Unintended Consequences

Chapters 1-12

First Half of Book

1988

John Marsh 4'6" 76 lbs

Elizabeth Marsh (John’s mom)

Suzy Stevens 4'8" 84 lbs

Jane Stevens (Suzy’s mom)

Judy (friend with pool) 5' 0" 95 lbs

Bill (John's brother)

CHAPTER 1

Okay, I was twelve but I was not stupid just sometimes I didn't think ahead. It really started when I was little, not that I was all that big right then. I was the shortest person in the sixth grade. I grew up in a household of guys. Girls were a mystery. A very attractive mystery but a mystery none the less. The only girls I saw besides my mom; moms don't count as girls, were at school and we lived in a rural area so there were no neighborhood girls, cause there were no real neighbors. My parents were friends with another family, the Stevens, and they had a girl that was my age and we were friends, but I didn't see her much. I guess to some degree she was the trigger. From when I was really small I was jealous of her. I don't know why but it just seemed that living in her skin was nicer than living in mine. I could never really put my finger on what I was jealous about in her life. We actually lived very similar lives. Both of our fathers were doctors, both of our mothers were nurses. We lived in the same community and went to the same schools. We both had an older brother that was four years older. Mostly I was just jealous for no reason I could see. At least I didn't see it until I was 11. It was the beginning of summer 1988 and our parents did their usual and shared a lake cabin for two weeks as a vacation. We could swim, fish, take the canoe or ride in the speed boat. Dad was even teaching us to ski a little but it was hard to hang on and I wasn't very good. That is really not what this is about. It is just that they had a sandy beach they had made in this cabin community that was for a roped off swimming area that had a lifeguard. Suzy and I were forbidden to swim anywhere else in the lake when our parents were not around to watch us. Suzy was the daughter of my parents’ friends. Well, we were taking a break on the beach because we had been swimming for over an hour and wanted to do something else. I had a little shovel and one of those plastic buckets that someone who came before us had abandoned or lost on the beach. I was making a castle with a moat and Suzy was helping and she was talking about the princess that she said lived in the castle and the beautiful horse the princess rode. I was getting up to get a bucket of water because we used that to wet the sand to make it drizzle down on parts of the castle to make these decoration things we did. I was rushing and instead of standing my foot slipped and I fell over and my shoulder hit Suzy in the chest. This produced a very large “oww” and I thought she was going to cry. I said I was sorry but she still got up and went running back to the cabin. I followed her trying to apologize and find out what was wrong but she didn't slow down and went straight into the bathroom and locked me out. I kept knocking on the door and saying I was sorry and it was an accident and I really didn't bump her that hard.

When she finally opened the door, she had her head down like she was feeling guilty or something so I said I was sorry again and that I didn't mean to bump her and it wasn't very hard. She said it still hurt a lot because, and then didn't complete the sentence. So I kept bugging her about that part until she blurted out it was because I bumped her newly forming boob and they were really tender. I said I didn't know and would be really careful in the future. It was then I noticed her swim suit had two bumps about the size of my mom's thumb. I was curious so I asked a bunch of questions. How long had she been growing boobs and did they always hurt and were they always that tender and on and on and finally the big one "Can I see?"

She said there was nothing to see they still looked just like mine only they made a little bump like a Hershey's kiss and then pulled on my nipple and said just like this. She didn't pull hard enough to really hurt but it got my attention. I said that was it was neat that she was getting boobs and she smiled and said she was happy about it.

Then I said something out of the blue, "I wish I could grow boobs.

"Why, you're a guy they would just laugh at you for having boobs?" Suzy asked.

I thought for a second and realized why I was jealous of her, "I guess because I wish I could be a girl.”

I can remember that for as long as I had known there were girls and boys I had wondered what it would be like to be a girl but I had never taken that to the point acknowledging to myself or anyone else that I wished I could be a girl. I am lucky I blurted it out to Suzy and not someone else. She was excited at the possibility.

She squeaked and hug me and said it was great and now we could be best friends forever and said we had to lock pinkies and swear since I was going to be a girl. I told her I didn't think that was possible she said I was silly, of course, I could be a girl it was just a matter of getting the right hormones and it was like somebody she read about in one of her brother’s naked girl magazines and she had asked her mother and her mother explained. I asked where we would get the hormones and she said leave it to her.

I did leave it to her in that I took no steps to find out how to be a girl but I sure did think about it a lot.

Two weeks after we get back from the cabin Suzy called and said I need to visit her and bring my swim suit and towel. Which I thought was odd since we didn't visit all that much except when our parents were doing things together. And she said to tell my mother it was for a swim party and I was to be her date. All very strange but I said okay and told my mother that Suzy had called and asked if I would be her date for a swim party. I told my mom I didn't know where or even exactly when but Suzy made me promise to ask my mom so I did. Mom said she would call Mrs. Stevens and find out the details and let me know and she thought it was very sweet that Suzy would want me for her first ever date. Later that evening I learned it was another girl in Suzy's neighborhood having the party and I would be dropped off at Suzy's the next day at 1:00 and Suzy's mom would get us to and from the party and mom would pick me up from Suzy's house because she had to work that day and Suzy's mom was off because she was on a different work schedule.

Wednesday came around and mom had me up early getting my clothes and swim suit and towel ready. She reminded me I absolutely had to be ready to go at noon because she would be missing work to come get me and take me over to Mrs. Stevens and she wanted enough time to grab a lunch snack. She wasn't out the door ten minutes when I got a call from Suzy. She wanted to know if I had a gym bag or something for my towel and swim suit. I told her that I had just wrapped the suit in the towel and she said that would never do. She had some things to give me and that I would need to sneak them home. I said what kind of things and she said things like I would need for what we talked about at the lake. I asked her what talk at the lake and she said she would be glad when I wasn't a dumb boy anymore. I said I wasn't dumb but she just said bring the bag.

I went up to my brother’s room to ask if I could borrow a gym bag. He rummaged through his closet and tossed me an old one of his that had the middle school name and mascot on it and said he didn't need it now that he was in high school so I could keep it. I thanked him and went to pack my swimsuit and towel in the bag.

I was standing in the drive, bag in hand at noon. Mom arrived within a minute of me getting outside. She thanked me for my punctuality but asked if i had permission to use the bag. I told her I had asked and John had given me the bag since he wasn't in middle school anymore. She smiled a kind of knowing smile and said she expected he would want a Wolverine bag for school when he started in the fall as that was the High School’s mascot. She said I looked nice and had I brushed my teeth which, of course, I had, and then asked if I would change at the Stevens or the other house. I didn't know and told her so. I was to check with Mrs. Stevens and to be super nice and on my best behavior with Suzy as first dates were super important to young girls and it was a particular honor that she had asked me. I said I would, as if I would be mean to Suzy no matter how strange she was.

Suzy snatched open the door and grabbed my hand dragging me in while waving to my mom. She shouted, "Mom, John is here I am going to show him where to change." she was dragging me up the staircase to toward the bedrooms and whispered, "There is a paper bag under the sink in the bathroom. Stuff it in your bag and put your clothes over it."

I asked what was in it and she just said to shut up and wait till we got to the pool. So, I went into the bathroom between her room and her brother’s bedroom and started changing. After my suit was on I opened the cabinet door and there was a small lunch bag style paper bag in the back corner. I fished it out and had to peek. In it were two bras and some girl’s underwear and a big bottle of pills called Estrace. I closed the bag as put it in my gym bag and put my pants over it. I put in my sneakers on top of that and pulled out my flipflops. It was only then I realized she had been talking about the conversation about wanting to be a girl. I put the towel over that and put my shirt back on. I figured with the shirt there was a good reason to take the bag with us and keep an eye on it. The idea that someone would find me with girl’s underwear was really scary.

Suzy grab my hand as I came out of the bathroom and whispered, "Get it?"

I just nodded and she said "Come on we don't want to be late to the party" and pulled me down stairs and with a shout of "We are headed for the car mom." we were out the door." Suzy hopped in the front seat and scooted to the middle an told me to get in too there was plenty of room as I sat next to her with the bag on my lap. She told me to put the bag over in the back. and asked if I peeked. I nodded and asked why the underwear. and she said I would need to get use to girl underwear if I was going to be a girl, which I guess made some sort of sense. About the time, I was going to ask about the Estrace the driver’s door opened and Suzy's mom sat down.

"Did you kids remember your towels?" Mrs. Stevens asked, "I am sure Judy's mom does not want to be washing towels for a week after this party."

We both acknowledge they were in our stuff in the back seat. And talked about school and it was neat Judy had a pool and what else we might do this summer as we drove over to the house. I was glad for the distraction because I my hands had been sweating ever since I looked in the bag. As we arrived at Judy's house her mom pulled up and reached over the seat for our bags.

I snapped around and grab them and said, "I will get them Mrs. Stevens."

I think she thought I was trying to impress Suzy with my politeness. In truth I was frightened to death that my newly acquired bras and panties might find some way to leap out on their own.

As we walked to the gate in the backyard fence we could hear other kids laughing and splashing. As we entered I could see I was a bit out of place. There was one other guy there. It was Judy’s little brother and he was in an inflatable wading pool set up near the sliding glass doors to the house. The rest of the people were girls. I whispered to Suzy, "Are you sure it is okay for me to be here? This is all girls except for her little brother.”

"Of course, I am sure. I told her you were already coming over when she invited me and couldn't come without you." Suzy projected a smile of self-satisfaction. "I thought it was really the only chance I would have to get you your stuff for a long time and we want you to be able to start before school so when things really develop you can hide them under winter clothes,"

Suzy was a great planner who thought things out to the last particle, or at least she thought she did. Sometimes she overlooked a few things. Nothing bigger than an elephant but sometimes a few of elephants got by due to her enthusiasm. On rare occasions the stampedes would prove nearly fatal but that is another matter for a different time. I would mention that chasing baby geese because they are cute and someone wants them as a pet without first confining momma goose is an extraordinarily painful oversight. Putting that aside I thought it was okay to be there and put my bag under a chair on the side of the pool and put my flip flops and t-shirt on top of the bag. Suzy spread her towel out on the chair next to me and put her stuff in that chair. She immediately ran and jumped in the pool.

I was about to follow when Judy popped up, "Stop, Stop John. You know the rules."

"What rules?" I was completely confused.

"Suzy, you didn't tell him?" Judy's smile was tellingly large.

"I might have forgotten." Suzy said doing her best not to giggle and failing.

"Forgot what, Suzy?" I did not like the feeling of this.

"It really is nothing John. They just don’t allow gender discrimination in the big pool, and so if you are old enough that a girl has to cover their top then you have to cover your top to get in the water, That is all." was her weak response.

"No problem," and I grabbed my t-shirt and started to put it on.

"Sorry John t-shirts won't do," Judy's grin seemed even larger if that was possible, "they get see through in the water."

I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't be able to swim but said okay and put the t-shirt on and sat on the chair where my stuff was located.

"John are you not coming swimming?" Judy called.

"Sorry under your rules I am stuck out here." I said,

"Why we have bunches of tops and swim suits in the pool house go see for yourself." Judy pointed to the little building opposite the house at the end of the pool.

"You have tops for guys?" I questioned having never seen a top for a guy,

"Sure we have tops for whoever wants to swim with us." Judy's smile was shark like in the shivers it caused me, but I thought I could at least look. Inside I began looking around but it was pretty obvious there was no such thing as a guy top for swimming. I held up multiple cord and triangle contraptions that were clearly designed for girls. I held up something that I think was made like a sport bra when I heard the giggles behind me. Judy and Suzy were both there.

"That doesn't match your suit John." Suzy observed.

" I don't think we will have anything to match that suit." Judy chimed in. "Perhaps a one piece would be best."

"Are you kidding?" the panic was rising in my voice. "I would become the target of every bully in school as soon as that got out. I wouldn't live through my first trip to the bathroom."

"Don't be silly, John. We would not tell. You have been our friend since we were in preschool and you Suzy's best beau." Judy added.

"You and Suzy I trust but there are at least 8 more girls out there. You are going to get me killed." my voice was almost squeaky I was so tense. I was looking around for a place to run because the fight or flight stuff had kicked in and I didn't see anyone I could fight.

"Come on John", Suzy pleaded, "we will get the other girls to promise and we will call you Joan and with your long hair no one will notice."

"Suzy you planned this, didn't you?" I accused.

"Well, a little cause Judy told me about the rule when I said you would have to come with me for me to come and I really wanted to come to the party." Suzy looked a little ashamed as she spilled the beans. "I didn't think you would mind all that much. It is just a silly swimsuit and almost everyone here is wearing one,"

"Almost everyone here is a girl, Suzy." I was truly heart broken, "I thought I could trust you."

"Well you’re almost a girl,” she popped up, “I mean it is what you want. I thought I was doing you a favor." Suzy blurted.

"Johnny wants to be a girl for real." Judy squealed, "That's wonderful can I help."

The shock of Suzy telling was more than I could take. My legs went limp and I sat in a T-V Indian manner put my face in my hands and began to cry softly. "Suzy you were supposed to be my friend and now you have told them. You tricked me and you told them." My tears became a flood even though I was not crying out loud and I was exhaling hard to avoid making noise; just a silent sob. I could not begin to control my crying. I felt Suzy come sit beside me and put her arm around me and then Judy was on the other side doing the same thing.

Suzy's voice was soft and weak, "Honest John I would not do anything to hurt you. I just wanted to help and make you happy. Telling Judy was an accident but Judy is nice she won't hurt you either."

"It is ok John", Judy chimed in, "I really won't tell anyone if you don’t want me too. Then she added, "but if we don't leave here soon my mom is going to notice and then the cat will really be ‘outta’ the bag."

The shocking idea of a parent learning brought me back to the present. I was able to gather my wits and slow my silent sobs enough to say, "You two go back out. I am going to the potty and close the door. I will be out in a little bit."

When I was finally able to settle down I went to the bathroom in the pool house and washed my face and tried to see if it looked like I had been crying. It did. Mostly it was the red eyes. I grabbed my towel and went out and found an empty lounge chair and spread the towel on it and turned it toward the sun and stretched out to like I was trying to get a tan. That way I could close my eyes so no one would notice the red. Suzy called out a couple of times but I just waived her off. After about thirty minutes I felt someone sit on the side of the chaise.

In a very small voice I heard, "I guess this means you don't want to be my friend anymore, doesn't it?"

I thought about it for a second and said, "No we are going to be friends forever, we promised. It does mean you hurt my feelings and I am afraid to tell you things."

You could almost feel the dejection in here voice, "I am so sorry John, I won't ever again tell anyone anything you share. I hope to die swear."

I didn't want Suzy feeling bad especially on her first date ever. I remembered my mother’s warning so I told her it was ok and I just need a little time to calm down. About that time Judy's mother announced a snack was available and called us all over to the picnic table they had on the patio. She had put out chips and things and a giant bowl of M&M's and some other little candies. We all just kind of shuffled around picking up stuff for our paper plates and as I was reaching for the scoop for one of the candies another girl asked, "John, aren't you going to swim today?" It was Carol the only girl in the 6th grade to have serious boobs and not bumps.

"Maybe in a little bit. My stomach has been feeling funny today." I tried to make an excuse.

"That time of the month?" Carol giggled.

Suzy immediately jumped in, "Ew, don't be gross Carol that is not something to talk about in front of a boy particularly my boyfriend."

Carol, "Is he really your boyfriend?"

"Of course, why else would I have invited to this swim party?" she retorted.

"I don't know I heard you trying to make him wear a girl’s swim suit. I don't think a girlfriend would do that to a boy she liked." was Carol's response.

"It was just a joke and he didn't do it did he? Besides girls have to cover up their chests it is only fair that boys do too. They are all the same." Suzy interjected.

Carol broke into an evil grin, "Well yours are anyway even if some of us have already matured." poking her chest out just a little further.

"Having the biggest boobs in the sixth grade doesn't mean your mature just that you got your hormones first." was Suzy’s reply.

A truly mature voice came from the sliding glass door of the house, "Young ladies talking about body parts and hormones is not fit discussion for mixed company." It was Judy's mom. "Now, let's settle down and behave like young ladies."

That was the last of the conversation between Suzy and Carol. They kind of went to their respective corners.

Suzy and I were sitting beside each other eating our chips and candy and drinking our sodas. "Why did you tell her I was your boyfriend?" I asked.

" ‘Cause I promised I wouldn't tell anyone you were my best friend forever girlfriend didn't I and I didn't want her picking on you." there was a bit of a snort on the "her" that kind of added a ring of finality to that line of thought.

I said thank-you and diddled with the stuff on my plate a little and then asked, "Are you ready to swim again?"

"Sure we can do that." she said as she stood.

Judy recanted on the had to have a top rule and I calmed enough to lounge in the shallow end of the pool.

Suzy swam over and asked in a small voice, "Did you see the other stuff in the bag?"

"Yes what is in the bottle?" I asked.

"Girl pills, I told you I would get them for you." she looked at me like I had asked the stupidest question ever.

I remembered her saying she could get what I needed to be a girl but I was still confused, "What do you mean girl pills? What are they exactly?"

"They are girl hormones. They keep you from developing as a boy and let you develop as a girl. It is the same thing her body produces that gives Carol those big boobs. We talked about it at the lake."

"How many am I supposed to take and how long do I take them?" I blurted out and at the same time wondering what I would do if I took them. I mean it sounded scary to change.

"The lady in the magazine said she had to take two a day, one in the morning and one at night for the rest of her life. That bottle is enough for almost a year." Suzy beamed.

"What happens when I have big boobs people will see and I will get in trouble." I stammered.

"Well, I thought this is what you wanted, besides it takes years for boobs to get full size. I guess if you see them growing and get afraid you can just quit taking the pills and they will go away. The girl in the article said she had to take them all the time. I guess that is so she won't go back to being a boy." Suzy surmised.

I felt kind of bad that Suzy went to all the trouble to get them and then I was trying to chicken out, so I said Okay and would start with one tonight before bed.

Suzy wanted to know why I was waiting and didn't just take one in the bath house. I could not think of a good reason so I said okay and got out of the pool and grabbed my bag and went to the bath house. There was a bathroom there so I went in and took out the bottle and the lid was on tight. I thought it never would open. Finally holding it between my knees and twisting with both hands it broke free and if it wasn't for the wad of cotton at the top I would have spilled them all over the floor. I fished out one blue tablet and put it in my mouth and stuck my hand under the sink and washed it down. Put everything away and went back to the pool.

On the way home Suzy was all smiles.

CHAPTER 2

After that Suzy and I talked a lot more. I would call her almost every night. We mostly talked about dumb stuff and what we did or saw that day or what someone else did. If I was sure absolutely no one could hear me and Suzy was sure no one could hear her, we would talk about the girl pills. At first nothing happened but Suzy explained it was a slow process and would take years to complete so I just kept taking the pills and checking things.

I think the pills made me cry easier. After six weeks, it was hard not to cry sometimes over silly stuff. I figured that had to be the girl pills because girls seem to cry more than boys. Toward the middle of August, I had been taking the girl pills for 7 weeks. It was Suzy's birthday and her mother had decided to throw a girl/boy birthday party for her and I was invited. Mom made me wear long pants even though it was summer and a nice shirt with a collar. It was one of those with a horse or a dragon or alligator on it.

Mom and I had showed up a little early cause mom had promised to help get the party ready. As soon as we got there Suzy's eyes got big and she grabbed my hand and shouted at her mother, "Mom can I take Johnny up just to show him my new boom box and tapes?"

Her mother shouted back "Sure but you know the rule. The door has to stay open."

As she dragged me up the stairs she yelled back, "Okay mom."

As we got to her room she scrambled for a tape and started playing "Heaven is a Place on Earth" with a pretty good volume.

She then turned back to me, "Are you crazy I thought you did not want your parents to know yet."

I was shocked, "I don't, what are you talking about?"

She pointed at my chest and said, "Look at your shirt, there will not be a girl here today that doesn't know what those bumps are."

"What bumps?" I said looking down and then I knew. It was just likes Suzy's swim suit two months ago. Two little kisses puckering the front of my shirt. "What am I going to do? Everybody in our class will be here today." I was nearly in a true panic.

Suzy: "Go in the bath room there are band aides in the medicine cabinet they will hid them. They are still really small."

I ran for the bathroom without comment. The band-aids significantly reduced the appearance of the bumps but did not eliminate them completely. They also were not exactly comfortable. After I got my shirt back down I took a close look in the mirror on the back of the bathroom door. They didn't quite look like boobs but they did protrude just a little. Suzy said it was good enough no one would notice but we would have to come up with something better for the rest of summer. It was only three weeks till school started and then we would be wearing heavier clothes.

I want you to know they may have been little but they gave a whole new meaning to tender. Heck sometimes just my soft pj shirt caused them to hurt. I mentioned it to Suzy and she just said she told me that at the lake when I bumped her chest. I said I was sorry again cause this time I felt seriously bad about that bump. The least little thing and the nipples swelled like a sign screaming check under my shirt. It made me nervous all the time. Suzy kept telling me they would eventually get soft and settle down and not be so noticeable but they were having none of that.

By the start of school, I was really self-conscious about my little bumps. I was spending all my time with my arms crossed. Suzy said I had to stop. That was more obvious than the bumps. It was still too warm for sweaters but I was really careful picking shirts for school when we did the annual school clothes shopping trip. No knits, I only chose heavier cotton shirts that were just a little bit too big. Mom appreciated that in that she said I would grow into them over the year. By October the weather had cooled enough that I could wear sweatshirts and sweaters. I was amazed that I had made it that far without being caught.

Early October was my first real crisis. I was walking in from school when mom announced, "Go strip down to your underwear. I need to measure you for your Halloween costume." Mom always made my costumes for Halloween.

I was in a complete panic. I was trying to by time and figure something out, ”Hang on mom, I want to call Suzy and see what she is going to be so I can figure out what costume I want to wear."

"OK but hurry up I want to get this done before I have to start dinner."

I ran for the phone in the den, "Hi Mrs. Stevens is Suzy available I want to ask her about her Halloween costume."

"Sure Johnny, I will get her hang on." I could tell she put her hand over the phone but I could still hear her, "Suzy, Johnny is on the phone asking about your Halloween costume, are you planning on trick or treating together?"

"I don't know momma but I will get it." she responded.

" Hi Suzy I just wanted to know what you were wearing for Halloween cause when I got home mom said to strip so she could measure me for a costume." I said trying not to let on in case mom was listening. The kitchen was the next room and the door was open.

It is nice that Suzy is really smart and she caught on immediately. "I don't know Johnny maybe I will be a ghost; like just an old sheet with holes or a princess, it depends on what mom wants. Maybe if you were a ghost or a wizard or one of those kinds of things you would only need your shoulders and height."

I felt instant relief, "Oh thanks that is wonderful I will let you know what mom picks in a just a second." Shouting, "Hey Mom could I go as Merlin the Magician? I think Suzy wants to be sleeping beauty or a princess or something."

"Sure, honey that will be fine," Mom shouted back, "Tell Suzy and come back in here."

My relief was almost visible in the air around me. Come back in here meant I didn't have to get undressed so I had a chance. I ran back in the kitchen, "I will call her back as soon as you are finished." I told my mom

"Ok then hold your arms out wide and I can measure your chest." she said.

My relief from moments before evaporated, "Don't you just need the shoulders and length?" I asked.

"I guess that would work for a wizard’s outfit." she responded, "Is something the matter, Johnny?"

I lied poorly, "No, I just got whacked hard playing kickball and my chest is sore." This was not the thing to say to a nurse/mother. It immediately pushed all her buttons.

She started pulling my shirt up from being tucked in my pants, "Did it bruise? Do we need to look after it?"

I was pushing her hands down, " No mom", I whined, "it didn't bruise, it is just sore, I am not a baby, I don't need fixing."

"Well, you're my baby but as long as you’re sure it is ok," she smiled and gave me a gentle hug and pat on the shoulder before releasing me, "Turn around honey and I will measure your shoulders."

Two quick measurements and she said I could go play. I was so relieved it was all I could do not to break down in tears. That was another thing. Over the last month I had to fight not to cry at the drop of a hat. It was crazy. They would have some really cute little puppy on tv advertising dog food and I would think how sweet it looked and start to tear up. Nobody cries over a dog food commercial. I was talking to Suzy and she just said it was part of being a girl and I would have to get used to it and learn to control it better.

The next day Mom found some heavy blue fabric that had a kind of fuzzy finish. I think she said it was velvet. She also found some kind of fabric that was kind of silvery and reflective. She cut stars and moon crescents and other shapes and sewed them on. She said she knew the wizard in the cartoon didn't have those but she said with the darker fabric and the way it hid my shape she wanted something that would reflect headlights so I didn't get run over by a car when we went trick or treating. I really liked it. It was soft and smooth and felt nice and it had big floppy sleeves that were widest at my wrists and narrower at the shoulder. It almost reached the ground and I could imagine it as a dress really easy.

Suzy and I worked out that she and I would go trick or treating in her neighborhood. I told mom and she said that was fine and we would have to make sure the costume was up to standards for mixed company. She said we could get the final touches the next day which was Saturday.

There was this kind of strange store in town that looked like a junk store but as near as I understand the owner would go around and buy up stuff from stores that were going out of business. Mostly it was clothing and shoes but they had the occasional toy or tools and once even an above ground swimming pool. It was a weird collection. Anyway, my mom loved shopping there. She was looking at shoes and I was messing around looking at stuff in bins when she called me over.

"Johnny try these on." holding out a pair of girl’s boots that were fairly short and the leather folded down at the top.

"Mom those are girl’s shoes. I can't wear those." I protested.

"They are called pixie boots and they would be perfect for a wizard." was her response. Mom was big into good costumes. "And use these instead of your socks," handing me some thin very short pink socks, "thick socks will make it hard to tell if they fit right."

I tried to act reluctant but said, "Okay" They actually fit nicely but had a little heel that made them a little wobbly.

She smiled and said, "Perfect but I think you might have to practice just a little before Halloween to get used to the little heel. Do you want them?" she asked. "They would do a lot for your costume."

I think I might have been little over energetic in my response, "Yeah, that would be great, mom." I stood looking down as my ankles went back and forth in different directions.

Then my mother really surprised me, "You know all the wizards in the cartoons had really long hair do you think we should get you a costume wig to finish the look?"

"I don't know I think I would get teased at school if I did that." was my response.

"You could just tell them you were a young Merlin so you haven't grown your beard yet." she smiled.

I tried very hard to keep my voice calm and slow as I said, "Okay if you think so."

I think I failed to hide my excitement. She told me to pick up my shoes and come on and took my hand and we walked to the back of the store. On the back wall were some things that looked like ladies’ heads that had different wigs on them. Most of them had blond hair and lots of curls. Mom said that was because curls like that were the popular style so they end up in the left overs when a store closed. There was one with long straight hair that was almost the color of my hair but it had straight bangs across the front. Mom said it was too bad about the bangs cause otherwise that would have been the perfect wig and made noises about giving up on finding a wig since at a regular shop they were very expensive.

Seeing the wig about to become history I blurted, "Can't you do something to hide the bangs so I can wear it for my costume?" Clearly I was more enthusiastic about the wig than was appropriate for a boy of eleven.

Mom kind of turned her head with a concerned look and said, "I think I might be able to do something with it. Let’s take it down and try it on."

It took a couple of tries to get the wig fitted. There were some elastic straps inside at the back that had a kind of hook thing to let you make it tighter or looser. Once she decided that those were set right she tried adjusting the bangs so they kind went off to the side behind my ears and bringing the other hair forward to cover it. She told me to look up and then smiled and said, "Yep I think you will be happy with that look."

I could not suppress the smile that spread across my face. She took my hand and we walked over towards a long mirror. I looked and was astonished. Even with my jeans and t-shirt the wig and the pixie boots were enough to make me look just like the girls in my class. I don't think anyone would think I was a boy. I was beaming so much I started to feel scared that it screamed that I wanted to be a girl. It was a reasonable fear. I think that was when my mom figured out that at the very least I wanted to wear girl clothes cause what she did next shocked me.

"Well, Johnny I guess we need to get those to complete your costume." We went back over to the place where the wigs were and she selected the Styrofoam head that the wig came from and went back to the area where the shoes were and got the shoe box for the pixie boots. "Go ahead and put your regular shoes in the box, you are going to need to practice to get use to the heels and hair and it will be easier this way." I was in shock all the way to the register.

Mom put the box and the foam head on the register and said, "She wants to wear these out if that is okay."

I thought I would pass out when she said she. Then she stopped in the middle and said "Hang on I want to get just one more thing," taking my hand come on honey you need to help pick this." We went to the area with tops and mom scanned really quickly and pulled out this pink sweater that had a kind of belt above where I would normally wear a belt and then flared out from the belt in a kinda ruffle that came down another 4 or 5 inches from the belt. She held it up to my back and then turned me around and pointed at the dressing room and said, "Go try this on."

I was stuttering, "Mom, I can't wear this."

"You most certainly can. You need to get use to those heels and all that hair and it will be a lot easier if people think you are a girl, so just go try this on so I can see if it fits." her tone was more stern than I expected as she pointed to the dressing room.

I was really confused. I was also seriously scared. I was afraid my mom knew about me and this was a test or something, but I was not about to disobey her. That was not done in our house so off to the dressing room. I took off my shirt and pulled the sweater down over my head. The hair got all messed up as I pulled it down and the bangs came loose from behind my ears. I snugged the belt a little and walked out. I was scared spit-less. I looked for my mom and she was around on the next aisle. I really didn't want to walk over there cause then I would be visible to everyone in the store.

She waved me over and as soon as I was there she held up a black skirt that seemed to flair a lot and had pink trim along the bottom that matched the color of the top. "Here try this on. Those jeans just don't look right with that top." handing me the skirt and pointing to the dressing room again.

I did as I was told. I was so frightened I almost got sick coming out of the dressing room.

"Come over here so I can see," she said as I emerged, "Now spin around and let me see."

There was a smirk on her face as I spun back to face her, "Come here honey." and she leaned down raising the blouse she began to spin the skirt around my waist as she whispered, "Skirts like this have the zipper in the back not the front you have to check where the label is to be sure. Now step back again and let me see."

I know I must have been a little pale at that point because I was feeling woozy. This was all going down so fast I just could not seem to keep up. "Mom, why are we doing this?" I asked honestly confused.

"Well, the truth is I think the shoes and wig will help your costume and I really do think you need to get use to them before Halloween. I don't think you can do that without creating a big scene dressed as a boy, is the biggest part of why and the second part is I thought you and I were having a whole lot of fun doing it and I like having fun with you." She put a hand on my shoulder and the then kneeled down a little and hugged me close and leaning me back sighed, "If you're not having fun we can stop." she paused and added, "Do you want to stop?"

I wanted to lie and tell her I hated it but after the hug and the kindness in her face I could only tell her the truth, "Mom, it is fun but it scares me a lot. I am so scared I am almost sick. What if someone I know sees me?"

"Well, then I think I can fix that. We can just do our shopping where no one knows us." and she smiled broadly and said come on bring me your pants and we will go shopping down in Atlanta. She pulled the tickets off the sweater and the skirt and took them forward as I went for my jeans. By the time I caught up she already had my shirt and shoes in the bag and was paying for everything. I handed her the jeans and she put them in the bag as the clerk was making change.

The clerk looked at me closely as she made change for my mother which made me very nervous, "Young lady that would be about the smartest outfit I have seen come out of this place in a long time. If you just had some leg warmers you would be right out of a fashion magazine."

My mother looked down at me smiling, "Jeanie thank the lady for the nice compliment."

I took the hint and kind of mumbled, "Thank-you ma'am." and ducked my head and stared at my little pointy-toed boots.

"They are so shy when they start developing and give up being tomboys." the cashier had a big smile as she addressed my mom, "Come again, and honey give it another year and you are going to just knock the boys out with your looks." she said to me.

It was enough to send me running out the door and the clerk and my mom laughed.

I had scooted way down in the seat of the car by the time mom had caught up.

As we backed out mom said, "Sit up and lift your bottom off the seat and reach behind you and sweep your skirt forward or it will be so wrinkled up in the behind that it won't cover your bottom by the time we get to Atlanta."

I said yes ma'am and complied and then asked, "Where did Jeanie come from mom?"

"I couldn't call you Johnny without attracting a lot of attention and I needed some name and that one was close and I thought I could remember it. Is the name ok with you if you're dressed as a girl?" her tone was not stern but you could tell she really wanted to know how I felt about the name.

I thought about it seriously and said, "I guess dressed like this it is a good name and close enough I think I will remember to respond." I completely missed the thought in her statement that there might be other times when I would be dressed as a girl.

As that was settling in another thought came to mind, "Mom, what are we shopping for in Atlanta? We already got my school clothes."

Mom smiled, "For girls shopping doesn't mean buying it just means looking at things and trying them on so you know what looks good and what is a bargain. It is something we can do that will make you walk a lot and deal with your new hair, enough that I think you will be ready for Halloween. Besides l bet your going to find it is a lot of fun. It is not at all like boy's shopping."

CHAPTER 3

In Marietta we stopped in the Kmart and mom told me to wait here a minute she was going to get a couple of things and call dad to tell him she was taking me shopping in Atlanta. She came back a few minutes later with a small bag of things, set them on the seat between us and said, "Okay, when we get back on the road I want you to scoot down below the window and put those things on in the bag."

"What are they?" reaching for the bag.

"Just panties, a camisole and leg warmers." she said nonchalantly.

"What, why do I need those, no one can see my underwear." I objected.

"We are going shopping. You will be in the ladies dressing rooms. You don't want to cause a stir if someone gets a glimpse. It is just safer this way." she added.

I started to scoot down and was sliding my underwear down when a pick up came up on our right. That old man had the strangest smirk I have ever seen. I immediately sat up fully and pulled my skirt down, "Mom, that old man in the pickup looked at me really funny and it made me feel really weird the way he looked at me."

"Oh honey, I am sorry I should have warned you. A girl has to be careful wherever she is. Doing something that triggers the sexual attraction of a man can be quite uncomfortable and even dangerous." she explained.

"But mom, I am eleven that man had to be at least forty years old. How could anything I do attract him?"

"The truth is some men don't seem to care anything about the girl except that they can have their way with them, not age, not if they like them, not anything, it is just about sex to them." she taught.

" Yuck, you mean that man was thinking about having sex with me?" I asked astonished. "That's gross."

"It was not appropriate for him to have those thoughts about someone as young as you but that doesn't mean sex is gross it just means it has a right time and a right place and a right person and he wasn't any of those things." she explained.

"I am going to get in the back seat where I can get down in the floor board to change if that is ok?"

"Just be careful crawling over the seat as to who can see your bottom. Skirts don't offer the same amount of modest movement as pants." she smiled.

I looked around till mom giggled at the level of my caution and then I scooted over the back of the seat.

I changed into the panties and arranged my skirt lying on the floor board. They were a softer cotton and thinner than my briefs but they came up higher. It felt unusual but I liked it. They were different but nice. I pulled the camisole from the bag and looked at it. I could not figure out the front. I looked for the label. That was no help it was on the side but I didn't know which side.

"Mom, how do you tell which way this top goes on the label is in the side not in the center of a panel?" I asked.

"Oh, well things that don't have the label in the back usually put it under your left arm. Give that a try." she responded.

"And what about the adjustments on the shoulder straps?" I added.

"Those you slide up to take up space till you get good coverage without the camisole rubbing under your arm. You just want something to be sure your not flashing your breasts and to protect them from rubbing." she said casually.

"Mom, I don't have breasts." I objected.

"Well, where you think they would be if they were developing. Just make sure that you got it up enough to be comfortable and not rub you with any hard seams or scratchy lace. It hasn't been washed so the lace might be a little stiff." she informed.

Somehow I knew a lot of girls my age were likely to have had this conversation with their mothers. The thought of that made me really happy. As I changed I removed my band-aids thinking that in this outfit it would really not attract attention and it was always more comfortable to be without them. I pulled the sweater down and tightened the belt again so it rested at the waist of my skirt and removed the leg warmers from the bag. They were pink, lavender and black bands repeating top to bottom. They were just tubes and didn't seem to have a top or a bottom so I just pulled them up one leg and then another. Got my boots back on and looked around like an owl in a panic till I saw no cars approaching and scooted back over the seat and adjusted my clothes.

My mother looked me over carefully, "That looks wonderful, dear. You might want to try scrunching the leg warmers down so they top out below the knees about half way up your calf.. I think that is the style they are worn in these days. Just cover your ankles up to where you think they are stylish."

I immediately adjusted the leg warmers to meet her description. Seated the top of the skirt almost reached my knees but the back rode up so that my legs were on the plastic seat even though I had pulled it under with both hands. I commented to my mother, "Girls clothes don't keep you warm like boy clothes." I said, "the seat is cold on my legs till it gets warm and then it is sticky."

"You get to where you don't notice and there are warmer things you can wear when it gets colder. You can try on the other things when we get to Lenox and see how you like them." she responded.

I felt a pang of guilt at that, "Mom, are you embarrassed about me being dressed like this? I am embarrassed that you see me dressed this way."

"No honey I am not embarrassed, you are sweet caring person and my child and I love you and am happy to be having fun with you. They are just clothes and they are fun clothes at that and I don't get to go clothes shopping just for fun these days. This is a real treat for me and I appreciate your willingness to accommodate me." she replied as she patted my leg. “But if you’re really uncomfortable and want to stop I don't want to force you to do anything that makes you unhappy so you can just tell me and we will get somewhere you can change. Is that OK?"

"Okay mom if it gets too scary I will tell you." was all I could say and I went back to looking out the window.

We pulled into the parking lot of Lenox Square and went up and down the rows till mom found a parking space she thought was perfect. It was near the entrance to Rich's, which was the largest department store in the mall. As the engine was turned off I could feel myself shaking and it wasn't the cold.

Mamma gave me a little hug and said, "You okay sweetie. Are you ready for a fun shopping trip?"

CHAPTER 4

It felt warm and safe next to her. I took a deep breath pulled away and reached for the door handle, "I am as ready as I will ever be." and stepped out of the car. A small breeze chilled my legs and blew some of the hair back around in my face. Mom came around and took my hand and lead me toward the door to Rich's. As we stepped in there were clothes everywhere and in the center of the aisle ahead was a counter full of jewelry. As the door closed she moved me over to the side and took a brush from her purse and kind of straightened my hair. She was particular about the bangs and tugged the wig in the back just a little till the bangs didn't reach into my eyes but covered my eye brows.

Mom turned me towards the mirror on the wall next to the exit and said, " There nice as new. Come on I actually want to go to cosmetics. As long as we are here I need to get some foundation."

She was looking at the label on various bottles of a kind of flesh tone liquid and I asked her, "What does that do?"

"It is foundation it smooths out your skin tone so you don't show blemishes and your skin has a soft smooth appearance."

I was confused again, "Why do you need that your skin is smooth and soft already?"

"As with everyone I am getting older and my skin is not as smooth and soft as yours and I want it to be, so I hide the spots and pores with foundation. It makes me feel prettier." she said with a smile.

"And everyone wants to be prettier." said the clerk that came up behind us.

I nearly wet my panties and jumped two feet at the start of discovering there was someone close enough to hear our conversation.

"Oh, goodness I didn't mean to startle you dear." She smiled at me, "Now is there anything I can do to help you ladies."

"I was just looking for the light foundation, the sand is a little dark for me in winter," Mom replied.

"Oh, that is right here the clerk said reaching down the counter toward me." she picked up a bottle, "and have you seen our new line of lip gloss. It is a little more colorful than our previous gloss but still just as shiny."

"Do you have some that would be age appropriate for my daughter", Mom smiled, "Nothing too showy you know."

The clerk stepped around the corner and brought out a little jar and a brush. "Turn your face up dear so I can show your mother." and as I did she brushed this gel like stuff on my lips.

My reaction was to reach up to wipe my mouth with my sleeve. My mother saw and reacted before I could get to my face grabbing my arm and saying, "Jeanie, don't wipe your mouth with your sleeve this is not the barn and we are not shoveling hay for the horses." The clerk and my mother laughed at this admonishment. I hung my head with embarrassment as my mother added, ”She spends too much time at the farm and not enough with her friends, hard to clean the tomboy out of them when they play with horses in a barn all the time." With that she lifted my chin and smiled at my face then kissed me on the head.

I blushed like a Christmas light.

"Come here dear." the clerk said and patted a high stool next to the counter and a light and mirrors were there. I looked at my mom for some kind of rescue but her look told me it was not coming. I carefully got on the stool and tried to make sure my skirt was under me. The clerk brought out another tube and pulled a funny brush from it and told me to open my eyes wide and look at my knees which I did. She lightly brushed my eye lashes. They felt odd kind of heavy after that. She then ran a very soft brush over my cheeks. It smelled nice but I couldn't really tell what it did. Finally, she pulled a mirror on this arm contraption around in front of me and said, "See dear, we can all look just a little prettier even when we start out as pretty as you."

Mom smiled at me, "What do you say to the lady, Jeanie?"

As cued I said. "Thank-you ma'am. That is nice."

"Do you think she is old enough for her own gloss, mascara and blush?" the clerk asked mother.

"That might be appropriate, when do most girls start?" mom asked.

"The gloss we get very young even 7 or 8 in the light pink shades like your daughter has. The blush and mascara in shades that don't stand out tends to be between 11 and 16 depending on the family. Just depends on how you feel about it as a parent." she responded.

"Let's just go with the gloss I wouldn't mind her using that regularly but I think it might be a bit early for the other except on special occasions and the shelf life of the mascara is just not good." was mom's reply.

The lady went off to ring up the mom's foundation and a gloss tube. I was busting to ask mom a question but after being scared by the lady before decided to wait. I hopped off the stool and went over to stand close to mom. I guess it made me feel more secure. The lady brought back a little paper bag and handed it and the credit card to my mom.

Then thank-yous all around and we started walking toward the side of the escalators. Girls are a lot more polite and talkative than guys I was learning. There was a sign next to the escalator that had a map of the store with labels of what sold where. Mom said we needed to go up a floor. As we stepped off mom herded me to the right and pointed to a sign that said Junior Miss in fancy letters with little hearts and butterflies on it.

I was about to bust, "Mom, I whispered, why did you buy that gloss, when would I ever wear it?"

"Well, you’re wearing it now and you will need to refresh before we leave here and besides getting my first lip gloss was a really exciting and fun thing when I was a young girl. I wanted you to have that experience." she smiled. "Didn't you like the way it made you look in the mirror?"

I just kind of nodded okay and kept walking to junior miss.

We spent the next half hour looking at outfits and having them held up against me and talking about what might look good. By the time we had gone for thirty minutes mom had six things on her arm. "Let’s find the dressing room Jeanie and see what looks nice on you" and she turned toward a back wall.

I knew it was coming but I guess I forgot because it really surprised me. Mom lead the way into the room with a row of dressing booths. We went down to the one at the end that was bigger than the others and mom stepped in with the clothes I was supposed to try on and didn't come out. I waited on her till she said, "Come on silly, you can't change in the hallway."

"Mom I'm too old to change with you here." I protested.

"Don't be silly, girls try on clothes together all the time. Besides you might need help with some of these back zippers I know I do." she chided.

I remember my band-aids or lack thereof.

"Down to you skivvies dear we got clothes to try" mom beamed. Holding out a lavender dress with white up and down strips she said, "This will be fun let's try it first."

I looked at it carefully, It had a giant bow made out of the same material as the dress on the front left side and little puff ball sleeves that just covered the shoulder out of a thinner material you could sort of see through. It had a collar like a shirt but it was shaped different. The collar laid flat instead of standing up and the ends were rounded not pointy and even though it notched in the middle like it was two pieces coming together but instead of a button up front there was a zipper in the back. I asked her why they made the collar like that and mom said it was just for looks and was called a Peter Pan collar. I loosened the belt on the sweater and then reached under and tried to undo the skirt.

Mom pushed my hands away, "Here let me help. Takes getting used to, to do things behind you instead of in front."

I stepped out of the skirt and picked it up and put in on the little bench that was in the room. Then I pulled the sweater up above my head and put it on top of the skirt. This kept me facing away from mom so she couldn't see my bumps. I was trying to figure out what to do next when mom said, "Put your hands straight up in the air."

I did as I was told and almost instantly the lavender dress began to descend down my arms. I don't know what the fabric was but it was soft and light and felt nice. Mom tugged on the back of the dress and I heard the zipper moving up. She stopped for a moment and gathered my hair or the wigs hair and kind of put it over my left shoulder and then finished zipping up the dress. She then then kind of fluffed my hair back so it was mostly straight all the way around except where it was divided on either side by my shoulders.

"Time to turn around and let me see how it looks." stepping back to admire the dress. "Oh with some lavender tights that would be a perfect outfit for church."

"Mom, I'm not going to church dressed like this." I raised my voice in near panic.

"Shhhh. People will hear. It is just make believe" she whispered. "Do you want to step out where there is a mirror that lets you see yourself from all sides. Mom opened the door without waiting for a reply and then began shushing me out. We walked the length of the dressing room and near the entrance there was one of those things where they have three mirrors with the ones on the side kind of turned in so that when you stepped in the middle you could turn a little here and there and see yourself all around. I was actually surprised when I stopped to notice my image in the mirror. I didn't think anyone would think I was a guy. I actually looked like one of the girls I would call cute. I turned a little and could see from one mirror to the next how I looked from behind. It was then I knew that it wasn't just Suzy talking, I really could be a girl. Taking the girl pills wasn't a pretend game it was for real.

I guess my joy showed too much cause mom Immediately spoke out, "See dear, even you have to admit you look very pretty in that dress." That set off the red glow in my face so fast mother laughed, "Well, you’re not going to need any blush for a long time if every time someone says you're pretty your face glows bright red." This did nothing to help the color leave my face. Even that did not stop me from admiring myself in the mirrors. I liked what I saw but I don't think it was vanity so much as just real surprise that I could fit the image of a girl so well.

"Come on Honey we go lots of other things to try before we head to lunch." taking my shoulders and leading me away from the mirror.

As we went back into the dressing room my mood dropped, "Mom, guys aren't supposed to look so much like girls as that, are they?" I whispered to her.

Mom slide my clothes to the edge of the bench and then sat down and indicated for me to sit next to her, "Honey until your twelve to fourteen the big difference in boys and girls is the length of their hair, the clothes they wear, and if they stand or sit in the potty." She pulled me close and hugged, "You don't need to worry that you won't look like a guy when your hormones kick in you will certainly be all guy."

"Hormones?" I asked.

"Yes”, she explained, “one of the big differences in boys and girls is the chemicals they produce when they start to become adults. Those chemicals are called hormones. Boys produce one group of chemicals that make you grow big and strong and have beards and for some of you even go bald when you get old. Girls have a different group of chemicals that make them develop wide hips and breasts and keep them smaller than guys for the most part."

"Do people ever make the wrong hormones?" I asked.

"Well not really, you see everybody has all the hormones it is just that boys produce a lot more of a hormone called testosterone than girls even though girls have a little of it and girls produce a lot more estrogen than boys even though boys have a little in them." I could see she was in nurse mode so I just listened. "There are some people who have their hormones get out of whack but that is rare. It is not uncommon for there to be some issues during puberty because your body is being flooded with hormones and that requires both mental and physical adjustment. Some boys begin puberty by developing slightly protruding nipples like a girl who is going to develop breasts but that normally goes away after a few months and then they develop as perfectly normal guys. There are some girls who develop unusual amounts of body hair or facial fuzz for a little bit but that usually passes quickly. You don't need to worry baby you are going to be just fine." and she hugged me tight to her.

It made me feel good but worse it made me feel so good I thought I was going to cry. Geeze, that was scary. I knew that was the girl pills, but I was also so relieved to know that even if mom saw my bumps she would not think it was anything out of the ordinary. I kept trying to distract my thoughts so I would not cry and it seemed to be working.

I don't know why I said it but it just came out almost a whisper, "Mom dresses feel strange but they can feel nice."

Mom just smiled and said, "The strange goes away when you wear them enough. If you wear them enough you also find they offer their share of problems. Everything in life is a trade-off, you get one thing and have to give up another for it."

I don't know why but that settled me somewhat emotionally and I stood up and said, "One of the tradeoffs is you can't get dressed alone. Can you help me with that zipper? I asked and mom laughed.

After that we tried on lots of outfits including pants. I had thought about it but girl’s pants are not like guys they tend to be pull on and made with stretchy materials. They feel more flexible. They also can stick to you and show bumps. I admit mine is still small but Mom and I both agreed dresses and skirts were a better choice for out in public.

We actually made two more trips to the clothing racks and the dressing room before we finished at Rich's. I tried on soft things and stretchy things and thick woven fabric that had lots of texture. I even tried on a very fancy dress that mom said would be for a fancy dance at a country club. She called it a princess dress and said every girl wanted to feel like a princess at least once in her life and that was why wedding dresses were so important. I was back in my original outfit as we were walking down the mall when mom saw something she liked in a window. We were instantly detoured into this little shop called Claire's. Mom asked the clerk something and went to a rack of earrings.

She found the pair she was looking for and then went to another rack where they had small purses. She picked a mostly pink one that had a long strap and on the flap that closed the purse there were cats eyes and on the body of the purse was a cats mouth smiling. It was funny but I liked it. She paid for the stuff and handed the lady the card the earrings were on and the paper that filled the bag and we stepped out of the store. She turned me toward her and put the bag strap over my head and one should so the bag hung at my side and then began fidgeting with my ears. I felt something press on one ear and reached up to feel what it was.

"Don't do that dear the earring is just held on with a magnet and will fall off if you’re not careful." mom advised.

"Earrings? They were for me?"

"Sure, she held out a little pink and lavender butterfly, see they go perfectly with your outfit." and she proceeded to put the other earring on me. She opened the Rich's bag and took out the lip gloss and put it in my purse. Got a couple of tissues from her bag and put them in mine. "There you are complete." she said with a hint of pride in her voice, "Are you ready for lunch." We were walking towards the area where there were food places and then she detoured again.

I realized we were headed for the Ladies room. She leaned down and whispered in my ear, "Just remember to sit, girls can't stand. Oh, and make sure the back of your skirt is out of the way it is real embarrassing if it gets wet hanging into the potty. Girls lift their skirts not drop them like guys do pants."

I saw it was almost just like the guy’s bathroom only there were no wall urinals and there was a couch in one corner which didn't make sense to me. I went to the last stall hoping to be as far away from other people as I could. I made sure the door was locked and tried to follow mom's instructions. It actually was not hard except I had to reach under the skirt to point things down so I didn't spray out the front on to my skirt. I am embarrassed to say I listened around me. Ladies seem to spray louder than guys. It is like it is a bigger stream or something hitting the water so it sounds slightly different. This worried me because I was afraid that someone would notice I didn't sound right. I used a bit of tissue to kind of clean things up because I couldn't stand up and shake it dry like I usually did. I stood up and was pulling my panties up and realized that fiddling with it with the tissues had made it stand up and it clearly was not a girl part and would show. I could not figure out anything that would make it go away. Finally, I figured out I could push it down and point it backwards and trap it between my legs. It wasn't all that comfortable but at least it didn't show. So, I held it there by holding my legs together tight and then pulled my panties up tight and they held it in place. I brushed my skirt down and it didn't show any more so I flushed the potty and took my purse off the hook and stepped out. My mother pointed to the sink and started using the one next to me.

"Everything ok?" she asked.

I looked around and saw no one else was in the restroom and softly said, ”I had to clean up with tissue cause I could not stand and shake so it made it stand up and it wouldn't go away. I finally pushed it between my legs and held it there with my panties so it would not show." I finished washing and grabbed a paper towel.

As I threw it away and started for the door mom said, "Jeanie you need to refresh your gloss." and motioned me back toward the sink.

I looked in my purse and got out the tube of lip gloss. I unscrewed the cap and it came out with a long rod that had a funny brush on the end that looked a lot like the one the lady used on my eyes but wasn't anything like the mini paint brush she had used. I was studying it trying to figure out how you did this without getting stuff everywhere on your teeth and tongue when mom took the brush and then stood behind me.

"Look in the mirror and open your mouth slightly and hold your tongue back from your lips." she reached around and began gently going over my upper lip with the brush. "See how I try to match the base of the bristles on the wand with the line of your lip rather than trying to draw with the tip. This is a lot easier to control so you don't smear it everywhere. Now put it back in the tube to get more gloss and you do the bottom lip." handing the brush back to me.

I took the brush and did as instructed and thought I was doing ok till I got to the edges where the top and bottom meet. Then I got some on my cheek.

Mom took a tissue and cleaned it up, "You have to open your mouth a little wider when you get to the edges to avoid that." Then folding a tissue several times, " Open your mouth and just close your lips down on the tissue a little without scrunching up your mouth to blot up the extra gel so it doesn't get messy."

She demonstrated on her mouth and then folded her lipstick prints to the inside and handed me the tissue. I did and was surprised at how much gloss was on the tissue and that my lips didn't feel as gooey. I also noticed that the gloss had a strawberry smell which I liked. Mom reached in her purse and produced the brush which she used to straighten my hair a little.

"I believe we are now presentable for luncheon." she smiled and began to direct me out the door.

I put the brush back in the tube and put it in my purse and headed back to the main corridor of the mall.

As we walked toward the store mom started talking about the outfits and the day, "Which outfit did you like best?"

I thought about it a while and said, " I think the lavender and white striped dress I tried on first." I immediately reddened having admitted to my mom I preferred one dress to another.

Mom smiled at my embarrassment and then added, " I think that was the best one, too. What was it you liked about it?"

I kind of mumbled and stalled trying to think of an answer that wouldn't give away too much of how I feel.

Mom went on, "You know I like some things for how they feel and others for how they look and a few for how they make me feel about myself when I wear them. Can you tell what it is that made you like that dress above the others."

I finally summoned the courage to say, "I guess it was all those things."

"So what about the dress felt good?" she was not letting go of this conversation.

" I guess because it was so soft and airy and when I moved it fluttered enough to kind of tickle my legs." was an honest answer, "I thought that was kind of neat. And I guess I liked that I thought it made me look pretty cause of the way it added shape to my body so I didn't just go straight up and down."

"What about how it made you feel about yourself?" she asked.

I didn't really know how to answer that so I just told her the truth, "It made me feel pretty and I didn't even know I could or wanted to but when I looked in the mirror I saw a pretty girl and thought that was nice."

"Everybody likes to feel good about themselves and being pretty is just one thing they can feel good about." she said as she placed her hand on my shoulder, "I think it is why so many girls love fashion they can buy that feel-good feeling at least for a moment. They forget it wears out faster than the clothes and they will need to buy something else as soon as that happens or the fashion changes."

We came to the food court and mom asked, "What strikes your fancy young lady?"

I immediately said pizza but she said that wouldn't work and asked me too look around and see what the other girls were eating. Some of them were eating salad and some just a burger. I was surprised at how many just had yogurt cups. "Mom, how come they don't have real meals?"

"Being pretty for a girl is not just fun but in its own way it is important and one of the things that hurts being pretty these days is being fat. So, most girls are very careful about what they eat. They don't develop all the muscles boys do to burn up fat so it is important for them to be careful."

"That's too bad I like pizza and things. Girls sure miss out on a lot."

"Not really, they get pizza and things they just have to be careful about when and how much. Now what do you think we can pick that would be good but not stand out? "

"Maybe the Chinese some of the girls are eating that."

"Ok we can split a dish but something healthy no sweet and sour, too much sugar."

We sat down to enjoy our Hunan chicken, "Little bites dear, big bites are not lady like and they don't let you truly enjoy the food. and try to let your lips stop closing just a hair off the fork so you don't mess up your lip gloss." she instructed.

We slowly enjoyed our meal as mom told me about how things were when she was my age. How girls almost never wore pants and even shorts were pretty much a beach only thing. How she had to wear a skirt or a dress every day to school and white gloves and a hat to church. Girls rarely did things with boys unless they had their parents there and your parents were always with you when you went trick or treating. I thought it was all pretty weird so I asked her why and she asked me if I remembered the old man in the truck. That gave me a cold shiver but I understood.

When we finished eating Mom opened her purse and pulled out a round thing that had a mirror when you opened it and passed it too me, "Check your lips and if you need to fix them" she said.

It was obvious that the center looked much plainer and duller than the sides so I opened my purse and got out my gloss and went about trying to do what mom had showed me. I wasn't as accurate as mom but it was pretty good. I blotted with tissue and mom reached for the tissue and said, "Let me see that." she made a little point with the tissue and licked it wet and cleaned up the areas when I was not quite accurate.

"yuck" I objected you're wiping spit around my mouth.

"As many times as I kiss you in a week and taste your food and a thousand other things I am sure you have all the germs I have so I think you are safe. Besides spit does a great job of cleaning up bad makeup." there was almost a giggle in her tone as she said it, "There, back to being the prettiest girl in the room."

That softened my distress more than it should as we headed off to Davidson's the other big department store in the mall.

CHAPTER 6

Again, we went to Junior Miss and their things looked a whole lot like the things at Rich's but this time we went into what mom said was the casual section. She selected some things that looked like stretchy pants and a few other items and it was off to the dressing rooms. I wasn't nearly as nervous this time. She told me to take off my skirt and handed me a stretchy pair of pants. I sat down and started trying to pull them up. This did not work well. They were stretchy but they were also tight and as I pulled at the top that didn't so much move up as just let the top part get longer. Mom just smiled.

"There is a trick to that honey." Mom said, "Slide them back down but don’t take your legs out." Mom bent down to demonstrate, "Now kind of bundle it all up at one leg and then pull it up when you can feel it start to resist you let out a little more fabric and keep moving up. Now you won't be able to get to the top cause the other leg is still caught at the bottom. Now, you try the other leg."

I did as she had showed me and it came up even higher than her side but was not as smooth.

"Now switch sides and see if you can get it to come up to your waist and just go back and forth till it is on evenly." she worked to smooth out the leg I did. "These are dance pants so they are really easy to move in but you need to wear a skirt over them as they show a little too much to be worn without one."

I think the extra squeeze by the dance pants held things out of sight even better than the panties. I walked around in the little changing room. I was surprised. I expected the tight fabric to pull at me when I moved but it didn't tug or restrict me in any way. I understood why they used this for dance rather than pants or shorts. They were really comfortable. Mom laughed when I did a couple of squats to see how much movement they offered. I just said "Wow that feels different. They don't pull on you at all like jeans or something."

Mom inspected me closely, "We might want to get those as they keep everything well hidden." she added, "are you comfortable like that?"

This struck me as odd but I just said yeah and I think I gave her a confused look because I was confused. I put the other outfit back on and mom gave a quick brush to my hair and we went back out.

We were back where the stretch dance pants were located and mom was going through them and holding them up to my outfit. She asked if I preferred the ones that stopped above the knee or the ones that came down mid-calf. She explained the mid-calf were warmer and would keep my legs from sticking to the car seat. I just nodded okay and she went back to selecting and comparing. She finally found a pair that she said went well with everything I had so far. They were basically all pink and we were off to the cashier again.

As soon as they were paid for mom removed the tag and handed them too me, "Go ahead and put these on. That skirt is so short I think you need them for modesty’s sake. I don't know why I ever let you get out of the house looking like that."

I knew some of that was for the clerk but I couldn't figure out why mom wanted to spend all this on a one day wearing and the day was half over, but, I did as I was told. I came out and mother and the clerk were both smiling at me. I am sure mom had been spinning something about her daughter.

I was about half way from the dressing room to the clerk when I heard mom say her thank-yous and start walking toward me. She took me over to the mirror on the wall and said, "Now, that is a complete outfit. Don't you think you look excellent?"

We stopped in Casual Corner but I got the feeling that was mostly stuff that mom liked. I didn't try on anything there. Then we went to Merry-Go-Round.

Tried on jeans and tops and a couple of skirts there but we didn't buy anything. I thought the stuff there was better than the previous store. We didn't purchase anything at those stores. Next stop was The Limited and finally Kenny's Shoes. I thought it was odd going to the shoe store because this was supposed to be all about getting use to the shoes I had on but in we went. Mom used one of those slide things to measure my feet and went down the row looking at different things. I tried on something she called Mary Janes and something she called ballet flats and finally she came back with these shoes that had silly tall heels and said I should try them on and try walking in them just for fun. I thought I had gotten use to heels but this was really different. The toes were so pointy they made my feet look two feet long or at least they did to me and the heels were so tall I thought I would fall on my face. I only wore them for a second and the had to sit down. They also scrunched my toes till they hurt when I stood in them. I don't think I would wear those even if I was a girl. And I told mom so. Mom just laughed and said girls put up with a lot to be pretty and fashionable. I was lucky I wasn't old enough to experience waxing or brow shaping. She explained that they did things to rip your body hair out so it didn't come back for weeks. I thought that was crazy and said so. She just smiled.

She explained in matter of fact way that girls did what it took to look pretty because it was usually how they were judged and not on if they were nice or smart or any of those things. I thought that was stupid to and said so and she said she was glad I saw that and smiled and gave me a little hug. After that we went back to the food court and we each had a glass of iced tea with artificial sweetener.

I was tired and asked if I could slip my shoes off cause my feet were sore. She said that would be alright but make sure I had them close so I could slide them back on when we got up to leave. We talked about my costume a little and about going trick or treating and she asked why this year I was going with Suzy. I just said it was because we were friends and we liked hanging out together. She smiled softly and said it was nice to have friends you could be with. Shortly we got up and headed for the car because it was near 4:00 and mom wanted to beat the traffic. I was surprised it was that late. I told her I did not think we had spent that much time shopping. She just smiled. When we got to the car we put the bags with the little bit of stuff we had bought that I wasn't wearing in the back seat.

As we backed out mom put the car in drive and asked, "So how was your day as a girl with her mom?"

I was speechless. I didn't know what to say. I had never expected mom to ask me that. I stuttered and stammered and finally got out, "It was okay."

"Just okay?" she asked, "I was expecting it to make a bigger impression than that. Did you enjoy it?"

After a couple of nervous moments, I finally said, "Yeah, I was really scared at first but after I mostly forgot I was being a girl it was nice. I never figured shopping could be fun but it was." I also noted girls had a lot more to deal with in clothes and shoes and make-up and it was all a lot to learn.

Mom just said, "It is not all that much because girls started when they are young like you and then it all kind of gets picked up naturally. Plus, like guys talk about cars and things girls talk about clothes and make-up and things like that. You just learn over time from your mom and other girls."

"I think it starts younger than me cause Suzy already seems to know that stuff." I said contemplatively.

"Oh, you and Suzy talk about that a lot?" Mom asked.

I knew I had slipped with that so I immediately said, "No she just seems to mention those things all the time even when we are talking about other things."

"What things are those." mom pushed further.

"You know things like what color princess dress to get to go with my Merlin costume and what make-up she is going to wear with it. Stuff like that." I tried to turn mom’s attention away from that, "so how come we bought all this stuff if this was just for today to learn to wear these shoes?"

"I thought if you had fun and you were comfortable enough we could do it a couple of more times just to make sure you had it right and were not going to trip in the road." mom said calmly.

"Really, you don't think that is weird?" I asked.

"No, you don't want to be clumsy and get hurt trick or treating, do you?" she asked.

"Okay, I guess it would be okay." I responded.

"Then we will plan to use my days off to get you ready to trick or treat." she smiled.

I guess I was too young to see that she suspected something then but I was secretly pleased. I guess it showed more than I knew, but that was for later. As it was I was excited to be able to learn about being a girl and to get ready for Halloween with Suzy.

Mom started talking about make up,” When you get home I want you to wash your face good. I have some eye cleanser that will remove that mascara without making your eyes sting. It is not good to leave makeup on overnight. It can irritate the skin and that promotes infections. Plus, I think your brother Bill might tease you more than a little."

She went on to explain how some cosmetics contained things like oil or fats and could grow bacteria so it was not a good idea to buy them and store them for long periods of time. She said that lipstick, mascara and eyeliner were the most often a problem with mascara and eyeliner being the worst because of the danger of eye infections. She explained that was why she didn't buy the mascara and then added that I was still too young to wear anything more than lip gloss on a regular basis.

She didn't say a thing about me being a boy. She went on exactly like I thought a mom would talk to a daughter. She explained that too much makeup at a young age sent the wrong message to people especially boys. That it was better to approach makeup slowly. To watch girls in class and see what most were doing so you didn't stand out as being too available. I wasn't sure what she meant by available but I think it was about sex.

We continued to talk about fashion and clothes and things for most of the ride home. Every now and then I would feel uncomfortable that I was having this conversation with my mom. Somehow it didn't feel right, but I was enjoying it. She talked about mixing and matching colors and textures and how different things did different things for you. Like deep v's made it look like you had a long graceful neck and things like that.

She laughed and told me how skirts got so short in the 60's when she was young that it became very hard not to show your panties if you did anything but stand up and when you sat down there was little chance it wasn't going to be cold on your bottom.

As we passed Marietta she said I might want to scoot over into the back seat and put on my regular clothes before we got home. I said ok and checked around us carefully and then jumped over the seat. With the dance pants, it was harder getting undressed. When I popped back up and started over the seat mom laughed and asked if I wanted to show the wig to my brother. I had gotten so comfortable I forgot to take it off. I ducked down again and slipped it off.

"I think you might be happier if it was a Genie costume rather than a Merlin." Mom commented.

My stomach did flips and I stuttered a little and finally got out, " It would be fun but I think I would get teased too much at school when the others saw me."

Mom just smiled and nodded, " Get the tissue out of your purse and start wiping your lips. We will do the mascara as soon as you get home. When your done put all the clothes in the bag. Fold them nicely so they do get all wrinkled and put the wig on the foam head so it doesn't get messed up."

As soon as I told her it was all done I hopped back into the front seat. It was strange but we did not have any more conversations about the costume or fashion or going shopping or anything. As soon as I was back in boy form we started talking about school and Suzy and other things. She asked if Suzy was my girlfriend and I just said she was my best friend and didn't tell her we were pinkie swear friends. She did say we looked cute together since we were both about the same size.

She then looked over smiled and said, "You keep working on that Bee Gees look and you won't need the wig to be Merlin in a few more months."

I asked, "Do you think dad would mind. Do you think it would be okay at school?"

"Well your dad was a long hair in college so I think he would understand but I can't tell what would happen at school. I guess we will just have to see what happens if you keep growing it out."

I could not detect any hint about how she felt by what she said or her tone.

On mom's instruction, I immediately went to the master bathroom when we got home. Mom came in just a couple of seconds after me with the clothing bags and showed me the eye cleaner and some wipes to use and then left saying she would be back in a second. I was just finishing wiping my eyes with the little kind of wet tissues when she came back. She checked my face and then took a wash cloth and a gave me a general face wash. She was very careful to dab around my eyes rather than rub. Pronounced me perfect and said I need to go to my room and put my stuff up. I went to the room figuring she meant the shoes but as I came in I saw both the bags of stuff from the days shopping.

I took the shoes out in their box and put them in the closet and was trying to figure out what to do with the rest when mom leaned in, "Just hang the outfit in the right corner inside your closet and handed me a strange hanger that had a kind of a wire trapeze hanging down and on the trapeze were two metal spring clips. I started to yell out to mom about the hanger when she shouted back, "the clips hold up the skirt." I draped the dance pants over the rod above the thing with the clips and then put the sweater on top on the regular suit hanger part.

I stuck it all in the back corner of my closet and pushed stuff in front of it. I thought this would give the least likelihood of being found. That left me with the purse and the underwear. I ran back to mom to ask what to do with the underwear and she just said to put it in my second drawer with my regular underwear and explained that no one was likely to be looking through my underwear. and hang the purse on the hanger with the outfit if I didn't think I would need it sooner. I knew she was teasing me but somehow it felt different, but I did that. I also got out the stuff that Suzy had given me and put it with it thinking it would hide there as well because it was under the stuff mom bought and at the very back. I figured eventually under my mattress was not a good thing.

When I finished, I went back to the kitchen and was standing around and mom asked if I wanted to help with dinner. I think that may have been the first time she had asked that but I said sure. She told me to get the kitchen step. It had two steps. I pulled it up next to the cutting board. She handed me the onions and a bell pepper and told me I needed to slice and chop them. Handing me a large knife she started to explain how that was done. I did the pepper first. It was ok but by the time I finished the onion I was crying like a baby and my eyes stung something awful. Mom told me you can do that under running water and it won't sting so much but it was too late. I knew what they were talking about in all those cartoons now.

She took the onions and peppers from me and put them in a skillet with some oil and then added chunks of garlic she had squished with the side of a knife. She told me l had to stir it occasionally to make sure nothing burned and gave me a wooden spoon. While I was stirring, she fixed meat balls and began to brown them in another skillet. When they were brown all around she put them in my skillet with the vegetables. I had thought my skillet was too full but the stuff really shrank down while cooking. Mom said that was cause both onions and peppers had a lot of water in them and that the cooking steamed it out. I continued to stir and Mom went to the pantry and got a large jar of spaghetti sauce and poured in my skillet. She told me to stir it one more time and put a lid on it and turned the heat way down.

"Now we just let that simmer till the men come home and then we start the noodles. They only take eleven minutes so we get the water hot but don't put them in till your father is home. Otherwise they get mushy." she advised. She filled the largest pot we had with water and put some salt in her hand and dropped it in the water and then turned the stove eye on high.

I asked how she knew how much salt to use and she said to cup my hand. I did and she poured the salt into my hand making a little mound, "Move that up and down a second. Can you feel how heavy it is? Can you tell how big the mound is in your hand?" she smiled and said, "That is how much you use. As your hand gets bigger the mound is shorter but it is still a mound and when you are checking the noodles to see if they are done you also taste them to make sure there is not too much or too little salt."

At that point she sent me off to watch tv and wait for dad and Bill. The evening news was on so I grabbed the phone and went to my bedroom. Dad was always one of those people who liked the newest gadget so he had bought a cordless phone with two phones as soon as they were available. I really liked it because I could go to my room and talk privately.

I immediately called Suzy. Her family hadn't eaten yet either. She thought her dad and mine were out doing something so she figured they would both be home around the same time. I started telling her about my day. I was very quiet cause I didn't want mom to know that I was willing to tell Suzy. There were lots of OOH's and Ahh's and an occasional 'oh my god' from Suzy and finally she said, "That sounds like just the best day every for you. So, was it everything you dreamed about?"

I thought for a second and said, "I don't think it was anything like I dreamed about but it might have been the best day ever. I had fun and even when I was scared it was nice and mom was really special and all the people treated me nice and mostly it made me feel good to be me."

" I knew you were a girl in your heart." Suzy said. "So, are you going shopping again with your mom?"

I told Suzy I did not know but I thought so.

She asked about what we bought and I told her and she too was surprised at the complete outfit and wig but then she asked if I got a night gown. I told her no and she said she would fix that on Monday. I told her she didn't need to cause I would not get to use it and she asked if my brother or father ever came into my room to wake me in the morning or tuck me in at night. I told her they didn't and she said then I could sleep in anything I wanted as long as I changed to get in the shower in the morning. I told her again I thought it was dangerous to get the gown but she said I was being a wimp and she would take care of it.

Sunday was mostly uneventful. I went down to the barn and got two of the girl pills for the day from their hiding place. I always got two so I would only need to make one trip to the barn each day. I would just stick one in my mouth while I was in the barn and put the other in my pocket. They were a little hard to swallow without water so I would just let it rest under my tongue until it dissolved or if I could when I got back to the house I would get a glass of water. It wasn't bad letting them just melt under the tongue. They didn't taste bad just a little hint of sweet and kind of chalky as they dissolved.

I would usually carry my bb gun to the barn with me. I could plink a couple of tin cans I had set up in one of the old stalls. I did get a bit of trouble this time as I was wearing my Sunday clothes and mom was afraid they would get messed up before church. I did have one odd thing. I was aiming the bb gun at the cans and I heard something. I swung the gun around figuring it was a mouse or rat and just barely touched the right nipple with the stock and a really sharp pain with through there. I had them protected. Each one had one of those really large square bandaids over it so I was surprised. I had been getting some pains just at odd times from one nipple or another but I thought that was just boob growth cause it really just started when I had been on the girl pills for a month and I got the little chocolate kiss bumps. After Sunday dinner, I went to the bathroom and took the band aid off one of the nipples and looked at it closely in the mirror. I think the dark circle around it was a lot bigger and the bump filled the circle so it was bigger too. I turned sideways and it kinda looked like I had a pancake on my chest with a strawberry in the middle. I pushed on them and they were just kind of fat except the bumps which were really tender. I put my bandaide back and put my shirt on and went back outside.

Dad and Bill were watching football and mom was reading the paper in the kitchen so I asked her if I could use the phone and went to my room to call Suzy. I guess they went out to Sunday dinner because no one answered at her house. I was lying on the bed with my hands behind my head thinking about the spots on my chest being bigger. I wondered if they would go back to normal if I stopped taking the girl pills. Thinking about it I looked down and there was definitely a little mounding going on. I decided I needed to stop taking them for a while or I was going to get caught. I took the extra pill I had in my pocket for tonight and put it under my mattress. I kept laying there and all I could think about was that pill under the mattress and then about going shopping and being friends with Suzy.

I kept thinking about being a boy and living as a boy and got sadder and sadder and finally I started crying and couldn't stop. I got up and got the pill out from the mattress and put it back in my pocket. I wiped my eyes and called Suzy's house again. This time she answered. We talked about my bumps and larger circles and she said that was part of being a girl. That women had bigger nipples and areolas than guys when they matured. She explained that areolas were the name of the darker circles of skin around the nipples. I asked if they always bumped out and she said she didn't think so. I asked how hers were developing and she said about the same as mine as near as she could tell.

She asked if my bottom was getting bigger and I told her I didn't know I had not checked. She said I should cause if my pants started getting tight there it was a sure sign the girl pills were working. We talked about the little phantom pains in the nipples that seem to come and go for no reason and how you couldn't sleep on your stomach anymore because they were so tender it would wake you up sometimes if you tried. I told her about looking and seeing kind of pancakes on my chest with a strawberry but even though they were bigger around I didn't think they stuck out as far and she laughed and said they would have me on the cover of a pancake house menu if I wasn’t careful. I told her she would be right next to me as two over easy. We both giggled and right in the middle of it I realized I was giggling instead of laughing. It stopped me cold. Where did that come from. I don't think I can ever remember doing that before.

CHAPTER 7

Monday came as always. At school Suzy caught up with me in the hall and handed me a paper bag. I asked what it was and she just said hide it in my backpack. I started to open it and she let out a loud whisper, "Stop!", and then softened the whisper, "You don't want anyone to see your nightie."

I tried giving it back, "Suzy I told you I wouldn't have a chance to wear it. I haven't even got to wear that other stuff you gave me."

"Well you need to start." Suzy whispered, "If you’re going to be a girl, you need to be a girl and not just play around the edges."

"I just don't want my parents to find out yet. I think they would go ballistic." I said.

"I don't think your mother would," Suzy relied, "look how she handled the costume on Saturday. She actually helped you be a girl for a whole day and not just a girl in your bedroom or your brain but out in the world."

"Yeah but that was just for the Halloween costume, Mom, is big on costumes." I replied.

"I don't think so. She did way too much for that to just be costumes, I think she sees you’re a girl inside and wants you to be happy." Suzy responded.

"I don't know," I squirmed, "I just want to make it to summer and then I will have three months to work it all out. Besides that, was the plan we agreed to."

"I don't remember us saying anything about waiting until next summer. You just said you wanted to be a girl and I said I would help. So, I am helping but you aren't being a girl." she argued.

"I am taking the girl pills and letting my hair grow and have been shopping as a girl. I can't do more than that yet. You're not being fair." I could feel the tears filling my eyes.

Suzy, saw I was about to bawl and immediately put her arm on my shoulder, "I'm sorry I didn't mean it I think you’re doing great. I just wish it was faster so we could play more and go shopping and have slumber parties and things."

I told her thanks and wiped my eyes and put the paper bag at the bottom of my backpack. The timing was pretty good as the first school bell rang and there were starting to be more people in the halls. We started heading for our homerooms. We were both in seventh grade but we had different homeroom teachers so the only time we could see each other was before school, lunch and recess and maybe after school depending on the bus call.

At lunch Suzy's class got to the cafeteria before mine so Suzy was already at a table and Judy was sitting with her. Mostly guys did not sit with girls at lunch because it got you teased and the teachers seemed to disapprove. It was not really anything they said just the way they looked at you so I didn't try to sit with Suzy and Judy when I got my tray. I was walking to a table near Suzy when she jumped up and grabbed by arm and said to come sit with her and Judy and began pulling me to her table. So, I just sat down with her so it wouldn't cause a fuss for everybody to see.

"Hi Judy”, I had not talked to her since her pool party. I was still nervous that she knew but as far as I could tell she had kept the secret, "So what is so important that you needed me to sit at a girl's table Suzy?"

"Besides the fact you are a girl", she whispered and then in a normal voice, "Judy wants to know if she can trick or treat with us?"

"Ok, if she wants to but why are you shouting out in the cafeteria that I'm a girl?" I whisper back.

"I didn't shout, I whispered, and Judy already knows so she is OK." Suzy added.

Judy spoke up, " I haven't told anyone John. Honest. And the trick or treating is because I can't go alone and Suzy is in my neighborhood so we have almost always gone together."

"Okay so I said I didn't mind. I think it would be fun to have a group that wasn't boys trying to do mean stuff. Do you know what your costume is going to be?", I responded.

"I don't know yet. Suzy said you were going as Merlin and she was Snow White so I guess I want a Disney character too." as she clearly was trying to think of what to wear.

"You could be Cinderella." Suzy spoke up.

"I think John should wear that, a magic transformation." Judy smiled.

I was instantly angry and hurt, "Are you crazy. Don't say that especially not here."

"I was just teasing you." she was getting defensive, "you don't need to be so touchy."

"Judy, you know that wasn't nice," Suzy piped up then she whispered, "You know John is scared about people guessing."

"I didn't say anything that would let people guess that John wants to be...." Judy's voice was rising.

"Wait!" John shouted.

A teacher immediately walked up and asked, "John, if you can't talk in respectful tones to the young ladies you cannot sit with them at lunch."

"I'm sorry Mrs. Turner. Judy was about to talk about the costume I am wearing for Halloween and I am trying to keep it a secret and I was just afraid she was going to say something loud enough for other people to hear." I told the teacher, "I was trying to be loud enough that if she said that no one would hear her."

"Well, John you should know by now if you want to keep a secret you can't share it with anyone." the teacher admonished, "but, if you can't keep the noise to a polite level I am going to have to ask you to leave this table. Do you understand, John, this is your only warning?"

"Yes ma'am." I meekly responded.

Mrs. Turner said, "Alright then." and she turned and walked away.

This half of the cafeteria had gone real quiet after I had shouted out and everyone had stopped to watch the teacher get after me. Judy was kind of screwing up her mouth and looking down. I couldn't tell if she was trying not to laugh or feeling guilty. Suzy, I am pretty sure was just mad. I couldn't tell if it was at me or Judy or both.

As the room noise returned to normal Suzy spoke softly, "What is with you two, do you always have to fuss at each other?"

"I wasn't fussing, she was about to tell the secret." I too was being soft but the words sounded harsh.

"I wasn't going to say anything but Merlin." Judy's expression did not exactly follow her words.

"Okay but can we talk about something else while we are here? l asked.

Lunch was a lot quieter at our table after that.

At recess the boys were playing dodgeball with one of those large soft red balls that only schools seem to have. I was sitting on the bench because I had made sure the first toss at me hit me in the back. I didn't want to take a chance of being hit in the chest so I didn't try hard not to get hit. I just turned away as the ball got thrown at me and moved a little slower than I should.

Suzy came over to me on the playground and asked if I was still mad about Judy. I told her I was not mad just scared before and that I wasn't mad now. I also told her I thought if we keep talking about my secret at school it was going to get out and that I was going to be in real trouble. She agreed and promised not to talk about it at school and said she would get Judy to promise too.

I started to ask her promise not to talk about it with Judy too but decided that would just cause trouble. I did ask her if she would make Judy promise not to talk about it at school and if Judy did talk about it with Suzy, even on the phone, she would do it where no one could hear her. Suzy said she would get Judy to swear. Things stayed calm for the rest of the week. I talked to Suzy on the phone at night but it was almost all about other things.

Friday, mom told me that Bill and dad were going to get their hunting licenses and look at guns early Saturday. I was too young to get a license so I told her there was no reason for me to go with them. She said she would tell Dad and she and I could find something to do tomorrow cause he and Bill would go from the hunting supply place to set up their tree stands and would not be back until late that night. I said ok and went back to reading a book on my bed.

A couple of minutes later mom stuck her head in, "If you want to practice again tomorrow you need to put your light out and get to sleep cause your dad and Bill will be leaving out at six and I want you to start getting ready as soon as they are gone. I want to go to the discount malls near Chattanooga." and then ducked back out and closed the door. I was glad I had gotten extra girl pills from the barn because I was getting afraid that mom was noticing I was going there almost every morning.

I set my book on the table and cut my light out. It was only then I heard mom walk away down the hall. That was when I started thinking that might have been a test so mom could know what I really wanted. I began to worry that I should turn the light back on so she wouldn't suspect or that since I think she already suspected she wouldn't know for sure. I kept worrying back and forth on what to do till it put me to sleep.

It wasn't like I ever did it before but for some reason I woke up at 5:45 and was wide awake. I could hear Dad and Bill messing about so I didn't turn on my light. I didn't want them to know I was awake. I stayed in bed listening until I heard Dad and Bill leave. I just waited. I heard mom go by my door a couple of times and pause. When the clock read 15 after I turned on my light and sat there a minute.

CHAPTER 8

Not more than a couple of minutes passed before mom stuck her head in the door, "Best get your shower and get dressed if we are going out and about."

I just said, 'Okay Mom," and tried really hard not to sound too excited. I grabbed my towel off the back of my closet door and headed for the bathroom. When I came out I saw the clothes from the previous week had been laid out on the bed. I started putting them on when I realized there were some new items. There was a 32 aa bra on the pile that was pink and matched the top. I got the panties and dance pants on and everything tucked away and started working on the bra. I finally turned it backwards and hooked it and spun it around and put my arms through the straps and tightened them like I had the camisole the week before. I was amazed at how much it made me look like I had boobs.

I slipped on the camisole because she had laid that out too. and the skirt and the pink sweater. I slipped on the wig, put the kitty faced bag over my shoulder and stepped out into the hall. Mother shouted for me to come there and so I looked for her. She was in the master bathroom. She had on a slip and a skirt but no top. Mom didn't normally let us see her without a top even though the slip covered everything.

"Come here dear I want to see how you look." so I stepped in and she spun her finger around indicating I was to spin around. As I spun she said, "You look wonderful. Now come over and let me put a little mascara on you and you can do your lips."

She had me look up and then gently brushed my lashes with a curved brush. They felt heavy again like when the lady at the department store did it. Mom then had me look in the mirror and told me to start on my lips while she finished up her own eyelashes. She then put a color on her eyelids and another over that and under the eye. I was watching intently when mom looked my way and pointed to my lips. I got the gloss out of the purse and began to apply it. I went slow and thought I did a pretty good job. Mom whipped out a tissue and waved me over. I was relieved she didn't spit on it but she did wipe in the corners of my mouth and told me to blot my lips with it. I did as I was instructed.

"You are pretty as a picture." mom smiled, "Do you feel okay?"

"Yeah, I feel fine. I am not as scared as last week." I told her.

"We might need to stop on the way and get you a coat. It is finally getting chilly." mom added as she finished her lipstick.

"There how does that look?" she said turning to me.

"You look great mom." I said.

She slipped her sweater over her head and grabbed a brush and arranged her hair and then brushed mine some and played with the bangs a little and pronounced it perfect, "Here put this brush in your purse. If it gets windy you may need it. Also, I want you to get the jeans, shirt socks and shoes you wore yesterday and put them in a bag in case it looks like we are going to get home after your Dad and Bill."

I ran to my room and put those things in the gym bag Bill had given me and ran out almost bumping into mom in the hall.

Mom just laughed, "I guess your anxious to go. I was thinking you might want breakfast but we can do that on the road if you would prefer."

"No breakfast here is fine." I said.

"Well, come into the kitchen and you can help." Mom turned toward the kitchen.

As I followed her in she said, "Get that little apron from the hook, wouldn't want to mess up your only outfit before we get out the door."

I grabbed the apron and was trying to put it on when mom came over and made a little knot in the neck loop which made it ride up much higher and then wrapped the strings around and they were long enough to tie in the front. She told me to wait a second and came back with something she called a scrunchie and gathered the wig behind my head and slipped it on to keep my hair out of my face and the food.

She slid the small two step stool she kept to get in the top cabinet in front of the stove and handed me the skillet. She got bacon and eggs from the fridge and set them on the counter next to the stove and went over to the bread box and got out the loaf of bread.

" Okay, bacon first, do you want one or two slices?" she asked, "Put the skillet on the stove eye and put the strips in the pan so they don't overlap each other."

I began separating the bacon strips to put into the pan. I was surprised at how much they stuck together. As I put the first one in the pan I bumped the handle of the skillet.

"Now, do you see where the skillet handle is, sticking out over the floor, turn it so it points over the counter. If you leave it there you can bump it and overturn the skillet or just have a hard time getting to it to tend the food and if you turn it over the other way if you are cooking two things, then you can heat the handle so it burns you when you try to pick up the skillet." Mom explained.

I turned the skillet as directed and put the other three slices in. I went to wipe my hands on the apron and mom said I should use the sink and a little dishwashing liquid as the grease would not wipe off easily and the dish-washing stuff dissolved grease.

She also said I should not overdo that trick because it would dry out my hands badly. Mom put a plate with a paper towel where the bacon pack was and put the bacon back in the fridge. She told me to set the eye on medium and to watch the bacon. She reminded me not to get to close cause bacon popped and I didn't want hot grease in my eyes or on my face.

Mom handed me a long pair of tongs, they kind of look like scissors but on the ends they were this bent wire that let them grip things. When the bacon got curly along the length she told me to flip it so it could cook on each side but be careful of splatter. It was hard getting them to go on the other side. They wanted to fold or twist but I got them all turned. As they started to show brown she had me flip them again. Finally, she said to put them on the plate with the paper towel to drain. I got them to the plate and she folded the paper towel back over the top and pressed down to blot them. She carried it over to the toaster oven and put another plate on top and turned it on. She said that was to keep it warm without overcooking it while I cooked the eggs.

First, we had to drain the bacon grease into this can with a strainer on top and then added a little vegetable oil to the skillet. She said I could crack the eggs on the side of the pan but sometimes that pushed bits of shell into the egg and people didn't like it when they bit into shell.

Following her instructions, I cracked it on the flat counter. It took me four tries to get it to crack because I was afraid it would smash and I would have a big mess. A little egg leaked out anyway. As soon as I got two eggs in the skillet mom said to stir them with a fork. I started and mom explained to turn the fork sideways so it didn't scratch the bottom of the pan. She explained that the no stick surfaces were soft and easy to damage.

Pretty soon she declared the eggs ready and brought the bacon plate over and removed the paper towels and helped me get the eggs on the plate with the bacon. She set the plate back on the toaster oven and poured me a glass of milk and her a cup of coffee. She said we forgot the toast but that was ok cause we wanted to keep our figure.

"How did you like cooking your very first whole meal?" Mom asked, "Was it fun?"

I thought about it and said, "It was a little gooey but I think I liked it."

"You get used to the gooey and if you practice enough you can start to tell when things are mixed right or done or not by how they feel." she said, "Usually, you have to cook every day for a couple of years to be able to do that."

Mom asked, "Did you have an idea of what you wanted to do today? and then looked down at her food which I thought was odd.

"No. I thought you wanted me to practice walking around in the shoes so we were going to some shopping mall." was all I could think to say.

"Honey you don't have to do all this to please me. If you would rather do something else, we can. Do you want to go to the game room?"

"I can't go like this the guys would see me." I responded.

"Well, you could change honey it wouldn't take long." she said.

I thought a bit, "I am already dressed and it was fun last time I think I will just stay like this today if that is okay."

"Of course, it is okay dear, I mean I got you those clothes, didn't I? I wouldn't do that if it wasn't okay and I do want you stable in those heels for Halloween." she said in a soft tone. "So, grab your purse and the paper bag and we will be out in the world, Jeanie."

I know I smiled when she called me Jeanie. I could see mom watching closely for my reaction. I turned away to cover my smile and put the purse strap over my head and started for the car.

"Jeanie, don't you think you need to check your face before we go out and you might want to pee first so we don't have to stop on the way." mom told me.

I stopped and immediately headed for the bathroom. Did my business and was standing in front of the mirror fixing my lips from the damage from breakfast. When I stopped leaning close to apply the gloss I noticed that the bra really did make a huge difference. The thin top edge of the of the bra now ran in a small dip between my breasts enlarging the idea that there was something there. For half a second I was proud and then it was fear that swept over me. I kept fiddling trying to make it look flatter

After pushing prodding and pulling for a couple of minutes, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard my mother say, “Girls just have to put up with those things sticking out. Mostly we don't notice them, sometimes we are proud of them and sometimes they embarrass us. So, quit fiddling with them and come on."

I just stuttered I was really embarrassed that mom was watching me and finally was able to say, "Mom" as a long two syllable word that was almost a whine.

She just put her arm around me and pulled me close, "Come on honey lets go have some fun. You look great." and we were off to the car.

We had been driving a for a little and I asked her, “Mom, why did you buy me a bra?"

"I thought you might want to practice again and I thought it might make you a little more indistinguishable from the other girls and that it would make you less worried about being out." she replied, "I didn't think you would find it embarrassing. I guess that is cause most girls are excited about starting to show a figure. If you will feel better, you can scoot in the back and take it off."

"No, I just was surprised and didn't think we would do all this just for a Merlin costume." I said.

"Well in truth it is not all for your costume. I am having fun having a daughter for just a short time. It is a new set of things to learn as a parent. All different rules dealing with a girl than a boy." she smiled.

"Do you wish I was a daughter, mom?" I know my tone was really down. It was part of my shame at wanting to be a girl and partly that I thought mom was disappointed in me as a guy.

"Oh, no honey, I want you to be you. I love you however you are. This was just new and different and so that made it a little fun for the moment." she replied, "I am sure we would both get tired of it in a little while."

"Okay. I guess that is right. Being new and a little scary does make it fun." I acknowledged, "I guess if it was more than a costume it would get old in a hurry. Girls have a lot to keep up with. Being a guy is a lot simpler I think."

"No being a guy or a gal is the same, you just have different things to worry about. Same number of worries." she smiled and patted my leg.

She turned on the radio and we began listening and singing along with the songs. I was surprised how quickly we reached the mall. It wasn't like Lenox. There were lots of stores but it was like a giant regular mall with the stores facing the parking lot rather than a giant hall in the middle.

We went in the first store. It was like a department store only it only seemed to have clothes. Not the jewelry or toasters and stuff the regular department store had. We wandered through. Mom occasionally held something up to herself and asked me what I thought or up to me and asked me if I liked the style. We did this for a little bit till we got to the coats. Mom looked more closely and then selected one. It was black and had this really fluffy fur on the collar and the sleeves. She held it up for me to try on. I set my bag down and got my arms in and mom helped me get it up to my shoulders and turned me around and started buttoning it.

The fur on the collar came up on my face and tickled and mom started laughing when I kept trying to blow it away.

"I guess that isn't a style you would find comfortable." she laughed.

"I would need a lot of tissue cause it sure tickles my nose." I told her.

She helped me out and put it back on the rack.

She found a navy blue all cloth one and tried that on me. It fit fine and I told her it was comfortable. I looked at the price tag and thought it was a lot. "Mom, I don't think I need a coat yet and may not need it ever." I tried to hint.

"Well, we will see. We can keep looking around." she said "but if you might need one later I would like to get it now while we are at the discount shops because coats can be really expensive at the mall."

That being said we kept looking at coats and trying them on. I didn't find one I liked.

We left there and went to a place with a bunch of names that started with Bali. That turned out to be a lady’s underwear shop. Mom looked through bras and found three that she wanted to try. She also went through and found some she thought were my size and picked those up. She led the way back to the dressing room. She led me to one and handed me the bras she had selected for me and said she would be next door and to call her if I needed any help.

I went in and started taking things off so I could try on the bras. It was trouble taking off the bra I had on and more hooking the ones mom wanted me to try. The first of the new ones looked like I had loose cloth draped over my breasts with lots of wrinkles the next one didn't do that but it certainly made it look like I had more than I really did. The last one fit about like the one I already had. I put mine back on and got my sweater back on and was trying to brush out the mess I had made of my hair when mom knocked on the door.

"You okay honey?" she asked.

"Yes ma'am just learning to hook these darn things." I replied.

"It takes a while baby." she smiled, "how did they fit?"

I told her which one looked like two empty bags and that the second made me look a lot bigger and the last fit like the present one. Somehow it struck me as a serious oddity to have this conversation with my momma. It also pleased me we were having it. Somehow it made me feel whole and incomplete at the same time.

At the cashier, we purchased the one that made me look larger and the one that fit like the one I was wearing along with some more panties. I didn't ask mom why but I thought it curious.

We were walking to the next store when mom asked if there was anything I wanted to try. I told her I didn't know anything to try and I was okay with what we had done so far and asked her if I needed to practice anything other than the shoes. She just smiled and said no she just wanted to make sure I practiced everything I thought I needed to. I kept getting the idea she was leaving something out of her questions but I could never figure out exactly what.

She noticed I had forgotten my earrings and asked if I had them with me. I had them in my purse so she helped place them correctly on my ears. It was around 10:30 and she asked if I wanted to go for a soda or a tea at the food area. I told her that would be nice and off we went. We went through a line that looked a lot like a cafeteria line at school but they did food to order. At the end we got cups and there was a cashier to take the money and they pointed us over to drink dispensers on the wall area. We got our drinks and instead of stopping at the first table to sit down mom went all the way across the sitting area where there were no other people.

"This is so much nicer with a view out the window and the sun shining in, don't you think?" mom asked but I don't really think she wanted an answer.

"We haven't done as much shopping for you as last time and you haven't gotten to try on as many things. Are you still having fun?" she asked.

"Yeah, I like going around with you and looking and talking. It is fun. My feet get pretty sore but mostly it is fun."

"Wait till you get taller heels and then you will really understand sore feet." She laughed.

"Why would I get taller heels mom? Isn't this just for the costume?" I was a little nervous that she had found me out.

"Yes, of course, dear I guess you are such a pretty girl and are so comfortable and seem to be having fun that I forget that it is temporary." she said softly, then she added, "have you enjoyed seeing what it was like being a girl?"

"I guess so. I am not sure this isn't just the fun parts and really being a girl might not be a lot of trouble but this has been fun I think." I tried real hard not to be too enthusiastic.

"I think this has mostly been the normal parts at least for a girl your age. The real fun things are fancy dresses and spend the night parties with friends and makeup and being able to express your emotions with out people picking on you and lots of other things. But the nice everyday things are like cooking and shopping and just hanging around." Mom explained. "I hope I haven't made you uncomfortable doing this. I think lots of boys wonder what it is like to be a girl and I thought that since you need to get used to the shoes you could see what it was like so when you got older you you might understand them a little better. There are not a lot of opportunities in our house to learn about girls since you have no sisters."

"I have to admit it scared me at first but mostly I have had fun. I think I have learned it is hard to pick clothes as a girl cause there are lots more choices and what you wear has a big effect on how people feel about you and how you feel about yourself." I said. Then in more of a whisper, "You haven't made me feel uncomfortable. I have been happy even when I was scared." I did not have the courage to tell her more.

"I am glad honey." she leaned over and gave me a little shoulder hug, "So you ready to renew the war on dull clothes?"

" Sure." I beamed.

As we left the food building the first shop we came to was a perfumery. "Now this is one of the treats guys don't get, let's see what smells nice." mom opened the door and pulled me in, not that I was resisting

As we went down the rows she would sniff a bottle and let me try. I had a hard time telling them apart. We came across one that was named Beautiful. It wasn't nearly as strong as the others and I told momma that I thought it was nice cause it didn't smell up the place so bad.

"Here put a dab on the underside of your wrists and then rub your wrist together. That way you can see how it goes with your personal scent." she said, "Now sniff your wrist. Do you still like it?"

"Yeah, it is nice" I said.

"That is a very mature choice. Most young ladies these days go for much stronger scents that they think get them attention." mom sniffed the bottle again, "It is usually a long time before they learn that perfume is not supposed to get people’s attention but supposed to help someone who's attention you have remember you." Mom's smile was very big on that statement.

"Oh, you mean like a boy you are already dating?" I asked.

"Exactly." she when on to explain, "One of the reasons there are so many perfumes is most girls want a scent that will be associated just with them and not a dozen other girls. While this is a quality perfume it is very different from the style in perfumes at the moment and would be a good choice if you wanted something different."

"If most girls want something that is just them then why do they mostly go with the stuff that smells the same and is popular." I asked really trying to understand.

“Girls, just like boys, want to fit in, so sometimes they make bad choices just to be like their friends." mom advised.

"Well, I guess so. Do I make bad choices to be like my friends? I asked.

"Mostly, you are pretty unique and special and go your own way as near as I can tell." Mom stated as she steered me to the counter. It was only then that I saw she had selected the smallest bottle of "Beautiful" "And this will be something that you can have to remember how unique and special you are."

Mom handed me the bag with the bottle after the cashier rang it up and told me to put it in my purse and we were back out on the sidewalk. She asked if I wanted to try on some jeans. I thought jeans were jeans but mom said different so I said okay and we were off to the next shop. She was right the jeans were different. I tried on a couple of sizes that I could not get past my bottom. The legs were so tight they just wouldn't come up. Finally, I got a pair that with much tugging and pulling and mom leaning in to help came up and I was able to clothes them and zip them. I was surprised how high they came and how tight they were. I couldn't imagine why a girl would wear jeans that fit like that. Mom said if I were a little older it would show off my assets for the boys. Then she had to explain that part of what made a girl pretty was her figure and that included a plump bottom and wider hips and those were frequently called a girl's assets. She then went on to explain that they were not really her assets that girls could be smart and educated just like guys and those were true assets but these were things that a guy couldn't have that guys valued so that is why they were thought of as assets. She went on to explain that most girls wanted to attract guys so in that sense it was an asset. It could also be a problem when you attracted a bad guy like that old man in the pickup that leered at me when we were going to Atlanta.

I said I thought I understood, ”It was like a light that attracted moths that you couldn't turn off even when you didn't want a moth around."

She laughed and said that was the best understanding she had heard in a long time. She said, "One of the best things about being a girl is girls are pursued and the worst thing about being a girl was you couldn't control who pursued or make them stop."

I thought about that a lot.

We went into the shoe store and tried on different shoes. I tried on some with a three-inch heel and was able to walk in them. It would take some serious practice to do that all day and I told mom so. She laughed and explained you got used to it. She said most really petite girls wore tall heels because they thought it made them look prettier to be taller.

By lunch time we had completed most of the stores in the mall and mom asked, "Do you want to do something girls find fun that is not practice just to know what it is about?"

I ask what she wanted to do and she said a pedicure and manicure. I told her that I thought that would be noticed and I didn't want to be teased at school. She explained she had nail polish remover at home and that would be the only way they noticed so I said ok and we left the mall headed for a nail place she knew in Calhoun.

As we came in the lady greeted us and asked if we had an appointment. Mom didn't really answer her she just said she was Mrs. Robbins and I was her daughter Jeanie and this would be Jeanie's very first professional manicure and pedicure. The lady showed us to two chairs side by side and mom told me to take off my shoes and socks and hop up in the chair. A lady came over with this really big card that had hundreds of dots of color on it and ask mom what color she wanted and asked if I was going to pick out my own or she wanted to do that. Mom told me to look and see what looked fun to me. She mentioned that the light pinks did not look overly mature for a young lady my age and that they would go with the outfit I had on better than others.

I looked at several pinks and on several of them I couldn't tell the difference so I asked mom. She explained that some would appear shinier than others and some would be almost a clear that let the details of my finger nail show through like the place where the nail left the finger or the white crescent at the base of some of my nails. She said she thought one particular one would be better choice for what I wanted. I took that as a hint that it meant not getting caught and teased at school. So, I went with that one.

The lady then put a bowl of stuff on the table beside the armrest. Another lady came up and introduced herself and did the same thing at mom’s chair. The lady asked me what kind of tips I wanted and I didn't know and I started to say so when mom told the lady she preferred round tips on young ladies and the lady just nodded and began filing the end one of my finger nails. She seemed to be very careful in what she was doing but I was surprised at how fast she was able to shape each nail. She then painted some stuff around the outside edge of my fingernail and placed my hand in the warm bowl. I thought was water when she put it down but it felt soapy. She then moved to the other side and shaped the nails on my left hand. She went back to the first hand and took it out of the water and patted it dry and began pushing at the edges with a wood stick thing that had a sloped end and a sort of pointy end

When she finished with the stick she used these weird little clipper things to trim the skin stuff that had been pushed by with the stick and was kind of standing up. She moved the bowl to the other side and squirted some ointment from a tube on her hand and rubbed her hands together a little bit and then began rubbing my hands so the stuff spread all over my hands and the finger nails. She massaged and rubbed my hand and fingers. She said this was to exfoliate my hand. I asked what that was and she said to remove dead skin that kept my hands from looking young and pretty. She rubbed for a little more and then rinsed her hands in the sink and brought over a warm damp hand towel and began wiping my hand with it.

She then squired something from another tube in her hand and began to massage my hand and fingers again. She said that was a moisturizer as the other stuff could dry your hands out. After she finished rubbing in the moisturizer she placed my hand on a warm moist towel and folded it over the top and started to do the same steps again on the other hand. When she finished the second hand She switched back to the first and began what she called buffing. I looked over at mom and thought she might be asleep cause her eyes were closed and she was leaning her head back on the head rest. It felt really good being massaged and stuff but this was all too new to sleep through so I just watched and asked an occasional question. The lady explained that nails usually have very little ridges that run from the tip to the nail bed and that all buffing did was smooth out the nails so that when the polish was applied it looked smooth.

She did the same for the other hand that and then brought over a tray that had two bottles. They had little brushes attached to the lids. The first one was a kind of thick clear paint she called a base coat. I was surprised that it seemed to chill my finger where she applied it. She did all five fingers on one hand and then did the other. She got the second bottle and started over again with the first finger she had done. The second bottle was a really pale pink color you could hardly see. She did just like she did the clear base coat but she kept doing it until she had painted every nail three times.

Next came the pedicure. That is when they do your toenails. It was almost exactly like the fingers only the foot massage was really nice. I guess it was the little heel on the pixie boots but I didn't realize how sore my feet were until she started rubbing them and they started to feel better. It was really nice. When they were painting, the toenails she stuck these things between your toes to keep them apart and that felt funny but it was ok after the foot rub. They finished with mom and me at almost the same time.

I looked over and mom opened her eyes and asked if I had enjoyed that. I told her it was real nice but I needed to go to the restroom. She said that was a very good idea and we could do that as soon as our toe nails were dry enough to move. She said that would not be long. The lady said she was sure mine were dry enough if I was careful not to let them bump into anything.

I got up and the lady pointed to the hall and said second door on the right and away I went. I almost screwed up and pulled my dance pants all the way down where they would hit my toes but realized it could mess up the nail paint so I just took them part way down, held up my skirt and sat. Still had trouble aiming but it all worked out. As soon as I came out mom was waiting at the door for her turn and she checked me to make sure everything was back in place. As she said, no skirts tucked in the panties.

On exiting mom went to the front to pay and we left. She said she was hungry and we went to Wendy's. Mom said they had good salads. I never thought of salad for lunch but that seemed to be what mom thought was appropriate. I ordered one just so I wouldn't stand out. When the food came, we went to a booth. It was a little later than most people ate lunch so we were almost alone in the place.

Now mom wanted to know how I liked the nail salon. I told her the truth. It was fun and getting rubbed and stuff felt really nice. She said that was called being pampered and was a great girl thing to do. She said the only better pamper was a full body massage but that would have to be for another time. She asked again if I was comfortable and she seemed worried that I was doing this to please her and not to be happy myself. I probably should not have said it but I didn't like the idea of mom being worried especially with her doing all this to make me happy.

"Mom I think this is the most fun I have ever had even if it does make my feet hurt." I blurted out.

As soon as I said it I was embarrassed and blushed so red mom felt she had to say something, "Honey that is a pretty red color but you don't have to be embarrassed with me for having fun. This is the fun girls have that boys can't enjoy. I am happy to spend girl time with you."

Then she asked the big question, "Do you want to keep having mother daughter days after Halloween is over?"

I don't know why but I couldn't look at her then I just stared at the floor and could feel my ears burning they were so red. The best I could make myself do is to say, "I don't know."

Mom lifted my chin and kissed my forehead and said, "I think you do know. Will you tell me what you want?"

I don't know why, but somehow that really upset me, my eyes started filling up with tears and I hopped up and ran to the bathroom. I was seriously crying when I heard a tap at the door.

"Jeanie, Jeanie, you need to come out dear," I heard mother say. "Jeanie I know your upset but you went in the wrong restroom."

That got my attention. I looked around and there was a urinal on the wall. I snatched the door open and ran for the other restroom as fast as I could. Even going as fast as I could I wasn't fast enough to lock mom out of the bathroom. She stepped in and closed the door behind her and pulled me close and hugged me, patting my back.

"It's okay, baby, why are you crying?" she asked as she patted my back.

I finally calmed enough to truthfully say i didn't know why I was crying and that I think I was just ashamed that I enjoyed being a girl with her.

"Well, why shouldn't you enjoy being a girl, I do." she spoke softly, " You know we all start out with girl bodies when we are in our mother’s stomach. Nobody starts growing boy parts until they are about seven weeks old and it isn't until they are ten to twelve weeks old they have grown enough to tell if it is a boy or a girl on a sonogram. Twelve weeks is a long time in the life of a fetus. It is the whole first third of their lives."

Something in her soft voice calmed me enough to stop sobbing and answer back, "Yeah but I am a guy and I am supposed to like guy things and people will tease me if they find out."

"I think that the idea of getting caught stressed you more than you let on." she continued, "I should not have done this honey, I am sorry. We should get you changed and find some other way to spend our day."

"No momma, I wanted to. It was really fun. Please don't. I really do enjoy it. I guess I was just scared." I pleaded.

Momma held me a little away from her looking in my eyes, "Are you sure?" I nodded. "Ok then let’s clean your face up and go see what mischief we can make for the afternoon." she smiled broadly.

We were out and about in a flash. Mom cranked the car and said I should use the mirror on the back of the visor to fix my lips. I said okay and immediately started for my gel. We were going past a Target when mom pulled in. "If you really enjoy this you’re going to need a couple of other things if we are going to do this again. Here is as good a place as any to find the basics." We pulled into a spot and mom said to come on and she was out of the car.

She got a buggy and we immediately went to the hair care aisle. She selected a conditioner and a shampoo and then a lilac scented body wash. On the next aisle she got a tube of Secret deodorant. She got a facial soap and a moisturizer. She got a little wire basket that was made to hang on the shower head or knob. We went to coats and mom selected a blue cloth coat that went down to just below my knees. It closed with two rows of buttons down the front but you only buttoned one side the other side the buttons were just sewn to the outside of the coat. Next we were at ladies underwear. She got another pack of panties, two slips, some pantyhose, a pair of tights, socks and a night gown and a white kind of anybody's bathrobe.

It was a little thinner than most guy robes but wasn't real thin like the ones that went with night gowns. When I asked, she said I might want to feel ladylike in the privacy of my room at night or when getting ready for one of our trips. We then moved on to girl’s clothes. She picked a pair of jeans with sewing on the back pockets that made flowers with vines and leaves and two tops. One a colorful shirt like blouse with long sleeves but the cuffs were narrow with a single button and a huge ruffle after the cuff that almost covered my hand and the other was a turtleneck sweater. We then went to girl’s shoes and I got a pair of shoes with about a two-inch wedge heel, and a pair of pink, lavender and green tennis shoes. All she said was a girl could not wear the same outfit every day. I tried everything on. It all fit pretty good. Mom pronounced us done and we were back to the register and the car.

When we got to the car I asked, "Mom, do you wish I was a girl?"

"No honey I wish you were happy. If being a girl sometimes makes you happy then I want that for you. When it doesn't make you happy anymore I want you to stop. If it always makes you happy I want, you to be able to do that. It is all about happiness." She added a hug and kiss and that seemed to close the conversation.

I desperately wanted to tell her about the girl pills and that I wanted to be a girl all the time but I was afraid. I don't know why. She had done everything to let me be a girl and make me feel safe and comfortable that way. Something just didn't feel right. So, I just stared out the window and switched back and forth from feeling safe and happy and guilty and worried. It was weird. Finally, I asked, "Mom what is your favorite thing about being a girl?"

"That is easy, I like being your mom." she smiled.

"No, that is about being a mom I am talking about being a girl before you’re a mom." I asked

She thought for a while, ”Guess it is the emotional freedom girls have. Guys are all bottled up and have to do the British stiff upper lip thing. I get to feel what I feel and tell people about it. I think that makes it easier to deal with emotions."

"Why do guys have to bottle it up?" I asked.

" I think that is what we teach them is proper. Guys are protectors and you don't want a protector that is weak. He can be strong in mind or power or physically but girls want strong guys so guys want to appear strong cause guys want to have girls and being strong does that even if it is not physical strength. Like right now nerdy guys are really popular cause they have the potential to control money which has its own power." she admitted.

"So girls just want the guys with money?" I asked.

"No honey girls just want to feel safe. For some that means money for some that means physically strong for some it means smart for some it means loved and for some it means all those things at one time." she taught.

"I don't think any boy is all those things. How do those girls ever find someone?" I questioned.

"Sometimes they don't. They spend so much time looking for Mr. Perfect they ignore the boy that could actually let them have a happy life. It is sad." Mom explained, "the truth is if you can just find someone who is really your friend you have the best chance of being happy. You may not be the richest couple or the most powerful or the most popular but you will be happy if you find a friend and you love each other." she said, "Your dad is not Bill Gates or the Terminator or any of those things but he treats me like his best friend and he is mine so I know he will try to protect me from hurt and I will try to protect him and we are both very happy to be together. Does that make sense?"

"Yeah, I guess it does. Hanging around with your friends is always more fun than hanging around people that don't care about you." I leaned over and hugged her while she was driving. I don't know why I just needed to do it.

"Put your seat belt back on." she said with a very genuine smile.

We shopped a little for the rest of the day and then ate dinner on the way home. When we got home she helped me put things away in my room where it was not likely to be seen. She put the basket with the shower stuff on a nail on the back of my closet door that I could close and hide. The other things went in the corner of my closet that wasn't visible when the door was open.

I called Suzy to tell her about my day. I think mom knew what we were talking about, I just don't know how. I was very careful. Still mom seemed to figure things out without me telling her anything. Suzy said it was just obvious to anyone that looked that I was really a girl and Mom looked. I told her I guessed so but I still thought it was pretty remarkable with all that she had done.

Anyway, that night I locked the door from my room into the bathroom with the little bar lock like on a screen door so Bill could not pop in on me. Not that he did that but just to be safe and put on the gown mom had gotten me. It was soft cotton but the lace at the top was stiff and scratchy. I found out as I slid in bed it kind of tried to wrap around me tighter if I tried to slide over from the edge. I spent a lot of time balanced on my head and heels arched up to unwrap it. Once I got it unwrapped it was comfortable. I sleep very happy that night.

CHAPTER 9

When I woke up I could hear Bill in the shower so I waited to get out of bed. Then in a real surprise mom popped her head in the door. I snatched the covers up to hide the gown.

Mom smiled and came in, "I was just going to say wake up sleepy head," she bent down kiss my forehead and whispered, "you don't have to hide your gown I bought it for you to wear."

"I think your brother is out so get your stuff and head to the shower" she pointed to the closet. She smiled and turned and walked out closing the door behind her.

I heard her down the hall talking to Bill. I think she was trying to tell me the coast was clear. I took off my gown and put it on a hanger and put it back in the closet. I grabbed my wire basket with my bathroom stuff and the towel off the nail on the back side of the closet door and headed for the bathroom. I peeked in and saw it was empty and crossed past the sinks to lock the door from Bill's room. Hopped into the shower and hung my basket on the cold-water knob. Adjusted the water and began to clean. Mom had gotten a thing like the plastic steel wool things she used to clean some of the skillets only it was a lot bigger and softer. She had told me it was for the body wash. I squirted some on the thing and held it in the spray to get it wet and began scrubbing my body. It smelled nice. I think she had said it was lilac scented. I then went through the bottles till I found the one that said facial scrub and read the label. That one you squirted in your hand and then rubbed it on your face and rinsed. then there was the shampoo and the conditioner and they all had different instructions and wait times. I think it took me at least twice and maybe three times as long to finish my shower. I finished and dried off and was going in my room when mom came back. I was lucky the towel was in front of me.

"Bill and your father are already gone. I will take you to school on my way to work." she stated, "Did you use the shampoo and conditioner?"

"Yes ma'am." I responded

"Then I want you to come to my bathroom to dry your hair. Just put on your pants and not your shirt and come in." she directed.

I got my bandaids and a t-shirt on and went to her room.

When I got there, she told me to sit on the little bench in front of her sink and brought out her hair dryer and a funny round brush. She began to brush my hair and blow on it with the dryer. She did bits at a time until all my hair was dry. She explained that would keep it neat and not let it get frizzy. I watched carefully what she was doing. but I made sure my arms were crossed in front of me.

I looked in the mirror and it did look straighter than usual.

She said if I was going to let it keep getting longer I might need a scrunchie or a hair band to pull it back in a ponytail to keep it out of the way. She also explained that mostly boys would put it down low behind them and girls tended to put it up on the crown of their head to show off their hair. She told me I wouldn't need to wash or condition my head tomorrow but might the next day. We would just have to see how it looks because it depends on how much oil you produce.

"Go get your clothes on so you’re not late," she aimed me at the door pushed gently. "Takes more time when you are cleaning your hair and body properly instead of splash and pray like guys do."

I hustled to get all my stuff for school and shouted to mom I was headed to the car when she was ready. She shouted that that was fine and she would be there in five seconds. When she got in the car I was pretending to count, "One thousand one hundred twenty-six, one thousand one hundred twenty-seven."

"Oh pooh you have not been waiting that long." she said as she cranked the car.

"I know." I giggled.

"Yep, I am supposed to be at her house at ten till six and then we go trick or treating till about 8:30 or nine and then I call you to pick me up. Her mom or dad will go with us. Since it is a school night we have to finish early so we will just go in her neighborhood," I went through the plan with mom.

"I'll call her mother and make sure you got the correct info from Suzy and we will plan on doing it that way." mom agreed, ”Oh you do know that this is the first weekend of deer season so your brother and dad will be gone hunting Friday night to Sunday." she added.

I smiled but didn't say anything. Inside I was squealing with joy. Mom just looked over and I swear she could hear what was going on in my mind because she just smiled and patted my leg.

I was grabbing my bag to get out and mom demanded a kiss which I was happy to give her and ran in as the first bell rang. The seventh-grade class was the farthest from the entrance so I rushed to get to homeroom before the second bell rang. I made it but it was close. I sat at my desk and was getting my first period books out of the backpack when I noticed that I had not removed the polish from my nails on Saturday. I grabbed my book put it on my desk and put my backpack with the coats in the back of the room. I kept my hands in my pockets as best I could while going and coming to and from my desk. When my hands weren't in my pocket, were stuffed into my armpit and if I couldn't do that they were in a fist. It made it hard to hold a pencil. By lunch time I was so anxious I could barely stand in line for my tray. Carrying a cafeteria tray without showing your nails is nearly impossible.

I sat down at the table Suzy usually used. I was alone at the table as our room got the cafeteria first for a change. Judy was the first to arrive. She set her tray across from me, "Suzy will be just a minute she had to run back to the room for something."

"Ok, are you going with us next Monday?" I asked, as I tried to eat the spaghetti we were given for lunch today without showing my hands, "and have you got your costume yet?"

"Yep, you and Suzy are going to swing by my house when you leave hers and then we are going to canvas the neighborhood." she smiled.

"I heard some people are calling for us to Trick or Treat during the weekend rather than a school night." I responded after I swallowed, "I think that stinks. Half the fun of Halloween is when it is on a school night."

"I don't know anyone that is going before Monday." Judy responded. "I just got one of those store costumes. I got Peter Pan and some green tights. I hope it is warmer that night because I could get chilly."

"You could wear a couple of camisoles underneath the top and that would keep you warm." I observed.

Judy busted out laughing, "You are not supposed to know that."

"Okay but don't say it so loud" I blushed, "Besides anybody knows you can wear layers of underwear to stay warmer."

"Yeah," she loudly whispered, "but guys without sisters don't know what a cami is."

I just hung my head down and started eating again.

"You don't have to be embarrassed, I think it is okay, I just think you need to be careful was all I was saying." she spoke softly with a kindness I had not noticed before, "I think the guys this year have gotten meaner than last year. Mom says it is their puberty and some of it will go away."

"I guess I should be more careful, I just forgot because I was worried about something else. I responded her words having relaxed me a bit.

Girls do not let things lay. I should have known, "Really, is someone picking on you?"

"No not really I just forgot something and I am afraid people will notice and tease me." I confessed.

"What did you forget?" in a tone that sounded like criminal partners planning a bank robbery.

"Nothing it is just stuff that worries me." I hoped she would forget it.

Suzy put her tray beside me and sat down, "Did someone else find out? Why are you worried? Is your mother upset?"

"No, it’s nothing, just something I forgot and I could get teased if someone notices before I get home." I responded.

"So tell us and we can figure out a plan on what to do." She came back.

"I don't want to talk about it, it is embarrassing." I tried to say it like a final answer.

"Don't be silly, both of us already know what kind of thing you could do that would embarrass you so tell us and we can make a plan to protect you." she admonished.

"Okay, I just forgot to remove my nail polish from this weekend." I responded.

"That could be bad let me see the color." she said as I moved a hand above the table." Oh pooh no one will ever recognize that. It is invisible."

"You really think so?", I wasn't sure I believed her but I was really relieved.

Suzy sat beside me about that time, "Nice nails, who did them for you? Aren't you afraid someone will notice?"

I was instantly sick as a dog, "I just forgot, I was trying to hide them till I could get home and remove it. I think I am going to be sick."

"Don't be I was standing behind you when you told Judy or I would not have known." Suzy giggled.

"That was not nice, I thought I was going to pee my pants." I said trying to get past the adrenaline sweats.

"I think you worry too much. We will just tell them it is part of your Halloween costume and you were practicing with clear and will use black on Halloween." Suzy offered in smug explanation.

"How do you think of that stuff so fast?" I was just in awe."I was so busy trying not to throw-up I couldn't think of a thing to say.

I spent the rest of the day trying to keep his hands in his pocket or balled in a fist. It is amazing how little you can do without showing your finger tips. I almost made it through the day but the bus ride home was interesting. I made sure his hands were in his pockets as I boarded the bus. With my heavy backpack, it was difficult to climb the steps without grabbing the handrail that was provided. One of the bigger kinds gave me a hard push up and shouted "Get outta the way dweeb. I wanna go home." I didn't know him other than to know his name was Jason.

That got me up the stairs and I headed for the back of the bus. I was only able to get as far back as two rows from the back before all the seats were filled but I took my backpack around and sat in the window seat. I kept my hands balled up in my lap and looped through the backpack straps so that my hands didn't show and the backpack didn't slip off my lap. I still keep my hands in a fist so there was no chance to see my nails. I was feeling fairly secure until the guy that called me a dweeb sat in the seat across the aisle from me.

"What's wrong duffas your hands cold?" the Jason jabbed me in the shoulder.

I just couldn't ignore him. I knew if I did that he would keep upping the ante until it got really painful. Besides in my heart of hearts I was a smart ass so I hit him where I knew it would do his ego the most damage, "Nope, I just figure with all you faggy guys around I should keep my crotch covered." I know it was a dumb thing to say under the circumstances but it just popped out.

He jumped up turned bright red and came for me. With my arms still hooked through the shoulder straps I pulled the back pack up over my head and balled up as small as I could to fend off blows. The first one was on the book bag and it didn't hurt. He started trying to pull the bag off my head and using the other hand to hit me in the shoulder. I tried turning sideways in the seat with my back to the window to reduce the target area. This let me put my feet in his stomach and push for all I was worth. That shove sent him back against the seat he came from. As he rose to come after me again I saw a huge hand reaching down and grab his shoulder. It was Mr. Thompson the bus driver. He was not a small man but anyone's measure. Most of the kids thought he weighted at least 300 lbs and was at least 6'5". In time I came to learn that was a small bit exaggerated but for that moment I could not care less.

In a voice I thought sounded like thunder, "Boy, your making a disturbance on my bus." The eighth graders eyes got big looking up at Mr. Thompson. "You know I am not fond of disturbances. You're Emmett's boy aren't you?"

"Yes, sir, Mr. Thompson." was all Jason could muster.

"How'd you like to walk to school for the rest of the school year?" Mr. Thompson asked, "I don't think it is over seven miles to your house if I remember correctly. With practice I figure you ought'a be able to cover that in about two hours each way if it ain't raining or snowing."

"But he started it Mr. Thompson, he called me a faggot." Jason blurted out.

"He was punching me and saying things about me keeping my bag in my lap rather than on the floor so I said I needed it to protect my crotch from all the faggy guys like him. But I only said it cause he was punching me for no reason." I replied.

"Well, it don't sound like either of you were behaving like I would find acceptable." Mr. Thompson voice softened, "Jason you get off first you come up and sit behind me. John you sit back here until you are ready to get off."

"But Mr. Thompson that is where the first graders sit." Jason objected.

"You can sit there or you can sit on the curb, your choice." came the matter of fact response from Mr. Thompson.

I was able to suppress the smile of satisfaction that was beaming inside me but I was truly relieved. Nothing new happened on the way home.

Walking from the bus stop to the house I realized that the weather was getting a lot colder. I figured it would soon get noticeably strange for me to be running to the barn on a regular basis so I decided to find a place to hide the pills in the house. I was first home cause today mom worked a twelve hour shift and the buss that dropped me off had to go back after it finished the route to pick up the high school kids. Since I was near the end of the route I knew I would have about thirty minutes. I went straight to the barn and put the pills in my back pack before I went in.

I couldn't find a place in my room where I thought they would be safe but I could still get to them so I started searching the bathroom. I was looking the the cabinet that supported the sink and noticed in the back corners there was a triangle of wood that braced the sides and made a very small shelf but thought that if anyone looked in they might see it. So I stuck my head inside the cabinet and looked up and there on the front corner were two identical triangles of wood bracing the front to the sides. I quickly got the bottle and tested the fit. It was close but I decided it would work. No one banged on those cabinets or anything so even though the bottle hung over the edge a little I didn't think it would be disturbed. I then went to mom's bathroom in search of the nail polish remover.

I got it all off just about the time my brother got home and the house smelled of acetone. Bill complained and I explained I spilled some paint on me at school and was using paint remover to clean my hands. That seemed to be a macho enough explanation to satisfy him and change the subject with a closing warning to open the doors for a bit to air the place out before mom and dad got home.

I opened my windows and the bathroom door and figured that would be enough.

About mom called to check on us since we were home alone. I told her that Bill was there and I had told him about using paint remover to remove some paint that spilled on my hands at school so I was airing out my room and the bathroom. She asked if it spilled on my nails and I said exactly and I knew she recognized the problem.

Her only comment was, "That is too bad. Enamel is hard to get off and could last for a week or two if left undisturbed." I think I detected a small giggle in her voice. She talked about bringing home dinner when she got off or suggested if Bill and I were hungry there was a pre-made pizza in the freezer. Frozen pizzas were the pits but they could ward off hunger until mom got home so I told her I would stick it in the oven and share with Bill. I went to the kitchen and dug through the freezer till I found the pizza, read the directions on the box and started to heat the oven. Within a half hour all was said and done and I was shouting for Bill to come get his share.

"Damn, aren't you the excellent little homemaker." Bill said grabbing the first slice of pizza.

"Hey, you don't have to eat any if your going to pick on me." I responded in a harsh tone. Secretly, I was pleased to be thought of as a homemaker. I was surprised at the thrill it gave me. Remembering my mothers admonishments about maintaining a girlish figure I only took a quarter of the pizza rather than the half I usually went after. It did kill the hunger and I didn't feel so stuffed. Dad made rounds at the hospital and arrived home around seven. He was watching tv when mom arrived at 7:30 with carry out Chinese food. She got a variety of dishes for us to divide. I watched closely which she chose and stayed with those myself. I noticed that she had a smaller portion of rice than dad or Bill and stayed away from the sweet and sour pork. I did the smaller rice portion but did get one piece of pork from the sweet and sour and then mostly got the cashew chicken and the pepper steak. I was sure mom noticed my choices at one point I caught her smiling at me as I was eating.

"So how was school today?" my father asked.

Bill muttered fine but had a mouth full of food and could not say much more. I said okay except for the bus ride and went on to tell mom and dad what happened. My father told me that faggot was not a nice term to use and I should refrain from it in the future. Mom was pleased I wasn't hurt. Bill wanted to know if I wanted him to beat up Jason. I told him no and dad told him he was not to be anywhere near him. He said something about escalation and I asked what that meant and he said each side behaving worse and worse to the other until it is completely out of hand. Mom asked me to show her my shoulder and said I had a bit of a bruise on my arm but didn't think it needed treatment. That pretty much ended the story of the bus fight I thought. Mom and Dad talked about medical stuff for a bit as we finished our dinner. I guess I had been round them so long that it didn't bother me at all that they were discussing abdominal surgery with complications or dinner. I assumed resecting a perforated intestine was normal dinner conversation. For it was the type of thing they regularly talked about. Bill and I got k.p. duty for the few plates and bowls and headed off to do homework.

I was sitting on my bed reading about Mark Twain when mom poked her head in my room. She asked how it was coming and I thought she was talking about the homework. I told her it was fine i just had to finish reading about Twain for English class and I would be finished. She smiled and came and sat on the bed.

"That is good but I really was more interested in how you personally were doing. Was the bus incident about things that happened this weekend?" she asked with a very concerned look.

"No he was just upset that I was slow getting on the bus and decided to mess with me." I responded.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Yep, just a big guy pushing his weight around." I told her.

"Okay, if you are sure." she smiled, "It is part of a mommy’s job to worry."

"Honest mom, I was hiding my nails under the bag but that had nothing to do with what happened." I whispered.

"Okay, well be careful." she leaned in and kissed my forehead, "When you finish you might want to get ready for bed we ate late and it will likely be near nine o'clock." then stood to leave.

"Okay momma." I responded and with that she paused and smiled at me before leaving the room.

CHAPTER 10

After that the week was pretty uneventful. I rode at the back of the bus except when mom took me to school. I talked with Suzy a bunch and got the occasional glare from Jason when I was getting on the bus after he did at school. I was still sitting at the back and he was still up front. Friday I got home from school and dad was already there packing stuff in his Bronco. He only used it when he was going hunting or camping. It mostly stayed under a side shed roof on the barn. He had probably taken it to the office cause it had been washed and cleaned cause it would collect dust like nobody's business under that shed roof. I suspected he let the service station wash it and check the oil and stuff cause I don't think he had driven it since summer. I asked if he need help and he said he thought that was the last load. All he needed now was my brother to get home and they would be headed to south Georgia to the hunting camp. He said it would be easy to add a little more food and a sleeping bag if I wanted to go. I politely declined saying since I couldn't really hunt yet it got boring during the day. He rubbed my head and said he understood but in two years it would be my turn. He then asked if I had plans for the weekend. I told him I was just going to hang around the house. He pulled out his wallet and game me twenty dollars and said I show take mom to a movie and a nice meal after.

I smiled at the idea, "Does this mean I get to drive your car while your gone?" The Porsche was dad's pride and joy.

He rubbed my head and said, "This doesn't mean you even get to sit in it and pretend. Your mother can drive. Oh, and being a smart ass can get you in trouble even when your right. Remember the bus fight."

He was smiling the whole time so I knew he liked my joke. We went inside and waited on Bill. He arrived about 30 mins after me and they loaded up and left after calling mom to say bye. Mom asked to speak to me and said she would be home by 5:00 and I wasn't to go anywhere till she go there. I told her I wouldn't and she asked to speak to dad and they exchanged the "I love you's" and dad rubbed my head again and said to be good. They left early in the hopes of getting through Atlanta before the traffic got crazy. It was 3:30 so I thought they had a chance. When I saw them leave the drive and turn on the road I went to my room and started changing.

I quickly put on my panties and the bra that made me look bigger and a camisole. I got the jeans with the stitching on the back and the blouse with the ruffle at the end of the sleeve. I put on some kinda half socks that just covered the feet and not any of the ankle or leg and the pink and lavender tennis shoes. I went to the bathroom and comb my hair only instead of the usual part I split it straight down the middle. This made it look like almost all the girls in my school except I didn't have bangs. the hair was a little shorter on the sides and sloped down to the back which was longer and fuller. I got one of the year books from school the year before and started looking at all the girls pictures trying to figure out what hair style was popular that I could imitate. I realized most of the girls had really long hair with or without bangs divided in the middle. some would hold part back on each side with a decorated hair thing or do a partial pony tail thing where they pulled the side hair in the back and used a hair clip and let the middle and back hair just hang straight. The ones with the sloping hair style like mine all had really curly hair and it kind of turned up away from the face. I looked pretty close at the pictures and figured I was not going to be able to do that. I couldn't figure out exactly what to do so I called Suzy to see what she thought.

As soon as I asked about fixing hair she popped up with, "Your Jeanie now aren't you?"

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Your dressed as Jeanie right this second." she whispered.

"Yes I am wear jeans and a blouse and my girls tennis shoes." I admitted in what was a rather matter of fact tone, "You said I wasn't working hard enough at being a girl didn't you?"

"Yes but I don't want you getting in trouble. What if your brother or dad came in?" she asked.

"They won't they have already left to go hunting so they won't be back until Sunday." I explained.

"Great I wish I could come over and we could have a slumber party. I could fix your hair and we could paint our nails and try on clothes and talk and have fun." she whispered in a tone that just oozed glee. "I will be glad when you are a girl all the time so we can do things."

"That would be fun but then we would have to explain to your mother and I don't know if she would let me hang around you anymore." I said, "A lot of people don't like sissy boys."

"You are not a sissy boy. You are a girl. I can tell." she insisted.

"I don't know but I know I wish you could come play. Maybe after this summer when everybody knows and my body looks like a girl’s body then it will be okay." I responded with a bit of sadness.

“I wish it would happen quicker. At least we get to trick or treat together on Monday.” She went off on a new direction.

We never got back to talking about hair. I was surprised when I heard the door open. I had no idea we had been talking that long.

“Well, I see it is going to be Jeanie for the week end.” Mom said as she walked into the room.

“Mom.” Putting a finger to my lip to quiet her and pointed at the phone.

“I bet that is Suzy, and she knows.” Mom responded, “So you can just forget shushing me.”

I turned beet red, “How did you know?” I asked.

“Mothers know everything,” She smiled, “and sometimes you whisper louder than a cheerleader at a game when your excited.” She added with a laugh.

I turned to the phone, “Suzy, momma is home I got to go. I will call you later, Okay?”

“Okay, have fun. Bye bye.” She closed out the conversation.

As I hung up momma asked, “So why are you embarrassed that I know about Suzy knowing about Jeanie.”

“I don’t know I guess ‘cause I tried to keep it secret from you.” I hung my head.

“That is okay hunny, I think all children try to keep secrets from their parents. Just so long as you do not do anything that can hurt you and hide that I am ok with it.” Momma hugged me the held me back by the shoulders, “So what are Jeanie’s big plans for the weekend?”

“I don’t know, Oh, yeah daddy gave me $20.00 so I could take you to dinner and movie while they were gone. If you wanted to go.” I asked.

“That sounds like a splendid choice. What did you want to see?” she smiled.

“I’ll go get the paper and see what is showing.” As I ran from the room.

The paper was next to daddy’s recliner in the den. Mom came in and sat on the sofa as searched for the movie section. I definitely did not want to see a kiddie movie for my first movie with my mom.

“How about ‘Some Girls”? I asked.

“I think that is rated “R” and might be a little mature for you dear, “was my mother’s response.

“Do you want to see “Mystic Pizza”? I offered.

“Is that something you want to see dear?” momma asked.

“I want to see something that we both can enjoy.” I responded.

“Where is it playing and what time are the shows?” she asked.

“It is playing in Marietta on the square and at the theater in Woodstock.” I told her, “Both places are having shows at 6:15, 8:15 and 10:15 and the one on the square is having a midnight show.”

“Well, I think it might be a little late for us to make the 6:00 show and I think the 8:00 will be full of teens making out. Maybe we should stay here and enjoy the tv tonight and plan on that for tomorrow? What do you think?” momma asked.

“Sounds okay to me if that is what you want.” I smiled.

“Well then, let’s fix dinner and then we will get comfortable and prepare to watch tv.” She placed a hand on my shoulder and moved me toward the kitchen.

We cooked a single piece of chicken in this cast iron skillet that had ridges in it. It made it look like it had been cooked on an outside grill because it made dark lines across the chicken. Momma sliced the chick up while I cut carrots, peppers cucumbers and celery. Soon we had a salad with strips of chicken just like they do in some of the restaurants. Mom said we needed to get comfortable and was going to her room.

“Come on slow poke it is time for nighties and gowns.” She waved me to her we went to our rooms and changed.

The nightie and light bathrobe were definitely less restrictive than the other cloths so I knew then what she meant by getting comfortable. By the time, I put all my clothes back up and got back out to the kitchen momma already had our food and my milk her tea on the coffee table in the den and the tv was showing the news.

“This will be over in just a couple of minutes and then we can watch fun shows.” Momma explained.

We ate our dinner over “Kate and Allie”. I had not watched that much before because it was opposite “MacGyver” and dad and Bill always watched that. I asked momma why we never watched “Kate and Allie” and she said cause it was a girls show and mostly there were guys in the house when Jeanie wasn’t around, but tonight was girls night so we were going to watch girls shows and have a good time.

After that mom was switching around and found a movie, “Somewhere In Time” “Oh this is great. I am going to fix popcorn and we can snuggle up and watch a great chick flick.

I followed her into the kitchen as she put the bag in the microwave, “What makes something a chick flick?”

“Well, mostly it is because they are usually about relationship rather than action or deeds and a lot of the time they are about love and falling in love. Those are things that mostly girls enjoy watching more than guys do so they call them chick flicks,” she explained, “that doesn’t mean guys can’t like them just that most guys would rather watch a building blow up than people kissing.”

“Is that because girls are free to feel and talk about their emotions like you told me before?” I really was curious.

She went on to explain that if the movie was really well done she could vicariously feel the emotions that were being portrayed on the screen and she enjoyed those feelings. I asked her if guys couldn’t feel them too and she said she thought so but she didn’t think they felt them as intensely.

I then asked a question I probably shouldn’t have, “Why is that?”

“I guess it is hormonal,” as she turned to take the bag out of the microwave, “the testosterone verse estrogen difference we talked about before.”

I know I turned white as a ghost. Before she turned around, “Mom I am going to run pee, be right back.”

I ran straight for the bathroom pulled up my gown and sat on the pottie and just shook. It was a pure fear reaction. I knew she was going to be able to tell I was taking girl pills by how I reacted to this movie. I didn’t know what to do.

After a bit, I calmed and then mom knocked on the door, “Everything ok hunny?”

“Yes mom, I just had to adjust to having the gown and it took me some extra time be out in a second.” I immediately stood and flushed pushing the gown and robe down. I turned on the sink and washed my hands just so she wouldn’t suspect anything. I opened the door and she was waiting for me.

“Time for a movie.” She placed her hand on my shoulder and we walked to the den. She curled up on the sofa with her feet off the floor and told me I could do the same in the other corner or put my head in her lap which ever made me happy. She reached down and pick up a box of tissue that was on the end table and put it between us.

“I can’t watch this without crying and I know your sensitive enough you may, too.” She smiled.

She was right. We are both going through tissues as he lies in his hotel bed dying from a broken heart. Then they meet in the light and joy just floods over us both. I didn't know movies could make you feel that way.

When I got my eyes dry enough I actually asked mom, "How "

"Well I don't think you have watched an emotionally engaging movie all the way through before and you don't get many tears watching light swords cut up storm troopers." she stated.

I said I could see that and then wondered why guys didn't watch movies that let them feel their emotions, "I thought it was kind of neat."

"Well, I suspect that most boys are just not secure enough in who they are to be willing to show their emotions and so they suppress them. If you’re working hard to suppress them you don't want to watch things that make that harder. At least that is my best guess." she explained.

"Do I need to start suppressing my feelings?" I asked.

"No sweetie there is absolutely nothing wrong with being sensitive." she patted on my leg, "Lots of girls would think that is a good thing in a boy."

I thought about it a minute and just said, "Okay." and put my head back on the pillow and started to watch tv some more.

"No, you don't." Momma shook my leg, "It is off to the shower with you if we are going to have a mom and daughter day tomorrow. I want you clean and sweet smelling and I want you to come back to my room with your hair conditioned but wet I want to fix it for tomorrow."

"Okay." and I popped up and headed for the shower.

I followed her instructions and shouted for her as soon as I was out of the shower and had dried my body and got my gown and robe back on. She just shouted for me to come to her bed room. She had me sit on the little square seat in front of her mirror and sat in a chair behind me. She began by parting my hair in the middle. The she took a small section of hair at the top and wrapped it around this little round sponge thing. When it rolled up the hair until it was touching my scalp she put this plastic cage thing on it so it could not unroll. When she had all the hair rolled up next to the scalp she got out her hair dryer and began blowing my hair dry.

"I think that should do nicely." she said, “You’re going to have to sleep in those but I think you're going to love the look tomorrow. If it works as well as I hope I don't think you will need the wig tomorrow. It is not as long as the wig, of course, but I think it will look very feminine."

"It's not like the nail polish is it. I won't have to worry about it at school on Monday?" I asked.

"I am so glad you reminded me." she pulled chair around the edge of the furniture piece with her mirror. She searched through the drawer and found a three bottles of nail polish, "Put your right hand on the vanity and spread your fingers."

She very carefully painted each nail with a coat of clear, "Now give me your left but don't let the right hand touch anything and keep your fingers spread out." Soon she had me swing both hands like I was trying to fly with my fingers spread.

Finally, she decided it was enough and had me put my right hand back on the table while I was required to keep waiving the left. She opened the second bottle and began applying the pale pink I had used at the nail salon.

I was surprised, “Momma, did you buy that when we were at the nail salon?"

"No dear we just both have discrete taste." she smiled broadly, "I already had this. I wear it at work. Now the left hand and be careful with the right."

Pretty soon I was back to doing the bird thing again. I tried to remember if I had chosen the pink or momma had at the nail salon. I think mom had said pinks so they didn't show too much and I pick the actual. It made me smile to know she and I had the same tastes. I thought that was a good sign. She took my right hand and inspected it closely. She turned her hair dryer on and blew cold air it over my nails for a couple of minutes. We went through this for three coats of the pale pink.

"Okay, right hand on the table young lady." she pointed and she opened the third bottle.

"What is that momma," I asked, "the nail salon only used two bottles."

"This is top coat. It is like the base coat only thinner. It is there to protect the color coat and is made from stuff that is harder than the color coat. The nail salons use lots of coats of the color but I think this keeps them better." then she added, "Do you know you only call me momma when your Jeanie, otherwise it is mom."

"I'm sorry, I don't know why but I can stop." I said.

"No, dear I wasn't asking you to stop I just noticed. I think it is very sweet actually." she smiled, " Now quit flapping it and give me the left hand."

I was back to doing the bird and finally mom said to stop and let her see. She just barely touched the end of my thumb nail and then rubbed her fingers together. She did the same on the left thumbnail.

"Okay, I think they are dry. Touch the painted parts of your pinkie nails gently together and then slowly separate them. The tell me if it feels like they were sticking or pulling when your separated them." she directed.

"No mamma, I don't think it is sticking at all. On that note she got a final bottle out of the drawer, "This is just olive oil. Some people think it makes the polish cure better. I think it does not mix with the polish and insures things do not stick to it while it is curing."

She spread a little on each nail with a cotton swab and then wiped each finger gently with a tissue, “And with that I think you are ready for bed young lady."

She turned me toward the door and swatted me behind softly, "Off with you."

I turned back and gave her a hub and kissed her check and said, "Night momma."

She hugged me back held me at arm’s length and looked at me and smiled. I honestly think I thought I saw her tear up a little. These hormones take a while to get under control.

CHAPTER 11

I thought it was going to keep me awake to sleep in the rollers and at first they poked a little. When I finally got the pillow situated it was okay and I fell asleep pretty fast. I woke up fairly early but could hear mom in her bathroom. I headed for mine. Took care of business and brushed my teeth. I fished out the pill bottle and got my morning pill and put the bottle back. I stuck the pill in my mouth and was about to get some water when momma popped her head in.

I jumped two feet.

Mom just laughed and said, "Come on to my room and we will fix your hair."

I nodded and tried to act sleepy to avoid having to speak. As soon as she turned her back I swallowed. Without water, it kind of hung in my throat. I coughed a couple of times and then got some water and that fixed it. I scooted to momma's room. She patted for me to hop up on her bed and she angled behind me and started removing the rollers.

In less than five minutes she was working on me with a brush. Sweeping hair up and back and in different directions. Finally satisfied she took me to her mirror, "So, this or the wig?"

I just stood there with my mouth open I could not believe that my hair could look like that. It was like the girls at school or on tv only more so.

"Are you going to say something?" momma prodded.

"Oh momma, I didn't know you could do this. It is fantastic." I spun and hugged her.

"Well, it seems you want to keep it so stand still while I fix it a little with some hair spray so it doesn't go wild the second we step outside." and on that note began to spray my hair all over with a stinky spray, "I guess we need to go decide what you are going to wear today."

I followed her to my room. She pulled out my skirt but this time she got the blouse I had tried on the day before. She went to my underwear drawer and got out the bra I had worn the day before, panties, a camisole and the tights and laid them on the bed. She went back to the closet and brought out the wedges.

She laid it all on the bed with the skirt hanging off the side and the wedge standing under it, "What do you think of this combination?"

"That is nice," I said.

"Okay, get dressed and I will be doing the same." she smiled and left the room.

I was much relieved mom left so I could dress. Everything went fine till I got to the tights. I tried stepping in one leg at a time, both at once and lying back on the bed and pulling down. It was all useless. As I was lying on my back with my legs straight up in the air and squirming like a overturned turtle I heard my mom laughing from the doorway.

"I can see that this is a secret you have not been practicing very long." her broad smile eased the sting of the statement, "Sit up and I will show you how."

"First take them completely off. Now you see the label that goes in the back. That makes this your right leg." she held up one leg of the tights. "Now, just like the dance pants. We are going to use our hands to pull the right leg up in a ring bundle with our thumbs in the middle and we are going to bunch it all the way to the toe. Now hold your right leg up." She slipped it over my foot and pulled it up my leg letting out a little fabric as she went until it was half way between my knee and hip. "Okay, you do the left leg."

I was not near as good at making the little ring bundle as she was but I finally go there. I slipped my foot in and began working it up my leg.

"Now just work them up past your hips to your waist just like you did with the dance pants." Momma advised, "Don't pull them as hard as you do the dance pants or they will get a run."

I finally got them settled and momma ran her hands up my legs in a kind of circle that smoothed out any wrinkles I left behind, "Ready for the shoes?"

I nodded and she passed me one. They had a little strap across the top with a buckle. It was a pain to get buckled. I got the second one on and momma held out her hand to help me stand.

"I think you might need just a little practice with these. They have a taller heel than the pixie boots." she warned.

She watched me walk back and forth a couple of times and pronounced me ready. In the kitchen, I grabbed the apron that still had the knot in the neck tie to shorten it up and put it on.

"What are we going to fix for breakfast?" I asked.

"How about French toast?" she asked.

"Wow, we only do that for special occasions." I said.

"I think this is a pretty special day, don't you?" she responded.

She told me to get a bowl and crack two eggs and add a tablespoon of cream.

As I was trying to mix the eggs and cream she set a little rectangular can on the counter and said to shake just a little into the eggs. It was nutmeg.

While I stirred, I watched her rub the stick of butter on the skillet. She didn’t bother to cut off a tab she just peeled the paper back part way and used the paper covered end as a handle. With the skillet warming the butter just made a nice little coating as she slid it across.

“This is butter, not margarine.” She admonished, “A good cook can taste the difference and just using a little I don’t think it is any worse for you.”

She went over to the cabinet and got out two plates and placed them on top of the toaster oven and turned it on.

“I didn’t know you cooked French toast in an oven.” I was confused.

“You don’t,” she smiled, “I just like warm plates for things like that. It helps the food be served warm.”

Momma went to the refrigerator and took out a few strawberries and an orange. She sliced four strawberries into about four or five slices each. She sliced the orange across the middle and then divided each half to have four wedges.

“Go get your step and a spatula.” She directed as she went to the pantry and got out the confectioner’s sugar and set it next to the plate with the fruit along with a little wire basket with a handle.

“Now, you are going to dip a slice of bread in the egg mix making sure to coat both sides and then put it in the skillet.” She instructed, “If you place it right you can do two and a time”

After a few seconds, she told me to lift an edge of the toast with the spatula to see if it was time to flip it over. After I flipped the toast momma got the plates from the top of the toaster oven. When the first pair came out of the skillet I put them on the warmed plate and momma rubbed more butter on the skillet and told me to start the second pair. As soon as I the second pair were in the skillet she took the bowl I had mixed the eggs in and rinsed it and put it into the dishwasher.

When the last pair came out she stacked them all up and cut them diagonally across in half. She then divided them on the two plates and used the little wire basket to dust the fluffy sugar on top. She began arranging the fruit on the plate.

“Fix your glass of milk and set the table.” she said as she moved the plates to the top of the toaster oven again.

Momma must have brewed her coffee before she did my hair because there was already a pot. She got out the cream and the little bottle of syrup. She took off the lid and put the syrup in the microwave. As she was taking the cream back she grabbed the skillet and spatula and set them in the sink turning the water on. It made a steaming hiss as it hit the hot skillet.

She was putting the cream away when she said, “They say it is not good for the no stick finish to rinse them when they are hot but I have never seen any damage. I think it just makes them easier to keep clean.”

She turned off the water and set the skillet and spatula in the dish washer, picking up the plates she delivered them to the breakfast table and then retrieved her coffee and the syrup.

I followed behind with my milk, “Wow, I can’t believe all the stuff you do at one time.”

” Well, I couldn’t have done most if it if you had not been there to watch the toast and help.” She patted my hand, “Now let us enjoy this colorful breakfast.”

I looked at my plate and it really did look like one of those pictures they put on a menu, “Momma, this is really pretty, but why go to all that work we are just going to mess it up eating it?”

“We eat with our eyes and our noses as much as with our mouths. The reward for all that work you mentioned is that everyone enjoys the meal. I want that reward.” She said as she poured a little syrup on the toast.

At that moment, I felt very small and guilty, “I’m sorry momma, I should have been helping before when you were cooking.”

“Don’t be silly Jeanie, you were not here to help before, boys set the table and do the cleanup and that is just as much work but they don’t help cooking.” Momma smiled. “Now, have you decided what you want to do till it is time for the movie?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what girls do I am never around them.” I admit.

“That is the problem, you see girls are more social than boys. They mostly hang out with their friends.” Momma seemed to be thinking, “Would you like to invite Suzy to join us so you could find out what it is really like to be a girl?”

“I don’t think I can do that.” I stammered.

“Why can’t you? She does know about Jeanie doesn’t she?” momma asked.

“Yes, ma’am she knows.” I say very softly, “But she has never seen me dressed like a girl. I think I would be embarrassed.”

“If you really want to know what it is like to be a girl you are going to have to get passed being embarrassed because being a girl has a whole lot to do with establishing relationships.” Momma said.

“But we would have to tell her mom.” I was moving toward a panic.

“I am sure she already knows, dear.” Mom smiled.

“Did Suzy tell her?” I was about to cry at this point.

“No dear, I think that Suzy must whisper about as poorly as you do and her mother is a bright lady that can put two and two together,” She paused, “So do you want me to call her mother and ask?”

“Do you think it will be okay? Do you think her mom will keep the secret? What if she tells Suzy’s dad and he talks to daddy? What if she says something at church or school?” fear swept over me.

Momma turned her chair out from the table and held her arms out, “Come here.”

I went to her embrace and was starting to cry.

She hugged me and held me and patted, my back, “Honey, you know you are my baby and I love you and I would never do anything that I thought would hurt you, don’t you?”

I could only nod my agreement.

“Then you need to know that she already knows. She told me what she suspected when she and I were out getting things to make your costume.” Mom explained, “She was the one that found the pixie boots at the salvage store and told me about them.”

“So Suzy did tell her.” a flash of anger.

“No, dear, Suzy is your good friend she wouldn’t do that but she is as bad on the phone as you and her mom noticed some things missing from Suzy’s lingerie drawer. Between the two she was able to figure it out,” her soft voice was calming, “Jane has been my friend since we were your age and she knows that any mommy is really worried about their child so she told me. We talked about it a long time. We decided it might be that you had reached an age when you might be starting to get interested in girls and with none around this is how you were trying to figure them out, but whatever your reason that it would do no harm for you to learn something of what it meant to be a girl. We also agreed that it would not be good for Suzy’s father or your father to find out at this time. So, if you want to invite Suzy it will be okay. I may invite Jane, too, if that won’t upset you and then we could really have a ladies’ day.”

By the time, she finished the explanation, the rubbing, the soft tones, the information and the warmth of being held by my momma had calmed me, “Do you really think it will be okay?”

“I do baby.” Momma said and patted me on more time, then she held me back a little so she could see my face, “So tell what you want to do.”

I took a deep swallow, “I guess we could invite them.” I whispered.

“Now that we have decided how to spend our day you need to finish your breakfast.” followed by her favorite, a kissed to the forehead as she set me on the floor.

Breakfast was very quiet after that. I kept trying to catch up with how fast things were moving. In less than three weeks I had gone from super secret to out in public and grownups knew and were seeing me as a girl. I wondered how long it would be before the school and church and then the whole town knew. I went through the motions of clearing the table.

“Ok, Jeanie time for you to fix your hair brush your teeth, fix your face and grab your purse.” Momma said, “I am going to call Jane and see if she and Suzy want to come.”

I went off to my bedroom in a daze. I rambled a bit till I got my purse and went into the bath room for a quick brush and rinse of my mouth. I applied my lip gloss and head back to the den area. I was not even aware of how slow I was moving.

“Come sit with me on the sofa sweetie.” Momma patted the cushion beside her, “I talked with Jane and she would be happy to bring Suzy along. Her husband and son are with dad and Bill at the hunting camp so we decided we would have a real girls slumber party after the movie, so, they are coming over here to drop off their stuff and then they will ride with us to Atlanta. We are going to a mall and then lunch and then we will see what appeals till the movie starts. We could go to Lenox again or we could go to the new mall in Cobb county or we can go to the old mall in Cobb. Do you have a preference?”

“I really don’t know what the difference is.” I said.

“Well, the newest one is the one is the new Cobb county mall, but it is where people from here would go to shop so there is the greatest chance to meet someone you know, Lenox is the largest and has the most stores but is the longest drive, and the old Cobb mall is smaller but not many people go there so it has the least chance of seeing someone you know.” She said.

“Please don’t make me go to the new Cobb mall. I would be so scared I would not have any fun at all.” I asked.

“Of course, not, I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. You can even change back to Johnny if that is what you really want.” Her tone was serious.

“I don’t think I want to do that but so much is changing so fast I am a little scared is all.” I admitted.

“Really nothing has changed since the first time you dressed, it is just that you are just now finding out about it. It was always true that Jane knew and that she would protect you cause you are my child and she is my best friend forever.” Momma smiled.

“I guess that is right. I will try to stop being scared.” I said.

“Good girl.” Momma hugged me.

Why I didn’t notice it before I don’t know but it was obvious, girls hug a lot more than guys. I stayed there feeling warm against my momma and watched cartoons while we waited on Stevens to arrive. It was Saturday morning so all that was on was cartoons. We settled on the Smurfs I just couldn’t see watching He-Man under the circumstances.

The doorbell rang and I sat up straight and ridged. Normally, I would rush to answer the door but I just froze.

“Jeanie, are you going to answer the door?” momma asked.

“Can you. What if it is not them?” I begged.

“Sure sweetie,” and she was up and held her hand out, “but you need to come with me.”

I took her hand and followed but I had a hang dog look that would have impressed a death row inmate. I stood off behind the door as she opened it.

“Jane, come in, “momma hugged her in the doorway, “so sweet of you to come and Suzy you look very smart in that outfit,” and she stepped back to give them room to come in.

My stomach churned till I was sure I was going to throw-up. I turned and fled for the bathroom. I just made it. French toast is not near as fun on a round trip. I was kneeling in front of the toilet when momma came in and got a wash cloth and began holding it under the sink faucet.

I had stopped heaving by then.

“Here, baby, let me wipe your mouth.” As she lifted me to standing and gently cleaned my face.

“I’m sorry, mom. I don’t know why I got sick. I really am sorry.” I apologized.

“It is ok sweetie, I am just sorry I upset you so much.” She kneeled down so we were eye to eye, “Do you want me to send them away?”

“No momma, I’m sorry I got scared, I won’t be sick anymore.” I pleaded.

“It really is okay. We all get scared. I think girls more than boys. You just need to know you are safe and everyone here loves you and will protect you. Do you understand?” she asked.

I could only nod.

She flushed the toilet and stood, “Besides looking at that toilet I don’t think you have anything left to be sick with. Rinse your mouth out and then decide if you want to fix your gloss or change clothes and then come back to meet our guests.” She rubbed between my shoulder blades, “I am going to let our guest know it was something you ate and you will be out in a little bit.”

I rinsed my mouth several times and finally brushed my teeth for the third time in the morning to get the taste out. I then sat on my bed for a bit trying to decide if I was going to change. I finally realized that I couldn’t stop wanting to be a girl so I better get used to people finding out I am one. I took a couple of deep breaths and went to the den. As I came in everyone had their back to me. Mom and Ms. Stevens were talking and Suzy was watching the Smurfs.

As I came forward I softly said, “Sorry.”

Suzy turned and saw me and immediately jumped up squealed and ran for me. I wasn’t sure if she was hugging me or trying to wrestle but she had my arms pinned to my side and was bouncing up and down.

“Suzy, don’t kill her before your introduced.” Mrs. Stevens chided coming around to place her hand on Suzy’s shoulder. This settled her down and she stepped back.

“Oh, I love that outfit it is so cute, can I try it on later.” Suzy asked.

“You look really nice, too, Suzy,” my voice was still subdued.

“Suzy, you haven’t even been properly introduced and you’re trying to swap clothes.” Her mother chided.

“Oh, sorry.” Suzy hung her head but it wasn’t far enough down to hide a huge smile as she held her hand out and in a funny tv voice, “How do you do? I would like to introduce myself. I am Suzanne Stevens but you may call me Suzy.”

I just stood there staring at her hand until she slapped me on the shoulder and held her hand up again, “Introduce yourself and shake my hand silly.”

I took her hand and almost whispered, “Hi, I am Jeanie Marsh.”

As soon as she let go my hand she turned to her mother, “Okay we are introduced, can we swap clothes now. Her outfit is really neat.” Her smile was so broad even her mother knew she was just being silly.

"Jeanie, your mother is my best friend forever and has been since we were children. I would never purposely do anything to hurt her. You are her child and hurting you would hurt her so I can never do anything to hurt you." Mrs. Stevens put out her hand.

I took it and tried to say thank-you but was too choked up. She just gave me a mommy hug and said, "It's okay, we are just going to have to have a weekend so fun you forget to be scared. Now you young ladies head to the car."

"Get in my Thunderbird it has more room," mom shouted.

Suzy and I climbed into the backseat to wait on our moms. Suzy was clearly about to bust.

"So, what did you tell her? Does she know everything? When did you decide my mom could find out?" the questions came out like a machine gun.

"No, my mom only knows I was talking to you about experimenting with wearing girls clothes and that I wondered what it was like to be a girl,” I told her, “and I don’t want them knowing anything else.”

“Why, did you tell my mom?” Suzy asked.

“I didn’t your mom told my mom about it. She supposedly overheard you talking to me on the phone.” I told her.

“Oh no. I am sorry.” She looked sheepish.

“Is okay, my mother overheard me talking to you. Said I whisper like an elephant trumpet.” I admitted.

“I guess neither of us were good at keeping it secret.” Suzy conceded.

“No practice.” Was all I can think to say.

Momma was opening the door as I said that and asked what I needed to practice. I just laughed a little and said keeping secrets cause with both lasted less than a week with this one.

“I think you would both be better off if you practiced talking things over with your mothers.” Momma added and Mrs. Stevens confirmed, and with that the car cranked and we were headed south.

“We decided on Perimeter, Jane thinks it is closer than Lenox. I think they are about the same but I like the eating places better there. Now would you ladies like a little music?” Momma asked.

“Great.” Suzy shouted and momma turned on the radio. It was playing “Kocomo” by the Beach Boys and they all seemed to know the words so they sang along. I was still a little queezy and stayed quiet. After a few more songs I was fairly calm. They started playing “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper and I joined in at least on the chorus. By the time, we got to I-285 I was completely calm and we were all singing loudly, even if not exactly in harmony. When we reached the mall, I was all smiles. We went into the main entrance and stopped while mom messed with my hair a little. It didn't need much because it was pretty much glued in place with the hair spray.

Mom announced after the long drive she needed the facilities and we went looking. On finding them we pretty much just filled the stalls in all in a row. Getting my tights back up took some doing but I stepped out and the others were at the sinks. I washed my hands and took out my lip glaze and fixed my lips.

I was about to put it away when Suzy said, "Oh let me see. Can I try it?"

I handed her the brush and the tube and said it was fine and got a piece of tissue to blot.

Suzy handed me back the lip gloss and smiled at me and I took the tissue and cleaned up a corner of her mouth where she ran over a bit. She looked in the mirror and thanked me and we headed out.

Our moms met us just outside the door and as we walked down the hall I noticed the smell of the food court which was at the end of the hall. My stomach had calmed enough that now I felt hungry. More particularly could smell the place that cooked the big cookies.

“Momma, can I get a snack, I’m a little hungry?” I asked rather sheepishly embarrassed to remember my earlier fright induced illness.

“I suspect you did not get much nutrition out of that breakfast we fixed. What would you like?” she smiled.

“I guess just an oatmeal cookie.” I mumbled feeling the sting of momma’s tease about breakfast.

“That sounds like an appropriate choice,” momma turned to Mrs Stevens, “All in or are you ladies watching your figure?”

Suzy popped up before her mother could even open her mouth, “Chocolate Chip.”

“It seems I would be out voted if I went against a morning cookie,” Mrs. Stevens laughed.

I had expected to eat the cookie while walking through the mall but momma insisted we eat at a table. Said it was unladylike to eat anything while walking except an ice cream cone or cotton candy. I was not sure if she was serious because she had a big smile on her face when she said it. As we ate Suzy told me about her Snow-White costume. Her mother had made a yellow skirt that almost reached the ground and her grandmother had a petticoat with hoops in it that made it spread out like a tent. She had a little blue vest and a white Sunday school blouse with long sleeves and a ruffle cuff and a high lace collar that buttoned up in the back to look like a choker. I told her it sounded really pretty. She said it got in the way some with it sticking out all around but it was fun. She hoped it wasn’t going to be too cold or windy on Halloween. She was afraid the wind would make the skirt blow around. I admitted that could get embarrassing. I told her tights would keep her warm.

She just kind of huffed and said, “I know that I have been wearing tights a lot longer than you.”

That really hurt my feelings and I went back to watching my cookie and nibbling. I couldn’t even figure out why it hurt my feelings. As I thought about it I guess it was the same as her saying I wasn’t really a girl.

“Suzanne, that was not nice.” Mrs. Stevens scolded.

“I didn’t say anything bad, and she does have to act like I am stupid and don’t know anything.” Suzy pouted.

“Jeanie is your friend and she was not acting like you were stupid she was just trying to be helpful,” her mother explained, “and you bit her head off for caring about you.”

There was that pause that allowed the emotions to be reined in, “I’m sorry Jeanie,”

“It is okay. I shouldn’t have been telling you what a girl can do.” I never took my eyes off the cookie on table.

“What do you say you two have a friendship hug and then we wrap up what is left of our cookies for later and go shopping?” my momma asked.
:
We hugged and that surprisingly made it a lot better.

I put my half cookie in a napkin and put it in my purse. I pulled out the lip gloss and asked mom for her mirror. I fixed my lips and then offered the gloss to Suzy. She beamed as she took it from me.

“Mom, can I get a some makeup, too?” Suzy asked.

Mrs. Stevens turned to my mother, “Beth, Between the raging hormones driving mood swings, and the desire to be thirty before they are twelve, raising girls is not going to be easy for either of us.” And she laughed. It was not a mean laugh or like she was making fun of me. I don’t know how but some way that laugh made me feel she believed I was a girl and the issue was settled.

“No, it won’t be easy.” Momma responded with a smile but a worried look in her eyes. We cleaned the table and started out into the mall I could not get the look of concern in my mother’s eyes out of my mind.

As we walked past a gift and novelty store Suzy blurted out, “Mom, we want to shop on our own. We are both almost twelve and we won’t leave the mall.”

“What do you think, Beth?” Mrs. Stevens did not sound convinced.

“I guess with some rules it will be safe enough.” Momma finally said, “Come with me young lady, and we stepped into the gift and novelty store.

“Do you carry any cartoon character watches?” She addressed the clerk.

We were pointed to a case with shelves you could rotate with a knob on top, if you see something you like let me know and I’ll get the key.”

They had lots of cartoon watches. The ones with famous characters were a lot more expensive than the others.

There was one that was digital and came with several different color bands and matching rings that fit around the face. I asked if I could have that one so I would change it and wear it when I wasn’t Jeanie. Mom, thought that was a good idea.

After we purchased the watch mom helped me put the pink band and ring on it and put it on. She made sure it was set to the exact same time as her watch.

“Okay ladies, here is the deal. You have one hour to go where you want in the mall. No travel outside the mall for any reason. In one hour you will be standing right here on this spot waiting on us or you will not have another ten seconds of freedom till you are twenty-one. Do you understand.” Momma was smiling but I knew she was serious.

Almost in harmony Suzy and I, “Yes, ma’am.”

As we turned and started to leave the look my momma had in the food court came back to me and I ran back to her and held out my arms for a hug. She bent over to hug me and I whispered, “Momma, it’s going to be okay.”

“I know dear, but you be back here on time.” She admonished.

“No, not that; me being Jeanie and everything. It’s going to be okay, honest.” I whispered.

She didn’t say anything she just hugged me a little harder than usual and when she let me go she just smiled down at me turned me around and gently pushed me towards Suzy.

As soon as I reached Suzy she started tugging me down the mall. We ducked into a fancy tween shop Limited Too. We started looking but mostly Suzy wanted to ask about what my mother knew so we both picked some parachute pants and went to the dressing room. While we were trying them on I explained that her mother had overheard her on the phone with me and had called my mom to tell her she was concerned that you were pressuring me play in girl’s clothes. I think that shocked Suzy. She said she thought she was being really careful and wondered if her mother lifted the extension and listened in on the call. Either way I told her I thought that was what stimulated the first mother daughter day.

I was looking at the parachute pants in the mirror and decided they looked funny rather than cool and took them off and started getting dressed again.

“You know you have gotten used to being a girl really fast.” Suzy commented.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, we both just stripped to our panties and tried on clothes and you didn’t get embarrassed or even notice.” She smiled.

“I guess I didn’t. It just felt natural.” I replied. After that we took the pants back out and looked around some more but were not nearly as rushed as when we came in. I checked the watch and said we ought to start back towards the meeting place.

We were five minutes early but mom and Mrs. Stevens were already there looking a little concerned. They both smiled when they saw us and mom immediately checked her watch to see if we were in time. I think she might have been happier if we were late so she could make us stay with them.

"Alright ladies," my mother announced, "The adults have been discussing the weekend ahead and we, that being Jane and I have decided that the best course of action is to make this a full-on girls weekend. In that vein, we thought that we might finish our shopping and go rent a nice movie or two, get the fixing to make some Halloween treats for Monday and maybe pick an art or writing project to go with our sleepover. How does that sound to you?"

Suzy did here break glass window squeal and I kept trying to suppress my really serious smile. and gave momma a hug.

"Careful Jeanie you’re going to mess up your hair." was what she said but she too seemed to smile more broadly than usual, "Let's stop into the music store and see what is new." as she ushered us down the mall.

Suzy and I could not agree on an album. She wanted a boy band and I wanted Cyndi Lauper or Madonna or even Cher. Finally, I found Lauper's "True Colors" album. It was a couple of years old but we both liked the songs on it and it was on sale. The cassette was only $ 7.95 which was 3 dollars off full retail.
Momma said she was feeling nostalgic and got a tape by a lady named Joni Mitchell. I didn't know her but mom said I would recognize her songs.

As we walked back toward the exit we passed a jewelry store and Suzy came close to looking like a bug on fly paper on the window. She called me over to look. I was surprised at how excited she was. She pointed at a pair of ear rings and said how pretty they were.

I agreed they were pretty and said they kind of looked like those fancy crystal lights that they have in all the movie mansions.

On hearing that Suzy’s mom busted out laughing, “Her father says they look like fishing lures. In any event they are way too mature for a someone her age.”

“But, Mom you said I could get my ears pierced when I turned twelve and that is only three weeks from now.” Suzy defended.

“And you can get them pierced but that does not mean you get to wear gaudy things that make you look like a western dance hall performer.” Was the curt reply.

With that she unpeeled her daughter from the window and we headed for the car.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



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