisely," Denise summed things up. "I've picked up some clothes for you."

"What? I don't need any clothes."

"Yes you do. This is not the time for Charlie to learn about you, so you have to be what he expects."

"Why?" Melissa demanded.

"Look," Denise said, getting angry herself, "I've dealt with this situation as best I can, but I'm not ready to deal with it in front of our family!"

"I have to work!"

"Work around it," Denise insisted. "I expect Josh to greet his uncle on Monday. That's the end of this discussion." Denise stormed out of the room.

"What is with her?" Melissa demanded.

Lisa shrugged. "I don't know," she admitted, "but I'm going to find out."

*****

"You invited him," Lisa said as she faced her mother.

"What?"

"He wasn't planning a visit."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Denise insisted, but her expression indicated a guilty conscience.

"Of course you do," Lisa replied, her eyes flashing angrily. "We all love Uncle Charlie, but you brought him here to force Melissa to be Josh. Why?"

"I did no such thing!"

"I don't get it. Why are you fighting this so hard?" Lisa asked, sinking onto the couch and blinking back tears.

Denise regarded her for a moment. "You know Lisa you're very luck to be a twin. Your loyalties are so certain. Neither of you have ever stopped to consider me in all of this. How I would feel. What sort of pain it would cause me."

"We didn't think you would be this opposed."

"Neither did I. Not until everyone started talking about this 'Real Life Test' and Josh started working as a girl. I'm losing my child. I gave birth to a healthy, happy, beautiful baby boy and girl. I didn't give birth to two girls."

"You did, but you didn't know it," Lisa asserted.

"Do you think it's that easy? Do you have any idea of the hopes and dreams I have had in my head for you both? Hopes and dreams that materialized the day you were born? Now I sit here and watch them being torn asunder."

"Why are your dreams for us more important than ours?"

"What?"

"I think, Mother, that it's time you realized that we're human beings with our own hopes and dreams. They are not always the same as our parents."

"I know that," Denise said.

"So?"

"Uncle Charlie is coming and Josh will greet him. I've made up my mind on this. I think the real issue is that Josh hasn't had a male figure around to guide him. I think he has deluded himself into believing this thing and maybe Uncle Charlie can snap him out of it."

"Well, we know who is delusional around here," Lisa muttered.

"What's that?"

"Nothing."

"Don't get smart with me, young lady, I'm still your mother."

"Well, Mother, I've warned you. Don't blame me if you lose both Josh and Melissa."

*****

"Ugh, I hate this stuff," Josh complained as pulled the jeans up around his hips. "It only took a week for me to get used to the nice fabrics that Judy sells."

"It's only a week," Lisa offered. "We can get you dressed up at the mall before work."

"I hate this Lisa, why can't we just tell him and have done with it?"

"Mom. Well, and Uncle Charlie too. You know he's a "man's man" and all that. Eats nails and kills bears with his two hands. I don't know how he'd deal with it."

"I guess," Josh sighed. "Well, I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be."

*****

"So, Josh, getting involved in any sports this summer?" Uncle Charlie asked as he spooned another large mound of potatoes onto his plate.

"Too busy," Josh said. "Lisa and I are working this summer."

"Working? Well, that's the ticket! Nothing better for adding quality character in a man than working. What are you doing?"

"Selling clothes," Josh told him.

"Clothes?" Uncle Charlie asked, sounding a little disappointed. "Well, I guess that's city life for you. Out my way, the young men work on farms for the summer. Makes them big and strong."

"Not many farms in the city," Lisa pointed out, with a grin.

"That's true," Uncle Charlie laughed. "Pay me no never mind, Josh, a job is a job and it's good to see you getting one."

"Lisa works there too," Josh pointed out.

"That's good as well, you two do well together. Besides, it's good for women to get out into the workplace before marriage."

Lisa rolled her eyes.

*****

"This is a royal pain in the ass," Melissa grumbled as she put on the last of her makeup in the women's washroom.

"It's only a few days," Lisa reminded her.

"Easy enough for you to say, you weren't the one stuck in a suit on the way out the door."

"It would have looked funny if I was all dressed up and you weren't."

"Did I ever tell you how much I hated ties? There, done."

"Well, let's get to work."

*****

"Lisa, what's with Melissa today?" Marie asked, sounding a little concerned.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, normally she's really cheerful, but today, she seems kind of depressed."

Lisa filled her in on the situation. "My Mom is getting really difficult about this," she confided.

"I'll cheer her up," Marie decided. "You two are already getting rave reviews from the customers, so I don't want that to change."

*****

"Feel better?' Marie asked.

"A little, thanks," Melissa smiled. "It's just more of a pain in the rear, you know."

"I don't," Marie grinned, "but I'll take your word for it. Anyways, it's only a few days and then things get back to normal."

"Marie?"

"Yes honey?"

"Thanks."

"Why?"

"I don't know. Maybe for just letting me be myself."

Marie laughed softly and gave Melissa a peck on the cheek. "I'll tell you something, Melissa. Judy thinks very highly of you and she's developed a real mothering instinct where you're concerned. If things get rough, you call her. Okay?"

"Okay."

"Promise me."

"I promise," Melissa agreed.

"Good! Now get back out there and make our customers smile!"

"Getting!"

*****

"What's wrong with Josh?" Charlie asked as he sipped his coffee.

"What do you mean?" Denise responded, trying not to sound alarmed.

"He seems a little out of sorts," Charlie decided. "Maybe it's all of the female influence around him."

"Oh?"

"Hey, don't get me wrong, Josh is a good kid. Maybe it's just that he needs some time around men, you know?"

"What are you suggesting?" Denise asked, suddenly curious.

"Well, this new academy opened up near us."

"What sort of academy?" Denise sound a little suspicious.

"Military," Charlie admitted.

"Charlie, you know I'm not a fan of the military mind-set."

"Yeah, I know, but I think it might do Josh a world of good to spend a year or two there. Get him involved in manly things."

"I don't know," Denise hedged.

"Think about it, will you? I brought a brochure. They promise to turn out real men of honor and integrity. The heads of the academy come highly recommended."

"I'll think about it."

"Good enough," Charlie agreed, letting the subject drop. "Now, about that ballgame . . ."

*****

"Oh, I'm glad that's over!" Melissa said as she donned her business suit for the day. "He kept dragging me out to ball games, the park to toss a football, and whole bunch of other stuff. I think my nails are destroyed."

Lisa fell on to the bed laughing. "Oh man," she gasped. "That is the most stereotypical girl thing I think I've ever heard."

"It's not funny! Will you look at these?" Melissa demanded, shoving her hands in front of Lisa.

"Wear fakes," Lisa shrugged, still laughing.

*****

"Have you finished shopping?" Lisa asked.

"Yep," Melissa responded with a grin. "No snooping either!"

"I don't snoop!"

"Sure, and the sun sets in the east."

Lisa stuck out her tongue.

"Mom makes me nervous," Melissa admitted.

"I don't think she'll do anything too crazy," Lisa suggested.

Melissa shrugged.

"Carla and Susan'll be there, Mom will have to keep it on an even keel," Lisa decided.

*****

Denise winced as the collection of girls sang happy birthday. She had compromised and chose not to get a cake with names on it, instead settling for a "sweet sixteen" cake. Still, hearing "Melissa" ring out in the song made her feel just a little more depressed.

"Presents!" Carla shouted, hauling out her gifts to the twins. "I hope you two like these," she confided, "because it's pointless to buy you clothes now."

The twins tore into their boxes and triumphantly held up the gift certificates to a local spa. "Oh wow," Lisa commented, "I hear that they pamper you so much that you never want to leave."

"It's heaven," Carla admitted, a blissful smile appearing on her face.

The twins opened the other presents on the table, though Melissa stared rather bemusedly at the baseball bat her Uncle Charlie had left.

"That's quite the dildo!" Susan called as the others laughed.

"Susan!" Denise said, alarmed at the comment.

Susan looked contrite. "Sorry," she mumbled.

Denise brought up her packages and handed them to the twins. "Last, but not least," she said, a nervous smile on her face.

Melissa tore into her package first, so Lisa sat and watched with a curious expression on her face and her present balanced on her lap. It was the look on Melissa's face that caused her to stand up and drop the package on the ground.

"What's this?" Melissa demanded, not sounding happy as she drew the clothing from the box.

"It's a uniform," Denise supplied.

"I can see that," Melissa snapped.

"Don't take that tone with me! Uncle Charlie suggested that time at a military school might do you some good, bring you some perspective. I agreed with him."

"You what?!" Melissa shouted as the other girls in the room looked at each other.

"It'll be good for you," Denise tried to explain, sounding almost desperate.

"I will kill me!" Melissa screamed as she bolted for her room.

"How could you?" Lisa whispered, staring at her mother. Carla and Susan backed towards the door, still shocked at the scene they had witnessed.

"What?" Denise snapped.

"You unbelievable bitch!" Lisa snarled.

Denise gasped and slapped her. "How dare you! I'm your mother and I know what is best for both of you. Josh will go to this school and he will learn to be the man he should be. I've had enough of this nonsense!"

Lisa stared at her mother for a few seconds, holding her cheek, before whirling around towards her bedroom.

"Lisa! Come back here and open your present!"

"You keep it. I don't want anything from you right now."

Denise sank to the ground and grasped the opened present. "Why?" she cried, tears rolling down her face. "I just want my son!"

*****

Denise stood at the door of Lisa's room, holding the unwrapped gift in her arms. Lisa ignored her, staring out the window as she clutched a piece of paper in her hand.

"Where's Josh?" Denise finally asked.

"Melissa."

"Answer me!"

Lisa threw the wad of paper towards her.

"What's this?" Denise demanded.

"Your answer. I told you, I warned you."

"What do you mean?"

"Read it."

Denise smoothed out the crumpled piece of paper and began reading.

"Dear Lisa," Lisa intoned, "I have to get away for a while. I'm sorry. I can't deal with this at home anymore, but you will know how to reach me. Think about it. What a terrible birthday, huh? Not the sweet sixteen we dreamed of, is it?" Lisa turned and faced her mother, tears streaming down her face.

"I . . ."

"Don't say it," Lisa told her. "I told you and you wouldn't listen. You had to believe this was a phase, something that would go away."

"My Josh," Denise cried.

"No, Melissa! You won't listen to me, but I know my twin. I know Melissa better than anyone. You have to stop this. You have to. I won't let you drive my sister away from me."

"Lisa, I love you both. I love you very much."

"Then stop this!" Lisa shouted.

"I don't know how," Denise whispered, looking afraid.


 
To Be Continued...



If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
up
41 users have voted.

And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks. 
This story is 8167 words long.